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$1bn ECA Withdrawal: FG Siphoning Funds With Terrorism War -PDP – Wike Demands Special Fund For N’Delta – As ADP Calls For Account Of N50bn NNPC Fund

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the Federal Government is using the war against terror as a pretext to siphon funds.
The allegation is coming at the heels of the $1billion which state governors have authorised the government to take from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) belonging to all tiers of government.
In a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbodiyan in Abuja yesterday, the PDP said government’s criticism against the PDP is an attempt to divert attention from the sleave going on under the present administration and its moves to use the fight against terrorism as a conduit to siphon public funds for partisan purposes.
The PDP challenged the government to address the issues it had raised particularly the withdrawal from the ECA fund rather than making unsubstantiated allegations against the former ruling party.
The statement read: “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as inexcusable, moves by the APC Federal Government to divert attention from its attempt to pilfer $1b from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to finance partisan activities.
The PDP, which insisted that the Federal Government must address the issue, noted that “the attempt by the APC Federal Government to divert attention from the fraud, by resorting to unsubstantiated allegations against the PDP only reinforces its manipulative tendencies and arrogant spurn to the sensibilities of Nigerians.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan in a statement yesterday also challenged the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to substantiate his claims that the PDP was rebranding with stolen money. Ologbondiyan said ‘such wild allegation was only intended to divert public attention from the heavy sleazes under the current administration, the latest being the moves to use the fight against terrorism as a conduit to siphon public funds for partisan purposes.
“The Federal Government has failed to address issues raised by the PDP and majority of Nigerians, including APC members, who can not fathom how this administration would want to expend N365bn on fighting insurgents it claimed had been technically defeated.
“It is indeed appalling that rather than being remorseful, the APC Federal Government has renewed its wild allegations and cheap blackmail against the PDP.
“It is a clear to all that the PDP do not have access to public funds and cannot be rebranding with stolen money. Instead, we are rebranding on the grace of the general goodwill of Nigerians who have suffered untold hardships in close to three years of APC government.
“While we understand the nervousness of the APC Federal Government over our rebranding and the renewed popularity of the PDP, which has signaled their inevitable death knell, resorting to outlandish allegations will not help them as Nigerians have since seen through such old-fashioned propaganda and gimmicks.
“We are however not surprised by this diversionary and deceptive approach from the APC government; a government whose officials have since become notorious for dishing out falsehood to Nigerians to cover their incompetence and corrupt tendencies.
“This is the same minister of information, who in a press in conference in Abuja, in 2016, promoted allegations that 55 people stole a total of N1.34 trillion; that 5 former governors stole N146.8 billion; that 4 former ministers stole N7 billion. All these have remained unsubstantiated.
“While we challenge this Government to come clean on the issue of the $1bn Excess Crude money, we also challenge the minister of information to comment on allegations that the APC funded its 2015 presidential campaign with stolen public funds, particularly from Lagos and Rivers states.
“He should also waste no time in commenting on allegations of corruption against their former SGF, Babachir Lawal, the Mainagate and other heavy sleazes going on unabated under the current APC-led administration.”
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that the APC-Federal Government must as a matter of urgency release funds for tackling issues of environmental degradation and security in the Niger Delta.
Governor Wike said while he would not condemn the release of $1billion to tackle Boko Haram, the environmental and security challenges in the Niger Delta far outweigh the Boko Haram conflict.
The governor spoke during the Annual General Meeting of Okpo Club of Nigeria (Association of Ikwerre Lawyers) yesterday in Port Harcourt.
He requested the APC, Federal Government to release the derivation component of the Excess Crude to the oil producing states of the Niger Delta.
He said: “Niger Delta environmental problems are as serious as the Boko Haram Insurgency. I am not saying that you should not fight Boko Haram.
“If you can get funds from the national pool to tackle Boko Haram, then you should go to the pool to get funds to fight environmental problems in Ogoni and other Niger Delta communities.”
