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Abacha loot: Three Federal roads to gulp $23.4m

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…As FG, US sign recovery agreement

…Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 2nd Niger Bridge enlisted

By Moses enlistees

Three federal road projects have again been enlisted to gulp a sum total of $23,439,724, proceeds of funds recovery associated with the late former military Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

The Federal Government on Tuesday, enlisted the projects having signed a recovery agreement with the Government of the United State of America (USA) for the repatriation of the sum.

The projects enlisted for which the funds would be channeled are Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Way, and the Second (II) Niger Bridge.

The three projects, it has been gathered, have been enlisted to enjoy the disbursement of previously recovered loots.

At the ceremonial signing of the asset return agreement which had in attendance the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, representing the Federal Government said the decision to return the stolen loot which he tagged  ‘Abacha-5,’ was a product of series of negotiations and meetings between Nigeria, the US Department of Justice and the UK National Crime Agency (NCA).

According to him, the funds would be channeled into infrastructure.

“It is worthy to note that in line with the terms of this Agreement, Mr. President had already approved the funds to be utilised for the ongoing Presidential Development Infrastructural Funds (PIDF) projects namely; Abuja-Kano Road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Way and the Second Niger Bridge under the supervision of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

“The President’s mandate to my office is to ensure that all international recoveries are transparently invested and monitored by civil society organisation to complete these three projects within the agreed timeline,” Malami said at the agreement signing ceremony which held at the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters in Abuja.

As the Government continues to grope with paucity of funds, resort to pursue recovery of stolen loots kept in foreign accounts have taken a centre place, particularly with the present administration entering into several agreements to repatriate the funds.

The Federal Government had on Thursday, 11th August, 2022, said it had recovered over N3.2billion (£6,324,627.66) of stolen funds from various jurisdictions globally from March 2021 to May 2022.

The AGF disclosing this when he featured on the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, at the State House, Abuja, had said that the government generated a total of N1.82 billion from the sale of bid forms and actual sale of forfeited properties in the first 18 months of the Buhari-led regime.

He had also mentioned that an inter-ministerial committee on the audit and recovery of back years on stamp duty has so far recovered over N596million (N596,055,479.47).

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‘Ebi n pawa!’ Nigerians chant in Ibadan protest

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…Decry hunger, insecurity

…As PDP accuse Tinubu, APC of being overwhelmed, lacking capacity to govern

By Our Correspondents

Nigerians angered by the state of the economy took to the streets in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to voice their hardships to the government.

Recall that the hardships had been on the rise following incessant foreign exchange issues and the removal of fuel subsidy.

These issues have culminated largely in the rise of the cost of goods and services in the country thereby occasioning hardship.

According to a recent report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) food inflation rate in January 2024 rose to 35.41 percent while Nigeria’s annual inflation rate rose to 29.90 percent in January from 28.92 percent in December 2023.

The protesters speaking to our correspondent in Ibadan explained that the protest was aimed at highlighting the harsh realities of inflation, high cost of living, insecurity and other socio-economic challenges faced by Nigerians.

The protesters, mostly youths, wielded placards with messages criticising the government, particularly President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s economic policies, which they believe have not alleviated their suffering and hardships.

Chanting songs of dissent and brandishing placards with messages like “Tinubu Must Address Insecurity” and “Hunger is Killing Us,” the demonstrators demanded immediate action from the authorities to address the nation’s crises.

While demonstrating their discontent, the protesters garnered the attention of the State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Adewale Osifeso, who assured the public of adequate security measures to safeguard lives and property.

A woman, Mrs. Risikatu Bakare who joined the train of protesters at Bodija market said that she resolved to come to market with her four hungry children to pack woods, so they can have a means to eat.

“We have been hungry since yesterday, no food. My four children and I have been helpless. I told them to follow me here so that we can pack the scrap of wood to find relief from hunger. Beg Tinubu for us. This is too much,” she lamented.

Another protester who preferred anonymity said that the situation concerns all Nigerians

He added that it is their right to express displeasure so that normalcy can be restored.

“Every Nigerian should stand for their right and must collectively fight this high cost of living. We cannot afford three square meals.

“Sections 39 and 40 of the country’s constitution empower every Nigerian to organise peaceful assembly and to speak about the economic hardship. This protest is a continuous action, so expect protest from any angle. It is not about me alone but about Nigerians.

“We must collectively fight for this and make sure that things are brought back to normalcy,” he added.

