- N’Delta Militants Might Return to Creeks, Clark Warns Buhari
A critical stakeholder in the Ijaw nation and leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief E.K. Clark has warned that Niger Delta militias might return to the creeks and resume hostilities if the federal government holds out too long on the issue of dialogue with the agitators.
He stated this in his country home, Kiagbodo in Delta State this week while receiving the newly sworn-in executives of Izon-Ebe Oil and Gas Producing Communities Association (IOGPCA) – an association of oil and gas contractors of Ijaw extraction that cut across the entire oil-rich region.
According to Clark, “It is getting late for President Muhammadu Buhari and the federal government on the issue of dialogue with the aggrieved Niger Delta agitators who have stopped the bombing of pipelines and other oil facilities.
“If the dialogue fails to commence as soon as possible, the boys may feel betrayed and go back to the creeks and resume hostilities.
“I saw the president’s media man (Femi Adesina) claiming that we are not one and not united, and that the federal government was still looking for people to negotiate with.
“That was a great insult to us. I was in government before he was born. On July 30, 2016, I summoned a meeting of all Ijaw leaders and traditional rulers to my house in Warri and the Deputy Governor of Delta State was in attendance.
“After that first meeting, I decided to call for another one with paid adverts in national dailies, since it was not only the Ijaws that have oil and gas.”
The Ijaw leader added that at that meeting, which was held at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Effurun, with over 500 delegates in attendance, the Ijaw leaders advised the agitators to lay down their arms and stop the destruction and vandalism of oil and gas facilities.
Clark added that after the meeting, the “boys in the creeks” quickly responded and mandated him to negotiate on their behalf, stating that on November 1, 2016, he led a delegation comprising traditional rulers, leaders, women and youth leaders from the Niger Delta to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they presented to the federal government a 16-point demand for dialogue and negotiations.
“Yet, this government is saying that it does not know whom to negotiate with. We are ready to negotiate, the earlier the better. Therefore we are using this opportunity of you coming to see me, to tell the federal government that it’s getting too late. We are Nigerians and we are nationalists,” the Ijaw leader warned.
The elder statesman also highlighted some of the educational benefits for the Ijaws under the amnesty programme, adding that of those who graduated from universities in 2015, four of them made first class, 26 made second class upper in Benson Idahosa University, Benin City in 2016, while 187 passed with second class upper and lower divisions.
He advised the association to maintain peace in expressing their grievances and should not let their enemies to divide them.
“Let us come together and fight our cause as one. I am happy that you realised that for us to achieve our aim we must come together and fight our common enemy,” Clark added.
On the issue of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, he also warned against the scrapping of the university, adding, “I do not see any reason why people are opposed to the Maritime University in Okerenkoko as this was something that was recommended as far back as 1998.”
He congratulated the association’s president, Hon. James Edoukumo and his executive members for their victory in their elections, and urged them to always respect their traditional rulers, elders and leaders.
Chief Clark, who said he will be 90 this year, said for the government to take the oil and gas from the Niger Delta, it should be ready to develop the region.
COVID-19: World Bank to Support Nigerian Frontline Healthcare Workers With $114.28m
World Bank Strengthens Nigerian Response to COVID-19
The World Bank has once again approved another $114.28 million financing for Nigeria to improve its COVID-19 response time and further curb the spread of the virus in Africa’s most populous nation.
The multilateral financial institution said the money will help Africa’s largest economy prevent, detect and respond to the threat of ravaging COVID-19 better.
In a statement titled “Nigeria to boost states capacity for COVID-19 response” and released on Friday, the lender said the fund includes $100 million credit facility from the International Development Association and $14.28 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
The statement reads, “Through the COVID-19 preparedness and response project (CoPREP), the government of Nigeria will provide grants to 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory as immediate support to break the chain of COVID-19 local transmission and limit the spread of coronavirus through containment and mitigation strategies.”
