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N11trn Electricity Fraud Allegation Infuriates Jonathan

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Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has reacted to the report that he was among the past leaders who wasted over N11trillion on almost non-existent electricity generation and supply to millions of Nigerians.
It would be recalled that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), had last Wednesday, disclosed how over N11trillion meant for the provision of electricity supply was allegedly squandered in the 16 years of the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
SERAP had claimed that corruption in the electricity sector started during the administration of Obasanjo in 1999.
But Jonathan, while reacting to the claim through his former aide on new media, Reno Omokri, described the report as false and baseless.
He said the story was false, describing it as the fruit of the laziness of the researchers who could have taken advantage of the Freedom of Information Act that Jonathan signed into law in May, 2011, to extract right information on the electricity sector expenditure over the period under review.
The former president’s statement reads: “My attention has been drawn to the story, ‘Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan wasted N11trillion on electricity –SERAP’, published most prominently in The Punch newspapers on August 10, 2017, and less prominently in other papers.
“While I cannot speak for others, I can certainly say that as touching former President Goodluck Jonathan, the story is false, and is the fruit of the laziness of the researchers who could have taken advantage of the Freedom of Information Act that Jonathan signed into law in May, 2011 to get records and data from relevant government ministries, departments and agencies that would have given them a fuller picture instead of the narrow view they have.
“Former President,Goodluck Jonathan could not have wasted N11 trillion or any other amounts of money for the simple reason that he was the Nigerian president who privatised the power sector beginning on August 26, 2010, when he launched the roadmap to power sector reforms, and culminating on October 16, 2012, when the winning bids were announced for the sale of power generating and distributing companies.
“SERAP may do well to remember that on Monday, the 30th of September, 2013, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, former President Jonathan successfully handed over the bulk of Nigeria’s power infrastructure to successful private sector bidders after they had made payments for the assets they acquired.
“At that event, he said ‘I congratulate our new owners who have taken over the engines and cables that are expected to drive not just the electricity industry but also the socio-economic wellbeing of the nation’.
“In total, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was split into six generation and 11 distribution firms, all sold separately, for about $2.5billion for which the Jonathan administration received much deserved praise.
“In fact, rather than wasting money, the Jonathan administration generated money for the federation from the sale of these assets which were seen to be transparent and followed global best practices.
“Between May 6, 2010, when he was first sworn in as president to May 29, 2015, when he handed over power, the budget for the Ministry of Power under Jonathan was not up to N400 billion in total for the simple reason that his administration had succeeded in transferring most of Nigeria’s power assets, liabilities and personnel from the public sector to the private sector.
“As such, it is evidently clear that any allegation that the Jonathan government wasted trillions is not a well thought-out allegation at best, and is a figment of the imagination of the makers at worse”.
“I do hope those papers which published this false report against the person of former president Jonathan and the administration that he led will be honourable enough to set the records straight for posterity,” the statement added.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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