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.
2020 Budget Designed To Stregthen Macro -Economic Environment – Buhari
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.
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;
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-
Good Of Rivers People, My Driving Force, Wike Affirms …As Work Begins On Garrison, Artillery, Rumuokoro Flyovers
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.
As AKULGA Sues For Peace …
Below is the conclusion of an excerpt from the keynote address presented by Pst. Christopher Briggs, mni, JP (Permanent Secretary Emeritus) at the Akuku-Toru Peace and Security Conference held at the Multi-Purpose Hall, Abonnema on Saturday, August 3, 2019. The first part was published on Friday.
In this presentation,
INSECURITY shall be considered to be any breach of the peace that contributes to incessant or recurring conflicts which, more often than not, results in violence, wanton destruction of lives and properties and other forms of criminality.
In setting the tone for meaningful discussions in this conference, please permit me to draw needful attention to some 18 salient points of concern:
*No AKULGA son was among the contestants during the Presidential election. The two main contending candidates were from Northern Nigeria and were of Fulani extraction; bound by tribe, religion and language. No violence of any form was reported in their home towns or home states.
We in AKUKU-TORU (and Abonnema in particular) were not at war with any declared aggressors or sworn enemies.
*Few days to the Presidential elections, Abonnema was reported to have been virtually invaded and occupied by strangers, mostly youths who were neither indigenes nor known residents of the community.
*These strangers were transported into Abonnema mainly by road, meaning they had to pass through the only inlet/ outlet to the community, which is the Abonnema bridge, with a mounted 24-hour military check point. Also within walking distance was the Abonnema Divisional Police headquarters with the closest proximity to the only entry point into the town.
*The vehicles that conveyed these “troops” could not have been too few not to be noticed. They passed through several check points from the East-West Expressway, through the Emuoha/Ogbakiri Junctions and the several 24 hours military and Police check points to Tema Junction and the Harry’s Town military base. No one suspected, queried, intercepted or prevented these questionable movements?
*On arrival in Abonnema, these strangers emptied into compounds and houses, after hibernating in several drinking and smoking joints as they call them. Most of these joints were along the only major road in the town, meaning they were not in hiding.
*They conversed in languages that easily gave them out as non-indigenes. They gave Out enough clues and information to suggest their business interests and who they may be representing.
*Among these strangers were known and easily identifiable sons and daughters of the land who piloted them through the nooks and crannies of the community.
*Their dresses, physical looks, tattoos, hair-dos, slangs, gave them out.
There were or should have been sufficient uniformed and plain cloth security agents, informants and INEC officials or observers in Abonnema, as a LG headquarter to sense the looming dangers.
*Our traditional rulers, Chiefs, elders, men and women, Pastors and opinion leaders saw or heard about these strange and disturbing developments. Compound Chiefs could easily have gotten information on these strangers in their domains and the houses that harboured them.
*The hosts and sponsors of these strangers (from all sides of the divide) and their hatchet men and women were well known in the community.
*Could anything have changed if the right things were done early enough that may have prevented the violence or was there a conspiracy of silence by all for unknown reasons.
*Heavy military hardware and sophisticated weapons were deployed extensively by all parties: dynamites, SMGs, Pump action guns etc.
How did these weapons get into the town and into the hands of those that used them when needed?
*Every indigenous youth involved in this sad incident came from known homes and have parents or relations. Some may have been direct children or wards of prominent personalities in the community.
Who are they and what has been done with what we already know?
*In all of these, were there no arrests that were made to unravel the many questions begging for answers?
*What has been done in concrete terms to support the directly impacted bereaved families?
*Noting the fact that the success of every security operation begins and ends with efficient and effective intelligence gathering and their timely processing and usage, could it be a justifiable conclusion to state that some if not all of us seated here today, may have in one way or another, by our actions and inactions, facilitated the sad occurrences that befell AKULGA and Abonnema in particular?
