Abuja, 28, June 2020 The Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI) has called on the National Assembly to repeal the 1996 Act establishing Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) in the nation’s interest.
Aghanya also called for the amendment of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act 1992 to absorb the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) as a specialised department of NEPZA in Oil and Gas.
He said that the NEPZA Act of 1992 empowered the agency to administer and manage all Export Processing Zones in the country.
He said that surprisingly, the 1996 OGFZA Act was enacted for the oil zone at Onne and Okpokiri, probably in consideration of the importance of the sector in the nation’s economy.
He said that rather than adding any economic value, the action over the years ended up duplicating the functions of NEPZA and bloated personnel cost.
Aghanya added that the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the implementation of the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye-led Presidential Committee on the need to down size the number of government agencies in the country was a deserving policy.
He said because the policy aimed at reducing cost of governance as the administration was determined to re-write wrong policies of previous administrations.
Aghanya while saying that the NGO had earlier petitioned the National Assembly on the issue, said its petition was timely because it supported President Buhari’s concern on the need to reduce cost of governance.
“Part of our objectives as a non-governmental organisation is to provide necessary data through our research efforts to guide government in its policy formulations and implementations.
“This was why we took time to study the objectiveness of allowing these two agencies (NEPZA and OGFZA), which have same functions.
“We realised that it was an unnecessary duplication of agencies, probably designed to satisfy the interest of an individual then,” Aghanya said.
He added that the investigation of the NGO revealed that a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), communicated the recommendation of the Presidential Committee on Free Trade Zone to the then Minister of Commerce, Dr Aliyu Umar on Oct. 17, 2006.
He recalled that the then SGF had recommended that there should be only one Free Zone Authority to be known as Nigeria Free Zones Authority to be responsible for policy formulation and general supervision of free zones.
“The report of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of the Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies of April 2012, also recommended that the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) be reverted to the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).
“This, the committee said should be done by simply amending the Act establishing NEPZA,” Aghanya further recalled.
He stressed that the urgency for the National Assembly to attend to the NGO’s earlier petition on the matter had further become necessary because of the ravaging effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
Aghanya said that what the country needed now was more industries and not duplication of government agencies.
He said the NGO was calling for a repeal of the Act establishing the agencies in question under government whistle-blower policies.
He called on the Nigerian media to lend their voices to the clarion call, adding that it was a collective duty to act in the interest of the nation and to do so promptly.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin and Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Group protests Edo Govt’s alleged attempt to obtain N20bn loan
Isere said: “first, Edo’s domestic debt profile stands at N84.76 billion; secondly, we have the highest domestic debt in Nigeria next to Lagos.
“We have the highest external debt in the entire South-South amounting to $257.92 million as at March 2020.
“Apart from the few renovations of already existing infrastructure, we have not seen any landmark or gigantic projects the government has done with the funds accruing to the state.
“We, therefore, find no justification for the government’s desire to acquire another N20 billion loan few weeks to the governorship elections in the state,” Isere said.
In his reaction, Mr Crusoe Osagie, the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, said that there was no such thing as N20 billion loan proposal by the Edo Government.
Osagie said: “Edo people cannot be distracted by such a wild claim.
“We advise the All Progressives Congress gubernatorial candidate to go to court and face his corruption trial, instead of sponsoring protests over non-existent issues.
“In a bid to distract the Edo people from his ongoing trial in court for a N700 million fraud allegation, the candidate of the APC has resorted to sponsoring protests over non-existent issues.
“Edo people are too intelligent to be swayed by such tantrums and staged drama of the absurd being displayed by the sponsored protesters.”
Mr John Mayaki, the Chairman, Edo APC Media Campaign Council and Spokesman for Pastor Ize-Iyamu, said: “We do not sponsor protests and we do not claim to control the minds of the Edo people.
“Once again, the government is trying to deflect attention and distract the people and the press from the real issues,” Mayaki said.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)
Ondo 2020: Ilaje-Ijaw group unites for Kekemeke
The assurance was given by the President of the group, Sylvester Ikuejamoye, during their solidarity visit to the frontline gubernatorial aspirant in Akure on Tuesday.
Ikuejamoye also pledged that IIUF would contribute its quota to the aspirant’s success at the forthcoming July 20 party primaries.
He recalled the role played by Kekemeke in settling the war-like hostilities between the Ilaje and the Ijaw when he was the Secretary to the State Government under late Gov. Olusegun Agagu’s administration.
