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Gov Emmanuel Proposes N597,800billion as 2020 Budget estimate

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* Prioritises on Education, Industrialisation, Agriculture

* Hints on completing Ibom Tropicana

Governor Udom Emmanuel has presented a budget proposal of N597, 800billion for the 2020 fiscal year to Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly with emphasis on education, industrialization and poverty reduction.

The budget which is christened ‘Budget of Industrialisation for poverty alleviation phase 2’, is predicated on the policy thrust to gradually metamorphose Akwa Ibom State from a “Civil Service” State to a largely Private Sector driven State, depending less on statutory allocation as the main source of revenue to the State.

According to the governor, ” this will be achieved by creating more job opportunities through opening up the State to encourage private investments, creating a welcoming environment for investors, strengthening existing industries and establishing new ones, as well as improving our IGR processes and drive. It is expected that these, as well as the provision of basic infrastructures, enhancement of security, development of human capital and boosting services in education and healthcare will lead to an overall improvement in the living standard of our people”.

An analysis of the budget estimate shows that capital expenditure takes the lead with N369, 642b, making about 61.8 % of the budget while recurrent expenditure is estimated to take N111,225b, making 18.6% while N116,933, making 19.5% has been estimated for consolidated revenue fund charges.

The 2020 budget is however significantly lower than last year’s budget which stood at N672,985. This shortfall, the governor explained is reflective of anchoring the budget on oil benchmark of $55 per barrel at a production rate of N2.18 million barrels per day, and with an estimated exchange rate of 305/USS, in line with the national budget benchmark projection.

Further analysis of sectoral allocations show that priority is given to projects and programmes under the Education and Economic sectors.

The governor noted that “education is the bed rock of all developments. It is a pivot on which every human capital development revolves. This administration places a high premium on education and skills development and acquisition”.

On Industrialisation, he said “in the next four years, my administration will intensify efforts and focus in providing a high performance in the industrialization goals we had started in my first term in office.

“We hope to make Akwa Ibom State an industrial hub in our country. In this regard, more energy and vigour will be given to Small and Medium Enterprises to act as drivers of our viable economy. We will make sure that adequate and sufficient modern infrastructural facilities are provided which are quite necessary for effective and efficient industrialization.

Speaking of his intentions to boost Agriculture, he stated that ” In 2020, government intends to carry out the following agricultural programmes and projects; Agro Meteorological Project, Commercial Cattle Development Project, Cocoyam/Avocado Pear Production, Bamboo Development Programme, integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS), Women Agro-Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP), Cassava Development Programme, Animal Feed Safety and Certification Programme, Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Maize Development Programme, Rice Development Project, Agro-Chemical Supply and others”.

Interestingly, Governor Udom hinted that his administration may complete the Ibom Tropicana and Entertainment Galleria left unfinished by his predecessor.

He stated that government will embark on “expansion work at Ibom 5-Star Hotel and Golf Resort and completion of a multi-million Naira Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, complete with Cineplex, galleria, malls, dry and wet parks, hotels and convention centre”, adding that efforts are currently in progress to get private investors to take up the running of the facility.

Emmanuel said the 2020 budget is further anchored on his Eight-Point policy thrust which rests squarely on his initial Five-Point Agenda that shaped his First Term in office to wit; Job Creation, Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, and Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion for continuous transformation of the State into an industrialized entity.”

“We are committed to complete all our ongoing projects and other star projects in our completion agenda”, he assured.

The Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Aniekan Bassey applauded governor Udom Emmanuel for the purposeful implementation of the 2019 budget and pledged to ensure a speedy consideration and passage of the 2020 appropriation budget.

He however charged the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDGs) to ensure they provide all the necessary supporting budget data and stick to the time table that will be announced by the house for their appearance.

On his part, the leader of the state Assembly Udo Kierian Akpan said the Governor has been able to bring about accountability in governance and promised that he and his colleagues will continue to support his efforts in service.

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SGF: My office doesn’t supervise constituency projects

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SGF: My office doesn’t supervise constituency projects

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, yesterday explained that his office does not execute and supervise constituency projects in any part of the country.

The SGF explained that some fraudulent individuals have been misinforming the public about its role of supervising projects.

