This is the concluding
part of this Special series published last Wednesday. Please, read on.
Briefing Note Allegation 21: that the CBN paid an additional N140 Million over and above the agreed fees for the external auditors.
i. The 2012 financial statements of the CBN stated that the amount paid to the two firms of external auditors for the 2012 financial year was N200Million. The subsequent graduating revision of the fee was to the sum of N230Million effective from 2013.
ii. The N140Million purportedly paid to the external auditors as “additional fees”, was paid as reimbursement of the expenses incurred by these firms in the execution of their mandate as external auditors of the Bank for previous audit exercises. See Annexure K for evidence of payments made to the auditors. Payment of reimbursables is a standard contractual practice when dealing with professional service firms.
22. Alleged Abuse of Due Process
The MoU for the Banking Sector Resolution Cost Sinking Fund
Briefing Note Allegation 22: that the CBN issued treasury bills using themoney in the Banking Resolution Costs Sinking fund (Sinking Fund) without the constitution and approval of the Board of Trustees as required under the MOU signed by the CBN and all the deposit moneybanks operating in Nigeria.
i. The contributors to the Sinking Fund are the CBN and all deposit money banks in the country. All the parties agreed at Bankers Committee that the monies contributed should be invested in treasury bills for safety. The CBN, as custodian, simply implemented that agreement. The board of trustees for Sinking Fund has not been constituted as the legal framework for the Sinking Fund i.e. the Banking Sector Resolution Cost Fund Bill is still pending before the National Assembly.
ii. It should be noted that AMCON redeemed its due bonds on 27 December, 2013 from this account.
23. Write off of N3.85 Billion Loan
Briefing Note Allegation 23: that the leadership of the CBN wrote-off loans supposedly made to staff members to the tune of N3.85 Billion in 2012.
i. The write-off above was not made in favour of CBN staff. Rather the Board of the CBN approved the write-off of the loan as forbearance to Heritage Bank on 17 December, 2010 as part of the process of facilitating its resumption of business as a regional bank. See Annexure L for the board approval given on 17 December 2010.
24. Overdrawn Accounts by Ministries, Departments &Parastatals
Briefing Note Allegation 24: that the deposit accounts of parastatals have debit and overdrawn positions and that this is contrary to government policy.
i. MDAs generally maintain bank accounts with the CBN. Overdrawing of banks accounts is an incidence of banker–customer relationship. However, the CBN experienced some technical problems prior to mid-2012, which affected about 6 of the over 1000 bank accounts maintained by MDAs at the CBN, but the error has been rectified since the middle of 2012. There were some insignificant over drawings on about six (6) of the accounts and the attention of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation has been drawn to the matter. See Annexure Mfor the letter to the Accountant-General and the Accountant-General’s response of January 29th, 2014.
25. Investment in International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILMC)
Briefing Note Allegation 25:that the investment in the IILMC was not brought to the attention of His Excellency, Mr President, and was not within the exception in Section 31 of the CBN Act.
i. Nigeria, through the CBN, is signatory to the establishment agreement of the IILMC. Before proceeding with the investment, I requested for and obtained the written approval of His Excellency, Mr President,via a letter dated 8 December, 2010. His Excellency, Mr President would recall that he approved this request on 22.12.10. See Annexure N.
ii. The investment in question is permitted by Section 24 of the CBN Act, in pursuance of which it was made as investment of Reserves By the Reserve Management Department of the CBN. If at any point, the CBN wishes to divest from the IILMC, one or more of the member central banks will purchase this investment.
iii. It is worthy of note that in the letter seeking Mr President’s approval for the investment, it was stated explicitly that all the member central banks were treating their investment as part of their external reserves.
iv. It was also alleged that, till the date of the issuance of the Briefing Note (7th June, 2013), the CBN had not received its share certificate for the apex Bank’s investment in the IILMC. However, the said share certificate, dated 6th April, 2013, has indeed been received and is hereby annexed as Annexure O.
26. Non-adoption of IFRS Standards
Briefing Note Allegation 26: that the CBN did not comply with the IFRS accounting standards in preparing its 2012 financial statements.
i. It has been and remains a cardinal policy of the CBN to comply with statutory requirements and policy guidelines of regulators. In recognition of the peculiar nature of the CBN as a central bank and its peculiar responsibilities, its migration to the IFRS would require extended time to comply with the Act.
ii. In view of this reality, I wrote the FRCN via a letter dated 14thFebruary 2013, requesting for a temporary exemption to allow the CBN prepare the 2012 financial statements based on the existing financial reporting framework.
iii. The FRCN waived the requirement for the CBN to comply with the IFRS standards in preparing its 2012 financial statements by its letter of exemption dated 26 February 2013. See Annexure Pfor the FRCN’s letter.
iv. In January 2010, the published Report of the Committee on the Roadmap for the adoption of IFRS in Nigeria (the Roadmap), allowed Public Interest Entities, in the nature of CBN,to delay the adoption of the IFRS financial statements until 31 December 2013. See Annexure Q for the Roadmap.It is probably for the same reason the FRCN itself did not prepare its audited financial statements in accordance with IFRS for the year ended 2012.
v. It is worth noting that very few Central Banks in the world are able to comply with IFRS due to a number of factors peculiar to the nature of central banking, especially in the following areas:
a. Accounting for Change in the value of Gold reserves.
b. Management of government foreign exchange reserves and exchange rate fluctuations.
c. Disclosure challenges around monetary policy interventions and its activities as lender of last resort to financial institutions, and guarantor to government borrowing.
d. Valuation of assets held in foreign currencies.
e. Challenges around weekly Treasury Bill sales.
f. Management of years of deficit after surplus has been transferred to the government in the year of surplus.
g. Funding government deficit financing as enshrined in section 38 of the CBN Act 2007.
