Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has explained that concerned stakeholders fought for the change of the immediate past national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because they wanted to reposition the party to win the presidency in 2023.
He said that such change of leadership at the national level was also to avert a situation of doom for the party.
Speaking at the flag-off of the Oyigbo-Okoloma Road in Oyigbo Local Government Area, last Wednesday, by the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the governor said that the party now has credible leadership in place to rescue Nigeria from the All Progressives Congress (APC) bad governance.
He, therefore, urged Ayu to brace up to the task ahead of him and capitalise on the opportunity he has to effect positive change in the party and return PDP back to the presidency.
The governor said that Rivers people have no other party than the PDP, which was why they would not allow it to die.
According to him, Rivers was among few states in the country that denied the All Progressives Congress (APC) 25percent of vote spread during the 2015 and 2019 general elections.
On the issue of his successor, the governor told party faithful currently doing consultations over who becomes the next governor of Rivers State, not to extend the consultation to the PDP national chairman or the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP.
“There is calm in my state about those who want to be governor. What I have told them is to go and do your consultation, but nobody should go and consult the national chairman, nobody should consult NWC. Do your consultation here because it is the people here that will vote.”
Speaking about the Oyigbo-Okoloma Road project, Wike said it was a federal road that connects neighbouring states like Abia, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, but was allowed to fail completely.
He disclosed that a company that won the bid for Afam Power Station came by to indicate interest to partner with the Rivers State Government for the reconstruction of the road.
According to him, after it was agreed that the company would bear a percentage of the cost, they disappeared.
Wike said Rivers people have taken their destiny in their hands, adding that with 40percent paid already to the contractor, Lubrik Construction Company, the road would be done to end the sufferings of the Oyigbo people and those who use the road.
In his remarks, the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu commended Wike and PDP governors for spreading development to every nook and cranny of their states.
He said while the APC-controlled government was busy borrowing money from foreign creditors and increasing the debt burden on Nigeria, PDP governors were visible and delivering dividends of democracy.
Ayu berated APC governors, particularly one of them, who he said has abandoned his governorship responsibilities in his state to reside in Abuja, to do party chairmanship job.
Worst still, he said, another one hid N19billion in the bank instead of providing development to his people.
“I’m not only proud of the governor of Rivers, I’m proud of PDP governors. Every PDP governor with the resource base of the state has been trying very hard to make sure that the people get the dividends of democracy.
“The other party, the governors take power as a joke. How on earth can a governor leave his state and become a party chairman and live in Abuja without making any effort to develop his state. I believe such action does not take into recognition the people who laboured to elect such a governor.
“How can a governor of a state take N19billion, and go and hide in a bank account, in a state where he has not paid salaries. He has not been able to do any positive development projects like hospital, road construction or anything. No PDP governor has hidden N19billion in his account, the little they get, they are busy making efforts to develop their areas”, he said.
Ayu also said that his leadership would ensure that they increase the number of states controlled by the PDP, produce majority membership of the National Assembly, and clinch the presidency in 2023.
“The Peoples Democratic Party is prepared to expand its base not only in control of states, but in control of the National Assembly, and ultimately also, the return to the Villa in Abuja where we shall put a president of PDP extraction.”
The national chairman assured party faithful that the PDP under his watch would allow internal democracy to flourish.
He said that only names of candidates who emerge through a democratic process would be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“We believe that the will of the people must prevail. Any state that democratically elects anybody and the list is forwarded to us; it is that list that will go to INEC. Nobody’s list is going to be altered. Anybody in the party’s headquarters who attempts that and it comes to our knowledge as National Working Committee, will leave party headquarters”, he said.
Giving details of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi said the Oyigbo-Okoloma Road is 19.4km long, 10.3m wide; has 24km of drains, and will be completed in 12 months.
According to him, it would undoubtedly save the people a lot of money spent in repairs of their vehicles as a result of hastened wear and tear, and promote socio-economic opportunities in the area.
