Sokoto to spend N1bn on Nigeria-Niger Republic road

The Sokoto State Government has awarded contract for the construction of the 15km Sabon-Birni-Tsululu-Gidan-Alkali Road at the cost of N1 billion.

The Chairman of Sabon-Birni Local Government, Alhaji Idris Gobir, made the disclosure at the maiden African Conference of Gobirawa 2013 at Sabon-Birni on Saturday.

He said that when completed, the road would link Sabon-Birni Local Government in Sokoto State with neighbouring Tsibiri Town in Niger Republic. .

“The Sokoto State Government deserves commendation for awarding the contract, as the road will boost socio-economic activities in the two countries,” the chairman said.

Gobir also announced that the Sabon-Birni council had received over N2 billion as federation allocation in the last 28 months, adding that “we spent a lion share of the fund on execution of a myriad of developmental projects.

“These projects range from roads, clinics, schools, dispensaries, water supply, women and youths empowerment, among others,” he added.

He promised to continue to execute projects aimed at further improving the living standard of the people.

The District Head of Sabon-Birni, Alhaji AbdulHamid Balarabe and the Sultan of Tsibiri in Niger republic, Alhaji Bala Marafa, commended Gobir for the efforts to develop the area.

They said that the conference would cement the existing bond of unity between the two countries.

The conference was attended by technocrats and other stakeholders from Nigeria and Niger Republic.

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I have no anointed candidate – Buhari

A former military Head of State, retired Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has said that he has no anointed candidate for any political position in the country.

Buhari, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, said this on Saturday in Kano at a sensitisation workshop, organised by the Kano APC Forum for Peace and Equity.

The former head of state said that he had no candidate and urged anybody who wanted to aspire to any post to feel free to do so.

‘’Buhari has not anointed anybody as a candidate, so whoever people want is his candidate.

‘’Whoever emerges for the party as the people’s candidate at the local, state or presidential level is Buhari’s candidate. So Buhari’s candidate is the people’s candidate,’’ he said.

According to him, the APC as a party is not concerned about Buhari as a person or anybody but about the future of Nigeria and Nigerians.

He urged members of the parties which merged to close ranks so as to ensure the success of the APC in future elections.

Buhari was represented by a former member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Faruk Aliyu.

Earlier, the former governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who was also represented, stressed the importance of unity among the APC’s members.

‘’ APC has a history of unity because it came into being following the decision of three parties to merge.’’

Also speaking, the chairman of the forum, Alhaji Umar El-Yakub, urged the party’s leaders to avoid politics of hate, deceit and selfish interest in order to achieve its objectives.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that five of the seven governors in the splinter group of the People’s Democratic Party formally announced their merger with the APC on Tuesday.

Benin arrested me over alleged Boko Haram link -Dokubo

The Leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force and former President of Ijaw Youth Council, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, said he was arrested at the Republic of Benin over an allegation from Nigeria that he was a member of the Boko Haram Islamic sect.

He however attributed his travails in the hands of the Beninoise authorities
to those opposed to the 2015 re-election ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The NDPVF boss who appeared unperturbed by the arrest also said the crises “has raised my profile in that country.”

Speaking with Journalists on Friday night during his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja he also described as lies, reports that President Jonathan sent a Presidential Jet to fly him into Nigeria from the Republic of Benin.

He said, “Crisis is normal, it can also happen here in Nigeria, it can happen anywhere in the world. The people and government of Republic of Benin have no problem with me. But if people alleged that somebody is a leader of Boko Haram, the government of that country will investigate the person.

“The allegation has much to do with 2015 because when your read comments on social media, you find out that somebody who is against President Goodluck Jonathan, said they should vilify me and make sure I die before 2015. But they are not going to succeed. I am not going to die. I will be present in 2015, and I will do what I am going to do to ensure that Jonathan wins in 2015. There is nothing they can do about it. This is their last fight and it is so unfortunate that the way and manner they are going with it shows how immature they are.”

He also denied that he was flown into Abuja in a Presidential Jet saying it is not true.

Asari said, “I just arrived from Cotonu. I drove in my car from Cotonu to Lagos Airport where I boarded Aero Contractors flight to Abuja. The report is not true. No presidential jet was sent to me.

