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Taraba government accuses federal govt of re-awarding contract for completed road, demands reimbursement

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The Taraba State Government has accused the federal government of awarding a fresh contract for the reconstruction of a road that the state government has already constructed.

The state government made the accusation on Tuesday through a statement by its spokesperson, Bala Dan-Abu, saying the federal government has yet to reimburse it on its expenditure on the federal road.

The statement was in response to an announcement by the Federal Executive Council after its meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on October 27 that it had given the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) an approval to deploy its tax obligations to the construction of 21 roads across Nigeria.

Among the roads named in the arrangement by FEC is the Bali-Serti Federal road in Taraba State.

But the Taraba State Government said it “received with surprise news of the approval” for the award of contract for the road.

“Ordinarily, this development should be a thing of joy for the government and people of the state except that it has given the wrong impression about the present state of the road and the work already done on it by the Taraba State Government on behalf of the Federal Government,” the government statement said.

Bali-Serti road already awarded

Mr Dan-Abu said the government “wishes to state categorically and for the avoidance of doubt, that this portion of the road (Bali-Serti totalling 115 Kilometres) leading to Gembu, had earlier been awarded to P.W Nigeria Ltd and reconstructed through the initiative and funding by the Taraba State Government.

“Only a few bridges on the road remain to be completely fixed. We also wish to remind the Federal Government that Taraba State is yet to be fully refunded the money it expended on this portion of the road project.

“The award of a fresh contract for the same project by FEC is not only an unnecessary duplication of effort but also creates the wrong and misleading impression.

“We wish to, therefore, suggest that Taraba State Government be paid its outstanding balance on the portion of the project it has done and allowed to complete the remaining job on the bridges while the Federal Government should embark on the second phase of the road from Serti to Gembu (another 115 kilometres), headquarters of Sardauna Local Government.

“The Taraba State Government wishes to thank the Federal Government for the interest it has shown in this road project and implores it to do everything possible to expedite action on it because it is crucial to the implementation of the Mambilla Hydro Electricity project,” the statement said

Background

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on October 27 said it had given the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) the approval to deploy some of its tax liabilities to 21 road projects across the six-geo-political zones of the country.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, announced this when he briefed State House correspondents after a virtual FEC meeting presided over by Mr Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The minister said the roads would cover a total distance of 1,804.6 kilometres.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed Executive Order 7, allowing private sector operators to identify infrastructure such as roads for which they would deploy in advance as the taxes that they should have paid.

“So NNPC has identified 21 roads that it wants to deploy some of its tax liabilities to,’’ the minister said.

TEXEM

“So, NNPC has sought and Council has approved today that NNPC deploy tax resources to 21 routes covering a total distance of 1,804.6km across the six geopolitical zones.

“The road projects are nine in the North-Central; three in the North-East, two in the North-West, two in the South-East, three routes- the entire Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road in lots one, two and three now, fully covered.

“Then, in the South-West, you have the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Agbara junction, and you also have Ibadan to Ilorin, the Oyo-Ogbomosho section.

“In the South-East, you have the Aba-Ikot-Ekpene in Abia and Akwa Ibom; so that is a major link; then you have Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot-Ekpene road again and so on so forth.

“So, in the North-West, it is Gadar Zaima-Zuru-Ganji road and also Zaria- Funtua-Gusau to Sokoto Road.

“In the North-East, it is the Cham-Numan, Bali-Serti and Gombe-Biu Roads.

“The road impacted in the North-Central, include Ilorin-Jeda-Mokwa-Bokani sections one and two; Suleja-Minna sections one and two.

“Bida-Lambata Agaie-katcha-Baro road and Mokwa-Makera-Tagina-Kaduna border in Niger State, Minna-Zungeru-Tegina road, and Bida-Minna road-all in Niger State,” the minister had said.

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EPL Round-Up: Manchester City go top with away win over Watford

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Manchester City have taken over leadership of the Premier League following their 3-1 win over Watford at the Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The routine victory by the visitors has seen them increase their points tally to 35 after 15 games.

