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N’Deltans Back NDDC Probe … As NYCN Berates Commission Over Poor Performance

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Barely 24 hours after the  Presidency set up a panel to  probe the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), stakeholders in the region have described the move as a step in the right direction.

Speaking in separate interviews with The Tide in Port Harcourt, a cross section of stakeholders said that the probe will help to sanitise the commission of corrupt practices, stressing that since the inception of the present management, the commission has been embroiled in crisis with nothing to show for it.

In his view, a Port Harcourt-based public relations practitioner, Mr Amabipi Martins described the probe as a welcome development.

Martins also said  that the move has satisfied the yearnings and aspiration of indigenes of the region who want the commission to be probed.

‘It is a matter of public interest. This present management has been embroiled in crisis, nothing seems to be happening. The Presidency has a good reason for setting up the probe and it is the right thing to do”.

He questioned the criteria used in the selection of the present crop of management of the NDDC, pointing out that those who did the selection only thought of their interest.

In his view, Pastor Sokari Soberekon, a Port Harcourt based cleric said that the proposed probe is in order as the commission has performed below expectation.

In his words, “NDDC has to be probed. They have performed below expectation”.

The chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Opobo/Nkoro chapter, Dr Sofiri S. Peterside (Jnr) said that the chapter welcomes the probe of the NDDC by the Presidency.

According to him, the probe would unravel the massive corruption and  looting of funds being carried out at the NDDC and called on the committee to do a thorough work by exposing all the rot at the commission

President Goodluck Jonathan last Wednesday approved the constitution of a Presidential Committee to probe the operations of the NDDC.

A statement issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, in Abuja, named Mr Steve Oronsaye as chairman of the committee, while Messrs Bamidele Aturu, and B. O. N. Oti, a representative of the Bureau for Public Procurement, and Sen. Bassey Ewa- Henshaw are members.

Other members are Mrs Koripamo-Agari and Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, while Mr Raymond Brown of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, will serve as Secretary.

The statement said the committee is to assess and evaluate a sample inventory of some NDDC projects and evaluate the contractors’ pre-qualification process and the roles and relationship of the board, management and staff of the commission.

It is also to evaluate the procurement practices of the commission and its compliance with the letter and spirit of the Public Procurement Act.

Others are, to evaluate the institutionalisation of the orientation of personnel of the commission at all levels, in order to inform and manage expectations.

It is also to evaluate fund management and other variables, including checks and balances that can be improved upon so as to strengthen the commission.

The committee is also charged with evaluating compliance or otherwise, with the Public Service Rules and extant Civil Service Rules and Regulations.

The committee is expected to make recommendations to government in its bid to address institutional weaknesses and guide its constructive intervention on issues. The committee was given two weeks to conclude its assignment.

Meanwhile, the Committee set up by the Federal Government to look into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) yesterday in Abuja assured President Goodluck Jonathan that it  would carry out its assignment without fear or favour.

The Committee’s Chairman, Mr Stephen Oronsaye, gave this assurance in his acceptance remarks after being sworn in by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim.

“Members of the seven-member committee are no doubt aware of the challenging task ahead of us in this national assignment; but as people of integrity, I am confident that we shall carry out this national assignment in line with our terms of reference, without fear or favour,’’ Oronsaye said.

Oronsaye, who is the immediate past Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, noted that President Jonathan was eager to deliver on his promises to the Nigerian people.

In line with this, he said, “we shall neither leave any stone unturned nor any fact uncovered in our mission. The Jonathan administration wants quick, but well thought-out recommendations.

“We look forward to that challenge with great enthusiasm and, with God on our side, we shall deliver positive results.”

The committee chairman, who said he and the other members were humbled by the appointment, pointed out that both the presidential mandate and the committee’s goal were clear.

The committee’s mandate is “to carry out an objective assessment of the goings-on in the NDDC, using extant rules for measurement, and to come up with a report that is foolproof on the way forward.