Osifeso in his words said, “Oyo state Police Command under the leadership of CP Adebola Hamzat has been proactive enough to ensure that adequate deployment in terms of operational intelligence and of course tactical resources are being deployed to protect both the protesters and the people.

“We understand that people have the right for this kind of protests but it’s our duty as well to ensure that the protest is not hijacked by mischievous elements who might want to make criminal proceeds from this kind of situation.

“From Mokola axis, which is the starting point of this movement, police have covered them by foot, following them step by step, we are now at Bodija market and we’re following them to the secretariat and back to Mokola.

“The command would like to let the good people of the state, especially the residents of the state know that we have their interest at heart and we would do all that it takes to ensure that relative peace and tranquillity in Oyo state remains as it is in the state.

“Our words of caution is simple as I said earlier, our people have the right to peaceful protest, but our duty is to ensure that it’s not hijacked by unscrupulous elements and if caution is not taken, though that’s why we are here to provide the intelligence and physical support to ensure that there is no any spark, we understand that anything could ignite unnecessary actions here and we as human beings are also with them to ensure that the protesters are not lead to issue that would cause chaos.

“If this protest is not fully followed by all the security agents, there will be lots of issues and that is why we are here to protect not only the protesters but the life and property of the citizens of this state,” Osifeso said

The protest concluded peacefully, with the demonstrators dispersing from the State Secretariat in Agodi under the watchful eye of armed security personnel.

The combined security team of the Nigerian Army, Department of State Services (DSS), as well as Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were on ground to complement the police.

…Economic hardship: PDP accuse Tinubu, APC of being overwhelmed, lacking capacity to govern

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government of being overwhelmed and lacking the capacity to govern Nigeria in the face of challenges.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement in Abuja, on Monday, said that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his ruling APC government must take responsibility for plunging Nigerians into excruciating suffering as a result of their policy choices.

According to Debo, “Our Party restates its position that the APC and the Tinubu administration are responsible for the current biting economic hardship and surging wave of insecurity across the country, as they are completely overwhelmed and lack the capacity and competence to lead a nation like Nigeria.

“By seeking to allocate President Tinubu’s statutory duties to state governors, the APC has unambiguously admitted that it foisted on Nigerians an incompetent president who cannot guarantee security and whose administration has devastated our national economy, resulting in extreme hunger, hopelessness, and desperation, as evident in the protests, agitation, and rising spate of suicides across the country.

“Every Nigerian is lamenting the terrible situation which President Tinubu’s ill-informed and ill-implemented policies have brought upon the nation.

“President Tinubu is directly in charge of security and national economic policies, including administration of petroleum resources as Minister of Petroleum Affairs; other national revenues; and cannot transfer his incompetence and failure to other tiers of government, which have no control over national security, fiscal, and monetary policies, which mismanagement by President Tinubu’s government has crippled our economy.

“Moreover, state governors have no control over the pervading corruption and continuing monumental treasury-looting under President Tinubu, who has failed to take concrete measures to curb the malaise.

“It is an assault on the sensibility of Nigerians that instead of charging the government it formed to live up to its billings, the APC is seeking a sordid and depraved approach to divert public attention from its failures.

“From its diversionary statement, it is clear that the APC is jittery and afraid that it has been exposed following revelations and reports in the public space that its leaders are involved in multiple scams and fraudulent deals through which they continue to syphon funds meant for the wellbeing of the people, resulting in the unbearable hardship being experienced by Nigerians today.

“The complicity of the APC leaders apparently informs why they have remained silent in the face of the incompetence, monumental treasury looting, and corruption in the Tinubu administration.

“Our Party counsels President Tinubu and the APC to face their self-inflicted woes and heed the patriotic call of the PDP governors, who are providing quality leadership with life-enhancing projects and programmes in their various states in line with the people-oriented manifesto and policy thrust of the PDP.

“It is evident today across Nigeria that it is only PDP governors and other PDP-elected public officials that are commissioning legacy and life-enriching projects and programmes with which they are repositioning their states and various constituencies into Oasis of Development.

“Nigerians should therefore continue to hold the APC and President Tinubu solely responsible for the suffering that they face. The PDP will not hesitate to name APC leaders allegedly involved in the continuing treasury plundering as the APC must not be allowed to ‘grab, snatch, and run’ with our national patrimony at the expense of millions of our citizens,” he said.

