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Kogi: UPC candidate denies stepping down for Bello

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Dr Sunday Abuh, candidate of the United Peoples’ Congress (UPC), in the Nov 16 Kogi governorship election, has distanced himself from claims that he had stepped down from the race and endorsed APC’s Yahaya Bello.

Mr Moses Damisa, UPC Chairman in Kogi, had told newsmen on Friday that Abuh had stepped down for Gov Bello, adding that the party’s structure had been collapsed into Bello’s structures.

Damisa urged UPC supporters to vote for Bello, hinging his stance on allegations that Abuh was “not carrying the party along in his campaigns ahead of the election”.

But Abuh, in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Lokoja, said that the purported collapse of UPC structure into the APC was “a figment of Damisa’s imagination”.

He described the said press conference as illegal, saying that the chairman’s declaration was solely his personal opinion.

“The chairman is on his own; the national and state leadership, as well as members of the party, are not aware of his claims.

“I remain the standard bearer of UPC; all my documents and approvals are intact with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“UPC members should disregard Damisa’s statement. We are in the race and shall, God willing, win the election.

“Inasmuch as I will not like to join issues with Damisa, I want the world to know that the evolution and emergence of UPC among the parties contesting election in Kogi was through my efforts, financially and otherwise,” he declared.

Politics

Gov. Dickson rejects result of Bayelsa poll

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Gov. Seriake Dickson says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would challenge the result of Nov. 16 Bayelsa governorship election in court.

Dickson disclosed this while addressing a world press conference in Yenagoa on Tuesday.

He maintained that the PDP did not lose the election as it was characterised by violence and widespread malpractices which were carefully documented.

Dickson, however, said he would set up a transition committee to work out modalities for smooth handover on Feb. 14, 2020.

“Our candidate, Sen. Douye Diri and the party chairman have been speaking about the charade called election that took place in Bayelsa on Saturday, and the invasion of our state by security forces.

“The dehumanisation of our people and how the majority of the areas and in places, where our people were denied the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.

“The story is all out there that what took place in the state on Nov. 16 was not a democratic election.

“So, today, I’m here to add my voice to all that has been said already, and it was so brazen, it has never been like this in this state before,” he said.

Dickson added: “I know that in 2015, we went through a very though time, there was displayed of federal might, but at least, it was not as bad as this.”

He said the endorsement of Mr David Lyon the governor-elect by ex-president Good luck Jonathan was regrettable and a ploy by the APC to strategically take over the state.

He said that the perception that he alienated PDP stakeholders including the former president was unfounded adding that the primary election that produced the PDP candidate was credible.

“Jonathan remains my oga and I respect him, but there are lots of efforts by certain interest to create a rift between us, there is no politician that has been there for the former president than me.

“He has also helped me but it is unfortunate that I am being misconstrued in this matter of the election, I tried to meet Jonathan for 16 times and he opted to support a candidate that does not wish me well.

“I will soon write my memoirs and people will have a fair view of what happened, the visit of some APC governors to Jonathan who congratulated the APC candidate without congratulating the candidate of his party.

“It is strategic for APC leaders to use Jonathan to legitimise the illegitimacy that happened on Saturday,” Dickson said.

Edited by Ali Baba-Inuwa

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Education

LASG approves establishment of 173 private schools

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The Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Education, has given approval for the establishment of 173 private schools across the state’s five divisions.

The Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, made this known while issuing letters of approval to the beneficiaries in Ikeja.

Adefisayo said in a statement released on Tuesday that the approval for the private schools was part of efforts to entrench inclusiveness in the education sector.

She said that the present administration was willing to partner with critical stakeholders in the Private Education Sector, as a catalyst to take education in the state to the next level.

“Despite the fact that the number of schools in Lagos, especially in the private sector, has increased tremendously, the yawning gap between demand and supply clearly shows that more schools are needed to meet our educational target.

“We need more private schools to come on board for us to be able to cater to the ever-increasing educational needs of a fast-growing metropolis like ours,” the commissioner said.

Adefisayo urged all school owners to reflect excellence in their service delivery, integrate 21st century skills into their teaching methods and to make provision for special students.