The Effect And Consequences Of Violent Conflicts And Insecurity
The excessive presence of security personnel in any environment is indicative of perceived threat or potential for the breach of peace. No meaningful investor will be attracted to such environment. The effects of insecurity, therefore, can be very damaging.
Below are some of the known effects and consequences of insecurity:
Needless rancour, tensions and disagreements on nearly every issue.
General atmosphere of mistrust, divisions.
Social dislocations and displacement of people.
Fear of sabotage by perceived enemies with associated anxiety and frenzy.
Heightened hostilities between rivals whenever there arises a need for consensus.
People live in fear and apprehension etc.
Perpetual occupation of our homeland by security agents with the concomitant consequences and collateral damages.
The danger of having our homeland infested by miscreants who have no stake in our development.
The Way Forward:
The establishment of a robust Truth and Reconciliation Committee comprising men and women of distinction, people of proven character and general acceptance to mediate and genuinely reconcile all injured, aggrieved, disenchanted warring parties with their sponsors and patrons.
Establishment of a rehabilitation and value re-orientation center for all identified vulnerable youths.
The establishment of a second-chance school programme with a purpose designed vocation-oriented curriculum for all drop-outs and all who can still pursue formal education.
Commissioning of purpose-designed Skills Acqusition training for all youths based on individual needs assessment.
Declaration of amnesty and re-integration for all repentant cultists and the mopping up of all weapons from all combatants.
Regular Town Hall meetings to be held in all communities to discuss the issue of security.
Traditional Rulers and Chiefs to introduce the KYN (Know Your Neighbour) data gathering strategy to ascertain all who have genuine businesses in their respective locations of residence.
Consequently all Family/ compound Youth Leaders should be constituted to monitor and regularly report any influx of strangers into the town. All such persons should be placed on some local surveillance to ensure their sincerity of making AKULGA a place of residence.
A Peace And Security Charter should be developed and endorsed by all political parties and their leadership. This document shall state the terms and conditions under which all politicians and their party members shall operate in the respective communities.
Concerted effort should be made to reconcile traditional rulers whose cordial relationships are in question and has posed a threat among their respective communities
The Chairman, AKULGA Traditional Council of Rulers and Chiefs should constitute THINK-TANKs at community and LGA levels to advise on the daily management of the peace and security of the LGA.
Setting up of an educational fund to assist and sponsor youths who are outstanding in their studies and careers.
Concerted efforts should be made to sustain this dialogue while we seek genuine and workable ways to engage our youths constructively as partners and stakeholders in the sustainable growth and development of AKULGA.
The most unprofessional inter-mingling of security agencies with the local politics and their direct PARTISAN interventions in elections must be checked. In the same manner, our reverred chieftaincy institutions should keep their dignified statesmanly distance from partisanship and be seen and adjudged as neutral, ensuing peace, equity, fairness and justice for all at all times.
Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of insecurity; therefore national security has become a major issue for the government and people. As Nigerians, insecurity is not peculiar to AKULGA. With what we are witnessing today, Akuku-Toru is on the right track.
Let me remind all of us that this conference seeks to develop a strategic response to our security challenges in AKULGA. What will make the difference is the honesty and sincerity of purpose that shall drive this task. The different approaches we shall adopt within the limits of our resources and our capacity to engage all stakeholders including sons and daughter in the Diaspora as well as development partners at various levels shall determine the success we shall collectively achieve.
The state and local governments have major roles to play. Business organizations, the civil society, religious and faith-bases organizations, individuals, social clubs, community members and residents of AKULGA, including our gallant security agencies whose unrelenting efforts and sacrifices we must commend, shall be required.
Let me thank Your Excellencies, Your Royal Majesties, Chiefs, political leaders and the AKULGA community for the support expressed by your presence to participate in this initial effort to bring lasting peace and security to our homeland.
In closing, let me read from the book of 2 Corinthians 4:8-
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed”.
May the good Lord bless you all and thank you.
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