“That report is an instigated falsehood. Most of the things that have always been written against President Goodluck Jonathan is also falsehood. A section of the press in Nigeria is manipulated and instigated.”

“I do business in Cotonu, and I have been living in Cotonu since 2008. Politically, people who are in Nigeria are trying to fabricate lies, which are not verifiable, and send it to the government of Republic of Benin. So I was taken for interrogation and they found that the allegations were false, and I was promptly released with over 20 of my staff who were also taken in.”

Asari also spoke on his meeting with officials of government of Republic of Benin after his interrogation.

“I have met with the top and powerful people in Republic of Benin, since I went to that country. I have never had any reason to meet with their government officials, but this crisis has made it possible for me to meet with all the top government functionaries of the Republic of Benin. The crises has raised my profile in that country”, he boasted.

The rumoured “$5 billion ECA withdrawal” and selective amnesia

Courtesy of the usually garrulous Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Nigerians now know that nearly one trillion of the country’s hard earned cash is either missing or somewhere in the accounts of the 36 state governments; or, simply just mismanaged by States and Local Government councils who allegedly got the money.

Amaechi, believed by the Presidency to be the self-styled Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said there was $9b in the excess crude account in January, this year, but the account had mysteriously diminished to $4 billion by November.  So, if this huge amount was missing for 10 months, why did it take the activist governor so long to speak up?  Was he investigating all this while or he knew where the money was going and maintained a mischievous silence before dropping his annoying bombshell?

The country was flummoxed by the revelation, but some discerning persons chose to ignore the comment because it came from Amaechi, known these days to make a mountain out of every mole hill.  His loquacious tendencies over the past few months have put a question mark on his credibility, and many were not willing to fall for his game this time.

But when the relevant agencies were not willing to take him on for over 24 hours, even those who disdain Amaechi began to wonder if he was not right after all.  As if Amaechi’s onslaught was not enough, his political cohorts in the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), who have all massed into their cousin, All Progressives Congress (APC), parroted and exaggerated his views.

Read them: “We consider this development too weighty to be swept under the carpet in view of the stature of the person making the allegation and the realities on ground.  For all intents and purposes, Governor Amaechi is not a frivolous person and is not known for making frivolous claims. We told Nigerians about the poor handling of our common patrimony by this administration and sadly, nobody took us seriously.  As at today, the unmistakable evidence is that Nigeria is broke as the Federal Government now finds it difficult to meet its obligations to states, local governments and contractors.

“We wish to commend the NGF Chairman for bringing this matter to the open and hereby challenge the Federal Government to come to tell Nigerians what it did with the money.  We also hereby challenge the anti-graft agencies to prove their relevance by unearthing the whereabouts of this huge sum of money.

“…. That this administration is running for a price award as the most corrupt administration in the annals of governance in Nigeria is not in doubt but we urge Nigerians to heed the advice of the NGF and stop being docile in the face of monumental impunity in the country.  This, in reality, is the only way to rescue Nigeria from the path of doom.”

When the Ministry of Finance responded to Amaechi, the muddled water of misinformation became clearer. The Ministry stopped short of accusing the Governor of suffering from selective amnesia.  Reeling out figures, the Ministry relentlessly pounded the governor, accusing him in a statement of spreading falsehood.

According to the Ministry: “Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State cannot deny knowledge of the status of the Excess Crude Account (ECA); Rivers State has received N56.2 billion from the Excess Crude Account between January and September 2013.

“Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has been quoted in recent media reports as saying that $5 billion is missing from the Excess Crude Account (ECA). This statement is absolutely shocking and false.  Governor Amaechi cannot credibly deny knowledge of the status of the ECA.  He has been closely involved and actively participated in making requests to the Presidency for the ECA to be shared for the purpose of augmenting the regular allocations from the Federation Account whenever there is a shortfall.

“The $5 billion in the ECA which Governor Amaechi referred to in his statement has been shared to the three tiers of government to make up for the revenue shortfalls during the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee process.  Part of this fund also went for SURE-P payments and the balance for subsidy payments to oil marketers.

