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No Governor Has Denied Collecting Money From NDDC

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images 3 8 No Governor Has Denied Collecting Money From NDDC

Chief Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe, a Publisher and Founder of the advocacy group, Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative speaks with Nseobong Okon-Ekong and other journalists on recent developments in the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Senate probe
Your advocacy group has been in the news lately, what are you up to?
We are more or less focused on leadership. We focus on leadership and try to use it as a standard so that others can follow that path. I think the bane of the country has been bad leadership. We have the resources, we have everything but unfortunately, we lack the right leadership and I think the reason is because we have not taken time to assess those who should be in positions of leadership. We have also not taken time to identify those who serve creditably and even honour them. Unfortunately, those we look at are those who have money to throw around and use them as a standard. If we continue like that, things will not go the way we want. Secondly, we also look at news reportage, the fake news syndrome because lots of the stories you read are either adulterated or aimed at tarnishing somebody’s image. We are interested in searching for the truth. That is why we go in there to verify the claims to enable us and ultimately the society know the truth. Even though we have the Freedom of Information Act, it is not yet well implemented because a lot of public servants don’t want to release information, so we go in there to get such information to the best of our ability. That is basically what we do.
Why the interest in issues affecting the NDDC?
We are not particular about the NDDC. We are not registered to focus on a particular region. We are focused on working in Nigeria for Nigerians. We are also allowed to partner with donor agencies, but we must have a starting point. They say charity begins at home, so for some us, where we come from should come first. We are barely one year and I can assure you that we have recorded lots of successes.
What has been your experience regarding the NDDC?
I live in Niger Delta, I come from the Niger Delta, but I never knew that this kind of rot existed in the NDDC. I have never done any job with the NDDC, I only hear of the things happening there. Having come closer, I think it is not a delight for anyone at all. The stories are not palatable at all.
A lot has gone down. The government over the years has not been fair to the people of Niger Delta. How can you give out so much to cater for the people and fail to check whether the amount of work done is in commensurate to the funds given out. It is not enough to sack the NDDC boards over allegation of corruption. You need to find out whether anybody has been jailed from mismanaging such funds. How come people serially and severally accused of corruption have not been prosecuted? But thank God that today we have a president who has said no, we have to do things differently. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over again. That is where we are. I can tell you that many vested interests do not want the forensic audit ordered by the president to succeed. Whatever drama you are seeing is just to scuttle the forensic audit, nothing more. For us as a group, the forensic audit ordered by the president has to go on, but even in doing that, development of the Niger Delta must continue. We have an Interim Management Committee supervising the commission, for as long as they last, six months, one year, two years, I don’t know, but they should be allowed to continue with the development of the region. Why are you saying you want to check the books and you stall the development of the region? We are still looking at them and I can tell you that we have a board that is transparent. They are helping us with information and you know information is key. In the past, nobody will do that. For now, I rate them 80 percent in information dissemination. We have a lot of documents and we have asked them a lot of questions on allegations raised. They have given us their responses. Not only that, they have given us documents to back those information.
But the National Assembly is saying something to the contrary.
When you are an interested party in a matter, what do you think the judgment will be like? The budget of NDDC is harmonized by the same National Assembly by the two committees on NDDC. Of course, there are vested interests. For the first time, the NDDC board and the supervising minister told us that members of the National Assembly, past and present have been involved in the sleaze. If they are involved, it means that somebody is protecting them or they are protecting themselves and deny Nigerians access to the truth. While we support their looking into the books, they should also allow those who have been accused to be probed. Before the motion to probe the so-called missing N40 billion in NDDC, did they have enough evidence because one of them claimed that the information supplied by the Minister was not enough to probe anybody? If the Minister has accused past and present members of the National Assembly in the looting of NDDC, it behoves the leadership of National Assembly to ensure such people are made to face the law.
The IGP should move in and begin to investigate these people based on available documents. I don’t want to believe the minister was joking. He has made available the documents and some of us have managed to get these documents. A situation where a Senator or House of Representatives member is influencing over 50 contracts in a year is worrisome. I think Nigerians should be worried. We expect the EFCC, NFIU to trace the movement of funds from the account of contractors some of them allegedly nominated to see where the monies ended up because as a public officer you cannot nominate your company to do contracts. The National Assembly needs to make the probe of members accused as transparent as possible. It is very easy to do if they have the political will. But if we continue to dance around, trying to shield some people from probe,, we are yet to start the much anticipated journey.
What is your reaction to the allegations of lack transparency against the Minister and NDDC by its former MD?
Even though I have my reservations against the report of the senate committee on NDDC because we were first told its N40 Billion, later it was N1.5 Billion , and at the end of the probe, they said they were looking for N4.9 Billion and they alleged that N2.9 Billion was paid for Lassa fever without following due process. That was the period when the former MD was there. They said N4.9 Billion that was paid for palliatives should be refunded. For crying out loud, they are querying monies for COVID 19 for members of staff. What does the law say? Sections 42 and 43 of the constitution says they can spend without following due process during a pandemic, then when the pandemic is over, they can now retire what was spent. Anybody, talking about money spent on Lassa fever and COVID 19 at this time has lost it.
It means that person does not know what the constitution says. Out of over N80 Billion they claimed is missing therefore, it means nothing is missing, so, what are we talking about? That is the report of the senate committee, on the allegation by the chairman of the palliatives committee, the issue is that he raised the issue after the senate probe had been concluded, so, it was an after thought. The fact remains that governors of the Niger Delta insisted that they were not going to allow palliatives to be shared by anybody other than the governors. Of course, they needed the support of the governors to get these things to the people. Don’t forget that there was a lockdown moving these palliatives and medicals became an issue, so, the NDDC had to bend to the governors and even gave them money. Some states got N100 Million, some got N75 Million each. No governor has denied collecting the money. Why have the governors not accused the NDDC of lying? Where did the chairman get information that the money was mismanaged? He is inadvertently accusing the governors of mismanaging the monies. If anybody should be investigated, it should be the governors of the nine NDDC states?

