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Senate suspends budget defence over arson, looting

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Senate Committee on Interior has suspended its budget defence over the violent attacks, massive destruction and looting by hoodlums across the country.

The Federal Fire Service and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had appeared before the committee to present their expenditure on the ongoing 2020 budget and defend their proposal for the 2021 budget.

But shortly after the meeting started, Senator George Sekibo (PDP) Rivers East raised a point of order and informed the Senate that the two agencies are critical to restoring law and order in the territory and other parts of the country.

He, therefore, said that they should be excused from the meeting and allowed to go and carry out their constitutional mandate in order to restore peace and order.

This view was supported by other members of the committee and the Chairman of the committee, Senator Kashim Shetimma, ruled in favour of the motion and directed that the two agencies should return to their jobs.

“This budget defence is hereby stepped down,” Shetimma ruled.

Sekibo had argued that like other public property, the offices of the agencies had come under attack by hoodlums.

He stressed the need for the agencies to have the full complement of its entire manpower to be able to handle the situation.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Kashim Shetimma, who spoke with journalists later, said the attention of the paramilitary personnel was needed to stop the breakdown of law and order in the country.

He said, “Those paramilitary organizations such as the Federal Fire Service and the civil defence submitted their budgets containing details of expenditure; we have received them and will subject them to public scrutiny and when the need arises, we will call them back to shed more light.

“In the light of the growing challenges and the issue of the pandemic, we felt compelled not to dissipate their useful time and energy answering a lot of questions from us.

“If there is a need for them to appear before us as we said earlier, we will call them back and subject them to scrutiny.

“We have the budget and there are explanations on how the funds are expended. If we want additional information, we will inquire from them but right now, some of their organisations are being attacked; some of their offices were burnt down. So how do you expect us to hold them to ransom here while there are needs for them to attend to outside.

“There are no compelling issues to hold them here.”

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Seun Okinbaloye speaks on reported sack from Channels

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Seun Okinbaloye speaks on reported sack from Channels

Amidst widespread social media speculation, Seun Okinbaloye, a well-known anchor with Channels Television, has not been dismissed from the station.

This was clarified by Farooq Kperogi, a Mass Communication professor and renowned newspaper columnist, who personally spoke with Okinbaloye.

In an exclusive conversation on Saturday morning, Okinbaloye assured Kperogi that he is currently on vacation in the United States and remains employed by Channels TV.

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Kperogi in a post on his verified Facebook page said : “Channel TV’s Seun Okinbaloye has NOT been fired, contrary to social media rumors doing the rounds. I communicated with him a few hours ago, and he said he is on vacation here in the United States and still very much in the employ of Channels TV.”

The United States-based Professor of Journalism quoted Okinbaloye as saying, “Prof, the whole story is fake news.”

Professor Kperogi’s statement has reassured fans and viewers who were concerned about the future of the Politics Today anchor.

Okinbaloye is a respected journalist and anchor, known for his in-depth analysis and insightful reporting.

Seun Okinbaloye speaks on reported sack from Channels

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Nigerians demand removal of NMDPRA boss over Dangote refinery

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Chief Executive of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Authority, Farouk Ahmed

Nigerians demand removal of NMDPRA boss over Dangote refinery

Nigerians have called out the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Authority, Farouk Ahmed, for saying the diesel produced by the $20bn Dangote refinery is inferior to the ones imported into the country.

It appears Ahmed incurred the wrath of Nigerians, who accused him of trying to demarket the refinery owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

PUNCH Online reported earlier that Ahmed had told the Dangote refinery that the Federal Government would not stop the importation of petroleum products, saying Nigeria cannot depend on one refinery to feed the nation.

The agency also said the diesel from the Dangote refinery contains a high sulphur content of about 1,000 parts per million.

Reacting to allegations that the NMDPRA was giving licences to some traders to import dirty fuel into Nigeria, Ahmed argued that it was the Dangote fuel that had the larger content of sulphur.

He revealed that the refinery, which has been selling diesel and aviation fuel in Nigeria for months, has not been licensed, stating that it is still at the pre-commissioning stage.

“The claim by some media houses that there were steps to scuttle the Dangote refinery is not so. The Dangote refinery is still in the pre-commissioning stage. It has not been licensed yet; we haven’t licensed them yet. They are still in the pre-commissioning. I think they have about 45 per cent completion,” he declared.

The NMDPRA boss warned that Nigeria cannot rely heavily on the Dangote refinery for its fuel supply.

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According to him, the refinery had requested the regulator to stop giving import licences to other marketers so as to be the only fuel supplier in Nigeria.

“We cannot rely heavily on one refinery to feed the nation, because Dangote is requesting that we should suspend or stop importation of all petroleum products, especially AGO and direct all marketers to the refinery, that is not good for the nation in terms of energy security. And that is not good for the market, because of monopoly,” he stressed.

Speaking about quality, he said, “So, in terms of quality, currently the AGO quality in terms of sulphur is the lowest as far as the West African requirement of 50 ppm is concerned.

“Dangote refinery and some modular refineries, like Waltersmith refinery and Aradel refinery, are producing between 650 to 1,200ppm. So, in terms of quality, their product is much more inferior to the imported quality,” he alleged.

