David Umahi, the minister of works, says the administration of President Bola Tinubu inherited N14 trillion worth of road projects across the country.
Umahi gave the number of road projects inherited from the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari as 2,604 spanning 18,000 kilometers.
Speaking with reporters at the presidential villa, the minister said of the N14 trillion, N4 trillion has been paid to contractors by the current administration.
“Between when we came on board and now, about N4 trillion has been paid. And so that is a balance of N10 trillion remaining,” he said.
“Now, in this N10 trillion, we have identified sources that could fund up to N4 trillion. So, we have a funding gap of about N6 trillion.
“We have a number of programs for road development under the previous administration. We inherited all the projects; we have not dropped any of them. But curious to know that some of these projects have lasted for 20 years, some 10 years.
“In fact, in most cases, they were never appropriated throughout every tenure.
“So I went to seek Mr. President’s nod so that I will be able to terminate some of the projects that have stayed up to 10 years without any defined source of funding.”
The minister said Tinubu should encourage the national assembly to prioritise road projects.
“Just look at over 2,600 projects, 18,000 kilometers of roads, and N14 trillion. That is huge and the worrisome part of this is that even the ones that are being funded properly, the roads hardly last up to five years,” Umahi said.
“I shared with Mr President that the way appropriation is being done is not healthy to develop our roads infrastructure. For example, for a road that may cost N10 billion, an appropriation of N150 million is made.
“It is just for the contractor to take and put in his pockets because where the average cost of projects that we inherited is about N700 million per kilometres and you are giving out N150 million for the whole year, then you are just enhancing the pockets of the contractor.”
The rise in the cost of crude oil, coupled with the depreciation of the naira against the United States dollar, might lead to a hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, oil marketers stated on Sunday.
It was also gathered that the sharp rise in crude oil price to about $94/barrel and the crisis around forex, had warranted a gradual increase in the amount being quietly spent as subsidy on petrol by the Federal Government.
Dealers in the downstream oil sector explained that the cost of crude oil and the exchange rate of the dollar accounted for over 80 per cent of the cost of PMS.
Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, rose to $94/barrel on Sunday, the highest figure in 2023. Oil had started the year at about $82/barrel, dipped to $70/barrel in June, but traded above $92/barrel in the past week.
Recall that the naira weakened to N950/dollar as forex scarcity worsened.
The report stated that the naira fell further against the dollar the preceding day (Wednesday), after closing at 950/$ at the parallel market.
Bureau de Change operators had told The PUNCH that the naira, which earlier closed at 930/$ at the close of operations on Tuesday, was bought and sold at 935/$ and 950/$ on Wednesday.
Although the Federal Government and its Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had insisted that subsidy on petrol had ended, following the deregulation of the downstream oil sector, operators insisted on Sunday that the government was implementing quasi-subsidy.
They explained that with the latest rise in crude oil price, the cost of petrol was meant to increase, stressing that if the government insists on leaving the commodity at N617/litre, then subsidy on PMS had been returned quietly.
The marketers explained that in July when the cost of petrol was raised to N617/litre, crude oil traded around $82/barrel, while the the exchange rate was not as high as N950/$ at the parallel market.
The Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners corroborated the concerns of marketers, as it stated that the price cap on petrol had made it tough for marketers to comply with the demands of NARTO with respect to increasing the cost of transportation for petrol.
“The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, in one of his statements, had pointed out that as long as the dollar continues to rise, Nigerians should not expect petroleum products prices to be pegged. The cost of crude oil is also on the rise and it impacts on petrol price, because PMS is derived from crude.
“So in this price deregulation regime, once the dollar increases, automatically it means that the cost of importing petroleum products will also increase. And the cost of every other related service will rise,” the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, stated.
He added, “So the fuel we are buying today at N617 or N596 depending on where you buy it and based on the nearness to depots, is actually below what the price should really be, going by the rise in dollar and crude oil price.”
Ukadike stated that though the rise in crude oil price would increase Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, the forex was being used to import refined products.
“I said earlier that what we are experiencing now is quasi-deregulation. The rise in crude oil price has both positive and negative effects on Nigeria. It is positive because it increases our generation of dollars when we sell the crude.
“But it is negative in the sense that we still use that dollar that we have got to import the finished products of crude. That is the problem. For if Nigeria is refining products, then there will be a windfall, but since we import with the dollar that we make, then it makes no sense.”
On whether the rise in oil prices would warrant further hike in the cost of PMS and other finished products, thereby increasing subsidy on petrol particularly, Ukadike replied, “Yes, of course.
“The gap is becoming too much. Also, the exchange rate gap between the official and parallel markets is widening. And these gaps have to be filled by the government through quasi-subsidy on petrol.
“You also know that most of the investors who tried to import products when it was announced that the subsidy on petrol had been removed, are now finding it very difficult to do so.
“This is because after buying the dollar in the parallel market, they cannot recoup what they have invested. So the government must be transparent with this subsidy removal thing. It should apply it to the fullest, so that competition can set it.”
On his part, the President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, said though the cost of crude had been rising lately, the NNPCL should be able to manage it for the benefit of Nigerians, with respect to petroleum products prices.
