The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on Friday said there was nothing on ground to justify the over $40 billion that has accrued to the Niger Delta region in the past 12 years through various intervention agencies.
The minister, who spoke at a meeting held at PTI Conference Centre in Warri, Delta State involving prominent leaders from the coastal states, including representatives of the various ethnic groups, Isoko, Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ibiobio and others, said the $40 billion came mainly from oil companies, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, 13% derivation and other intervention funds.
He declared in the presence of monarchs, youth leaders, politicians and Secretary of MEND: “I’ve been to the creeks myself and discovered that there was no meaningful development of the riverine communities as expected by the federal government despite the huge amount disbursed to the region.”
Stating that the state of infrastructure is disappointing despite the huge effort to alleviate the infrastructural defect in the region. He called for an audit of money expended in the region so far to know what exactly went wrong to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
“I think we need an audit because it will not be wise to have agitation of this kind in circle after each agitation will come back again to demand for the same thing when intervention funds had made no impact on the lives of the ordinary people.
The minister also used the forum to assure leaders of the zone that President Muhammadu Buhari was not thinking of using the military to resolve the crisis in the region.
Instead, he maintained that the President was desirous of using dialogue to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The meeting yesterday was convened by Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark in reaction to last Thursday visit to the minister by Ijaw Monarchs.
The minister urged the leaders to prevail on their youths to allow peace to reign in the region noting that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of violence.
He told the Niger Delta leaders that the federal government was committed to the development of the region promising to come out soon with short and long term plans in that direction.
Clark had told the minister that he should no longer entertain any group or groups that visited him under the guise of the Niger Delta struggle without asking them whether they had the permission of their leaders.
He said the Ijaw Monarchs that visited the minister caused great embarrassment for him as other ethnic groups thought the struggle was that of Ijaws.
Earlier, the Secretary of MEND, Timipa Jenkins Okponipene told the meeting that his group had accepted Clark’s leadership of the proposed team that will dialogue with the federal government.
He however said MEND would nominate three persons while Chief Clark’s team will nominate another three with slots for other ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, Kachikwu disclosed that Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and all other militant groups have agreed to dialogue with the federal government, to resolve the crisis in the region.
He stated that he has the full confidence of the president on this matter and had briefed him regularly the progress he was making on how he was able to win the confidence of the millitants who had resisted all entreaties for peace.
He said it took a lot of work behind the scene with the help of people like Timi Alaibe who made contacts that had finally resulted to the ceasefire that we have now. It was a delicate balancing act that still requires a lot of work to consolidate, we are not there yet, but we will get there,” he added.
President Tinubu Orders Immediate Settlement of N342m Electricity Bill for Presidential Villa
President Bola Tinubu has directed the prompt settlement of a N342 million outstanding electricity bill owed by the Presidential Villa to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
This move comes in response to the reconciliation of accounts between the State House Management and the AEDC.
The AEDC had earlier threatened to disconnect electricity services to the Presidential Villa and 86 Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) over a total outstanding debt of N47.20 billion as of December 2023.
Contrary to the initial claim by the AEDC that the State House owed N923 million in electricity bills, the Presidency clarified that the actual outstanding amount is N342.35 million.
This discrepancy underscores the importance of accurate accounting and reconciliation between entities.
In a statement signed by President Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency affirmed the commitment to settle the debt promptly.
Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila assured that the debt would be paid to the AEDC before the end of the week.
The directive from the Presidency extends beyond the State House, as Gbajabiamila urged other MDAs to reconcile their accounts with the AEDC and settle their outstanding electricity bills.
The AEDC, on its part, issued a 10-day notice to the affected government agencies to settle their debts or face disconnection.
This development highlights the importance of financial accountability and responsible management of public utilities.
It also underscores the necessity for government entities to fulfill their financial obligations to service providers promptly, ensuring uninterrupted services and avoiding potential disruptions.
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Issues Ultimatum to 86 Government Agencies Over N47bn Debt
The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has issued an ultimatum to 86 government agencies, including the Presidential Villa, owing a collective debt of N47 billion.
The notice comes as a response to the prolonged failure of these agencies to settle their outstanding electricity bills.
According to the public notice released by the AEDC management, some of the highest debts are attributed to prominent entities such as the National Security Adviser (owing N95.9 billion), the Chief of Defence staff barracks, and military formations (indebted to the tune of N12 billion).
Also, several ministries, including the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory and the Ministry of Power, have sizable outstanding bills.
