Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and Nyesom Wike of River State have insisted that there is no going back on the nation’s restructuring resolution reached by the southern governors last week in Asaba
Senate President Ahmad Lawan had condemned the southern governors’ call for restructuring of Nigeria at their recent meeting in Asaba, Delta State.
He had challenged the governors to start restructuring from their states and asked them to avoid what he called regionalism.
In a response to Lawan and others opposed to restructuring, Okowa said elected officers who ignore the voice of their electors are undeserving of their offices they occupy, while Wike declared that the Asaba declaration is irrevocable.
Similarly, the South-south Study Group (3SG) described the Asaba meeting as a timely intervention which presents a “watershed moment as the nation becomes a contested arena between the progressive will of the people and the regressive whims and caprices of a few.”
Okowa, speaking at the empowerment scheme sponsored by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, on Saturday in Asaba, said it was wrong of anyone to vilify the southern governors for their stand.
He said leaders in the country could not afford to sit back and say nothing when the generality of Nigerians are daily voicing their concern.
“The things that we said are not new. It is just the voice of our people that we have continued to echo. But unfortunately, I read in the papers that somebody said being elected people, we ought not to talk about certain things,” Okowa said, without mentioning anyone by name.
He also said, “If the voice of your people has been heard loudly and they continue to talk, and you as an elected person shy away from giving further voice to their voices, then you ought not to be in the position that you occupy.
“Out of all the things that were discussed, nothing is against the unity of this country. We reaffirmed that as a people and elected governors, we believe in the unity of our country and went further to advance the need for certain things to be done in order to give strength to that unity.
“We talked about restructuring which has been on the table for so long. Both the PDP and APC have endorsed restructuring, and restructuring is all inclusive and all encompassing.
“We may have different views and different approaches to restructuring. But when we sit on the table in dialogue, we will be able to agree what is good for Nigeria and what is good for the component states.
“The conversations are obviously needed, because if we do not talk and we allow the voices of our people to continue to sink and the leadership shy away, then we are giving room for further crisis.
“So, I think it is time for other leaders across the country to thank the southern governors for giving a voice to the conversation, because it is only when these conversations come in at that level and is driven in the larger interest of majority of our people that we can have a fully united nation in which there is fairness, equity and trust amongst our people and amongst the leadership.”
On the cattle open grazing ban in the South, Okowa said, “It is not going to stop in one day. But an attempt must be made to take some actions at the national level. Those actions that will give hope that we have started a journey to stopping it.
“Today, the developing world is struggling to catch up with the developed world. Things are changing very fast, and until we are ready to begin to look futuristically, we cannot get ourselves out of where we are at the moment.
“There have been several grazing reserves in the country that have been abandoned. Why were they abandoned? We have asked the federal government to spend part of the national resources to help to plan new pilot schemes.
“Some of us in the south do support that some federal resources should be spent to start up some of these ranches and grazing reserves and put the necessary things in place in order to slow down and eventually put a stop to it in years to come.
“I don’t think this is a wrong decision, because it is in the best interest of our nation and the people. I believe that in such manner, our country will grow much bigger, must faster and much better, and people will suffer less.
“Apart from that, every insecurity associated with the farmers/herders clash will eventually be put a stop to. That cannot be said to be bad business.”
Governor Wike of Rivers also spoke on the southern governors’ resolutions saying they are irrevocable and deserve to be respected as no part of the country is inferior to another.
Wike spoke during a grand reception held in his honour by the Ogoni nationality in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of the state.
The governor declared that he had already taken further steps to implement the resolutions reached at the Asaba meeting.
He said, “We have taken a position and no going back. Enough is enough. We are not second class citizens of this country. We also own this country.”
Wike urged the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) saddled with the responsibility of the cleanup of polluted sites in Ogoni to relocate its operational office from Port Harcourt to Bori, the headquarters of the Ogoni people.
He said, “You cannot talk of cleaning up a place and keep your office in another area. Bring your office from Port Harcourt and come and stay in Bori, so that you can hear and appreciate the feelings of the people.”
East-West road, 43 others to be completed without delay – Fashola
All 44 road projects in the approved phase two of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme including the East-West road will be completed without any delay or break.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), stated this, stressing that sustainability of funding for the critical infrastructure in Nigeria would be guaranteed.
Fashola, who spoke in Abuja, noted that unlike in the past, when there was inadequate funding of infrastructure, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had secured alternative sources of funding that could guarantee sustainability from the beginning of the projects to their completion.
He said the tax credit scheme remained a new model that encourages partnership with private companies where taxes are paid in advance to enable the government invest in notable projects that would be beneficial to its citizens.
The minister said the Federal Government had focused on nine major axes of Nigeria, adding that the A1 – A4 axis covered the Northern part of the country, while the A5-A9 axis covered the East and West of the country.
He said the successful completion of all the roads would lead to sustainable mobility for Nigerians.
“The roads like Akure – Ado –Ekiti and East-West which people have been complaining about would be adequately catered for with the approval of the second phase of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme,” he said.
On payment of compensation, Fashola noted that it would not be paid to anyone occupying the government’s Right of Way (RoW) and appealed to members of the communities occupying the areas to vacate.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry, represented by the Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Folorunsho Esan, said in line with the Executive Order 7 (2019), phase one was approved on October 27, 2021.
He stated that with the completion of phase one, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved phase II of the scheme to fund 44 critical road infrastructure to the tune of N1.96 trillion naira.
Esan said that as it was done with phase one, phase two would be governed by a set of guidelines to be issued to each contractor, adding that there would be a funding intervention agreement to be implemented in addition to the standard condition of the contract governing the execution of the projects.
He said that the availability of this new funding window will ensure steady cash flow and a timely completion of projects.
