Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon Marcus Nle-Ejii has flayed critics of the state cultural festival (CARNIRIV) saying the exercise was not a waste of public funds.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the flag-off of the opening ceremony yesterday by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Hon. Nle-Ejii said the festival is a window for exporting the rich culture and traditions of Rivers People to the outside world.
Aside that, he argued that it would in the long run de-emphasise over-dependence on oil hence diversify the economy of the state.
He remarked that this year’s CARNIRIV was billed to consolidate on the success of last year’s event, expressing the hope that Rivers people would see it as a platform to promote peace, unity among others.
In the same vein, consutant to the Minsitry of Culture, Mr. Yibo Koko has expressed hope that this year’s CARNIRIV would record more success than last year’s event.
Mr. Koko who is the Managing Director of Yib Assemble, said going by the huge participation and interest displayed by the people of the state, the festival was set to attract international attention in the future.
One unique dimesion to the event this year, he declared was in the area of the African Village, which in his view has brought colour aethetics for the programme.
He believed that arts is an expressive way of displaying culture and that culture is key to the existence of everyman.
Mr. Koko lauded the Rivers State Government for reviving the cultural festival since it was one path to unifying the people and create harmony in the state.
Meanwhile, chairman from Ahoada West and Andoni local government areas have expressed hope that groups from their areas would come out tops following their programme on Monday.
Acting chairperson of Andoni Local Government Council, Hon. Emilia Gilbert Nte stated that the various cultural groups that performed was a plus for the area.
Hon. Nte commended the Culture and Tourism Ministry for the effort made so far to make the exercise a success. She assured that the same would be replicated at home during the Christmas and New Year festivals, stating that her administration is poised to promote culture and tourism.
Similarly, her counterpart from Ahoada-West, Barrister Miller Awoye said that despite the pausity of funds, the local government had been able to put up a sintillating performance at the festival.
Asari-Toru, Bonny, Degema, Eleme, Emohua, and Etche Local Government Areas displayed yesterday with a massive turnout at the African Village Elekahia.
Bayelsa’s OPL Seizure: MOSIEND Gives FG Ultimatum
An Ijaw group,the Movement for the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality of the Niger Delta,MOSIEND has called on the Federal Government to release the seized marginal oil field which gave Bayelsa State the state the right of an oil prospecting licence,OPL between 2003 and 2007, leading to the establishment of the Bayelsa Oil Company Limited, (BOCL).
MOSIEND made the call yesterday, in Yenagoa, during the inauguration of some additional members of its national executive office as well as its clan leadership.
Speaking at the event, MOSIEND President, Mr Kenneth Tonjo West berated the federal government for revoking the license formerly given to the oil rich homogeneous Ijaw state for no verifiable reasons.
The group warned that should the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC and its subsidiaries incharge of awarding oil prospecting licences, OPL fail to return the said field to the state in 30 days beginning from today that the Federal Government should expect graver consequences of its action.
MOSIEND argued that their call for the return of the oil field back to the state became necessary as the Ijaws who produce the nation’s economic mainstay had borne the brunt of oppression and marginalisation for more than half a century since the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Ijaw land, with no commensurate development in their communities across the states of the Niger Delta region.
The group described the recent directives by the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN to some northern states to mine and sell gold found in their respective states as another reason for the Ijaws in particular and by extension the Niger Delta region to start controlling their natural resources,noting that the injustice meted out to the Ijaws has for years became unbearable.
On the planned investigation of the activities of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by the Federal government, the group accused the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA of mismanaging no fewer than N400 billion appropriated to the programme between 2015- date, just as they demanded that he gave account of how the alleged funds were deployed.
While frowning at the looting and hijack of the well intended EndSARS protest by hoodlums in parts of the country, the group also condemned the military and other security agencies for opening fire on Nigerians protesting against the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad,SARS and Police brutally,calling for thorough investigation to unravel those behind the killings and dastardly acts which characterised the protests in some states.
