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Governors stealing LG funds, stalling growth, says Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari again knocked state governors over what he said was their unbridled ill-treatment of the administration of resources at the local government levels, causing what he termed stunted development experienced at the third tier of government and unfair labelling of his administration at the grassroots.

The President gave the remark on Thursday after he delivered a speech at an event hosted for members of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Veering off his prepared address, the President cited a personal experience involving a governor he did not name, misappropriating funds meant for local government, thereby inhibiting development at the grassroots.

He said it beats anyone’s imagination how some governors would collect money on behalf of local councils in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the chairman, who would further deplete the remittance in further pilfering of public resources.

He, however, related the development to the question of lack of integrity in the character of many of those holding such offices, adding that such actions are rather despicable and speak of the height of corruption.

President Buhari’s comments followed remarks on the Course 44 presentation, with the theme: ‘Strengthening Local Governance in Nigeria: Challenges, Options and Opportunities’, by some members of the Federal Executive Council, who aired their personal views on enhancing the autonomy of local governments.

A baffled Buhari described as “terrible” the actions of some of the governors. He said: “I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is a result of my personal experience.

“This is my personal experience. If the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100 million, N50 million will be sent to the chairman, but he will sign that he received N100 million. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with.

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“And then the council chairman must see to how he will pay salaries and say to hell with development. When he pays salaries, the balance he will put in his pocket.

“This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who is doing this is not educated. He is a qualified lawyer, experienced and yet he participated in this type of corruption.

“So, it’s a matter of conscience, whichever level we found ourselves. As a leader, you sit here, with all the sacrifices the country is making by putting you through institutions and getting you ready to lead. The fundamental thing is personal integrity. May God help us.”

The President also pledged that his government would “painstakingly” consider the recommendations contained in the paper presented by the SEC 44 to implement them. “It is obvious that government cannot afford to pay lip service to the recommendations contained in this report. ‘I assure you that the report will be treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves,’’ he said.

He expressed delight that the Institute has been exceptional in handling several assignments, and the current submission is a commendable improvement on the existing standards.

In his remarks, the Director-General of NIPSS, Prof Ayo Omotayo, said the Course participants undertook study tours of 14 states, six African countries and six countries outside Africa.

‘’This enabled them to have both local and international perspectives on local governance, how to overcome challenges in achieving it, identify the available opportunities to strengthen it and develop workable options to be considered by government in strengthening local governance,’’ he said.

On Wednesday, the Federal Government attributed the prevailing high level of poverty in the country to the attitude of some governors who focus more on building flyovers and airports rather than improving lives of citizens in rural areas.

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Speaking after the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, disclosed that 72 per cent of poverty in Nigeria was located in rural areas, which he said had been abandoned by governors.

ALSO, yesterday, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd), disclosed that security agencies were set to descend on governors deploying thugs to prevent members of the opposition from mounting campaign materials in their domains in the build up to 2023 general elections.

Monguno, who appeared on the weekly Ministerial Media Briefing anchored by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, warned that when the law enforcement agencies move, there would be no hiding place for the perpetrators.

The NSA, who was reacting to reports of some state executives implementing policies that prevent the presence of opposition campaign materials in their domain, described the action as a demonstration of inferiority complex.

He warned the governors to restrain their thugs as he said the President has already given the security hierarchy a clear directive to ensure that the 2023 election “must be free, fair and credible.”

The NSA further warned the governors to “call their Capo regime to order because when we move, there will be no hiding place.”

WHILE efforts to get governors to speak on several allegations through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Northern Governors’ Forum, Southern Governors’ Forum and other platforms proved abortive at press time, last night. Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, berated Agba for saying governors are causes of poverty because they focused on building flyovers.

Wike said the Minister exhibited lack of understanding on how governors plan development projects in their various states. He spoke at the inauguration of the 13.86km Rumuodogo 1 and 2 roads in Oluua-Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area.

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The Rivers governor said Agba was wrong when he said governors are the cause of poverty because they focused on building flyovers, airports and other projects in the state capitals, while neglecting to invest in rural communities to directly uplift the living standard of the people.

“He said governors are the problem, they don’t do rural roads, and I ask him where and where have you been? You just sit there (Abuja), you’ve not been anywhere to check whether rural roads are being done or not.”

Wike pointed out that the development plan of his administration is holistic with critical infrastructure delivered not only in the state capital, but across the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

He, therefore, advised the Minister to take time out, leave Abuja and visit states, particularly Rivers. Wike emphasised that there are quantum of projects in rural communities with the Rumuodogo road inclusive, which have improved the socioeconomic status of rural communities.

“Come to Rivers and see whether we are doing roads that will cause agricultural produce to be brought out to the cities or not, before you open your mouth. We are not doing roads in the city alone. We are doing roads in all LGAs of the state.”

Wike also challenged some South-South governors to stop hiding behind their attack dogs they have commissioned to insult him, but they should rather come to confront him personally.

He wondered why the faceless governors are picking offence with him because he thanked President Buhari for releasing the 13 per cent derivation arrears from 1999 to date.

Wike said even though he is not a fan of President Buhari, it does not stop him from expressing his gratitude to him for releasing the fund that has helped to finance several projects in Rivers.

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Oil theft: Army uncovers 40 illegal oil wells in Rivers

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The Nigerian Army has made a startling discovery of over 40 illegal crude oil wells in Rumuekpe community, in the Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.

 

The illegal oil wells were discovered on Wednesday during an operation led by the General Officer Commanding, Nigerian Army 6 Division, General Jamal Abdusallam.

 

Speaking to Journalists shortly after the operation, Major General Abdusallam noted that the wells which are approximately 40 feet deep, represent a new tactic employed by criminals to siphon crude oil from underground reserves.