The AEDC has expressed its frustration over the inability of these government bodies to honor their financial obligations despite previous attempts to facilitate payment.
In response, the company has warned of imminent disconnection of services if the outstanding debts are not settled within 10 days of the notice.
The outstanding debts are attributed to various factors including the devaluation of the naira, cash scarcity resulting from demonetization programs, high inflation rates, removal of fuel subsidies, and foreign exchange challenges.
These financial burdens have adversely impacted the operations of the AEDC, contributing to a loss of N99 million in foreign exchange alone.
As the deadline for payment approaches, government agencies are under pressure to address their outstanding debts to avoid service disruptions.
The AEDC remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that all entities fulfill their financial obligations, underscoring the importance of prompt payment for uninterrupted electricity services.
Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso’s Exit from ECOWAS Raises Economic Concerns
Plans by military-ruled Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to break away from a West African bloc have the potential to backfire on their already fragile economies and exacerbate widespread food insecurity.
The trio of nations are all landlocked and among the poorest in the region, with annual per-capita gross domestic product of less than $1,000.
Exiting the Economic Community of West African States places them at risk of losing access to a $702 billion market, and exposes them to increased tariffs and restrictions on the movement of goods and financial flows.
“The military coup leaders who control Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have managed to score the silliest own goal since the UK voted for Brexit,” Charlie Robertson, head of macro-strategy at FIM Partners, said in an emailed note. “They take out 8% of Ecowas’ GDP and lose access to markets like Nigeria and Ghana, which together have a GDP of $467 billion.”
Ecowas members benefit from the free movement of goods, capital and people within the bloc. While trade between its 15 members is dominated by Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria, and remains relatively small at about $277 million — or about 15% of the total they conduct — it has the potential to grow to as much as $2 billion over the next few years, the International Trade Centre said last year.
Sub-Saharan Africa has seen nine successful military coups since 2020, and Ecowas has been pushing for a return to civilian rule among those within its ranks. It suspended Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso and imposed far-reaching economic and diplomatic sanctions on them, but the latter two nations have since been readmitted to the bloc and relations had been regularized.
Nigeria, which holds Ecowas’ rotating chairmanship and generates more than half its GDP, said it deplored the juntas’ actions, which amounted to “public posturing” and would deny their populations the right to free movement and trade, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop defended the decision to leave Ecowas, saying it posed a threat to his nation and that its push for elections to be held was hurting its people.
“This decision was in our best interest in order to protect our interests and work with friendly countries,” he told public broadcaster ORTM on Monday. “We’re not alone, we have Niger and Burkina Faso.”
Besides putting trade at risk, the three nations’ ability to access credit will also be impacted — they are all reliant on the regional market for financing because they can’t access international capital.
Mali and Niger defaulted on their domestic debt in 2021 and 2023 respectively after they lost access to the regional market. Burkina Faso has retained access, but if it is withdrawn its credit rating may be downgraded because of the increased risk of it being unable to refinance its commercial debt, S&P Global Ratings said in an emailed note.
“It’s a bit early to assess what the impact is going to be,” Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday. “In general, having an integrated economic area is something that’s going to be favorable, conducive to trade and conducive to higher growth. Moving away from this is going to have the opposite effect.”
The juntas haven’t indicated whether they intend leaving the West African Economic and Monetary Union, which seeks to promote financial integration in West Africa and regulates a regional central bank and the French-backed common West African franc that’s used by eight countries. Such a move would make it very difficult for commercial banks to continue operating.
“The impact of exiting the WAEMU – which is not Moody’s baseline expectation – would have credit-negative implications for regional banks across the monetary union,” Mik Kabeya, a Moody’s Investors Service vice president and senior analyst, said in an emailed response to questions.
On Sunday, Ecowas said it was ready to find a negotiated solution to the “political impasse.” It hasn’t followed through on previous threats to reinstate elected leaders by force.
“Putting the threat of military intervention on the table without the desire to follow through, was a show of weakness, not strength,” Joachim MacEbong, a senior governance analyst at Stears Insights, said in an emailed response to questions. “It has probably emboldened the regimes to think they can negotiate.”
Mali and Burkina Faso are scheduled to hold elections this year, according to agreements they struck with Ecowas. Niger has complicated talks with the bloc, preventing its mediators who visited the capital, Niamey, last week from leaving the airport.
The juntas “want to stay in power,” Ibrahima Kane, Executive Director of Open Society Foundations Africa, said by phone from Dakar, Senegal’s capital. “Naturally they will try to get maximum from the bargain.”
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