The Federal Government has assured the Government and people of Rivers State that it would effect a refund of monies expended on federal projects in the state.
Addressing journalists after embarking on the verification of federal road projects executed by the Rivers State Government on behalf of the Federal Government, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration would always abide by set rules.
Nwajiuba said: “The Federal Government has always cooperated with the people of Rivers State. Rivers State is the strongest economic base of the country, and anything that the Federal Government will do for the Government and people of Rivers State, the Federal Government will respond accordingly.
“The President is a stickler for the rules. We have addressed this everywhere, except for five states, that we are now verifying. No state has had an issue,” the minister stated.
The minister said that the Rivers State Government, over the years, did a splendid work in the construction of key projects in the state.
“Terrific work has been done by the Government and people of Rivers State on behalf of the Federal Government. The governor has taken us on extensive review of more than six projects that we came to inspect,” he said.
He expressed happiness with the tour of Federal Road Projects executed by the Rivers State Government.
He said: “I am glad we took time out to go and see all of them and verify them physically. We are really sure that the state government has done what is right.”
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had led the Federal Executive Council Verification Team on a tour of listed projects in the state.
In an interview with journalists after the Joint Verification Exercise, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said he was confident that the Federal Government would effect a refund.
He said: “The minister has come with his team, and I believe they will refund us the funds expended on the roads.
“We have made submissions for refund, but we are yet to receive any refund from the Federal Government. I believe this last verification will come to fruition. I have confidence that they will refund us the money expended on federal projects.”
Wike said if the Federal Government fails to effect the refund as promised, the Rivers State Government would raise an alarm.
“If they don’t refund, we will raise alarm, and tell the world to help us ask why we are being denied the refund.
“Now, we are talking of governance and we need these funds to do more projects for our people. He has given us assurance that the Federal Government will effect a refund this time around”, Wike added.
The tour commenced at the over 41.26-kilometre dualisation of the Airport-Isiokpo-Elele-Omerelu Road, the reconstruction of Ikwerre Road from Education to Agip flyover junction, construction of flyover at Agip-Rumueme-Abacha roundabout and the construction of flyover on East-West Road at Obiri-Ikwerre with rotary turning and service lanes.
The verification team also visited the construction of Eleme junction flyover and interchange and the construction of phases one and two of Ada-George Road.
Wike also led the team on an inspection of the Rebisi, Rumuogba and Okoro-Nu-Odu flyover bridges under construction by the Rivers State Government at Garrison, Artillery and Rumuokoro junctions in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas, respectively.
Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had stated that he was hopeful that the Federal Government would refund state resources used to execute federal projects in the state.
Wike said that his optimism stems from the fact that the Federal Executive Council has sent a verification team to the state in respect of federal projects.
He spoke, yesterday, during a courtesy visit by the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said: “I thank the Federal Government for at least coming to verify our claims. We submitted our claims, while some other states have been paid. But we are hopeful.
“We have been submitting several documents on the issue of projects that were executed by the Rivers State Government for the Federal Government. We believe that by this verification visit, we will get paid”.
He said most of the federal projects in question were executed by Dr Peter Odili and the immediate past administration of Chibuike Amaechi in the state.
He said that if the state gets the said funds, they would be channelled towards other developmental projects in the state.
Wike said that the country must move together in unity, because certain issues transcend politics.
In his response, the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, explained that the team was in the state in respect of the federal projects verification exercise approved by the Federal Executive Council.
He said that the team would assess and verify projects that the Rivers State Government completed on behalf of the Federal Government and report back to the Federal Executive Council.
He noted that the Federal Executive Council raised the committee following official demands by the Rivers State Government on federal projects executed by the state.
The minister said that the verification team would work with the Rivers State Government to verify the claims.
Govs Assure Easy Flow Of Essential Goods
The 36 states governors have pledged their commitment to ensure that the operations of manufacturers of essential goods and services are unhindered during the period of the lockdown in the country.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) was quoted as giving the assurance in a letter signed by the forum’s Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, written to the manufacturers.
In a statement signed by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF Secretariat, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, yesterday in Abuja, Fayemi assured the continuous operations for food, beverage, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
The governors, according to the statement also threw their weights behind making essential goods and services available to the citizenry, throughout the lockdown period.
