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Updated: South-South leaders meet FG delegation, insist on restructuring for peace, development

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… want NNPC subsidiaries’ head offices relocated to N’Delta

South-South governors and other leaders from the geopolitical zone met in Port Harcourt on Tueday with a presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.

To guarantee peace, security and stability in the region and by extension the country, the leaders demanded true federalism through restructuring.

They also requested the relocation of the headquarters of all subsidiaries of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the region.

They also demanded the immediate privatisation of the nation’s refineries to make them functional and boost the economy of the region.

The leaders stated that the country was not at peace with itself and that things were not really working.

Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum and Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, presented the position of the zone during its stakeholders’ meeting with the presidential delegation.

The meeting, earlier slated to hold on November 17, was cancelled at the last minute on the excuse that the FG’s delegation had to attend an emergency meeting of the National Security Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja on the same day.

Okowa told the presidential delegation that the region was committed to restructuring the country to guarantee “true federalism” and devolution of powers to the states to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.

They requested the immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-south gets its share of $55 billion shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.

“True federalism’ guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each state of the federation as it was the case in the first republic is what we want,” Okowa said.

According to him, the geopolitical zone desires a federation where its constituent units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like local government areas, manage their elections and control their judiciary.

He said, “We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of efforts, imagination, hard work, sacrifice and leadership, every state of the federation as of today, has the ability and capability to contribute to the national purse. This should be encouraged rather than the whole country depending substantially on a region of the country.

“What is worse and even more painful in this ugly situation is the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and the uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who have refused to understand the challenges of the South-South region of the country, especially, the degradation of the environment and our waters. As a result, most of the demands of the region have remained unattended to while the resources of the region have been used continually to develop other parts of the country.”

The governors called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri to enhance the economic development of the region.

They demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and Warri should be privatised.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the leaders of the region to avail themselves of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly since most of the issues contained in their demands are constitutional matters.

Gambari said the meeting was in response to the President’s mandate that the presidential delegation comprising all the ministers from the region to visit and consult the representatives of the people regarding the recent #EndSARS protest.

He lauded the governors for their quick response and actions in addressing the #EndSARS crisis.

Those who attended the meeting were Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).

Others were Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva; Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jeddy- Agba; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

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EFCC grills ex-Kwara gov, Ahmed, over N9n fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has quizzed a former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, for allegedly diverting N9bn.
The former governor was grilled by an EFCC team of operatives from the commission’s headquarters at Jabi, Abuja.
Ahmed, on invitation of the anti-graft agency, was said to have arrived at the EFCC headquarters by 10am on Monday.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that he was in their custody, but did not give further information on the development.
Ahmed had governed Kwara between 2011 and 2019.
Before then, he had served as commissioner for finance in the administration of Bukola Saraki, his predecessor.
Details of the allegations of fraud against him are still sketchy but TheCable understands the funds involved run into billions of naira.
This is the second time the former governor will be invited by the EFCC since he vacated office in 2019.
In December 2020, he was at the commission’s office after an invitation.

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Only 9% of miliraty budget spent on weapons – Gbajabiamila

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  • DHQ: Nigeria needs N826bn annually to fund armed forces

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says only nine per cent of the total budget of the military is spent on weapons.
He stated this at a public hearing on the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, organised by the House Committee on Defence on Monday in Abuja.

This came as the Defence Headquarters said Nigeria would need $2bn (about N826bn) annually to fund its armed forces to effectively combat the daunting challenges of insecurity facing the country.
This disclosure also came on Monday just it was revealed that some members of the Armed Forces currently engaged in the fight against insurgency and other criminal act are lobbying to be redeployed from the area where they are posted as a result of poor welfare.

Gbajabiamila said that appropriation records showed that about 91 per cent of the current funding of the Armed Forces was spent on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare.
“This bill seeks to provide an injection of additional capital funding for the Armed Forces of Nigeria at a crucial time in our nation.