An early strike from Raheem Sterling in the fourth minute served a glimpse of what to expect from Pep Guardiola’s men who knew the assignment at hand and delivered almost perfectly.

Sterling’s early goal was followed by a brace from Bernado Silva as City were already cruising to another emphatic win.

Though Cucho Hernandez pulled a goal back for the Hornets, it wasn’t enough to deny the Cityzens their 11th win in 15 league games this season.

For Emmanuel Dennis and his Watford teammates, Saturday’s defeat made it a dozen of losses in the league this season and a wake up to improve or risk going down back to the Championship.

Earlier, on a day neither Sadio Mane nor Mohamed Salah was on hand to deliver the goals for Liverpool as Divock Origi stepped up from the bench to score in the 94th minute to hand the Reds a crucial win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Origi scored in stoppage time to hand Liverpool a 1-0 win and more importantly vital three points that have seen them overtake Chelsea and just one point behind new leaders, Guardiola’s City.

Having seen Chelsea crumble to a 3-2 defeat against West Ham in the London Derby, the Reds knew what was expected of them at the Molineux Stadium.

Liverpool had blown away the majority of their rivals this season, having scored four in each of their last three Premier League games before arriving at Molineux.

They had, simply, been too good but found Wolves at their resolute best until the death.

Also on Saturday, Newcastle finally recorded their first victory of the season as a solitary goal by Callum Wilson gave them a 1-0 win over Burnley at St. James Park.

Elsewhere, the tie between Southampton and Brighton at St Mary’s ended in a stalemate with both sides settling for a 1-1 draw.

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Ellie Aitken's shares messages of her row with Hollie Nasser over ex- husband Charlie on Instagram

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51347485 10275897 Ellie Aitken has shared photos of her bitter exchange with Holli a 1 1638664166495

A bitter catfight between two former best friends caught in a high society love triangle has exploded into the public arena after one of the women leaked their private text messages.  

Ellie Aitken, 42, has broken her silence over her estranged investment banker husband Charlie’s new relationship with her ex-pal Hollie Nasser, 36, by sharing a fiery text exchange about the split.

In an Instagram post, Ms Aitken shared a text message she had received from Ms Nasser accusing her of ‘playing the victim’ and blaming her for ‘ruining her marriage’.   

‘Ellie there’s no point in us talking anymore,’ Ms Nasser’s message begins.

‘I can’t believe after … you are out there playing the victim and saying I ruined your perfect marriage.’

Ellie Aitken has shared photos of her bitter exchange with Hollie Nasser (pictured) as their friendship continues to deteriorate

Ms Aitken uploaded a heated conversation she had with her former best friend on Instagram on Sunday

Ms Aitken uploaded a heated conversation she had with her former best friend on Instagram on Sunday

Ms Nasser also claimed Ms Aitken had tactfully posted photos online of her smiling alongside her husband of more than 20 years at their son’s rugby team award night on Friday to gain media attention. 

Just hours after pictures confirmed Mr Aitken had set up home with his new love, Ms Aitken tried to maintain a united front by sharing photos of the family at the function in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Instagram. 

‘Of course putting photos of [your son] on public Instagram was going in the paper, you knew that when you posted it,’ Ms Nasser said in the text.

Ms Nasser denied that Mr Aitken had spent the weekend at her house, claiming photographs that placed him there on Friday only showed him dropping her off. 

‘Charlie was not at my house last night and I’ve got mum staying here,’ she continued.

‘I’ve had photographers here since Friday and still here now surrounding my house I’m not that dumb. He dropped me outside my house on Friday and that’s it. I know he is staying at the Meriton.’

But Ms Aitken refused to believe the claims, saying her husband had admitted he was there. 

‘Darling I was watching him there with the white plantation shutters behind which we photographed on FaceTime and he told me he was there having pizza,’ Ms Aitken’s reply text reads.  