27. Non-Compliance with ITF Act
Briefing Note Allegation 27: that the CBN failed to comply with the ITF Act by not paying the mandatory one per centum of the amount of its annual payroll to the ITF.
i. The CBN, at the time, contested in court its obligation to pay one per centum of its payroll to the ITF on the ground that the CBN is not engaged in commerce or industry, which under the ITF Act is the basis for an employer to make payments under the ITF Act.
ii. However, upon further considerations, the matter was amicably settled by the CBN and ITF. The CBN has duly complied with the ITF Act and has paid all levies up to the 2012 financial year. See Annexure R, which bears this out.
Briefing Note Allegation 28: that the joint auditors of the CBN’s financial statement did not certify that the accounts give a true and fair view of the financial position of the CBN as at 31 December 2012.
i. Without any iota of evidential proof, and in a most sweeping statement,the FRCN Briefing Note alleged that the joint auditors’ opinion was a technical qualification; that the accounts should not be relied upon for decision-making.
ii. To set the records straight, auditors do not certify accounts but only express opinions on the financial statements.
iii. The joint auditors stated that the CBN’s 2012 financial statements were properly prepared and accorded with accounting policies and the provisions of the CBN Act 2007 and other applicable regulations.
iv. The opinion, as expressed by our auditors, is consistent with what obtains in respect of central banks in a number of other jurisdictions. We enclose by way of example, a sample of opinions relating to the central banks of the United States of America, South Africa and Ghana. See Annexure S. The allegation made by the FRCN in relation to this aspect of the auditors’ report is troubling when viewed in this light.
29. Non-consolidation of accounts with Subsidiaries
Briefing Note Allegation 29: that the CBN did not consolidate its account with those of its subsidiaries.
i. The CBN does not have subsidiaries and the assumption that AMCON is a subsidiary of the CBN is wrong. The shares in AMCON are held by the Federal Government as borne out by Section 2 of the AMCON Act. Furthermore, the accounting reporting period of the CBN is statutoryand does not coincide with that of AMCON.
30. Abridgement of Financial Statements
Briefing Note Allegation 30:that the financial statement was highly abridged, with poor disclosures of transactions and events of a financial nature.
ii. The financial statement cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as “highly abridged”. Rather, all transactions in the financial statement were substantiated and were prepared in line with the CBN’s framework with all relevant notes, schedules and disclosures copiously made for clarity.
31. Non- Challance and AMCON’s Operations
Briefing Note Allegation 31: that AMCON made a loss (after taxation) of N 2,439,701,422,000 (over N 2.4 Trillion) and also had a negative total equity ofN2,345,620,364,000 (over N 2.3 Trillion) at the end of 2011. The FRCN alleges that I should have brought it to the attention of His Excellency, Mr President, that a large portion of the AMCON bonds would be due for redemption by 31 December 2013 and that the inability of the Federal Government to fulfil the guarantee may affect the credit rating of Nigeria negatively. In other words, the CBN breached its statutory objects under Section 2(e) of the CBN Act by not drawing His Excellency’s attention to the matter.
i. A major achievement of the Central Bank was that the AMCON bonds in question that matured at the end of 2013 were successfully redeemed without any budgetary appropriation or call on the Federal Government to guarantee the repayment as referenced above.
ii. It must be emphasized that AMCON bonds are not instruments issued by the CBN. On that score, it would be most inappropriate and against every known principle of standard accounting convention for the CBN to incorporate full disclosures on the maturity profile of AMCON’s bonds in its audited financial statements (balance sheet and notes).
iii. Rather, in accordance with international best practice, the CBN is only required to disclose in its accounts, the portion of the bonds held by it (the CBN). To this extent, the CBN made appropriate disclosures in the financial statements on the bonds it held as at 31 December 2012. See Annexure T – which is note 6 to the CBN’s 2012 financial statements showing the amount CBN has invested in AMCON bonds.
32. Non-approval of 2012 financial statement by CBN Board
Briefing Note Allegation 32:that the date of the Board’s approval of the financial statements was not indicated or disclosed and accordingly, the response provided to the President’s request for clarifications indicated that the management letter on the financial statements was yet to be discussed by the Board Audit and Risk Management Committee.
i. The financial statements were presented to the board and approved on 26 February 2013. The date of approval was stated clearly on the balance sheet page behind the signature of each of the directors. (See Annexure Ufor a board approval dated 26 February 2013 approving financial statements).Issues of a material nature requiring adjustments had been fully incorporated into the Financial Statement prior to presentation to the Board.
ii. The items in the Management Letter were suggestions for improvement made by external auditors and these were subsequently considered by the Board Audit and Risk Management Committee and are being implemented by Management on an on-going basis.
