The Ogun State government has presented 50 patrol vehicles to the Police and other security agencies to ensure adequate security during the yuletide season and beyond.
45 of the patrol Hilux vehicles were from the proceeds from the State Security Trust Fund, while the state government provided the additional five.
Speaking at the brief handover ceremony held at the arcade ground, Okemosan, Abeokuta, the State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said his administration had spent about 10 billion Naira (about 62.9 million dollars) in providing security for the people of the state. He promised that his administration would continue to provide enabling environment for the residents and investors alike.
“Because security to one is security to all, we are determined to ensure that our people are safe and our investors too are safe. “In the last two years, at least by the end of the outgoing year, we, as a government, have spent about 10 billion Naira to provide security for the state, and we are pleased by the effort, as it is yielding results. The Security Watch again for the second time has recognised us as the best in terms of security,” he said.
The governor, however, commended the state Security Trust Fund for the gesture, expressing hope that the body would deliver on the task ahead.
A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has told the All Progressives Congress (APC) that he remains a ‘card carrying member’ of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
At his Hilltop home in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State, Obasanjo told the leaders of the APC, who visited him on Saturday in continuation of their consultations on political developments in Nigeria that he is a democrat that believes in the existence of opposition.
He stressed the need for politicians to play by the rules of the game and play politics without bitterness.
“My Party is PDP. My politics is Nigeria, Africa and the World in that order. I am a democrat and I do know that one of the essential ingredients of democracy is opposition.
“Always put Nigeria first above personal and group interests.
“The politics that should be played should be politics with decency, without rancour and one that has Nigeria at the heart of all that is done.
“I am incurably optimistic about Nigeria and I am also totally committed to Nigeria and nothing will divert me or distract me from that commitment,” Obasanjo stated.
The APC leaders eulogised the virtues of the former president, describing him as a reference point in Nigeria’s politics.
Some of the party members present the meeting are the National Interim Chairman of the party, Mr Bisi Akande, former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, Gen Mohammadu Buhari, Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, Kawu Baraje, Governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, Alimodu Sherif, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Abiola Ajimobi and Babatunde Fashola, Femi Fani-Kayode and former Anti-graft Czar, Mr Nuhu Ribadu.
The meeting is coming after Mr Obasanjo, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), wrote an open letter to the Nigerian president entitled; ‘Before It Is Too Late’, pointing out issues bothering on sensitive areas, some of which are security, politics and economy.
Mixed reactions have trailed the open letter.
President Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, said the letter was “self-serving and highly provocative”.
Some critics are of the opinion that Mr Obasanjo lacked the moral backing to write such letter, as the issues he mentioned existed during his tenure as the Nigerian president.
Others say the message and not the messenger should be looked at.
The Nigerian Police has banned gatherings, receptions and carnivals at airports across the country.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, explained that the ban is part of a deliberate effort to avert any security breach and protect critical infrastructure, travellers and airport staff.
The police authorities have directed all airport command commissioners and state commissioners of police hosting the airports to ensure compliance with the directive.
This order is coming after the supporters of Rivers State Governor; Rotimi Amaechi forced their way onto the tarmac of the Port Harcourt International Airport during the visit of APC leaders to Port Harcourt on Tuesday, an act seen as a security breach.
The House of Representatives has summoned the Inspector-General of Police over the actions of police officers in disrupting the meeting of 7 governors and members of the National Assembly in Abuja.
In what has been described as impunity and disregard for the constitution, the lawmakers expressed dismay at the actions of the Nigerian Police in disregarding the immunity of the governors under the constitution.
In a motion supported by 61 lawmakers, and moved by Idris Kutigi, the lawmakers said police authorities have in recent times disrupted several meetings of these governors by sealing the meeting venues.
“On Sunday November 3, 2013 when the G-7 governors and members of the National Assembly were holding a meeting at the Kano State Government Lodge, Asokoro, the Divisional Police Officer, Asokoro Division stormed the lodge midway into the meeting with instruction from the villa to disperse or arrest the governors if they refuse to stop the meeting.”
The House has mandated its Committee on Police Affairs to investigate the matter and report back in 2 weeks.
Supporters of the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi had to barge their way into the Port Harcourt International Airport, with the governor in tow, after the police allegedly stopped him from gaining access into the airport.
Governor Amaechi was on his way to the airport to welcome leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who were in Port Harcourt to pay him a solidarity visit and also invite him to join their party, when the incident happened.
The crowd of supporters subsequently forced their way through the airport gate and carried the Governor along with them.
The Rivers State Governor however had to walk some 5 kilometers from the gate to the tarmac.
The police claim that they were only trying to maintain law and order.
FAAN Condemns Amaechi’s Reaction
Meanwhile, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has condemned what it calls the invasion of the Port Harcourt International Airport by Governor Amaechi and his supporters.