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Pressure Mounts On Tinubu To Back Osinbajo For 2023 Presidency

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images 2020 09 28T100150.442 Pressure Mounts On Tinubu To Back Osinbajo For 2023 Presidency

* APC Stakeholders Say Age, Religion, Experience Favours VP As Buhari’s Successor
Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, some powerbrokers in the ruling All Progressives Con­gress (APC) are already mounting pressure on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party, to bury his rumoured presidential ambition in 2023 and queue behind Vice Pres­ident Yemi Osinbajo.
Even though Tinubu is yet to declare whether he will run in 2023 or not, a lot of his supporters believe he is very much interested in the race and his silence is borne out of his desire not to distract the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is yet to mark two years of his second term in office.
However, some of his supporters have been launching several groups, both at home and in the diaspora, to rally support for his ambition, saying it is non-negotiable.
Also, some prominent Nigerians have also been canvassing support for Tinubu’s presidential ambition, saying he is the best man to succeed President Buhari in 2023. They include Baba­chir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF); elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Chief Henry Ajomale and several others.
The prominent lead­ers of APC have resolved to zone the position of national chairman to the North while the presidency will be zoned to the South, with many of them agreeing in principle that it will be unfair for the North to retain the position after President Buhari must have completed his eight years.
It was also learnt that many of the party leaders, especially in the Northern bloc of the country, are favourably disposed to Osinbajo taking over from Buhari based on his loyalty, commitment and deep knowledge of the pro­grammes of the government, especially relating to the management of the economy.
According to a credible source in the party, “There is no doubt Asiwaju is interested in the 2023 presidential race. He has every right to do so and he is very qualified based on his record as a former senator, governor of Lagos for eight years and what he has been able to achieve nationally even after leaving office.
“But for many of us, we believe that if the presidency is zoned to the South and later micro-zoned to the South- West, the current vice president should be allowed to take over from the president. We have adduced so many reasons for this”.
“The first is that he has been tested before and he has proven that he has the expertise to manage the affairs of a diverse nation like Nigeria. We are all witnesses to what happened in 2017 when President Buhari was ill and the vice president presided over the affairs of the nation in acting capacity.
“That was a period when Nigeria was almost at the precipice with many groups in the country, especially the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), seeking self-determination. He was able to manage the situation very well to the admiration of the whole country and even the president commended him upon his return to the country.
“There are also other factors we are putting into consideration. Three of these factors are age, religion and his unblemished public record. The vice president is 63 now and will be 66 by 2023. He will be a blend between the younger and older generation and many youths already see him as one of their own.
“On the issue of religion, we all know the two major religions in this country are Islam and Christianity. It will be awkward if we allow another Muslim to take over from President Buhari in 2023. I doubt if that will be fair to our brothers in the Christian faith”.
“However, 2023 is still a long way from now and the president will not impose a successor. We the party leaders will also not do likewise. We can only appeal to the likes of Asiwaju and present these facts before him.
“One thing is certain, the APC presidential ticket will not be handed over to anyone on a platter of gold. At the end of the day, everyone will be asked to go to the field and test their strength. Whoever wins the party’s ticket, then good luck to him”, he said.
Speaking with our correspondent, a senior lawyer from the South-South, who is also a member of the APC, said he personally advised Tinubu to maintain his respect as national leader of the APC and support one of the boys he has mentored politically, especially Osinbajo whom he (Tinubu) nominated as running mate to Buhari in December 2014.
“We used to be very close and I have offered him advice in time past. I once advised him to remain as the party’s national leader and nominate one of his boys as president. A lot of people said Buhari has relegated him but I believe Osinbajo as a man of God and gentleman won’t do that. I said he will even have more influence in the government compared to what is happening now. But I believe he wasn’t receptive to the idea and we have not been talking again,” he said.

