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2023: APC Accuses Lokpobiri Of Plotting To Disunite N’Delta

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The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, accused Senator Heineken Lokpobiri of being used by two incumbent northern governors to cause disaffection in the Niger Delta block of the party.
It was also alleged that the unnamed northern politicians bankrolled Lokpobiri’s gubernatorial aspiration to pave the way for their 2023 political ambitions.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena disclosed this while fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja.
In his words, “The governors are using Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, one of the APC governorship aspirants for Bayelsa State to cause disaffection in Bayelsa and the Niger Delta zone of the APC.
“The governorship aspirant in Bayelsa state, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, is being used as a pawn by two northern governors of the ruling party to further their 2023 political aspirations”.
When further grilled, Nabena averred that he would soon uncover the identities of the governors should they fail to follow the path of honour ahead of the 2023 general elections.
But Lokpobiri had approached the court to declare him, and not David Lyon (now Governor-elect), as the authentic candidate of the APC.
Nabena, therefore, affirmed, “It is common knowledge that Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has refused to congratulate and identify with the governor-elect of Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon after his landslide election victory. Lokpobiri has refused to drop his misplaced and ill-advised legal action taken against the APC and David Lyon with the hope of acquiring the Bayelsa governoship mandate with the support of his sponsors.
“After the Bayesla governorship election, stakeholders have had several meetings where Lokpobiri’s sponsors were identified as two northern governors which I am not disposed to name for political reasons.
“Depending on the zoning arrangements adopted by the APC for the 2023 presidency, the governor’s are positioning themselves by scheming to control Bayelsa State through Lokpobiri and then use that as a springboard into other South South states.

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NDDC Probe: Senate Queries N543m Spent On Security In Six Months

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The Senate has raised the alarm over a total sum of N543 Million spent by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC as Security Expenditure on Police and security in six months.
According to the Senate, the expenditure record for security showed that this included payment for retained services of private security firms, just as the Management of the NDDC elaborated the substantial risk to life surrounding working for the Commission, thereby justifying the quantum of payments made in this area.
The Upper Chamber taking a swipe at the management of the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the NDDC on why huge amounts were paid to an individual especially AbubakarAbdulmumuni who was paid the sum of N50 Million in one sweep.
The disclosure is contained in the report of the Senator OlubunmiAdetunmbi, APC, Ekiti North led Ad-hoc Committee that Investigated the alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC by the IMC.
According to the document obtained by our source, the report stated that” the Committee also noted that security risk has been the singular justification for huge cash outflows made on Stakeholder’s engagement, community relations, and distribution of relief. When these costs are pooled, they represent a substantial piece of the Niger Delta Commonwealth, which may have been dissipated into questionable purposes.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs in the 8th Senate, Senator AliyuSabiAbdullahi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger North said on Tuesday that there was nothing of mention like contract awards to Senators in the immediate past Senate.
Speaking with newsmen, Senator Abdullahi who is now the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, said that as representatives of the people, the onus is on them to attract development in form of Projects to their constituents and constituencies, just as he said that this does not metamorphose into the award of contracts.
According to him, when projects are attracted, it is now the responsibility of the Executive to see to how the projects will be executed for the people, adding,” As lawmakers, in attracting projects, we can lobby and say that these people need Boreholes, need other good things as the dividend of democracy.
“Throughout my stay in the 8th Senate, and to the best of my knowledge, there was no single time the issue of award of contracts to Senators came up. Both at Plenary, Executive sessions and Committee levels, the award of NDDC Contracts to Senators was never discussed.
“You can see that the Report of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee chaired by Senator OlubunmiAdetunmbi, APC, Ekiti North that Investigated the alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC by the IMC was detailed, it opened up everything and the Report will remain a reference point to the 9th Senate.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has also raised the alarm following a total sum of N248.3 million the NDDC spent on Stakeholder Engagement.
According to the report,” For the period under review, NDDC spent a total of N248.3 Million on Stakeholder Engagement.
Conflict resolution took about N148 Million; another N99 Million was spent on emergency dialogue with the leadership of ex-agitators. These are substantial cash outflows, with questionable actual implementation and value addition.”
Recall that the Senate had on Tuesday, 5th May 2020 begun a probe into alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

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COVID-19: Nigeria To Resume Int’l Flights In Weeks …Virus Now In 536 LGs As FG Extends Eased Lockdown By Four Weeks