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NCDMB hosts delegation from Mozambique for knowledge-sharing on local content

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The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has concluded a two-day Local Content development experience-sharing session with a delegation from Mozambique’s national oil company, Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH).

This is line with Nigeria’s pivotal role in the development of Local Content in the continent.

The engagement was held on the sidelines of the 8th Sub-Saharan Africa International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference, in Lagos.

NCDMB’s delegation was led by the Executive Secretary, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe, while Mozambique’s team was led by the Chairman of Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos, Mr. Estevao Rafeal Pale.

The experience-sharing session was facilitated by Aberdeen Global Strategies & Solutions, under the leadership of Dr. Mark Osa Igiehon, who consults for ENH Mozambique.

In his introductory comments, the Executive Secretary conveyed NCDMB’s commitment to supporting African oil-producing nations in developing and implementing local content policies as a strategy for improving indigenous participation and value optimization from hydrocarbons and mineral resources.

He lauded the giant strides recorded by Mozambique in its gas sector and advised against repeating the mistakes made by Nigeria in the early years of its oil and gas industry.

Represented by the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, NCDMB, Mr. Abdulmalik Halilu, the Executive Secretary explained that every oil and gas-producing nation must choose to either focus on optimizing revenue generation or maximising in-country value from the activities of the industry.

He stated that the revenue generation option encourages oil and gas operators to seek the cheapest and fastest route to first oil, while the Government collects maximum revenue in the form of taxes and royalties for development and pays little attention to value addition from industry operations.

He explained that the alternative option focuses on maximising in-country value and promoting the development and use of local capacities. This model obligates operators in the industry to consider long-term value, while the Government takes lower revenue in exchange for higher in-country value and pays greater attention to life-cycle support for operators.

Speaking further, the NCDMB boss listed key parameters that are critical to in-country value addition and growth of the oil and gas sector on a sustainable basis. These factors are Regulatory Framework, Gap Analysis, Capacity Building, Funding and Incentives, Research and Development, and Access to Market.

He hinted that a Local Content policy backed with appropriate legislation is very fundamental in local content practice, adding that baseline and periodic gap analyses are essential to determine gaps that need to be closed in the areas of skills, facilities and infrastructure. He also stressed the need to develop in-country capacities and capabilities and utilise them through oil and gas projects.

The knowledge-sharing programme also featured a presentation on Funds and Funding of NCDMB, delivered by the Director of Finance and Personnel Management, NCDMB, Dr. Obinna Ofili.

The Director was represented by the Head, Credit Analysis and Risk Management, Mrs. Chika Enwerem–Okidi, and underlined the need for dedicated funding that would be applied to developing local content in the oil sector.

The Director mentioned that the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) is provided for in section 104 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act and is contributed by 1 percent of every contract awarded in the upstream section of the oil and gas industry.

He added that the NCDF has been deployed in several successful projects, including the building of human and material capacities, the $350 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund, the ongoing development of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Parks Scheme (NOGAPS), the construction of the NCDMB 17-story corporate headquarters, and 3rd party investments, many of which created jobs for Nigerians and yield interest for the Board.

The second day of the knowledge-sharing programme featured presentations on the operating framework for planning, research and statistics, capacity building, projects certification and authorization and monitoring and evaluation.

The Director of Projects Certification and Authorisation, Engr. Abayomi Bamidele highlighted NCDMB’s role in the award of contracts for oil and gas projects and how opportunities are captured for the local economy, using the Nigerian Content Plan and the Contracting Strategy submitted by operating companies for the Board’s review and approval.

He underlined that local content should be promoted as a national agenda for every country and the right data must be collected to establish current realities and gaps to the target.

He emphasised the need for in-country capacity building based on areas of strengths and weaknesses as well as continuous projects to keep the developed capacities engaged.

The knowledge-sharing programme was very interactive and the Mozambican officials sought clarifications on the Board’s model of enforcing Local Content Compliance, monitoring projects, supervising third-party investments, and many other areas.

The programme was convened in line with the Sectorial and Regional Market Linkage Pillar of the Nigerian Content 10-year strategic roadmap. The roadmap requires NCDMB to support other African oil-producing countries and to develop new markets and partnership opportunities for the benefit of competent Nigerian operating and oil service companies.