“With the help of our Creator, we shall use the two weeks allotted to consult with stakeholders, assess our findings and brainstorm on the best approach to make the NDDC more effective and accountable,’’ he said.

While thanking President Jonathan for appointing the committee members “out of a mass of qualified Nigerians to look into the problems of the NNDC’’, Oronsaye pledged their resolve to honour the President’s trust and the confidence reposed in them.

In another development, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Opobo/Nkoro chapter in Rivers State has criticsed the Niger Delta Development Commission for abandoning the electricity projects initiated by the Commission at Opobo town.

The chairman of the Youth Council, Dr Sofiri Peters who said this in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt noted that all entreaties made by the youths body to get the contactor back to site proved abortive.

He said that apart from the abandoned electricity project, transformers dumped in Opobo Town by the commission were not functioning, describing the situation as a deliberate act by the commission to scheme the local government area out of its developmental programme.

While stressing that the youths would not hesitate to drag NDDC to court if the project is not completed, he regretted that Opobo./Nkoro should be subjected to such treatment in view of its contributions to the establishment of the commission.

According to him, the situation is a testimony to the fact that the commission is not impacting positively on the  people of the Niger Delta.

Dr Peterside said that, it was against this background that Opobo/Nkoro youths welcome the move by the presidency to probe the commission.

Meanwhile, the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Opobo/Nkoro chapter has urged the chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Council, Hon Maclean Uranta to put in place an enduring legacy for youths in the area.

The Chairman, Dr Sofiri Peterside who said this in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt also stressed the need for moral reorientation of youths in the area.

He used the occasion to disclose plans by the council to commission its office next month.

Representative of the Speaker and  Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Chidi Lloyd chatting with the Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh, at a three-day investors’ programme held at the Assembly Auditorium, yesterday.

Representative of the Speaker and Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Chidi Lloyd chatting with the Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh, at a three-day investors’ programme held at the Assembly Auditorium, yesterday.

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Insecurity In Nigeria, Alarming, Wike Alerts …Suspends JAAC Accounts From Defaulting Banks

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.
He has therefore called on security agencies to redouble their efforts in curbing it.
Governor Wike expressed the concern yesterday when the new General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Olu Irefin paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
He noted that the prevalence of insecurity in every State of the Federation seems to overwhelm the military.
Governor Wike stated that the situation is different in Rivers State because of the robust collaboration between his administration and the security agencies.
“Our determination is to keep the State safe but development also attracts criminality, so we can’t say we are totally free.
“There are still pockets of criminal elements. So, as a professional whose role is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, fight crime and do not involve in politics.
“We are willing to collaborate with you as a government because security is important for us. Just let us know what you require to succeed in the fight against criminality.
“That way, we will be partners in progress and make the State safe for all residents,” he stated.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General OluIrefin commended Governor Wike for his developmental strides.
He said on assumption of duties, his commanders told him that they have enjoyed tremendous support from the state government in the discharge of duties.
He pledged to sustain the existing collaboration in protecting lives and property in the State
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the removal of Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) from banks that gave unauthorised loans to some Local Government Chairmen in the State.
Governor Wike gave the directive on Wednesday, while swearing in the substantive Chairman of the Asari-Toru Local Government Area at Government House, Port Harcourt .
He directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take legal action against the defaulting Banks.
Governor Wike said both the Banks and the Councils that defaulted would suffer the consequences of the illegality.
He noted that the Banks cannot seek refund of the loans because they contravened extant Laws of the State.
“We have taken a decision that for all those loans taken without approval, the affected accounts must leave the defaulting banks.
“I have told the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take necessary steps. The Banks cannot go and seek for refund from the Local Governments. When you default the Law, you suffer for it.
“Council Chairmen who want to take loans from banks must get official approval. You cannot take loans that will mortgage the future of the people”, he stated.
Governor Wike charged Mrs. AlasoJohnbull Obi to use her new position to make a difference because the people are yet to feel the impact of the Council.
“Go and put your local government together. Do not allow busy body politicians to distract you. Use this opportunity you have to make a difference.
“We never thought that Chief Odiari Princewill will die but as God will have it, he is dead and we have to abide by the constitution.
“That is why you, as the deputy, has to step in as the substantive chairman of Asari-Toru local Government Area today.
“In choosing your Deputy, you must consult widely with all the stakeholders of the Party. As election is coming up next year, you have an opportunity to sell yourself,” he added.
Until her swearing in, Mrs. AlasoJohnbul-Obi was the Vice Chairman of the Council but the death of the elected chairman, Chief Odiari Princewill on the 27th May, 2020 created a vacuum that needed to be filled.

