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I Stand On Side Of Truth, Justice -Yeeh

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Being text of a press statement on the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State by former African Action Congress (AAC) Deputy Governorship candidate in the State, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh on Monday, March 25, 2019 in Port Harcourt.
Excerpts:

The March 9, 2019 governorship election in Rivers State has been lost and won: lost by my party, the African Action Congress (AAC) and its candidate, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara and undoubtedly and overwhelmingly won by the Governor of Rivers State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS.
I was the Deputy Governorship candidate of the AAC in Rivers State up till today, 25th March 2019, when I decided to withdraw my candidature and resign from the party with immediate effect.
As the Deputy Governorship candidate, I ran the general elections with Engineer Awara in good faith. We both emerged from the primaries supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, shortly after our emergence, it dawned on me that the AAC was not serious about contesting the elections. The party did no other thing apart from submitting our names to INEC as candidates from the election.
The party did not field any candidate for the National and State Houses of Assembly seats. We printed no single campaign poster nor mounted any single campaign billboard in the State. Neither did we hold a single campaign rally or meeting throughout the campaign period. We never relayed any campaign broadcast or advert on radio, television or the print media. Nobody, I repeat: no voter, in Rivers State even knew what the logo or the AAC looked like.
However, 72 hours to the elections, we received the good news that the AAC had been adopted by the Hon. Rotimi Amaechi-led faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Governorship election, having been barred by the courts from fielding any candidates for the general elections in the State, except that of the office of the President.
In adopting the AAC, Rotimi Amaechi emphatically assured us that he was going to fund and do every other thing under the sun to give us victory at the polls.
He further disclosed to us that he had already assembled security personnel drawn from the Nigerian Army, the Police, Department of State Security (DSS) and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) to provide adequate security cover and enablement for members of the AAC and APC to effectively rig the governorship election and have us declared as winners come March 9th, 2019.
The adoption and promise to deliver the AAC, was however, not without conditions that conferred de facto Governor to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi:

  • First, he must be the one to appoint ninety per cent of all political office holders, including commissioners, special advisers and chairmen and members of Government Boards, Agencies and Parastatals;
  • Second, he must be the one to nominate and produce all the 23 Local Government Council Chairmen and other principal officers of the Councils;
  • We, that is, Engineer Biokpomabo and my humble self must consult and take instructions from him on all financial, policy and fiscal matters, as well as the award and payment of contracts and other financial transactions upon our inauguration as Governor and Deputy Governor of the State;
    In addition, I was forced to sign an undated letter of resignation as the Deputy Governor of Rivers State to pave way for Rotimi Amaechi to nominate another person of his choice as the Deputy Governor.
    These were clearly slavish conditions for any rational politician worth his name to accept, but I pretended to play along because doing otherwise at that time would have been too dangerous a game for the safety of my life, given Rotimi Amaechi’s unconcealed desperation to remove Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike from office and install his stooge in the person of Engr. Awara against all odds.
    And so the AAC went into the March 9th, 2019 general elections as an adopted political baby of the APC and with full confidence that the Minister of Transportation would use his federal might and connections with the army to rig it into victory.
    But we are all witnesses to what happened on the day of the elections. Reports received in our situation room showed that despite intimidations from the army, the elections went on peacefully in virtually all the Local Government Areas of the State, except Abua/Odual where the army led by APC thugs prevented the distribution of election materials to the wards and units.
    Furthermore, records received from the agents of the AAC also showed that collation had been concluded in 19 out of the 23 Local Government Areas of the State before INEC abruptly suspended the collation process following the unfortunate attack on its State Headquarters office by a contingent of the army on the 10th of March 2019.
    The collated results further showed that contrary to the false claims of factions led by the APC/AAC alliance, the PDP overwhelmingly won all the elections in 18 out of the 19 Local Governments Areas, culminating in the declaration and return of the party in 26 State House of Assembly constituencies by the Constituency Returning Officers.
    This fact was confirmed on the 13th of March, 2019, when INEC stated, as a matter of fact, that it had in its safe custody collated results for 17 Local Government Areas as well as the declaration and return of the PDP candidates for 21 State Constituencies.
    The outcome of the elections on March 9th, 2019 clearly showed the preference and direction of the people of Rivers State. Even the blind can see, and the deaf can hear the echo, that Rivers people overwhelmingly voted to stick with Governor Nyesom Wike for the next four years to encourage him to continue with the good works he has been doing to reposition the State for greatness in the last three and half years.
    As a budding politician, I have a responsibility to promote and protect democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
    If we all agree that the desperation and failed attempt by Rotimi Amaechi to use the army to rig the Governorship election for his infantile AAC candidate was an affront to the democratic rights of Rivers people to freely elect their leaders; then, what can we say about the organised brutality, bloodshed and killings that he unleashed on the innocent persons in Ahoada West, Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru, Degema, Emohua, Khana, Ikwerre, Okrika and Ogu/Bolo Local Government Areas of the State during the 2019 general elections?
    In case you haven’t noticed, the purported claim to victory at the polls by the Rotimi Amaechi-led APC/AAC alliance vanished the very day and moment INEC confirmed safe custody of the collated results in 17 Local Government Areas and its readiness to resume and conclude the collation process in Rivers State as soon as practicable.
    Regrettably, despite the national and international outrage against his desperate conduct and deplorable assault on our democratic rights, Rotimi Amaechi and his APC/AAC cohorts are still bent on subverting the manifest will of the people of Rivers State as expressed on the 9th of March, 2019 by planning to:
    (i) again use security personnel to violently attack and attempt to frustrate and or prevent INEC from resuming the results collation process from the 2nd – 5th of April 2019 as already scheduled, and or
    (ii) use security personnel to arrest, intimidate and force collation officers to change already collated results in favour of the AAC candidate.
    As a practising Christian, I have come to the rational conclusion that the actions and desperate attempts by Rotimi Amechi and the APC/AAC alliance to rig the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers are both morally and legally wrong, reprehensible and inimical to the collective interest of the people of Rivers State.
    The Almighty will not forgive me if I continue to lend my support to the Rotimi Amaechi’s perfidy against the democratic rights of the people of Rivers State to freely elect their own leaders.
    I cannot in all conscience continue to defend the brutality, violence, bloodshed and killings of innocent persons in Rivers State on account of one man’s lust for power and influence.
    Power, they say belongs to God, and He alone gives to whosoever He pleases.
    God has returned Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to power as Governor of Rivers State for the next four years and there is nothing we can do about it, other than to support him to continue to move our dear State forward.
    Therefore, after due consultations with my immediate family, political friends and supporters, I, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh, the Deputy Governorship candidate of the AAC for the 2019 Governorship election hereby resign my membership of the AAC with immediate effect and announce my defection to the PDP to join hands with Governor Wike to move Rivers State forward.
    May God bless our dear Rivers State.