“I am sure many of you will wonder why the Armed Forces of Nigeria need an additional financial injection at this time.
“The fact based on appropriation records is that about 91 per cent of the current funding to the Armed Forces go on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare, leaving only nine per cent for capital purchases.
“This reality has prompted this 9th House of Representatives to seek a way of providing funds that will be focused on the capital needs and training of our Armed Forces,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila said that the importance of the bill is evidenced by the dwindling resources available to the Armed Forces to prosecute the various security operations it is involved in.
Gbajabiamila said that Nigeria’s expenditure on military hardware and training in the last five years was between nine per cent and 11 per cent of the budgetary allocation to the military.
He said that it was incapable of empowering the military to face the security challenges in the country especially the insurgency in the North-East.
Gbajabiamila said that to succeed in the fight against insecurity, the military would need more funding for modern weapons and training.
He said, “Nigeria is at war against insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity; hence the need to uplift the resources available to our armed services to enable them procure the best tools to help win this war.
“So, what we seek to do in this bill is not new or unique to us as a nation; the solution to our security challenges requires asymmetric actions across many policy areas. This is what we have tried to do as the representatives of the people.
“The concept of a trust fund already exists for the Nigerian Police; it only makes sense to also bolster our military capability as well through this unique vehicle.”
Chairman, House, House Committee on Defence, Rep. Benson Babajimi (APC-Lagos) said that the bill sought to explore alternative sources of funding for the military.

Meanwhile, Director of Production, Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal M. A. Yakubu, who spoke at the public hearing said even the sources of funding specified in the bill would be inadequate to tackle the problem.
He said the projection for funding in the Bill is estimated at about N100bn per year.
When established, the Support Trust Fund is expected to draw funds from one per cent of the total money accruing to the federation account; 0.5 per cent of the profit made from the investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund (NSWF) by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment, one percent of Value Added Tax (VAT) remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as well as any take-off grant and special intervention fund as may be provided by the Federal Government, states and local governments of the Federation.
It will also draw funds from one percent of the air ticket contract, charter and cargo sales charge to be collected by the airlines and paid to the support fund; Aids, grant and all assistance from international agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sectors; and Money derived from investments made by the Support Fund.
But AVM Yakubu said this will still be inadequate, saying “I have been a defence attaché in the United States of America from 2014 to 2017. I have been a Director of Procurement at the headquarters of the Nigerian Airforce for another two years.
“I have been a chief of logistics also at the headquarters Nigerian Airforce for another two years. So I am fully conversant with what it takes to run the affairs of a fighting Airforce.
“I also understand the limitations we have in Nigeria and what it should have been. I want you to understand how large is this problem we are trying to address before I make my point.”

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Insecurity: FCTA demolishes taxi park shielding criminals

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In a bid to eliminate criminal activities in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has demolished a taxi park reportedly turned into a drug addict’s colony and a haven for many other criminal activities.

FCTA said the place, located at NICON Junction in Maitama District, was supposed to be an interchange by the Abuja Master Plan, but temporarily made a taxi park to mitigate the hardship of commuters.

Director, FCTA Security Services Department, Adamu Gwari, said the taxi park had not only turned into an environmental nuisance but also a security threat that could not be allowed.

Gwari, who led other officials on the demolition exercise, also noted that in view of the persistent insecurity across the country, the administration is prepared to deal with all potential dangers to the residents.

His words: “In line with the city programme, this place is a taxi rank. But it has been highly abused and turned into nuisances. That is why we have to remove everything. This place has become a security threat and it breeds criminality. There are series of concerns from the residents regarding the rate of criminality which emanates from this place.”

Chairman,  FCT Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation,  Ikharo Attah said the FCT Minister  Malam Muhammad Bello was worried that the government’s efforts towards alleviating residents’ transportation difficulties were scuttled by miscreants.

Attah explained that the ministerial directive to immediately demolish the taxi park was meant to promptly address brewing insecurity within the highbrow Maitama District, saying the park was abused.

According to him, a place provided by the government to ease residents’ movement, unfortunately, had turned into a hiding place for drug addicts.

He vowed that the contravention won’t be allowed to remain an environmental nuisance that breeds insecurity within the neighbourhood and the territory in general.

Attah said: “This place is supposed to be an interchange according to the plans, but temporarily turned to a taxi park to manage transportation problems, but the place was abused. The place was turned into a home for drug addicts and has become dangerous for the neighbourhood.

“The Minister was clear when he gave a matching order that this nuisance is removed. The taxi park has become a contravention that can’t be allowed.

“All the concerned departments will ensure that the nuisance does not reappear because this place is the heart of Maitama District. The Minister has ordered that we should green the place, to add to the aesthetic of the city.”

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