More Nigerians have continued to pay condolence visits to the residence of the former Governor of Kwara state, Dr Bukola Saraki in Ilorin over the death of his father, Dr Olusola Saraki.
One of the early callers on Thursday was the former Vice-President of the country, Atiku Abubakar who expressed shock over the death of the man he described as one of the strong pillar of Nigerian politics.
The demise of the former Senate leader, he stressed, has created a great vacuum in the political history of Kwara state and the country at large.
He urged politicians in the country to emulate his type of politics which he added had endeared him to most politicians in the country.
Another visitor was the Governor of Bauchi state, Issa Yuguda who described the late politicians as an embodiment of humility, tolerance and accommodation.
He added that the late political icon has contributed immensely to the political stability of the country as his appearance in Nigeria politics has brought a lot of dynamism to political system of the country.
Responding on behalf of the son of the late politician, former governor of Kwara state, Shaaba Lafiagi, thanked them for the visit and expressed the gratitude of the family.
Various political parties, interest groups, notable politicians and state governors have sent their condolences to the Saraki family and people of Kwara State.
While the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) described his passage as the loss of a political guru and the beginning of the gradual extraction of the last Mohegan, opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) said the late politician would be missed by all in the political battlefield.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also described Dr. Saraki as a “colossus who possessed an efficient political machinery that he used effectively to rally the people.”
”Dr. Saraki defined his era, and since his entry into politics several decades ago, politics has never been the same again, especially in his native Kwara state, where he became synonymous with the politics of the state” the party stated.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola in his reaction, titled “the nation has lost a colourful compassionate politician”, stated that “indeed, Nigeria has lost a political giant whose counsel is most certainly needed, particularly at this period when our budding democracy is cutting its teeth and taking its challenging steps towards consolidation.”
Meanwhile, the PDP likened the death of the Second Republic Senate Leader, to the “gradual extinction of the last of the Mohegians.”
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh said Nigeria has lost a political guru and a Titan who compared in every respect with the generation of the independent Nigerian leaders.
“Here was a fine medical doctor, philanthropist, humanist and an astute politician. Here, most importantly was a game changer, a man who changed the destiny of his people. Like the great Zik of Africa, like Ahmadu Bello and like Awo, he was.”
Also, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) commiserated with the government and people of Kwara State over the demise, describing it as the “exit of a titan.”
A statement signed by the chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger State, Muazu Aliyu, the forum noted that “the fact that the Dr Saraki passed on at a time of increasing intolerance in the country makes his death more painful, considering his leading role in ensuring peace and unity in Kwara State, the North and Nigeria as a whole.”
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu described his death as a grave loss to the nation and exit of a people’s democrat.
President Goodluck Jonathan has joined Nigerians in mourning Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki who he described as “one of Nigeria’s most prominent political leaders, medical practitioner and democrat.”
In a statement signed by the President’s special adviser on Media and publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the President extended his “sincere commiserations to the elder statesman’s family and the people of his home state, Kwara to whose service and upliftment he selflessly devoted his long and very successful career in politics.”
President Jonathan urged people of Kwara to be consoled by the knowledge that “their departed father, leader and mentor lived a very successful and fulfilled life, rising to national prominence by dint of hard work, uncommon generosity, political sagacity, dedication and wholesome commitment to the service of his people and the entire nation.”
He noted that the late Dr. Saraki will be long remembered and eulogized as a consummate politician, an astute grassroots mobiliser, and a political colossus with awe-inspiring powers of political organisation.
“The ordinary people of Kwara in particular will always remember the “Oloye” with great affection because of the constant support they received from him” he added
The President further notes that “Dr. Saraki’s brand of people-oriented politics and his success in building on his strong support base to contribute positively to Nigeria’s political development as a powerful voice in the nation’s dominant political parties, as the Senate Majority Leader in the Second Republic, and as the ultimate reference point in the politics of Kwara state for decades, have assured him of a place amongst Nigeria’s heroes of democracy.
He urged Nigerians to emulate Dr Saraki’s patriotic commitment to national unity, politics without bitterness as well as his magnificent spirit of philanthropy.