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SSANU, NASU Threaten Strike Over Unresolved Issues

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The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) said they would proceed on strike over unresolved issues with the Federal Government immediately the universities reopen.
Mr Samson Ugwoke, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both unions said this while addressing newsmen on the resolutions reached by the unions yesterday in Abuja.
The resolutions were signed by the SSANU National President, Mr Samson Ugwoke, and the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi.
The unions’ grievances included the lingering Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) debacle, nonpayment of arrears of earned allowance and minimum wage. Others are the alleged lack of seriousness by the Babalakin Committee renegotiating the 2009 FG/NASU, SSANU agreements, neglect and poor funding of state universities, absence of visitation panels, among others.
According to Ugwoke, long after many other sectors had been paid the arrears of the national minimum wage and consequential adjustment, university workers are yet to be paid. “We find this development totally unwholesome and very unhealthy.
“Given the time lag of over a year since it was implemented in other sectors, members of the public would agree that we have been patient enough in the university system,” he said.
He pointed out that in spite of the series of letters by the unions to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) Office since February, their members were still confronted with many challenges, including salary payment. Ugwuoke also said that their members, whose monthly salaries were being paid in the second week of the following month in the past seven months, were suffering as a result of the difficulties posed by IPPIS.
He argued that as responsible unions, they had avoided the planned action, adding that the unhealthy situation had made it inevitable.
Ugwoke said: “We have again cried out to the general public with a view to inviting stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to correct the anomaly of IPPIS. “Pay us the arrears of both earned allowances and minimum wage, among others.”
He warned that the unions would have no option than to embark on strike effective from when universities would reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.

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FG’S Reviewed Broadcast Code, Draconian – PDP …Says New Code Aimed At Muzzling Media, Concealing Corruption, Abacha Loot

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The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has rejected the reviewed broadcast code, describing it as another draconian measure to muzzle the media and suppress free speech in Nigeria.
The party said the All Progressives Congress, APC and its government adopted the reviewed code with its N5 million fine “to intimidate the media and gag whistle blowers from further exposing the humongous corruption, abuse of office, violation of human rights as well as officials’ betrayal of trust and abuse of office in the Buhari administration.”
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said the reviewed code is a grand plot “to suppress and muzzle Nigerians and the media from publicly opposing plots by the APC to mortgage the sovereignty of our dear nation to foreign interests as being witnessed in the anti-Nigeria clauses in the loan agreements with China.”
The statement read: “The APC has been jittery over the stench of monumental corruption oozing out from its government as well as its anti-Nigeria activities, and now seeks to suppress public opinion and media reportage of their atrocities against our nation.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the APC administration rushed to review the broadcast codes and introduced draconian clauses at the height of public revelations and media reportage of its corruption and plots to mortgage our nation’s sovereignty to China. The reviewed broadcast code therefore validates the stance by Nigerians that covering of corruption and the scheme to mortgage the sovereignty of our nation are official policies of the APC which has not denied that it is the headquarters of corruption.
“Our party however, wishes to inform the APC and its administration that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and other laws guiding media practice, which guarantees a free press and freedom of opinion by Nigerians are clear and that no matter how much the truth is suppressed, it must always come to light.
“Moreover, the APC must know that we are in a democracy and that Nigerians cannot be suppressed from exercising their rights of speaking out in the face of injustice, corruption, abuse of trust in the APC administration, which President Buhari had also admitted.

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