The lender, however, stated that grants for states would be based on the adoption of COVID-19 measures and strategies. In particular, the strategies must be in line with the ones put in place by the Federal Government.
“CoPREP will enhance the institutional and operational capacity for disease detection through provision of technical expertise, coordination support, detection, diagnosis and case management efforts in all states and the FCT as per the WHO guidelines in the strategic response plan,” it stated.
The bank added that it would help the Federal Government in such response capacity through the training of frontline healthcare workers and provision of the necessary equipment to aid their work, strengthen public healthcare network for emergencies and generally improve their response efficiency.
Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director, Nigeria said, “Nigeria has ramped up its efforts to contain the COVID -19 outbreak, but more needs to be done at the state level, which are at the frontline of the response.”
Mismanagement of Public Funds and Resources Will Destroy Nigeria, Says Stakeholders
Some concerned stakeholders have said the broad-based financial misappropriation, abuse of public office by Public Officeholders and unchecked borrowing will destroy the nation’s present and future if not checked.
According to Auwal Musa, the Executive Director, CISLAC, who spoke at a stakeholders’ dialogue on ‘Policies, Gaps and Alternatives in Fiscal Transparency in Private Sector Governance,’ organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI), with support from OXFAM’s country office in Nigeria, abuse of power and financial recklessness as been going on for far too long.
Musa said, “This has been going on for too long, and every singular effort from the citizens is termed as hate or unpatriotic. Meanwhile, the consequences of this anomaly are staring us in the face on a daily basis and are on the increase. Increased poverty; banditry allegedly occasioned by rising unemployment; and unpatriotic citizens trooping into leadership positions to perpetuate the looting and misappropriation due to no oversight and punitive sanctions, not to mention health, infrastructure and societal decay. The list is inexhaustible.”
He also implored the Government that in order to reduce the excessive misuse of public resources, mismanagement of finances and strengthen the financial management system, the holes that encourage people to evade and undermine the collection of taxes must be bridged and in-depth economic improvement devised to close policy gaps.
“There are many areas in which the government can increase its revenue drive. For instance, in the Oil and Gas sector, there are a lot of gaps as a result of lack of a clear legal framework through the PIB, which will enable the sector to be more efficient, transparent and competitive. Again, the oil theft needs to be blocked; other areas like maritime revenue can be harnessed in these sectors.
“Also, the government should block the areas where revenues are supposed to be collected and are not collected. For instance, the audit report clearly shows how the government is losing revenue.” he said.
The stakeholders urge policymakers to look for other sources of revenue that can guarantee development in Nigeria.
Also, speaking at the event was the Programme Manager, Tax, Justice, Environment and Conservation of Nature, CISLAC, Chinedu Bassey, who said one of the reasons to strengthen the Nigerian financial management system is to stop people from stealing and mismanaging resources meant for development.
Iheme Madukairo, the Manager, Large Tax Audit, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), advised Nigerians who evade taxes to stop such act that the law will take its course.
He said “Enforcement is out there, sleeves are rolled up to do the job that we are mandated to do by the act and sooner or later, we will catch up with them. The sanctions have also increased by virtue of the finance act. The penalty has been increased, once it is found out that it is a deliberate act to breach the law, the law will take its course.”
Lai Mohammed Says Buhari Has Recovered Over N800bn in Looted Funds
Buhari Has Recovered Over N800bn in Looted Funds
President Muhammadu Buhari government has recovered over N800 billion looted by corrupt Nigerians since the beginning of this administration in 2015.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, disclosed this on Tuesday at a press conference held in Abuja.
He said, “This administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim.
“This administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800bn, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has made recovery of Nigeria’s stolen assets one of his priorities since he became president in 2015.
Several of Nigeria’s untouchables have been convicted despite political experts and social commentators saying the war against corruption should not be only against opposition but also against those in the ruling party that seems to have been overlooked.
Still, the ruling party has insisted that members of the party have been convicted and one of such is Kalu.
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