Indications have emerged of a fresh plot by a former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and Minister of Defence, Mohammed Dan Ali, to rig the rerun election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in the yet-to-be-concluded governorship election in the state.
The Coordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum, Earl Osaro Onaiwu, raised the alarm in a statement issued on Friday night in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Onaiwu alleged that Amaechi and Ali met in Abuja during the week to perfect ways to rig the poll in favour of the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Timipre Sylva, who trails behind the incumbent and candidate of the PDP, Hon. Seriake Dickson, in the results announced so far by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
While Dickson had won in six of the seven local government areas announced so far by INEC, the votes from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area had become a source of concern because of the violence that attended the poll there.
The state has eight local government areas.
According to Onaiwu, the APC remains desperate in its bid to capture the oil-rich state, which he said fits into the suggestion by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who alluded to the fact that all oil-producing states should be taken over by the APC in the interest of national security.
The statement by Onaiwu reads: “It is on good authority that the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has held two meetings with Mohammed Dan Ali, Minister of Defence, on how the military can once again be used to intimidate voters and rig the Bayelsa poll for the APC in Southern Ijaw local government in the rerun election for the Bayelsa governorship.
“It would be recalled that the PDP Governors Forum had raised alarm before the inconclusive poll that there were plans by the APC to camouflage as the military to abuse the process in their desperation to capture oil-producing states under the PDP.
“Today we have been vindicated by several reports of independent observers and the bold move by the INEC to reject Southern Ijaw local government poll.
“From what we know, the threat to use the military to perpetrate heist of the mandate of the electorate of Southern Ijaw and by extension all Bayelsans still remains as Ministers Amaechi and Dan Ali remain the arrow head of the planned theft of the votes of Bayelsa people through intimidation, fake military personnel and doctored voters cards manufactured in Port Harcourt by Indian IT mercenaries imported by the APC.”
Onaiwu urged security agencies to remain impartial, non-partisan and called on the people to once again reject any attempt by any group or individuals to hijack their inalienable right to decide who to govern them as they did the last time.
Meanwhile, women under the aegis of Ijaw Women Liberation Movement have threatened to protest nude over the killing of innocent voters in the state if nothing is done urgently.
The women who dragged perpetrators of violence during the governorship election in Bayelsa state to the National Human Right Commission, said that people of the state have the right to freely vote for the candidate of their choice, without harassment and intimidation.
In a statement issued by the women leader, Chief Ebebi Agnes, where they threatened to protest naked, the women described the actions of the military as an infringement on the right of the citizens of Bayelsa state, criticising security operatives for failing to protect the people, particularly the women from attacks by political thugs and criminals.
“The Ijaw women wish to state emphatically that the conduct of the military during the unconcluded elections, which saw such a respected institution colluding with known common criminals in the creeks to manipulate the electoral process, is sad and sends a very dangerous signal to the advancement of our democracy.
“We have also resolved not to allow the killing and harassment of the people of Bayelsa state as a result of the election wherein the law enforcement agents were watching, to go unaddressed, by the Human Right Commission, with a view of seeking justice for the dead and protecting the living who are still vulnerable to such barbaric conduct in future elections in Bayelsa or elsewhere in the country,” the statement read in part.
According to the Ijaw women, the military’s actions proved that they are incompetent and unprofessional. The women wondered how operatives could watch with indifference while political thugs killed law-abiding citizens who were out to exercise their franchise.
Addressing President Muhammadu Buhari, the group reminded him that it is the responsibility of the government to protect the citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We are peace loving in Bayelsa and will not allow the desperation to hijack power by some greedy individuals, truncate the peace that has been enjoyed in our state over the years.
“We are hereby calling on all the people of Bayelsa, particularly the women, to arise and resist the tyranny that the military occupation of our land during the election brought and be prepared until the conclusion of the process on a date, to be set by INEC for elections to hold in Southern Ijaw local government.
