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N649bn Paris Club Refund: Niger Delta States To Get Lion’s Share

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There are strong indications that five states may get the highest allocation out of the N649.43bn expected to be paid by the Federal Government to state governments from the final tranche of the Paris Club loan refund.
The states, according to investigations by our correspondent, are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Rivers.
Findings by our correspondent in Abuja showed that due to their strategic importance in terms of revenue allocation, the five states had suffered the highest deductions when the loans for the payment of the Paris club debt were being deducted from the federation account.
It was also gathered that the Federal Government might not pay the final tranche of the N649.43bn refund until after May 29 when new states’ chief executive officers are sworn in.
A top government official confided in said that states that got the highest allocation from the Federation Account Allocation Committee were those that suffered highest deductions during the payment of the Paris club debt. The Paris Club refunds are the longstanding claims resulting from reported over-deductions regarding Paris Club debts made from state government accounts as far back as 1995 to 2002.
These refunds are over-deductions from the states’ FAAC payments for foreign loan servicing over the stated period. The refunds have been the subject of dispute between the federal and state governments for quite some time.
The source told our correspondent that now that the amount was being refunded, the same pattern that was adopted for the deduction would be used for the refund.
The source stated, “You will recall that in December 2016, the first tranche of Paris Club refund was made to the state governments.
“The amount given was about N516bn, and out of this, five states — Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Rivers — got the highest amount of about N135bn.
“A few months later, we released the second tranche of N243bn, and each of these five states got about N10bn which makes about N50bn.”
The source added, “Now that work has been concluded on the final tranche, I can tell you that they will also receive more than other states.
“This is because deductions for the payment of the debt were made from FAAC allocations and these states received more money than any other states of the federation due to the revenue sharing formula.
“So it is natural that since they suffered huge deductions during the payment of the loan a few years back, now that the money is being refunded by the Federal Government to states, they will get what was deducted.”
On when the ministry will start the release of the money, the source said the release of the fund would depend on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.
He said, “We have done our own job by verifying how much would be paid to the states government as the final tranche.
“But you know that the administration is winding down in two weeks and from what we are hearing, the cabinet may be dissolved next week.
“So there is no possibility that the money will be released before the dissolution of the cabinet.
“Secondly, there will also be a change of government in many of the states. So, you don’t expect that such huge sums of money would be released by the Federal Government  to state governments at this time when there are so many uncertainties.
“From the look of things, the release of the fund may be done when the new administration settles down after the formation of a new cabinet.”
The Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Ella, said he had no information on when the amount would be released.

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Niger Delta

COVID-19: Ooni Of Ife Donates Motorised Fumigators To Delta

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… As Okowa Lauds Collective Efforts Against Pandemic
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, has presented two locally-fabricated modular fumigators to Delta Government to assist the state in its effort at containing the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
 This is just as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa lauded the collective global efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
The monarch, who was represented by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olapare, in Asaba said that the Coronavirus was a common enemy that required the cooperation of all to defeat it.
According to him, the fight against the pandemic calls for a collective effort as it is no longer practicable for monarchs to sit down and watch government tackle societal problems alone.
“Our leaders, at both federal and state levels, have done very well in the fight against the virus and in this regard, we have decided to complement the efforts of the government and that’s why we came up with this innovation for motorised modular fumigators.
“The fumigators were invented by the House of Oduduwa and fabricated at the Ooni palace in Ile-Ife with 100 per cent locally-sourced materials.
“It is our belief that the era when monarchs sit in the comfort zone of their palaces and expect the government to do it all is over.
“So, we have decided to join hands with government to tackle this pandemic by this donation of two motorised modular fumigators.
“We have watched your proactive approach to the fight against the pandemic in Delta and I must say that we are pleased with every step you have taken so far.
“This is why we are committed to working with government by making this donation, because together we can fight the battle and together we shall win the battle,” he stated.
Receiving the equipment, Delta Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, thanked the Ooni for his thoughtfulness and innovation in the production of the motorised fumigators.
The governor, who was represented by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie, said that the state had put in so much to ensure that COVID-19 was contained in the state and called for further support and cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
“We thank His Imperial Majesty for his wonderful donation today. In Delta as at today, we have recorded 27 cases while 12 have been successfully managed and discharged; unfortunately we lost five of the cases.
“We have done so much to ensure that we are able to contain the spread of the virus in the state and this we have done by ensuring closure of our 13 boundaries to contain the spread of the virus in the state.
“We are indeed very delighted that His Imperial Majesty came up with these innovative fumigators in his bid to contribute his own quota in the fight against COVID-19 and he is going around the states to donate them.
“We thank you very much for the thoughtfulness and the innovation in coming up with this and it will definitely go a long way in the fight against COVID-19,’’ he said.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mr Chris Onogba and his Agriculture and Natural Resources counterpart, Mr Julius Egbedi, witnessed the ceremony.
From Albert Ograka, Asaba.
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Bayelsa Government To Begin Urban Renewal Projects Soon – Gov Diri.

