The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) have urged the Federal Government to relocate the Mega Dry Dock from Lagos waters to the Niger Delta region.
The two organisations stated this at a special webinar meeting, organised on Monday in Lagos, to mark to mark the 93rd birthday of the PANDEF Leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting was aimed at x-raying the Niger Delta economy after the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the Niger Delta leaders, the dock, which is described as the largest in Africa, will be the ideal enterprise for President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate in the post-COVID -19 Nigerian economy.
They said that the dry dock, specifically designed for the region, had been lying unused in the Lagos waters.
A statement issued by Mr Tony Uranta, the UNDEDSS Executive Secretary and General Secretary of PANDEF, said that the benefits of the dock to the region would be immeasurable, considering the Maritime University in Delta.
“Relocating the Dry Dock project to the Niger Delta will be the biggest investment in the Niger Delta, post-COVID-19, and will open up the economy of the region,” he said.
NAN recalls that the House of Representatives had, in March, urged the Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to return the floating dock, acquired at a cost of over N50bn to Okerenkoko, Delta.
The House had also called for the installation of the floating dock at Okerenkoko, the location that was said to have been decided upon by government as the operational base of the maritime facility.
It had urged NIMASA to abide by all the terms and conditions precedent to the acquisition of the dock, with a view to ensuring that it was put into operation in Okerenkoko.
NAN recalls that the dock had, since its arrival in the country on June 11, 2018, been in a storage cart, owing to alleged bureaucratic wrangling over its location as its operational base.
The statement stated that the project was duly considered and approved by the Federal Executive Council at its 37th meeting on Oct. 23, 2013, adding that the approval was conveyed to the Federal Ministry of Transport on Oct. 29, 2013.
“The location of the dry dock to Badagry in Lagos State is contrary to the initial approval by the Federal Government for its location in Delta.
“Our appeal is that the dry dock be moved permanently, installed and inaugurated in Delta, considering the contributions of the region to the nation’s economy.
“The dry dock is lying fallow in the waters of Lagos State and should be taken to Delta, next to the Maritime University, to provide practical knowledge to the students.
“The dock, if located in the Niger Delta, will open up the region and make it more viable, including the employment it will generate and the trainings on ship building processes,” he said.
Uranta said that the meeting had set up a committee, headed by Prof. Utomi, to look at its institutions, state leaderships and contributions of its elected members in the National Assembly to the development of the region.
“We are going to begin to study, more rigorously, the daily records of how many bills promoted by the region’s representatives at the national assembly.
“Our focus will also be on state governments in the region and their ministries, to ascertain the utilisation of statutory funds to cut down corruption,” he said.
Uranta quoted the meeting as appealing for more palliatives to the region in order to keep it robust and assist the people whose lands were no longer viable for farming due to excavations and explorations.
He said that the region had remained the cash cow for the country, pointing out that while oil prices had crashed, gas prices had risen.
Uranta reiterated the groups’ position, supporting the audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), as ordered by the Federal Government and cleansing of the Ogoni land oil spills.
He also quoted the groups as urging the governors of the region to step up action for internal security of their respective states.
Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq
As Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid-el-Fitr, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, has called for renewal of faith by Nigerians.
Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planing, made the appeal in llorin on Sunday in a statement commemorating 2020 Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
According to him, the renewal of faith will assist in eliminating COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges militating against the development of the country.
He advised Nigerians to utilise the prayers, piety, sacrifice and spiritual rejuvenation achieved during the holy month to pray for the country to overcome all its challenges.
“Eid marks a new beginning for each individual, and in spite of the COVID-19 crisis being experienced at this time, we should still hope for the blessings of renewed faith that come with it,” he said.
Sulaiman prayed Almighty Allah to continue to grant Nigeria His guidance, safeguard the nation’s faith, and make the world a prosperous and peaceful place.
The former minister praised the foresight of President Muhammadu Buhari; the President of the Senate, Sen.Ahmad Lawan; and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila,
for their unique leadership effort at curbing further spread of COVID-19.
While wishing Nigerians a prosperous celebration, he also advised them to continue to abide with all government directives and experts advice aimed at containing the scourge. (NAN
Edited By: Angela Okisor/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, has advised the Federal Government against using foreign airline to evacuate stranded Nigerians from Canada.
Nnaji, representing Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency of Enugu State, said in a statement in Lagos on Sunday that the House would not condone it.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that there was persistent refusal by the Canadian authorities to grant Air Peace airline landing rights for the evacuation of stranded Nigerians in Canada.
NAN reports that the Canadian Government was alleged to have given preference to Ethiopian Airline for evacuation of stranded Nigerians desiring to come home as against the Air Peace which the task force has already engaged for the evacuation.
Air Peace is charging 1,134 dollars per passenger as against the sum of 2,500 dollars charged by the Ethiopian Airline.
Nnaji, however, said that the position of the House of Representatives was very clear on the issue of evacuation flights.
The lawmaker explained that the House had on May 12 adopted the motion against the use of foreign airlines for evacuation of stranded Nigerians in other countries.
Nnaji said the House had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and relevant Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the motion.
He said the House had urged them to ensure that Nigerian Airlines enjoy the right of first refusal in all circumstances where Nigerians need to be evacuated from other countries.