33. Compliance with the PPA
Briefing Note Allegation 33:non-compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA).
i. The only issue that has been raised to the knowledge of the CBN, is that the CBN, over a period in the past, did not obtain ‘Certificate of No Objection’ from the BPP before awarding contracts.
ii. On 11 August 2008 (before my tenure), the CBN wrote to His Excellency, President Yar’adua, requesting for certain exemptions in CBN’s procurement process.See Annexure V.On 20 August 2008, the President gave his approval to the CBN’s application. See Annexure W.
iii. In line with this approval, the CBN continued to approve its contracts in full compliance with the Public Procurement Guidelines, with the only exception that it did not apply for a ‘Certificate of No Objection’ based on the Presidential waiver.
iv. It should be noted that the CBN’s own procurement process is more or less identical to the procurement process under the Public Procurement Act (PPA). Indeed, the BPP has had occasion to write in the past commending the CBN’s commitment to transparency and making recommendations for further improving the process. See Annexure X.
v. In the course of the CBN interaction with the BPP on this subject, we provided an explanation by way by a letter of 11 August 2013, informing the BPP of the Presidential waiver. After an exchange of correspondences between the CBN and the BPP on this issue, the BPP disagreed that the Presidential waiver constituted an exemption from the requirement to obtain a Certificate of No Objection and insisted that the CBN should start doing so.
vi. The CBN, out of an abundance of caution, immediately began to obtain Certificates of No Objection in respect of subsequent procurements within the stipulated threshold. In this regard, the CBN did obtain Certificates of No Objection dated 17 December 2013, 31 December 2013 and 14 February 2014. See Annexure Y [A-D] for these.It is important to note that the contracts for which these Certificate of No Objections were issued were approved based on the same process that apply to all the other contracts approved by the Bank. This, in itself, is testimony that the Bank has always complied with the provisions of the Act.
vii. It is also important to note that in October 2013, the BPP-appointed consultant (Messrs SadaIdris& Co) also gave the CBN a good bill of health after reviewing the bank’s procurement processesfor 2010and2011.See Annexure Z. In its final report, the consultant in fact mentioned that the CBN satisfactorily complied with the provisions of the PPA.
viii. Furthermore, the CBN has facilitated compliance with the provisions of the PPA by making it a requirement for entities seeking to access the CBN Intervention Projects Fund, to comply with the PPA and to obtain a Certificate of No Objection to Contract Award, where required. See Annexure AA for the BPP Letter of No Objection of 12 October 2010in relation to procurements by the Nigeria Police Force.
34. Unlawful Expenditure on CBN Intervention Projects
Briefing Note Allegation 34: that CBN Interventions in areas like Education,Community, etc. are unlawful.
i. A principal focus of the CBN Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy in the last decade (even before my tenure) has been the Educational sector in Nigeria. The CBN Act lists its objects, functions and prohibited activities, and the Board is empowered to approve the budget and formulate policies of the CBN. The Intervention Projects mentioned are CSR interventions that fully comply with the CBN Act and were duly approved by the Board.
ii. It is worth noting that the CSR policy of the CBN is consistent with the activities of many other central banks of developing countries including, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Bank of Namibia, the Bank of Botswana and the Bank of Indonesia.
iii. The Federal Governmentof Nigeria has been aware, supported and encouraged the CBN intervention projects, in recognition of their positive contribution to development.
iv.During the recent strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the CBN intervention projects in universities were an important fulcrum in the settlement negotiations between the FG and ASUU as borne out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the FG and ASUU, where the Intervention Projects were recognised as part of the contributions of the FG to Education in tertiary institutions.
v.Furthermore, the FG standing committee on the Implementation of Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities requested that the CBN channel a portion of its annual budget to the identified projects. See Annexure BB- TheInterim Report of the Technical Sub-committee of the Committee on the Implementation on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.
vi. A major aspect of the CBN intervention projects is the Centre for Excellence, which are not merely physical structures. The CBN entered into Memoranda of Understanding with partner Universities to develop a holistic and multi-faceted scheme which includes the establishment of Centres for Excellence under which the CBN would, in the principal areas of Economics andFinance, fund the endowment of Professorial Chairs, create access for Nigerian students to participate in virtual and remote learning with foreign tertiary institutions like Harvard, Princeton, Oxford Universities, and special programs for students of Business and Economics. In this regard, the CBN is in the process of establishing Centres for Excellence across the geo-political zones of the country including:
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
· University of Nigeria, Enugu
· University of Ibadan, Ibadan
· Nigeria Defense Academy, Kaduna
· University of Lagos, Lagos
· University of Maiduguri, Borno
· University of Port Harcourt, Rivers
· University of Jos, Plateau
· Bayero University, Kano
vii. Consistent with our policy of development, upon the instruction of His Excellency, the President, the CBN intervened by paying N19.7 Billion to the Ministry of Police Affairs for the purchase of armoured helicopters and other security equipment.
viii. Also, upon the application of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the CBN paid N2.1 Billion for the automation and renovation of the Federal Executive Council Chamber. See Annexure CC.
ix. The CBN also initiated, with His Excellency, the President’s approval, the construction of the International Conference Centre for Nigeria. See Annexure DD.
x. His Excellency, the President, also requested that the CBN pay N3.2 Billion for the construction of a new counter terrorism centre for the office of the National Security Adviser.See Annexure EE.
