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Niger Delta

Diri Preaches Love, Unity As Jonathan Buries Uncle

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has admonished people of the state to always promote unity and brotherliness for the sustenance of peace and development.
Diri gave the admonition recently at the funeral service of Elder Omieworio Afeni, an uncle of former President Goodluck Jonathan, at the St. Stephen Anglican Church, Otuoke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.
He said the state’s development should not be hinged on politics alone, but ought to also entail how the people collectively tackled issues of common interests.
The Governor said he was particularly pleased with the large number of Bayelsans that turned out in solidarity with Dr Jonathan, his wife, Dame Patience, and the Afeni family.
He described the former President as a father and service-oriented leader, who has made indelible mark in the political history of not only Nigeria, but also in Africa and beyond.
While condoling with the bereaved Afeni family, Governor Diri noted that the passage of any individual should teach people how to number their days and live upright life.
“On behalf of the government and people of the state, we condole with Dr Jonathan and the entire Afeni family as well as the Otuoke community. We pray God to grant the family the fortitude to bear this loss”, he said.
The Bayelsa Chief Executive directed the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure to immediately undertake the renovation of the Dame Patience Jonathan Pavilion in Otuoke.
In a sermon, His Grace, Most Rev. Blessing Enyindah, who is the Archbishop, of the Niger Delta Province and Bishop, Diocese of Ikwerre and Supervising Bishop, Diocese of Ogbia, said at age 87, Elder Afeni lived a fulfilled life.
The clergy said judging from the octogenarian’s biography, he recorded a lot of achievements, urging the family to be comforted in the Lord.
He admonished the congregation to be steadfast and trust in the Lord as He would not abandon them.
Responding, the former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, expressed gratitude to Senator Diri, his entourage, the clergy, and other well wishers who identified with him and the Afeni family in their moment of grief.
He described the late Afeni as a disciplinarian and caring uncle, who was instrumental to his completing primary education.
Dignitaries at the funeral service include: wife of the Governor, Dr Gloria Diri; Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo; former Bayelsa Governor, Senator Seriake Dickson; House of Reps member, Prof. Steve Azaiki, Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, other state lawmakers as well as members of the state executive council.
Others in attendance were the Acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Matilda Abrakasa, Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Samuel Ogbuku, one of his predecessors, Chief Timi Alaibe, and President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba.

By; Ariwera Ibibo-Howells,
Yenagoa

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Niger Delta

Dep Gov Restates Bayelsa’s Stance On LG Autonomy, Grassroot Dev …As NULGE Hails Bayelsa’s Support

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In view of the recent judgment of the Supreme Court granting financial autonomy to the 774 Local Government Areas in the country, the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has clarified that the state government only supervised the councils to drive grassroots development.
He stated this recently when the State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Yenagoa.
The state’s number two man said the joint account with the councils had afforded government the opportunity to supervise its eight councils for prudent utilization of funds to execute rural projects in the various local government areas.
According to him, the “Prosperity Government” has never and will not tamper with council funds, but rather support the councils to meet their obligations at the grassroots level.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo restated that the Bayelsa Government augments the payment of primary school teachers’ monthly salaries in addition to giving funding support for primary healthcare services, and education authorities across the state.
He insisted that the state had made remarkable progress in rural development through prudent management of resources by the local government councils due to effective supervision from the State Government.
The Deputy Governor thanked NULGE for their support to government and condolences over the passing of his brother, promising to convey their requests, including calling for a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss how to relate with the councils.
He, however, noted that the convocation of the summit would depend on the outcome of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum meeting scheduled for this week to review the Supreme Court Judgement on local government autonomy.
“What we have done for the local government system is quite significant and speaks volume. We met local government councils in February 2020, which could not pay staff salaries without borrowing every month.
“But all that is now history. Today, the councils are awarding and executing contracts under the supervision of the State Government.
“We did not tamper with councils’ funds and will never do so. We only supervise to ensure a prudent utilization of funds to foster grassroots development. So, financially, the State Government will not lose anything as a result of the Supreme Court ruling on local government autonomy”, he stated.
Speaking earlier, the State NULGE President, Comrade Thank-God Singer, expressed fears that the laudable local government reforms initiated by the present administration might not be sustained if local governments are left without supervision from the state government.
He, therefore, called on the government to convene a stakeholders’ summit to discuss and work out modalities on how to safeguard the local government reforms in the state vis-a-vis the recent Supreme Court ruling on local government autonomy.
Comrade Singer, who on behalf of the Union condoled the Deputy Governor over the demise of his brother, appealed to the State Government to provide a bus for the Union and consider qualified council staff for appointment as Permanent Secretaries.
“When some of our colleagues called me after the Supreme Court Judgement, I told them the judgement will not do any new thing to us because we have been enjoying financial autonomy here in Bayelsa.
“Before this government came, most of our councils were insolvent. But today almost all of them are solvent and can pay salaries and even execute projects because of your able supervision, your reforms and labour friendly disposition”, the NULGE boss said.

