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PANDEF Petitions Buhari Over PAP

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The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) leadership and membership have written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to express their grave concerns about the future of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and to warn of potential threats to the country’s peace, stability, economic prosperity, and Niger Delta region’s development.
They described as quite disturbing recent happenings and media reports, regarding the possible termination of the programme, possibly before the end of the administration, and the vile silence of his government on the matter.
In the letter signed by National Leader, Edwin Clark, and 34 others, titled: “Our Concerns On The Future Of The Presidential Amnesty Programme” they noted that although news reports, within the last 48 hours, stated that “the Federal Government has rescinded the plan to terminate the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP)”, but the rumours of the winding up of the programme and the alleged delisting of about 3,000 beneficiaries have already sparked anxiety in the Niger Delta.
The letter read in parts: “We recall that similar speculations were strewn in 2020, before the appointment of Col. Milliard Dixon Dikio (rtd) as interim administrator of the programme, in August of that year.
“PANDEF issued strong statements and warned against the plan, at the time.
“Mr. President, these ‘underhand’ tactics, marked by secrecy and chicanery, are improper and unthoughtful of the realities in the region. They are also, definitely, not in the best interest of the peace and stability of the Niger Delta region, and the friable economic situation of the country.
“It is insidious for government, at any level, to take critical decisions, capable of impacting negatively on the peace and stability of the society, merely on solipsistic references, without proper situational awareness, and due consideration of the ramifications.
“We had discussed these concerns at our extraordinary meeting held on Thursday, October 20, 2022, and reflected the same in the communiqué therefrom.
“PANDEF cautions the Federal Ggovernment against any ill-advised plan to terminate the Presidential Amnesty Programme given the rumours that the government is scheduling to wind up the programme before the end of the Buhari administration;
“The meeting further warns that considerations that the Presidential Amnesty Programme could be scrapped due to a pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a private firm, are not only illogical but unacceptable.
“Notes that the Amnesty Programme was an intervention to promote peace and stability in the Niger Delta; thus, any attempt to prematurely end the programme would be detrimental to the peace and stability of the Niger Delta.
“Going forward, the Amnesty Programme should be extended to include the full re-integration of all beneficiaries.”
Continuing, PANDEF reminded Buhari the circumstances that led to the proclamation of the Presidential Amnesty by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on June 25, 2009.
“We remember that, upon the willful surrender and handing over of arms and ammunition, and the execution of the renunciation of militancy by the youths, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, on October 9, 2009, met with governors and other critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, including the ex-militant leaders and committed to the terms of the amnesty.
“The objective of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), which has been described by experts as a “masterpiece” peace and security strategy by the Federal Government of Nigeria, is to mitigate youth restiveness as well as stabilise, consolidate and sustain security conditions in the Niger Delta region; and allow for socioeconomic and infrastructural development.
“And, like all other DDR programmes, globally, the Presidential Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta ex-agitators was also designed to encourage trust and confidence, and deal with the root causes of conflict. With the ultimate aim to prevent return to violent conflicts in the Niger Delta, and indeed make peace irreversible.
“Sadly, recent developments around the programme are eroding the trust and confidence that have been gained over the past years.
“While we are not unaware of the fact that the programme was conceived and designed to last for a specific period, it is important to underscore that existing realities make thoughts of ending the programme unrealistic. Given that several of the already demobilized ex-agitators are still undergoing different forms of training in institutions within and outside the country.
“Appreciably, the programme has met the Disarmament and Demobilisation (DD) aspects of the DDR, but the reintegration phase of programme has not yet been achieved, and therefore, should be allowed to continue.
“Besides, Your Excellency, little or nothing, has been done about the other major components of the amnesty protocol to buffer the situations that resulted in the conflict, like infrastructural development on a coordinated and transformative scale, including the completion of the East-West Road; and the implementation of deliberate policies to escalate economic development in the region as well as issues of environmental remediation and ecological restoration.
“Consequently, any unguided and hasty termination or alteration of the Programme would be an act of bad fate and a threat to the ‘fragile peace’ in the region. The feedback we are getting is that the youths are angry!
“It is better to adequately manage the peace achieved, so far, by the amnesty programme than to allow detrimental infractions.
“To say the least, it is very unfair that whereas other intervention programmes such as the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), continue with their training activities, which, majorly favour beneficiaries from the North while candidates from the South are relegated, the government is tinkering with the Presidential Amnesty Programme. This is the height of injustice and avoidable provocation on the people of the Niger Delta.
“It is even more disturbing that these irksome tendencies are being contemplated at the twilight of your administration. It is impossible to speculate that Mr. President desires to hand over a crisis-ridden Niger Delta to his successor.
“We urge that you tread with caution on issues concerning the Niger Delta region. It will suffice to footnote that no single individual or effort can sustain peace in the Niger Delta!”
PANDEF demanded a categorical statement from the Presidency “substantiating the status of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, to douse the brewing tension in the region.
“Halt the unilateral delisting of beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the immediate reinstatement of youths purportedly delisted.
“Mr. President should, as a matter of necessity, urgently convene a meeting with critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, including the governors, elders, and Leaders as well as the ex-militant leaders, for consultation and input, on a realistic, practicable and acceptable schedule for the Presidential Amnesty Programme and other related issues. Just as President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did before the commencement of the amnesty programme.
“Appoint a substantive coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme to end the ‘Interim’ phenomenon that has characterized agencies of the Federal Government with direct bearing on the Niger Delta.”

