Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike last Saturday said the government of Rivers State funded the recent military and DSS joint operation which led to the elimination of notorious killer, Johnson Igwedibia, a.k.a. Don Waney, whose reign of terror left several persons killed in Ogba/ Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area.
Wike, in a media programme in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was reacting to the widespread notion that the security offensive which killed Don Waney was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, without knowledge of the Rivers State Governor. Chief Nyesom Wike. “The State Government funded the operation that led to the death of Don Waney. The President may have encouraged it, but the operation was funded by the Rivers State Government.
“Don Waney accepted Amnesty, but refused to abide by the tenets of the amnesty. It was at this point that the Security Council resolved to track him down.
“If we do not work in synergy with security agencies, how would we have gotten Don Waney?. Whether we like it or not, it is incumbent on us to play our own part on security”, Wike stated.
In self appraisal on his stewardship, the governor noted that electoral prospects of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Rivers have been enhanced by his outstanding performance.
He said: “If elections are held 100 times in Rivers State, the PDP will win. The chances of the PDP are even brighter in Rivers State as a result of my performance.
“I have projects located in all local government areas of the state. I have reasons in each local government area why the people should vote for me.”
He also assured that council polls would hold this year as the State Electoral Commission has proposed a budget for same, adding that PDP will hold transparent primaries that will lead to the emergence of popular candidates which will form the premise for victory in 2019.
Meanwhile, Wike has debunked rumours making the rounds in the state by the opposition that he sponsored cult groups to win the 2015 governorship election, but Governor Wike over the weekend reacted and declared that, he had never sponsored or armed any cult group to win any poll in the state.
Gov. Wike also said he had never belonged to any cult group since his undergraduate days at University of Port Harcourt and in Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu, even during his days in the Nigeria Law School.
The state Governor stated this in Port Harcourt at the weekend during an exclusive radio interview programme with Rhythm 93.7, View Point monitored by The Tide in the state capital.
The governor who told his listening audience that, right from his days as student and twice chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, he had never bought weapons for anybody or cult groups to assist him win election.
“My records are straight, I graduated from UNIPORT and later proceeded to RSUST and served my National Youth Service Corps in Gongola State, I never joined any cult group or sponsored any even at the law school,” Gov Wike said.
Hear Gov Wike, ‘Rivers people know my antecedent even as a former chairman of Obio/Akpor local government and a serving governor now’.
I have never bought guns, weapon for anybody to put me in power, I have also, never sponsored any cult group to win any election in the state even as governor’
On the killing of a notorious cult leader Don Waney in Omuoku by the security agencies, Governor Wike said, Don Waney as a cult leader embraced amnesty, but later embarked on killings of innocent people in Ogba, Egbema, Ndoni Local Government Area, ONEGLA that led to the killing of over twenty persons on the New Year eve.
He also revealed that the criminal gangs were plotting to launch another attack that could have killed over 200 persons in Omoku before he was gunned down by the security agents.
The governor insisted that the killing of Don Waney has brought peace in the area and that residents of ONEGLA are now going about their lawful business peacefully
Governor Wike said, his timely killing was masterminded by the provision of logistics by the Rivers State Government to aid the operations of the security agencies.
Late Don Waney, Wike said was operating from Awara forest located in Imo State with his criminal gangs before he met his waterloo early January.
Wike insisted that, he is ready to partner with security agencies in the state at ensuring that total peace is returned to the state an support them with logistics to do their work
On the 32 persons pronounced as cultists in the state, Governor Wike said, the names were submitted by security agencies after thorough intelligence gatherings, noting that he cannot wake up and pronounces those names as cultists terrorising the peace of the state.
On whether he would contest the 2019 governorship election in the state, Gov Wike said, he would consult the leaders of the party to decide, noting that his performance as governor in the past two and half years speaks volumes of him.
Gov. Wike said, he had virtually executed tangible projects in all the 23 local government Areas of the state and his and performance as governor will convince the electorate to vote him for second term in office.
Similarly, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has berated the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government for deliberately stalling the completion of the dualization of the Elelenwo-Akpajo Road which links Obio/Akpor Local Government Area to Eleme Local Government Area in the state.
Addressing journalists, last Friday, after inspecting the portion where the Federal Ministry of Transportation officially directed the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) not to cooperate with the Rivers State Government, Wike said that the objective of the APC-led Federal Government was to stall the completion of the all-important project.
The road links the economic nerve centre of Rivers State where Onne Port, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Port Harcourt Refinery, Indorama, Intels, Notore Fertilizer Company, and other oil multinationals are located.
The governor said that the refusal of the APC-led Federal Government to cooperate with the Rivers State Government on the completion of the road will not stop his administration from completing it.
Wike, however, admitted that the antics of the APC-led Federal Government may delay the completion of the road.
He directed the contractor to study the affected portion of the road, and suggest options within the shortest possible time.
The governor said: “We wrote to the Nigerian Railway Corporation for an understanding on this portion of the road. But what we got was that they made up their minds not to cooperate with us.
“That instruction was given by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi. This road was awarded by the minister when he was the governor of the state. But he never mobilised the contractor”.
