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Reps Minority Leader: PDP’s BoT Chair, Secretary Disagree Over Report

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It was all drama as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoTs) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Walid Jubril and its Secretary, Senator Adolphus Wabara, disagreed over the submission of an investigative report on the minority leadership position in the House of Representatives, yesterday.
Briefing journalists shortly after a marathon meeting of the board at the party’s Abuja secretariat, yesterday, the two elderly chieftains contradicted each other on the status of a report of the committee that investigated the embarrassing sell-out.
At issue was a report of a five-man committee set up by the BoT on July 9, to investigate why PDP members in the House of Representatives elected Hon Ndudi Elumelu of Delta State in the Green Chambers as minority leader, against the party’s choice of Hon Kingsley Chinda of Rivers State.
Miffed by the action, the leadership of the party had suspended Elumelu for one month.
Besides Elumelu, others affected by the suspension order were Lynda Ikpeazu, Wole Oke, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
The BoT investigation committee, chaired by a former Senate President, Dr Iyiorchia Ayu also had two other former Senate Presidents, Chief David Mark and Chief Adolphus Wabara as members.
A former Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibahim Mantu was also a member while a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Austin Opara served as secretary of the committee.
However, Opara resigned from the committee before it concluded its assignment.
During a question-and-answer session at the briefing, the BoT chairman said the board had received the Ayu committee report but had yet to submit same to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Jubril said: “We have received the report from the Ayu committee but we have not submitted it to the NWC because we are still deliberating on it, and we have not taken a decision on it yet.”
But he was swiftly countered by BoT secretary, who said that the board had, indeed, submitted the report to the NWC.
Wabara said: “We have considered the report and we have submitted the report on Elumelu to the NWC”.
This was followed by muffled disagreement between the two elderly party chieftains with the BoT chair raising objection to the secretary’s statement even as the latter stood his ground.
Their verbal exchange was in hushed tones but was audible enough for journalists to hear their voices.
The disagreement dragged till the end of the media briefing, with the two board members frowning and mumbling at each other as they left the venue and walked through the drizzling rain into their waiting cars.
Curiously, however, while the BoT meeting was still ongoing, the leadership of the party had issued a statement regarding the disputed report.
The statement, signed by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the NWC had not received the said report from the BoT.
The statement reads in full: “In the light of public enquiries and conflicting reports on the position of the leadership of our great party on issues related to the minority leadership of the House of Representatives, the National Working Committee (NWC) hereby clarifies that it has not yet received any report from the Board of Trustees (BoTs) concerning the outcome of the five-member committee it set up to intervene on the contentious matter.
“Consequently, the NWC maintains that it has not taken any decision to review its subsisting stance on the minority leadership of the House of Representatives.
“The NWC, therefore, urges critical stakeholders, party members and the general public to completely disregard any report to the contrary”.

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Declare Emergency On Roads, Senate Tells FG