Commenting on politics in Rivers State, Governor Wike urged all ethnic nationalities to work together to fast track development in the state.
He said no ethnic nationality in the state could succeed without others, hence the need for greater cooperation at all levels.
The governor also called on the people of the state to always work for relevance in the political terrain of the country so that the state could attract development.
Former NBA President , Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN), commended Governor Wike for his commitment to the development of the state.
He assured him of the support of Ikwerre lawyers as he worked for the people of Rivers State.
Chairman of Okpo Club of Nigeria, Mr Chukwuma Chinwo said the club would continue to mobilise Ikwerre lawyers for the development of the area.
Former Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia said the Association of Ikwerre Lawyers had grown over the years to become a catalyst for development.
Highpoint of the occasion was the celebration of the birthday of the Rivers State governor by members of the Association of Ikwerre lawyers.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari, has reacted to Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, criticism of $1 billion approved by the forum to aid the fight of insurgency in the north east.
He said contrary to Fayose’s reaction it was endorsed by all the governors present because they saw reason, adding that if the Ekiti Governor was present at the meeting, he would have seen the wisdom in the decision.
Fayose, had alleged that the $1 billion to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account, and ploughed into the battle with insurgency is a ruse, but money that would rather go for President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaigns for 2019 presidential election.
Fayose in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said: “Since they said they have defeated Boko Haram, what else do they need a whopping sum of $1 billion (over N360 billion) for, if not to fund the 2019 elections? For posterity’s sake, I wish to place it on record that I was not among the governors who approved the withdrawal of almost half of our savings in the Excess Crude Account, which belongs to the three tiers of government to fight an already defeated insurgency,” he declared.
Governor Yari Abubakar said that the issue of drawing from the ECA was very broadly deliberated at the Forum’s meeting on the eve of the National Economic Council meeting where the decision was taken. “If Governor Fayose was there at the meeting, he would have seen the wisdom in the decision. Yes, the administration is claiming to have decimated the insurgents out of Sambisa Forest but they are reemerging in different flashpoints across the country. They need to be tackled wherever they are and the NGF decided to support the Presidency just as it (The Presidency) had been supporting states with their own problems,” Governor Yari Abubakar argued.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum who spoke on the phone from Zamfara even contemplates addressing a world press conference on the matter to clear the air, and show how seriously we cherish human lives.
“Governor Fayose is on his own. We have to protect our people and we have to do it with everything we have,” Governor AbdulAziz Yari Abubakar emphasized, adding that “let me reemphasize one more thing, Mr President is a responsible and honest leader who does not believe in money politics and he would never divert public resources into it.”
In the same vein, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has also thrown its weight behind the governors’ decision to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East region. The APC-led federal government and the governors who had come under severe attacks from the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, has in a text message from the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said that the ruling party solidly backs the governors’ decision.
Obviously replying to a text message on the 2019 hidden intent of the fund, the party’s spokesperson said: “The governors have responded. I don’t have anything to add.”
Similarly, the ADP said its attention has been drawn to yet another large-scale corruption being orchestrated by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government where a whopping sum of N50billion has been discovered in secret accounts contrary to the idea behind the TSA, that all monies generated by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) be remitted into the account.
In a statement signed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Prince Adelaja Adeoye, the ADP lamented that it took the intervention of an ad-hoc committee of the National Assembly chaired by Hon. Abubakar Danburam-Nuhu from Kano State to discover this huge fraud allegedly approved by the president.
“We have gathered that this directive was implemented by the NNPC GMD, Mr. Maikanti Baru, to have some commercial banks keep money generate from oil revenue accounts outside the TSA. This is in breach of the TSA policy, which provides that all revenues from Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government should be transferred to the TSA.
“The said approval was a memo written by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari, authorizing the NNPC to exclude the said sum from the TSA. Our party is shocked by this unbelievable development.
