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Kachikwu: $40bn Spent on Niger Delta in 12 Years without Result

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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.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Lagos State Moves to Completely Ban Okada, Keke, Introduces Minibuses

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The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to completely ban the use of motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke) due to rising crime and lawlessness across the state.

The announcement was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.

In the meeting attended by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba; the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, traditional and religious leaders and members of the civil society, among others, the governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent action.

Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such a haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said from next week, the state would be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which would take the routes the motorcycles were plying.

The state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches from the menace of okada operations in the state.

He said between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were impounded in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.

In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.

At the end of the meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached, among which was a ban on Okada “as a means of transportation in the state.”

 

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2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.

But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”

Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.

INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.

INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.

Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.

“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.

“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”

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No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari

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AFRICOM HQ

The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.

The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.

The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.

Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.

Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.

Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.

“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”

However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.

In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.

This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.

King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.

She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.

“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”

It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador

Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.

He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.

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