“Crude oil is selling at a higher price and that price should impact positively, because the major importer of petroleum products is the NNPC and they do that on a swap basis, unless they are telling us that the swap is not efficient.
“For if it is efficient, they should have more money for the size of crude oil they sell, which should impact on the price they pass on to Nigerians. Yes, today it is a commercial company, but it is still owned by Nigerians and is a sovereign company.
“And the fact that Nigerians must benefit from their natural endowment by God should be reflected in the pricing of products by NNPC. That is all I’ll say about this issue,” he stated.
Earlier, the National Secretary, IPMAN, Chief John Kekeocha, had asked the Federal Government to come out clean with respect to fuel subsidy, instead of mandating oil marketers not to dispense the product above a stipulated band.
In August, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, had told State House correspondents that President Bola Tinubu had instructed that the cost of petrol should not increase.
“Mr. President, wishes to assure Nigerians following the announcement by the NNPC limited just yesterday (Monday) that there will be no increase in the pump price of PMS anywhere in the country. We repeat, the President affirms that there will be no increase in the pump price of PMS.”
NNPCL had also in August stated that it was not raising petrol price.
“Dear esteemed customers, we at NNPC Retail value your patronage, and we do not have the intention to increase our PMS pump prices as widely speculated. Please buy the best quality products at the most affordable prices at our NNPC Retail stations nationwide,” the company had stated.
NNPC Retail is the downstream subsidiary of NNPCL that retails refined petroleum products for the group.
Kekeocha had told our correspondent that the decision of the Federal Government to put a cap on petrol price meant that subsidy on petrol had been reinstated.
He said, “The government is not being very transparent with this issue. When you say you have removed fuel subsidy, you don’t come again and moderate prices. Is like speaking with the two sides of the mouth.
“Removal of subsidy means you have removed your hands and the prices have to follow demand and supply. So if the NNPC says it is getting forex (foreign exchange) to import products and reduce prices for marketers, are they going to do the same for other importers? Remember the government gave import licenses to about seven marketers?
“Are they still going to moderate prices for those people when they bring in the products? No! You don’t blow hot and cold at the same time. There is no way they can bring in products and reduce the price and peg it for marketers to sell at a certain level, it means they are indirectly bringing back subsidy.
“If they want to bring back subsidy, let them say it openly, that ‘we are going to come back to subsidy because of the pains the country generally is going through.’ This is because the initial things they are supposed to do they did not do it. We have always been clamouring, let the refineries work.”
Nigerian musician Teniola Apata, better known by her stage name Teni, Has revealed that witnessing her father’s murder, retired Nigerian army Brigadier-General Simeon Apata, had a profound impact on her life.
The late Brig. Gen. Apata (RTD) was killed On January 8, 1995, in Lagos.
Teni claimed that the incident took place in their living room when she was only two years old.
She revealed this on the newest episode of the Tea With Tay podcast, hosted by actor Temisan Emmanuel Ahwieh, nicknamed Taymesan.
Regina Daniels opens up, speaks on criticisms trailing marriage to Billionaire – VIDEO
Teni described how watching her father assassinated in her presence and growing up without a father has affected her life and made her have trust issues.
Young Teni and Late Military father
In her words:
“My father was a disciplinarian. He was a soldier and he owned a school; Apata Memorial High School. He was also a big philanthropist.
“Growing up with my father passing at such a young age, the trauma of losing my father at a young age affected me. You know, him being assassinated in the presence of all of us and all that stuff. I was 2 at the time.
“Him passing away robbed me as a child of having a father figure. It sort of made me have trust issues growing up. Because they [gunmen] came into our house purposely to kill him.”
In another story, Teni Sparks Reactions As She Shares Video Of Her Pet, Named ‘Burna Boy’
The singer took to his Instagram story to share a video of herself playing with the pet as she beacons on it to get closer.
Some internet users, however, see it as a dig at Grammy Award-winning singer Dami Ogulu, also known as Burna Boy.
Members of the House of Representatives on Friday were shocked to the marrow as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) publicly justified the sales of 82 vehicles for the sum of N5.8 million over the past 12 years.
Trouble started when the NIMASA Executive Director, Mr. Chudi Offodile, announced during the resumed investigative hearing into the disposal of public property by the Agencies between 2010 and 2022 to unravel the extent of illegal auctioning of public property and non-remittance of revenue realised into the Consolidated Revenue Fund’, chaired by Hon. Julius Ihonbvere, that due process was followed.
The documents presented and obtained by the Nigerian Tribune showed that a Peugeot Expert Ambulance with a market value of N200,000 was sold at a forced liquidation or auction value of N95,000; a Honda Civic Saloon Car with a market value of N170,000 was sold at N76,500; a Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with a market value of N300,000 was sold at N140,000; another Toyota Hilux (Accidental) with a market value of N200,000 was sold at N96,000; and another Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with a market value of N250,000 was sold at N115,000.
In the same vein, two units of Toyota Hilux, which were at the time of inspection in the custody of Carbotage Consultant in Lagos and put at N1 million market value, were sold at N470,000 each for forced liquidation or auction value; a Honda Civic put at N210,000 was sold at N95,000; a Honda City put at N190,000 market value was sold at N80,000, among others.