“When we took over, we felt the former contractor lacked the capacity for this important road, so, we engaged Julius Berger Plc. We thought he should be happy that we are doing what he failed to do”.
Wike regretted that the APC-led Federal Government and her agents politicise everything, including development.
“This may affect the commissioning of this project within the scheduled time. That is what they are trying to achieve. But, we will do everything we can to ensure completion of the road”, he said.
Earlier, Project Manager of Julius Berger Plc, Sam Ngbor assured the governor that the engineers of the firm will study the situation, and find solution to the challenge.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
Buhari Seeks NASS’ Amendment Of PIA …Wants NNPC, EFCC Boards’ Confirmation
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, seeking an amendment to the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
President Muhammadu Buhari also sought the House of Representatives’ amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act, including removal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from the boards of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
In the letter, Buhari wants an amendment to the new Act to allow for the removal of the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying that they can continue to perform their functions without necessarily being members of the board.
In the letter read, yesterday, during plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Buhari is also seeking for the amendment to allow the Non-Executive Members to be increased from two to six in the national interest.
The President, in three other letters to the Senate, asked for the confirmation of nominees into the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The three confirmation letters from the President were read in yesterday’s plenary by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
In a letter dated September 16, 2021, Buhari stated that the request to confirm the chairman, chief executive and executive directors for the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was being made in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The nominees for confirmation into the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Board are: Idaere Gogo Ogan (chairman); Engr. Sarki Auwalu (chief executive); Abiodun A. Adeniji (executive director, Finance and Accounts); and Ogbugo Ukoha (executive director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure).
In another letter also dated September 16, 2021, the President while relying on the provision of Section 11(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of four nominees as chairman, chief executive and executive commissioners to the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
The nominees are: Isa Ibrahim Modibo (chairman); Engr. Gbenga Komolafe (chief executive); Hassan Gambo (executive commissioner, Finance and Accounts); and Ms Rose Ndong (executive commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management).
According to the President, requests for the confirmation of the board’s membership were made “in order to fast track the process for the establishment of the commission”.
In the third letter dated September 17, 2021, Buhari requested the upper legislative chamber to confirm the appointment of the secretary and board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He explained that the request for the confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the provision of Section 2(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Those to be confirmed include George Abbah Ekpungu, secretary (Cross River); Luqman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Raheem Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).
At the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter attached to an executive bill presented to the House by Buhari at the opening of plenary, yesterday.
The proposals also include the appointment of non-executive board members; removal of the ministries from the boards of the two institutions; and appointment of executive directors to the boards.
The President’s requests to the House of Representatives are a rehearsal of the same demands he made to the Senate.
It would be recalled that the joint National Assembly committees that worked on the PIB had proposed five per cent equity share for the development of the host communities but the Senate-led the campaign for its reduction to three per cent while the House of Representatives approved the panel’s recommendation.
The conference committee set up by the presiding officers of both chambers in their recommendation, fixed the equity share at three per cent and was invariably approved by the National Assembly.
The development generated into controversy with senators from the South-South geopolitical zone kicking against it and asked Buhari to resolve the impasse by seeking amendment to increase the equity share to five per cent.
However, the new amendments proposed by the President did not address the concerns of the South-South stakeholders.
Rather, Buhari’s fresh request centred basically on the need to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Buhari is seeking the senators’ approval to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.
He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.
“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.
“Therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as oil industry.
“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country”.
The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
He said the two ministers already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.
He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.
“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being the same rank with the directors in the institution
“This may bring some complications in some decision making, especially on issues of staff related matters.”
Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.
He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.
“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected to Senate confirmation. These category of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the authority.
“In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority.
Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.
He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions”.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Emohua, Three Kalabari LGAs Partner On Joint Security
The Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd, has met with his counterparts from the three Kalabari-speaking local government areas; Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru, to review the security situation along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, and plan strategies for a joint network to checkmate any infractions in the security of the LGs.
The meeting, which was held at the instance of Lloyd at the headquarters of Emohua Local Government Area, followed the recent abduction of an expatriate attached to Lubrik Construction Company; the contractor handling the construction of Trans-Kalabari Road by yet to be identified gunmen.
The chairmen of Akuku-Toru, Degema, and Asari-Toru LGAs, Hon Roland Sekibo, Hon Michael John Williams, and Hon Onengiyeofori George; respectively, in their separate remarks, commended Lloyd for initiating the process for a partnership to improve the security of lives and property along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, which presently calls for concern.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting which lasted for hours, Lloyd said the meeting condemned the abduction of the expatriate staff, who was supervising the construction work being executed by the Rivers State Government on Trans-Kalabari Road.
The council chairmen also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate by his abductors, as well as the apprehension of the masterminds of the reprehensible act by security agencies.
The meeting further agreed to set up a local security outfit with members drawn from the four local government areas to support the security agencies in providing effective security along the Emohua-Kalabari Road.
Lloyd said the meeting was also expected to be hosted concurrently amongst the four local government areas, with a view to strengthening the relationship between the LGAs as well as the promotion of the socio-economic development of the area.
The chairmen also appointed Hon Lolo Ibiene to serve as their rapporteur.
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