Nigeria has lost another political titan – ACN
Also reacting to the demise of the Ilorin political icon, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) expressed shock and sadness, saying the nation has lost another political titan and a legend of his time.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also described Dr. Saraki as a “colossus who possessed an efficient political machinery that he used effectively to rally the people.”
”Dr. Saraki defined his era, and since his entry into politics several decades ago, politics has never been the same again, especially in his native Kwara state, where he became synonymous with the politics of the state.”
ACN said the death of Dr. Saraki, coming a few days after the passing of another great politician, Lam Adesina, is a big loss to Nigeria, especially at a time the nation needs the wisdom and rich experience of its great sons and daughters to help steer it to less-turbulent waters.
”The vacuum being created by the death of these political titans is a challenge to young politicians to strive hard to step into their shoes and work hard to make our country a proud member of the comity of nations,” the party said.
The Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed on Tuesday approved a minor cabinet reshuffle involving three commissioners.
Announcing the reshuffle through a statement in Ilorin, the Secretary to the state government, Isiaka Gold, said the Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Samuel Bamisaiye was moved to the Ministry for Social Development, Culture and Tourism to replace Ramata Abaya, who is now the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development.
Mr Gold said the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Anthony Towoju was transferred to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as the new commissioner.
He said the new appointments are with immediate effect.
Mr Gold said the state governor is committed to deploying all strategic human and material resources required for the rapid transformation of the state for the benefit of the people.
The devastation caused by the over-flow of River Niger is spreading further across its banks as the resultant flood has displaced hundreds of families in Kwara, destroying hectares of farmland in its flow.
No fewer than 680 people have been displaced and rendered homeless in Patigi and Edu local government areas of Kwara state following heavy downpour in the last few days, coupled with the over-flow of River Niger at its tributary in Jebba, within the state.
The flood which affected 16 communities washed away nearly a million hectares of rice farmlands.
The state government has now called on the Federal Government to extend the dredging of River Niger to Jebba in Kwara state for permanent solution to perennial flooding in the area.
The Special Adviser to the state governor on emergency in company of the state Head of Service were shocked at the magnitude of the damage caused by the flood as they embarked on an inspection of the affected community.
The government officials had to resort to using a canoe to access the villages during their assessment tour.
Some of the villages visited in Edu and Patigi local government areas include Kpata, Mawogi, Abefu and Gbaradogi, where residential buildings and offices have been submerged by flood.
Nearly 70 houses were affected including the country home of the Commissioner for Industries and Solid Minerals who could not recall when such a magnitude of flood has ever occurred before.
Most of the displaced communities have been temporarily relocated though; they still remain at the mercy of the impending flood while the state and local governments are making all efforts to alleviate their suffering.
The government officials appealed to the flood victims to move away from the river bank.
Despite the threat of a nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with electricity workers, the Minister of Power declared that the federal government will not shift grounds on the issue of severance package for the electricity workers.
Professor Bart Nnaji at a press conference in Lagos on Thursday, dismissed the agitations of the employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, (PHCN) and he wasted no time in dismissing the perception that the workers were going to get a pittance for their severance package.
Stating the figures clearly, Prof Nnaji stated that on part law, the total amount of severance package, entitled by the electricity workers is N144 billion while what the workers are asking for adds up to N430 billion.
“PHCN as a company does not make this much and where are they expecting the government to get the funds, which they are demanding? We have calculated what each worker will get, which of course shows government’s generosity, but it is surprising to see the unions demand this high” he said.
The government is in the process of privatising the company but the workers are demanding a 25 per cent severance package as against the 15 per cent the government is offering.
They (electricity workers) say they want 25 per cent in line with their own internal scheme known as ‘Superannuation’, but the government says it would only pay 15 per cent.
The Minister also outlined the offers made to the workers by the government to include payment of repatriation allowance, long service awards, 13th month salary, and monetisation of unspent leave, amongst others.
On pension, Prof Nnaji insisted that the government would only abide by the provisions of the Pension Reform Act, 2004 because the NEPA/PHCN Superannuation Fund Scheme would be terminated from June 30, 2004.