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Tinubu Lauds Dangote’s Diesel Price Cut, Foresees Economic Relief

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President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, applauded Dangote Oil and Gas Limited for reducing the price of Automotive Gas Oil, also known as diesel, from N1,650 to N1,000 per litre.
The Dangote Group recently reviewed downwards the gantry price of AGO from N1,650 to N1,000 per litre for a minimum of one million litres of the product, as well as providing a discount of N30 per litre for an offtake of five million litres and above
Tinubu described the move as an “enterprising feat” and said, “The price review represents a 60 per cent drop, which will, in no small measure, impact the prices of sundry goods and services.”
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu affirmed that Nigerians and domestic businesses are the nation’s surest transport and security to economic prosperity.
The statement is titled ‘President Tinubu commends Dangote Group over new gantry price of diesel.’
Tinubu also noted the Federal Government’s 20 per cent stake in Dangote Refinery, saying such partnerships between public and private entities are essential to advancing the country’s overall well-being.
Therefore, he called on Nigerians and businesses to, at this time, put the nation in priority gear while assuring them of a conducive, safe, and secure environment to thrive.
This statement comes precisely a week after Dangote met President Tinubu in Lagos, where he said Nigerians should expect a drop in inflation given the cut in diesel pump prices.
“In our refinery, we have started selling diesel at about ¦ 1,200 for ¦ 1,650 and I’m sure as we go along…this can help to bring inflation down immediately,” Dangote told journalists after he paid homage to President Bola Tinubu at the latter’s residence to mark Eid-el-Fitr.
The businessman said his petroleum refinery had been selling diesel at N1,200 per litre, compared to the previous price of N1,650–N1,700.
He expressed hopes that Nigeria’s economy will improve, as the naira has made some gains in the foreign exchange market, dropping from N1,900/$ to the current level of N1,250 – N1,300.
Dangote said this rise in value has sparked a gradual drop in the price of locally-produced goods, such as flour, as businesses are paying less for diesel. Therefore, he asserted that the reduced fuel costs would drive down inflation in the coming months.
“I believe that we are on the right track. I believe Nigerians have been patient and I also believe that a lot of goodies will now come through.
“There’s quite a lot of improvement because, if you look at it, one of the major issues that we’ve had was the naira devaluation that has gone very aggressively up to about ¦ 1,900.
“But right now, we’re back to almost ¦ 1,250, ¦ 1,300, which is a good reprieve. Quite a lot of commodities went up.
“When you go to the market, for example, something that we produce locally, like flour, people will charge you more. Why? Because they’re paying very high prices on diesel,” he explained.
He argued that the reduced diesel price would have “a lot of impact” on local businesses.
“Going forward, even though the crude prices are going up, I believe people will not get it much higher than what it is today, N1,200.
“It might be even a little bit lower, but that can help quite a lot because if you are transporting locally-produced goods and you were paying N1,650, now you are spending two-thirds of that amount, N1,200. It’s a lot of difference. People don’t know.
“This can help bring inflation down immediately. And I’m sure when the inflation figures are out for the next month, you’ll see that there’s quite a lot of improvement in the inflation rate, one step at a time. And I’m sure the government is working around the clock to ensure things get much better,” Dangote added.
He also urged captains of industry to partner with the government to improve the lives of citizens.
“You can’t clap with one hand,” said the businessman, adding, “So, both the entrepreneurs and the government need to clap together and make sure that it is in the best interest of everybody.”