xi. The FRCN itself is a beneficiary of the CBN’s intervention policy as the CBN paid the sum of N220 Million to the FRCN and also organised the banking sector, through the Banker’s Committee, to payN280 Million, totalling a sum of N500 Million, for the construction of the IFRS Academy. See Annexure FF.
xii. All of these requests were duly submitted to the CBN Board of Directors and were duly approved.
xiii. It is also important to emphasise that the grants under the Intervention Program were duly budgeted for, and made on a limited and selected basis.
xiv. Intervention in National Security: At the height of security uncertainties in Nigeria, the Ministry of Police Affairs petitioned His Excellency, the President, for access to the CBN Intervention Fund. His Excellency approved that this be done in his letter of 6 October 2010 referenced MPA/PSD/S/0243. See Annexure GG. The CBN Board of Directors then reviewed and approved this request. See Annexure HHfor the issuance of a grant by the CBN from the Intervention Fund to the Nigerian Police Force, for the procurement of:
o Armoured Helicopters,
o Armoured Patrol Vans,
o Anti-Riot Equipment;
o Hand held Communication Equipment.
35. Akingbola Petition &the N40 Billion Loan Waiver
Allegation 35: attached to the my letter of suspension was a petition written by the former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc (ICB now Access Bank Plc)- Erastus Akingbola (MrAkingbola), on an alleged waiver of a N40 Billion loan to a Nigerian bank.
Before responding to the allegation, it should be stated that the said MrAkingbola is a man found by a final judgment of the Courts in England to have been liable for financial improprieties in the management of the affairs of ICB.
i.In his self-serving petition, MrAkingbola alleged that the CBN, on my watch, wrote-off a loan in favour of Dr. BukolaSaraki. This is untrue.
ii. The CBN was at no time involved in the decision of ICB (or any other bank for that matter) to write-off its loans. The CBN never gave prior approval to the Management and Board of ICB to write-off any particular loan. It is important to state up-front that all the non executive directors on the Board of ICB were appointed by its shareholders while Akingbola was CEO and they were the majority on the Board that approved the write-offs.
iii. From the submissions of ICB to the CBN, the said loan write-off, involved over 1000 customers accounts, totalling N49.07 billion, including accounts held by companies related to Dr. BukolaSaraki.
iv. It is well known that decisions on loan write-offs in the process of recovering non-performing loans are taken by the management and board of banks in line with their internal credit policies. The outstanding amounts are then written off the books of banks after receiving approval of the CBN. ICB therefore only approached the CBN, after it has completed all its negotiations and agreements with its customers, to seek CBN ‘No Objection’ approval to write-off the loans. Indeed, after a careful review of the submission by ICB, the CBN initially raised objections to the justifications provided for the write-off of the debts on the accounts related to Dr. BukolaSaraki. See Annexure II.
v. In response to these objections, the Management of ICB wrote explaining the rationale for the Board decision. (This is also contained in Annexure II). It is important to note that decisions on loan write-offs involve significant exercise of judgement by those involved. Usually a number of factors come into play including whether or not the loan is secured, the value of collateral and if the bank is in a legal position to realise same, the general liquidity in the secondary market and the liquidity position of the bank itself which determines if it is negotiating from a position of strength or weakness. Ultimately, while we may debate these issues, the judgement has to be exercised by those actually managing the bank in the best interest of shareholders and the responsibility lies with them.
vi.In the case of ICB it is well known that the bank was in a grave situation as a result of years of mismanagement by Akingbola. The loans in question were largely loans secured by shares in the capital market and therefore were vulnerable to what is called Market risk. The collapse of the Nigerian capital market following the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 meant that the collateral for these loans had been totally wiped out. The losses suffered by the bank were therefore a result of very bad credit decisions taken by Mr. Akingbola himself which led to the bank taking on huge amounts of risk that crystallised. In this situation all that was left for Management was to minimise its losses and recover as much as it could before the situation got worse.
vii. With specific reference to the ICB loans to companies related to Dr Saraki, the bank’s Management explained that there were four loans totalling N9.489 billion, of which three were margin loans secured by shares and the fourth was secured by real estate. The value of the collateral underlying the Margin loans had been eroded and the bank was compelled to give waivers to make some recovery while still retaining the shares for sale at a future date. It should also be added that the real estate used to secure the non-margin loan were not perfected by the management under Mr. Akingbola, which is another indication of bad credit policies under Mr. Akingbola.
viii. There was no waiver granted to Dr Saraki on the fourth loan as it was paid in full (plus accumulated interest). Of the N9.4 billion, a total of N4.04 billion was repaid, representing a waiver of 57.42 %. Losses on Margin loans were common at this time in the entire industry. To illustrate this, when AMCON purchased margin loans from Intervened banks on December 30, 2010 it offered a premium of 60% above the average price of the shares in the preceding 60 days. In spite of these generous terms AMCON paid an average of only 24.27% of the value of margin loans purchased. Without the premium AMCON would have purchased the loans at 15.17% of their book value. This actually would suggest that the Management of ICB did get a reasonably fair deal for the bank in these circumstances. The best construction we can place on Mr Akingbola’s petition is that he is complaining that the Management that succeeded him could have done a better job of cleaning up the mess he created and left behind.