“Nigerians will recall that the same president moved against our tertiary institutions, ordering them to comply strictly with the TSA policy. We are yet to rationalize the reason for this exclusion or would it be safe to say that the president and his party have started stacking funds to be used for the 2019 general elections?
“We are demanding that President Buhari explain to Nigerians why he gave such an order and for what purpose. It is again shocking that the president repeatedly disregard rules whenever it pleases him, it must be said that a distortion of processes is a serious aspect of corruption.
“The TSA was created to mitigate revenue leakages, but we wonder where all the noise of fighting corruption is coming from, when the evidence points to the contrary. We have also not forgotten the fact that several members of the president’s cabinet such as Babachir Lawal and others are still walking free despite the allegations of corruption running into hundreds of millions still hanging on their necks.
“It is safe to say that President Buhari himself is the supervisor of corruption because his cabinet members and appointees cannot be carrying out these large scale corrupt activities without his knowledge as he has refused to act in the cases of those caught in the act. It is said that birds of a feather flock together.
“Since President Buhari came on board in 2015, Nigeria has not fared better; corruption, hunger, poverty and death have been the hallmark of his maladministration. His continuous failure to transform the economy into a growing one has made Nigeria slide down to becoming the world’s headquarters of poverty and corruption.
“Thousands of Nigerians are falling into the poverty bracket in an alarming rate.
“The ADP as a credible alternative is a party guided by social democratic principles and we will work hard with all stakeholders to continue to hold this government accountable while we make preparations to take over in 2019 so as to make life easy and better for all Nigerians,” the statement added.

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Catholic Bishops Vow To Work For Credible Polls In 2023

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Bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja have pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, credible and transparent general elections in 2023.
The commitment is contained in a communiqué jointly signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja and Very Rev. Fr. Sam Tumba, after the 3rd General assembly of the Archdiocese.
In the communique issued on Saturday in Abuja, the bishops enjoined Parishes, families, Church societies and groups to dedicate special moments to pray for a hitch-free election.
“We call on Catholics and indeed all Nigerian citizens to be consciously and actively involved in the electoral processes at all levels.
“Voter registration, collection of Permanent Voters Card, casting votes on election days with a firm and clear conscience to elect credible leaders who will bring about the true dividends of democracy”, they said.
The bishops commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Act into law to enhance the sanctity of the electoral process.
“We task the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure political fairness and transparency, to consolidate the trust reposed in them by Nigerians.
“Parishes and Catholic institutions within our Archdiocese are encouraged to arrange and organize voter awareness programmes, seminars and workshops guided by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission, to better equip our people for greater political responsibility.
“We remain open and willing to collaborate with relevant government agencies, electoral bodies and security operatives to ensure peaceful and credible election processes in the coming year,” the communique added.
The bishops cautioned politicians not to regard the election as a ‘do or die’ affair, adding that they must also refrain from money politics, manipulative and divisive practices along ethnic, social and religious lines to win elections.
“Even though we decry the hard economic situations in the nation, we strongly discourage all Catholics and especially our youths from lending themselves as easy recruits for political thuggery and other criminal activities to enthrone selfish and incompetent aspirants into electoral offices.
“We discourage and condemn any form of vote buying or selling and other electoral malpractices during the elections,” the bishops said.
The bishops advised catholic politicians from all political parties within the Archdiocese to participate in Church activities, so as to be better known by the faithful.
They called on all people of goodwill to cooperate with security agencies to root out criminal elements within communities.
The bishops, however, urged security agents to remain professional in discharging their duties and resist any attempt to be used to intimidate the people by corrupt politicians.
The communique called on Catholics across the country to match work with prayer, for peaceful electioneering process.
They called for sustained prayers for the country, adding: “Nigerians should take courage and be of ardent hope, for the storms will soon be over.”

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Take 2023 Elections Seriously, Wike Tasks Rivers People

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The Rivers State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians to take the upcoming 2023 General Election seriously by securing their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and using it wisely and prayerfully.