The Coordinating General Manager, Public Relations of FAAN, Mister Yaqub Datti said the airport area is a security zone and not a place to play politics, and advised against such recurrence in future.
He also alleged that the incident forced an Arik flight to divert to a neighbouring state for landing, as the pilot considered it unsafe to land at that time when the supporters of the Rivers Governor had invaded the airport.
Drama played out on Monday, November 4 as the plan by the aggrieved G-7 PDP Governors to attend a solidarity rally at the Rivers State Governor’s Office could not materialize because they were allegedly stopped from landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport.
The Chief Of Staff to Rivers Governor, Mister Peter Okocha said the Government was told by airport authorities that the airspace had been closed due to the presence of a very important dignitary.
The governors who have given the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP conditions to remain as members of the party, had planned a rally where they would explain their next plan of action to their supporters but could not carry out the campaign.
The G-7 Governors are those of Rivers, Niger, Jigawa, Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Sokoto States.
FAAN Denies Allegation
Aviation authorities have however vehemently refuted the allegation by the G-7 Governors, with the Coordinating General Manager, Public Relations, for the Aviation Ministry, Mister Yakubu Datti, describing it as a malicious lie.
Mr. Datti insisted that the agencies in-charge of the airspace did not and could not have given such a directive.
He cautioned politicians not to drag the ministry into any political dispute, maintaining that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, is a professional body and would therefore not like to join issues on political matters.
The leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC have thrown an open invitation to the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and the people of Rivers State to join and support the party.
The political rally was held at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, the state capital, despite the earlier challenges.
The APC delegation included Former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, Former Military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, the APC Interim National Chairman, Bisi Akande, National Secretary, Lai Muhamed, as well as the National Vice-Chairman South-South (APC) and Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi.
Thousands of Amaechi supporters, members of the National Assembly and chairmen of all Local Government Areas of the state also thronged the rally, singing his praise and reaffirming their support for the embattled governor. The leader of the state’s chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Chimbiko Akarolo in his speech, declared the councils’ support for Amaechi, saying “Wherever he goes, that is where we are going to go”.
Taking turns to address the crowd, the APC leaders showered encomiums on the Rivers State Governor. National Chairman of the APC, Bisi Akande commended his courage and brilliance while Former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, refered to him as a visionary who has performed extremely well in fighting for the rights of his people. He said “a man who stands to be cheated is not a man but a pig”
Speaking further on the validity of his party’s proposition, he encouraged Governor Amaechi to consider the APC’s offer saying “this is a mission to rescue Nigeria from polarization, division, intimidation and oppression.”
Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Tom Ikimi on his part eulogized the values of the All Progressives Congress as the better option for Amaechi. He claimed that the APC provides ‘balance of power’ and an alternative platform for Nigerians.
The event climaxed with the anticipated response by Governor Rotimi Amaechi who delivered his speech amidst intermittent singing and dancing.
The visibly excited Amaechi said to the APC leaders “If I say I am not happy that you are, I am only lying”. He went on to condemn the activities of his political opponents and the many accusations against him and his administration.
Recounting his administration’s achievements and emphasizing his popularity among the masses, he dismissed threats to unseat him and called on the citizens of Rivers State to confront the Nigerian Police and end impunity.
Amechi who has long been suspended from the People’s Democratic Party alongside 6 other Governors promised that he would embark on consultations with his fellow G7 Governors, the APC leaders and the Nigerian President before responding to APC’s request to join the party.
The G-7 Governors have met With Former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his hilltop residence in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
It was gathered that the closed-door meeting, which lasted for about 2 hours, was part of the on-going consultations to resolve the leadership crisis rocking the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
The governors, led by the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliu told journalists that they were in Abeokuta to keep the former president informed about the latest development on the crisis.
He said “This is part of the consultation, more so that we are coming to the resolution of the matters.”
“We’ve been discussing with the President, discussing about these matters and we believe after the lull of the pilgrimages, we are all back. So we needed to consult again to find out if there is any variable that have intervened and we are very happy that things are going normal.”
At the meeting were the governors of Rivers, Niger, Kano, Adamawa and Jigawa States. Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State were both conspicuously absent.
The Executive Director of Grassroots Watch, Adeola Soetan, on Monday, said that the arm of government at the local level is the strong foundation of Nigerian government while the state government is only artificial.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Soetan said that the creation of more local governments will not bring about better development except government officials are sincere.
He also pointed out that money invested in ‘social indulgence’ like congratulatory messages to each other is the same money that should be used in installing borehole systems, building schools and so on.
78.5percent of rural based local governments are not interested in who governs them, they are particularly interested about the development of their community.
Following the many arguments that have trailed the call for local government autonomy, Mr Soetan stated that there is need for local government to be independent of the state governments.