In a statement by the Director of Information, Willie Bassey, the SGF said “for the avoidance of doubt, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation neither executes nor supervises constituency projects.”

He said there are unrelenting activities of faceless persons using the social media and other platforms to lure unsuspecting members of the Public to submit their Curriculum Vitae at a fee, to a non-existing desk at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, for Federal Government appointments.

“The Office is similarly aware of inaccurate information being peddled around regarding constituency projects being executed under its supervision.

“Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has become aware of numerous forged introductory letters purportedly issued from his office seeking diverse favours from individuals and corporate entities for personal gains.” Mustapha warned that “the general public is by this notice advised to beware of the clandestine activities of these dubious and fraudulent persons and their cohorts going about to fleece unsuspecting members of the public.

Assuredly, the government has evolved measures to track these unpatriotic and faceless persons and will bring to justice anyone found engaging in these unwholesome activities.

The SGF said all enquiries and clarification, could be made on the official communication channels of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

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Insurgency: NAF fighter jets use 64,964,000 hours to hit terrorists, bandits

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Insurgency: NAF fighter jets use 64,964,000 hours to hit terrorists, bandits

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, disclosed that the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has successfully launched six different operation strategies to tackle insecurity and other forms of criminality in the different parts of the country.

Speaking at an interactive meeting with members of the House of Representatives committee on air force in Abuja, Sadique stressed that the agency was saddled with the responsibility of national security and was at a point grappling with a serious threat to national security by bandits and criminals in Nigeria.

He explained that in the last five years, the agency had done everything possible to protect Nigerian citizens and also protect the territorial integrity of the nation against any for form of aggression.

According to the NAF boss, the Airforce launched six different operations to tackle insecurity, particularly insurgency and banditry in the North-East state of Borno and some few other Northern states of the Federation.

He listed the different operations as follows: Operation Lafia Dole, Safe Heaven, Thunder Strike, Hadarin Daji, Swift Response and Delta Safe.

On the achievements of the agency, he said that it had successfully evacuated stranded Nigerians from crisis prone areas in Cameroun and also have sent relief materials to victims of similar crisis in Malawi, Gambia and other African nations.

He further informed the lawmakers that NAF had expended 64,964,000 hours to tackle these security challenges, adding that it expended 924,000 hours in the North-East region alone.

The NAF boss commended the lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives for passing the Air Force Institute of Technology Establishment Bill into law, saying that it would help in its operations as well as capacity building.

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Okowa approves appointment of 4 traditional rulers

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Okowa approves appointment of 4 traditional rulers

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has approved the appointment of no fewer than four traditional rulers in the state, charging them to enhance the peace-building agenda of his administration’s ‘Stronger Delta’ mantra.

This came as the governor read riot act to the state commissioners on project monitoring and evaluation, saying they should deliver on the mandate that produced them, or risk being sacked.

The newly appointed monarchs are the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom, Chukwuka Okonjo; the Pere of Burutu Kingdom, Johnbull, Bolokowei; the traditional ruler of Beneku Kingdom, and the Obi of Onicha-Olona, Christopher Uzu-Diji.

The appointment of Okonjo of the Okonjo-Iweala family to succeed his father might have doused the rising tension that had hitherto trailed the traditional stool of the kingdom.

The governor, who expressed delight that his administration’s ‘Smart Delta Agenda’ yielded good fruits during his first tenure, however, threatened that any non-performing aide, ministry, department or agency would be sanctioned.

While addressing newsmen yesterday on the outcome of the enlarged executive council meeting at the Government House in Asaba, the state capital, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, supported by his counterpart in the Economic Planning Ministry, Mr. Barry Gbee, said the governor would not take it lightly with any indolent appointee.

“He (Governor Okowa) had warned that he would not tolerate a situation whereby a Commissioner will sit in the comfort zone of his office while execution of projects suffer setbacks,” he said.

The Commissioner, therefore, hinted that N389 billion had been proposed for 2020 budget, with N217 billion as capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure of N171 billion, saying the budget outlay is slightly different from the N390 billion estimated for 2019.

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Edo: LG boss in trouble over alleged financial recklessness

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Edo: LG boss in trouble over alleged financial recklessness

Crisis is brewing in Esan North-East Local Government Area of Edo State as nine out of the 11 councillors in the council have accused the Chairman, Hon. Augustine Okoibhole of alleged corrupt practices.