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Still On Security Votes

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When Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spoke at the induction programme for returning and newly-elected governors, he did not mince words in accusing governors of misusing security votes.
He alleged that some governors deliberately fuelled insecurity in their states just to collect more money as security votes.
He noted that some of the governors “now covertly promote insecurity as justification to inflate their security votes.”
Magu also alleged that there was a link between corruption, banditry and terrorism.
His allegations were contained in a paper, titled,  “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria.’’
Magu told the session that a debate on the legality of security votes enjoyed by the governors was ongoing.
“We have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors,  cashing in on the insecurity in their states.
“Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired.”
A study carried out by the University of Nigeria, agreed with Magu on the abuse of security votes.
The study is titled “Legitimising Corruption in Government: Security Votes in Nigeria.’’
It was authored by  Obiamaka Egbo, Ifeoma Nwakoby, Josaphat Onwumere  and  Chibuike Uche, of the  Department of Banking and Finance, University of Nigeria.
“The tendency among Nigerian politicians, particularly the executive arm at the various levels of government, to manipulate security issues for political and economic gains is widespread.
“This has been fuelled by the abuse of security votes, an ‘opaque fund’ reserved for the executive which is not appropriated, accounted for or audited through the legislature.
“ Sometimes, a state governor could (mis)appropriate as much as N100 million monthly as security vote.
“Such slush funds are channelled into the secret funding of militias and gangs of government enforcers.’’
The appropriateness or otherwise of security votes was at the centre of discourse at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)  second Quarterly Anti-Corruption Policy Dialogue Series.
The dialogue focused on Accountability for Security Votes.
ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who spoke, agreed with Magu that security vote is an easy and attractive route for stealing public funds.
According to him, it is also a veritable avenue for abuse of public trust, escalation of poverty and underdevelopment and ironically the escalation of insecurity.
“It has pushed up insecurity somehow, that is not to say we do not need security vote.
“In the 2019 budget as appropriated, for example, 162 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had money appropriated for them as security votes.
“These MDAs span boards, centres, committees, ministries, commissions, councils, hospitals, schools, law enforcement agencies, obviously the armed forces and intelligence offices.”
Owasanoye said that the number and categories of MDAs given security votes, suggest that something was wrong with the parameters for determining those who are entitled to security votes.
“This then provokes some question as which MDAs are entitled to security votes and how should security votes be accounted for?
“It is clear from our present approach, that we do not have any rational principle being followed at the moment.
“If there is one, I will be happy that my ignorance will be diminished and removed,” he said.
The chairman explained that it was clear from the current approach to budgeting for security votes, that no principle was being followed.
He said that this is clear from the quantum and range of sums appropriated in the 2019 budget for MDAs, where the lowest amount for security vote was N3,600, while the highest amount was N4.20 billion.
“What on earth can anyone do with N3, 600, and I am not talking of an individual.
“If the N3, 600 is the security vote of an individual, most likely it will take him from somewhere to his house. That is the safest place to be.
“But what on earth can an agency do with N3, 600 as security vote, as appropriated?”
With this disparity, what then should security votes be used for?
Owasanoye opined that it was pertinent because MDAs with budgets for security votes also have separate budgets for other security related matters, such as the production or procurement for security or defence equipment.
“In the case of defence and core security and law enforcement agencies, some of these items and the votes are undoubtedly justified. But the quantum and use is open to scrutiny,” he said.
He, however, explained that it was apparent that security vote was not for any of those other security items mentioned, because they were often separately covered in the budget.
“There is the erroneous impression that security votes are not being accounted for with our recent experience as a country, that almost lost a geo-political zone to insurgency.
“Whereas billions of dollars were appropriated for security, but diverted by corruption to matters like engaging prayer warriors demands that we reflect very closely and ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue on the same trajectory of lack of accountability for security votes.
“We need security votes; we should give the votes to those who deserve to have security votes and we should demand some framework for accountability,” he said.
On his part, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that security vote was subject to audit and “if it is not done, it is wrong”.
He said that the votes were not votes for defence and were also not meant for the armed forces.
“Strictly speaking, if you look at security votes in the true context, it is not meant to tackle insecurity.
“We have funding for Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. If you have budget lines for these services and organisations, then why security votes?
“However, it can be used for security; but it is not meant to solve insecurity,
“There are other votes which are constitutional which include the contingency fund,” he said.
Buratai explained that even though there was security vote that was generally applied, it must follow the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The chief of army staff said that if security vote was made constitutional and proper guidelines set out on utilisation, the issue will be laid to rest
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described  security vote as the budgetary or extra budgetary allocation ostensibly for security, received by the President, Governors and Local Government Chairmen.
This allocation he said, is spent without legal obligation to account for how it is spent.
Fayemi said that security votes have not been widely accepted by citizens, because of the assumption that such funds are being abused by state governments.
He said that the problem really is not about the security vote but about its usages and the character of the people administering it.
“Security votes attract more attention because of the seemingly non accountable nature of the expenditure under the budgetary provision.
“There is widespread belief that the appropriation of security votes in Nigeria is unconstitutional and thus illegal.
“This is not correct because in the Nigerian constitution, the executive is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a budget which is then sent to the legislature for ratification.
“The fact that huge amount of monies are routinely being budgeted and expended in the name of security vote does not make it an illegal practice
“The act of approving any sum allocated to such a heading, covert or overt, legalises the concept. The insinuation that such money is not budgeted for is not true,” Fayemi said.
Like Magu said, the legality or otherwise of security vote is ongoing, and must continue until it properly defined. The earlier the better to avoid misuse and diversion of public funds in the guise of security vote.
Sharang writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