“As Ijaw people,we’ve been at the receiving end of oppression and marginalization in this nation. For years,we’ve been the ones producing the mainstay of the Nigeria’s economy and yet we don’t have nothing to show for”, the group said.
“We call on the Federal Government to return the marginal oil field owned by Bayelsa State, the Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation back to the state or face the consequences in 30 days time. If Zamfara and other Northern states could mine and sell their gold to the Central Bank of Nigeria,then the time has also come when the Ijaw people and by extension the Niger Delta people should also be allowed to manage their natural resources”, MOSIEND added.
Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Inadequate Funding Threatens N’Delta Dev, Akpabio Alerts
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has raised alarm over inadequate funding and poor allocation to the ministry, which he said, may slow down envisaged speedy development of Niger Delta region.
The minister said that low allocations for the ministry were responsible for series of uncompleted projects in the region, over the years.
He said the total sum of N26, 592,560, 900, 400 proposed for the Ministry of Niger Delta for 2021 was grossly inadequate for projects meant for the region.
Akpabio, in his presentation before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta during the ministry’s 2021 budget defence at the National Assembly, called on the committee to look into the allocations of the ministry in line with its responsibilities in the Niger Delta.
Analysing the budget, he said: “The capital estimate reveals that the sum of N15,000,000,000, out of N19,533,720,033 for capital infrastructure project was allocated to the East-West Road (Sections I- IV) alone, on the order of Mr. President. This leaves N4,533,720,033 for the other infrastructural projects”.
Akpabio further lamented that gross inadequate funding has led to derailment of the programmes of engagement of youths and women of the region, reduced training for knowledge acquisition, poor performance and protracted delay in project delivery and intermittent disruption by youths who chase away contractors from sites.
It would be recalled that the ministry got a budgetary proposal of N26,592,560,040, comprising of N1,443,111,339 for personnel, N877,089,120 for overhead, and N24,272,359,581 for capital.
On the 2020 budget performance, the minister said, “A total sum of N23.45billion was approved as 2020 appropriation after the national budget was amended due to the effect of Covid -19 pandemic.
“The capital, overheads and personnel expenditure budget were in the sum of N21.71billion, N600.1million and N1.14billion, respectively. The releases in respect of capital, overheads and personnel expenditure were N10.86billion, N432.64million and N1.026billion, representing 50%, 72% and 99%, respectively”, he added.
According to the minister, funds for the 2020 budget released for the ministry are 10%, 86% and 99% for capital, overheads and personnel expenditure, respectively.
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Delta Assembly Begins Consideration Of LGs’ Audit Reports
The Delta State House of Assembly Committee on Public Accounts last Monday, commenced the consideration of the Statutory Audit Reports of the 25 Local Government Councils in the state.
The audit reports are for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Anthony Elekeokwuri, said the committee had earlier received the audited accounts of the various local government councils in the state from the office of the Auditor-General (Local Government).
Elekeokwuri, who represents Ika North East Constituency, said that the exercise which was expected to last one week, would focus on issues that emanated from the Auditor-General’s Audit reports.
He noted that each of the chairmen of the 25 local government councils and officers in charge of accounts, would appear before the committee to explain queries raised in the audit reports as well as other observed irregularities.
The lawmaker said that the exercise was not a witch-hunt or probe but to further deepen transparency and accountability in the governance of the state.
Elekeokwuri said that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and other relevant financial laws of the state empowered the House Committee on Public Accounts to from time to time look into the financial books of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
He restated the commitment of the committee under his watch to effectively carry out the mandate without fear or favour, saying that public expectations on the members were high.
Elekeokwuri said that at the end of the ongoing exercise, the committee would generate its report and submit same at plenary of the House for further legislative action.
The Auditor-General (Local Government), Mr Abel Esievo, said the House of Assembly was on course as the exercise was one of the recommendations of the World Bank.
According to Esievo, there is the need to finalise all issues raised in the Audit Reports of 2017, 2018 and 2019 of the various local government councils in the state.
Mr Itiako Ikpokpo, the Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Delta State, commended the Public Accounts Committee for their effort.
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