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Drug barons killing our operatives, Marwa raises alarm

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Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen Buba Marwa (Rtd), has said that drug barons are killing operatives of the agency as revenge in the fight against drug trafficking in the country.

Appearing before the House of Representatives Committee of Drugs and Narcotics to defend the agency’s 2022 budget performance and 2023 proposal, the chairman therefore advocated for the provision of barracks for the operatives to save their lives.

He said that the agency had acquired land in Adamawa, Abuja and Lagos for the barracks, informing that the building of the facility would be under Private Public Partnership (PPP).

Marwa also disclosed that the NDLEA was at the verge of constructing three rehab centres, two forensic laboratories and purchasing of security equipment.

He, however decried the slashing of the budget earmarked for the project.

According to him, while N24 billion was allocated to the barracks project in the 2022 budget, it was later slashed to N13 billion in the 2023 budget proposal, requesting additional N10 billion for the projects.

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He said: “The barracks issue is very critical to us because as we all know the NDLEA is very aggressive now against drug traffickers and the drug barons and when you arrest and prosecute them and send them to jail, they are not happy. So they come after our personnel and with our personnel living in the town and cities and among them, we have been recording casualties and assassinations against them.

“Like I said earlier the President had graciously approved the construction of barracks for the Agency last 2022. The barrack project is ongoing and the sum of N13 billion has been captured in the 2023 budget proposal. Last year it was N24 billion. Actually 24 billion cannot build a barrack, complete barrack. But we had to figure out certain key priorities in selected areas, bearing in mind the need to go round all the geopolitical zones and this year, we have been able to look at four zones. We have touched Lagos but it still needs more to be done.

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“We pray that with more money for the barrack, because N13 billion would probably build half a barracks, but if we are able to achieve another 10 billion or more on this barrack, then we would be able to add three more of the geopolitical zones for us to complete six. Hopefully as the years go by and we have other chairman, the struggle for barracks would continue.”

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Former President Jonathan accepts ambassadorial role

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been accepted as Africa’s Agricultural Technology Ambassador by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

Making the announcement after meeting with the former President in Yenagoa, Bayelsa South-south during the week, the AATF Executive Director, Dr Canisius Kanangire, said the appointment was informed by the former President’s track record of championing agricultural transformation on the continent.

AATF, in a statement by its Communications Officer, Alex Abutu, described Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a Nigerian politician who served as the President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015 and had since been at the forefront of agricultural improvement on the continent.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Jonathan said that as a former Head of State, his interest in serving the continent is driven by the interest he has in driving food security and transformation for a better quality of life in Africa.

Kanangire said: “Dr Jonathan’s commitment to uplift agriculture on the continent was exemplified by the Agricultural Transformation Agenda he pursued and diligently implemented in Nigeria during his tenure as President.

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“The agenda targeted increasing efficiency and profitability in about 12 selected key agricultural commodities, which include: cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum.

“Under the agenda, about 3.5 million new jobs were created based on the selected key products, while many more jobs were created from other value chain activities, with over N300 billion of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers and rural entrepreneurs. In addition, over N60 billion (US$380 million) was injected into the economy from the substitution of 20% of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.

“Another critical element of Dr Goodluck’s agricultural legacy as President of Nigeria was his ability to cut down on the importation of food that can be produced locally, thereby, saving the nation well over N1.3 trillion per annum on the importation of foodstuff.

“Dr Jonathan was able to demonstrate in Nigeria that agriculture should be treated as a business and supported by relevant policies for the improvement of the livelihoods of our growing farming population.”

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AATF’s boss further said that Dr Jonathan is a Pan-Africanist who had stood for the eradication of rural poverty and the peaceful coexistence of the continent, hence his involvement in peaceful conflict resolution on the continent.

“As AATF’s Ambassador, Dr Jonathan will advocate for the advancement of Africa’s agricultural goals and economic growth through the application of innovative technologies and enhanced investment in agriculture. AATF is honoured to have the former president as our Ambassador, whose role will accelerate ongoing efforts to improve our agricultural terrain.”

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Wike, Ortom challenge Buhari to expose governors stealing LG funds

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Nyesom Wike and Samuel Ortom, governors of Rivers and Benue states, have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to expose Nigerian governors responsible for stealing local government funds.

The governors, who are part of the five Integrity Governors among the governors of the Peoples Democratic Party, threw the challenge to the President on Friday during the inauguration of the Mgbuosimini Internal Roads in Rivers State.

President Buhari had earlier in a speech at the presidential parley for members of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at the State House, said that state governors steal allocations meant for local governments.

But reacting to the allegation, Governor Wike denied ever taking funds meant for the local government since he assumed office as governor in 2015. He challenged the president to name governors that are doing that as his statement could be termed class defamation.

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“I want to challenge Mr. President, Mr. President you are a leader and we believe as leaders you must come out and tell Nigerians, who are those committing this offence? You said the governors are taking local government funds, I want to say in the name of Almighty God I have never touched local government funds one day, I have never and I have no reason to do that.

“So Mr. President who are those people? You know them, tell us. It is not good to say what you call class defamation, you say, governors, please I am not one of those governors, so Mr. President please spare me, tell Nigerians that the Integrity governors are not part of them, we have integrity, we are not part of them,” Wike said.

He added that as local government Chairman under Governor Peter Odili, his funds were never touched by the governor and therefore he has no reason to tamper with any money meant for local governments as governor.

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Corroborating his colleague’s remark, Governor Ortom also denied touching funds meant for local government, saying that their funds go to them directly from the federation account.

Ortom said, “It is a logical fallacy to say that all governors are criminals; all governors are stealing from local government. I join governor Wike to say from 2015, let EFCC come, let ICPC come, let every other agency that can unearth this, as far as Benue State is concerned let them bring it out so that we know the people, there is no point generalising that all of us are evil people.

“I don’t do it, I didn’t like it when the Federal Government enacted something and said local government should have financial autonomy, but from that day all monies are paid to the local government, and no single naira has been paid through anyone, all monies that come from the federation account go straight to the individual councils.”

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Despite allure of office, I won’t take over from my father – Akeredolu’s son

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Babajide Akeredolu, son of Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Friday, dispelled rumours that he plans to take over from his father, Rotimi Akeredolu, after the expiration of the latter’s tenure.

He said despite the allure of office, he had several sectors where he could venture into and become extremely successful than being in government.

Babajide, who is currently a Special Adviser and Director-General, Performance and Project Implementation Unit, Office of the Governor of Ondo State, revealed this at a press conference in Lagos State.

He said, “I don’t have any plan to run for office. It is interesting people speculate this, but I have multiple pathways to success. I don’t need to stay in government to be successful.

“Power is never something that gingers the Akeredolu family. I’m not looking for that (governor’s seat), but I’m just looking for opportunities to make young people thrive.

“I have never thought of being a governor. That thing is stressful and I don’t want to go through it. People that are build for that, I wish them well.”

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He added, “There are multiple cards to success for me. I am lucky I have a strong surname with a lot of options before me. So, I really don’t bother about what’s coming next, but I just focus on the present and how I can help the younger generations.”

 

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