Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to beam a searchlight on the activities of the National Boundary Commission (NBC) as it now personifies corruption in Nigeria.
Wike also warned those conspiring against Rivers State in any form and manner to be ready to experience devastating downfall in life.
He made the assertion at a special thanksgiving service of Rivers State, yesterday, over the legal victory secured at the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the oil well dispute between Rivers and Imo states, held at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Port Harcourt.
Wike said, at the inception of his administration, Rivers State was dedicated to God, and has since then enjoyed his protection, including its people and natural resources.
The Rivers governor explained that the oil wells in Akri and Mgbede communities, though in dispute, awaited the proper boundary demarcation by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
“While the waiting was on, there was a political understanding between Imo State and Rivers State that Dr. Peter Odili of Rivers State and Achike Udenwa of Imo State acceded to when they were both serving as governors”.
Wike noted as regrettable and an act of greed, that former Imo State Governor, Hon Emeka Ihedioha; and the current Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma; rescinded the political arrangement of 50:50 sharing formula of the proceeds from the disputed oil wells in Akri and Mgbede communities.
“This young man (Emeka Ihedioha), just within four/five months he became a governor, went to see Mr. President. He wrote to Mr. President that Rivers State is owing Imo State N15billion, and therefore, they should take the money from Rivers State, that the oil wells we are sharing on the 50:50 formula amicably, belong to them.
“This is someone Rivers people, not Rivers State Government, supported, and spent money on. I’ve never seen a betrayal like this in my life that the former governor, Emeka Ihedioha displayed.
“Rivers people who helped him had sleepless night to make him the governor of Imo State. We did everything we could do, thinking that we were supporting a friend. All we got was a stab at the back.”
Wike informed that eventually, at the behest of President Muhammedu Buhari, the late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari wrote a letter to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC).
The letter, he said, directed for the deduction of N15billion from Rivers State and the handover of the disputed oil wells to Imo State as requested by Emeka Ihedioha.
“But because of the sharp and very focus and honest commissioner of finance that we have in Rivers State, the letter bearing the instruction to take N15billion from us, and the oil wells to be taken away from us was intercepted.
“We rushed to the Federal High Court to contest that Mr. President has no power to direct you to do this and the court agreed with us that yes Mr. President has no power to do this. That if there is anybody to do this it is the National Boundary Commission.
“Unfortunately, the most corrupt national agency is the National Boundary Commission (NBC). Corruption is personified in NBC.
“If Mr President is fighting corruption, he should leave innocent individuals and go to these agencies where corruption is personified. I’ve never seen people who believe anything they do must be for money.
“They will abandon their function and create problems between states when there is not supposed to be problems. They will not do the right work so that the states can live in harmony.”
Wike said the legal battle was pursued to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, with archival documents submitted with sound legal presentations from the 21 Senior Advocate of Nigeria on the Rivers legal term.
Eventually, Wike pointed out that there was final determination of the owner of the oil wells and where they are situated, in favour of Rivers State, despite the protesters governor Hope Uzodinma sponsored to discredit the judges.
He expressed delight over the legal victory secured and reclaiming of Rivers assets that will further provide needed financial resource to his successor to use in developing the state.
“But we had hope in God. If God says it is for Rivers, there is nothing anybody can do about it. But I wondered why it should be in my time that Rivers asset will be taken away. Politicians will come and say, it was in his time that Rivers State lost these oil well.
“And so, you may see how in my mind I am over happy, that I am leaving and not leaving liability behind for the state and my successor.”
Wike said the Government of Rivers State is open to dialogue with elders of Imo State on the issue of the oil wells which the apex court had declared belongs to the state.
In his sermon, the Bishop of Niger Delta North in the Anglican Province of Niger Delta, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Budu Ihunwo, thanked God for granting Rivers State victory at the Supreme Court.
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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