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The Senate, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on federal roads across the country.
The lawmakers made the request during yesterday’s plenary at the National Assembly in Abuja.
The Senator representing Cross River South Senatorial District in the Senate, Gershom Bassey, raised a motion on the deplorable state of federal roads in Nigeria.
Bassey also informed the Senate that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has failed to remit the five per cent user charge of fuel pump price to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), as stipulated in the Act for the rehabilitation of federal roads.
The Senate ordered its committees on Petroleum and FERMA to investigate the alleged non-remittance of funds by PPPRA for the rehabilitation of roads in the country.
The Senate’s plea comes eight months after Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari signed an Executive Order allowing the private sector to build Federal Government roads in the country.
The Executive Order 007 2019, signed by Buhari, is on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
The order was to allow private companies to construct major roads across the country and be paid in the form of tax credit.
However, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Mr. Tunde Lemo, yesterday said that Nigeria loses about N1trillion annually due to loss in man-hour as a result of bad roads and traffic delay.
Lemo disclosed this at an end of the year stakeholders’ meeting at the International Conference Centre in Abuja with the theme “Road Maintenance and Reforms: Legal and Institutional Framework”.
He said the numbers are staggering and called for emergency action in the road sector.
According to him, if the budget cannot achieve this because of other conflicting needs, it is imperative that the development and management of the road sector must be funded from alternative sources.
He said, “It is becoming clearer that legislation of a more enabling environment is required for an effective and productive management of the road for meaningful national socio-economic growth.
“It is a well-known fact that 80 per cent of travels in Nigeria are carried out on the roads including heavy duty. You then understand why the roads go bad now and again. In other climes the rail shoulders the bulk of it. 90 per cent of these are done on federal roads, thus the federal roads constitute the spine of the Nigerian road network to effectively evaluate the productive management of the Nigerian road therefore, one needs to evaluate the effective management of the federal roads. With only about 10, 000 km of federal roads in good state, and about 13, 300 and 11, 600 in fair and bad states, respectively.
“In any square kilometre area in Nigeria only 210 metres of roads are available for travel, irrespective of the conditions of the road. For smooth comfortable and timely travels, however, the density falls to 0.01km per square kilometre meaning only 10 meters of travel in every one-kilometre area.
“Clearly, this is unacceptable and needs to change. Funding for Nigerian roads is less than one per cent of the GDP, against three per cent GDP minimum spending threshold. The World Bank recommends minimum threshold of three per cent. In Nigeria we barely achieve a third of that,” he said.
He said effective roads can be guaranteed through a careful blend of many factors which include requisite capacity, capabilities, governance, accountability and controlled political influences as well as sound fiscal and funding policies.
These factors are critical to the optimal management of national road network for most effective impact on social economic growth, he said.
“It is the responsibility of road agencies to develop operational procedures of monitoring national road networks for needful interventions as at when due. Such road agencies retain the mandate to create and manage requisite administrative, operational and financial structures of the effective discharge of these activities.
“An effective road management practice is that which executes most productively, these activities within the constraints of the society of which it operates. Whereas the more advanced economies have developed reliable methodologies for constructing, monitoring and intervening on their road networks for optimal serviceability, the developing economies of the world, on the other hand, struggle to achieve these for a number of reasons. It is in this context that this stakeholders’ forum is convened in a bid to collectively reflect on Nigeria’s position vis-à-vis FERMA’s productivity, possibilities and promises,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Ekiti State, Governor Kayode Fayemi has said shortage of funds forced the federal government to stop states from rehabilitating Federal roads.
Fayemi gave the clarification in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, at a colloquium tagged: ‘Building a Sustainable Economy Through Values Orientation and Innovative Thinking’, marking the first year of his second term in office.
The governor said he would have loved to fix some of the federal roads in the state but for the stringent warning from the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, that there won’t be refund on such interventions.
Speaking particularly about the collapsed Ureje bridge along Afe Babalola University during a flooding a couple of weeks ago, Fayemi said: “I would have loved to do some of these roads but the Federal Government said leave our roads alone.
“They made it clear that if any state rehabilitates any road, there won’t be refunds and this is because there is no money.
“This year, Federal Government budgeted around N250billion for roads. If the government is to complete Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kano expressways, it will cost a sum of N500billion out of about 36,000 kilometres of roads waiting for rehabilitation”, he said.
However, Senator representing Ekiti North Senatorial District, Olubunmi Adetumbi and former minister of sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, have advised the country to redistribute its wealth and foster entrepreneurial education, to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor citizens.
They said, though very large numbers of the youths are educated, but disclosed that the education curriculum must be critically rejigged to ensure that the right education are given to graduates.
Adetumbi, who was one of the discussants, said there must be need for the states of federation to be innovative and think of how to increase the internally generated revenues through public-private partnership to build and sustain the economy under a corrupt free atmosphere.
“In order to build a sustainable economy, there must be a partnership between the government and the people. The major problem of our economy is poor environment and growing businesses, which Ekiti didn’t have in good numbers and once business environment is bad, then the economy will continue to be repressed.
“Ekiti has a poverty rate of 57 percent .This should be a concern to us all. Our unemployment rate is 14 percent, second highest in the South-West. Ekiti has no reason to be poor or has high unemployment rate, because of good atmospheric and soil conditions it has.
“Governor Kayode Fayemi has started with youth entrepreneurship and we have to build on that to turn around the economy of this state and it has to be accompanied with value reorientation among our youths.
“Value reorientation is very important. But the greatest influencers now are politicians and that is why we as leaders must be careful and be good leaders. We must be careful with the ways we live our lives, because we are the greatest influencers in the society”.
Adetumbi advised Ekiti to key into the concept of digitised land registry, describing the initiative as best way to generate revenues for any state.
The former minister of sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, regretted that the wealth of Nigerians are concentrated in the hands of few people, which he said signposted the level of inequality in the system.
“Even President Muhammadu Buhari while declaring open the Nigeria’s Economic Council in Abuja recently emerged the first President in the country to bring the issue of inequality to the front burner of national discourse.
“The president said the wealth of the nation is concentrated in the hands of a few from five states of the federation. In inequality, Nigeria was ranked 157, making it the most unequalled country and the poverty capital of the world. The GDP does not show the reality of our state of economy.
“The issue now is, when the rich people are flying around in private jets, which isn’t wrong; let us help the poor to be able to travel to their villages on good roads.
“We are talking of education and our youths are going to schools, we must also ruminate on the kind of education that will make our youths relevant, which I believe is by embracing entrepreneurship”, he said.