This was fallout of the concerted efforts by governors to bring succour to Nigerians during the lockdown and ensure that the remedy did not ultimately turn out to be counter-productive.
The governors noted that the decision was reached “considering the crucial role played by manufacturers in ensuring the production of essential items.
“Following careful and deliberate consideration we are pleased to convey to you our full support to ensure that your operations continue unhindered.”
The forum noted that decision was also taken to guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“We note that the whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of the law.
It added that the governors reasoned that key players in the industry whose products were critical to the daily existence of Nigerians would need some waiver to continue to move their products around the country without hindrance.
The letter reads: “In view of the essential nature of food, beverage and pharmaceuticals, all parastatals and agencies of state governments have been advised as follows: To guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“The whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of law and to the extent that current realities permit.
“(a) The operations and activities of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical product companies and their suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales team and retailers should not be hindered by officials or agents of the state governments.
“(b) To ensure the safety of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products and also that of the suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams, retailers and other employees who will be on the road during this time;
“(c) To guarantee that the distribution and movement of raw and packaging materials and finished products of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products from various points within and across states is seamless;
“(d) That in the event of closure of open markets or shops, clear alternatives are defined on how to get finished food, beverage and pharmaceutical products to consumers in their neighbourhoods;
“(e) The responsiveness of relevant agencies of the state governments in playing their part fully in ensuring that what they need to do as prescribed by the law and extant regulations are carried out with dispatch.”
In order to regulate the operations and forestall abuse, the governors, however, directed all food, beverage, pharmaceutical and medical companies to adhere to certain caveats which include the following:
”Issue all suppliers and transporters a letter of authority confirming that they are authorised by you.
“All your staff need to ensure Identity Cards are carried at all time for all movements, with a copy of this letter of authority.
“All organisations to ensure compliance to all COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing, personal and respiratory hygiene for the safety of individuals and the community at large.”
It added that the suppliers and their operators were to be provided with toll free numbers they could call, in case they had any problems during the course of performing their duties.
Major Shake-Up As Buratai Rejigs Army
The Nigerian Army, yesterday, released the postings and appointments of some affected senior officers in a major shake-up that has swept through critical divisions and commands across the country.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement reads, “The posting, which was approved by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, was explained to be a routine/normal exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency.
“The major highlight of the posting included – the posting and appointment of Maj-Gen A.C.C. Agundu from Special Task Force (STF) Operation Safe Haven, Jos to Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Abuja as Senior Research Fellow; Major General H.I. Bature from Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Defence Liaison Office, National Assembly, Abuja to Army Headquarters Department of Civil Military Affairs and appointed Chief of Civil-Military Affairs; Maj-Gen U.M. Mohammed from Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL) to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff and appointed Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu/Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees NAPL; while the erstwhile Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu, Maj-Gen C.C. Okonkwo is now redeployed to STF Operation Safe Haven, Jos and appointed Commander; Maj-Gen F. Yahaya from Headquarters 1 Division, Kaduna to Headquarters Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), Maiduguri and appointed Commander; while Maj-Gen O.G. Adeniyi is redeployed from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD, Maiduguri to NARC as Senior Research Fellow; Maj-Gen S. Idris from Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu, Yobe State redeployed to DHQ Abuja and appointed Director, Liaison.
“Others affected include – Maj-Gen A.A. Adesope from Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management to NAPL and appointed Group Managing Director; Maj-Gen M.G. Ali from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces Command, Doma, Nasarawa State as Commander; while the erstwhile Chief of Civil-Military Affairs AHQ, Abuja, Maj-Gen U.S. Mohammed has been redeployed to 1 Division, Kaduna, and appointed General Officer Commanding.
“Similarly, Brig-Gen H.I. Daniel from the defunct Army Special Forces Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command, Minna, and appointed Director, Army Training Support; Brig-Gen B.E. Onyeuko is to remain in DHQ, Abuja as Acting Director, Defence Media Operation; Brig-Gen N.M. Jega from Training and Doctrine Command, Minna to Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji and appointed Chief of Staff; Brig-Gen L.A. Araba from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja, now redeployed to Sector 2 OPLD, Damaturu, Yobe State as Ag Commander; Brig-Gen V.O. Ita from DHQ, Abuja to Headquarters 402 Special Forces Brigade, Azare and appointed Commander; while Brig-Gen J.A.L. Jimoh from Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno to Headquarters 31 Brigade Minna and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen G.T.O. Ajetunmobi has been redeployed from 31 Brigade, Minna to Nigeria Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja as Executive Director, Operation.