“Government shall transfer accrued rights of staff as of June 30, 2004 to their Retirement Savings Account. The government will provide 7.5 per cent minimum employer contribution on active employees’ monthly emoluments from July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2012” he explained
“Government will also pay the outstanding 7.5 per cent for the employees and the sum of N34.4billion is estimated for 15 per cent contribution, which is 7.5 per cent employer contribution and 7.5 per cent employee contribution.”
WHAT IS SUPERANNUATION?
It is some kind of internal pension scheme ran by the management of PHCN in conjunction with the unions in the sector.
25 per cent is supposed to be deducted from each staff’s monthly salary to fund the scheme which is used to pay off retiring employees.
But reports say rather than do this, the management of the power company, simply voted funds to finance superannuation from its internally generated revenue.
The end result is that the scheme ran into a deficit of about N85 billion as at 2004 and now, the unions are demanding, according to the government, is even far more than that.
Prof. Nnaji however stated that he has already authorized an investigation panel into the operation of the superannuation scheme.
He referred to the PHCN superannuation as an extremely illegal scheme and a Ponzi scheme, wondering why the company was allowed to run the scheme for so long.
But the PHCN workers have continued to insist they would not back down on their demand, ahead of a planned industrial action to shut down the nation’s power grid, despite government insistence that it won’t go beyond its limit.
A federal high court sitting in Abuja on Friday upheld the nomination and election of Abubakar Bukola Saraki as the Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial district in the national assembly.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta dismissed the legal action instituted by another member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Lasisi Kolawole Jimoh who is challenging the nomination and election of Mr Saraki as a Senator.
In his judgment, Justice Auta held that the suit of the Mr Jimoh was baseless and lacking in merit because it failed to disclose any irregularity, fraud or malpractices in the process that produced the senator.
The judge also held that even though there was a primary election conducted by the PDP on 7 January 2012 won by Isiaka Gold with 1,064 and that the plaintiff came second with 12 votes, there was also a bye election by the party following the resignation of Mr Gold as the party’s candidate.
He said that Mr Saraki won the bye election to emerge as the PDP candidate for the Kwara Central Senatorial election.
Mr Jimoh had sued Mr Saraki, the PDP and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) alleging that the bye election was not conducted in accordance with law and that he should be declared the PDP candidate having come second in the first primary election conducted by the party.
A Spanish Company, Valsolar on Tuesday said that it has identified five locations to site its rice project. The company in collaboration with the Kwara state government is seeking to invest N70 Billion in the rice project. According to a statement released by the Kwara state government, the locations for the project are Shonga, Patigi, Lafiagi, Bacita and Share.
The statement said that the five project sites were selected following the results of soil and water tests as well as topographical studies conducted by Valsolar sequel to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the state government and the company last January.
The Kwara state government said that the rice project would be cultivated on 20, 000 hectares of land and that the Spanish farmers would cultivate 5000 hectares of land in each location per annum over the next four years.
The statement added that the processing factory which would also serve as storage and distribution location is to be sited in Share and that in addition to the test results, the five locations were chosen for their proximity to each other and to the riverine areas.
Meanwhile, the joint venture company for the rice project, Valsolar-Kwara Company Limited, has been incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission as the company prepares to commence operations in the state.
The company said that its advance team of surveyor engineers is expected to arrive Shonga, the take-off location for the project in May and will commence operations shortly after.
The Kwara state government signed an an agreement with Valsolar of Spain in February to set up rice cultivation, processing and packaging project in the state.
Under the terms, Valsolar is to invest N70 billion in the project over four years while the state government is to make available 20, 000 hectares of land. In return the Spanish company will hold seventy per cent equity in the company while the remaining thirty per cent will be held by the state government.
The governor of the state, Abdulfatah Ahmed had announced that the project is expected to generate a minimum 12, 000 jobs across the value chain while accelerating economic development in the state in line with his administration’s Shared Prosperity agenda.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin, Kwara state on Monday dismissed a suit challenging the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) primary election in Kwara State in 2011 that produced Abdulfatah Ahmed as a candidate of the party.
According to agency reports, the court ruled that the appeal was ‘unmeritorious’ and dismissed it for want of legality. Justice Ignatius Agube, leading two others, unanimously resolved two issues raised for determination against the appellant. He said the respondents substantially complied with the PDP constitution and that “the article of the party gives no recognition to the appellants.”
A Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, had last year dismissed the same suit filed by a PDP governorship aspirant, Bashie Bolarinwa, who had asked the court to nullify the result of the primary elections that produced the party’s governorship candidate, Mr Ahmed.
The High Court Judge, Justice Olayinka Faji had upheld the prayers of the defendants that the national secretariat of the party has a right to conduct primaries and raise panel to handle complaints thereof.
The suit, filed by Samuel Adedayo, a factional PDP chairman, against the national body of the party, has Mr Bolarinwa and two others as plaintiffs They said the primaries conducted by the faction that produced Mr Bolarinwa was the authentic one while that which produced Mr Ahmed was illegal.
Other defendants in the suit were the PDP National Secretary, Kawu Baraje; Acting National Chairman, Mohammed Bello Ahmed and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora affairs, Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has condemned the deportation of 125 Nigerians by the South African government.
The lawmaker in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, condemned the act, describing it as “continuous unwarranted hostilities against Nigerians by the South Africa government.”
125 Nigerians were deported from South Africa on Friday over yellow fever vaccination card. 75 of them were aboard a South African Airways flight while 50 others passengers were with Arik air.
Mrs Dabiri-erewa described the South Africa government attitude as “degrading” and condemned the continuous hostility to Nigerians by the South Africans, saying it was “unacceptable.”
She urged the federal government to apply the rule of reciprocity to South Africans coming to Nigeria.
For alleged failure to provide genuine yellow fever vaccination documentation, South Africa Friday deported the 125 Nigerians.
The yellow fever vaccination was supposed to be administered by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and other health centres in the local government councils which were supposed to issue yellow fever certification, but South African authorities argued that most of the Yellow Cards were fake.
Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed today presented his maiden budget proposal of N91.7billion to the State House of Assembly for consideration.
Presenting the budget proposal tagged, Consolidation and Development, on the floor of the House on Governor Ahmed said the Appropriation reflects a sharp increase of about 42 per cent over the total budget size of N64.1 billion for 2011.
A breakdown of the budget proposal indicates the sum of N60.9 billion as total recurrent revenue, N47.9 billion for total recurrent expenditure and N13.49 billion as total recurrent surplus which is to be transferred into the Capital Development Fund.
Proposed capital receipts and capital expenditure was each put at N43.9 billion in the coming financial year, which according to him, makes the 2012 budget a balanced budget.
A breakdown of the sectoral analysis shows Road Development as having the lion share of N11.5 billion; Water Supply N2.7 billion; Education and Human Capital Development N8.5 billion; Health N3.8 billion; Agriculture N2.6 billion; Sports and Youth Development N255 million; Housing N1.3 billion and Information and Communications N443.9 million, among others.
The main objectives of the 2012 budget, according to Governor Ahmed, is to ensure expansion of the productive base of the State economy through increased agricultural and industrial production, development of new infrastructural facilities, job and wealth creation as well as systematic implementation of his administration’s 7-point agenda.
He disclosed further that the focus of the budget was to consolidate on the achievements of the last administration in order to ensure continuity in governance, adding that the budget sought to use the identified successes as the framework for the integrated development of the State on a sustainable basis.
The State Government in the next fiscal year, according to the Gov. is to rehabilitate 11 Agriculture Area Offices and construct new ones across the 16 Local Government Areas while government will continue to make improved seeds available for sale to farmers for enhanced bumper harvest, to promote self-sufficiency in food production.
Alhaji Ahmed also disclosed that efforts will be geared towards the completion of all on-going power projects in the State and ensure the commencement of other key priority power projects to achieve improved power supply in the State in the 2012 financial year.
Similarly, injection sub-stations are to be upgraded while more communities would be connected to the national grid under the 2012 electrification project.
Alhaji Ahmed expressed his profound appreciation to the Speaker and members of the State House of Assembly for the cooperation they have extended to his administration and the smooth working relationship they have had together in the past seven months.
He, however, assured the people of the State that his administration would live up to their expectations and even exceed their aspirations for good governance by implementing people-focussed policies within the limits of available resources in all the key sectors of the economy.