This was as they accused him of allegedly enriching himself at the detriment of the welfare of the people of the local government area, as well as abuse of office and disregard to the traditional institution of the area, among several other allegations levelled against him.

But, the Chairman has denied the allegations, saying he has run the council in line with due diligence, procedures and transparency, even as he denied any financial wrong doing.

The nine councillors had in a petition to the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, accused the Chairman of financial recklessness and that he operated multiple accounts in the name of the council as against the Single Account policy of the state and federal government.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Hon. Iluobe Christina from Ward Seven also said the chairman was unable to account for a N13,348,000 remitted to the council’s account by the Revenue Verification Committee.

But, while reacting to the allegations yesterday, Okoibhole said: “The new NFIU (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit) directive gives the council room to operate three accounts and that is what we are doing; we are operating three accounts.”

On the allegation of his inability to account for the IGR funds, he noted: “We have been paying salaries; we do not owe workers’ salaries, I have executed several projects. We have built livestock market, and constructed drainages and all the monies did not come from my personal pocket, but from the council. What we have done is even far more than N144 million. My wage bill on monthly basis is over N30 million and for the last 25 months, I have paid the workers’ salaries.

On the Paris Club loan refund, Okoibhole said he acted as directed by the state governor to pay salary arrears as “we owed the workers eight months, and now we are owe only two and half months, which means I have paid five and a half months.”

According to him, the only problem he had with the traditional institution as alleged is that he built a new livestock market with abattoir and other facilities which the Hausa and marketers from Kogi State had already moved into, but traders from the local government council refused on the ground that the chairman was trying to divide the traditional market in Uromi.

Similarly, the councillors also alleged that the sum of N144,000,000 generated as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the past 16 months had not been accounted for by the council chairman, as well as the N116,350,894 Paris Club refund.

The aggrieved councillors, however, in a petition of October 2 to the state House of Assembly accused the council chairman of reckless spending of the council funds and for operating multiple accounts in the name of the council with three commercial banks.

According to them, the action of the embattled council boss is against the Federal government single account policy.

They, however, disclosed that the sum of N13, 348,000 that was remitted to the council through the revenue verification committee of the council was paid into the Zenith Bank account by the chairman.

The aggrieved members of the council said that efforts to drag the chairman before the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had continued to be thwarted by some forces in the area.

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Ihedioha inaugurates 2019 Ahiajoku Lecture Series Committee

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Ihedioha inaugurates 2019 Ahiajoku Lecture Series Committee

Determined to revive rich cultural heritage of Igbo through the Ahiajoku Lecture Series (ALS), Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has inaugurated committee for the ALS.

Ihedioha, who said the Lecture Series had made the State unique among other states in the federation because of its attachment to education, scholarly works and culture, charged members of the Committee to take cognizance of the importance of the Lecture in rebuilding the State.

He said: “Ahiajoku Lecture has distinguished Imo among scholarly States. It has indeed stood us out as a state in love with education,” stressing that, “education is our mainstay because of our very high literacy rate.”

Ihedioha noted that the Ahiajoku Lecture would continue to play significant roles in promoting Igbo culture, tradition and contribute significantly in the rebuilding process of Imo State, saying members of the Committee were carefully chosen for their track records and for the fact that they would do the state proud as he was sure that the committee would deliver and make the event successful.

The governor, however, expressed hope that the committee would ensure success of the lecture slated for the 30th of November 2019, and assured members of his readiness to support them to deliver on the assignment.

In his remarks on behalf of the members, Chairman of the 2019 Ahiajoku Lecture Series Committee and former Governor Ikedi Ohakim commended Ihedioha for reviving the Ahiajoku Lecture Series and finding him and other members of the committee worthy to organize the lecture.

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PDP to Buhari: N5000 ID card fee repressive, offensive

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PDP to Buhari: N5000 ID card fee repressive, offensive

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the imposition of N5, 000 fee on Nigerians, for the  National Identity Card, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Governments, describing it as repressive and offensive to the sensibility of the people.

The party said in a statement yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that the fee was unwarranted and unjustified levy on Nigerians.