Through its office in Abuja, a Toyota Hilux put at N500,000 market value was sold at N245,000; a Toyota Avensis put at N300,000 market value was sold at N145,000; a Toyota Corolla put at N300,000 market value was sold at N147,000; and two units of Honda Civic put at N90,000 market value were sold at N30,000 each, among others.
Other lawmakers who spoke during the investigative hearing demanded documentary evidence of funds remitted into the CRF account as provided by extant provisions of the Procurement Act, Proceeds of Crimes Act, and other known legislation or financial regulations.
In his presentation, Mr Offodile, who denied knowledge of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 on the remittance of the funds generated from the sale of public assets, however, affirmed that the proceeds of sales were paid by the Auctioneers into NIMASA’s coffers.
When asked whether the Agency has a mechanic’s workshop where faulty vehicles can be repaired, Mr. Offodile answered in the negative.
While expressing surprise that most of the vehicles displayed in the document presented to the Ad-hoc Committee didn’t show that they are old or not in good condition, Hon. Ihonbvere said: “Looking at them (pictures of vehicles captured in the documents), some of them are looking new,” adding that for Nigerians, a 13-year-old Toyota Hilux is not old.”
Hon. Ihonbvere thereafter narrated how a former Edo State Governor engaged a female mechanic to fix some of the vehicles tagged as unserviceable and recovered over 100 vehicles while other spare parts were stored.
He explained that over 100 vehicles fixed by the female mechanic were deployed to various MDAs, thereby blocking financial leakages.
Hon. Ihonbvere specifically expressed concern over the rationale behind the placement of an advertisement on March 29, 2022, calling for a public auction of NIMASA vehicles and the sale of all the vehicles on March 30, 2022, through forced liquidation or auction.
While alleging that the move “leaves us with the impression that it’s a pre-arrangement,” the Majority Leader argued that the process contravened the extant Public Procurement Act to dispose of public assets within 24 hours.
Hon. Ihonbvere, who disclosed that the Ad-hoc Committee is in the custody of petitions against NIMASA alleging that the vehicles were sold to some officials and staff of the Agency, maintained that the Auctioneers engaged by NIMASA were merely hired to rubber stamp the fictitious insider trading.
Hence, the lawmakers requested a list of all the Auctioneers as well as beneficiaries of the vehicles, the original cost of the vehicles and invoices, a letter of contract awards for the auctioning of the assets to the auctioneers, and relevant approvals obtained from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as well as the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
One of the lawmakers expressed worry about why the Agency only carried out sales of vehicles and did not have any record of sales of computers and other office equipment within the period under review.
Hon. Ihonbvere, who requested the registers of all the assets of NIMASA and other MDAs, disclosed that the asset registers would be computerised in the state-of-the-art library, which is currently under construction within the National Assembly complex, to be commissioned by the end of September 2023.
In the same vein, the lawmakers quizzed the Sokoto River Basin’s delegation over indiscriminate sales of public assets to the management of the Agency in breach of the extant Public Procurement Act at ridiculous prices.
To this end, Hon. Ihonbvere directed the delegation from NIMASA and the Sokoto River Basin to provide relevant documents that will aid the ongoing investigation. The ad hoc Committee is expected to resume hearings on Wednesday, September 20, 2023.
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNUs) has made it clear that it is no longer possible for any federal university in Nigeria to sustain operation again without increasing its obligatory and some other fees being charged to students.
The Secretary-General of the committee, Prof Yakubu Ochefu, shared this position in an exclusive interview with the Tribune Online at the weekend, maintaining that the old fees regime in any of the federal universities is no longer relevant in the current economic reality in the country.
According to him, it is expensive to run universities. They hardly shut down a day. They run an almost 24-hour service. Even when the students are on holiday, the universities keep their doors open.
“So, the cost of running universities just like every other educational institution in the country is huge and now the situation has become almost unbearable, especially since the removal of fuel subsidy which is continuously pushing up the cost of goods and services in the country on daily basis,” he pointed out.
While explaining that it’s not that the administrators of various federal universities and their management teams are wicked as some people made to believe for increasing their obligatory fees, Ochefu said they have to do that because they have no better option if they want to sustain operation and provide quality services.
He said even at that, they still heavily subsidized their services to students as if they should charge commensurable fees, they would have charged up to four times or more of their new fees.
According to him, universities charging lower fees as some had done already is because the Federal Government is still responsible for the payment of salaries of workers and also providing some running costs even though grossly inadequate and still gives other supports through TETFund and some other intervention agencies.
He said if not for all these, public universities would have been charging high fees like the private universities do because tuition fees would have been where the salaries of workers would come from and that would have been passed on to parents and students.
He explained that the universities are the ones responsible for major running costs, which are huge such as electricity, sanitation, water supply, maintenance of infrastructures, cutting of grass, conduct of examinations, travelling and several others.
For example, he said, the cost of papers for examinations alone has gone up from N18,000 to N45,000 a carton within two years and that will be a lot of money for universities with a student population of about 30,000 or more. And that is just one issue as many also spend several millions of naira on electricity and so forth, every month.