He also stated that the NNPC intervention which began in October 2021 with phase one has now occupied the top of the log with a portfolio well in excess of N2.6 trillion.
On the part of NNPC, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari, who was represented by the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Aliya, said that funding would not be an issue anymore as the company is committed to fully funding the next phase.
“We are committed to setting aside funds for phase II. Funding would not be a problem. What is important to us is that our consultant will need to validate the value for money and the quality of work. We will not compromise the quality and timely completion of work,“ he said.
“There is no need for excuses. As for us, on our part, we are committed and we implore the contractors to do quality work and do it on time so that the road projects can be open for use to Nigerians,” he added.
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Mohammed Nami, explained that most of the roads captured by Executive Order 7 to be executed by the NNPC were mostly road projects inherited by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
“So, we are appealing to Nigerians to trust Executive order 007 so that government will continue to provide the physical infrastructure that our people need,“he said.
Nigeria ranks 150 out of 180 countries in 2022 Transparency International Corruption Index
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, has announced that Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
This according to Rafsanjani is four places lower than the 154th position in the country’s 2021 CPI results.
Rafsanjani made the announcement on Tuesday at a press briefing held at CISLAC meeting hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
He however added that in terms of points, the country has retrained 24 points it had in 2021.
He also noted that the data index used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI- Nigeria but by Independent and reputable organisations with sound research methodologies.
“While Nigeria moved four places up on the country ranking, it has maintained it’s previous score of 24 which is it’s lowest score on the CPI since 2012, which suggests a slowdown in the steady decline observed in the previous three CPI’s, he said.”
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The CISLAC boss lamented the rate of corruption in the country and reserved some blames for the Judiciary.
“Nigeria as a country has reached a point where citizens should come out in their millions to protest against corruption, thus, with the expectations that this regime could address the issue of corruption, yet the world continues to face corruption with the help of high profile officials,” he lamented.
Among other recommendations, CISCLAC called on the executive arm of government to stop granting pardon to corrupt politicians recklessly.
As a means to curb and tackle the incessant corruption in Nigeria, CISLAC also recommended as follows:
1. The presidency, INEC, political parties, security actors and other relevant bodies should ensure that the 2023 general election are free, fair and credible.
2. The relevant anti-graft agencies should ensure that high profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.
3. Agencies given the mandate to recover assets under the proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 should ensures that they establish a database where information about assets in their custody is easily accessed by citizens in line with the Act and the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
4. The Federal government should address the lingering issue of oil theft in the country.
5. The relevant agencies should investigate those behind the important of toxic fuel to Nigeria in 2022.
6. The National assembly should ensure transparency in the implementation of the constituency projects. The relevant agencies should ensure that those found guilty are brought to book.
7. With the election fast approaching, the judiciary should ensure more than ever to deliver justice.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) developed by theTransparency International (TI) in 1995 is an annual ranking of countries on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys by experts and business executives. It’s aims is to serve as a basis for critical reflection on tangible ways to strengthen the fight against corruption.
No single government can solve Nigeria’s problems – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that no single government can solve Nigeria’s problems.
Buhari, at a state- of- nation dialogue on security, economy and administration of justice in Abuja, stated that efforts of successive governments were required to see the country through its challenges
The President hoped that the event, which was organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), would contribute to Nigeria’s development. Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, reminded lawyers that they owed the nation some responsibilities.
“I would say no one government in this country would be able to solve the problems of Nigeria. But as we build on the precedent set by successive governments, not discarding completely what has been put in place, we would in the course of our desire to build a Nigeria of our dreams, be able to pick one or two things, on which we can concentrate and move.
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“As a government, the outcome of this dialogue can be transmitted to us so that whatever resolutions are reached, that would become part of the documents would prepare us as we transit and hand over to an incoming government.”
Kebbi State Governo, Atiku Bagudu, who also attended the event, said one of the ways to tackle insecurity was to give priority to primary education in the country.
He said most of the causes of insecurity were a result of the breakdown of the social contract towards the people.
Bagudu, therefore, advocated more investment in primary education to turn the situation in the country around.
The governor pointed out that in developed countries, as much as $27,000 is spent on a child, while in Nigeria, a rich state like Lagos, spends far less.
He said: “They (children) have not been provided education. The challenges of inclusion are the most current. We need to include more people and so we have to mobilise more resources.”
Bagudu praised the NBA for the theme of the dialogue, which according to him, is holding ahead of the general election.
Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, condemned the attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
She also frowned at attacks on some candidates for the general election, as well as fake news and hate speeches focusing on religious and ethnic identities.
The UN chief said: “INEC has been making great strides in improving the transparency, accountability and credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process. The increase in the number of registered voters from 84m to 93m is encouraging and suggests Nigerians are enthusiastic about the electoral process.
“However, we continue to witness attacks against the institution. Fake news, hate speech, based on religious and ethnic identities, violence against candidates as well as INEC facilities and staff since the political campaigns began.”
Mohammed hoped that the elections would provide an opportunity for Nigerians to unite and shape the future of the nation.
She said as Africa’s largest economy with a youthful population, Nigeria cannot afford to fail.
The UN chief said Nigeria must be steeped in economic, social and environmental principles and must be guided by Agenda 2030 and its 17 goals.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent to-do list, a blueprint for global and local action. We needed it to develop peace and prosperity and a thriving natural environment for current and future generations.”
NBA President Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) said there was a need to continuously engage government at all levels on issues affecting the country and the citizenry.
He urged members of the Bench and Bar to always ensure that justice was served without fear of favour.
The New Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Solomon Arase, encouraged the deployment of technology to secure the country.
Arase, who added that government cannot solve security problems alone, said the establishment of reform panels over insecurity was a waste of time.
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