The PDP added that the action amounted to fleecing and stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own nation.

“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP.

“The N5, 000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.

“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space,” the party stated.

It noted what it described as “the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.

“Only recently, the Buhari-led APC administration increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.

“This is in addition to increase in tariffs for electricity and other services as well as the obnoxious decision to return the toll gates on our major highways.

“Our party cautions that such impositions breed resentment and erode the much-desired patriotism; leading to the escalation of social vices and low commitment to nation building by citizens.”

PDP therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to immediately cancel its decision to levy Nigerians for national identity cards.

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Group writes Ikpeazu, demands sack of aide over threats to life

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Group writes Ikpeazu, demands sack of aide over threats to life

Following trending audio recording in which an aide to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state allegedly threatened to deal with a blogger should he not desist from writing about Abia state government, a group, South-East Equity Alliance (SEA) has written to Ikpeazu, urging him to defend his oath of office.

The group also demanded that the governor should immediately sack his Senior Special Assistant on General Duties, Mr. Uchenna Erondu whose voice was said to have been captured in the audio recording, intimidating a student blogger, Ogochukwu Nwaokeoma, threatening to whisk him to Abuja should he dare write anything else about the activities of the Abia state government.

There are indications that the blogger, Nwaokeoma, has since fled Abia state and gone into hiding for fear of his life.

But in an open letter to the Abia state governor, signed by the National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Ekeh Ifeanyi Chimezie (Imo State); National Secretary, Okoro Williams (Ebonyi State) and the National Public Relations Officer, Debby Tochi Joy (Abia State), the group urged Ikpeazu to rise up in defence of democracy, constitutional governance and his oath to protect lives and properties of Abia citizens.

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NAFDAC partners patent medicine dealers, seeks adherence to regulatory guidelines

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NAFDAC partners patent medicine dealers, seeks adherence to regulatory guidelines

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has called for closer collaboration between the agency and the members of National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED).

The Agency, however, called on NAPPMED members to abide by its regulatory guidelines and rules.

Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the call in Enugu yesterday during a sensitization workshop.

The workshop tagged “NAFDAC’s Regulatory Expectation of NAPPMED in Nigeria,” was also designed to build robust collaboration and cordial relationship between the association and NAFDAC.

Adeyeye, represented by NAFDAC South-East Zonal Director, Mrs. Olajumoke Ojetokun, said that “all unregistered medicines remain a fake drug since it did not pass through the Agency’s vital registration process, numbering and check.’’

She went on: “The dangers of the use of counterfeit and unwholesome medicines are enormous and they range from pharmacological issues such as; respiratory depression (shallow breath and irregular breathing), central depression/severe drowsiness.

“Other dangers are; muscle rigidity, unconsciousness/coma to socio-economic problems such as; crime, terrorism, loss of economic productivity and pressure on the healthcare systems.”

Also speaking, Mr. Chuks Osuji, Chairman of NAPPMED Ogbete Market (Section B), said that the association would continue to work together with NAFDAC.

“We are ever ready to obey all the instructions given by NAFDAC and maintain a cordial relationship with the Agency,’’ Osuji said.

Mr Oliver Ezemba, Chairman of NAPPMED Ogbete Market (Section A), noted that NAPPMED members had been longing for a workshop like this, where individual members would be lectured and taught best practices and how to ensure compliance.

“It is clear that whenever someone sells an unwholesome or fake drug or medicine; it might be your family or friend that might end up using it,’’ Ezemba said.

In a lecture entitled “Dangers of Fake Drug to Public Health,’’ Mr. Chike Obiano, advised NAPPMED members to desist from selling expired drugs or re-writing the expiry date of drugs or drug products.

“This action has led to incidences of drug failures and illnesses getting complicated,’’ Obiano said.

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Army unveils new South-East operation’s name

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Army unveils new South-East operation’s name

The Nigerian Army has announced a change in name of its South-East operation from Exercise Evwu Eke (python dance) to ‘Exercise Atilogwu Udo.

Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that “Atilogwu Udo” was a form of “dance for peace” in Igboland.

New Telegraph said that the Army had announced October 7 as date for commencement of nationwide operations to wit: Python Dance 1V (South East); Crocodile Smile 1V (South South and South West); Ayem Akpatuma 11 (North Central and North West).