“So, the cost of all these items are going up each day and so the universities have to push part of the costs to students and their parents.”
Ochefu therefore called on students, especially those who are still carrying placards and protesting fee hikes and parents to understand the financial burden the universities are contending with and cooperate with them to provide quality education that the country will be proud of.
He also urged the various state and local governments across the country to adopt a bursary award policy on a yearly basis for students who are their indigenes, saying such effort would equally go a long way to cushion the financial burden on parents.
The federal government, as well as alumni associations, corporate bodies and philanthropists, he added, can also give scholarship awards to indigent but brilliant students as the provision of a well-rounded education to the citizenry is a shared responsibility by all.
The lawmaker representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, Senator Ishaku Abbo, has asserted that the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, along with his associates, were the ones who disseminated the story about his rumored intention to impeach him.
Abbo further added that the narrative was purportedly orchestrated by the Senate President to create discord between President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and northern politicians.
Recall that Akpabio has strongly denied allegations of an impending impeachment against him. He labelled these reports as both malicious and untrue.
There were media reports on Saturday stating that plans were underway to unseat Akpabio as the president of the 10th Senate when the Senate reconvenes on September 26, 2023.
The report also noted that two prominent senators from the North West and other senators across the national assembly are already meeting and mapping out plans to carry out the daring move.
The reports also alleged that the senators believed that the Senate President was a rubber stamp for the presidency and may be unable to carry out his duty effectively.
He stated, “I woke up today to find over 10 mainstream Nigerian newspapers all carrying news of a plan to impeach Senator Akpabio by senators from Northern Nigeria. The Whistler Newspaper even went on to name Senator Abdulaziz Yari, Senator Aminu Tambuwal, and Senator Ogoshi Onawo, among others, as the senators behind the move.”
Abbo added, “As a Northern senator and an official of the Northern Senators Forum, I boldly affirm that this news is intentionally disseminated and propagated by the ‘camp’ of Senator Akpabio solely to pit President Bola Tinubu against the North. I call on Senator Akpabio to rein in his camp, as the seeds of discord and deep ethno-religious division they are sowing will not bode well for the country. Why the North? Why in Saudi Arabia?”
He remarked, “If Akpabio and his camp wanted a united Senate, much like Ahmed Lawan, they would have known exactly what to do during Senate Standing Committees allocation and supplementary budget resources allocation. But the camp of the SP continued to treat the senate as a conquered territory where the winner walks away with the spoils of war. A classic case of the winner takes all.”
Expressing his frustration, the Adamawa lawmaker said, “How do you justify a situation where out of Category A Committees, only two were granted to his perceived rivals? How will you explain a senate where 83.1% of those appointed Chairmen of Category A Committees also serve as Vice Chairmen of Category A?
“How do you explain a third-term Senator being denied the Chairmanship of a Committee? How do you justify the leadership of the Senate, all being Vice Chairmen of Category A Committees? You cannot treat us as conquered people and then return to manipulate us with planted and paid newspaper reports to set us against the President.”
Abbo also claimed that the 10th Senate was the most condescending parliament. He further referred to the screening of ministerial nominees, where the Senate President sought clearance for certain nominees at the Villa. He added that the Senate was not given the opportunity to decide on the fate of rejected nominees.
Before embarking on its annual recess, the Senate screened 48 ministerial nominees sent by the president, with 45 receiving approval and three being rejected. Among the rejected three was former Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
Reflecting on the screening, Abbo queried, “Let me pose this question: During the ministerial screening, when three ministerial nominees were denied clearance by the senate, which committee examined the petitions against them? Was it Ethics and Privileges, an ad-hoc committee, or the committee of the whole? Was the report deliberated and debated during plenary? Was there any voting, either AYE or NAY?
“The Senate President simply absented himself during plenary, leaving the Senate waiting in the Chamber for over three hours while he was at the Villa. This is something that has never occurred in the history of the Senate. Then he returned and read out the names of those cleared and ‘waved’ papers in his hand, citing security reports from NSA or DSS as the reason for not clearing some ministers.”
Abbo added, “In my opinion, this is the lowest the Senate has ever descended. Who granted NSA, DSS DG, or IGP the authority to correspond with the Senate? What kind of communication is that? Executive communication or reckless communication?
“Are we telling Nigerians that the Presidency and the Security agencies did not conduct due diligence before sending the list to the Senate, or is the Senate being used as a pawn in the power play of Presidential aides?”
He went on to assert that Akpabio knows what it takes to maintain a peaceful Senate, akin to Ahmed Lawan, and “not blackmailing Senators from Northern region and using newspaper report to hoodwink the President.
“President Bola Tinubu worked hard to make Senator Akpabio the Senate President, but it is only Senator Akpabio who can effectively manage his colleagues, not Tinubu managing them on his behalf.”
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has refuted claims that his recent visit to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FTC), Nyesom Wike, and other ministers in Abuja was part of efforts to influence tribunal judgement in his favour.
Recall that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), David Ombugadu, is challenging Sule’s victory in the March 18 governorship election in Nasarawa State.
