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Disowning The Political Jobbers …You Are On Your Own – Arewa Youths

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FRED19071003In spite of the varying views on the now contentious zoning arrangement allegedly foisted on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), moments before the 1999 Presidential elections and its obviously unpopular appeal to a good many Nigerians, arrow-heads of the project are reluctant to give it up.

Instead, they have been putting in every thing including the kitchen sink, as American politicians often muse, in hope that their view would miraculously create a united North that would, at once, hypnotise many gullible Southerners into their ranks. Emerging from one nocturnal meeting, after another the likes of General Ibrahim Babangida, a former military President who ruled Nigeria for nearly a decade, Malam Adamu Ciroma, former minister of finance for very many years and several times Presidential aspirant and their cohorts, have continued to insist that the Presidency should return to the North, as of right because they willed it so.

So vitriolic are their vituperations against the likelihood of President Goodluck Jonathan’s joining the electoral fray in 2011, that even the most progressive of minds are forced to ignore the history of the Nigerian Presidency and the number of years Northern elements ruled Nigeria. Not only that, the assembly of strange political bed-fellows, has in every turn created the impression that theirs was representative of the general North’s opinion.

With that misleading identity, they have remained disagreeable to reason, tactless in debate and threatening in summations, as if the so called PDP zoning arrangement, which as they say, allows the South eight years and then the North, its eight, was ever discussed and agreed upon by either the PDP National Convention where, the party’s laws are often made or by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Infact, until last week, many, including this writer were forced to think that the zoning enjoys the support of all Northerners, since they were presumed to have been part of it from onset.

But in a strange twist of sorts, the Arewa Youth Forum, the umbrella body of politically proactive youths last week lambasted the PDP for even mooting a zoning arrangement, if it truly did.

Condemning the concept of zoning, as propounded by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, ostensibly before the Obasanjo Presidency, (if it did) the Arewa Youth Forum said, “we are not in support of zoning and therefore appeal to all advocates of zoning that they should be guided by the letters of the constitution and jettison any unconstitutional methods in their quest to grab power … they should apologise to Nigerians for criminally decentralising our Presidency in their own concept of reform and class consideration”.

Even so, the randomly recycled set of self-seeking politicians largely responsible for the shameful under development of not just Nigeria and the Niger Delta region in particular, but indeed the entire North, which they pretend to love and represent, are determined to reclaim the Presidency and keep it till 2015.

In what I consider their gushing groans of greed, they repeatedly hide under protecting Northern interest while, infact, what they seek are political relevance necessary to secure a stronger voice in days to come; another opportunity to enlarge their already amazing personal estates and more importantly, to increase the level of charity between the affluent few and the very worrisome Northern poor, up to their fourth, even fifth generations.

Judging by, the manner of the gang-up, the desperation in their drive and their lack of respect for history, a political history that has frequently found the South-South region on the side of the North, it is very clear that the arrow heads of the zoning arrangement are driven not by their intellect or reason but, I do suspect, by their individual desires and appetites.

That is why, I am tempted to agree with Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas who on behalf of South-South political leaders last week in Abuja said, the North (meaning, the self-seeking Northern leaders) “have been taking us for a ride”. Douglas, did add that the North alone would never have been able to produce a single elected president without the South-South since independence. Infact, at the start of the Second Republic in 1979 when, the so called three big tribes, in an ethno-political clash floated the United Party of Nigeria (UPN); by the West, the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), it took the support of the Niger Delta region for the NPN to wear the national outlook which that party eventually earned and later abused.

Sadly, arrow-heads of the South-South support, Chief Melford Okilo and others were virtually forced on their knees in relentless appeals for an upward review of the Derivation principle. Typical of the annoying arrogance, insensitivity and greed of most self-seeking politicians, then Transport minister, Umaru Dikko boastfully said that since all Nigerians were not scavenging for food from public bins, the poverty of the people, particularly Niger Deltans was over-exaggerated.

But that mess, which eventually gave birth to the armed militancy that the Yar’Adua/Jonathan joint Presidential ticket has been battling to clean-up, is without doubt, by – product of the greed of the same crop of politicians now clamouring for a return of the Presidency to the North, denial of the South, discrimination against the East and only occasional compromise with the South West, notwithstanding.

This scenario clearly presents them as a bunch of Generals Without Loyal Troops, as confirmed by the Arewa Youth Forum and countless other voices of protest among Nigerians both at home and diaspora.

That was the exact point made in far away United Kingdom, when, well-meaning Nigerians from all tongues and tribes, diverse in unity, launched what was largely viewed as the true foundation of a new Nigeria, where, the interest of the peoples, all the peoples of Nigeria take precedence over the selfish needs of a select few , who would device several means of rotating political power among themselves. And with unbelievable arrogance.

Together, those Nigerians in Diaspora, most of them Northerners, sounded a wake-up call for, and invitation of President Goodluck Jonathan to heed the voice of wisdom and accept the challenges posed by the emerging new Nigeria, by contesting the 2011 Presidential elections.

To do otherwise, these Nigerians warned, is to undermine the spirit and letters of the Nigerian National Anthem

“Arise O! Compatriots

Nigeria’s call obey

To serve our fatherland

With love and strength and faith

Surely, if the labour of our heroes past is not to be in vain, then, Jonathan must not allow himself to be cowed into cowardice or submission. Instead, he should realise that Nigeria needs stability, unity, mutual respect, an egalitarian society, where, every Nigerian, not only ethno-political bigots, enjoy a sense of belonging and safety but indeed one that addresses the core needs of a rich country with very poor people and resolve today not later, that nothing constitutionally bars him from obeying, Nigeria’s call.

