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‘N65bn Too Meagre For N’Delta Woes’

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The umbrella body of Ijaw youth, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, has said the N65billion budget for the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme (NDPAP) will not abate the crisis in the region.
The IYC was reacting to the increase in the proposed budget for the Niger Delta’s amnesty programme from N20billion to N65billion.
Spokesman for the council, Mr. Eric Omare, said yesterday, that the increase does not call for any celebration from the people of the region.
He argued that the increase would only enable the Federal Government to meet its targeted daily output of oil from the region, describing the strategy as exploitative.
Omare further argued that attention should rather be shifted to how much was budgeted and released to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) and the Federal Ministry of Works to carry out developmental projects in the oil-rich coastal areas.
He noted that it would be erroneous for the Federal Government to think that by increasing the amnesty budget, which he described as ‘security money’, it was doing the Niger Delta a favour.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the presentation of the proposed 2017 budget noted that the government would focus on a projected oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day at an assumed price of $42.5 per barrel.
This year alone, there have been a series of attacks on oil and gas infrastructure by aggrieved militants in the region, drastically reducing output and plunging the country into recession.
But the IYC spokesman noted that unless the development of the region was taken seriously, rather than the current ‘window dressing’ adopted by the government at the centre, the crisis in the region might never abate.
Omare said, “To put it in a proper perspective, it should be noted that this increase is not for development of the Niger Delta, but for security, and probably, a bit of human capacity development.
“The attention should be on how much is budgeted and released to the NDDC, the Niger Delta Ministry, the Ministry of Works concerning the Niger Delta. Those are the areas we should be interested in,” he stated.
Omare maintained that even billions of naira that were budgeted in the past for the development of the region were never released, insisting that the increase in the amnesty budget should be viewed with cautious optimism.
However, he commended the president for the increment in the amnesty budget, stressing that it was a “right step in the right direction.”
“We need to commend him, however. But this move has to be genuine. It is one thing to propose a budget, another for it to be passed and yet another thing for it to be released,” Omare said.

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Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate

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Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.

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Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members

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President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”

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Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.

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