According to him, the two ethnic groups had been engaged in ethnic hostility, leading to loss of lives and properties.
“We are aware that you brokered peace by inviting the Agadagba and the Olugbo to Akure, where you restored the peace and made them embrace each other, putting an end to the hostilities.
“That is leadership per excellence, and we owe you our gratitude for that feat.
“We also recall the unique cooperative loans scheme that you introduced to our womenfolk when you were in government.
“The scheme has grown from N2.5 million that you funded, free of charge, to over N18 million now.
“The scheme has released our women from the hands of hitherto burdensome loans schemes with their exorbitant interest rates compared to yours of relatively small interest rate,’’ Ikuejamoye recalled.
He said the IIUF “note your plan to broaden this in our area and beyond it to the state level when you are privileged to assume office as our governor’’.
According to him, the forum has more than enough reasons to throw its weight behind Kekemeke.
“Ours is not a lightweight as we are well rooted in Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas.
“We have been promoting youth development through academic and sports competition coupled with scholarship and trophy awards`.’’
Responding, Kekemeke thanked the group for supporting him, expressing delight that his past contributions to the area were not lost on the people.
“Mine was humble contribution and I am glad to be reminded of the values to the people.
“Of all the aspirants, I am not aware of any that has clearly defined programmes for the people as we have.
“And quite obviously, you have captured the programmes very well, indicating that yours is a highly articulate and intellectual group.
“Our objective is to fight hunger, poverty, unemployment, insecurity and decayed infrastructure.
“I dare say that you should hold me accountable for this when I get into office.
“But for me to get there, you must work and work among our people to encourage them to deliver their votes to us, first at the primaries and then at the general elections,’’ the aspirant said.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Ondo 2020: Group wants political parties to pick Ilaje indigene as governorship candidates
An interest group, Ilaje Advancement Forum, has said it is time for Ilaje in Ondo Southern Senatorial district to produce the next governor of Ondo State.
Adebanjo said that the group had been working round the clock in the last one year to ensure that the legitimate right of Ilaje was not denied it.
He described Ilaje as the only major tribe in Ondo State that had not produced a governor or deputy since the creation of the state in 1976.
“We are gathered here today, as the voice of the Ilaje nation and we are officially bringing to the public space our stand at Ilaje Advancement Forum, in respect of the forthcoming governorsahip election in Ondo State.
“We stand for Ilaje agenda and nothing more, and this our stance is solely premised on justice and fair play, which are the hallmark of all the beautiful democracies in the world.
“For the records, in the last one year, we have written to all the major political parties on the need for them to feature only an Ilaje candidate, if they are desirous of winning.
“We have written to the PDP National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus and the Accord Party Chairman.
The group also used the opportunity to call on the state House of Assembly to reinstate the suspended member, representing Ilaje constituency II, Mr Favour Tomomewo so that she could continue to serve as the voice of Ilaje people.
Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq
Marginalisation: Adopt dialogue, Warri council boss advises Itsekiri group
Dr Michael Tidi has advised the Movement for the Development of Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities (MDIOGPC), to engage Federal Government in a dialogue in its agitation over alleged marginalisation of the communities.
Tidi, the Chairman, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta, gave the advice in a statement issued to newsmen on Monday in Warri.
He also advised them against alleged threat to shut down operations of oil companies in their domain, noting that dialogue was the best option to resolving issues.
The aggrieved group had recently at different fora threatened to ground operations of the oil companies over perceived marginalisation by the federal government and the oil companies in job placement.
The council boss noted that executing the alleged threat in the face of the current global economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 would further deplete the revenue profile of the Federal and State Governments.
He added that the development would by implication reduce government’s financial strength to address their genuine agitation.
“The world has been watching:
“The peaceful protests by the Itsekiri group over the unfair deprivation of the Modular Floating Dockyard for training of students of the Nigerian Maritime University.
“The legitimate demand for the resumption of construction work at the Gas Revolution Industrial Park project (GRIP), in Warri South-West.
“The world knows it is unconscionable to deny the oil-producing people, Oil Mining Licenses (OML), and Marginal Fields generously given to others to their exclusion,” he said.
Tidi said that the Federal Government had awarded electrification project that would benefit about 50 communities in the Escravos area adding that work was ongoing but at a slow pace.
He, however, called for a sustained dialogue by members of the MDIOGPC as well as other critical stakeholders from Warri South, Warri South-West and Warri North Local Government Areas with the Federal Government.
