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Bon Brand in Nigeria has been phenomenal, says Charl Van Wyk

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Charl Van Wyk is the Operations Director of Bon Hotels. Making his first visit to Nigeria as part of the General Managers Meeting of Bon Hotels International West Africa, Van Wyk said in this exclusive interview that the group will continue to promote and invest in hospitality and tourism on the continent.

EXCERPT:

Please let’s meet you

My name is Charles Van Wyk; I am the Operations Directors of Bon Hotels. I have travelled to Nigeria to attend the general/regional manager’s meeting here in Bon Hotel Stratton, Asokoro, where the other general managers throughout Nigeria has come to this particular property to come and share ideas, understand each other businesses, understand each other’s hotels and obviously, the main reason for it is to create a sense of community within and around the Bon Hotels.

This is an opportunity to get everyone together around the same table, and to do a bit of refreshing, retraining and to understand the Bon Ami Loyalty card and to understand more of ourselves and what we are doing.

How would you describe the meeting so far, and what would say is the takeaway from this?

There are certainly a lot of takeaways from everybody here. There is growth in Nigeria, we are developing and building new hotels all the time, we have some very new general managers around the table that haven’t been exposed, and we are building a foundation, that’s the biggest takeaways.

What should we be expecting from bon hotels in the coming months and years?

The growth of Bon Hotels in Nigeria has been phenomenal, and we are growing, we are adding new hotels on a monthly basis, and we have a couple of more hotels that are coming on board that have already signed contracts and we are waiting for the hotels to be finished and opened.

Are there any challenges you feel should be addressed by the government or other stakeholders in the industry?

Well, I guess all I can say to this is that the growth of the Bon Brand in Nigeria has been phenomenal, and we are projecting that the coming years will be even better.

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PERSPECTIVE: How Senator Bwacha Distinguished Himself At The Eight Senate-Emmanuel Bello

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He is the Deputy Minority Leader of the eight Senate, but Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, representing Taraba South, is one of the most respected figures in the Nigerian National Assembly. And this appeal is bipartisan as both members of the green Chambers and the red of various political leanings are in unanimity when it comes to assessing the University of Jos trained lawyer.

Bwacha is the quintessential law maker who started from the very lower rungs as member Taraba state House of Assembly years ago. At the state’s level, he’s seen it all: Commissionership, member and insider back home before ascending the ladder in Abuja. It was indeed a powerful preparatory ground. So when, in Abuja, he started from the House of Representatives, he was, in the words of a popular hip hop song, “all way up”!

Bwacha’s colleagues attest to his unique style in the chambers: respect and friendship. His warmth and friendly disposition anchored on a deep sense of the value of humanity is one of his talisman confessed a colleague. Although, Sen. Phillip Aduda, for instance, is clearly a close compatriot of Senator Bwacha, the Donga born politician, is perhaps closer to many of his colleagues than is readily known. And this cuts across the age and status divide. There is practically no senator involved with Bwacha that does not feel he is with a special friend. And Bwacha knows how to be jocular with all of them, understanding their individual quality, even playful nicknames. So while he could laughingly tap the back of a Dino Melaye as a younger brother, Sen. Gemade, for instance, could easily relate to the courageous “Jukun boy” from Taraba state. The elderly Senators often pull the younger Senator Bwacha aside for commendations and for boldly speaking their mind.

Courage! This is one of the reasons Bwacha’s views are highly regarded in the Senate. Never scared of baring his mind on even controversial issues, Senator Bwacha would even tread on grounds seen as politically slippery. He once boldly made a case for decent dressing- an area many may want to avoid as not to offend the ever fiesty modern fashion scene. But once Sen. Bwacha is convinced about a matter, he chases it with unbridled zeal.

On security matters, Sen. Bwacha was very vocal when he condemned the weakness of the security agencies in tackling the herdsmen menace. He dropped the bombshell when he suggested the Federal Government admits its failure and seek for external help if it thinks the battle was too hot.

When Bwacha is on his feet, it is always pin drop silence on the floor as he brings deep perspective on issues. A delight of the Senate Presidents, Bwacha’s views always come in handy in unravelling knotty issues.

But it is behind closed doors that Senator Bwacha’s measure and stature is more pronounced when it comes to legislative business. That’s where he brings in his wealth of experience, his years in the minefield and his familiarity with power to weigh on matters of national development.

Decency also stands him out. A respected Christian leader, often leading the devotional sessions in the senate, Bwacha does not suffer fools gladly. Firm and principled, not for him the Epicurean preoccupation of powerful men in Abuja. Spare time goes to family and his constituents. Work and worship takes up the rest. A devote Christian of the CRCN hue, his convictions are deep and engaging. He believes in shunning materialism, while rejecting primitive accumulation. He says pride is the cardinal sin of man and so Sen. Bwacha strives to be humble at all times. Not flamboyant or extravagant, he cuts the image of a genial next door neighbor.

This has helped in shaping up his leadership qualities: honesty, plain talk, ability to easily forgive, compassion, kindness, meekness among others.

His understanding of how the Executive works is also an arsenal in his kitty. Being a former Commissioner and someone very close to several governors and ministers has helped. A receipt of the prestigious Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Senator Bwacha is atop his game in this city of power, even as he retains his principles and sterling character.

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Let Anybody Lead This Country, Not PDP – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has again faulted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly mismanaging the nation’s resources.

He stated this at a meeting with a select group of South East leaders on Friday at the State House in Abuja.

