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2020: Akpabio Shuns Senate On Ministry’s Budget

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has said that the ministry’s budget was not rejected by the Senate.
Reacting to the Senate’s purported rejection of the budget proposal; he called on the lawmakers to join him in appealing to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to increase the capital component of the ministry’s budget.
Akpabio told reporters, “The budget was not rejected. The senators feel that major projects that are already in the Niger Delta ought to be completed.
“I agree with them but unfortunately, we are working under a very tight envelope.
“The ministry was allocated about N23billion; 60 per cent of it will go to already existing projects in the region and 40 per cent will go to probably new projects.
“So, if you look at it very well, it is not possible for you to capture all projects with that amount and it is not even going to be possible to complete even 10 kilometres of road in the region.
“So, I think instead of saying that the budget was rejected, I think that the distinguished senators should collectively make an appeal to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to improve upon the envelope to expand it a little, so it can capture at least substantially most of the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of the Niger Delta.”
Earlier, the Senate Committee on Niger Delta had rejected the 2020 budget of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs headed by a former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, asked that the budget be re-represented, citing the omission of major ongoing projects in its capital appropriation.
Nwaoboshi (Delta North) pointed out that there were abandoned projects in the nine oil-producing states while other senators also noted that there was a need to increase the ministry’s capital budget.
According to Nwaoboshi, “There is no state, I dare to say, there is no local government where there are no abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
“We cannot continue like that. With all the abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, we are talking about new projects; these new projects are designed to fail.
“Honourable Minister, we need to look at this budget again and we expect you to do your cleanup because the documents we needed were not supplied to us. The proliferation of abandoned projects cannot continue.”
The Delta-born lawmaker went on to note that President Muhammadu Buhari had not inaugurated any completed project executed by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in the last four years.
Also speaking, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe noted that the ministry’s budget is an “uncommon budget.
“When a budget is designed to fail, it is uncommon,” Abaribe said.
“I will suggest that the budget should be taken back for reworking, taking into cognizance all the projects that were pointed out and we give them another day to come and defend the budget.”
For Senator Rochas Okorocha, the budget was not different from the ministry’s budget of two or three years ago.
“This type of budget doesn’t produce anything feasible,” Okorocha said, adding: “You have to do your projects and complete them so you don’t sound like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“One of the worst establishments is NDDC known for funny activities because of the way it is set up.”
Senator Sandy Onor Ojang, representing Cross River Central, lamented a situation where capital components of yearly budgets would not be released to ministries.
He said: “We are faced again with the vanity of having a budget and almost through the budget year, there are no capital releases. It calls for concern and deep worry.”
Ojang decried a situation where the capital outlay is even lower than other costs.
“To speak of a situation where nothing is released for capital is a tragedy,” he said.

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GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations

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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.

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Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers

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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.

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Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers

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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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