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For The Record

Rivers LG Polls ‘ll Hold Despite Legal Issues – Wike

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Being text of a state broadcast by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on tomorrow’s local government elections, delivered on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
Excerpt.
My dear people of
Rivers State
Recall that the last Local Government election was hurriedly conducted in the dying days of the previous government, precisely on the 23rd of May 2015, one week before the end of its term in office.
Apart from the timing, the ill-fated election was conducted in flagrant disobedience of a valid and subsisting restraining order from the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court. Consequently, on the 22nd of July 2015, the Federal High Court found the election as illegal, sacked the purportedly elected officials and dissolved the Councils for being products of unlawful electoral process.
Since then, it has been impossible to conduct a fresh Local Government election in the State because of the ongoing legal challenge mounted by the sacked chairmen and their political party over the validity of the cancellation of the said election by the lower court.
However, after three years of legal vacillation, it is now clear that the subject matter or fundamental interest of the claimants in that case has practically been wasted by effluxion of time and whatever remedies derivable by the parties, if any, can only be nominal.
While the legal challenge continues, the people of Rivers State are denied their rights to freely elect officers to run the Councils democratically. However, as things stand now, we have no other choice but to conduct the local government election and allow democracy to settle and thrive once again at the grassroots and drive the development of our communities.
It was on this strength that I directed the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC), to initiate the process of conducting the Local Government election in the 2nd quarter of 2018 so that the Councils can properly be constituted to discharge their constitutional responsibilities to the people.
In compliance with this directive, RSIEC has since started the process and fixed the local government election in the State for Saturday, the 16th of June, 2018.
I can confirm to you that the election will take place as scheduled in all the 4,442 units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas of the State as there is no legal obstacle significant enough to warrant otherwise.
Let me therefore appeal to all registered voters to turn out in their numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice. This is a civic responsibility you must exercise in order to rekindle the torch of democracy, good governance and accountability in the local government system.
I am very pleased with the information that 67 out of the 68 registered political parties have fielded candidates for the elections and are therefore participating.
I am equally pleased with the assurances from RSIEC that it is ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections come Saturday, June 16, 2018. For us, this is an irreducible minimum and we demand nothing less as government will hold the commission strictly accountable for any acts or omissions that compromise the integrity of both the process and the elections.
While we are ready to support the security agencies to secure the State and ensure that the elections are peaceful, we are minded to call on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their agents to refrain from their plan to cause mayhem and disrupt the elections in the following Local Government areas:
·   Abua/Odual
·   Akuku-Toru
·   Asari-Toru
· Degema
·  Emohua
· Ikwerre
·Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni
· Opobo and Tai.
The arrowheads of this satanic plot, the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, the former Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Emmanuel Chinda and the current Nigeria’s Ambassador to Netherlands, Ambassador Oji N. Ngofa are recruiting and arming political thugs with guns to be deployed on the eve of the election to create an atmosphere of insecurity in these and other local government areas and scare voters to shun the polling stations.
Mr. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree is a double murder suspect who has refused to submit himself to trial. Yet, this fugitive to justice recently emerged as a factional State Chairman of his party against a court order and is now emboldened by the protection he is getting from the Police and the Federal Government to engage in subversive activities against the interest and people of Rivers State.
In the light of these dangerous threats from Ojukaye and co-travellers, therefore, I wish to call on the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Police to live up to their primary responsibility of providing adequate security for the election and deal decisively with those who may attempt to disturb the peace, order and security of the State before, during and after the election.
Thankfully, I have received concrete assurances from the heads of all the security agencies that they have put adequate measures to secure the peace and ensure orderly conduct of the election and we shall hold them personally and professionally accountable should the contrary be experienced in the State.
Community leaders and members of the public should be on the watch out and report suspicious characters and movements in their localities and neighbourhoods to the law enforcement agencies for immediate action.
Also, the security agencies have definite instructions to strictly enforce the restrictions on human and vehicular movement on election day and arrest any person or group of persons that violate this order. All those who have no official business with conducting the election should therefore stay away from the polling units after casting their votes or risk arrest and prosecution.
Finally, I urge leaders of political parties and their candidates to advise their supporters and agents to peacefully conduct themselves during and after the election.
Thank you and may God bless Rivers State.