Ms Aitken added superimposed text at the bottom of the Instagram story, reading: ‘Stop lying and bullying me @hollie.nasser. Enough.’

The screen grab of the heated message exchange was deleted a short time later. 

The raging war of words – which is the first public glimpse inside the drama wreaking havoc behind closed doors – exposes how weeks of turmoil and heartbreak have reached boiling point. 

Ellie Aitken, 42, smiled for the camera alongside her estranged husband Charlie and their son (pictured) at an event on Friday

Ellie Aitken, 42, smiled for the camera alongside her estranged husband Charlie and their son (pictured) at an event on Friday

Ms Nasser has remained at the marital home in Sydney's eastern suburbs where her relationship with Mr Aitken was first revealed

Ms Nasser has remained at the marital home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs where her relationship with Mr Aitken was first revealed 

Mr Aitken and his wife Ellie had been long-time friends of the Nasser's, and Mr Nasser was a director of the Aitken's wealth management company

Mr Aitken and his wife Ellie had been long-time friends of the Nasser’s, and Mr Nasser was a director of the Aitken’s wealth management company

Mr Aitken and Ms Nasser were seen in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Friday, running errands and taking items into the luxury house Ms Nasser previously shared with her husband Christopher-John ‘CJ’ Nasser. 

It was the first time the new lovers have been seen together since their two marriages ended early last month.    

Mr Aitken and his wife Ellie had been long-time friends of the Nasser’s. Mr Nasser was a director of the Aitken’s wealth management company.

Sources close to the two couples said a baby monitor was central to the breakdown of the Nasser’s marriage. 

Last week, Mr Aitken confirmed his marriage to Ellie had ended and he was now in a relationship with Ms Nasser.  

‘I can confirm I am separated from Ellie Aitken and am in a relationship with Hollie Nasser. My sole focus is my children and I’ll make no further comment,’ he said.

Both Mr Nasser and Ms Aitken were ‘totally blindsided’ by the union, friends say. 

For years, the two couples were inseparable – taking international trips together and raising their young families as business partners and best friends. 

Dressed casually in shorts and a t-shirt, Mr Aitken waited in a black Audi SUV while Ms Nasser ran items into the terrace house on Friday afternoon. 

Ms Nasser emerged from the house again hours later wrapped up in a light knitted sweater.

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51284049 10275897 image a 9 1638663641615

Dressed casually in a black t-shirt and khaki shorts, Mr Aitken smiled as he stepped out of the black Audi SUV with Ms Nasser in tow

Ms Nasser shared a series of pictures outside the home in 2018 when they bought the home for $2.2 million

Ms Nasser shared a series of pictures outside the home in 2018 when they bought the home for $2.2 million

The two couples used to travel together and raised their young families as business partners and friends. Pictured dining at Eleven Madison Park in New York before the Covid pandemic

The two couples used to travel together and raised their young families as business partners and friends. Pictured dining at Eleven Madison Park in New York before the Covid pandemic

In 2018, Ms Nasser shared a series of pictures with her family posing next to a ‘sold’ sign at that same house when she and Mr Nasser bought the property for $2.2 million. 

‘Home’, she captioned the smiling snaps.    

Mr Nasser is being supported by the couple’s close friends, many of whom are said to be ‘horrified with the nature of what’s gone on’.

‘We’ve all distanced ourselves as much as we can,’ one friend of Mr Nasser’s told Daily Mail Australia. 

He was equally shocked when he was issued an apprehended domestic violence order last month by his estranged wife.

The father-of-two intends to fight the accusations with the case to go before court on December 15.  

‘I categorically deny the allegations. They are totally baseless.

‘It is disappointing that others are choosing to make a horrible situation for me and my children even worse.’  