Addressing newsmen in Lafia at the weekend, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Sule, Mr Peter Ahemba, said the governor’s visit was aimed at strengthening collaboration with the FCT Administration and attracting development to the state.
Ahemba said it was aimed at discussing how to execute a metro line from Apo to Keffi, as well as partnership to build the 13, 000 hectares at Guruku/Kabusu Mega City that is only about 5km away from Maitama II.
He said no amount of false alarm and media propaganda would save the PDP from imminent defeat at the tribunal.
“A day before the visit to the FCT minister, the governor was visited by the Minister of Police Affairs, as well as the Health and Social Welfare in company of Global Alliance Vaccines Initiative (GAVI), at the Nasarawa governor’s lodge in Abuja. The governor also visited the Minister of Mineral Resources the same day with the aim of attracting development to the state.
“An opposition party that has the interest of the people at heart and is interested in propelling good governance through constructive criticisms will applaud the governor’s initiative of timely seeking partnership with the new FCT minister because it is a right step in the right direction,” he said.
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has alleged plans by the President Bola Tinubu administration to unleash a regime of propaganda on the country in the days ahead.
Atiku, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, yesterday, said the “fake news” about the lifting of the visa ban by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was just a “tip of the iceberg.”
Atiku, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, claimed that President Tinubu has already appointed over 15 media aides to dish out propaganda as a policy of state and distract Nigerians from the deep pains his administration has caused them.
“From information available to us, Bola Tinubu is set to push propaganda to overdrive as he heads out for the United Nations General Assembly. He will claim to have attracted foreign investments amounting to $100 billion but will fail to provide key details. It is all propaganda. It is all a load of baloney.
“In India, he claimed they had received pledges of over $14 billion just as his predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, claimed in 2018 that he had secured pledges of up to $6 billion. This is nothing but audio investments.
“Last month, the NNPC claimed to have obtained a loan of $3bn with which it would help stabilise the naira. We raised the alarm that it was all a ruse to deceive Nigerians. Now, we have been justified as the naira is now approaching $1/N,000 on the black market.
“After his trip to the UAE, Tinubu claimed the visa ban had been lifted immediately. Now, they have shifted the goalpost after the UAE authorities revealed that the news was false. This is the sort of embarrassment Nigeria will continue to attract in this season of balablu.
“The report by FTSE revealed that Tinubu’s so-called FX unification policy was failing and Nigeria was degraded from frontier market to unclassified. Having failed to bring economic rebirth, he has now recruited over 15 media aides instead of recruiting more economic experts.”
Atiku added that “ it was laughable that Tinubu, who vowed to hit the ground running from the first day, had held only one cabinet meeting since his inauguration nearly 120 days ago.
“Tinubu removed petrol subsidy without any plan whatsoever and decided to hand over a few bags of rice to millions of poor Nigerians. Till date, the minimum wage remains N30,000 or $31 per month based on the parallel market exchange rate.
“In the meantime, we ask Nigerians to remain patient as the judicial authorities do their job in righting the electoral fraud that has brought Nigerians to their knees.”
The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), yesterday, said with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s recent approval of the nomination of Olayemi Cardoso to serve as the substantive Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), some 48 hours after appointing Zachaeus Adedeji as the acting chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), president appeared to be pushing an unseemly pro-ethnic agenda.
In a statement by its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwuniko, the group said, “With a little over 100 days on the saddle, the president’s appointments have shown he appeared to have special consideration for people from his South-West region, especially those with links to Lagos State.
“If President Tinubu’s appointment of new services sparked new hope and drew deserved plaudits in that it recognised the nation’s diversity, his subsequent appointments curiously depart from that template.
“That the disastrous, previous administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, rtd, towed a visionless, divisive path, in the overwhelming tribalistic appointments it made, should never excuse this course that fundamentally degrades the legitimate dream of a new, progressive, inclusive Nigerian state.
“Today, the stakes are extremely high and Nigerians are mindful that a failure to achieve democratic stability, through a meritorious, transparent, inclusive governance process may imperil the country’s future as a coherent state. Mere political rewards and seeming ethnic nationalism should not drive the national journey. It is a perilous, avoidable option.’
“We recall here that the central driving mantra and foundational philosophy on which the ruling All Progressives Congress sold its presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now President, to Nigerians, was ‘Renewed Hope’. Nigerians bought into it and voted the Asiwaju and APC to power because it deeply resonated with the populace. But what is the reality?
“Key appointments traversing the nation’s crucial security, judicial and economic sectors are now unabashedly cornered by the South-West region. A quick, non-exhaustive check-list would include: Petroleum Minister: Bola Tinubu; Chief of Staff: Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Justice: Lateef Fagbemi; Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun; Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Folashodun Shonubi who now gives way to a substantive CBN boss Olayemi Cardoso.
“Others include: Minister of Marine & Blue Economy: Bunmi Tunji-Ojo; Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy: Bosun Tijan; simultaneously, the Chairman of Senate Committee on ICT, Afolabi Salisu, and that of House of Representatives, Adedeji Olajide Odidiomo are both from the South-West; Minister of Power: Adebayo Adelabu; Minister of Transport: Adegboyega Oyetola; Minister of Solid Minerals: Dele Alake; Chief of Army Staff: General Taoreed Lagbaja; Police IG: Kayode Egbetokun; Comptroller-General Customs: Adewale Adeniyi; Comptroller-General Immigration: Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola; FIRS Chairman: Zacchaeus. Adedeji, et cetera, “HURIWA stated.
