The Rivers State Government has berated the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for excluding the state among states that benefitted from funds disbursed to states suffering flooding last year.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon Emeka Onowu, who spoke while addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt, expressed sadness that the state was denied the funds last year, and advised the Federal Government not to play politics with the lives of people affected by floods.
This is as he said this year’s flooding will be worse, but assured that government has put necessary measures in place to alleviate the sufferings of those that would be expected.
Onowu said, “Let me say this, last year (2017), Bayelsa. Rivers, Delta, Kogi and Anambra states were listed as the foremost states that will be affected by floods. Do you know that Rivers State was excluded by the federal government?
“So, I begin to ask myself certain questions. Must we play politics with everything? Even with human lives and property. Assuming you play politics with property, but human lives that cannot be redeemed!
“And money was released to NEMA by the Federal Government to these other state i mentioned; but Rivers State was excluded,” he stated
He, however, expressed happiness that despite the disposition if the Federal Government towards the state, Governor Nyesom Wike had intervened and provided the necessary funds needed, “and we were able to get the relief materials to take care of those that were affected by the flooding.”
The commissioner stated that this year’s flooding would be worse, and advised members of the public to be on the alert, even as he said that the state government has taken steps to address perennial flooding in Eneka and Rukpokwu axis of Obio/Akpo LGAs.
“Eneka is naturally a flooded area. If you look the back of Eneka as a whole is swampy, it is water-logged. This has nothing to do with presence of drainages or not. It (flooding) must surely occur. ONELGA has drainage, Ahoada-West and Ahoada-East has drainages, but these places will be flooded.
“Let me use this opportunity to plead with the public that the flooding this year will be terrible (worse), so we want everybody to be on stand-by.
‘The moment we are ready, we will be on air and begin to evacuate people to transit camp and from transit camps to the main camps where they will be, reiterating that two relief camps have been opened in Ahoada and Aluu, respectively.
“Our transit camp is going to be at Ahoada where we will first receive people and from there we will allocate them to the main camp in Aluu and other areas,” he stated.
It would he recalled that the state government has said about 67, 000 people across five local government areas of the state will be affected by the floods this year.
Meanwhile. the Rivers State Government has commenced the comprehensive biometric data capture of pensioners in a move to develop a functional pension scheme in the state.
The biometric data capture for the pensioners is taking place at the Ministry of Justice Headquarters in Port Harcourt for the mainstream pensioners.
Pensioners, who retired from the parastatals are being captured at the Rivers State University.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals are working round the clock to ensure easy capture of the retirees.
The Head of Service, Rivers State, Barrister Rufus Godwins said that Governor Nyesom Wike was working towards a functional pension scheme that will stand the test of time.
He said: “The governor inherited six months pension arrears and settled the arrears. This is a public knowledge. Thereafter, he set out to address the pension issues that he inherited.
“The governor set up committees to address these issues. He has been implementing the reports. He has established the Rivers State Pension Board.
“There is a larger committee chaired by the deputy governor to make sure that every aspect of the pension issue dating back to 2009 under the Contributory Pension Scheme is resolved”.
Godwins noted that with efforts associated with the inherited pension issues, it is uncharitable for some misguided pensioners to attempt to malign the state government.
He added that there was no issue between the Rivers State governor and the pensioners as they were aware of efforts in place by the administration to address pension concerns.
“There is no issue between the governor and the pensioners. But there is an issue concerning the pension scheme he inherited and he is addressing it. All that is required is the support of those who are affected.
“To continue to protest is distracting us from the grave issue, which is to address the matter on ground “, he said.
He noted that the development of a functional pension system is necessary to avoid a relapse in the future.
“All the pensioners are to be verified and subjected to a comprehensive data process. We will have a timeframe to capture the pensioners after which the door will be shut”, Godwins said.
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Service, Mr Nnamdi Opu said that despite the financial challenges, the Wike administration has been up-to-date in terms of the payment of monthly pension.
He said the government has paid up to August 2018, with nobody being owed.
In his remarks, Permanent Secretary in charge of Information and Communication Technology, Mr Samuel Deresuma said all the equipment were in place for a successful biometric capture exercise.
The pensioners interviewed expressed gratitude to the Rivers State governor for his commitment to pension reforms and development of a sustainable pension scheme.
A pensioner, who has been captured, Festus LongJohn, noted that the biometric capture exercise will eliminate loss of government revenue.
Another pensioner, Daisy Jack, thanked the governor for the regular payment of pensions.
She said the biometric capture exercise will resolve existing challenges.
Venerable Sam Dan said that the state government was handling the entire exercise professionally.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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