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Expurge Land Use, Petroleum Acts From Constitution – Govs

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Governors from the South-South geo-political region and South-South Senate Committee Tuesday in Port Harcourt, literarily turned the venue of the constitutional review to flex musle on the proposed amendment of some sections of the 1999 constitution.

While the governors from Rivers, Cross Rivers and Delta States are clamouring to expurge the Land Use and Petroleum, Act, the Senate committee said it has set target for March 2010 as delivery date for the amendment of these repulsive sections of the constitution.

The Governor of Rivers State Rt. Hon. Chuibuike Amaechi in his opening remark  said all his people wanted was a true federalism and asked the committee to expunge land use from the constitution.

He maintained that the Land Use and Petroleum Acts should not take centre stage in their deliberation at the public hearing, because they are unacceptable standard of democratic governance.

He noted that once the issue of True Federalism is enthroned, every other thing would fall in place, and that a lot of states have sustainable agricultural products that would make them to be less dependent on oil.

Gov Amaechi explained that if the Land Use and Petroleum Acts are not expunged the tall expectation of the people would be cut short.

Similarly, the Delta State Government urged the committee to expunge all obnoxious laws such as Petroleum Act, Inter pretation Act, 1964 and the Land Use Act, 1978.

The governor represented by his deputy, Prof. Amos Utuama insisted that these enactments contain expropriatory provisions which vest the resources of the Niger Delta.

On Fiscal and True Federalism, Prof. Utuama explained that the by-pass of the provision in the constitution has left the states of the Niger Delta prostrate and appear to be appendages of the Federal Government as they go cap in hand to seek help.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Chairman Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 constitution, explained that the desire of the people is for them to prioritise on electoral reform matters.

He maintained tha the senate is going to respond to the amendment of the land use act, Petroleum Act and Electoral reform on or before March, 2010.

He said the committee was impressed with public response to their effort at reviewing the constitution.

Ekweremadu stated that the committee was ready to produce an amended constitution that would enthrone the development of democratic practices.

Governors from South-South, speakers, members of State  Houses of Assembly, civil society groups, organisations were present at Zonal hearing.

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Niger Delta

Bayelsa’s OPL Seizure: MOSIEND Gives FG Ultimatum

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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

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Niger Delta

Inadequate Funding Threatens N’Delta Dev, Akpabio Alerts

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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

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Delta Assembly Begins Consideration Of LGs’ Audit Reports

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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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