World Bank To Fund $30bn Projects In Nigeria, Others
The World Bank has said it is set to disburse a total of $30billion to fund existing and new projects in Nigeria and other countries as part of a global response to combat the ongoing food security crisis.
According to the bank, it is working with countries on a $12billion new projects fund for the next 15 months.
It said the projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects.
It added that most of the funds would go to Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.
The global bank disclosed this when it announced how it plans to be part of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing food security crisis.
It stated that it intends to roll out this fund in existing and new projects in agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.
It said, “This financing will include efforts to encourage food and fertiliser production, enhance food systems, facilitate greater trade, and support vulnerable households and producers.”
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said, “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”
The bank added that its current existing portfolio includes balances of $18.7billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.
It stated, “Altogether, this would amount to over $30billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”
FG Postpones FAAC Meeting Over AGF’s N80bn Probe
The Federal Government has announced the postponement of May, 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The sudden postponement may not be unconnected with the ongoing investigation of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged fraud to the tune of N80billion.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly meeting where the federation allocates monthly revenue among the three tiers of government.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled to hold virtually between May 18 and 19, 2022.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said this in a letter signed by Director, Home Finance,Stephen Okon.
The ministry said the meeting was postponed due to “certain circumstances.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federation Account/Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings earlier scheduled to hold/virtually on the 18th and 19th May, 2022 have been postponed due to/certain circumstances,” the circular reads.
“In view of the foregoing, I am to further inform you that the new date for the meetings will be forwarded to you in due course.
“While we regret the inconveniences this change might cause you, please accept the assurances of the Minister’s warm regards,” the letter read in part.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Monday arrested and detained Idris over an alleged N80billion fraud.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced indefinite suspension of Idris, last Wednesday.
Ahmed said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.
Nigerian Out-Of-School Children Hit 18.5m
Nigeria has 18.5million out-of-school children (OSC), the highest number in the world, and out of the figure, 10million are girls, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on ‘Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP 3’, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and implemented by UNICEF.
“For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country. Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), said 50per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture”Farah said.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamid Bobboyi, said this in Abuja at a one-day civil society organisations’ CSO-Legislative Roundtable Meeting where some National and State Houses of Assembly members were present.
According to him, emerging constraints in basic education delivery in the country may necessitate an increase in the consolidated revenue funds from the current two per cent to four per cent.
He buttressed his position for an increase in funding on the security challenges bedevilling the country, insisting that rising student population also poses urgent need for teaching facilities.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Basic Education, represented by Senator Frank Ibezim, decried the failure of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), to sustain some UBEC-initiated projects such as classrooms and libraries earlier introduced by the commission in all constituencies in the country.
While commending UBEC over the construction of classrooms in schools across the country, he lamented the poor maintenance culture, noting that there is no school in the country that does not have a dilapidated block.
A representative of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaoye, called on stakeholders to review the impact of the country’s annual budget on education, stressing that it was not enough that the country is increasing its budget to the sector.
“As we think about reforms, let us think beyond buildings that have been delivered, let us start thinking about how many children have been brought to school,” he said.
“If classrooms are dilapidated, and there are not enough furniture, what about teachers and the quality of the ones available? The Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said there are over 300,000 unqualified teachers in the system.
“Education is very important to be left in the hands of quacks and that is why at TRCN, we are stepping up efforts at ridding the system of unqualified hands. We implore teachers and their employers to take advantage of the various windows TRCN is providing to improve the quality of teachers in the country so as to get better results from our education system,” he said.
For the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Mike Ene, there is need for better funding of the education sector.
He noted that in many states, teachers are overwhelmed by the number of pupils and students they handle.
“In so many states, there is inadequacy of teachers. Some states have not recruited teachers in the last 10 years and yearly, teachers are leaving the system through retirement, resignation or even death. Worse hit by poor staffing are schools in the rural areas. Such schools are called hard-to-staff schools.”
It is in that regard that the welfare packages announced by the Federal Government are very much necessary,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some state governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.
“Some states are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.
“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.
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