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For The Record

2020 Budget Designed To Stregthen Macro -Economic Environment – Buhari

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Being a text of the 2020 Budget speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Joint Session of the National Assembly, Abuja on Tuesday, October 8, 2019.
Excerpt.
Protocols
I will start by asking you to pardon my voice. As you can hear, I have a cold as a result of working hard to meet your deadline!
I am delighted to present the 2020 Federal Budget Proposals to this Joint Session of the National Assembly, being my first budget presentation to this 9th National Assembly.
Before presenting the Budget, let me thank all of you Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, for your avowed commitment to cooperate with the Executive to accelerate the pace of our socio-economic development and enhance the welfare of our people.
I will also once again thank all Nigerians, who have demonstrated confidence in our ability to deliver on our socio-economic development agenda, by re-electing this Administration with a mandate to Continue the Change. We remain resolutely committed to the actualization of our vision of a bright and prosperous future for all Nigerians.
During this address, I will present highlights of our budget proposals for the next fiscal year. The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide full details of these proposals, subsequently.
Overview Of Economic Developments In 2019
The economic environment remains very challenging, globally. The International Monetary Fund expects global economic recovery to slow down from 3.6 percent in 2018 to 3.5 percent in 2020. This reflects uncertainties arising from security and trade tensions with attendant implications on commodity price volatility.
Nearer to home, however, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to continue to grow from 3.1 percent in 2018 to 3.6 percent in 2020. This is driven by investor confidence, oil production recovery in key exporting countries, sustained strong agricultural production as well as public investment in non-dependent economies.
Mr. Senate President; Right Honourable Speaker; I am pleased to report that the Nigerian economy thus far has recorded nine consecutive quarters of GDP growth. Annual growth increased from 0.82 percent in 2017 to 1.93 percent in 2018, and 2.02 percent in the first half of 2019. The continuous recovery reflects our economy’s resilience and gives credence to the effectiveness of our economic policies thus far.
We also succeeded in significantly reducing inflation from a peak of 18.72 percent in January 2017, to 11.02 percent by August 2019. This was achieved through effective fiscal and monetary policy coordination, exchange rate stability and sensible management of our foreign exchange.
We have sustained accretion to our external reserves, which have risen from US$23 billion in October 2016 to about US$42.5 billion by August 2019. The increase is largely due to favourable prices of crude oil in the international market, minimal disruption of crude oil production given the stable security situation in the Niger Delta region and our import substitution drive, especially in key commodities.
The foreign exchange market has also remained stable due to the effective implementation of the Central Bank’s interventions to restore liquidity, improve access and discourage currency speculation. Special windows were created that enabled small businesses, investors and importers in priority economic sectors to have timely access to foreign exchange.
Furthermore, as a sign of increased investor confidence in our economy, there were remarkable inflows of foreign capital in the second quarter of 2019. The total value of capital imported into Nigeria increased from US$12 billion in the first half year of 2018 to US$14 billion for the same period in 2019.
Performance Of The 2019 Budget
Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, you will recall that the 2019 ‘Budget of Continuity’ was based on a benchmark oil price of US$60 per barrel, oil production of 2.3 mbpd, and an exchange rate of N305 to the United States Dollar. Based on these parameters, we projected a deficit of N1.918 trillion or 1.37 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
As at June 2019, Federal Government’s actual aggregate revenue (excluding Government-Owned Enterprises) was N2.04 trillion. This revenue performance is only 58 percent of the 2019 Budget’s target due to the underperformance of both oil and non-oil revenue sources. Specifically, oil revenues were below target by 49 percent as at June 2019. This reflects the lower-than-projected oil production, deductions for cost under-recovery on supply of premium motor spirit (PMS), as well as higher expenditures on pipeline security/maintenance and Frontier exploration.
Daily oil production averaged 1.86 mbpd as at June 2019, as against the estimated 2.3 mbpd that was assumed. This shortfall was partly offset as the market price of Bonny Light crude oil averaged US$67.20 per barrel which was higher than the benchmark price of US$60.
Additionally, revenue projections from restructuring of Joint Venture Oil and Gas assets and enactment of new fiscal terms for Production Sharing Contracts did not materialize, as the enabling legislation for these reforms is yet to be passed into law.
The performance of non-oil taxes and independent revenues such as internally generated revenues were N614.57 billion and N217.84 billion, respectively.
Receipts from Value Added Tax were below expectations due to lower levels of activities in certain economic sectors, in the aftermath of national elections. Corporate taxes were affected by the seasonality of collections, which tend to peak in the second half of the calendar year.
On the expenditure side, 2019 Budget implementation was also hindered by the combination of delay in its approval and the underperformance of revenue collections. As such, only recurrent expenditure items have been implemented substantially. Of the prorated expenditure of N4.46 trillion budgeted, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, 2019.
In compliance with the provisions of the 2018 Appropriation Act, we implemented the 2018 capital budget till June 2019. Capital releases under the 2019 Budget commenced in the third quarter. As at 30th September 2019, a total of about N294.63 billion had been released for capital projects. I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to release an additional N600 billion of the 2019 capital budget by the end of the year.
Despite the delay in capital releases, a deficit of N1.35 trillion was recorded at end of June 2019. This represents 70 percent of the budgeted deficit for the full year.
Despite these anomalies, I am happy to report that we met our debt service obligations, we are current on staff salaries and overhead costs have also been largely covered.
2020 Budget Priorities
Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members, let me now turn to the 2020 Appropriation, which is designed to be a budget of:
a. Fiscal consolidation, to strengthen our macroeconomic environment;
b. Investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development and enabling institutions, especially in key job creating sectors;
c. Incentivising private sector investment essential to complement the Government’s development plans, policies and programmes; and
d. Enhancing our social investment programs to further deepen their impact on those marginalised and most vulnerable Nigerians.
Parameters & Fiscal Assumptions Underpinning The Appropriation Bill And The Finance Bill
Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) set out the parameters for the 2020 Budget. We have adopted a conservative oil price benchmark of US$57 per barrel, daily oil production estimate of 2.18 mbpd and an exchange rate of N305 per US Dollar for 2020.
We expect enhanced real GDP growth of 2.93% in 2020, driven largely by non-oil output, as economic diversification accelerates, and the enabling business environment improves. However, inflation is expected to remain slightly above single digits in 2020.
Accompanying the 2020 Budget Proposal is a Finance Bill for your kind consideration and passage into law. This Finance Bill has five strategic objectives, in terms of achieving incremental, but necessary, changes to our fiscal laws. These objectives are:
a. Promoting fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation;
b. Reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices;
c. Introducing tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets;
d. Supporting Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses in line with our Ease of Doing Business Reforms; and
e. Raising Revenues for Government.
The draft Finance Bill proposes an increase of the VAT rate from 5% to 7.5%. As such, the 2020 Appropriation Bill is based on this new VAT rate. The additional revenues will be used to fund health, education and infrastructure programmes. As the States and Local Governments are allocated 85% of all VAT revenues, we expect to see greater quality and efficiency in their spending in these areas as well.
The VAT Act already exempts pharmaceuticals, educational items, and basic commodities, which exemptions we are expanding under the Finance Bill, 2019. Specifically, Section 46 of the Finance Bill, 2019 expands the exempt items to include the following:
a. Brown and white bread;
b. Cereals including maize, rice, wheat, millet, barley and sorghum;
c. Fish of all kinds;
d. Flour and starch meals;
e. Fruits, nuts, pulses and vegetables of various kinds;
f. Roots such as yam, cocoyam, sweet and Irish potatoes;
g. Meat and poultry products including eggs;
h. Milk;
i. Salt and herbs of various kinds; and
j. Natural water and table water.
Additionally, our proposals also raise the threshold for VAT registration to N25 million in turnover per annum, such that the revenue authorities can focus their compliance efforts on larger businesses thereby bringing relief for our Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses.
It is absolutely essential to intensify our revenue generation efforts. That said, this Administration remains committed to ensuring that the inconvenience associated with any fiscal policy adjustments, is moderated, such that the poor and the vulnerable, who are most at risk, do not bear the brunt of these reforms.
Federal Government Revenue Estimates
The sum of N8.155 trillion is estimated as the total Federal Government revenue in 2020 and comprises oil revenue N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenues of N3.7 trillion. This is 7 percent higher than the 2019 comparative estimate of N7.594 trillion inclusive of the Government Owned En-