ix. As for Akingbola’s allegation of fraud, conspiracy, forgery and stealing against Dr. Saraki in connection with Joy Petroleum Ltd, the Central Bank was in the process of collaborating with law enforcement agents involved in the investigations when we received a copy of a letter written by the Honourable Attorney-General and Minister of Justice declaring that these allegations were unfounded and there was no basis in law for any criminal investigation in respect thereof. See Annexure HH. The Central Bank therefore cannot be held in any manner responsible for this decision as this was a position taken by the nation’s chief law officer.
i. It is now clear that each of the allegations made by the FRCN in the Briefing Note could easily have been resolved upon a simple request to the CBN for clarification or a little more careful review. There is no doubt that if the CBN had received the Briefing Note, which was prepared in June 2013, all the misconceptions, misrepresentations and erroneous inferences contained therein would have been cleared, and the misleading of His Excellency would have been avoided.
ii. It is now my sincere hope that, having painstakingly provided detailed explanations, backed by verifiable documents, His Excellency, Mr President will find the response satisfactory, and in line with his adherence to fairness and justice, revisit and redress the issue of my suspension.
iii. Furthermore, it is my wish that His Excellency, Mr President, will apply the same rationale and rigour to other agencies of the Federal Government that have had serious allegations and queries levied against them, and presume upon them to provide responses and explanations with the same level of clarity and transparency.
iv. In closing, I would like to place on record the dogged professionalism and patriotism of the staff of the CBN. They have, over the years, served this country creditably, loyally and diligently.
I hereby restate my enduring passion for, and commitment to, our great country Nigeria.
17 Oil Wells: We Hope Uzodinma’ll Accept S’Court Judgment In Good Faith -Wike
Being a text of a state broadcast by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on Friday, May 6, 2022 following the Supreme Court judgment on the disputed 17 oil wells between Rivers State and Imo State. Excerpts.
My dear people of Rivers State, today, 6th May 2022, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has delivered its judgment on the subsisting boundary dispute between Imo State and Rivers State over the ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oil fields.
Let us recall that following the disputed claims to the location and ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oilfields between Imo and Rivers States in 1999, the Governors, Their Excellencies, Achike Udenwa and Dr. Peter Odili respectively, worked out a political settlement and mutually settled for a 50:50 percent beneficial sharing of the derivation proceeds accruing from these wells pending the proper demarcation of the boundaries between the two States by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
While the dispute lingered, nothing was done by the NBC to demarcate the boundaries of the two States and establish the proper location and title to the disputed oil wells.
However, instead of instigating the NBC to do the right thing, Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, shortly after assuming office, repudiated the subsisting 50:50 percent sharing formula and made provocative claims to the exclusive ownership of the entire Akiri and Mbede oil wells.
In order to actualise this spurious claims, he stealthily wrote a letter dated 9th August, 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari and requested for the refund of the sum of N15, 000,000.00 (fifteen billion naira) from Rivers State to Imo State as backlog of accrued proceeds from the 13% derivation revenue of the said oil wells.
Acting on Governor Ihedioha’s letter, Mr. President warranted a letter to be written to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) through his late Chief of State, Mr. Abba Kyari, to alter the status quo in favour of Imo State without reference to the subsisting dispute and agreement between the two States.
Surprised by the surreptitious plots and collusive actions of the Government of Imo State and the NBC to overreach the legal interest of Rivers State in the disputed oil wells, the Rivers State Government opted to approach the Court for a just and lasting resolution.
Accordingly, we first applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja and among other reliefs, successfully challenged the powers and authority of Mr. President to give directives to the RMFAC and or interfere in any manner whatsoever with the distribution of public revenues from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account.
Not satisfied with the positive ruling of the Federal High Court, the Imo State Government appealed to the Court of Appeal and lost. We then proceeded against the Government of Imo State at the Supreme Court in a fresh suit for a final and conclusive determination of the boundary dispute between our two States.
In approaching the Supreme Court in this matter, we believed that the dispute between the two States and the contentious issues are such that the Court can judicially, justly and expeditiously determine with the available facts and supporting evidence, including valid administrative maps, subsisting judgments, and other relevant documents.
And so, the Supreme Court has finally and conclusively resolved the dispute and granted full and exclusive ownership of all the disputed oil wells in Akiri and Mbede oilfields, to Rivers State much to everyone’s relief.
Although Governor Hope Uzodinma was not the mastermind of the impulsive trajectory that compelled us to seek the intervention and protection of the Courts, he nevertheless participated fully in the litigation process to the end without engaging the Rivers State Government for a possible political solution.
However, his reactions to the judgments of the lower courts on this matter were clearly uncalled for.
Indeed, itwas rather unfortunate that for someone who became Governor through the instrumentality of the judiciary could turnaround to castigate the very institution that made him ruler over the good, peaceful and progressive people of Imo State.
Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, we hope Governor Hope Uzodinma will accept the outcome in good faith, refrain from his usual diatribes against the judiciary and explore possible pathways to accommodation and compromise from the Rivers State Government.
This, we may readily oblige, despite the betrayals and back-stabbing by Emeka Ihedioha, who in spite of the extensive support and goodwill he received from the Government and people of Rivers State to become Governor, led the onslaught and created a wedge between two brotherly States that have been living at peace and in friendship with each other.
