The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the mouthpiece of the people of South-South region has bemoaned the poor condition of critical infrastructure in the Niger region, particularly roads, calling on the Federal Government and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), to give immediate and urgent attention to transportation in the region.
The group, in a communiqué by the National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), after a national leadership retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, highlighted the East–West Road, from Benin to Calabar, Calabar–Itu–Ikot Ekpene–Aba Road, Ogoja–Ikom–Calabar Road, and Port Harcourt to Aba section of Enugu-Port Harcourt Road.
PANDEF encouraged governors of the region and all political office holders, elected and appointed, “to give greater attention to issues like job creation, rural women and youth development, healthcare and education, to check the growing rate of youth delinquency.”
National officers, elders, state chairs, secretaries, state women and youth leaders of PANDEF attended the retreat with the theme, “Re-engineering for the Future Together.”
The regional body restated its position on restructuring and appealed to the Federal Government “to as a matter of urgency begin a constructive dialogue process on the restructuring of the country.”
It welcomed the order of President Muhammadu Buhari for “a forensic audit of the NDDC accounts from 2001 to 2019,” but demanded “names of beneficiaries of contracts of the commission over the period under review should be made public.
“In addition, we insist that for NDDC to function effectively there must be adequate funding and less political interference,” it added.
“PANDEF further urges Mr. President to extend the order of forensic audit to other national interventionist organizations like the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
“PANDEF also used the opportunity of the retreat to interact with critical stakeholders and key NGOs working in the region, including the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang,” the communiqué stated.
The group also restated its commitment to engage with all critical stakeholders of the region in its work, irrespective of political inclination, for the betterment of the region.
It commended the Federal Government for the peaceful resolution of the contentious issue concerning the license/operation of OML 25 located in Belema, Offoinama and Ngeje communities in Kula Kingdom of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Rivers State.
However, it implored government “to deploy same approach to other host communities in the Niger Delta where there are disputes over Oil Marginal License/operation.”
PANDEF applauded the people of Kula Kingdom “for their steadfastness and resilience, and for remaining peaceful throughout the period of the dispute.”
It similarly commended the Nigerian military for its professional conduct in handling the matter, as well as “Belemaoil for proving beyond reasonable doubt that oil and gas producing companies can do better in developing the human and infrastructural development in the oil and gas bearing host communities.”
The South-South group pleaded with international and indigenous oil companies (IOCs) operating the region to respect and honour Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) entered with host communities in the interest of peace in the region or possibly adopt the Belemaoil model of developing host communities.
It resolved to continue to work with other regional bodies in the country in the efforts “to enthrone an egalitarian nation that would be run on the fundamental principles of equity, fairness and justice.”
PANDEF extolled two non-governmental organizations operating in the Niger Delta region, Academic Associates Peace Works/Niger Delta Dialogue and Stakeholder Democracy Network for facilitating the retreat and further committed the group to steadfast pursuit of shared interests along with promoting understanding and peaceful co-existence amongst the various ethnic nationalities of the region.
The National Leader of PANDEF and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark sent goodwill message to participants, which enriched the deliberations.
Bayelsa, Kogi Polls: Sack IGP, HURIWA Tells Buhari
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu over his failure to ensure adequate security during the just concluded elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
HURIWA explained that failure to sack the police boss would indicate that Buhari and his government directly benefited from the insecurity in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The rights group said the police chief was disgracing Nigeria for embarking on what it termed meaningless voyage of discovery in search of infantile reasons for security failure during the just ended governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
HURIWA stated this in a statement signed and made available to newsmen by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, yesterday.
It expressed shock that the IGP can be heard saying that politicians used fake policemen to undermine the security of the elections even when the police’s hierarchy had deployed 66, 241 police operatives for the exercise.
Senate Passes Finance Bill 2019
The Senate, yesterday, passed the Finance Bill 2019, which increased the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 per cent and equally streamlined the nation’s tax regime.
The passage of the Bill followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senator Solomon Adeola-led Senate Committee on Finance on the Finance Bill 2019.
In his comment after the passage of the Bill, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said the amendment is meant to generate revenue to fund the 2020 Budget.
Lawan said: “We amended seven Acts largely to ensure that we streamline the tax system in Nigeria and ensure that we get revenues for government to provide services and infrastructure to the citizens of this country.
“What we have done is very significant because this is to ensure that we not only have sources of funding but credible and reliable sources of funding for the 2020 Appropriation but also for subsequent activities of government.
“The revenue generating agencies will have to sit up. The National Assembly, particularly the Senate, will be mounting a lot of oversight. If they have targets, we must ensure they meet the targets.
“I believe what we have done is not to put taxes or burden on the ordinary people. What we have done is to create more revenue.”
The seven Bills that were amended included: Petroleum Profit Tax Act (PPT), Customs and Excise Tax Act, Company Income Tax Act (CITA), Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act, Stamp Duties Tax Act, and the Capital Gains Act.
Lawan urged revenue generating agencies to sit up, and ensure they do their work with patriotism.
The Finance Bill was presented alongside the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8, 2019.
Adeola said following the presentations at the public hearing and submissions made by the relevant stakeholders, the committee observed that:
“The Bill sought to amend the provision of the Companies Income Tax Act by curbing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) as proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and broaden the triggers for domestic taxation of income earned by non-resident companies in Nigeria through dependent agents and via online market platforms.”
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Sowore, Bakare’s Sureties Not Subject To DSS Verification, Falana Insists
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has faulted the claim by the Department of State Services (DSS) that it could not release #RevolutionNow protest convener, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare on bail until it sees and verifies their sureties.
Falana, who is a lawyer for the two detained activists, said in a statement, yesterday, that the judge, who admitted Sowore and Bakare to bail and ordered their release, did not assign the DSS with the responsibility of verifying their sureties.
The two men had perfected the bail conditions given them by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu since November 6, according to Falana, but more than two weeks after, the DSS had refused to let them out of its cells.
In a statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, Falana said, “Pursuant to the verification of the sureties of Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare by the Federal High Court, the trial judge, Honourable Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu, made an order on November 6, 2019, for the release of the defendants from the custody of the DSS.
“The court order has not authorised the DSS to approve the sureties before releasing Sowore and Bakare from custody.
“Kindly find below the court order being treated with contempt by the DSS which has continued to parade itself as a law-abiding security organisation.”
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