According to him, minimal responsibilities like tenement rate, markets that allow local governments to operate and develop have been taken over by state governments therefore limiting their level of improvement.
“The state government has assumed they have the mandate to take over duties that rightfully belong to the local government,” he said.
Mr. Soetan said that Governors, who are not in support of autonomy believe the local government is not a necessary tier of government and it should also have appointed not elected leaders, making this ‘appointed’ local government chairmen indebted to the Governor that put them in power.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has demanded that the federal government should provide information on how it has spent the sum of N700billion which was allegedly borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013.
The civil society group in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, warned that it would take legal action against the federal government if it fails to provide the information within the next 14 days, as it also demanded “a moratorium on borrowing.”
In the letter dated 27th of May, 2013 and sent to the Accountant-General of the Federation; Mr. Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, SERAP alleged that the funds might “have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”
The anti-corruption organization claimed it is making these allegations, relying “heavily on” a recent statement by the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, that “government increased its borrowing in securities by N700billion between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013, and that the government has spent more than N2trillion in four months.”
“SERAP is seriously concerned about this high level of spending by the government within this short period of time, especially given the fact that government borrowed almost the same amount between 2011 and 2012.”
“Whereas the government has borrowed over N6.54trillion from national sources and its external borrowing is growing, there is no evidence on the ground to show that the huge sums of money have been put to good use to benefit millions of economically and socially vulnerable Nigerians. In fact, we fear the money could have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen” the group stated.
“Despite this huge borrowing, the same period also witnessed decreased spending on basic social services such as roads, electricity, health, education, and thus explaining in part why the government has lagged behind in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Raising more concerns about the nation’s growing debt SERAP stated that “we are further concerned about the country’s growing debt problem because this will continue to weaken the capacity of this government to fulfill its human rights obligations and commitment, thus throwing millions of Nigerians deeper into poverty.”
Moratorium on debt
“Unless a moratorium on debt borrowing and periodic transparent audits of debt are introduced, the current unsustainable debt situation will continue to jeopardise the well-being of not only the present generation but also the future generation, the organization said.
The organization is relying on Sections 1 (1); 4 (a); and 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, for its request.
According to SERAP “the information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”
“The disclosure of the information requested will give SERAP and the general public a true picture and a clear understanding of how the spending of the sums of money borrowed have impacted on the lives of the ordinary, common, poor and indigent and other disadvantaged Nigerians,” the organization said.
SERAP therefore asked the government to provide information on “the amount that has been spent from the N700billion borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013 and details of projects on which this money was spent.”
In a split in loyalty within the governors of the 36 states of the Federation over the just concluded Nigerian Governors’ Forum election, where the incumbent chairman of the Forum; Rivers State Governor; Chibuike Amaechi was re-elected with 19 votes and Plateau State Governor; Jonah Jang who is claiming that the election was rigged as he had 16 votes, are both laying claims to the position of the Chairman of NGF, the Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed has asked that a peaceful path of reconciliation be engaged so as not to lose sight of the peer review for development which motivated the forum’s emergence in the first place.
In a press statement released by the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Governor Ahmed called on other State governors to shun divisive political tendencies and bury the hatchet while focussing on using the NGF as a platform for driving the intended development for the benefit of the people.
Governor Ahmed emphasized that a peaceful path should be taken to resolve any rancour within the State governors rather encourage discord amongst themselves.
“If there are issues as regards the election of the Forum’s chairman, we should use the same platform to resolve them rather than fanning the embers of discord in the media. Our choking security challenges should not be compounded with political conundrum,”
Governor Ahmed therefore called on the leadership of South-South Governor’s Forum, the Northern State Governors’ Forum, the South East Governors’ Forum and their colleagues from the South West to utilise their various platforms to strengthen the Forum and complement the leadership at the Federal level.
According to him, as a peer-review platform for good governance, the NGF should offer critical development advice to first term governors such as himself so that democracy can be made more meaningful for the people, stressing that deliberate efforts should be made to ensure that the system is not overheated.
On the privatization of the power sector as a form of reform in Nigeria, the radar was on the Benin PHCN distribution companies as it faced serious criticisms from governors Oshiomhole, Fayemi and Uduaghan all echoed their dissatisfaction as the entire process was not transparent, an allegation the technical committee chairman of the National Council on Privatization; Peterside Atedo was quick to respond to.
Looking the issues surrounding the Disco bidding process, the President of Nigeria for Energy and Advocacy Group; Joseph Inyang said his group has been pushing for the country to get a national decentralized grid like what the United States is presently running on, as it will allow both government and others to be participants.
Mr. Inyang who was a guest on Channels Television’s business programme ‘Business Morning’ said the governors will be midwives in the delivery of power to their people in the different states as each states will have their management agencies if the national decentralized grid can be introduced.