We also deplore the collusive actions of the NBC, which unfortunately, has become notorious as one of the most corrupt national agency, which has functioned more in causing confusion than resolving boundary disputes.
It bears repeating that the quest to defend our ownership rights through the courts over the Akiri and Mbede oil wells was not intended to claim victory over Imo or any other State.
We are therefore open to further discussions with the Government of Imo State on the best way forward without prejudice to the outcome of today’s judgment.
We appreciate the lawyers that prosecuted and secured this landmark success for Rivers State, and for their efforts, it is my pleasure to announce the conferment of State Honours on every one of them as the Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS).
Finally, I wish to reiterate our resolve to continue to fight for, advance and protect the best interest of Rivers State at all times and under any circumstances up to the end of our Government, and we hope our successor would likewise continue in this courageous spirit and determination to make the desired positive difference for our State and our people.
Thank you and may God bless you all!
‘We Are Working To Leave Rivers Better Than We Met It’
Being a text of a statewide broadcast by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on January 1, 2022 to mark the New Year.
My dear people of Rivers State
As the clock ticks down and as we look forward to
ushering-in the New Year 2022, this is the time to give thanks to the Almighty God for his blessings and the opportunity to look into the future with greater hope and optimism.
On behalf of my wife and the government, let me thank all Rivers State citizens in particular, and Nigerians in general, for your continued love and support to our administration throughout the year 2021.
Indeed, we cannot thank you enough for the trust, the solidarity, the cooperation and above all, your prayers for the success of our government and the peace and progress of our state.
We also thank the police, the Department of State Security, the armed forces and the para military services for working round the clock to make and keep our dear state peaceful, safe and secure, not only in this festive season but throughout the outgoing year.
Indeed, there is no denying the fact that crime and criminality have been at very low rates in Rivers State and citizens felt safer and more secure in 2021 than the previous years.
With the cooperation of the security agencies, we identified and destroyed most of the shanties that hitherto served as safe havens and hideouts for criminals, who have now been dislodged and dislocated from the state having lost the space and capacity from which they could operate with ease.
To consolidate on the gains of the dislodgement and dislocation exercises, and make the state even safer and more secure, we have decided to demolish all shanties and makeshift structures in identified crime hotspots in Port Harcourt Township and the Illaobuchi areas of Diobu from the second week of January, 2022.
Those rebuilding the shanties we had demolished at Eleme or attempting to resume illegal trading activities at the closed Oginigba slaughter have one week to vacate or be arrested and charged to court.
Additionally, we have discovered that most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings in the Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRAs) and some other parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas have been hijacked and are now inhabited by criminal elements who are daily constituting menace to public safety.
We have therefore decided to end this danger by taking over all such abandoned plots and uncompleted buildings and re-allocate them to citizens who are ready to develop and put them into effective occupancy.
In a similar vein, we have revoked the certificates of occupancy of several undeveloped plots of land in old GRA, Port Harcourt, for breaching the covenants attached thereto, which we would also re-allocate to interested members of the public for immediate development as part of the ongoing efforts to restore the entire old GRA to its pristine state of development, beauty and serenity.
We will also not spare those contributing to the perennial flooding challenge in parts of Port Harcourt city and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area by blocking natural water and drainage channels with illegal landfilling, reclamation of wetlands or the construction of concrete structures.
Consequently, we shall recover and restore all landfilled or reclaimed wetlands and demolish all structures erected on natural water channels spanning from the Eastern Bypass area up to Abana and Eleme streets in Old GRA, Port Harcourt. Only those with genuine government permits and allocation papers will be duly compensated.
Again, it is important to appreciate what we have done to successfully transform our capital city, Port Harcourt, to one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria with well-paved streets, pedestrian walkways, dual carriage roads and flyovers.
However, the beauty of the city is being defaced by illegal and indiscriminate trading on our streets, under flyovers and other unauthorised open spaces as well as the challenges with the current largely inefficient refuse disposal system.
I wish to, therefore, remind citizens that the ban on street trading and commuting on motor cycles in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas is still in force.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Task Force on Illegal Street Trading to arrest and prosecute all those: (i) shuttling with their motorcycles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi Street, Hotel Presidential, GRA Junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia Street; and (ii) trading on, under and around the Rumuola Junction and flyover; Rumuogba Junction and flyover; as well as Rumuokoro Junction and flyover.
Security personnel abetting illegal street trading by collecting bribes and offering protection to street vendors are advised to desist forthwith or they would equally be made to face the wrath of the law.
Furthermore, we have decided to end the menace of cart-pushers who have become notorious for indiscriminate scavenging and littering of wastes on street corners and the medians of major roads and highways across the state.
These cart pushers and their unknown collaborators are also responsible for the recurring stealing of manhole covers, an act which endangers peoples’ lives and public safety on our roads.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on the activities of cart pushers and directs law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone who attempts to violate this ban.
In addition, a task force would be put in place to enforce this ban while we plead with the courts, in the interest of public safety and security, to impose the severest of punishment under the law on any convicted manhole vandal.
The indiscriminate and prolonged parking of trailers and other articulated vehicles along our streets is another environmental menace we must tackle to bring sanity to our cities and living environment.