Also, another civil society group, South West APC Support Groups (SASG), hassaid, “This unfolding pro-ethnic gambit is not surprisingly provoking pushbacks from regional organisations, including the ‘favored’ South-West.
“Some S/West APC stakeholders under the aegis of South West APC Support Groups (SASG) earlier in the day alleged that states in the zone are being sidelined in the appointments of presidential aides announced so far, as only the ‘Lagos boys’ are snatching the slots.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Otunba Dele Fulani, the SASG expressed worry that the trend might be extended to ministerial and board appointments for MDAs if not addressed immediately.
Besides Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s objections to its zone’s alleged peripheral action by the Tinubu administration, the Arewa Economic Forum also recently accused Tinubu of ethnic bias in the selection of appointees into crucial economic sectors.
“We are afraid to state that a situation whereby the appointees in crucial economic sectors are not only from the Southwest but also connected to the Lagos axis suggests a deliberate ‘Yorubanisation’ and ‘Lagoslisation’ of the polity,” chairman of the forum Ibrahim Shehu Yahaya, recently said.
Suspended CBN Governor May Face Trial
Why Deputy Governors Were Dropped
There were hints yesterday that the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele and other top officials of the bank may face trial after all.
This follows the stalling of the plea bargain move between the Federal Government and the embattled apex bank boss.
It was learnt that Emefiele and the affected officials of the apex bank have “not made substantial concessions on some refunds expected from them.”
Sources said that trillions of naira were being tracked by a federal agency but only a few billions of naira was offered as refundable by some of those linked to the suspicious transactions.
Emefiele is being held by the Department of State Service (DSS).
It was gathered that some interceding forces and Emefiele have not made progress on the plea bargain terms.
Despite Emefiele’s offer to step aside in August, the other aspects of plea bargain process were “not substantially met.”
It has also been confirmed that the four deputy governors were dropped because of their alleged complacency when Emefiele was in the saddle at the apex bank.
The Presidency was shocked by the “massive scale of fraud and flagrant violations of the CBN Act,” it was learnt.
It was also learnt that following interventions, the government’s investigation, initially coordinated by a security agency, had recommended plea bargain option with Emefiele, who wanted it.
Apart from Emefiele offering to step aside, other terms were the withdrawal of court cases against the government and the refund of substantial cash allegedly linked to him and others.
But there were strong indications that the plea bargain option may have suffered a setback.
The source said: “Where trillions were being queried, some of those affected have offered to refund about N32 billion only.
“The engagement of the Special Investigator has also uncovered more mismanagement of resources and questionable expenditures in CBN than what some security agencies dug up.
“The findings of the Special Investigator have uncovered a massive rot.”
A source within the Presidency, said the CBN was stinking. He declined to volunteer information on the plea bargain dimension.
The source said the government might prosecute anyone indicted.
He said: “I don’t know whether plea bargain has collapsed or not. I don’t even know if that is on the table to start with. But I know the CBN Governor and the Deputies have been removed.
“The investigations across board are going on and Iam sure the govt will prosecute anyone who has compromised the country.”
Investigation confirmed that the four deputy governors were replaced because of their alleged complacency.
The Presidency source said none of the deputy governors complained when Emefiele was allegedly mismanaging the CBN.
“Most of the DGs “actively collaborated with Emefiele on policies and decisions not in line with the CBN’s mandate,” he said.
Those affected were Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi (Deputy Gov Operations and Acting Governor); Aisha Ahmad (Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability): Adamu Lamtek (Deputy Gov Corporate Services) and Kingsley Obiora (Deputy Governor, Economic Policy).
The source added: “Investigation is still ongoing. The special investigator sure uncovered a lot of rots which implicated the Deputy Governors.
“There is no way the Deputy Governors would have remained with the scale of corruption, poor corporate governance and complacency that happened under Emefiele.
“Allowing them to remain will mean the government has condoned all that went down under their watch.”
Court Halts Notes Redeeming Efforts
The Federal Government has made moves to block the redemption of about 62 promissory notes issued to consultants/contractors engaged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) to retrieve their shares of the Paris Club refunds.
The Federal Government, while faulting the procedure for the issuance of the promissory notes, has prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja to void the notes already issued.
In the suit, now before Justice Inyang Ekwo, the Federal Government and three others, listed as plaintiffs, want the court to, among others, set aside all the promissory notes and issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and their agents “from exercising any proprietary rights” over the promissory notes.
Listed as defendants in the suit are: FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Ned Munir Nwoko, Gregory Nangor Lar, Riok Nigeria Limited, Prince Orji Nwafor Orizu, Olaitan Bello, Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards, and Panic Alert Security System Limited.
Other plaintiffs in the suit are: the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Accountant General of the Federation.