She urged school owners to employ only qualified teachers, emphasise digital literacy and adhere to the recommended curriculum for teaching.

The Director, Private Education and Special Programmes, Mrs Adetutu Adebowale, said that there was the need for school owners to maintain the standard that earned them the approval of the state government.

Adebowale said that private school operators could not afford to fail in their complementary role needed to move the sector to greater heights.

Responding on behalf of the private nursery and primary schools, Mrs Chinyelu Anidebe, a school proprietor, urged the ministry to always make the new curriculum available on time.

Anidebe called on the ministry to update the current curriculum and initiate enlightenment programmes aimed at dissuading parents from encouraging their children to skip primary six.

In the same vein, another proprietor, Capt. Femi Olaiya, representing the secondary school subsector, encouraged the ministry to utilise all available media to disseminate information on the criteria for approval to school owners and to also hasten the process.

Editing by Oluyinka Fadare/Oluwole Sogunle

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Politics

Buhari, APC governors, others to attend policy synergy parley in Jos – PGF DG

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President Muhammadu Buhari, 19 governors under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) and other relevant stakeholders will attend the third Federal Government-Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) parley on Policy Synergy, holding in Jos on Nov. 25.

Mr Salihu Lukman, the Director-General of PGF, said this in a statement issued on Tuesday, in Abuja.

He said that the parley was to ensure synergy between State and Federal Governments to reposition local governments for excellent service delivery, to achieve the fundamental goals of local governance.

According to Lukman, the parley, with the theme: “Strengthening Public Service Delivery”, will focus on five key areas: internal security, education, transport, health and social investment.

“The aim is to facilitate the development of a commonly-shared service delivery framework for local governments, effective oversight from states and synergy with the Federal Government.

“This will reposition the local governments for excellent public service delivery to achieve the fundamental goals of local governance,” the director-general said.

He added that the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Transport, Education, Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, and State for Health will make presentations at the parley.

“Some agencies under the above ministries like Primary Health Care Development Agency, Universal Basic Education Commission, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will join the ministers to highlight priority issues,” he said.

Lukman further said that these would be considered as components of the commonly-shared service delivery framework for local governments in all APC states.

President Muhammadu Buhari will be the Special Guest of Honour. Participants expected at the parley include 19 progressive governors, principal officers of the National Assembly and APC legislators.

“Ministers of Internal Affairs, Transport, Education, Humanitarian Affairs and Minister of State for Health are also expected.

“Other participants are the EFCC Chairman, Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBE), Executive Secretary, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) and many other government functionaries from the 19 APC-controlled states,” he said.

Lukman said that at the end of the parley, some understanding would emerge on required actions needed to institute commonly-shared service delivery framework for local governments.

According to him, this will influence programmatic relations between the Federal Government and APC-controlled states in the area of strengthening local governance.

“Some new initiatives that APC states can act upon towards instituting new efficient management models will also emerge for the PGF’s further consideration and approval,” he said.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Politics

Lagos Assembly desires to pass budget before year end — Lawmaker

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Mr Rotimi Abiru, the Chief Whip, Lagos State House of Assembly, says the lawmakers desire to pass the state’s 2020 Appropriation Bill before the end of the year, but require the cooperation of the executive arm during the budget defence to do so.

Abiru, representing Somolu Constituency II in the house, made this known  to newsmen on the sideline of the 2019 Annual National Delegates’ Conference of the National Association of Hansanrd/Verbatism Reporters of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday.

Nigeria News Agency reports Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State had on Nov. 8 presented the 2020 proposed budget of N1.168 trillion to the Assembly.

The house had referred the state’s 2020 proposed budget to the Appropriation Committee after it scaled through second reading during plenary on Monday.

Abiru urged the state executive arm to cooperate with the legislators during the budget defence so it could be passed before the end of the year.

The lawmaker said the proposed budget passed the second reading on Monday and it was their desire to ensure the budget was passed before the end of 2019.

He said that the house would require necessary documents from the executive that would assist them in the speedy passage of the budget.

Abiru said: “All I can say is that it is our desire to see that the budget is passed before the end of the year.

“We hope for a hitch-free process of the budget defence.