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Good Of Rivers People, My Driving Force, Wike Affirms …As Work Begins On Garrison, Artillery, Rumuokoro Flyovers

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has explained that the driving philosophy of his leadership model, is promoting the good of Rivers State in every action.
Addressing journalists after defying a heavy downpour to inspect the ongoing construction of Mother and Child Hospital in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike said he would continue to fulfill all his promises to the people of the state.
The governor said: “What is important is that when we make a promise, we fulfil that promise. We have no room for excuses. We will continue to promote the good of our people.
“For me, everything is Rivers. Whatever will improve the lives of Rivers people, we will do it”.
Wike said that Julius Berger has started the process of preliminary works for the three flyover bridges at Garrison, Artillery and Rumuokoro in Port Harcourt.
He said that the construction giant has started soil tests, while the due process formalities would be completed, today.
“They are doing soil test. By tomorrow, they would conclude the due process formalities.
“We will flag off the construction of the three flyover bridges by the second week of October”, he said.
Commenting on the Mother and Child Hospital, the governor said that it would be completed by this November ending.
“We believe that by the end of November, the Mother and Child Hospital will be ready. I am happy with the pace and quality of work by the new contractor.
“We were not impressed with the last contractor. We had to terminate the contract. We are impressed with what we are seeing now. This contractor is doing well with the supervision of relevant officials of relevant government agencies”, he said.
He said the Mother and Child Hospital would provide specialist services to the people of Niger Delta, being the first in the region.
The governor noted that the hospital would also serve as part of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, explaining that the Rivers State Government has paid fully for the equipment of the hospital.
He added that full payment has been made for the furnishing of the hospital, while payment for the construction work is at 90 per cent level.
Wike was accompanied on the inspection by Director General, Rivers State Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Igonibo Emmanuel Thompson and former state lawmaker, Felix Nwaeke.