Hollie and Ellie were best friends and Ellie was said to be 'blindsided' by the relationship

Hollie and Ellie were best friends and Ellie was said to be ‘blindsided’ by the relationship

Ellie Aitken, 42, and Charlie Aitken, 48, (pictured together) announced their split in November

Ellie Aitken, 42, and Charlie Aitken, 48, (pictured together) announced their split in November

Just five years ago, Mr and Ms Nasser were happily married in a lavish ceremony at St Mary’s Cathedral, the new bride happily announcing they’d spend the rest of their lives together.

She constantly described Mr Nasser as ‘the best husband and father’ she and her children could have ever hoped for – sharing photos of extravagant holidays, helicopter trips and days at sea on boats.   

‘The most amazing husband and dad,’ she wrote alongside a photo of Mr Nasser and his daughter. ‘You are our everything. We love you so much.’ 

Ms Nasser was simultaneously telling her best friend she had a ‘perfect family’ and that she and Mr Aitken were ‘the best couple’.

On one occasion, she described Ms Aitken as ‘the most beautiful soul’.

Just a few weeks before splitting with her husband, Ms Aitken posted a gushing birthday message telling Ms Nasser she was ‘so lucky to have you in my life’.

Together the best friends were feted as leading lights of Sydney’s social circuit, regularly photographed at functions and charity events. 

Mr Nasser was an investor and director of the Aitkens’ wealth management company, until he resigned in early November. 

The relationship has left many shocked as both couples had been friends for years (pictured, Ellie Aitken, in red, alongside former Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop, centre, with Hollie Nasser, in blue, at Ms Aitken's 40th birthday party in 2019)

The relationship has left many shocked as both couples had been friends for years (pictured, Ellie Aitken, in red, alongside former Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop, centre, with Hollie Nasser, in blue, at Ms Aitken’s 40th birthday party in 2019)

Ms Nasser shared an insight into her relationship over the years with pictures of international holidays and helicopter trips

Ms Nasser shared an insight into her relationship over the years with pictures of international holidays and helicopter trips

She constantly described Mr Nasser as 'the best husband and father' she and her children could have ever hoped for - sharing photos of extravagant holidays, helicopter trips and days at sea on boats

She constantly described Mr Nasser as ‘the best husband and father’ she and her children could have ever hoped for – sharing photos of extravagant holidays, helicopter trips and days at sea on boats

Ms Aitken is a former corporate mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Clayton Utz and one time director of the NSW Polo Association.

She also served as an executive director of the investment business she shared with her husband, Aitken Investment Management. She has since resigned but maintains her role as director.

Until 2016, they lived in a spectacular $11 million mansion in Darling Point before moving to a rental property. 

It’s understood Mr Aitken moved out of the family home and is living in a serviced apartment in Bondi Junction.

He’s been hunkering down in the apartment with Ms Nasser, who splits her time between Bondi Junction and her home in Paddington. 

Just five years ago, Mr and Ms Nasser were happily married in a lavish ceremony at St Mary's Cathedral, the new bride happily announcing they'd spend the rest of their lives together

Just five years ago, Mr and Ms Nasser were happily married in a lavish ceremony at St Mary’s Cathedral, the new bride happily announcing they’d spend the rest of their lives together

51076145 10275897 image a 29 1638663642492

Ellie Aitken (pictured left) shared a post to Instagram where she gushed about her close friend Hollie Nasser (pictured right)

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UK: People urged to get booster as UK approaches 20m top-up jabs

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s960 Default image 39 Victoria street department of health
  • Booster programme is being accelerated with more vaccination centres and military support

  • All eligible over-18s will be offered a jab by the end of January

  • UK will celebrate one-year anniversary of first vaccine being administered next week

People have been urged to get a coronavirus (COVID-19) booster vaccine to top-up their protection this winter as 20 million people in the UK are expected to have had their third jabs today (Sunday 5 December 2021).

As of 2 December, a total of 19.4 million people have had their booster or third doses in the UK. 51 million have had a first dose and 46.4 million have had a second dose. The COVID-19 dashboard will be updated at 4pm with the latest figures.