He said that this was “to urgently fix issues of ocean surge, environmental degradation, land reclamation and lack of other basic infrastructures plaguing the oil and gas producing/riverine communities of the three local government areas”.
It will be recalled that Ijaws in Gbaramatu Kingdom and their neighbours, the Itsekiris, had on Sunday July 12, held a joint news conference in Warri.
At the conference they threatened to ground oil facilities in their domain should the federal government fail to accede to their demands.
The demands were the facilitation of the abandoned age-long Omadino-Escravos Road and the Koko/Ogheye Road Projects, resumption of work at the abandoned GRIP and the Deep-Sea Port among others.
Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Group wants 2023 presidency zoned to South East for equity
A statement issued in Abuja by Dr Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu, the Convener and National Coordinator of South East APC Presidency Project 2023, said that the time was ripe for the zone to produce the president for the country
“Whatever or whoever will cause the South-East not to produce President of Nigeria in 2023 is an enemy of Nigeria.
“President of Nigeria from South-East extraction from May 29, 2023 would be the only guarantee of equity, justice, peace, unity, continued existence and proper progress and development of Nigeria.
“Presidency of Nigeria wouldn’t be a favour to the South-East; it is now the only hope of Nigeria’s survival.
“It would be a noble sacrifice on the part of the South-East of Nigeria.
“We want APC to be the party platform on which a South-Easterner will become president of Nigeria.
“This is simply because we are currently APC members and in reasonable expectation that APC will offer its 2023 presidential ticket to a South-Easterner,’’ Jideofor-Ogbuagu said.
According to him, members of South East APC Presidency Project have insisted that for equity sake, the presidency should be zoned to the South East after President Muhammadu Buhari must have completed his second term in office.
He added that other geopolitical zones in the country should extend hands of cooperation to the zone by supporting a Nigerian president of South East extraction.
He emphasised that the South East had contributed immensely to the growth of the nation and the APC as a party.
“We as South Easterners are in all the 774 local government areas across the country, contributing our quota through legitimate services for the good of our fatherland.
“As committed citizens with the same rights and privileges like other Nigerians, it is only fit and proper that the Presidency should shift to the South East having been tasted by the South West in Olusegun Obasanjo and South South in Goodluck Jonathan.
“APC as the biggest political party in Africa should as a matter of equity zone the 2023 presidency to the SouthEast.
“We are mobilising over 40 million South Easterners, friends and fellow Nigerians to queue behind this project,” Jideofor-Ogbuagu said.
Jideofor-Ogbuagu recalled that the country’s electorate first moved for political reconciliation when it overwhelmingly voted late Chief MKO Abiola and his running mate, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, in a Muslim-Muslim ticket on June 12, 1993.
He stated that although Abiola’s victory was annulled by the then military administration thus creating political turmoil, the issue was rectified when the electorate voted Chief Obasanjo from South West in 1999.
He thanked President M uhammadu Buhari for recognising late Abiola as winner of the hitherto annulled June 12, election and urged Nigerians to give the Igbo a fair chance to become President in 2023.
Members of the committees cut across all states of Nigeria and Abuja.
Some are: Dr Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu; National Coordinator, Chief Amaechi Nnolim; Deputy National Coordinator, Chief Chooks Oko; Secretary and Mr Onyekachi Ibekwe, Assistant Secretary.
Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Coronavirus: Group donates handwashing facilities to Benue, C’River
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that United Purpose was implementing the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) programme in the two states, with the benefitting 41 Local Government Areas getting a 3-month supply of soap.
At the distribution of the items on Saturday in Abuja, the Programme Manager for RUSHPIN, Mr Nanpet Chuktu, said an assessment of healthcare facilities carried out by the organisation in rural parts of the two states showed that primary healthcare facilities were in dire need of hygiene facilities.
According to him, this was necessary to enable healthcare workers and hospital visitors conveniently practice frequent and proper hand washing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
He said that the products would help reduce the rate of healthcare worker infections and transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, as they were first responders to those in need of medical attention at the community level.
”Hand washing is not just about fighting coronavirus, today we urge the state governments to invest in more sustainable sanitation and hygiene infrastructure for health centers and schools across the state as this is essential for good health.
”These Healthcare centers to receive these facilities were identified through an assessment of health facilities carried out by the RUSHPIN Programme to determine the facilities in dire need of this intervention.