“Rivers State received N56.2 billion, the second highest share among the states, for January to September 2013 from the Excess Crude Account. This amount includes N43 billion for shortfalls plus N12 billion released for SURE-P.  In fact, earlier this month (November 2013) Rivers State along with other states, benefitted from the sharing of $1 billion from the ECA to augment the allocations.  It is therefore curious that Governor Amaechi seems not to know the whereabouts of the N56.2 billion which Rivers State has received from the ECA this year.”

Government Threat to Federal Lecturers Empty — ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has dispelled with a wave of the hand, yesterday’s  Federal Government order that lecturers in federal universities should resume their jobs by 4th December 2013 else their offices would be declared vacant and advertised.

According to the union, this is only an “empty basket” that holds no water and further vindicates its conviction that the government lacks the commitment to implement any of the resolutions it reached with the union.

It added that considering that public universities need 60,000 lecturers at the moment due to the government’s failure to employ, there is no ways lecturers could be sacked and then replaced.

“With the latest action, the Federal Government has shown that they are not committed to all they have been saying. We are saying that since we agreed at the meeting that the sum of 200bn is for 2012 and 2013 revitalisation, the Federal Government should deposit same in the Central Bank of Nigeria”, ASUU National Treasurer, Dr. Ademola Aremu said.

“We are already in November and December is around the corner. If they don’t do that now, when do they want to do it? We are saying the non-victimisation clause should be included as agreed, while the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement should be included as agreed with the president.

“It is a pity if the Federal Government is not willing to perfect the resolutions reached with the union. This is why we find it difficult to trust our leaders by their words. How can someone be threatening to sack lecturers when universities are already short-staffed by almost 60,000. We are not in the military era. The military tried it and failed. This one will fail again. They can reopen the school. ASUU did not shut down the universities. It was the school management that ordered the students to go back home”.

Aremu lamented that funds never reach universities unless ASUU has embarked on an industrial action; and even in those cases, the funds are presided over by political appointees under the guise of Committee of Pro-chancellors.

“We are saying show commitment to the resolutions. They should address the issue we sent to them in the letter and we are not demanding extra kobo”, he added. “Under the Military it did not work. This is another long path to make the strike linger more than necessary”.

Similarly, the University of Abuja chapter of the union maintained that it would not intimidated by the threat of the federal government.

According to Chairman of the chapter, Dr. Clement Chup, the threat has shown clearly that government is unwilling to implement the 2009 agreement.

“This is another bad move by government. We are not afraid of sack, which can never happen. It is just a threat. We are ready for the outcome of this action by government and I hope government can bear it”, he said.

“No retreat, no surrender until the [provisions of the] 2009 agreement are met. They can reopen the school. ASUU did not shut down the universities. It was the management of the schools that ordered the students to go back home. Let us how this will play out”.

I’ll resign if Jonathan doesn’t seek re-election -Gulak

The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Affairs, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, has threatened to resign his appointment “if the President refuses to make himself available for the 2015 presidential election.”

The President has repeatedly warned anyone against starting 2015 campaigns for him.

While Jonathan is yet to declare his ambition, preferring to make his decision public, there has been serious pressure on him to run for re-election in 2015.

But Gulak who has consistently maintained that the President is eligible to contest in 2015, said there was “no alternative to President Jonathan in 2015.”

Gulak, according to a statement by his Special Assistant, Chief Perry Opara, made the declaration in Owerri, the Imo State capital, while addressing a group during a unity rally for Jonathan at the Rosy Arts Centre.

When contacted to confirm if actually he issued the threat, Gulak told THE PUNCH that it was true.

He said, “Confirmed! It is true, I issued the threat to resign if Jonathan does not make himself available for the 2015 presidential election. That was during the unity rally held for Jonathan in Owerri.”

Terrorism: Abuja court sentences Lebanese to life imprisonment

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has sentenced a Lebanese, Tahal Roda, to life imprisonment on terrorism charges.

Roda was charged to court by the Department of State Security Services on with terrorism.

The court, presided over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, however, freed two other Lebanese, Mustapha Fawaz and Abdullah Thani, of the charges.

Fawaz is a co-owner of one of Abuja’s largest supermarkets, Amigo Supermarket, and Wonderland Amusement Park, also in Abuja

Both buildings have been sealed off since the suspects were arrested by the military and the SSS.

The SSS had arraigned Fawaz, Thani and Roda, in court over terrorist activities bordering on illegal importation of firearms.