Vaccines are the best way to protect people against COVID-19 and, in light of the new Omicron variant and following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government is expanding the booster programme to all adults over 18, with all those eligible being offered a top-up jab by the end of January, as well as halving the gap between doses to protect more people more quickly.

More than one million appointments (1,077,514) for a booster vaccine were booked in England in just 4 days between Monday and Thursday this week.

To speed up the vaccination programme, around 400 military personnel will be drafted in to support deployment, with 1,500 community pharmacy sites, additional hospital hubs, and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country. Extra financial support to GPs, community pharmacies and primary care staff will help boost capacity and encourage more visits to those who are housebound.

Our priority remains to protect the most vulnerable first so everyone over the age of 40 who had their second dose at least 3 months ago will soon be able to book an appointment for their booster jab. Younger age groups will be invited by the NHS in order of age in due course.

On Wednesday 8 December, the UK will celebrate one-year since it became the first country in the world to administer an approved COVID-19 vaccine to Margaret Keenan in Coventry.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Christmas is around the corner and it’s absolutely crucial that everybody who is eligible gets their booster jab to top-up their immunity before spending time with loved ones.

While our brilliant scientists learn more about the new Omicron variant, we need to do everything we can to strengthen our defences and vaccines are the best way to do that.

This is a national mission and we all have a role to play – so roll up your sleeves and get protected as soon as you can.

The first real-world study on the effectiveness of booster vaccines against the Delta variant by the UK Health Security Agency shows top-up jabs boost protection back up to over 90% against symptomatic COVID-19 in adults aged over 50 2 weeks after being vaccinated. Data from the CovBoost trial, published on Friday [3 December], shows the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being used in the UK as boosters give the best overall immune response.

It is not yet known whether existing vaccines are less effective against the Omicron variant, but it is unlikely they offer no effectiveness against serious disease.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said:

Another brilliant milestone – thank you to all the GPs, pharmacists, NHS staff and volunteers who are working tirelessly to save lives.

Getting your booster vaccine is the most important thing you can do ahead of Christmas to protect yourself and your family.

Please take up the offer and come forward for your first and second doses too if you haven’t already.

The government’s Vaccines Taskforce has signed new contracts with Moderna for 60 million doses in and Pfizer/BioNTech for 54 million doses for 2022 and 2023 to future proof the country’s vaccine programme. The deals include access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron and future Variants of Concern, to prepare for all eventualities.

Data published last week by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows COVID-19 vaccines are safe for mothers and their babies, with good birth outcomes for vaccinated women who had their babies up to August this year. There were no consistent differences between vaccinated women and all women in the figures for stillbirths, low baby birthweights and premature births. Pregnant women have been urged to get their jabs to protect themselves and their babies as data shows that almost 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients who are most critically ill are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, said:

This latest milestone shows just how hard the NHS is working to ensure that every person can receive a life-saving booster, and in the last week alone, over 1 million people booked their first, second or top-up jab.

But the emergence of the new variant is obviously a concern for us all and we are entering the most complex and challenging phase of the vaccination programme.

NHS staff are continuing to pull out all the stops to boost the most vulnerable as quickly as we possibly can and our message is clear.

If you are currently eligible for the booster or you have not yet had your first or second dose please do come forward for your jab. It will give yourself and your loved ones vital protection as we enter the festive season.

Flu is another winter virus that can be serious. To give people the best protection over winter, those eligible for a free flu vaccine should come forward and book an appointment at either their GP practice or their local pharmacy, or take it up when offered by their employer or other healthcare provider.

The government has launched a nationwide advertising campaign, encouraging people eligible to get their booster and flu jabs to protect themselves and their loved ones and help reduce pressures on the NHS. This includes outdoor billboards, broadcast and community radio and TV.

The offer of a first and second COVID-19 vaccine remains open to anyone who is eligible. Vaccines are available free of charge and from thousands of vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Around 98% of people live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre in England.

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