The 62 promissory notes, valued at $418,953,668, were issued to the defendants on September 27, 2021 by the Debt Management Office (DMO) following judgments and orders of mandamus obtained against the Federal Government and the Minister of Finance by the defendants, who were said to have been engaged by the Federal Government and ALGON.
The plaintiffs are contending, among others, that the promissory notes are invalid, having been wrongly issued in violation of relevant laws.
They added that although the promissory notes were executed by the then Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Director General of the DMO, the notes were not signed as required.
The plaintiffs argued that “the promissory notes in issue were wrongly and unlawfully changed on the assets and revenues of the federation instead of the assets and revenues of the states and local governments, who incurred the applicable loans/debts”.
A Principal State Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Oyinlade Koleosho, stated in a supporting affidavit that the promissory notes were wrongly and invalidly issued against the assets of the federation.
The lawyer averred that sections 314 and 317 of the Constitution have separated the assets of a state or local government from the assets of the federation or the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Koleosho added that the 62 promissory notes issued to the defendants are invalid because they were charged on the assets of the Fed Govt, who is not indebted to any of the defendants (contractors/consultants).
The plaintiffs also claimed that the Federal Government of Nigeria did not engage any of the defendants, saying there is no valid consideration for the promissory notes issued to them (defendants).
According to court documents, FSDH Merchant Bank Limited was issued 10 promissory notes for the total value of $67,925,661.00, at the rate of $6,499,561.00 per note (allegedly for the benefit of Nwoko).
Gregory Nangor Lar, who is described as Nwoko’s agent, was issued two promissory notes “for the account/benefit of the second defendant (Nwoko) for the total value of $732,511.00 at the rate of $366,256.00 per note”.
Riok Nigeria Limited was issued 10 Federal Government of Nigeria promissory notes issued for the total value of $142,028, 941.00, at the rate of $14,202,895.00 per note.
Prince Orji Nwafor Orizu was issued 10 promissory notes for the total value of $1,219,440.00 at the rate of $121,944.00 per promissory note.
Olaitan Bello is said to have been issued eight promissory notes for the total value of $215,195.00 at the rate of $21,524.00 per promissory note.
Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards is said to have got 10 promissory notes for the value of $159,000,000.00, at the rate of $15,900,000.00 per note.
Panic Alert Security System Limited was also issued 10 promissory notes for the value of $47,831,920.00 being the total value of the 10 notes, with a value of $4,783,192.00 per note.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Tinubu over “the failure to stop the former governors who are now serving as ministers in his administration from collecting life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their states while they serve as ministers.”
The ministers mentioned in the suit are: Badaru Abubakar; Nyesom Wike; Bello Matawalle; Adegboyega Oyetola; and David Umahi. Others are: Simon Lalong; Atiku Bagudu; and Ibrahim Geidam.
SERAP said, “the ministers are to be joined in the suit as Defendants.”
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1855/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to instruct the former governors who are now serving as ministers to stop collecting life pension, and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their respective states.
SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to instruct the former governors who are now serving as ministers to forthwith return any pensions and ‘retirement benefits’ collected by them since leaving office to the public treasury.”
SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure by President Tinubu to publicly instruct former governors who are now serving as ministers to stop collecting life pensions, exotic cars, and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their states while serving as ministers is a violation of his constitutional oath of office.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “Compelling and directing President Tinubu to stop the former governors from collecting any ‘retirement benefits’ while serving as ministers would serve the public interest, especially given the current grave economic realities in the country.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “The appointment of those who collect life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ as ministers is an arbitrary and unlawful exercise of discretion and presidential power of appointment.”
According to SERAP, “While many pensioners are not paid their pensions, former governors serving as ministers get paid huge severance benefits upon leaving office, and are poised to enjoy double emoluments on top of the opulence of political office holders.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “The Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to stop the former governors from collecting any ‘retirement benefits while serving as ministers.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “The appointment of former governors who collect life pensions while serving as ministers is implicitly forbidden by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international legal obligations.”
“Constitutional oath of office requires public officials to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting ‘retirement benefits’ while serving as ministers. This is clearly inconsistent with the public trust and the overall objectives of the Constitution. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
“Stopping the former governors from collecting double emoluments would ensure that the country’s wealth and resources are used for the common good and benefit of the socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians rather than to satisfy the opulent lifestyle of a few politicians.”
“Compelling President Tinubu to stop the former governors from collecting any ‘retirement benefits’ would ensure that the exercise of presidential power of appointment is entirely consistent with requirements of the Nigerian Constitution and the fundamental principles of integrity and honesty.”
“The following former governors are now ministers in the Tinubu administration: Badaru Abubakar (former governor of Jigawa State and Minister of Defence); and Nyesom Wike (former governor of River State and FCT Minister).”
“Others include: Bello Matawalle (former governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence); Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola (former governor of Osun State and Minister of Transportation); and David Umahi (Minister of Works).”
“Others are Simon Bako Lalong (former governor of Plateau State and Minister of Labour and Employment); Atiku Bagudu (former governor of Kebbi State and Minister of Budget and Economic Planning); Ibrahim Geidam (former governor of Yole State and Minister of Police of Affairs.”
“The states currently implementing life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ for former governors reportedly include Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers. These states owe workers’ salaries and remain the poorest in the country.”