“Others are – Brig-Gen L.G. Lepdung from Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji to DHQ, Abuja and appointed Deputy Director, Procurement (Logistics); Brig-Gen M.O. Ihanuwaze to remain in Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management as Acting Director; Brig-Gen E.C. Obi – Osang from the defunct Headquarters 707 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi to Headquarters 401 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi as Commander; while Brig-Gen G.M. Mutkut is redeployed from the defunct Nigerian Army Amphibious Command OPLD, Baga to Headquarters 403 Amphibious Brigade, Baga and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen J.R. Lar from Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kachia to Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno as Commander.
“Also, Colonel D.J. Abdullahi from the defunct Headquarters Nigerian Army Special Forces’ Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces’ Command, Doma, Nasarawa State and appointed Acting Chief of Staff; Colonel E.C. Emere from Nigerian Army Archives to Nigerian Military School, Zaria as Deputy Commandant; and Col M.O. Agi is to remain in Headquarters Nigerian Army Armour Corps, Bauchi as Acting Chief of Staff, among others.
“All the postings and appointments take effect from the 1st of April, 2020.
“While wishing all the officers well in their respective appointments, the Chief of Army Staff enjoined them to take their new responsibilities/appointments seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to the nation and the service”, the statement added.
Reacting to the changes, yesterday, a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, alleged ethnic motivation and victimisation in the shake-up.
Fani-Kayode, alleged that Maj-Gen Olusegun Adeniyi was redeployed for complaining about the condition of troops in the North-East.
It would be recalled that a video had a few days ago emerged of Adeniyi complaining about the welfare of troops fighting Boko Haram in the North-East.
But, Fani-Kayode alleged that the Major General was relieved of his duty after he made the video.
He wondered why Nigeria always rewarded her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation.
The former minister described Adeniyi as a true and quintessential patriot, who was worthy of commendation.
Fani-Kayode wrote: “Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the gallant and courageous commander who led our troops in Operation Lafiya Dole and who won the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians when he appeared in a video that went viral two days ago complaining about the conditions that his troops were facing on the war front with Boko Haram and asking for better arms, equipment and welfare for them, was relieved of his appointment, yesterday.
“The GOC of the 1st Mechanised Division was directed to take over his position.
“What a pity and what a waste! Why does Nigeria always have to reward her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation?
“I wish Major General Adeniyi well for the rest of his career in the military and I want him to know that we are proud of him, his commitment to the war against Boko Haram and the obvious care, love and compassion that he has for his troops. The man is a true and quintessential patriot.”
When contacted on the allegations by Fani-Kayode, the spokesperson of Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, dismissed the claim as a figment of the imagination of its purveyor, saying that the action was a routine/normal exercise in compliance with global best practices in the military.
COVID-19: Prisoners Attempt Jailbreak In Kaduna
There was an attempted jailbreak by some prisoners at the Kaduna Correctional Centre yesterday.
Our correspondent gathered that there was unrest among the prisoners when reports filtered into the facility located along the Independence Way in the metropolis over the possible spread of the coronavirus to the facility.
The prisoners, it was learnt, feared that they might be affected by the deadly virus as a result of the congestion currently being experienced in the correctional facility.
A resident close to the correctional facility said that he heard gunshots from the prison.
Another source said some of the prisoners attempted to escape to avoid contracting the disease but were unsuccessful.
One of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on the telephone that, “We learnt the prison inmates are protesting. There is actually unrest there. They are protesting that they can be infected with the coronavirus.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna Correctional Centre, Mr Nathaniel Gagas, confirmed the incident.
“There is normalcy now. Security has beefed up in and outside the facility. There is no cause for alarm,” another source said.
Our correspondent also gathered that the authorities of the correctional facility sought reinforcement from the Army, Police as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before the situation was brought under control.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as “Shi’ites”, has warned that nothing must happen to their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, currently being held in the facility.
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