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said his administration would soon roll out a number of urban renewal projects, particularly in Yenagoa, in order to enhance the aesthetics of the state capital.
Diri who disclosed this when members of the past state working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP paid him a solidarity visit in Government House, said the planned construction of a flyover and expansion of the roundabout at the Edepie area of Yenagoa are part of the urban renewal projects of his administration.
A press release by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, noted that the expansion of the Etegwe/Edepie roundabout would precede the construction work on the flyover to ease traffic in the area.
Senator Diri assured that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the government was poised to initiating projects that would bring about overall development of the state.
He expressed his administration’s intention to give a facelift to the capital city as evident in the ongoing demolition of illegal structures that had defaced the Yenagoa metropolis.
“Even in the face of COVID-19, we have decided to do some preparatory things, which I hear are going down well with our people. We are not just pulling down illegal structures but also sanitising our city”, Governor Diri said.
“Work will soon start on the expansion of the Etegwe/Edepie roundabout in no distant time. Also, we intend to build a car park at the market at Swali, which is the largest in Yenagoa, and fence it off to ensure a healthy environment”, he added.
“Our government is on track. We are not looking at celebrating 100 days in office because globally, economies are at a standstill as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. But rather we are expecting to celebrate our achievements in another one to three years time”, he stated.
Commenting on the issue of appointments into his government, Diri noted that at the appropriate time, persons that are passionate about the development of the state and the party would be brought on board,restated that his Government would not engage in secret appointments.
He charged the leaders of the peoples Democratic party in the state to extend the olive branch to those who have left,noting that they have the onerous task of strengthening the party towards improving its fortunes.
“We are not going to do secret appointments. Party stakeholders are being consulted to bring into government persons that would have development uppermost on their minds”, Diri said.
In his remarks, leader of the delegation, Chief Felix Omemu, pledged their commitment to work with the administration to achieve its set goals.
Chief Omemu congratulated Diri on his former electoral victory at the Supreme Court which brought him into office, praying that God grant him wisdom to pilot the ship of state to greater heights.
Also contributing, the former Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Chief Fyneman Wilson, said as party men, they would join hands with the governor and his team to build a formidable party.
Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of a copy of the Holy Bible to the governor by the former PDP women leader in the state, Hon. Faith Opene.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
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Niger Delta

NOSDRA Yet To Discover Cause Of Dead Fishes On N’Delta Coastline

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The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), says it is yet to establish any link between oil leaks and death fishes that float and litter the Atlantic coastline across the Niger Delta region.
The agency said it was coordinating a multi-agency investigation, aimed at unraveling the cause of the reported massive death of fishes within the nation’s territorial waters and was looking beyond the oil industry.
Director-General of NOSDRA, Mr Idris Musa, told newsmen in a telephone chat on Wednesday in Yenagoa, that investigation was already ongoing in spite the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to Musa, officials of NOSDRA deployed from Warri, Yenagoa and Port Harcourt have conducted site visits to the Atlantic coastline in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers to collect water and fish samples for tests.
”NOSDRA carried out a reconnaissance of the area in Delta where we first got the report through a member of a non- governmental organisation.
“There is no incident of oil spill within the area of reported dead fishes, notwithstanding that a few dead fishes were seen along the shoreline.
“The event of recent days where the death of fishes in large numbers make it expedient to look beyond oil spillage as the likely cause of death of fishes in such large numbers,” he said.
Musa said that the agency collected samples of water, sediments and some of the dead fishes for laboratory testing, and in doing so, brought on board other relevant government agencies that have mandate on the territorial waters, in particularly the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) and the Federal Institute of Fisheries Research.
“Also, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for all hands on deck assessment of the possible cause or causes of death of the fishes in such large numbers,” Musa said.
The NOSDRA chief executive said that the results of ongoing laboratory analysis would be compared with results from the participating agencies to profer an effective solution and ensures a more stringent regulation in future.

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