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Man Moves From Florida To Take Over World’s Oldest Post Office

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Barry Ford has taken over Sanquhar Post Office in Dumfries and Galloway, which has been in continuous operation for 311 years.

Ford, originally from Lincolnshire, and his wife Mary, from North Lanarkshire, had been living and working in the US for 20 years when they first heard the post office was for sale three years ago.

He had an aircraft detailing company in Lakeland in the US state, cleaning aircraft for private owners, but the couple were hoping to buy a business back in the UK as their elderly mothers there were in poor health.

They put in an offer but were pipped to the post, but had a second opportunity to buy the business when the sale fell through, and are now only the 17th operators of the world’s oldest post office.

The couple were also delighted to discover that Mrs Ford’s ancestors were from the nearby Muirkirk area in East Ayrshire.

Mr Ford said: “It is amazing that I have gone from living in Florida for 20 years, where the history is mostly 19th to 20th century, to becoming the postmaster for the world’s oldest post office which dates back over 300-plus years.

“I was an avid stamp collector as a child and to discover that Mary’s ancestors were from the local area was fate.

“To be given a second opportunity to buy the Sanquhar Post Office came at the right time when our elderly mothers had sadly passed away.

“Mary and I are very excited and humbled to be serving this community, and we also look forward to welcoming tourists from both near and afar who come to Sanquhar to sample the delights this vibrant community has to offer.

“I am also proud to be this post office’s 17th postmaster, which isn’t that many, considering its long history.”

The post office opened in 1712, eight years before the second oldest, and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest one in operation.

The second oldest, in Stockholm, Sweden, opened in 1720 while the third, in Santiago, Chile, opened in 1772.

Mrs Ford, from Motherwell, discovered her connections to the local area while sorting through her mother’s possessions, when she found a pair of knitted gloves with a Sanquhar pattern.

She decided to further investigate her family tree and discovered that her ancestors came from around the Muirkirk area.

Mr Ford, who served in the RAF, has taken over from postmistress Nazra Alam, who had run the Post Office since 2015 along with her late husband, Dr Manzoor Alam, who passed away in November 2022.

She has now retired and is returning to the Midlands, where she lived before moving to Sanquhar.

Post Office chief executive Nick Read said: “As a nation we should be so proud to have the world’s longest-running Post Office.

“Not only does it support the wider economy by attracting tourists from all over the world, but it continues to provide everyday essential banking and postal services that local residents, like anywhere else in the country, rely on.”

The post office is a popular attraction for postal and philatelic enthusiasts from across the UK and the world, and many visit to have their letters marked with a special handstamp bearing “The World’s Oldest Post Office”.

Separately, postmasters wrongfully convicted in the Horizon IT scandal will be offered £600,000 to settle their claims.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said those affected had suffered “for too long” and so should be able to settle their claims “swiftly if they wish”.

The offer will be optional, the UK Government said, with those affected able to continue with the current compensation process if they choose.

The scandal, which has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history, saw more than 700 Post Office branch managers handed criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software made it appear as though money was missing.

The UK Government said 86 convictions have been overturned and £21m has been paid in compensation.

Postmasters who have already received initial compensation payments or have reached a settlement with the Post Office of less than £600,000 will be paid the difference.

Making a statement in the Commons, Hollinrake said: “The sum will be £600,000. It is not up to £600,000, it is £600,000.

“There will be no requirement for evidence to support the claim other than being able to demonstrate that the individual has an overturned conviction.”

He said the figure was arrived at by looking at existing claims that have been processed and applying a “generous uplift to that”.

The minister acknowledged “some details will need to be worked through”, including how long the upfront offer remains open.

The government said it would continue to fund the legal costs of the postmasters to ensure they receive independent advice before making a decision.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, which represent 70 former sub-postmasters who are seeking compensation from the Post Office after having convictions relating to the scandal overturned, said in many cases the offer is “nowhere near enough”.

He said: “I expect the reaction of many of our clients will be that this move is another example of the Post Office trying to control the narrative here.

“The government has said these offers are optional, but my fear is that, due to the delays we have already faced, and the particular circumstances many sub-postmasters face, some may feel pressured to accept this offer even though their claims are worth much more.

“In isolation £600,000 may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but in many cases it is nowhere near enough to represent what has been lost over the last two decades.”

Starting in the late 1990s, the Post Office began installing the accounting software, but faults in the software led to shortfalls in branches’ accounts.

The Post Office demanded sub-postmasters cover the shortfalls and, in many cases, wrongfully prosecuted them between 1999 and 2015 for false accounting or theft.

An independent inquiry is ongoing.

The Overturned Convictions process, Horizon Shortfall Scheme and Group Litigation Order have in total paid more than £120m to 2,600 individuals affected by the scandal.

The Post Office said it welcomed the announcement, but also said the offer is not expected to be appropriate in every case.

Post Office chief executive Nick Read said: “Post Office is making good progress to pay compensation to those affected as quickly as possible and therefore welcomes the news that government has found a way to provide the option of concluding settlements through their upfront offer.

“This will be an entirely voluntary choice and so claimants should obtain specific advice from their independent legal and professional representatives in considering whether it is suitable in their individual case.

 

Credit: Sky News

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Tinubu Appoints Walson-Jack Head Of Civil Service

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of Didi Esther Walson-Jack as the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, with effect from August 14, 2024.