“We are determined to pursue this to a logical conclusion and will not hesitate to nakedly protest any further attempt to militarise, what ordinarily should be a civil process in our state,” the statement added.
It could be recalled that the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, had set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the violence and breach of peace that occurred before and after the governorship election in the state.
NASS Passes N10.59trn Budget For 2020 … Jerks Its Appropriation By N264bn, Gives Reason
The two Chambers of the National Assembly (NASS), yesterday passed the Appropriation Bill of N10.59 trillion budget for the 2020 fiscal year with a view to returning the nation’s budget cycle to January to December.
The Lawmakers jerked up the budget as proposed by President Muhammad Buhari to the tune of N246 billion.
The lawmakers passed the 2020 budget following a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Appropriations of the two Chambers.
Briefing the press after plenary session, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Barau Jubril and Stella Odua, respectively, defended the additional N246 billion the lawmakers injected into the budget.
The Chairman described the budgeting process as the best so far because it is the first time the Executive, Senate and House of Representatives came together on a roundtable to agree on a united document as budget of the country.
He defended the N264 billion increase injected into the 2020 budget as not padding of the appropriation bill, but harvested additional revenue, saying the additional fund was brought in conjunction and consultation with the Executive.
Denying that the extra funds injected was padding, Senator Jibrin Barau said the word padding is alien to the 9th Senate because the infusion on additional vote for capital projects was done in collaboration with the executive arm of government.
According to him, the Senate saw avenue to make additional revenue and “just fixed the expected increased revenue to sectors in need of additional revenue”.
He said “In a Presidential system of government, there is room for checks on what any arm of government is doing by the other. President Buhari no doubt presented a perfect budget, but it is our own responsibility as the parliament to critically look at what was presented by the executive and make corrections where necessary.
“During the course of deliberating on the budget, we saw opportunities of where we can get additional income for the government and we deployed them to areas that need further spending.
“The National Assembly has the right to do it and that is what we have done”, he said.
Presenting the report, Senator Barau Jibrin said the increase of N264billion allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, and health.
A breakdown of the budget, Senator Jubrin said, is that Statutory Transfer stood at N560.5billion, recurrent expenditure-N4.8billion, capital expenditure-N2.5billion, debt servicing-N2.7illionbn, fiscal deficit-N2.3trillion and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.
He pointed out that daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day, Oil Benchmark stood at $57 per barrel against $55 proposed by the Executive, while the exchange rate stood at N305 per dollar.
Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040; Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.
Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.
Also, for the 2020 fiscal year, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.
Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the 2020 budget was passed, said, “when we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.
“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.
“I must give members of the Ninth National Assembly the credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.
“Let me also commend the buying-in of the executive arm of government. When we continued to preach that we have to receive the 2020 budget estimates before the end of September, it was not easy for the executive.
“I know they (Executive) worked day and night. So it was presented to us on the 8th of October. We have been able to work harmoniously. There is no way we can achieve this without all of us working together.
“I want to commend our colleagues from the opposition. This Senate from the beginning, we said, will be bi-partisan. You have given us all the support that we require, and indeed, this is the way it should be”, Lawan added.
The Senate President also noted that with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government is sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Wike, Building Legacy For Tomorrow -Nsirim
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information And Communications, Rivers State, and Commissioner-designate, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, says the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is building lasting legacies for tomorrow through the various developmental projects going on across in the state.
Nsirim said the traffic gridlock being witnessed in major roads across part of the state, was due to the concerted efforts by the state Chief Executive’s transformation policies which, he said, havw turned the state to a construction site.
He, therefore, urged residents and visitors to the state, to bear with the State Government and not worry about what they see around, saying that it is the vision of the NEW Rivers mantra to place the state on the trajectory of leadership and governance.
Nsirim, said this while declaring open a two-day workshop for Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), and Heads of Public Relations (PR) and protocol being hosted by the RSUBEB in Port Harcourt yesterday, with the theme, “Bridging the Gap and Breaking New Grounds in UBE Public Relations/Protocol Practice”.