 

Ariwera Ibibo-Howells,
Yenagoa

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Niger Delta

Investigate Benin Airport Attack, Edo Urges RG

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Edo State Government has called on the Federal Government to set up a panel to unravel the cause of the shooting that claimed the life of a police officer at Benin Airport gate.
The Tide’s source recalls that a police officer attached to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Monday Okpebholo, was on Thursday shot dead during a clash at the exit gate of the Benin airport.
The State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, told newsmen on Friday in Benin that the State Commissioner of Police was a witness to what happened at the Benin Airport.
“Shaibu got judgment and flew to Benin with his friends and before entering Benin he mobilised armed thugs to wait for him at the Benin Airport.
“And on arrival, they unleashed mayhem on the innocent people of Edo state and in the process a police officer was killed and many others were injured.
“The State Commissioner of Police had intelligence report and went to the airport to caution him not to allow his boys to assemble at the airport or anywhere in the state he defied the advice.
“We had appealed the judgment reinstating him as the deputy governor and filled for stay of execution immediately we got Certified True Copy (CTC); and he was shown the restraining order from the court.
“The CP should be arresting him, because, as it stands today, he is not the Deputy Governor and has no immunity.
“We are now calling on the Federal Government and the Inspector General of Police to look into the crisis.
“The whole thing happened in the presence of the commissioner of police and he is one of the witnesses”, he said.
Nehikhare disclosed that the state government would no longer fold its arms and watch thugs cause mayhem the state.
He said efforts were being made to ensure that the violence did not degenerate further, adding that the government was resolute that election would be free and fair in the state.
According to him, the opposition party wants to draw the attention of the Federal government and create the impression of anarchy and call for state of emergency.
He called on the residents of the state to remain calm, adding that government was working round the clock to ensure a peaceful state ahead of the September 21 governorship election.
In his reaction, the reinstated Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, denied the allegations, stressing that he would never sponsor an attack against himself.
“What happened yesterday was an assassination attempt on my life.
“When I was impeached, Shaibu that you know would have protested on the street of Benin but I decided that I do not want to take people to the street and get them killed.
“So, I decided to use the court to prove that the impeachment was unlawful; but unfortunately, what I tried to avoid by not protesting still happened yesterday.
“And I feel sad about it because am a peaceful person.
“This fight is not about me, but one that is targeted at restoring dignity and respect to the office of the deputy governor”, he said.
He said he never envisaged that he and the governor would be on the path they were currently.
“I thank God that I never betrayed him”, he said.

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MOSIEND Urges FG To Exempt NDDC From TSA

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The Movement for the Survival of the Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) has called on President Bola Tinubu to remove the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
MOSIEND’s National President, Dr. Kennedy West, who made the call in an interview with The Tide’s source on Saturday in Yenagoa, said this would enable the agency discharge its mandate unhindered.
He said just like some other agencies that were exempted from TSA for effective delivery services, NDDC should also be removed from TSA list to fast-track development.
West noted that as an interventionist agency, the NDDC did not need to be bogged down by bureaucratic bottlenecks.
The MOSIEND boss said the TSA procedure was time consuming and causes further delays in the contracting process.
“The Public Procurement Act procedure is there to ensure due process and competitiveness in the contracting exercise.
“It is our view that exempting NDDC from the TSA will hasten the already slowed down contracting cycle. The region is in a hurry to develop, so the waiver is desirable.
“The Federal Government should remove NDDC from TSA list to fast-track development. As an interventionist agency, the NDDC has nothing to do with long bureaucratic bottlenecks.
“That alone is causing a huge setback to development; thus, creating prolonged to go through one rigorous process or the other.
“We are sure that President Tinubu will want to see that in his tenure, he solved issues of the Niger Delta to a logical end before he leaves office”, he said.
West also restated the call for the review of the Act establishing the NDDC, saying that some sections of the Act had become a cog in the wheel of progress of the commission.
According to him, there is the need to review the act that created the NDDC in such a manner that such areas that have been a cog in the wheels of progress of NDDC should be reviewed constitutionally and legally brought to the fore.
“Even before now, we have been advocating it, more so it was also addressed during the summit, where we said that stakeholders should be part of project monitoring and evaluation.
“It is the stakeholders that clamoured for the establishment of the NDDC, even OMPADEC.
“So, how come stakeholders are not part of project monitoring and evaluation? So, this was part of the areas we were advocating and also that the NDDC should be excluded from the TSA.
“These are part of the issues that formed our decision to advocate earlier before now that the NDDC Act should be reviewed and let all those grey areas be addressed permanently”, the MOSIEND president said.

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