Consequently, I hereby direct the chairmen of Port Harcourt City, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor, and Oyigbo local government councils to within three weeks from today impound and or remove any trailer, trucks or articulated vehicle packed on the streets beyond 48 hours in their respective administrative jurisdictions.
As we all know, achieving effective environmental sanitation in cities and urban centres is a global challenge, and ours is not an exception.
However, we are determined to improve on our refuse disposal system by reviewing, overhauling and strengthening the legal, institutional and economic framework for a more effective delivery of sanitation services to residents.
I urge that you bear with us for a while and things will certainly change for the better in our refuse disposal system.
As an initial step towards achieving this objective, we have placed an immediate ban on the disposal of refuse on the streets or open spaces in both the old and new GRAs of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas.
Every household in both old and new GRAs must therefore procure and keep approved refuse disposal bins in the front of their houses to facilitate the door-to-door collection of the wastes they generate by designated contractors.
We will not hesitate to revoke the certificate of occupancy of any house in these areas without a refuse disposal bin or whose occupants are caught disposing refuse on the streets or open spaces.
We have also banned the posting of advert materials of any kind, including posters, fliers, pictures, artworks, placards or inscriptions on or under our flyovers, bridges, concrete walls and the safety barricades along the roads.
We will establish environmental marshals to enforce compliance with our sanitation laws, including this ban, by arresting and prosecuting both the person who places the advert and the person and institution on whose behalf it is placed.
Fellow citizens, we also have reason to be concerned about the operations and socially harmful activities of nightclubs within residential areas of our state.
Apart from the noise and traffic nuisances suffered by innocent residents, no responsible government should continue to tolerate the open display and solicitation of sexual services, drug abuse and public intoxication that takes place along the streets and public areas abutting some of these nightclubs, lounges and bars by the youths, some, as young as under 14 years.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on all nightclub activities, including night-time trading and street prostitution along SaniAbacha Road and surrounding streets to stop the harmful effect of these depraved activities on the moral development of our children and society at large.
Let me also reiterate that we are as overly concerned as the public over the black soot environmental disaster that has continued to envelope Port Harcourt and upsetting residents for quite some time.
As a state government, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated.
We have equally appealed without success to our people engaging in this illegal business to consider its negative effects on our economy, environment, public safety and public health and disengage from it.
We will continue to engage and plead with the Federal Government to intervene and save our people from this serious environmental and health emergency.
However, since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the state, we have no option than to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves.
Consequently, I have directed the chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek Road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.
Furthermore, all local government chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action.
Once again, we express our sympathies to the victims of the recent fire incidences in the state, especially those who lost loved ones and valuable property.
As a government we will continue to do our best to strengthen the State Fire Service to effectively intervene to mitigate the damage during fire incidents.
However, members of the public also have the responsibility to do the right thing to prevent or avoid some of these fire incidents from happening and those who deliberately bury fuel and gas tanks in residential areas are certainly not doing the right thing, and should therefore relocate their precarious businesses to more convenient and less risky places.
We wish to also express our concern over the poor compliance with the existing COVID-19 protocols by citizens and the effect on the transmission of the disease in the state.
Believe it or not, COVID-19 is a reality that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted economic activities across the world.
Here in Rivers State the transmission of the virus continues to surge daily and we all need to act together to stop the diseases from further ravaging our state.
We, therefore, appeal to all residents to make themselves available for testing and vaccination whether it is for your first, second or booster jab in addition to observing the existing preventive protocols, including social distancing and wearing of face masks to reduce the level of transmission.
Let me also remind all government recognized traditional rulers that they are, at all times, subject to the authority and directives of the state government and not to other allegiances, culture or otherwise.
Therefore, the consistent absence of some first class traditional rulers, especially the Amanyanabo of Okrika, the Amanyanabo of Ogu, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari and the GbenemeneNyo-Khana from participating in state functions is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
Should they, therefore, continue to absent themselves from state functions or in the regular meetings and activities of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, we would have no option than to direct their immediate replacement.
Finally, as the New Year 2022 inevitably beckons, we wish to assure you that we will continue to do our best to meet the aspirations of our citizens for a more peaceful, safe and secure society throughout the Year 2022.
We will continue to pursue our objectives for a stronger and more sustainable economy centred on fiscal discipline, revenue growth, job creation, and improved standard of living for all residents.
We will continue to accelerate our development with the sustainable delivery of quality roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other socio-economic infrastructure and complete all ongoing development projects across the state.
I wish to, once again, thank our leaders, traditional rulers, elder statesmen, party chieftains, our women, our youths and the press for the warmth and support we have received throughout 2021.
We wish to specially thank our religious leaders for their prayers for peace and progress as well as for their continuous support to our government in the primary task of building the Rivers State of our collective dream.
We remain grateful to God for the unprecedented peace, security and transformational strides the state is enjoying under our administration.
But we must also be vigilant because our enemies, especially, members of the opposition, are not happy with the prevailing peace, security and the unprecedented achievements we have recorded; and are therefore determined to cause crisis and disturb our peace and joy if they have the opportunity.
Let us therefore prayerfully continue to place our dear state and everyone in the safe and protective hands of God Almighty through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I wish each and every one a happy and prosperous New Year!
May God continue to bless our dear Rivers State.