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Court Halts Amaewhule-Led Assembly From Extending LG Officials’ Tenure

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The Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has issued an interim injunction directing the maintenance of status quo ante belum following the move by the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly in Rivers State to extend the tenure of the elected local government councils’ officials.
The Amaewhule-led Assembly, which is loyal to the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had amended the Local Government Law Number 5 of 2018 and other related matters.
Amaewhule, explained that the amendments of Section 9(2), (3) and (4)of the Principal Law was to empower the House of Assembly via a resolution to extend the tenure of elected chairmen and councilors, where it is considered impracticable to hold local government elections before the expiration of their three years in office.
But the court asked all the parties to maintain the status quo ante belum pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice for the interlocutory injunction.
The court presided over by G.N. Okonkwo also ordered that the claimant/applicant would enter into an undertaking to indemnify the defendants in the sum of N5million should the substantive case turned out to be frivolous.
The court fixed April 22, 2024 to hear the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.
Okonkwo also issued an order of substituted service of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction, originating summons and other subsequent processes on the defendants.
The orders were made following a suit filed by Executive Chairman, Opobo-Nkoro, Enyiada Cooky-Gam; Bonny, Anengi Claude-Wilcox; and five other elected council officials challenging the decision of the Amaewhule-led House of Assembly to extend the tenure of local government areas.
Also named as defendants in the suit are the Governor of Rivers State, the Government of Rivers State and the Attorney-General of Rivers State.
The claimants/applicants are praying the court for a declaration that under section 9(1) of the Rivers State Local Government Amendment Law number 5 of 2018 the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the 23 local government councils of Rivers State is three years
A declaration that the tenure of office of the elected chairmen and members of the local government areas would expire on the 17th of June 2024 having commenced on the 18th of June 2021 when they were sworn in.
A declaration that the defendants cannot in any manner or form extend the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the local government areas after the expiration of their tenure.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from extending the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the local government areas.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 28th, 29th and 30th defendants (the Governor, the Government House and the Attorney-General) from giving effects to any purported extension of the tenure of the chairmen and members of the local government areas.
They also prayed for an order of interlocutory injunction directing all the defendants to maintain the status quo by not elongating the three-year tenure of the chairmen and councilors.
The claimants further sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from extending the tenures of the chairmen and the councilors.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Rate’ll Drop To 23% By 2025 -IMF

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In a recent release of its Global Economic Outlook at the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, the IMF provided projections for Nigeria’s economy, indicating a significant shift in inflation rates.
Division Chief of the IMF Research Department, Daniel Leigh, highlighted the impact of Nigeria’s economic reforms, including exchange rate adjustments, which have led to a surge in inflation rate to 33.2 percent in March.
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.2 percent according to recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
Also, the food inflation rate increased to over 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.
Leigh stated, “We see inflation declining to 23 per cent next year and then 18 percent in 2026.”
This is however different from the fund’s prediction of a new single-digit (15.5 per cent ) inflation rate for 2025 which it predicted last year.
He further elaborated on Nigeria’s economic growth, which is expected to rise from 2.9 percent last year to 3.3 percent this year, attributing this expansion to the recovery in the oil sector, improved security, and advancements in agriculture due to better weather conditions and the introduction of dry season farming.
The IMF official also noted a broad-based increase in Nigeria’s financial and IT sectors.
“Inflation has increased, reflecting the reforms, the exchange rate, and its pass-through into other goods from imports to other goods,” Leigh explained.
He added that the IMF revised its inflation projection for the current year to 26 percent but emphasised that tight monetary policies and significant interest rate increases during February and March are expected to curb inflation.
An official of the IMF Research Department, Pierre Olivier Gourinchas commented on the global economic landscape, mentioning that oil prices have risen partly due to geopolitical tensions, and services inflation remains high in many countries.
Despite Nigeria’s inflation target of six to nine percent being missed for over a decade, Gourinchas stressed that bringing inflation back to target should be the priority.
He warned of the risks posed by geo-economic fragmentation to global growth prospects and the need for careful calibration of monetary policy.
“Trade linkages are changing, and while some economies could benefit from the reconfiguration of global supply chains, the overall impact may be a loss of efficiency, reducing global economic resilience,” Gourinchas said.
He also emphasised the importance of preserving the improvements in monetary, fiscal, and financial policy frameworks, particularly for emerging market economies, to maintain a resilient global financial system and prevent a permanent resurgence in inflation.

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