“Several of the pension laws in these states include provisions for six cars every three years, a house in Lagos worth N750 million, and another in Abuja worth N1 billion, unrestricted access to medical attention, and pensionable cooks, stewards, and gardeners.”
“Other provisions include 100 per cent annual salaries of the incumbent governor, security operatives and police officers permanently assigned to former governors.”
“In President Tinubu’s inaugural speech as president, he promised that his administration would be guided by ‘the principle of the rule of law, a shared sense of fairness and equity’, and that ‘Nigeria will be governed according to the constitution.’”
“These commitments are consistent with the constitutional duties under sections 5, 130 and 147, and oath of office, under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
“By the combined reading of these provisions, the Tinubu government has a legal obligation to appoint as ministers former governors whose conduct is entirely consistent and compatible with constitutional and international legal requirements.”
“The country’s international legal obligations especially under the UN Convention against Corruption also impose a legal commitment on public officials to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully.”
“Life pensions for former governors serving as ministers are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”
“The convention specifically in paragraph 1 of article 8 requires the Tinubu government to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility in the management of public resources.”
“Furthermore, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a judgment dated 26 November, 2019 also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal. Indeed, former governors collecting ‘retirement benefits’ while serving as ministers would clearly amount to taking advantage of entrusted public positions.”
“‘Public function’ means activities in the public interest, not against it. The alleged collection of ‘retirement benefits’ by former governors now serving as ministers amount to private self-interest or self-dealing. It is also detrimental to the public interest.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Operatives of Anambra State Police Command have arrested a man, Chinedu Ezeudu, for allegedly selling nude pictures and videos of a woman on social media.
Ezedu, a native of Ndi Ikpa village Ezinato community in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, was accused of leaking the materials after attempts to get money from her through blackmail failed.
He allegedly sold the nude videos of the young woman to persons who requested it for N3,000.
The suspect was arrested after the victim made a report to the office of the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Children’s Welfare, Mrs Ify Obinabo.
The Media aide of the commissioner, Miss Chidinma Ikeanyionwu, who confirmed the incident, shared the nude after the victim refused to pay the ransom demanded.
“The victim said she lost her memory card in March 2023 but was later chatted up by the suspect in June, with a request for a huge amount of money in order not to leak the nude videos.
“When she refused to pay, the suspect threatened to post the video on all social media platforms but was confronted by the husband of the victim and asked to delete the video. Before then he had already duplicated it.”
She said despite the warnings, the suspect released the video on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms, and sold them to those who requested.
Ikeanyionwu said, “When the incident was reported to the office of the commissioner for women and social welfare Anambra State by the victim accompanied by Hon Ejike Okechukwu, the suspect was quickly arrested by the Anambra State Police Command.”
She stated that the suspect would be arraigned before the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court in Awka once the investigation is concluded.
Gas retailers have warned that the price of 12.5kg cooking gas may hit N18,000 by December if the Federal Government does not restrict the activities of the terminal owners.
The President, Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, Olatunbosun Oladapo, told The PUNCH on Sunday, that the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas also known as cooking gas has “gone astronomically high at terminals as a result of a sudden increment from between N9-N10m per 20 metric tons to N14m per 20 metric tons.
“There is a ridiculous hike in gas prices going on right now, and I am afraid that if the Federal Government does not step in to checkmate the activities of these terminal owners, price could reach as high as N18m per metric tons by December. This means that a 12.5kg could go as high as N18,000.”
According to him, terminal owners were “hiding under the guise of high foreign exchange to increase price to further increase the suffering of the masses.”
Olatunbosun said there was no justification for the increment, as the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited still supplied the market.
He said, “NNPCL currently takes 59 per cent of the gas produced by NLNG, although NLNG has also increased its price from N6m to N8m. Now, because NLNG has increased price, NNPCL and terminal owners have increased price to N14m.
“The increase in price that would take effect is not the fault of retailers. It is the fault of NLNG and terminal owners. Even NNPCL is hiding under the guise that they are now privatised to increase prices. As of last week, 1kg was N800 at the terminal, now it is N1,200, and could reach N1,500 by December if care is not taken.”
He added, “Now, the ordinary man would not be able to buy gas. How many minimum wage earners can afford gas now? Everyone is turning to firewood and charcoal. The surprising thing was that they visited President Tinubu last week, and promised to work together with his administration to make life better. Now they have come back and started doing something else. Where are all the palliatives and busses they promised to donate? We have not seen anything.”
The PUNCH had reported an intended hike in cooking gas prices in August. Prices had since shot up, with 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas going as high as high as N10,000.
Although gas terminal owners did not have a visible association, spokespersons for NavGas, Friday Agwu, and Nipco Plc’s Askay Kumar, blamed the hike on forex and the international market.
“No one is selling at N1,200/kg. I have not heard such high price yet,” Kumar told The PUNCH via a telephone conversation on Sunday. He however declined to respond when asked how much the landing cost was.
Friday blamed the price on forex and raise in price of crude oil at the international market.
“Flat price increase and forex challenges, and LPG responding to crude price increase at the international market,” he said via a whatssap message to The PUNCH.