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Again, Senate Disappoints N’ Deltans – Shifts PIB Passage To 2018 – Another Militant Group Shuns Ceasefire

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The Senate has again disappointed already agitated and anxious Niger Delta people as it shamelessly shifted the time for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) from this year to the first quarter of 2018.
In moving the passage to next year, the Senate argued that the National Assembly has a lot of work to do in order to ensure the early passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill just presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, last Tuesday.
According to the Senate, lawmakers will have to shift attention to the 2018 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly by Buhari, a development that will delay the ongoing process required for the passage of the PIB.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, explained that although the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had earlier in the year stated that he wanted the PIB to be passed in 2017, the present circumstance on ground had shown that the passage of the bill would not happen until 2018.
Alasoadura, who spoke, last Wednesday at the ongoing 7th Practical Nigerian Content Forum, told participants at the event that the increased call for the passage of the PIB was not misplaced considering its significance to the oil sector, but insisted that it would not happen this year despite the more than 14 years of delay.
He said, “The PIB will be passed in the first quarter of next year, and this is because of the budget that was presented to the National Assembly by the President on Tuesday. He (Buhari) asked us to do all we can in order to pass the budget before the end of this year.
“So, there is much work to be done by the National Assembly on the budget, and as a result of this, we won’t or may not have all the time to go through all that is needed for the passage of the PIB before the end of this year.
“The Senate president wants it to be done before the end of this year, but I have to be practical. For us to have the budget in place, I think we need to concentrate on its passage so that its implementation can also take effect in good time.”
Alasoadura admitted that the passage of the PIB had been delayed for so long and corroborated the argument of the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote that the bill needed to be passed, whether in good or bad shape.
Meanwhile, another militant group, the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders (NDRC), yesterday, recanted on the ceasefire it declared, a year ago, saying that the grace given to the Federal Government to conclude genuine negotiations with leaders of the region has elapsed.
Consequently, the NDRC said it was now ready more than ever before to join forces with the Niger Delta Avengers to decimate oil and gas facilities in the region and decapitate the nation’s economy.
In a statement by the spokesperson, W. O. I. Izon-Ebi, the group directed Nigerians and expatriates working at Agbami, Akpo, Usan, Erna, Abo, Yoho, Unity and Benga FPSO, platforms operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited, Total, Mobil, Agip and Shell to vacate the platforms without further delay.
It cautioned the companies to immediately accede to the warning as “their safety can no longer be guaranteed by the gods of the rivers and land,” adding that in the next few days and weeks, the campaign to destroy oil and gas installations in the region would commence without any further notice.
It would be recalled that the dreaded Niger Delta Avengers, which also a year ago, suspended hostilities against oil installations in the region to enable the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), proceed with meaningful dialogue with the Federal Government, had last Friday, announced suspension of their unilateral ceasefire.
In a statement by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, the group renounced activities of PANDEF, led by former federal commissioner for information, Chief Edwin Clark, ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and another militant group, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, saying that such activities were inimical to the speedy resolution of the issues tabled before the Federal Government.
The statement said, “The Niger Delta Avengers are back and will not spare anything or anyone on our path to actualize a united and free Niger Delta.
“Our next line of operation will not be like the 2016 campaign, which we operated successfully without any casualties. This outing will be brutish, brutal and bloody, as we are shall crush everything we meet on our path to completely put off the fires that burn to flair gas in our communities and cut every pipe that moves crude away from our region.
“We can assure you that every oil installation in our region will feel warmth of the wrath of the Niger Delta Avengers,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Niger Delta Avengers volunteered to lead security forces to where Tompolo was hiding, having been declared wanted by the military, last year.

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom  Wike  (middle), with former Minister of Sports, Dr Tammy Danagogo (right) and Prince Emma Anyanwu, during project inspection after the return  of the Governor to Port Harcourt, yesterday.

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (middle), with former Minister of Sports, Dr Tammy Danagogo (right) and Prince Emma Anyanwu, during project inspection after the return of the Governor to Port Harcourt, yesterday.

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Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don

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Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.

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RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.

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Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls

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The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”

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