Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government of shielding the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi from prosecution over misappropriation of proceeds from the sales of some the State assets.
The governor said it is disingenuous for the Federal Government to flag off narrow gauge railway from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri at a time when the rest of the world is building standard gauge railway.
Governor Wike stated during the commissioning of 6.1km long, 7.3m wide Omuihuechi-Omuoko-Omokiri link Road in Aluu Ikwerre Local Government Area on Wednesday.
The governor said it is appalling that the Federal Government has continued the shield of Minister of Transportation from prosecution for his inability to account for $308 Million from the sales of the State owned power plant and other critical assets when he was the Governor of Rivers State.
Governor Wike noted that it is because the federal government is protecting the Minister that he has consistently made efforts to undermine the State government by influencing who is to be posted as Commissioner of Police and General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army to Rivers State.
“People gave you opportunity. You sold our properties, everything. And people are talking in this State because of the Government that says they are fighting corruption and protecting people. You (Amaechi) sold our property for $308 Million and kept for us $208,000. That is the kind of people parading themselves in government, for a government that says they are fighting corruption, shame.”
The governor urged the people of the State not to be deceived by antics of the APC government following the flag off narrow gauge rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. According to him, the project flag off is politically motivated.
“I heard people came to Rivers State to flag off narrow gauge (rail) when the world is talking of standard gauge. What they are giving Rivers state is narrow gauge because I challenged them, show us what you have done for the people of the State. So, what they will do is to come and say okay, since you are complaining let us come and give you that narrow gauge.
“Instead of giving us the standard gauge to Maiduguri and they are making noise about it. Rivers State, the treasure base of the nation, the State that they used their money to produce their President. Towards the end of their administration is when they come and tell us of narrow gauge railway.”
He added: “You want to finish the narrow gauge in 33 months. Will he be in power then? I am going to finish every project I have awarded, this Government will finish it.”
The governor explained that the proposed University of Transport in Ubima , Rivers State ,is deceitful because the Minister of Transportation lacks the capacity to see the project through.
According to him: “Since 2015 it is now you want to go to Ubima to build University of Transport.”
Governor Wike said despite his Amaechi’s vehement opposition to his political aspiration to govern the State in 2015 and 2019, he had been elected twice as governor.
“They said we will not be governor, we taught them lesson in politics. In 2015, they said over their dead body will we be governor, am looking for the dead body. 2019 they said we will not be governor, that they are in power. I said you are not in power, God is in power. We defeated them. They are small kids in politics.
He further added: “But let me warn the man who thinks he has President , he has soldiers, he has police, you should have learnt your lesson by now , that when God has left you there is nothing you can do again.”
Former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Sir Austin Opara, said at a time when the federal and state governments are struggling with COVID 19, Governor Wike has instead being commissioning and flagging off projects across the State.
“Federal Government has relied on the disturbances of COVID 19, states are grappling with inability to pay salaries, you are still commissioning projects, you are breaking grounds, you are commissioning more projects. Indeed, it gives concern, what is the magic.
“When you started, your critics what they were saying was that even what he is doing, he is just working in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, you immediately started commissioning projects in Eleme, Tai, Gokana, Khana, Akuku-Toru, Ikwerre, Emohua and many other Local Governments, then they kept quite.”
Opara noted that the announcement that the Rivers State will be building a Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Centre worth 25 Billion Naira soon is gladdening.
He said in a civilized clime, the Federal Government should have sent a delegation to Rivers State to understudy Governor Wike’s government, to indeed imbibe and learn what is the secret of his success.
“So, indeed I recommend to the APC led Federal Government to send a high powered delegation to Rivers State to understudy the infrastructural revolution that is taking place in the state.”
Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, said the Omuihuechi-Omuoko-Omokiri road before the administration of Governor Wike was a well established nightmare for residents and road users.
He explained that the reconstructed road 6.1km long, 7.3m wide road complete with drains on both sides which measure 12.2km .
“This road is of immense benefit to the 3 communities it is named after, it is also of benefit to residents and people of Choba community, it is of benefit to the students and staff of the University of Port Harcourt, it is of benefit to land and home owners in this area.
It is of benefit to real estate development within and around Aluu.”
Refineries Not Created To Reduce Petrol Price, Kyari Tells Senate
Forty eight hours after being summoned by the Senate, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, has now appeared before the joint committee on appropriations.
The Senate had issued a 24-hour ultimatum on Wednesday to the NNPCL boss after an observations that he had in previous occasions, shunned summons by the Senate to appear before its ad-committee probing over 11 trillion naira expenditure on turn around maintenance of refineries in the country between 2010 and 2023.
Responding to questions by the senate committee on appropriations on the potential drop in pump price of petroleum owing to the expected functionality of refineries, Kyari clarified his comment after he was interrogated again. He explained that it might be possible to have a reduction, but it is not the main objective of the refineries.
He buttressed that maintaining the energy security target has fostered the confidence that in 2024, Nigeria will become a net exporter of petroleum products.