NCDMB has provided similar guidance to numerous African nations, including Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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Edo 2024: Confusion tears APC apart as three aspirants lay claim to governorship ticket

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…LGA returning officers’ announcement of Dekeri APC candidate leads to heated controversy

…Hoodlums attack NewsDirect correspondent, steal phone, equipment

…I have emerged victorious in this election — Idahosa claims

By Elvis Omoregie, Benin

The primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidates in Edo State ended on a drastic note as the process has allegedly produced three gubernatorial candidates.

The primary election, which took place on Saturday, was marred by clashes that resulted in severe injuries and widespread disruption.

The primary saw 12 aspirants initially cleared for participation by the party’s national leadership.

However, three candidates — Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen, and Ernest Umakhihe — opted out before the polls opened. At the conclusion of the voting process, three individuals emerged as front-runners: Senator Monday Okpebholo of Edo Central Senatorial District, Hon. Dennis Idahosa of Ovia Federal Constituency, and Hon. Anamero Sunday Dekeri of Eksakor Federal Constituency.

In a late-night announcement, Mr. Ojo Babatunde, speaking on behalf of the local government returning officers, declared Anamero Sunday Dekeri the victor with a total of 25,384 votes, surpassing his nearest competitor, Dennis Idahosa, who garnered 14,127 votes.

Hoodlums attack NewsDirect correspondent, steal phone, equipment

The declaration was swiftly followed by chaos as groups of violent individuals, described as street urchins and thugs, descended upon the venue.

They attacked attendees indiscriminately, including a Nigerian NewsDirect correspondent and other journalists from various media outlets who were present to report on the event.The aftermath of the violence saw significant injuries and substantial damage, with many sustaining life-threatening wounds.

Amidst the chaos and mayhem, the unfortunate victims of this violent spectacle were the dedicated cameramen from various media outlets, whose precious equipment was ruthlessly destroyed, and the party officials who suffered from the brutal attacks.

These thugs, devoid of any sense of decency, not only snatched away valuable possessions like gum and phones, but also mercilessly beat their victims into a state of unconsciousness.

In the midst of this pandemonium, the reporters were instructed to relocate to the Protea Hotel, situated near the headquarters of the Edo State Police Command, where the Governor Hope Uzodinma-led Edo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee held its authoritative sway.

Governor Hope Uzodimma, hailing from Imo State and serving as the Chairman of the primary election committee, took the stage to announce the outcome of the primary exercise. With great authority, he declared that out of the staggering 42,000 votes cast, Idahosa emerged as the clear victor, securing over 40,000 votes.

I have emerged victorious in this election — Idahosa claims

However, it was the returning officer for the primary, Stanley Ugboaja, who officially declared Senator Monday Okpebholo as the APC candidate.Despite the official declaration, Mr. Idahosa adamantly insisted that he was the rightful winner of the APC governorship primary election in Edo.

With unwavering confidence, he boldly proclaimed, “The people of Edo, united under the APC banner, have spoken loud and clear. I have emerged victorious in this election.” These words were uttered shortly after Governor Uzodinma declared him as the winner.

With a determined spirit, Mr. Idahosa vowed to swiftly initiate a process of reconciliation among the APC members in the state, as they prepare for the upcoming general election on the 21st of September.

“The era of struggle has come to an end; now is the time for reconciliation,” he declared, his voice filled with conviction and hope.

“For those that I contested with, we are brothers, we are one family. I am going to start (the) reconciliation process immediately because I need all of them (in order) to win the general election.”

However, thugs had earlier attacked the Lushville Hotel in Benin City where the returning officer, Stanley Ugboaja was announcing the results on Saturday afternoon which left many scampering for safety.

Meanwhile, at the Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu residence, where the Lushville Hotel ensemble later relocated to, Senator Okpebholo was declared winner having scored 12,145 votes in comparison to the 5,536 votes obtained by Idahosa.

According to Stanley Ugboaja, the Returning Officer for the election, out of the 42,000 delegates who met the APC’s criteria to partake in the primaries only 29,000 participated.

Immediately thereafter, the local government returning officers for the 2024 Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries election later declared Anamero Sunday Dekeri, winner of the contest.

Spokesman of the local government returning officers, Mr Ojo Babatunde who announced the result on Saturday night said Dekeri polled a total number of 25,384 to defeat his closest rival Dennis Idahosa who scored 14,127 votes.

Flanked by some returning officers, Babatunde said Dekeri polled a total number of 25, 384 to defeat his closest rival Dennis Idahosa who scored 14,127 votes.

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