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SERAP Threatens Buhari With Legal Action Over Spending On SIPs

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “promptly set up a presidential panel of enquiry to thoroughly, impartially, effectively and transparently investigate spending on all social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”
SERAP also urged him “to ensure the findings of any such investigation are widely published and suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds meant to take care of the poor should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient evidence, and any stolen public funds should be recovered.”
A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows damning revelations that some 133million Nigerians are poor, despite the government reportedly spending N500billion yearly on ‘social investment programmes.’
Half of all poor people in the country are children.
In the letter dated November 19, 2022, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The report suggests a grave violation of the public trust, and the lack of political will to genuinely address poverty, and uphold your government’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.”
SERAP said, “The report that 133million Nigerians are poor suggests corruption and mismanagement in the spending of trillions of naira on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes, including the reported disbursement of over $700million from the repatriated Abacha looted funds to these programmes.”
SERAP said the government has legal obligations to effectively and progressively address and combat extreme poverty as a matter of human rights.
It maintained that the failure of the government to address extreme poverty has resulted in a high level of inequality and serious violations of the economic and social rights of Nigerians, particularly the socially and economically vulnerable sector of the population.
The letter, copied to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Mr Olivier De Schutter, read in part: “These grim revelations by the NBS show the failure to fulfil your oft-repeated promise to lift 100million Nigerians out of poverty, and that no one will be left behind.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The report also shows that the purported social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes are clearly not working. It also shows a failure by your government to uphold the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed human rights of the Nigerian people.
“SERAP also urges you to prioritise investment in quality education and healthcare, and to redirect some of the unnecessary spending in the 2023 budget such as spending by the presidency on feeding and travels, and money allocated to the National Assembly in the budget to address poverty as a human rights issue.
“A supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the proposed redirected budgets should be urgently sent to the National Assembly for its approval.
“Your government has a sacred duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s resources, including the spending of public funds on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects.
“Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] provides that, ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’
“Under Section 16(1)(a)(b), your government has the obligations to ‘harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy’ and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen.
“Nigeria has also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognize legally enforceable economic and social rights, such as the rights to education, health, safe food and clean water, security, and shelter.
“Allegations of corruption in social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes pose both direct and indirect threats to human rights, and contribute to extreme poverty in the country.
“Nigerians have the right to be free from poverty. Extreme poverty is the greatest denial of the exercise of human rights, as it denies millions of Nigerians not only their economic and social rights but also civil and political rights such as the rights to life, human dignity, and political participation.
“Political freedom and participation are closely related to human development. Without economic and social rights, people cannot effectively enjoy their political freedom. Therefore, effectively and progressively addressing poverty would improve the ability of Nigerians to exercise their political freedom and to have choices in life.
“Successive governments have systematically neglected social and economic rights and failed to address severe poverty and inequality in the country.
“Part of the problem is the failure by your government to promote the legal recognition of economic and social rights in the Nigerian Constitution, which would allow people living in poverty to seek redress for violations of their human rights.
“The allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending of public funds on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects would clearly amount to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international anticorruption obligations.
“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any stolen public funds would serve the public interest.
“SERAP notes that the consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs to pay for health, education and administrative services.
“Corruption undermines economic development of the country, trapping the majority of Nigerians in poverty and depriving them of employment opportunities.
“The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey reveals that 65percent of the poor (86million people) live in the North, while 35percent (nearly 47million) live in the South. Poverty levels across states vary significantly, with the incidence of multidimensional poverty ranging from a low of 27percent in Ondo to a high of 91percent in Sokoto.
“The NBS also shows that over half of the population of Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor and cook with dung, wood or charcoal, rather than clean energy. High deprivations are also apparent nationally in sanitation, healthcare, food insecurity and housing. Half of all poor people are children.”

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Ikwerre Set To Deliver Two Projects Per Ward

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The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike, has noted that his administration was ready to commission two projects in every ward before the end of January, 2023.
Nwanosike stated this when he received in audience the Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive at his office, Isiokpo.
According to him, “My President did mention that we have done projects in all the political wards. I can announce to Mr. President that before the end of January, it will be clear that we have completed two projects in each of the 13 political wards.
“So, we have passed the stage of saying one project per political ward. As we speak, if not that we have entered the electioneering period, we would have had five projects lined up for commissioning”.
Nwanosike, while describing the courtesy visit as the most important since he assumed office on June 18, 2018, as chairman of Ikwerre LGA, thanked Governor NyesomWike for grooming and giving him and his team the opportunity to change the narrative of their people by managing their affairs.
He, however, narrated the achievements of his administration via the five-point agenda unveiled during his campaigns to the executive members of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council.
The Ikwerre LGA chairman listed the achievements as building and furnishing of health centres, return of peace and sanity through the help of the Governor of the state, Chief NyesomWike, and the security agents, sending the farmers back to farm, sending the youths back to school, building of police station at Ubima, building of markets at Elele, Omerelu and Apani, construction of more than 1.5km drainage at Elele, building of town halls at Isiokpo and Omagwa, building and furnishing of schools at Aluu and Omademe, among others.
He added that many more projects were under construction and would be delivered in due time, especially NYSC members Lodge at Isiokpo, etc.
“We don’t just talk; we do what we say we will do. Because if you don’t do it, the people will not understand that there is work to be done”, he said.
On the other hand, Nwanosike praised Wike for choosing a technocrat like Sir SiminialayiFubara to succeed him and continue the NEW Rivers Vision, reiterating that Ikwerre Local Government was already SIMplified.
He promised to assist in the renovation of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Civic Centre by giving his entire December imprest.
Speakingearlier, the Chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive, Chief Emma Okas-Wike, said they were in Ikwerre to pay the chairman a courtesy visit on behalf of the Paramount Ruler and Nyewe Eli Rumuepirikom, Eze Barry OparaOwabie, in order to identify with him as one of their own and specially thank him for always supporting their son, ChiefNyesomWike.
Okas-Wike said, “It might not be easy for somebody to talk about the footsoldiers of our leader, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief NyesomWike, without mentioning your name because when this fight started about 2007, we did the first fight, did the second fight, you were one of those that were inside caucus, inner caucus of those fights.
“I want to thank you that you did not abandon our leader and our brother and our son. That’s why we felt that it is proper for us to come and pay you this courtesy call”.
He used the opportunity to congratulate Nwanosike on his infrastructural development, political and academic achievements, especially the acquisition of doctorate degree.
“Information available to us, not just us but to the public, shows that you have, just like the governor is doing, you have affected almost all the whole wards in Ikwerre Local Government. And when we look at the record, we find out that the projects you are executing are not just minor projects that will just be something that somebody will say what is this one, is it not what somebody can do? No. These are landmark projects and we want to commend you for that”, the chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive avowed.
While saying that Nwanosikewas part of Rumuepirikom Kingdom, Okas-Wike encouraged him to do more in order for his name to be spoken more within and outside Rivers State.
He appealed for his financial assistance in the renovation of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Civic Centre.
Those present during the courtesy visit were the Vice Chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive, Chief Raymond Owabie; the Secretary, Sir Chief AllwellEgwurugwu; the PRO, Engr. Kingdom A. Johnson; the Legal Adviser, BarristerAmadi G. Nyebuchi; the Rumuepirikom Youth President, Engr. Samuel John Amadi; amongst others.
Highlight of the visit was a tour of some projects, including the NYSC Lodge being constructed by his administration at Isiokpo.

