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NIGERIA

NDDC dismisses allegations of missing N40bn •Publishes list of payments

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has published the list of all payments made by it between February 20 and May 5 this year, in what seem to be a departure from the past.

The publication, which was in response to allegations that N40 billion was missing from its accounts, detailed the beneficiaries of the payments, projects paid for and the date and time.

The Commission rather affirmed that the sum of N35.3 billion was disbursed to vendors and contractors between February and May 2020.

The Senate had launched a probe into alleged missing N40 billion under the leadership of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), an action that immediately pitted the Commission and its supervising Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs against the Senate resulting in series of allegations and counter-allegations from all sides.

But in a statement published yesterday, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the NDDC disclosed that the move to pay the sums became necessary in order to alleviate the suffering of the vendors which, it argued, had a ripple effect on the Niger Delta region.

It further explained the action was in line with recent mandate handed to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari to change it former ways and act responsibly.

The statement, which was issued by Mr. Charles Odili, the Director, Corporate Affairs, reads as follows: “In a rare display of transparency, the NDDC presents details of the N35.3 billion paid to vendors and contractors between February 20 and May 5, 2020.

“The management of the Niger Delta Development Commission has been inundated by enquiries from stakeholders following allegations that the expanded Interim Management Committee (IMC) misappropriated N40 billion between February 20 2020 and May 5 2020.

“Although, most of our stakeholders are aware of the malevolent intentions of those making these allegations, we believe that we owe them a duty of transparency to present the true financial picture of payments by the Commission during the period.

“We are therefore taking the unusual steps of publishing all payments made by the Commission between February 20, when the expanded IMC came into office and May 5 when the allegations were made.

“The list covers the beneficiaries of the payments, the projects which they executed and for which the Commission had a contractual obligation to pay, the amount paid and the date and time of payments. The IMC has only paid out N35.3 billion to vendors and contractors within the period. The debts paid covered historical debts to vendors, some of whom had been owed between N1 million and N3 million for up to eight years.”

The statement further added that “the payments were intended to save lives and livelihood as well as alleviate the suffering in the region. Most of the vendors borrowed monies from banks to render services to the Commission. Some became very ill in hospitals.

“The mandate handed down to this IMC by Mr President through the Honorable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs is that the Commission must change from the ways of the past. Acting responsibly in honouring obligations is part of the changed ethos,” the statement said.

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NIGERIA

Ijaw nation vows to resist national water resources bill

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Following its earlier condemnation by different groups and individuals, the Ijaw Nations Development Group (INDG) has condemned the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill in the National Assembly, vowing to resist it vehemently.

The INDG described the bill as not only provocative but also a complete distortion of Nigeria’s federalism, insisting that reintroduction of the bill was the height of insensitivity to the plight of ordinary Nigerians.

Ijaw stakeholders, who stated this yesterday during a virtual meeting attended by over 100 participants, lamented that the Federal Government sent the bill to the National Assembly without engaging the states and peoples that are the direct stakeholders but only acknowledged them as footnotes.

The Keynote Speaker at the meeting, Anthony George-Ikoli (SAN), described the bill as a deleterious agenda.

“Taking a critical look at the National Water Resources Bill 2020, currently in the legislature and our national consciousness, I am compelled to align myself with more speakers, who in recent times, have come to the conclusion that such a bill can only be the product of an undisclosed, deleterious agenda,” he said.

He explained that true federalism usually serves to recognize the rights of the constituent units to ownership and protection of the same, noting that by its vesting sections, the bill represented an egregious distortion of federalism.

“The Federal Government has not only deprived the states of the minerals and mineral oil in the land within their territories, but it is also now plotting to take the only resource left for the states to administer for the benefit of their people through the National Water Resources Bill,” he added.

He said the time was past when the Ijaw nation would sit aloof and watch, but it was time to set an agenda for its legislators at all levels.

Another speaker and Niger Delta activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, said it was disheartening that the Federal Government was tampering with the rights of Ijaw people and the Niger Delta region.

“Water represents life and belongs to my people, we live on and by the water. For the first time, the Ijaw have to wake up because they have taken our land, oil, and air through pollution and now, they want to take our water. It is our responsibility to protect our rights,” she stated.

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NIGERIA

Finally, APC concedes defeat, admits Edo poll free, fair

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The governing All Progressives Congress on Monday conceded defeat 24 hours after Governor Godwin Obaseki, of the Peoples Democratic Party, was declared the winner of the Edo Governorship Election.

Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement titled, “Edo State Governorship Election: Victory for Democracy,” which he signed, congratulated Obaseki over his victory.

Buni said,  “Edo State Governorship election is over, the winner has been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the person of the Mr. Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the People Democratic Party.

“We hereby congratulate the winner of the election, the people of Edo State and all Nigerians. The peaceful conduct of the election and its outcome represent a victory for Nigeria’s democracy

“As a party, we join our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to affirm our ‘commitment to free and fair elections’ in order to strengthen ‘the foundation for our political and moral authority.

“ We commend INEC, our security agencies, and all political parties that contested the election for the successful conduct of the election. As a governing party, we will take every step necessary to support the Federal Government to consolidate all the gains achieved. “

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NIGERIA

Government has no business running refineries — Osinbajo

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The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the problems associated with Nigeria’s refineries will persist if the Federal Government continues to own and run them.

He noted that experience has shown that refineries were better managed by the private sector hence the need for the government to restrict itself to providing the regulatory framework for such businesses to thrive.

Osinbajo said this at a virtual meeting organized for the All Progressives Congress bloggers and social media influencers at the APC National Secretariat, in Abuja, Monday.

According to him, it was time for the nation to do more to develop its gas and renewable energy resources which are cheaper and cleaner.

He said, “If the refinery is left in the hands of the government, it will continue to experience the same problem it is experiencing now. I do not think that it is the business of the government to run the refinery. It should be the business of the private sector, which is why we are trying to focus on assisting the private sector to develop modular refineries.”

Speaking further Osinbajo said, “There is a 100,000-barrel capacity refinery about to come on stream and we hope it will by the next year. It is completely private and closely located near the Port Harcourt refinery so that it can share the facilities of the Port Harcourt refinery. We are hopeful it will come on stream in the first quarter of next year.

“There are also six modular refineries that are almost ready. There is a Niger Delta Petroleum refinery in Delta state, there is another one in Imo, there is also another modular refinery in Edo State.

“We engaged the oil-producing communities to find a new vision for the Niger Delta and we tried to encourage modular refinery that will give the people in the oil-producing states a stake so that the modular refinery is not just private but the people there have some stake and equity.

“The whole idea is to support as many private refineries as possible. We are also waiting for the Dangote Refinery with 250,000 barrels capacity which is bigger than all of the government refineries put together.

“In the next two or three months, we will see the private sector playing a bigger role and things will quickly improve. We hope that this particular effort will complete the refurbishment of the refineries which will be completed soon but I am more hopeful of the private effort been the key to the future.”

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