Ijaw Leader Says PANDEF Not Fit to Dialogue With Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari, New Year, Unity, NigeriaAn Ijaw leader, Chief Wilfred Ogbotobo, says members of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) lack the authority to discuss with President Muhammadu Buhari on the development of the Niger Delta.

Ogbotobo, who spoke in Yenagoa, said that the group is made of people who had opportunities to develop the region, but instead built empires for themselves and their children with public funds.

He alleged that PANDEF members are politicians masquerading as Niger Delta leaders.

“There is no need for further dialogue on the same issues relating to the development and well-being of the same Niger Delta. We have had enough of the same characters, dialogues, blueprints and roadmaps on this same Niger Delta.

“These individuals and groups should, in their own interest, spare President Buhari the distractions of their unproductive and time-wasting dialogues, as he cannot afford to fail in the challenges confronting critical sectors of the nation.

“Hence, we welcome and praise President Buhari’s timely recognition of this snare, and his boldness in providing a significant budgetary allocation to fight crime and stop a breakdown of law and order in the region.

He continued by saying “this is the hallmark of a disciplined, responsible leadership”.

According to him, the President is conversant with the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta and should dialogue with “local rocket scientists” to implement his plans for the region.

He said the President has demonstrated his readiness to develop the Niger Delta, alleging that leaders of PANDEF are politicians who had earlier threatened fire and brimstone against Buhari during the campaign.

“Their political profiles will reveal how many opportunities they have had in the course of their political development, to better the region, but which they squandered on selfishness and frivolity.

“We, therefore, urge the public to be more discerning and not to be deceived by these barefaced lies and hypocritical shenanigans of individuals and groups whose activities are akin to a set of spent clowns on a time worn circus.

“These antecedents and antics are no longer fashionable and are out of tune with the present enlightenment and realities in the Niger Delta,” Ogbotobo said.

“President Buhari needs no further schooling or dialogue on the economic value and social importance of the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project and a modern seaport in Bayelsa State; as well as his knowledge of the strategic value of the Maritime University to the people.

“We urge the Federal Government to be focused and committed to the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the Niger Delta”.

He advised the President to go deeper, beyond to collaborate with the people, identify and groom a fresh breed of committed, young leaders who should be empowered to provide robust leadership for the salvation and survival of Niger Delta.

I’ll Ensure Budget 2017 Is Not Padded – President Buhari

I'll Ensure Budget 2017 Is Not Padded – President BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that the distortions that happened to Budget 2016, in which series of projects and figures were injected into the financial document will not happen to budge 2017. 

The President received members of the Governance Support Group (GSG), led by Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at State House, Abuja on Friday and made the promise.

The President said: “I am waiting for the 2017 Budget to be brought to us in Council. Any sign of padding anywhere, I will remove it.”

President Buhari reiterated that he had been in government since 1975, variously as governor, oil minister, head of state, and Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), “and never did I hear the word ‘padding’ till the 2016 Budget.”

He promised that such would never happen again under his watch.

The President said that the government stands by its tripod campaign promises of securing the country, reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, but lamented that some people are deliberately turning blind eyes to prevailing realities in the country.

“They don’t want to reflect on the situation in which we are, economically. They want to live the same way; they simply want business as usual,” he said.

On violence that attend rerun elections in the country, President Buhari stated:

“I agonized over the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states. We should have passed the stage in which people are beheaded, and killed because of who occupies certain offices. If we can’t guarantee decent elections, then we have no business being around. Edo State election was good, and I expect Ondo State election to be better.”

Speaking on the anti-corruption cases before the courts, the President said he believed the cleansing currently going on “will lead to a better judiciary”.

“When people are sentenced, Nigerians will believe that we are serious.”

President Buhari equally told his guests that the progress being made in agriculture and exploitation of solid minerals “gives a lot of hope”.

He added: “Our grains go up to Central African Republic, to Burkina Faso, but they can’t buy all the grains harvested this year. And next season should be even better.

“We will focus on other products like cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, along with the grains. We can start exporting rice in 18 months, and we are getting fertilizers and pesticides in readiness for next year.”

Speaking on behalf of members of GSG, Hon. Nwajiuba said the government had succeeded to a large extent on the security and anti-corruption fronts, adding that the group was positive that the economy would soon experience a turnaround, “as the government is working very hard in that direction.”

The group said the biggest constituency of the President was the poor and lowly, and thus recommended what it calls “a social re-armament of the poor.”

Senate Analyses President Buhari’s Borrowing Plan

Nigerian-SenateThe Senate has analyzed the various issues contained in President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter in which he had requested to borrow $29.960 billion for different projects.

The senate took a deep look at the Consumer Protection Bill, Hydro-electric Power Bill, and Prison Bill among others.

This took place on Wednesday at a plenary session in which the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, read out the letter sent by President Buhari, requesting approval of the Federal Government’s 2016-2018 borrowing plan.

This according to the letter, is to cover all sectors which include agriculture, health, water, employment creation, poverty eradication among others, across the country.

“Considering the huge infrastructural deficit currently being experienced in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources and the inability of our annual budget to bridge the infrastructure deficit, it has become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap which will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely power, railway and road project amongst others,” the letter read.

As the various bills were being considered, Senator Gbenga Ashafa in support of the Prison Bill said that he is particular about the improvement and attitudinal change of inmates.

While Senator Utazi Chukwuka explained the deplorable state of Enugu Prisons, Senator Musa Kwankwaso also affirmed that modern prisons should be built to accommodate prisoners, identifying that there are so many challenges with the operators too.

Mr. Ekweremadu expressed appreciation to the sponsors of the Prison Bill adding that it would help improve conditions of prisoners in Nigeria.

The sitting was adjourned to Thursday 27th October, 2016 when further deliberations into the President’s letter will continue.