 

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Debt Hits N25.7trn, Rises By N3.3trn In One Year

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The nation’s total public debt rose by N3.32trn in one year to N25.7trn as at the end of June 2019, the Debt Management Office said yesterday.
The Federal Government owed N20.42trn as of June 30, 2019, while the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had a total debt portfolio of N5.28trn.
The debt stock is made up of N8.32trn ($27.16bn) external debt and N17.38trn borrowed domestically, according to the DMO.
The nation’s public debt, which stood at N22.38trn as of June 2018, increased to N24.39trn in December 2018 and N24.95trn in March 2019.
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria noted last month that the rising public debt was one of the headwinds to the nation’s growth prospects.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said in August that the country did not have any debt challenge but a challenge with generating sufficient revenue.
“There is a lot of insensitivity around the level of our debt.
“I want to restate that our debt is not too high — what we have is a revenue problem.
“Our debt is still very much within a reasonable fiscal limit.
“In fact, among our comparative countries, we are the least in terms of borrowing,” she had said.

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INEC Expresses Fears Over Bayelsa Guber Poll

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned the actions and utterances of political actors were likely to militate against peaceful conduct of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, who spoke, yesterday, when he visited the office of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council in Yenagoa, said unguarded actions and utterances of politicians could lead to the breach of peace during electioneering, voting and collation of results.
Mahmood, who was accompanied by senior officials of the commission and security agencies led by the Zone 5 Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Dibal Yakadi, also complained about the use of armed thugs to disrupt the voting and the collation processes.
Describing Bayelsa and Kogi as the most difficult states to conduct major elections, Mahmood further said the commission was further bothered about the ugly trend of voting buying insisting that democracy should not be on sale in the open market.
He said the commission was deploying 10,000 ad-hoc employees in different parts of Bayelsa for the exercise, adding that INEC would not allow anybody to attack them.
Addressing the council led by the Amayanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, the INEC boss said: “We have a few areas of concern.
“The first one is action and utterances likely to lead to the breach of the peace during electioneering campaign, during voting on the Election Day and during the collation of results.
“In 2015, up to the eight local government areas in Bayelsa State, we conducted elections conclusively and made declaration of results only in one local government area, Kolokuma-Opokuma.
“I have been asking all my friends in Bayelsa, what makes Kolokuma-Opokuma thick?
“Today, I have the opportunity finally to actually visit Kolokuma-Opokuma and I was in Kaiama and the staff assured us that just as it happened in 2015, it will happen again.
“Next is the recurrent problem where some unscrupulous actors follow voters to polling units with money on Election Day to induce them. It is called vote buying.
“Our democracy cannot be on sale in the open market. The citizens should be allowed to vote for whoever they choose in the Election Day.
“We appeal to you to continue to speak to politicians and their supporters on peaceful conduct during the campaign process and beyond”.
On why all eyes would be on Bayelsa and Kogi, Mahmood said: “First, this will be the first major election since the 2019 general election in Nigeria.
“What lessons have we learnt since the conduct of the general election that will help us to improve on the forthcoming governorship election?
“Secondly, Bayelsa and Kogi are not easy states when it comes to conducting major elections particularly governorship election.
“The challenge is particularly in terms of the terrain, and therefore, it has an impact on electoral logistics.
“But another great challenge is the attitude of the political class which has become a source of concern to the commission”.
The professor also said that the House of Assembly election would hold in Brass Constituency 2 in Brass Local Government Area on the same day scheduled for the governorship election.
Mahmood said the commission was ready to conduct peaceful, free, fair, credible and conclusive election in Bayelsa and appealed to the traditional rulers to make suggestions and contributions that would change the narrative in Bayelsa.
Ditte-Spiff commended INEC for seeking the advice of the traditional rulers in the state and appealed to the commission to prevail on security agencies to reduce military presence during the election.
Addressing Mahmood, he said: “The military presence in the last election was too much.
“They were brought here by one or two candidates. They also after the election eliminated one or two persons.
“You will need to appeal to the army in particular to try to contain their men so that they would not go off the handle and scare people away from the polling units. One or two areas are not approachable.”
Meanwhile, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has approved the request of the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe for the transfer of his suit against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), flag bearer of the party, Senator Douye Diri over the disputed September 3 governorship primaries of the party in the state.