”Our frontline workers are the health care workers when there is a pandemic, a lot of workers will step behind, but our healthcare workers will be our front line of defense,” he said.
The programme manager called for behavioural change through information dissemination as a first line of defense, adding that Nigerians ought to safeguard themselves with washing of hands at all times.
Dr Beta Edu, Commissioner for Health, Cross River state, said lauded the organisation for the donation towards encouraging hand washing practice.
According to her, for every disease that comes up, one of the cheapest, most effective ways to overcome it is to wash hands with soap.
”We will continue to emphasise this because we know the benefits associated with it and how it can save us from undue pressures and costs. We are grateful, as a state and a people that we have partners that can stand up to the occasion whenever the need arises.
“WSSCC has been very supportive of United Purpose and Cross River State and we cannot thank them enough for the progress we have made as a state in the WASH programme,” she said.
Mr Ishola Abdulrazak, Benue State Coordinator, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said there was need for stakeholders to commit both time and resources towards hygiene promotion.
“Community and PHC is the key to the fight against COVID-19. United Purpose’s contribution to PHCs demonstrates their commitment to hygiene promotion.
”There is a great need for every stakeholder to commit both time and resources towards hygiene promotion, and they have led the way,” he said.
NAN reports that the RUSHPIN Programme was an initiative of the Government of Nigeria, implemented with funding support from the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF)/Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
United Purpose (UP), an International NGO headquartered in the UK, is the Executing Agency for the RUSHPIN programme.
RUSHPIN uses the ‘Community-Led Total Sanitation’ approach, to empower communities to collectively change their sanitation and hygiene behaviour, ensuring that every community member uses a toilet and practices good hygiene.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Food Security: Group drums support for local rice production
The group also urged the government to lift the ban on rice importation to complement local production.
Alhaji Sahabi Yar-Abba, the chapter Chairman, made the appeal in an interactive session with newsmen in Sokoto on Saturday.
According to him, the call has become extremely imperative as majority of Nigerians are now wallowing in abject poverty.
“The precarious situation Nigerians found themselves was formidably aggravated by the ever-increasing hyper inflation.
“Majority of Nigerians are now finding it too hard to put food on the table, hence, it is now a daunting task for most bread winners to fend for their families,” he said.
Yar-Abba added that most families in the country had since forgotten something called balanced diet or three square meals, as what they are struggling for is anything that can go into the stomach.
“There is hunger in the country and the earlier this ban is lifted, even if it is temporary, the better for Nigerians and the pauperised citizens,” he added.
The chairman further appealed to the federal government to initiate more workable policies and programmes aimed at further boosting the local production of assorted items.
He noted that doing so would encourage more Nigerians to engage in farming, beyond the subsistence level.
He commended the government and security agencies for sustaining the fight against the various forms of insecurity and plea for more concrete steps to further guarantee the safety of lives and property.
He said: “While some parts of the country were relatively safe for farming activities, in some parts the residents are more concerned with the security of their lives and property.
“However, the measures presently being taken will encourage the colossal number of Nigerians who were internally displaced and those who have become refugees beyond the shores of the country, to return home and engage in farming.
“This is the only way to reduce the current hardship Nigerians are facing, as well as mitigate the effect of hunger and starvation,” he said.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
2020 revised budget: Group urges FG to ensure high performance
An NGO, the Amaka Chiwuike Uba Foundation (ACUF), has urged the Federal Government to lay emphasis on credibility and high performance of the 2020 Revised Budget as a catalyst for infrastructure development.
The Board Chairman of ACUF, Dr Chiwuike Uba, made the call in a statement issued to newsmen in Enugu on Saturday while reacting to the signing of the revised budget.
Uba, while commending President Buhari for the budget and its signing on time, said that the budget had a deficit of about N4.5trillion, debt service of N2.9 trillion, a capital expenditure of N2.4 trillion and N4.9 trillion for recurrent expenditure.
He said that Nigeria’s budget had consistently suffered from low credibility and poor performance occasioned by corruption, inflation of contracts, stealing, poor planning and supervision, weak institutions and most especially, unrealistic revenue and expenditure projections.
According to him, the proposed 2020 federal government revenue may be difficult to achieve `as a result of the COVID-19 ravaging the globe.
Uba, who is a developmental economist, said that about 42 per cent of the 2020 budget would be funded through additional public debt as Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio is about 66 per cent.