While the Dangote Group has yet to react officially to the allegations from the chief executive, Nigerians have taken to social media to demand Ahmed’s removal by President Bola Tinubu.

An X user, Ohiozoje Augustine, said, “He should be immediately relieved of his duties to prevent the damaging impression that his actions were endorsed by those at the top.”

@realist_waley opined: “It’s a very deliberate reckless talk that should warrant a query from the government. This is an obvious economic sabotage and that guy needs to be suspended.”

@Talk2me001, replied the NMDPRA boss: “This is your own selfish agenda. Why do we need to import when we already have Dangote producing legally? Truly, Dangote is right then, that the oil cabals are more dangerous than drug cabals.”

@Dankatsina50 said: “This is a strategy to frustrate Dangote refinery. This has been the game of the oil cabals that has made a whole country not have a single functioning refinery for years. They should allow him to be selling the inferior one to us like that, we will buy it.”

@Gviev commented, “I hope the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor and Minister of Finance are listening to this man. We are talking about promoting local production and exports to reduce demand for foreign exchange and strengthen the naira. He and the oil marketers are rather focused on their selfish interest to keep importing and depressing the naira.

“You should be talking about competition for local producers instead of trying to manipulate Nigerians to focus on your propaganda that Dangote wants a monopoly. Well, it’s Nigeria that will suffer it because Dangote Refinery will just focus on exports.”

Johnson Ayodeji asked, “Oga, is it Dangote that made the government-owned refineries moribund for decades? or has Dangote stopped any other person from building a refinery? We know the enemies of our country.”

Sola Solarin claimed, “This statement is self-indicting. If Dangote has not been licensed, why is he being allowed to sell diesel? If Dangote can meet our local needs, why do we need to import? We can restrict import without compromising energy security.”

Nigerians demand removal of NMDPRA boss over Dangote refinery

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Why I won’t go back to Peter Obi – Okupe

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Doyin Okupe

Why I won’t go back to Peter Obi – Okupe

Director-General of the Labour Party’s presidential campaign in the 2023 election, Dr Doyin Okupe, has denied betraying the candidate of the party, Peter Obi.

Rather, he said it was Obi who betrayed the Peoples Democracy Party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to contest the election.

According to Okupe, Obi’s presidential interest forced him to go against Atiku, who brought him into national politics.

Okupe maintained that he decided to withdraw his support for the LP presidential candidate because he was no longer interested in working with him.

The politician spoke in a viral video circulated on social media on Friday.

He said, “They said I betrayed Obi. No. How can I betray him? I started politics in 1978. Obi was nowhere else. My life and political destiny cannot be tied to Obi’s ambition. I wish Obi well, but I am done with him. We wanted to achieve something, but we couldn’t achieve it.

“Obi was the vice-presidential candidate of Atiku Abubakar in 2019. He brought him to the national limelight. Because of his own ambition, which was correct and due, Obi left the party and contested against Atiku. If people said I betrayed Obi, what did Obi do to Atiku? It is not fair.

“It is Obi’s interest in 2023 that made him go on a collision course against his former master. Obi was not my master; I was his supporter. If I supported him up to a point and decided to go back and be myself, how can that be an offence?”

Okupe disclosed that Pa Ayo Adebanjo, a leader of pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, persuaded him to support Obi.

According to him, he (Adebanjo) objected to the idea of a northerner succeeding former president Muhammadu Buhari, adding that he supported the move for the South to produce Nigeria’s president in 2023.

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Okupe further stated that the collective decision to support Obi from the South-East was based on fairness.

The politician said, “Baba Adebanjo called me and said he heard that I wanted to contest for the presidential election, and I said yes. Baba said I was a troublemaker. I told Baba that he didn’t know what was happening in our party.

“PDP wanted a northerner to replace Buhari; that didn’t make sense to me. It made a mockery of our federalism and unity as a nation. It undermined my essence as a human being.

“Baba asked which section of the South should be considered if the presidency was zoned to the region. I told Baba that it was only the South-East that has not produced a president.

“Baba said we should support the South-East for the presidency and I agreed. We reviewed the presidential candidates from that region and we concluded on supporting Obi. That was what happened.”

Speaking further, Okupe said, “I went to the Press Centre in Abeokuta to declare that I was withdrawing from the race, and that I would support Peter Obi. By that time, I hadn’t met Obi. I haven’t discussed or seen him. I only knew he wanted to be president.

“Five days later, Obi called me on the phone and requested to see me. We met and discussed and he made me the Director-General of his campaign. That was how the journey with Obi started. When it was clear to us that we couldn’t get the ticket from PDP, we decided to leave the party.”

On why Obi lost the election, Okupe disclosed that the party was grossly and inadequately arranged to cover a national election, saying LP didn’t have what it took to win the presidential poll.

He said, “We ran a fantastic campaign; we did a lot of mobilisation, but we had our flaws and shortcomings. The party was grossly and inadequately arranged to cover a national election. We didn’t have what it took. The structure that covered the entire country wasn’t there.”

Reacting to Okupe’s statement, the Chairman of the Labour Party in Osun State, Bello Adebayo, said, “Obi didn’t betray anybody; it is not correct to say he betrayed Atiku because he didn’t contest the PDP presidential ticket with him in PDP.”

Why I won’t go back to Peter Obi – Okupe

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