The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, reacted after President Muhammadu Buhari sought the permission of the Senate to approve over N10billion for Kogi State.
The PDP called on the National Assembly to invoke its statutory powers and directly channel the N10.069billion Presidential funds for payment of salaries and pensions of suffering Kogi State workers.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP insisted that it was “scandalous” that Buhari Presidency, with its claims of transparency and integrity, would seek to mislead the National Assembly by asserting that the fund is for projects done by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government, “when in reality no one can point to any such project executed by Governor Yahaya Bello in the last four years.”
The opposition party described as “endorsement of corruption and inexcusable injury” to the people of Kogi State, for President Buhari to seek to direct funds to Governor Yahaya Bello, for “phantom projects, and neglect the Kogi workers many of whom are owed salaries and pension in arrears of 36 months.”
The statement reads: “Such action by Mr. President further confirms that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is directly in league with Governor Yahaya Bello to strangulate the people of Kogi State.
“We hold that if there are no intentions of pushing the fund to Governor Bello for anti-people purposes, the Presidency is challenged to name and point to the particular project executed by Governor Bello as well as make the terms and payment agreements public for Nigerians to see.
“If the Buhari Presidency means well for Kogi State, it should reword its request and put the interest of the masses ahead of all selfish and parochial political considerations, particularly as the state approaches a critical election in which the people have made up their minds to vote out Governor Yahaya Bello.
“Mr. President cannot claim to be unaware of the critical situation of workers in Kogi State. He cannot claim to be unaware that workers in Kogi State are being owed, in some cases up to 36 months, and that retirees and seniors are dying over non-payments of their pensions after giving the best of their lives in public service.”
The PDP, therefore, urged President Buhari to resist attempts by his handlers and Governor Bello to drag his Presidency into this shameful attempt to steal fund that ought to go to the suffering masses in Kogi State.
However, the Senate, yesterday, received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari for an approval to pay Kogi State Government N10.069billion being a refund of money spent by the state on behalf of Federal Government.
The request was contained in a letter dated October 10, 2019, and read by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, during plenary.
The requested amount is for the settlement of inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government to the state for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
Buhari recalled that 24 out of 25 state governments had received the approval of the National Assembly for the settlement of claims on projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
He added that the sum of N10.069billion was an outstanding amount due to Kogi State Government, which was the only state yet to receive a refund.
The letter reads: “The Distinguished Senate President would recall that, based on my request for the resolution of the National Assembly approving the establishment of a promissory note programme and a bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government, the 8th National Assembly passed resolutions approving the issuance of promissory notes to refund state governments for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
“The resolutions of the 8th Assembly were conveyed through three different letters from the Clerk of the National Assembly as follows: Letter dated July 27, 2018, and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.10/277, which approved the issuance of promissory notes to 21 states.
“Letter dated January 29, 2019, and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.11/004, which approved the issuance of promissory notes to Delta and Taraba states; and letter dated May 23, 2019, and referenced NASS/CAN/106/Vol.11/164, which approved the issuance of promissory notes to Bauchi State.
“The three resolutions approved the issuance of promissory notes to 24 out of the 25 state governments requested, and the only state for which approval has not been given is Kogi State, with an outstanding claim of N10,069,692,410.15.
“The Senate may wish to note that, subsequent to resolutions of the National Assembly approving the refunds to the 24 state governments, the Federal Government has issued promissory notes to all the approved states for the settlement of their claims.
“Accordingly, the Senate is hereby requested to kindly approve, the issuance of a promissory note in the sum of N10,069,692,410.15 as a refund to Kogi State Government for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.”
The Senate President referred Buhari’s request to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for further legislative work.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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