Wike stated this during the Inter-Denominational Church Service in commemoration of the 62nd Independence Day Anniversary of Nigeria, at St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Diobu in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said he believes God would use the 2023 elections to grant the pleas of Nigerians for a rebirth of a new nation.
“Nigeria must rise again, it must fulfil its divine purpose for which God has put it together, Nigeria has a prophetic agenda, whether the devil likes it or not. We must have the confidence that our votes will count and that we will use our votes to bring in the leaders after the heart of God”, the governor said.
Wike said under his watch, the state government has been resolute and consistent in providing the dividends of democracy to the people living and doing business in the state.
“We have seen it, in the massive improvement in security.We have seen it in social and physical infrastructure.What will you say, when public tertiary institutions have been on strike for the past seven months, and some of the students are being killed, some are roaming about, some are going into crime, while others are abusing drugs and going mental, but in Rivers State, all the state institutions are functioning none-stop, and salaries are paid as at when due and lecturers are teaching the way they should”, Wike further stressed.
The state chief executive expressed gratitude to the Almighty God for the 62nd Independence anniversary of the country and for keeping the nation as one in spite of all the security and economic challenges, adding that “God in His infinite mercy has kept us together as a people, what seems impossible with men, is possible with God”.
In his sermon drawn from Matthew Chapter 7: 7-12, Bishop Diocese of Niger Delta North,St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Diobu, Port Harcourt, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo, said “if Nigeria must go forward, we must obey the golden rule”.
He said,”We must not give up on Nigeria; no matter the challenges, God would make the nation great again, but it behooves on us to pray and do the right things at all times”.
A schedule of activities released by the state government shows that on Friday, September 30, 2022, a Jumma’at Prayer would be held at the JIBWIS Directorate Headquarters, Central Mosque, 36 Bonny Street, Port Harcourt Township, at 1:00pm.
According to the programme, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Bureau, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Sir George Nwaeke, the grand finale would hold on Saturday, October 1, 2022, with a parade ceremony/march-past at Sharks Football Stadium, Port Harcourt by 10:00am.
The statement said that the state Governor, Chief NyesomWike, would preside over the activities at the grand finale on Saturday.

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Buhari Launches INFF In New York

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President Muhammadu Buhari has restated the commitment of his administration to the achievement of inclusive, broad-based and sustainable development.
The President spoke while delivering his keynote address at strategic High Level Event held on the sidelines of the 77th session of United Nations General Assembly in New York to launch Nigeria’s Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) for Sustainable Development.
The President noted that Nigeria adopted the INFF as a tool to improve the financing of SDGs without increasing public debt and contingent liabilities to levels that will be detrimental to economic sustainability.
He commended the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals; and the United Nation Development Programme for working together to develop Nigeria’s INFF in a process which started in 2020.
“Today’s event marks the end of a long process which began in 2020, when the Steering Committee and the Core Working Group on Nigeria’s Integrated National Financing Framework were inaugurated.
“The Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) has been developed to map out a much-needed sustainable financing plan for Nigeria to deliver on our commitment to the SDGs and our National Development aspirations,” the President said.
He further noted that as part of its commitment to sustainable and inclusive development, his administration aligned its 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP); the 2020 Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP); the 2021 National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS); and the 2021-2025 National Development Plan (NDP) with the SDGs.
“It is in line with this commitment and with a focus on the National Development Plan (2021-2025) that, the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has adopted the INFF as a tool to improve SDGs financing without increasing public debt and contingent liabilities to levels that will be detrimental to economic sustainability.
“The INFF is backed by Nigeria’s Medium-Term Revenue Strategy and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. As Nigeria champions the INFF process, we hope to promote the strategic alignment of financial policies with sustainable development and provide the enabling conditions for domestic and international, public, and private financial actors to best respond to our national needs.