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The federal government has expressed its readiness to reopen the nation’s airspace for international flights in ‘a matter of weeks’.
This was as it lamented the growing wave of community transmission of Covid-19, saying the virus has now made incursions into 536 out of Nigeria’s 774 local government areas. Consequently, the government has extended the current phase of the eased lockdown by another four weeks while planning towards re-opening of the airspace for international flights.
Also, the 10.m. to 4p.m. curfew, limitation on mass gatherings and virtual holding of government meetings remain in place. It noted that in the last month, the number of states with over 1, 000 confirmed cases increased from 4 to 10 and the FCT.
Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha disclosed this during yesterday’s briefing of the taskforce.
He lamented the increased non-compliance with non-pharmaceutical prevention measures; lack of enforcement of necessary guidelines issued to preserve lives; insufficient engagement by some states with the national response; as well as “a lingering concern about the gap between identified cases and the actual burden of disease; and apathy, fatigue and disbelief combining to challenge public enlightenment, compliance and behaviour change.
“Community transmission is increasing, as reflected in the fact that 536 Local Government Areas – 69% of the total – have reported a COVID-19 case.
“To sustain gains already made, therefore, the PTF recommended to the President, the retention of the current phase of the response with minor changes to address economic, socio-political and health concerns. These measures are further outlined in the guidelines to be elaborated upon by the National Coordinator.
“It is, however, important to inform you that the major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the following: Gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters; Re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters; Granting permission to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations; Allowing civil servants from Grade Level 12 to resume work; and opening recreational parks for supervised exercises.
“After due consideration of the recommendations, Mr. President approved the following: Maintaining the current phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for another four weeks in line with the modifications reflected in the Report; Partnering with States and Local Governments to improve community sensitisation and engagement to the COVID-19 response; Mandating State authorities and the FCT, to enforce non-pharmaceutical guidelines, primarily the use of face masks in public appearance and places; Encouraging State Governments to collaborate with Local Government Authorities to intensify necessary measures such as contact tracing, grassroots mobilisation and risk communication; and Strengthening of collaboration with other mandate groups at Federal/State levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response, on the short, medium and long-term basis”.
National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu on his part said the taskforce has asked the aviation ministry to work towards resumption of international flights in weeks.
Aliyu added that the management of the National Youth Service Corps NYSC has been told to start working towards resumption in the next phases of the eased lockdown.
He said; “The restrictions in the entertainment and education sector as well as other activities that attract mass gatherings such as operation of markets and worship centres, remain.
“Specific to air transportation, domestic operations have already resumed as well as the railways. For international travel, we have made recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for opening international airports provided all existing international and local prevention guidelines on COVID-19 are in place.
“We have modified the advice with regards to the arrival for flights. Passengers arriving at the airports for domestic flights are advised to arrive at least one and a half hours before their flights and three hours before international flights when it is restarted.
“There might be requirements for additional infrastructure in some of the airports. What we want to do, and we have made it very clear at the PTF is, we want to reopen as soon as possible but in a safe manner that does not put at risk all the efforts we have made to control this pandemic. Hopefully, the airports would open in weeks, rather than months. That is what we are looking at”, he added.
Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC DrChikweIheakwazu said the National Council on Health which held its meeting yesterday resolved that the sector must continue to work harder to halt the spread of the virus in order to be able to fully reopen the economy. According to him, until there is a vaccine, workers in the health sector cannot relax in the battle against Covid-19.
“What we collectively agreed was in order for our economy to reopen, in order for our country to restart slowly, in order for the full benefits of the eased of restriction to manifest, we on the public health side have the responsibility to strengthen our response.
“Until we have a vaccine there won’t be a point where we would say, okay, let us relax. That is completely out of the question. The meeting we had today with the Honourable Commissioners of Health was to really encourage ourselves, you know, the motivation to keep going in spite six months of really tough work”, he said.
Minister of Aviation, HadiSirika said the resumption of international flights is not solely an aviation function as the main consideration is the health of the people.
According to him, while the industry would love to reopen fully so as to make money and save jobs, the reality on ground is such that it has to work with relevant stakeholders before reopening the airspace for international flights.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA said it will not hesitate to shut down any school within the territory that violates the Covid-19 guidelines recommended for the safety of their students in exit classes who are resuming for their examinations. Chairman, FCT Ministerial Enforcement Task team on COVID 19 Restrictions, IkharoAttah who led the team to inspect some schools within the nation’s capital, stated that the administration cannot afford to expose the students to the danger of contracting the virus, and therefore will not compromise the guidelines for the resumption of the schools.
“Any school that fails to comply, we will do everything within our power to safeguard the students and such schools would likely be shut down through legal processes while the students will have to go and write their exams somewhere else, pending when the school complies with the safety guidelines, and those responsible for the school mismanagement will be brought to book.
“The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has been very clear about it, that he is not going to risk the life of any student or teacher. He said everyone must come in within the context of safety”, Attah said.
He noted most of the public and private schools his team visited to ascertain their level of compliance, had shown about 80 percent in their preparedness to the safety of students and teachers in their respective schools, by providing adequate handwashing hand points, sanitizer and decontaminated environment.
“From our own point, it is already encouraging in the sense that the schools we have been to, both government and private, if we assess them at a point of average, you will score them about 85 percent in terms of preparedness. They have complied. You could see hand washing points, hand sanitizers and there was also social distancing in their classrooms”, he said.

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Edo, Ondo Polls: Disrupting Timelines Could Cause Constitutional Crisis -INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has lamented the growing resort to violence and incendiary remarks by political actors ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, warning that any disruption of the process could alter the electoral timelines thereby leading to a constitutional crisis.
“The Commission has observed with deep concern the escalating levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters in the run-up to the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections”, INEC said in a statement by National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye.
According to the Commission, these actions include the destruction of opponents’ campaign materials such as billboards, violent campaigns, and the use of offensive language.
INEC urged regulatory bodies in the area of security and the media to scale up enforcement in order to safeguard the electoral process.
The electoral umpire said it is important for political parties, candidates, and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that they must adhere to during campaigns, warning that the Commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.
“Consequently, parties and candidates must on no account underestimate the resolve of the Commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them. The Commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two States and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.
“Political Parties must realize that Edo and Ondo Governorship elections are taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the Commission is working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the Commission and health authorities. With the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo States must be saved from the added burden of violent and raucous elections. Political Parties must remember that Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.
“The Commission will continue to engage stakeholders in the two States on the need for free, fair, safe, and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for the elections. Therefore, the Commission will view gravely any disruptive actions by political actors.
“Going forward, the Commission will work with and collaborate with the security agencies to contain all incidents or threats of violence before and during the elections. Regulatory agencies with roles in the elections, especially those dealing with insecurity, hate speech and abuse of mass media, must step up their activities and ensure that all those that break the law are held to account.
“The Commission wishes to reassure the people of Edo and Ondo States of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states.
The Commission shall not hesitate to discontinue the process should the actions of political actors lead to cogent and verifiable threat and/or breakdown of law and order before or during the elections”, the Commission added.

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