Prior to her new role, Walson-Jack was the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education.

She was also appointed as Federal Permanent Secretary in 2017 and has served in several ministries.

The announcement was contained in a statement on Wednesday by the President’s Special Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement was titled ‘President Tinubu Appoints New Head of Civil Service of the Federation.’

“The new appointee will take over from the incumbent Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, CFR, who is due to retire on August 13, 2024.

“President Tinubu, while thanking the outgoing Head of Service for her stewardship, tasks the incoming Head of Service to discharge her duties with innovative flair, integrity, and stringent adherence to the extant rules and regulations of the Civil Service of the Federation,” the statement read.

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PDP Governors Declare Support For Organized Labour Demand On Minimum Wage

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By Augustine Akhilomen

….Demand Political Solution To Rivers Crisis

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum has declared their total support to the demand for a new minimum wage by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

This was made known following a marathon meeting in Enugu that lasted over four hours, Bauchi State Governor and Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Bala Mohammed, addressed the press on behalf of his colleagues.

He called for a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Rivers State between Governor Sim Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike.

The governors also supported the federal government’s stance on granting autonomy to local governments.

The PDP Governors’ Forum vowed to work together to achieve their goals, providing a united front to reclaim leadership positions and provide a credible alternative to Nigerians.

The governors present at the meeting included Gov. Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State, Chairman, Gov. Siminalayi Fubara, Rivers State, Vice Chairman, Gov. Peter N. Mba (Host), Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, Adamawa State, Gov. Umo Eno, Akwa Ibom State, Gov. Douye Diri, Bayelsa State, Member, Gov. Sheriff Oborevwori, Delta State, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, Edo State, Gov. Seyi Makinde, Oyo State, Gov. Caleb Mutfwang, Plateau State, Gov. Agbu Kefas, Taraba State and Gov. Dauda Lawal, Zamfara State

According to the communiqué, “The meeting deliberated on a wide range of issues that border on our critical national interest, the state of our party particularly the forthcoming congress, the unprecedented hardship faced by majority of Nigerians as a result of the dismal performance of the APC-led Federal Government, the minimum wage negotiations, and the recurring issue of inter-governmental relations with special reference to local government autonomy and funding.

“Following exhaustive discussions and consultations, the meeting resolved as follows: In the spirit of the founding fathers of our great party who adopted internal democracy as the fundamental principle on which our party was built, the congresses leading to the election of party leaders, at the various tiers, must be all-inclusive, transparent, fair and in strict compliance with the constitution of the party.

“To ensure the successful conduct of the congresses across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.”

On the off season elections in Edo and Ondo, the forum admonished all the parties to the elections “to ensure that campaigns are issues-based, violence-free and in strict compliance with the provisions of the electoral act.

“Urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide a level playing field that guarantees transparent, fair and unimpeachable elections as any act of bias will be totally resisted.

“Urges Mr. President to show leadership as a true democrat by refraining from making any statement suggestive of political interference in the entire process.

“The Forum notes with dismay and grave concern the mismanagement of the economy by the APC-led Federal Government.

“The minimum wage negotiations are becoming unduly protracted. In the face of the attendant unprecedented hardship and impoverishment of majority of our people, the Forum resolves as follows:

“That Labour’s demand for a substantial salary raise is eminently justified and therefore commands the total support of the Forum

“While the Forum fully supports Labour’s demand, agreement must take into consideration the ability to pay by the local government, sub-national and federal government.

“While negotiations are ongoing, we appeal for restraint in both utterances and actions that could lead to the complete breakdown of law and order and ultimately, the collapse of the economy.”

The governors also took a stand on the Supreme Court judgement on local government autonomy, declaring that they believed in the efficacy of the local government system which ensures that governance is brought closer to the people as provided for in the constitution.

“Will continue to support the autonomy of the Local Governments as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Forum holds the Supreme Court in the highest esteem, and is committed to obedience to court orders. However, the Forum urges that implementation of the court decision must be done in a manner that does not create a trust deficit between the federal governments and sub-national governments while also ensuring that the system does not suffer,” they further stated.

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‘You Must Pay For Everything I Did For You’ – Kizz Daniel Makes Demand Amid Rumours Of Marriage Crash

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Nigerian singer, Oluwatobiloba Daniel Anidugbe, better known as Kizz Daniel, has requested a refund for all his expenses, amidst reports of his crashed marriage.

Recall that rumours made rounds online last week that Kizz Daniel’s marriage had crashed after his wife caught him with another woman in his studio.

In a post on his X handle on Wednesday, the singer listed the condition for anyone wanting to break up with him.

He wrote, “If you won breakup with me, Follow no My problem just pay me my PENSION $ For all the things I don do airtime, Gifts, The F**k etc then you can leave – BALACLAVA.”

Meanwhile, Kizz Daniel has opened up about why his latest single, ‘Double,’ was dedicated to his wife, who also featured as a vixen in the accompanying music video.

Recall that the new song showcases Daniel’s signature blend of afrobeat rhythms, infectious choruses and soulful melodies.

In a statement on Saturday, the ‘Woju’ crooner said the song is a celebration of love and double joy that comes with sharing it live with someone special.

Emphasising the reason for dedicating the song to his wife, the singer said the song also speaks to the beauty of partnership and family and hopes that the romantic anthem will resonate with his fans worldwide.

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