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Don Knocks Rivers Elders Over Letter To Buhari …Urges INEC To Act Within The Law

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A university teacher and Co-convener, Initiative for Credible Elections, Dr. Sofiri Peterside has criticised some Rivers elders over a letter they wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari for him to intervene in the election crisis in Rivers State.
The Tide recalls that the elders in the said letter said that ‘Mr. President should note that INEC going ahead to collate and announce results of 17 areas unnamed local government after two weeks of suspension of electoral process could precipitate public disorder’.
The letter also said that ‘no moral justification to continue with the suspended electoral process, as the outcome will be prejudicial and contentious’, among others.
But Dr. Peterside while appearing as guest on a radio programme in Port Harcourt monitored by The Tide said the elders letter calling for the intervention of the President is belated, accusing them of failing to speak up before the elections, like other organizations and groups who had called for peaceful polls in the crude oil and gas rich state.
This is as Peterside, who is a senior lecturer, Department of Sociology at the University of Port Harcourt called on the electoral body to be open and douse tension by providing the necessary information in the public domain and act within the dictates of the law
He stated, “I read the letter by the elders in the newspapers. My position on it is that the letter is belated. These elders ought to have spoken on the road to the elections. Every organization and civil society were calling for peaceful elections and the elders of this state refused to speak.
“At the point in time when we were already in crisis, even when people were being killed, the elders also lose their voices. So this kind of intervention if you ask me is very belated.
“What is required actually is for INEC to act within the ambit of the law. What is it that the law has said? Why should INEC give an announcement and tell citizens of this country, including Rivers State people that by Wednesday (last week) details of what is going to happen will be made public.
“Journalists went to INEC office in Port Harcourt and they did not get any information. They (newsmen) were not allowed entry. At the national level, no information. And when you do that kind of thing is that you create tension and people are soaked in tension,” Peterside said.
The University don stated further, “So the right thing to do is to douse this tension by stating clearly and keep the citizens informed. I am aware and we have read that there were cases in court and the court declined to grant the ex parte motion by saying that INEC be notified and let them return on the 25th.
“So INEC needs to keep the citizens informed of what is happening otherwise when you leave people in that state when there is no information, anything can happen. So there is need to douse the tension in the state.
“From the analysis of what the elders want even though they did not come out to say so clearly. My own understanding and reading of their statement is that the election be cancelled. Now what I support is that need not to keep that information because they said that they have reports of about 17 LGA’s in their kitty.
“We need to know those LGA’s so that the citizens can begin to know whether these LGA’s are listed amongst those LGA’s where men in uniform actually intervened and took results away or where political thugs actually intervened and hijack electoral materials.
“So what is required is to put that kind of information in the public domain. Perhaps INEC is hiding under the cover that election results need to be announced by INEC and it should be a process when they are announcing the results.
“But I think that that information should be in the public domain so that people will know which local governments are these. And so if these are local government where these kind of situation never took place, collation and all that, then people should come out and say so. I think that is the way forward in this process. Openness,” the university don admonished.

Dennis Naku

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Huge Cost Of NASS Maintenance Worries TUC

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Rivers State chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has called on the Federal Government to reduce the costs of governance in the country, noting that it cost the country billions of Naira to maintain the National Assembly alone.
The State TUC, chairman, Austin Jonah who spoke when he appeared as guest on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt monitored by The Tide stated that the cost of governance in Nigeria is very expensive and not attainable.
Jonah further said the federal government will have enough funds to pay the minimum wage when they reduce the salaries and allowances of political office holders.
“Look at the welcome pack of the National Assembly members. N4.6 plus billion for accommodation and furniture. A Senator is going home with about N10million, while the member of House of Representatives is taking N9million plus.
“If you calculate with 360 persons in the House of Reps, plus 109 in the Senate, that is about 469 people and they have severance gratuity. They have so many things they are going home with plus their salary. You see, if you look at governance and cut down expenditure in governance this money, they have already taken the money that are talking about.
“They have taken it in the sense that they want to increase communication tax, such as that every call you make you pay tax, sms you pay tax, data you pay tax and even cable Television,” Jonah lamented
The State TUC chairman said what the labour union negotiated with the Federal Government was not the minimum wage but consequential adjustment.
“What we were negotiating was the consequential adjustment. Now from N18, 000 to N30, 000, the difference is N12, 000, which is 66 per cent. That 66 per cent was what we negotiated. By right we are not supposed to negotiate.
“If you trace the history of minimum wage in Nigeria, it started in 1981 during the Alhaji Shehu Shagari Government. Whenever you finish with minimum wage, the consequential adjustment is based on the percentage of the difference.
“The first minimum wage presented by the NLC was N300, but at the end of the day N125 was agreed,” he said.