The NNPCL boss affirmed that no subsidy is charged to the federation, adding that the NNPC has contributed 4.45 trillion naira as direct revenue into the federation in a combination of taxes, royalties and dividends and paid 406 billion naira as dividend to Federal Government’s account from July 2023.
According to him, Nigeria does not have credible data for PMS consumption in the country because of the absence of the instrument to measure.
The Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Senator Adeola Olamilekan, had on Wednesday, directed Kyari to appear before the committee in 24 hours.
Olamilekan, who asked Kyari to appear in company of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), warned that failure to appear undermines the legislature and sabotages the process.
They are required to present the list of all individual companies operating with OML licenses in Nigeria as well as total production output approved on a daily basis.
The lawmaker expressed concerns that some of the revenues required to drive the 2024 budget was attributed to the NNPCL, which according to him, was owned by the Federal Government and responsible to it, and by extension the three arms of government. Channels TV.
Labour Leaders Meet To Work Out Living Wages
Ahead of the expected resumption of negotiation between the Federal Government and the organised labour on the new Minimum Wage, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, is meeting in Abuja to brainstorm so as to arrive at a living wage that is commensurate with the prevailing cost of living.
This came as the NLC has vowed not to be deterred by the recent assault on workers and their leaders in Imo State, which it said poses a grave threat to freedom of association and collective bargaining as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.
These were contained in the welcome address by the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, at the Opening Session of the NLC 2023 Harmattan School with the theme: “Building Workers’ Skills for Policy Engagement” in Abuja.
Ajaero, represented by the Congress Deputy President, Benjamin Anthony said: “In the face of adversity and brutality encountered while advocating for the rights of workers to earn their legitimate income and benefits, our resolve remains unwavering. We are motivated to continue our efforts towards achieving decent work and improving working conditions in the formal and informal sectors of the economy.
“The recent assault on workers and their leaders in Imo State poses a grave threat to freedom of association and collective bargaining as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, and should unequivocally be condemned by all people of goodwill.
“The only thing that can assuage our pains is for the Imo State Government to address all labour issues and return the so called ‘ghost workers’ to their jobs, pay all outstanding salaries and pensions and call back all victimized workers to their jobs.
“It has become very necessary for governments at all levels to recognize that life and living conditions are exceedingly difficult, especially for working people in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy.”
“The removal of subsidy on petroleum products has further exacerbated the challenges faced by working people, unleashing severe pain and contributing to galloping inflation and increasing inequality and poverty.
“We must reckon that a well-motivated and well-remunerated workforce has a positive impact on productivity and national development,” he added.
He implored participants to approach the training programme with a quest and thirst for knowledge through asking of questions and sharing of experiences with the facilitators and with one another.
He thanked the representative of the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Country Director of the ILO for the English Speaking, West African Countries, the Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, the Resident Representative of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES, Country Director of the Solidarity Centre, members of the NAC, CWC and NEC of the NLC for finding time to attend the Opening Session of the 2023 School.
Operatives Of NDLEA Uncover Illicit Drugs Concealed In Dolls, Local Soap, Milo Tins
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have uncovered illicit substances bound for Europe, United Arab Emirates and Asia.
Disclosing this in a statement on Sunday, NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi, said the illicit substances intercepted included various quantities of methamphetamine and opioids concealed in hems of new jeans trousers, dolls, buttons, local soap and tins of milo beverage.
Noting that the operation was carried out by operatives of the Directorate of Operations and General Investigation (DOGI) at courier houses in Lagos, he said some of the items seized included tramadol 225mg concealed in hems of new jeans trousers heading to Cyprus; shipment of cannabis sativa hidden in heads of dolls going to Dubai; sachets of tramadol 225mg buried in tins of milo beverage going to UAE; and another set of same drug hidden in local soap also going to UAE.
Others were a consignment of methamphetamine concealed in buttons heading to Hong Kong; and a shipment of another illicit substance coming from Florida, USA.
“Operatives in Lagos on Friday 1st December also arrested a drug kingpin, Okechukwu Ogala, 56, who specialises in exploiting and recruiting young citizens to export meth to Asian countries.
“He was arrested at Blue Moon Hotel in Okota area of Lagos with 60 wraps of methamphetamine weighing 1.009 kilograms.
“In another operation in Lagos, operatives on Friday 1st December recovered 393kgs of cannabis in a shop at Akala, Mushin while a suspect, Justin Enuonye, who deals in Canadian Loud was arrested by the police at Victoria Island and transferred to Lagos Command of NDLEA on Friday 1st December with 154 parcels weighing 92kgs.
“A team of NDLEA operatives also intercepted a vehicle at Oyingbo area of Lagos and recovered 108kgs of cannabis from it, while 675 kilograms of the same substance were recovered from the store of a wanted dealer, Wahab Olota at Adedoja area of Mushin, Lagos,” Babafemi said. Channels TV.
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