“I urge all Nigerians, the international community, and our development partners to recognize the importance of this integrated approach to financing development, as you continue to count on my leadership in its immediate implementation,” the President said.
Speaking earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs,Princess AdejokeOrelope-Adefulire, described the launch of the INFF report as a significant milestone in the commitment and efforts to achieve the SDGs in Nigeria.
She noted that the INFF is in line with Nigeria’s strategic approach to the implementation of the SDGs working at the National and Sub-national levels.
“At the National level, we work closely with the Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to integrate the SDGs into their sectorial policies and plans. At the Sub-national level, we are working closely with the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to mainstream the SDGs into their medium and long-term development policies and plans”.
She noted that her office, with the support of UNDP, has supported 16 states to develop SDG-Based Development Plans as part of Nigeria’s Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) for the agenda.
The INFF report, she added, was also another feat recorded by the country in the bid to institutionalize the SDGs, noting Nigeria was the first country in the Global South to have successfully completed a country-led Independent Evaluation of SDG-3 on ‘quality health and well-being for all’ and SDG-4 on ‘qualitative and inclusive education and lifelong learning for all’.
The two reports, she said, were officially launched on the 25th of August, 2022.
The presidential adviser noted that on the 21st of December, 2021, Nigeria became the first African country to successfully realigned its National Statistical System with the requirements and indicators of the SDGs, hence the country will be now be able to track progress on the 230 Key Performance Indicators of the agenda on annual basis through the National Bureau of Statistics.
Orelope-Adefulire further noted that in 2019, Nigeria successfully domesticated the Integrated Sustainable Development Goals Simulation Model (iSDG Model) as a home-grown analytical tool for evidence-based SDGs policymaking and planning with the report launched on the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly by the President.
“The Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) Report we are about to launch today is a product of series of efforts led by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Nigeria is now among the INFF Pilot Countries that have made significant progress by completing the design process. Indeed, this is an expression of Nigeria’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
She expressed appreciation and profound gratitude to the President for accepting to launch the report as well as all the Institutional Members of the National Steering Committee and the Core Working Group on Nigeria’s INFF for the commitment demonstrated during the design phase.
“We look forward to similar commitment during the implementation phase,” Orelope –Adefulire said while affirming the commitment of her office to continue to drive the process of achieving the SDGs in Nigeria.
“I would like to conclude by re-affirming Nigeria’s commitment to the successful implementation of the SDGs. We look forward to working more closely with you all in this ‘Decade of Action’ for the Global Goals, so that no ‘One is left behind’.”
In his remark, Head/Sustainable Development, Minister Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the UN, Axel Maisonneuve, said EU had also support the mobilisation of capital for an inclusive and sustainable transition, which is at the heart of an INFF, in several ways.
“For instance, we know that whilst public finance of course has a key role to play, it will not be sufficient to bridge the SDG financing gap, and private finance needs to be mobilised as well.
“In the EU, we believe in fact that sustainable finance is critical to enable private financial flows being channelled towards sustainable investments.
“The EU’s Green Deal and the Global Gateway strategies are some of the key examples of the EU efforts in this direction. Indeed, sustainable finance is part and parcel of an INFF,’’ he said.
According to him, private finance is very much part of Nigeria’s Integrated National Financing Framework.
Maisonneuve said the INFF was designed to help the Nigerian government explore innovative financing options linking government with private sector and development partners to increase public revenue and private investments.
“Let me take this opportunity to praise Nigeria for the efforts undertaken toward the achievement of the 2030 agenda and the SDGs and for the key milestone that you have achieved.
“In September 2019, 16 countries committed to pioneer the development and implementation of INFFs, and Nigeria was among them.
“Now, Nigeria has successfully designed its INFF Strategy, and is offering a leading example for INFF progress toward a more systematic, holistic approach to achieve sustainable development objectives,’’ he said.
Goodwill messages were delivered by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, and development partners.

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