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Moment Of Reality …Buhari, APC, National Problems

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Buhari and Saraki

Buhari and Saraki

It is amusing to hear apologists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in defence of the Federal government say there are indeed no quick fixes to addressing the gruelling national challenges, for which they got the people’s mandate in the last general elections. Even the National Leader of the party Bola Ahmed Tinubu echoed same sentiments. But that was not what they told Nigerians during the campaigns.
All through the campaigns leading to the elections, the APC presented itself as a party with answers to all national questions and challenges. They promised change in the areas of national security, near comatose economy, poor electricity power supply, unstable petroleum products distribution, lack of a welfare package for unemployed graduates, shaky infrastructural development, absence of diversification of the economy with needed preference for agriculture and industtrialisation and less than competitive value of the Naira.
The argument then was that the party’s flag-bearer, General Muhammadu Buhari being an anti-corruption apostle, a retired general, and former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was very experienced, prepared and ready to hit the ground running, once elected, as against the pedigree of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, whom they described as relatively inexperienced.
To convince Nigerians, the APC propaganda machine repeatedly said it had produced a blue-print of action, which would usher the required positive change Nigerians eagerly yearned for. They brandished a very lofty manifesto which they said would turn-around the economy, in no time, create millions of jobs, improve the power situation, ensure regular supply of Petroleum products, especially petrol and kerosene and most importantly, ensure the security of lives and property.
Nearly one year after, most of the problems have degenerated from bad to worse, with no inkling that the administration is on top of the game. The first sign that the Federal Government was not prepared for the mandate it got was during the constitution of the leadership of the National Assembly.
As it turned out, Senate President, Bukola Saraki was not the party’s preferred candidate for Chairmanship of the National Assembly, in the same vein, Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives was said to have usurped a position which the party reserved for someone else.
That created political crisis, with the party hierarchy battling from outside the Legislature to unseat the unwanted elements. Infact, Senate President Saraki’s travails before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT)  are believed to be remotely, or even directly tied to what party leader’s consider as punishment for his coup detat. To date, there seems to be mutual suspicion between the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council on the one hand, and the National Assembly with APC leadership on the other.
This suspicion manifested itself in the Assembly’s handling of the Budget sent to it by President Buhari, with alarms and blames of budget padding, loss of the original copy of the fiscal document and eventual tampering with provisions made therein. In fact, Buhari’s insistence on studying details of the budget first before signing it into law, after the NASS passage are all signs of the lack of trust between both arms.
With this measure of distrust, there does not seem to be the required synergy to hit the ground running. Even the mercurial Lai Mohammed, erstwhile APC propaganda machine, now Information Minister seems dried of the right words to explain the state of affairs.
Let’s not forget, it took the administration more than five months to constitute a federal cabinet of thoroughly recycled brains.
For months now, after repeated promises of change by the Petroleum Resources Ministry, which the President himself heads, fuel remains so scarce, when found, it sells for between N2,000 and N3,000 for a 10 litre jerrycan in the black market, the only alternative to the dry filling stations, instead of N870.
Nigeria which is one of the world’s top seven producers of crude still cannot provide enough petrol for local consumption, in spite of the change the APC promised before the elections.
The last deadline after several, given by the Petroleum Ministry’s Junior Minister, Dr Ibe Kachikwu was that by last weekend the product would be in abundance in Lagos and Abuja, and two days later, nationwide. But Abuja and Lagos residents said it was same old story. And Nigerian refineries still remain unuseful.
What of electricity power supply? From about 4,000MW it has dropped to below 2,500 causing bigger untold hardship on the citizenry. With scarcity of foreign currency support to buy generating sets, the people are simply in one big heat-hole, gasping for the last breath. Yet the FG has no answer to the tricks of the DISCOS.
With all these on, and the 2016 budget yet to work, speedy infrastructure development remains a mirage. Infact, the second Niger Bridge initially projected to be completed and delivered next year is now merely a pipe dream. So is the East West Road.
The economy is in a very bad shape with no positive signal that people are thinking. It’s been all complaints. Nearly a year into the tenure of an elected government, what Nigerians get daily are complaints against and blames on the past government which lapses it promised to correct, having researched and found solutions to all the problems.
So bad, some of the promises made are also being denied. A welfare package promised unemployed graduates for which the hopeful Nigerian youth lined up behind the APC in the last election has been blown-up by the wind. Infact, some even said the promise was not made to jobless graduates but to the very poor and vulnerable in the society.
Who is more vulnerable? A jobless oldman who could depend on alms from even neighbours or a jobless graduate, who so frustrated could, allow self to be conscripted into a gang of criminals or even Boko Haram? But they say jobless graduates are not the most vulnerable.
This leads us to the worrisome level of insecurity in the land.
There are likely to have been  more deaths in the past two months across the country than last two years of the former administration, excepting Boko Haram related killings by soldiers. Daily, there are stories of senseless killings arising from clashes between herdsmen and defenceless farmers and communities, kidnappings and indeed cult-related violence.
The basic responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and property of its citizens. If that basic responsibility also does not have a quick-fix then the people live without hope.
Yet, in its desperation to expand its political power base, the APC government has also been putting at risk, the Nigerian Army’s reputation and relation with the Nigerian people. Rather than being the friends of the citizenry some Nigerians now perceive soldiers as potential political enemies, because of their misuse in civil issues.
Only recently, an Army Colonel abducted days earlier in Kaduna was found dead. And last week, dead bodies were found in a pit at the outskirts of Rivers State, with locals not recognising any. Many suggested, they could be products of extra-judicial killing.
Also, it is safe to say that the APC-led federal government seems to lack the neutrality required to institute a dependable, free and fair national electoral body that would conduct conclusive elections. Look at experiences of Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states. It appears that when the outcome of an election is unfavourable to the ruling party and government of the day, it is declared inconclusive; otherwise, what is holding the collated and announced results of the Rivers rerun?
This is why many Nigerians have started expressing doubts that the favourable democratic platform which ushered in the APC may be sustained. Some say it has since been destroyed and the ruling party now hopes on ‘Federal Might’ and the same impunity it often accused the PDP of, as sure-bet to win subsequent elections.
An octogenarian, Pa Wilcox Papaye, recently lamented in an interview with newsmen in Port Harcourt, “Is it what you call change? Is it change for better or worse? This is worso-o”. It is the same refrain running through the lips of many.
But by far the most annoying is the unfulfilled promises to rescue the Chibok girls, for which a coalition of civil society groups lined up behind the APC. Nearly two years after, the government still has no clue, although Nigerian troops have done quite well in the battle against Boko Haram, with  daily capture of terror kingpins.
What is needed now is for the Buhari-led government, to identify at least one problem, solve it fully and use it as a branding effort to market other yet-to-be fulfilled promises. More importantly, they should realise that posterity will not forgive the government of the day, if out of desperation, it kills the same nascent democracy that allowed it into power.
My Agony is that many of those who should be worried are still in a fool’s paradise, illusion of grandeaur, as if all is well. But they do not hear the talk on the streets. That may be why they seem comfortable.
Nigerians NEED real change for the better not the horrors of today.

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.

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