Curiously, the Army had, at a press conference last week, announced November 1 as the new date for the nationwide exercise.

The change which was conveyed yesterday in a statement by the Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, came on the heels of criticisms by some groups in the South-East, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

He said: “The authorities of the Nigerian Army wish to inform the general public of the change of name of one of its annual training exercises code named, “Exercise EGWU EKE” to ‘Exercise Atilogwu Udo.

“The annual training exercise commenced in 2016 and has consistently recorded remarkable successes since its introduction.

“The Exercise, which covers the South East region of the country, is designed to combat criminal activities including kidnappings, armed robbery, inter-cult and communal clashes among other sundry crimes.

“All other information relative to the Exercise as contained in the previous Press Statement and Press Conference issued by the Army Headquarters remain unchanged.

“The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai wishes to reiterate the commitment of the Nigerian Army in protecting lives and properties of citizens particularly during these ember months and the fast approaching Yuletide season.

“He also wishes to further solicit the support and understanding of all well-meaning Nigerians towards providing a well secured environment for all and sundry.” 

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Oyetola to commissioners, SAs: Hit the ground running

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Oyetola to commissioners, SAs: Hit the ground running

Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, yesterday, charged his newly inaugurated cabinet members to hit the ground running immediately as his administration was in a hurry declaring to transform the state.

Besides, he reaffirmed his administration’s determination to deliver a state that would work and compete with other viable states around the world in terms of basic amenities and provision of modern facilities that would enable citizens to live happily and productively while fulfilling all their God-given potential.

Specifically, Oyetola said his administration was poised to continue the running of a wholly empathetic government whose singular preoccupation was to significantly uplift the well-being of the people of Osun.

The governor, who spoke yesterday on “My Development Agenda for the State of Osun” at the ongoing Four-Day State of Osun Executive Council Retreat at MicCom Golf Hotels and Resorts, Ada, Boripe Local Government Area of the state, also reiterated his administration’s commitmment to make more unprecedented progress with a view to building a greater Osun that would become a benchmark for national development in all ramifications.

He said:  “This shall be done through strategic investment in agriculture and food security, creation of a bustling tourism sector that would see Osun becoming the nation’s destination of choice, and ensure the full exploitation of our mineral resources for wealth creation.

“We shall do more to invest in the education that adequately empowers our people to realise their full potential. We know that an equitable public education is central to a healthy democracy and a thriving economy. Therefore, building on the strong foundation laid by the last administration, we will challenge our children with high expectations from a rich, well-rounded education curriculum that will provide them hope in a time of despair and help them thrive and become useful adults.”

“We are also fully committed to strengthening and enhancing technical and vocational education while also improving on the welfare of our hardworking teachers. My goal is to make Osun known as the state for employment and jobs in the country.

“Together, we must build a state that provides opportunities for all classes of our people irrespective of backgrounds or even political inclinations. We must build a secure and assured future that offers hope for today and for the generation yet unborn.

“In selecting you to serve, we have followed a most inclusive and participatory approach that included our party and other stakeholders who worked hard with us to deliver victory during the last election. After a much painstaking process, we are assured therefore, that your emergence is a pointer to your capacity as some of the best our state can muster.   

“This call to serve is a sacred duty that you must not take lightly. Since the past 10 months when our administration assumed office, we have, in line with our avowed electoral promise that the mandate to govern this state will be held in close trust and not be abused; been executing an agenda of continuity and revitalisation.

“We have laboured tirelessly to deliver significant dividends of democracy to our people. Despite our lean financial resources, we have comported ourselves cautiously, devoted attention to strategic thinking and shown commitment to utmost conscientious implementation of tasks.

“Yet, for us, it is very clear that the journey has just begun. It is certain that political appointees cannot succeed alone. To succeed, we must work closely with our colleagues in the bureaucracy and forge a shared vision, mission and passion that prioritise the interest of our people and the development of our beloved state above any primordial sentiments.

“More than anything else, we must work together as a team to deliver on our bold vision. In the face of paucity of financial resources, we must be audacious. We must stridently seek the pathways of creativity, innovation, courage and forthrightness to deliver on our affirmed mandates. We must achieve more with less.”

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