He described the role of PROs and Protocol officers in basic education management in the country as very strategic and urged them to improve on their professional competencies in order to drive the programmes in their various boards.
“Your roles in basic education is very strategic.There are new strategies being introduced by government to ensure that basic education receives a boost in the country”, he stated
Nsirim also urged them not to see the workshop as an avenue to make new friends, but to improve on their proficiency in order to bring in various stakeholders into the activities of the board .
“What ever opportunity and duty you find yourself, see it as a service to God and write story of prosperity”.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the state SUBEB, Ven. Fyneface Akah, said the workshop was a unifying event that offers a moment of exchange of ideas and skills as well as orderliness among the Public Relations Officers and Protocol managers in order to streamline the way of doing things.
According to him, the workshop will help them on how to get the public to know and understand the workings of the board, adding that they have much work to do in making people understand the activities of the board.
In his own speech, the head, UBEC Public Relations and Protocol, Abuja, Mr. Ossom M. Ossom, who read the good- will message of the UBEC Chairman, said “Public Relations and Protocol practitioners owe it a duty, especially to Nigeria’s school-age population, to use every available opportunity in drawing the attention of all UBE stakeholders to the fact that our country cannot afford to berth and pass through the coming decade as largely uneducated entity and with the largest population of out-of-school children in the world”.
Earlier in an interview with newsmen, the Head of legal and Public Relations, SUBEB, Barr Karibi T. George, said “Public Relations is the live wire of every organization because it builds on the corporate image and reputations of organisation to build public Confidence”.
We’ll Monitor Commissioners’ Performance -RSHA …As NUJ commends Wike on Nsirim’s Appointment
The Rivers State House of Assembly has finally confirmed the nomination of 13 Commissioner-nominees sent to it by the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
The confirmation was finally done after debate and sitting to scrutinize complete tax certificate and clearance of one of the nominees, Mr. Sylvanus Nwankwo.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said it was the constitutional mandate of the legislature to screen and confirm Commissioner-nominees; hence, it was not a witch-hunt on any of the nominees.
Debate on whether the nominees should be confirmed after they appeared on the floor of the House on Tuesday started when the Leader, Hon Martin Amaewhule, described all the nominees as, “fit and zealous” persons with requisite qualifications.
In the same vein, Hon. Matthew Dike of Tai Constituency said, “The Commissioner Nominees sent to this Assembly are landmark. It is full of men and women of proven integrity “.
On his part, Hon. Michael Chinda of Obio/Akpor Constituency 2 submitted that the Assembly will beef up its oversight on them, and therefore urged the nominees to be alive to their duties or bow out.
Chinda insisted that performance is key, saying that the House will monitor the activities of the screened and approved Commissioner nominees.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has commended the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for appointing their past State Chairman and two times Press Secretary to the Governor, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim as Commissioner.
Chairman of the State NUJ, Stanley Job Stanley, in a chat with The Tide, said the union is excited that after few years a professional communicator has been chosen to serve the state.
Though the nominees, who have been screened and confirmed by the Assembly, are yet to be sworn in and assigned port, folios, the NUJ Chairman expressed confidence that Nsirim will man the Information and Communications Ministry which he (Nsirim) had been a Permanent Secretary in the past three years.
“We are happy for the appointment because as a union, we have been advocating that professionals be appointed to man the Ministry.
“It will be a boost to the image of the NUJ because Nsirim was our former Chairman and for a very long time we have been longing for press/government relations to be cordial,” Stanley stated.
He described the appointment of the Permanent Secretary as well deserving, urging him to use his good offices to boost journalists/ government relations in the state.
Pastor Nsirim was among the 13 Commissioner-nominees screened and confirmed by the Assembly on Wednesday.
Nisirm, a Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Information and Communications until his nomination as a Commissioner, is currently the State Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations(NIPR).
He has in the last six months championed a statewide image advocacy campaign tagged,” Our State, Our Responsibility.”
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