He, however, said: “This is above the World Bank prescribed debt service to revenue ratio of not more than 22.5 per cent.”
The chairman also lamented that greater part of the budget might be siphoned for selfish uses and at the detriment of poor, unemployed and dying Nigerians.
He recommended that Nigeria’s budgets should be made transparent and accountable as Nigerians needed to know the budget for waivers and subsidies.
Uba also advised for the budget to be re-allocated “as the present allocations will not guarantee economic stabilisation and growth intended by the government”.
“We commend President Buhari for signing the revised 2020 Federal Government Budget of N10.8 trillion into law.
“Nevertheless, we are worried about the performance and credibility of the 2020 federal government budget.
“In most cases, the actuals are usually at variance with the budgets.
“According to the information accessed from the Budget Office of the Federation website, as of the 3rd quarter in 2019, the total debts and fiscal deficits increased by 13.7 per cent and 94.92 per cent, respectively, above the amounts provided in the budget.
“Given the current global crisis occasioned by the COVID-19, the proposed 2020 Federal Government revenue (loans, oil, and non-oil revenue) may be difficult to achieve. And, this, on the other hand, may also affect the proposed expenditures.
“The signed 2020 federal government budget has a budget deficit of about N4.5trillion, debt service of N2.9 trillion, a capital expenditure of 2.4 trillion, and N4.9 trillion for recurrent expenditures.
“This means that about 42 per cent of the 2020 federal government budget will be funded through additional public debt.
“ Nigeria is borrowing to fund consumption and this is not only unsustainable but unacceptable for a country struggling with high poverty rate, high misery rate, high unemployment, insecurity, and an economy facing recession among other challenges.
“Painfully, monies that end up into personal bank accounts are included as part of the metrics for determining budget performance.
“A typical example is the alleged N1.6 billion shared by the management of NDDC, as part of their COVID-19 palliatives.
“Budget performance should not be measured based only on the amount expended, but, more importantly, it should be based on the value-added.
“The value-added should be determined by evaluating the social costs of the foregone projects and activities as well as the social and economic benefits derived by the citizens for the monies spent.
“Clearly, Nigeria needs to rethink its project and infrastructure strategy. A cost-benefit analysis should be employed in project determination and implementation.
“Nigeria’s population is 3.5 times the South African population of 57 million people and over four times Kenya’s population of 48 million. Yet, only about 22 per cent of the 2020 federal government budget is for capital expenditure,’’ he said.
Uba noted that the current administration promised to increase the capital budget, but that had not really happened as promised.
“Most of the government budget under-spending is related to capital expenditure, especially, the economic sector –infrastructure projects.
“In most cases, more than a third of these projects are never started. Even when they are started, it is never completed.
“It is even worse when you factor in over-inflated and poorly executed projects,’’ he added.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Rape: Muslim group commends FG’s efforts, advocates stiffer penalties
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women, under the aegis of Lajna Imaillah Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria (LIMAN), has condemned the high rate of rape and Gender-Based Violence against women and girls in the country.
The President of LIMAN, Hajiya Taofeeqah Fagbolade, expressed the group’s concern on Saturday in a statement issued after a Virtual meeting and training against rape and violence against women in Lagos.
Fagbolade, however, commended the efforts of the Federal Government in combating the menace, which endangered the lives of women and girls in the society.
She described rape cases across the country as sad and unfortunate, considering the vulnerable nature of women and their crucial roles in the society as homemakers and mothers.
She said “Islam frowns at any form of violence against women and regards rape as a grievous crime under the Sharia (Islamic law).
“We commend the Federal Government over last year’s launch of the sex offenders register, but there is an urgent need for government to back it up with an enabling law for penalties against perpetrators of this violent act.
“This will serve as deterrent and discourage future occurrences. We urge the House of Assemblies in the states to pass the Bill on Rape and Gender Violence,” Fagbolade said.
Fagbolade quoted the traditions of Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (SAW) on the respected status of women in Islam, stating that: “when a Muslim girl is born, she becomes the reason for her father to enter Jannah (paradise).
“When she grows up and marries a man, she completes half of the religion of her man. And when she becomes a mother , paradise lies under feet for her children,” she said.
She then canvassed for special care for women and girls, and never be regarded as objects of ridicule or molestation.
The president admonished parents, guardians and religious leaders to join the fight against the scourge of rape by sensitising their children and wards.
She urged parents to teach their children the negative implications of rape and its effects on the victims.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
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