President Goodluck Jonathan has left many guessing for too long, even if I must concede that the element of surprise is a potent weapon in combat, ask IBB, but time is still of essence. He should step forward soon as a well-prepared competent, free, reformist, proactive, nationalistic, patriotic and indeed selfless leader that Nigeria needs at this time.

But I have a worry. Who would tell them that the Presidency of any free country is never decided upon in the dingy chambers of a political tin-god, by self-styled tin- gods in the dead of night?  But by the people.

My Agony is that seeing and painfully feeling decades of deprivation, depression and degradation, some politicians from the Niger Delta region are still making clandestine moves to truncate a Niger Delta Presidency, through unguarded public comments forcing: “Jonathan should wait till 2015, and then vie for the presidency”, using pseudo names, not because they think it’s the right thing to do, but because the hope that it will afford them an arrival at the familiar self-seeking political corridor, as made men.

Truth however, is that apart from the constitutional guarantees, his political charisma and his popularity, here and abroad, Jonathan hails from the Niger Delta region whose oil and gas resources account for the economic mainstay of the nation, but sadly has been denied the required political space in about 50 years.

Now therefore, is the appointed time and no general without  troops should attempt to change that, if for nothing else for the better future of Nigeria and her peoples. That’s the peoples’ stand.

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RSG, Not FIRS, Entitled To Collect VAT, Related Taxes In Rivers -Court

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The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared that it is the Rivers State Government, not the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), should collect Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam, also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Attorney General of the Federation, both first and second defendants in the suit, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers State to pay to FIRS, PIT and VAT.
Pam made the assertion while delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney General for Rivers State (plaintiff), against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (first defendant) and the Attorney General of the Federation (second defendant).
The court, which granted all the 11 reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, stated that there was no constitutional basis for the FIRS to demand for and collect VAT, Withholding Tax (WHT), Education Tax and Technology Levy in Rivers State or any other state of the federation, being that the constitutional powers and competence of the Federal Government was limited to taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, which do not include VAT or any other species of sales, or levy other than those specifically mentioned in Items 58 and 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution.
The judge dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the defendants that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the case should be transferred to Court of Appeal for interpretation.
Pam, who also dismissed objection raised by the defendants that the National Assembly ought to have been made a party in the suit, declared that the issues of taxes raised by the state government were issues of law that the court was constitutionally empowered to entertain.
He declared that after a diligent review of the issues raised by bothplaintiff and the defendants, the plaintiff had proven beyond doubt that it was entitled to all the 11 reliefs sought in the suit.
The court agreed with the Rivers State Government that it was the state and not FIRS that was constitutionally entitled to impose taxes enforceable or collectable in its territory of the nature of consumption or sales tax, VAT, education and other taxes or levies, other than the taxes and duties specifically reserved for the Federal Government by Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Also, the court declared that the defendants were not constitutionally entitled to charge or impose levies, charges or rates (under any guise or by whatever name called) on the residents of Rivers State, and indeed, any state of the federation.
Among the reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, was a declaration that the constitutional power of the Federal Government to impose taxes and duties was only limited to the items listed in Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Rivers State Government had also urged the court to declare that, by virtue of the provisions of Items 7 and 8 of the Part II (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, the power of the Federal Government to delegate the collection of taxes can only be exercised by the state government or other authority of the state, and no other person.
The state government had further asked the court to declare that all statutory provisions made or purportedly made in the exercise of the legislative powers of the Federal Government, which contains provisions which are inconsistent with or in excess of the powers to impose tax and duties, as prescribed by Items 58 and 59 of the Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, or inconsistent with the power to delegate the duty of collection of taxes, as contained in Items 7 and 8 of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, were unconstitutional, null and void.
Lead counsel for the Rivers State Government, Donald Chika Denwigwe (SAN), who spoke to journalists after the court session, explained that the case was all about the interpretation of the Constitution as regards the authority of the government at the state and federal levels to collect certain revenues, particularly, VAT.
“So, during the determination of the matter, some issues of law were thrown up like, whether or not the case should be referred to the Court of Appeal for the determination of some issues.
“The court noted that the application is like asking the Federal High Court to transfer the entire case to the Court of Appeal. In which case, if the court so decides, there will be nothing left to refer back to the Federal High Court as required by the Constitution.”
According to Denwigwe, the court refused that prayer, and decided that the case was in its proper place before the Federal High Court, and was, therefore, competent to determine it.
Speaking on the implications of the judgement, Denwigwe said it was now, unlawful for such taxes as VAT in Rivers State to be collected by any agency of the Federal Government.
“In a summary, it is a determination that it is wrong for the Federal Government to be collecting taxes which are constitutionally reserved for the state governments to collect. The implication of the judgement is that the government (federal and state) as an authority under the constitution,should be advised by the judgement that it is the duty of all government authorities to comply with and obey the law so long as the court has interpreted it and said what that law is.
“So, in other words, the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the territory of Rivers State and Personal Income Tax should be reserved for the government of Rivers State.”
Counsel to FIRS, O.C. Eyibo said he will study the judgment and advise his client.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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