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‘Oshiomhole’s Character Responsible For His Political Downfall’ – Junaid Mohammed

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Oshiomhole New 1 'Oshiomhole’s Character Responsible For His Political Downfall' - Junaid Mohammed

Junaid Mohammed, elder statesman and Second Republic House of Representatives member on Sunday said Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)’s intemperate character is largely responsible for his political downfall both in the APC and Edo state.
Junaid who spoke in an interview with Daily Independent, said Oshiomhole should accept full responsibility for the defeat of the APC in the Edo governorship election as well as Zamfara and Rivers.
While condemning politics of godfatherism in Nigeria, Junaid said it is insulting for Oshiomhole to appear in a video saying he wasn’t politically down after APC’s loss while should have taken a sober introspection into what led to the party’s defeat to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
“I am not that close to Oshiomhole but I have observed him at close range and I have told those people who are either his friends or those who have been with him in the trade union movement and in the political party that, with his attitude towards politics and his intemperate character, the way he believes that he must have his way otherwise, he is prepared to set the whole building on fire, it will be very difficult for him to make headway in politics especially in this country”.
“No matter how much of a thug he thinks he is, there are people who are worse than him in thuggery”.
“Secondly, a leader is made and unmade by his character. Clearly, from what I have read and heard people say, Oshiomhole’s character is not conducive to winning and managing a national office whether in politics, business or even in trade union movement”.
“I know two people; one was Oshiomhole’s personal friend in the trade union movement. Another one was his deputy when he first became President of the NLC. They are hardly on speaking terms today. That says a lot about his immaturity and overrating himself that whatever he says must come to pass”.
“There is a question I have always asked people who are close to Oshiomhole. What has he got to offer politically? I want to be told what has he done in his life that is so spectacular that makes him consider himself indispensable”.
“What has happened is that APC has completely lost the South-South and Oshiomhole bears major responsibility for that. In addition, he is directly responsible for the loss of Rivers and Zamfara”.
“He is so full of himself and that was why after the party’s loss in Edo, he made a video saying people thought he was down but he is not”.

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Wike, Amaechi exchange words at Supreme Court justice’s burial

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images 2020 09 28T073438.000 Wike, Amaechi exchange words at Supreme Court justice’s burial

Rivers State Governor , Nyesom Wike, and his predecessor , Rotimi Amaechi , on Saturday engaged in a verbal fight at the burial of a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Adolphus Karibi – Whyte , in the Abonnema, Akuku – Toru Local Government Area of the state .
Amaechi, who is the Minister of Transportation , while speaking at the funeral service , lamented what he term the rising insecurity and political intimidation in the state , saying the state was back to the time of Ateke Tom, a former militant leader , who is now the traditional head of Okochiri town in Okrika LGA of the state .
“ You have lost your voice . The sage ( the late justice ) has gone under and nobody is speaking. When I was governor , I gave people voices , but they have blocked those voices .
“ Everyone is scared . We are going back to when Ateke held sway . We are going back to the period where we run away from our people . We are back to a period when nobody could speak . But from next year , I will begin to speak , if nobody wants to speak .
“ We are all here because we need to bury a man God has blessed . I have stopped travelling because of bad weather , but I told myself I must be here because of Justice Whyte .
“ If you knew Justice ( Karibi – Whyte ) very well , you will know I was close to him . I was one of the few people he mentored , ” Amaechi stated .
Wike on his part described the late Karibi -Whyte as an epitome of unshakable integrity, civility and dignity , but noted that comments credited to Amaechi were embarrassing .
Responding to Amaechi , Wike who was represented by his Chief of Staff , Chief Emeka Woke , said the minister had lost touch with developments in the state , adding that since the launching of
Operation Sting by his administration , the security situation had improved greatly .

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