“More importantly, we also require the support of other members of the executive arm of government to avail us all necessary documents that will help us in the passage of the budget.

He said once that was done, the House would ensure that it passed it before the end of the year.

Edited by Shittu Obassa/Oluwole Sogunle

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Politics

Reps. to investigate NDDC expenditures from 2017 to date

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The House of Representatives has mandated the Committee on NigerDelta Development Commission (NDDC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the financial activities of the commission in the last three years.

This was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion of Urgent Matter of Public Importance by Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia) at plenary on Tuesday.

The House resolved to invite the Minister of NigerDelta and the Board of NDDC to explain why the commission had been spending monies which were not appropriated for, by the National Assembly.

Moving the motion earlier, Kalu said that spending monies not appropriated for, was in violation of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Kalu said that it also contravened the NigerDelta Development Commission Act of 2000 (As Amended).

The Rep. explained that the NDDC was established with a clear mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

According to him, the NDDC is charged with the responsibility among others to conceive and formulate policies, guidelines and comprehensive master plan.

Kalu said that the NDDC had lived up to its responsibility in developing a plan covering key sectors ranging from Agriculture, Health and Environment to Energy, Telecommunications and Transport among others.

According to him, this has resulted into substantial expenditures including the awards of huge contracts.

Quoting Section 80(3) and (4) of the Constitution, Kalu said “no money shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those money have been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.

“Money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly,” he said.

According to him, it makes it explicitly mandatory for the National Assembly to authorise any and all manner of expenditures from all public funds of the Federation, including the funds of the NDDC.

The lawmaker said that the Board of the commission was mandated to submit to the National Assembly, an estimate of the expenditure and income of the commission during the next succeeding year for approval not later than Sept. 30, each year,

He said that Section 82 of the Constitution empowers the President to authorise withdrawal of moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for a period not exceeding six months.

He explained that the amount should not exceed the amount authorised by the National Assembly for the same corresponding period in the previous year.

“As at today, more than 13 months after the time required by law, the commission is yet to submit an estimate of its expenditure and income for the year 2019.

“Thereby grossly failing to comply with the aforementioned statutory provision by which the budget estimates should have been presented to the House before Sept. 30, 2018.

“In spite of their failure to submit the 2019 budget estimates to the House, the commission has for a whole year, been operating, making expenses and awarding contracts further to its master plan, with certain awarded contracts worth up to N10 billion without an approved budget as required by law,” he said.

Kalu said that incurring expenditure far beyond six months as required; the NDDC had spent monies in excess of half the amount approved by the National Assembly in its 2018 budget.

Kalu recalled that an ad hoc Committee on the NDDC had earlier uncovered a total of 250 contracts awarded to phony companies in May, 2019 without appropriation or due process.

The lawmaker said in spite of series of invitation by National Assembly upon the expiration of the 2018 budget of the commission, NDDC refused to honour the invitations regarding its 2019 budget estimates.

“The failure and refusal of NDDC to submit its budget estimates for 2019 has created opaqueness in the operations of the commission which has encouraged corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement of funds.

“The delay in the submission and passage of the NDDC budget as well as the continued expenditure of the commission beyond the constitutional threshold amounts to fiscal indiscipline, engenders corruption and provides the platform for arbitrariness,” he said.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila mandated the House Committee on NigerDelta Development Commission (NDDC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation and report to the House in four weeks.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Sadiya Hamza

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Politics

Rivers Chapter of APC congratulates Lyon,commends Bayelsa people

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The Rivers chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), has congratulated Mr David Lyon, Bayelsa Governor-Elect, on his victory at the Nov. 16 election.

In a statement on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, Mr Isaac Ogbobula the state APC caretaker Committee Chairman also commended the electorate in Bayelsa for voting the party.

Ogbobula described the landslide victory of the APC as “a victory for democracy and a true reflection of the wishes and aspirations of the electorate”.

He applauded the people of the state for braving the heavy downpour to overwhelmingly cast their votes for the APC.

“The state APC Chairman enjoined Lyon to be magnanimous in victory and work with the people of Bayelsa.

“The victory of APC is an expression of the desire of the people of South-South for good governance as exemplified by the Next Level agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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