2022: FG’ll Leverage ICT Platforms To Create Jobs-Buhari
Being a text of President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast to the nation on January 1, 2022 to mark the New Year.
We remain grateful to the Almighty God for yet an
other year attained as a country, united by a common destiny and resolute in our determination to overcome the several challenges along the path to build the great and prosperous nation of our dream.
I salute the courage and resilience of all Nigerians, which was evident in 2021 as this nation, like other countries of the world, faced significant challenges that occurred as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to restore the global economy and social order.
The persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country may have threatened to unravel the incremental gains achieved in the real sectors of the economy and in the administration’s overall objective to position the nation on the irreversible trajectory of sustainable growth and progress, but I assure you that we will remain resolute in our commitments and shall continue to press ahead with our programmes and plans.
The path to nationhood is often fraught with unpredictable difficulties and challenges, and most tried and tested nations have often prevailed through dogged determination, resilience, concerted commitment to unity, and the conviction that the whole of the nation, standing together against all odds, is by far greater and would ultimately be more prosperous and viable than the sum of its distinguishable parts.
There is no doubt that the issue of Security remains at the front burner of priority areas that this administration has given utmost attention to. As a follow up to our promise to re-energize and reorganize the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police, it is on record that this Administration has invested heavily in re-equipping our military in line with upgrading the platforms and firepower required to tackle the current challenges being faced in the country.
The net results of these efforts have been the number of insurgents and bandits who have willingly surrendered to our Security Forces and continue to do so through various channels and the Safe Corridor created for that purpose.
Government, however, realises that victory on the battlefield is just one aspect of sustainable victory. We know that to fully win this war, we must also win the peace and real security lies in winning the hearts and minds of the affected citizens. To this end, working with our international partners and neighbouring countries, we would be deploying multi-faceted solutions that will be targeted at addressing human security at the grassroots, before it leads to insecurity.
Once again I would like to take a moment to remember and honour the gallant military, police officers, and other security agents who have lost their lives in the cause of protecting the territorial integrity of this nation against both internal and external aggressors, assuring their families that their sacrifices would not be in vain.
We equally remember and commiserate with Nigerians who have lost loved ones as a result of insecurity in different parts of the country. Every life matters and every single death caused by any form of insecurity is a matter of personal concern to me both as a citizen and as the President of this great country.
We remain fully committed to upholding the constitutional provisions that protect all Nigerians from any form of internal and external aggression.
On the economy, we have shown a high level of resilience to record some significant achievements despite the turbulence that has characterised our economy and indeed the global economy. The lessons we have learned and keep learning from COVID-19 have encouraged us to intensify efforts to mitigate its socio-economic effects on our nation.
The major wins we have recorded can be clearly seen in Nigeria’s most recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The 4.03% growth recorded in the third quarter of 2021 is indicative of the recovery being recorded in our economy and the confidence that is being shown through the policies that our administration has put in place after the outbreak of the pandemic.
We may also recall that this recent growth is closely followed by the 5.1% (year-on-year) growth in real terms recorded by Nigeria in Quarter 2 of 2021. This growth was one of the best recorded by any nation across Sub-Saharan Africa. The 5.1% growth at that time was and remains the highest growth recorded by the Nigerian economy since 2014.
Despite the challenges we have faced as a nation, the good news is that we have so far recorded four consecutive quarters of growth after the negative growth rates recorded in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 of 2020 due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 16, 2021, I signed the landmark Petroleum Industry Act into law. The signing of this legacy legislation is a watershed moment in the history of our nation, considering the massive positive impact the new Act would have on the economy. I would like to sincerely commend the 9th Assembly for the grit they demonstrated, succeeding where others have failed, and the cooperation that led to the completion of this process after almost two decades.
Just like I stated during the investment trips and fora that I have attended recently, the legislation is expected to serve as a liberalising force in the energy industry, and we are optimistic that this law will provide the much-needed legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the development of the energy sector, the host communities, and Nigeria as a Nation. Our objective to increase liquefied natural gas exports and expand our domestic market is still very much at the forefront of some of the policies we would be pushing in the New Year.
In year 2022 and going forward, our administration would intentionally leverage ICT platforms to create jobs, while ensuring that the diversification of our economy creates more support to other emerging sectors. I am proud to announce that several foreign investors are taking advantage of our ranking as one of the leading start-up ecosystems in Africa to invest in our digital economy.
We have given the utmost priority to fighting corruption and other related offenses which have been a bane to the growth and prosperity of our dear nation. We have made major strides and breakthroughs through the innovative use of technology and forensics in the investigative and prosecutorial procedures with commendable results to show that the anti-corruption drive of our administration is succeeding.
In the meantime, the accomplishments that have been recorded so far can be traced to the dedication of the nation’s anti-corruption agencies who have received the necessary support needed to effectively prosecute their duties.
Despite our challenges in 2021, it was also a year in which the administration executed successfully, key projects, programmes, and initiatives to fulfil the promises made under the Security, Economy Anti-corruption (SEA) agenda.
As we welcome 2022, let us, with hope; envision a year of continued progress against our combined challenges arising from security and socio-economic issues.
As it is said, the past is but a story told, the future will still be written in gold. Let us be united in our fight to keep our Nation united against all odds and with gratitude, celebrate life in this new epoch.
I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.
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