The presiding Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Justice Jane Inyang, while announcing her decision to accede to the directive of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, said the decision was based on the request of Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, dated September 27, 2019 and received by her Court on October 10, 2019.
According to her, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe’s letter did not question the credibility of the Federal High Court but expressed security concern in the state, “I hear by transfer the case”
The decision of the court, which came as a surprise to the defendant’s counsels elicited protest over the alleged secrecy and perceived ambush.
The National Legal Adviser of the PDP and counsel to the party, Emmanuel Enoidem (Esq), the Counsel to the 4th and 5th respondents, Chuks Oguru (Esq) kicked against the request of Chief Timi Alaibe, while the counsel to Senator Douye Diri, Barrister Chiemezie V.C. Ihekweazu declined comments.
Emmanuel Enoidem, while speaking with newsmen after the court session said, “We came in this morning only to be told that the matter has been transferred due to a letter by Chief Timi Alaibe. We are a bit taken aback at the turn of events and not because we are afraid of the case in Abuja. This is a man who wants to be governor of Bayelsa State and not the governor of the FCT or any other state in Nigeria. And if he is running from Bayelsa, I am afraid what kind of governor the person will make.”
“So, apart from the inconvenience such transfer may cause, we were told this morning. When the matter came up on the 2nd and slated for Friday, 18th, and later 15th. We were surprised. But for a man who wants to be governor of the state and running away on account of insecurity, what will happen to millions of Bayelsa people residing here? Instead of coming to confront the issue of insecurity he is alleging in his letter, he is running away. This is not how to be a good governor.”
The Counsel for the 4th and 5th defendants, Barrister Chuks Oguru, also complained that the letter of Chief Timi Alaibe, “Court matter is not done in the way of Robin Hood method is to lie in wait for innocent wayfarers. We should have been put on notice. We find the method of the plaintiff objectionable because parties are not allowed to go forum shopping.
“If you are sure of your facts, you go to court and argue your case. Anywhere they take us to, we will meet them with concrete facts for facts, jurisprudence for their law and we will match them constitutionality for their own constitutionality. Anywhere they go in Abuja or even the House of Lords, we are very prepared because we are sure of our grounds. You know the nitty-gritty of the case is that the plaintiff wants to torpedo the entire primary election that produced the 2nd defendant, Senator Douye Diri as the flag bearer of the PDP.”
But the lead Counsel of Chief Timi Alaibe, Barrister Ayodele Adedipe, said the decision for the transfer of the case to Abuja was the decision of the plaintiff and that he expressed security concern about the matter being heard in Yenagoa, “and the CJN found merit in his concern and direct the presiding Judge and acceded to the request”
Adedipe described the comments by the defense counsels as diversionary and petty.
“ The point here is that the plaintiff said he had confidence in the judge and sited an example of the incident where a Federal High Court was invaded sometime ago because of that he said. Let us have the legal battle on a neutral ground where people can come to court and lawyers can advocate without fear. And when people come and play to the gallery over the decision, I don’t have much comment on that.”
Alaibe, who approached the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa in a suit numbered FHC/YNG/CS/99/2019, also included as defendants the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Embeleakpo Alale for himself and representing the elected local government chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors of the PDP allowed to be delegates at the elective state congress of the PDP in Bayelsa State held on September 3, 2019.
Also joined in the suit as defendant is Doubra Kumokou, for himself and on behalf of the three ad-hoc delegates allowed to be delegates at the elective state congress.
Alaibe is seeking, with an application, for cancellation of the result of the primary election based on cited procedural flaws.
The suit, which was filed in pursuant to Order 3(9) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, seeks answers to questions bordering on obvious non-adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2010, the People’s Democratic Party Constitution and Election Guidelines, by the state chapter of the party in the conduct of the ward congresses, inclusion of local government council officials in the delegates list and the procedure for inclusion of three ad-hoc delegates.
Citing specific sections of relevant laws and guidelines, Alaibe is asking the court to examine the entire processes that resulted in the primaries and rule in his favour in the light of violations committed in a desperate move to impose a pre-determined hand-picked candidate on the people out of 21 aspirants.
It would be recalled that the Timi Alaibe’s Campaign Organisation had raised objections against what it described as crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines in the build-up to the conduct of the governorship primary election by the state chapter of the PDP.
The objection covered open disobedience to the party constitution and electoral guidelines and the manner in which ward congresses were conducted; among others.

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