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For The Record

Non-Existent Mosque: Truth About The Lie

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Very fundamentally,  no Mosque was demolished by the Rivers State Government.  This has been established by all the stories published after the initial falsehood by Daily Trust and The Nation Newspapers generated national attention.  This reality can no longer be controverted.
Rather than apologise to the country for allowing the media to be used to peddle malicious falsehood,  some media organisations have continued to rationalise the falsehood.  A lie is a lie. No amount of rationalisation can transform a lie into the TRUTH.
The truth about the lie of the non-existent Mosque at Rainbow Town in Port Harcourt is the fact the story was SPONSORED by some political elements to attain a political goal. Otherwise, the TRUTH stared everyone in the face.  The mischief of Alhaji Tobacco and his sponsors was clear.
Some news outlets attempted damage control.  But then, the damage control was weak and self-serving.  The malicious falsehood had further destroyed  the credibility of several of them.
A reporter from The Cable called me and I informed him pointedly  that no demolition was carried out.  He informed me that he was in Port Harcourt and I asked him if he saw any Mosque at the said location.  He admitted  that no Mosque existed.
I told him that being a pro-APC news outlet,   I never expected The Cable to exhibit  courage in its reportage of the falsehood.  He argued back and forth.  He asked for the judgment of November 2018 which conferred ownership of the said land on Rivers State Government and I availed him the report.  This had the Suit Number,  Date of Judgment and Name of the Judge  that delivered the judgment.
The following day, the same reporter called me and said that Scannews had published the news report on the judgment I sent to him. I urged him to go to the State High Court with the suit number and name of the judge to obtain certified true copy of the judgment,  if his office doubted the judgment which was already in the public domain .  He didn’t reflect  the judgment in his damage control  report and claimed  that he couldn’t  do so because it was published in Scannews.  This is a reporter that claimed  he was in Port Harcourt to investigate the non-existent Mosque.
Beyond that Justice G.O Omereji’s judgment,  the Registered Trustees Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque have appealed the judgment.  In Suit  Number CA/PH/189/2019, the Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque said that Justice G.O. Omereji erred while delivering judgment on Suit Number PHC/986/2012, when he declared that the Rivers State Government’s title was superior to the ownership claim of Chief Amadi who sold the land to them.
The Rivers State High Court declared that the land in question belongs to the Rivers State Government. The Court also declared that the Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque had no approval to construct any structure on the disputed land.
The Cable and her reporter were not diligent to confirm from the Rivers State High Court and the Court of Appeal.  Having lost in their plot to misinform and mislead Nigerians,  they struggled desperately  to justify the lie.
Whatever is said, we must have the courage to admit the truth. There was no Mosque on that plot of land. The plot of land has always been owned by the Rivers State Government.
Despite speaking to the former Rivers State Governor through his media aide, David Iyofor, The Cable and other pro-APC media still attempted to promote the malicious falsehood about the NON-EXISTENT MOSQUE.
Hear Amaechi through Iyofor:
“Facts are being twisted and misrepresented. Amaechi as governor of Rivers State did not demolish any mosque on that site. We recalled that during one of his many project inspections around the city of Port Harcourt, Amaechi noticed that some persons were in the process of building on government land,” Iyiofor said.
“He stopped the work they were doing and directed the relevant Rivers State Government ministry liaise with the builders to determine the veracity of their claims that they(builders) have legal rights to the land. The outcome of the government investigation at that time confirmed that the land belongs to the state government and there was no government approval for anyone or body to build on that parcel of land”
From the above, the narration remains consistent with today’s reality.  The land belongs to the Rivers State Government and no approval was given to the group  for any construction.  They didn’t obtain any from Amaechi and no approval was given by the Wike administration.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Ekiti State Governor,  Dr Kayode Fayemi, has assessed the location.  He found out that no Mosque existed at that location.  This entire story was concocted with ulterior political motives.  This explains  the warped statements by some political leaders, who climb the political ladder using religion as a major tool.
Fayemi said : “With what I have seen I cannot see any evidence of any building  that has been demolished here. If you are somebody who wants a place of worship,  you should find a way to oblige them. I know within your capacity,  it will  be possible to find a place for them.
“From what I have seen here, I think it is a storm in a tea cup. There is nothing to warrant this kind of media hype that has been given to it”.
Those who plotted this malicious falsehood and sponsored the negative media mileage have been disappointed.  God and the truth have failed them.  The mayhem they intended to achieve failed to kick-start.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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