 

Dennis Naku

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NASS Promises Better Funding For Nigerian Army

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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume and his House of Representatives counterpart, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, have promised to ensure adequate funding for the Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget.
They made the promise on Saturday in an interview with newsmen during the Passing Out Parade (POP) of 78 Regular Recruits Intake at the Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State.
They said that the army needed to be adequately funded to be able to effectively tackle the prevailing security threats in the country.
Ndume, who agreed that the N100 billion proposed for the defence in 2020 budget was inadequate, said that the committee on army was looking at how to help to enhance the funding.
He said that the national assembly was aware of needs of the army that needed to be provided to enable its personnel to perform their duties effectively.
“We are going to do something despite the fact that the resources are scarce but security is first and everybody has agreed to that.
“We are looking at the budget critically to place our priorities right so that the right things will be done first.”
Namdas said that the joint committee had embark on fact finding tour to army formations across the country and realised that the army had challenges.
According to him, they are really on ground, they have done so much and now that the National Assembly is considering the budget we can appropriate for the army.
“We will see how we can be able to adjust and see how that can be able to cope with the challenges at hand,” he said.
Namdas also disclosed that a motion to provide for special funding for the armed forces was currently being considered on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He added that the armed forces could not be adequately funded only by the budget, adding that there was need to look beyond the budget to finance the operations of the armed forces.
“That motion has been taken and we are looking to it and by the special grace of God, even after the budget we will look for special funding for the armed forces generally,” he said.
The Depot Nigerian Army on Saturday graduated a total of 4832 regular recruits who would be deployed to various formations of the army.
Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, urged the graduating soldiers to always uphold the oath of allegiance they had taken to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Olonisakin also tasked them to display total loyalty while pledging that the prevailing security challenges would soon be over through the commitment of the military.

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APC, Party For Notorious Liars – Ayade

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has described the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a group of persons notorious for lies, especially in his state.
He said the assertions credited to the APC chairman in the state, John Ochala, over his return to school to pursue a Master’s degree in law at UNICAL were as laughable and pathetic as the party itself in the state, adding “the party in the state is notorious for lies.”
Ochala is reported to have said that Governor Ayade returned to school because of idleness and laziness and that he (Ayade) lacked ideas on how to govern the state.
But the Governor in a statement by Mr. Christian Ita, his chief media adviser, said it was “funny that a party like APC which prides itself as a major opposition cannot engage the Governor on governance issues but chooses to lie to score cheap political points.
“If they didn’t see anything wrong with Governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai returning to school in 2017 in faraway Netherlands for his PhD, what,then is wrong if Governor Ayade returns to school to add to his numerous degrees within Calabar, the state capital?” he asked.
The statement reminded the APC that Chief Whip of the Senate and member of the APC, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was an undergraduate student while serving as Abia State governor.
“The timing of Governor Ayade’s decision to return to school is unequivocally perfect. Unlike APC members, the governor, despite all the resources at his disposal didn’t choose any foreign university, he decided to do it locally thereby boosting the reputation of Nigerian universities at a time tertiary institutions in West Africa are under attack,” he said. Ayade said to attack his quest for more academic degrees shows that APC in the state was weak as opposition party and could not be able to distract him.

 

Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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