Major General Abdusallam emphasised the significance of this discovery in the fight against oil theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta.

 

According to him, the perpetrators devised a method of excavating deep into the ground to access crude oil deposits directly. He expressed concern over the danger posed by these activities to both the environment and individuals involved.

 

Major General Abdussalam also said he will notify relevant authorities and deploy troops to prevent further exploitation of the area.

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Several suspects were apprehended at the crime scene and are currently in military custody to enable further investigations.

 

One suspect, speaking anonymously, admitted that the wells were allegedly owned by various families in the community.

 

While describing the hazardous process of digging, the suspect highlighted the risks involved, including gas inhalation and suffocation.

 

The suspect revealed that individuals involved in the operation were paid around N40,000 to excavate a well, emphasizing the communal ownership of the resource and the perilous nature of their endeavors.

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Tinubu’s visit: Akinterinwa’s Campaign Organsation accuses Aiyedatiwa of unleashing terror on citizens

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The Campaign Organsation of the frontline governorship aspirant in the November gubernatorial election in Ondo State, Adewale Akinterinwa, has accused Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of using suspected political thugs to unleash terror during the visit of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the state on Wednesday.

President Tinubu was in Ondo State where he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late former Governor of the State, Rotimi Akeredolu.

According to statement by the spokesperson of Akinterinwa’s Campaign Organsation, Segun Ajiboye, suspected thugs loyal to the governor unleashed violence on the citizens and destroyed billboards of political opponents of the governor.

 

It will be recalled that the campaign organisation had on Tuesday accused the governor of preventing All Progressives Congress APC members from accessing the venue of the president’s visit expressed sadness over the return of thuggery to the political space the State.

 

The campaign organisation said “On Wednesday, February 28, thugs sponsored by the governor of Ondo state, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa, descended on the peaceful people of the state who had turned out in large number to receive President Bola Tinubu, GCFR, to the sunshine State.

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“The thugs, fully loaded in unmarked vehicles, did not in any way hide their devilish intentions, as they went round major streets of Akure, destroying the bill boards of the other gubernatorial aspirants of the All Progressives Congress.

 

“The thugs fully armed with different types of guns, shot sporadically into the air to create fears in the people. Expectedly, thousands of supporters of the APC who had prepared to receive the president ran helter-skelter for dear lives.

 

“The ugly incident was coming barely 24 hours after the Wale Akinterinwa Campaign Structure raised the alarm about the dastardly activities by certain element acting for and on behalf of Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa to prevent members of the APC and leaders who are not in his camp to receive Mr President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR during his visit to Akure.

 

“Today’s action by the thugs acting on the directives of Mr Governor is most undemocratic, disrespectful, unreasonable and disdainful attempt by any Chief executive in the anals of democracy in Nigeria.

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“This is a sad reminder of the wicked old days in the politics of our dear state. It marks an avoidable return to the dark days of hooliganism and political bandits in Ondo state.”

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Good morning! Here Are Some Major News Headlines In The Newspapers Today: SIM-NIN linkage: NCC rules out extension, telcos bar 12 million lines

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1. The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has ruled out an extension of the February 28, 2024, deadline for the linkage of Subscriber Identity Module cards to National Identification Numbers. As a result, telecommunication companies have been directed to bar 12 million lines which have not been linked to the owners’ NINs after the expiration of the deadline.

 

2. President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, appealed for patience from Nigerians over the current economic hardship in the country, giving the assurance that there was light at the end of the tunnel. The President said he was fully aware and took responsibility for the difficulties Nigerians had been subjected to on account of government policies.

 

3. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Wednesday, said the importation of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, into Nigeria has reduced by 50 per cent since the withdrawal of subsidy on the commodity.

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4. The military Joint Task Force, North-West Operation Hadarin Daji, said on Wednesday that it neutralised scores of bandits and rescued eight kidnapped victims in Zamfara State. The Information Officer of Operation Hadarin Daji, Lt. Col. Suleiman Omale, stated this in a statement on Wednesday in Gusau.

 

5. The war against illegal oil bunkering and oil theft received a huge boost on Wednesday as troops of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, uncovered over 40 dugout crude oil wells in Rumuekpe community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State. The troops uncovered the site during a sweep-and-clear operation on the Trans Niger Delta Pipeline.

 

6. Operatives of the Edo State Police Command have arrested five suspected cultists, Emeka Eke, Chizoba Okolie, Samson Ochonobor, Friday Agbebayo and Julius Eguasa, for engaging in a street fight in Edo State. It was gathered that the suspects, alleged to be members of the Eiye Confraternity, engaged in street fighting at the Ramat Park area over failure to pay monthly dues and attend meetings of Eiye confraternity.

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7. Two Binance executives — an American and a British- Pakistani — have been detained on the orders of National Security Adviser, NSA Nuhu Ribadu over alleged involvement in foreign exchange manipulations. It was learnt last night that the Federal Government obtained a Court Warrant to detain the men for 12 days, pending further investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

 

8. An Executive Order to “significantly reduce the cost of drugs and pharmaceutical products” in the country will soon be signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Health and Social Welfare Minister, Muhammed Pate stated these on Wednesday during the second edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing Series in Abuja.

 

9. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) apologised yesterday to their subscribers for the service hitches they have experienced for some days. The MNOs, under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, blamed the service disruptions on “severe fibre cuts” by contractors.

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10. The Federal Government has allayed the fear of job loss with the implementation of the Oronsaye Report. Speaking at the fourth edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing Series in Abuja on Wednesday, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the implementation of the report would not lead to retrenchment.

 

 

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