The President believes that although the forthcoming elections should not be a do or die affair, he will never support the opposition party to rule the country.

“Let anybody lead this country but not the PDP,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

President Buhari added, “They (PDP) were so reckless with the resources of the country. The state of infrastructure we inherited was terrible – no roads, the railway was killed and power.

“They lacked conscience because anybody with a conscience will not do what they did. We will report them to Nigerians.”

The President noted that the reported split within the Ohanaeze Igbo socio-cultural group over the purported endorsement of the PDP candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, did not come to him as a surprise.

He said the moment the said resolution was announced, he got calls from some leaders from the region asking him to disregard it as it was without any substance.

“From that moment, I knew that the resolution would not stand, and alas, there it was,” said President Buhari who added, “We have done so much. Given the chance, we will do more. Given every chance, we will tell Nigerians where we were in 2015 and what we have achieved up to now.”

He stressed further, “We will not get tired of speaking about the golden opportunity Nigeria lost during 16 years of the PDP. We earned money, which we didn’t use.

“If you ruin the economy, send your children abroad to get an education; won’t they come back? I said it 30 years ago that this is the only country we have. We must stay here and salvage it together.”

The leaders of the delegation, Mr Emeka Ekwuosa and the National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Mr Chekwas Okorie, promised to mobilise support for the President in the South East.

They informed him that his re-election would be a national consensus, adding the people of the South East understood the good things he was doing for the country.

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Saraki, Lai Mohammed in Battle for Supremacy as Kwara Holds By-election

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It will be a test of popularity and acceptance today for President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki as they battle for control of Kwara politics in the by-election for Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero federal constituency.

The seat became vacant following the demise of Princess Funke Adedoyin.

President Buhari had charged the All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the state headed by Lai Mohammed to take back the state from Saraki who defected from the ruling APC to the main opposition party- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Although, Lai Mohammed, being the highest office holder in APC from Kwara comes from Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area, which is within the federal constituency in contest, Saraki, who is highly influential in the state, would prove that he remains in control and could command followership even after dumping his former party.

Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has distributed sensitive electoral materials to all the four local government councils where the exercise will take place.

Thisday reports that tension has gripped residents of the state, following alleged arrest of some PDP officials and members in the constituency by men allegedly in police uniform. .

Besides, scores of the PDP members in Ajase-Ipo in Irepodun Local Government Area of the state had been declared missing in the wee hours of yesterday’s night ahead of today’s by-election.

However, the state police command has deployed 1,500 policemen to maintain law and order during the by-election, which will be a straight fight between Saraki’s PDP candidate Mr. Saheed Alatise and Lai Mohammed party’s candidate, Mr. Raheem Olatunji.

Both parties have been throwing barbs at each other resulting in the palpable tension in the state. Besides, there have been accusations and counter-accusations on plots to rig the election.

The PDP camp had accused the APC leader in the state of planning to “import” political thugs from Lagos and Osun states to manipulate the exercise with the state chairman, Hon. Kola Shittu also alleging plots by the federal government to arrest their party leaders so as to make way for the ruling party to muscle through and rob them of victory.

The APC leadership, on the other hand had accused the PDP of planning to use uncollected permanent voters cards to rig the election.

The state chairman of APC, Hon. Bashr Bolarinwa told journalists that the party advised the INEC in the state to check such illegal plot so as to have a free and fair bye-election.

Tension heightened Thursday over a reported attack on the campaign train of APC’s candidate, Mr. Olatunji by unknown gunmen though no casualty was recorded.

However, the state police command said that it was still “investigating the veracity of the claim raised by the APC candidate for the bye-election.”

The state police Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi told journalists in Ilorin yesterday that “the report on the attack was being awaited from the reported area where the incident purportedly happened.” He however assured the people of safety within the area of the by-election and the state generally.

Despite the tension, the two leading political parties campaigned across the federal constituency soliciting the support of the electorates.

Speaking at the campaign rally of the PDP at Omuaran, the headquarters of Irepodun Local Government, the state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed urged the residents of the four local government councils that make up the federal constituency to come out en masse to vote for the PDP and its candidate, Alhaji Alatise.

He said that the people of the area should allow the good work of the later holder of the seat, Princess Adedoyin to continue.

The governor also urged the people not to be intimidated by the heavy presence of security men in their communities, but should feel free to go out and cast their votes for the PDP.

Ahmed said that the PDP would continue to win election in the state because of the transformation that every section of the state had witnessed between 2003 and now under the administration of Saraki and his own government.

The government in a statement condemned the alleged crackdown on members of the PDP and charged the people to fearlessly guard their votes.

Also at a mega rally of the APC at Omuaran, Alhaji Mohammed urged the people of the area to come out and cast their vote for APC candidate, Mr. Olagunju.

The minister, who condemned the alleged attack on Olatunji by unknown gunmen during his campaign tour of the area, said that the party would work with relevant agencies to ensure free, fair and credible election today, with adequate security before, during and after the election.

He said the election would begin a new chapter for the party and would be used to show the world that the APC was intact and the preferred party.

Meanwhile, INEC said that a total of 170, 918 ballot papers and other electoral materials were distributed to all the four local government councils where the by-election will take place.

Madami also said that “1,855 electoral officers would be involved in the election. A total of 125, 865 PVCs were collected from the four local governments where the election will take place.”

He however restated that the commission would conduct free, fair and credible by-election.

Ahead of today’s election, the police had banned the activities of vigilante groups in the affected areas.

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