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CDC Chairman Warns On Likely Crisis In Rumuagholu

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Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman of Rumuagholu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Comrade Amadi Okechukwu, has warned that there could be a breakdown of law and order in the community if the actions and utterances of certain individuals were not checked.
Okechukwu, who gave the hint while addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, yesterday, called on the Rivers State Governor,Chief Nyesom Wike, and security agents to call one NyegwaKiniganwo, to order to avoid breakdown of law and order in Rumuagholu.
Amadi said this had become necessary following recent radio announcement wherein Nyegwa addressed himself as Rumuagholu paramount ruler, while the matter was still pending in court.
The CDC chairman noted emphatically that Nyegwa’s actions could create serious crisis, if not checked.
Amadi said on no account should Nyegwa parade himself as a chief, let alone Rumuagholu paramount ruler.
He hinted that Nyegwa’s recent falsehood and blatant lies followed steps taken by the three communities that make up Rumuagholu to share some part of their land.
Amadi said the three communities: Rumuochukwuoke, Rumuowolu, and Rumuochukwualu, as a sign of indivisible entity, decided to work together to dispose some of their ancestral land.
The CDC chairman reiterated that Nyegwa’s action amounted to contempt of court, having been served court document to stop parading himself forthwith as a paramount ruler.
He said there was a court order instituted by Eze Bekwele Atam, stopping the accused from parading himself as paramount ruler, adding that until such orders are vacated, his actions and activities in respect of the land amounted to contempt of court.
Amadi warned the general public to desist from transacting business concerning the community with Nyegwa forthwith, and pointed out that anybody who transacted with him on behalf of the community did so at his peril.
He further hinted that such businesses should be channeled to him as the constitution empowered him as the CDC chairman to oversee the affairs of the community, including land issues.
He said Rumuagholu people were peace-loving but warned that such should not be taken for granted by Nyegwa and his cohorts, especially during this annual wrestling season which holds this week.

By: Chidi Enyie

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FG Saves $300m Annually From Ban On Barite Imports

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The Federal Government has said its ban on importation of Barite, an essential mineral in oil drilling, has saved the country $300million (about N195billion) annually.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this in Abuja at the ninth edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard 2015 to 2023 series organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
The scorecard series was launched as part of the efforts of the ministry to showcase the numerous achievements of the administration.
Presenting the scorecards of his ministry, Adegbite said the ban on barite importation was part of the efforts of the Federal Government to ensure the downstream mineral policies took effect.
“When we came into office in 2019, we realised that the oil and gas industry use barite in their oil drilling and they were importing the mineral from Morocco to the tune of $300million every year.
“We also realised that the country has abundance of barite deposits but the problem was that we were not processing it.
“So, the ministry took it upon itself as a project and in 2021, we were able to produce made in Nigeria Barite with American Petroleum Institute (API) standard.
“Now, nobody is importing barite in to Nigeria anymore saving the country $300million annually that was being spent on imports of barite to the country,’’ he said.
The minister said within a year of production, Nigeria had attained excess capacity of barite and making plans to export the mineral into places like Ghana and South Africa.
“These are places that have just discovered oil and of course they need barite as well.
“We will ensure they can get it cheaper to buy from Nigeria than to go to northern part of Africa,’’ he said.
The minister also disclosed that his ministry had discovered new minerals that they did not know existed in the country.
According to him, the minerals included nickel, cobalt chromium and tracks of lithium.
He said the newly discovered minerals were called the “Future metals’’, adding “this is where the whole world is headed’’.
The minister also disclosed that they were auctioning bitumen blocks to 26 serious investors which had shown interest in its mining.
Adegbite said the process would culminate in concession of some of the blocks to the investors which would be given fairly limited time to start producing in Nigeria.
He said the process would make the country sufficient in bitumen, lower the cost of building roads and create import substitution.
According to the minister, Nigeria has sufficient quantity of bitumen deposit in Edo, OgunOndo and Lagos states.

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