 

Naomi Sharang

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Grudges Not Healthy For Our Music Industry –PMAN President

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Voombalistic Uncle P, National President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), says grudges among Nigerian musicians is not healthy for the music industry.
Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is an umbrella organisation that guides, protect and promotes the interests of musicians in Nigeria.
Dr Obi Okwudili Casmir, popularly known as Voombalistic Uncle P, who spoke with our source in Lagos, advised musicians to shun grudges to avoid resentment in their relationships.
“Grudges amongst musicians is not healthy for our industry and will only create further resentment in their relationships as musicians and may affect what we represent or present to the public.
“Being emotionally immature when composing or writing your songs means you can not control your emotions or reactions towards your colleagues.
“Having quarrel is a fact of life amongst best of friends but you don’t take it too hard on yourselves because it might graduate to what happened in the case of 2pac and Biggie.
“I advise we settle our differences internally if we have any, rather than taking them to the studio and then streets/homes. That doesn’t project us in good light,” he said.
It was gathered that Nigerian rappers Jude Abaga popularly known as M.I and Olanrewaju Ogunmefun (Vector) are currently expressing grudges against each other in songs which had been trending on social media platforms.
The grudge, which reportedly began over supremacy in the rap category of the music industry, has being described as publicity stunts, while some saw it as real disagreement between the two rappers which had been brewing over the years.

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Rescind N5,000 Fee For National ID, PDP Tells Buhari

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  yesterday,  charged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)  to recind the N5,000 fee for national identity cards immediately.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary,  Kola Ologbondiyan,  said the new fee is repressive and an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to further impose hardship on the citizens.
The opposition party noted that the idea of an ID card fee is offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians, as it amounts to stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own country..
“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP. The N5000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.
“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space.
“The PDP notes the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed five bills passed by the 8th National Assembly into law, Mr Umar Yakubu, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) has said.
Yakubu who made the announcement at a news conference last Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Acts were to ensure good governance in the country.
The bills include the Obafemi Awolowo University Transitional Amendment Act, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi Amendment Act, the University of Maiduguri Amendment Act, the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act and the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Establishment Act.

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