“The House of Representatives had insisted that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and indeed the COVID-19 Task Force must explore all available diplomatic channels to ensure that a Nigerian airline operate the evacuation flight out of Canada.
“The aviation committee has also observed that Canadian authorities has no reason to deny Air Peace landing right.
“This is because available records had shown that the airline has the require certification and approvals to operate internationally.
“Our findings have shown that Air Peace is International Air Transport Association’s Safety Oversight Audit (IOSA) certified.
“This means that the airline has a major international parameter for measuring airlines’ safety standards,” he said.
Nnaji said that there was need for the Canadian Government to treat the flight as a special emergency occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic and immediately grant the necessary approvals to the Air Peace.
Similarly, the lawmaker said the committee had summoned the COVID-19 Task Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and agencies to appear before it on Thursday.
Nnaji explained that the committee summoned those directly or indirectly involved in the earlier evacuation flights handled by the British Airways, Emirates and Ethopian Airlines from the UK, United Arab Emirates and America.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
Two members of the National Assembly from Oyo State, Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari and Rep. Segun Odebunmi, have felicitated with Muslims in the country as the world celebrates Eid-el-Fitri.
The duo, in their separate statements made available to newsmen on Saturday in Ibadan, urged Nigerians to pray for victims of coronavirus pandemic.
Buhari, APC-Oyo North, urged Muslim faithful to be more steadfast in their prayers and supplications to Almighty Allah who is capable of making everything possible.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, also urged the people not to limit their service to Almighty Allah to Ramadan.
He urged them to be more consistent and be at peace with every member of the society irrespective of their religion or political affiliation.
“As we celebrate this Eid-el-fitri, let us remember the victims of COVID-19 in our prayers and pray to Almighty Allah to heal our land of the pandemic which is ravaging the whole world.
“Nigerians should also obey the guidelines and order laid down by the government on COVID -19. Our people should always ensure social distancing, regular hand washing and avoid public gathering,” he said.
The senator reinstated his commitment to qualitative representation and development of his constituency.
In his message, Odebunmi congratulated Muslims on the completion of Ramadan 1441 A.H, expressing optimism that coronavirus would soon be a history.
Odebunmi, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information and National Orientation, said that it was painful that this year’s Ramadan commenced and ended during the pandemic.
“Though this is not the best moment in our nation, but we need to intensify our prayers and commitment to Almighty God to forgive our sins and heal the land,” he said.
He urged his constituents to always adhere strictly to directives of government and health experts on COVID-19, ensuring adequate hand washing, use of sanitizers and avoidance of large gatherings.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has congratulated Muslim faithful in Nigeria for concluding this year’s Ramadan fast and marking Eid-el-Fitr peacefully.
Gbajabiamila said this on Saturday in Abuja in a congratulatory message by Lanre Lasisi, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
According to the statement, he also urged the Muslim faithful to pray fervently for an end to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has been ravaging countries all over the world, including Nigeria.
The speaker urged Nigerian Muslims to imbibe virtues such as feeding the needy, being their brother’s keepers and prayers for peaceful coexistence that usually come with the month of Ramada
He said Muslims should also adhere strictly to the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), whom he described as the best for all Muslims to emulate.
“I bring to Nigerian Muslims warm greetings at this season of Eid-el-Fitr.
“It is a season of remembrance of the good things that the Almighty Allah has done in our lives.
“Unfortunately, this year’s Eid-el-Fitr will be celebrated low-key, not by our own making, but that is how our Creator wills it.
“That is why we all must return to Him in prayers to bring an end to this COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let’s also pray for an end to insecurity and other challenges that we face as a nation,” the speaker said.
Similarly, Ahmed Wase, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, urged the celebrators to ensure that Sallah was held in an atmosphere of peace, harmony and unity.
In a Sallah massage issued by Umar Puma, Chief Press Secretary, he urged Muslims to follow the guidelines issued by the constituted authorities
Wase enjoined Nigerians, particularly Muslims,, to use the opportunity offered by the Eid-el-Fitr to pray for the end of COVID-19 global pandemic.
“We are currently passing through difficult health challenges as evidenced in the daily increase of COVID-19 cases that have claimed the lives of many Nigerians.
“The Sallah period is an opportunity for all muslims to pray for an end to this pandemic.”
He urged all Muslims to respect the restriction on congregational worship, and apply the lesson learned in the month of Ramadan by imbibing the virtues of humility, love, kindness and tolerance.
Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Felix Ajide (NAN)
As the tally of the COVID-19 cases is still surging in Indonesia and the large-scale social restrictions are imposed in the country especially in such big cities as Jakarta and Surabaya, more people are already seen in crowds.
The Indonesian government reported on Saturday that the country's COVID-19 cases rose by 949 within one day to 21,745 in total with the death toll rising by 25 to 1,351.
The capital city of Jakarta suffered the highest number of deaths which stand at 501, followed by East Java 271, West Java 127, Central Java 70, Banten 66, South Sulawesi 61, South Kalimantan 58 and the rest were recorded in other areas.
The public should actually be alarmed by the fact that the COVID-19 infections in Indonesia has reached the worrying point with 973 new cases reported on Thursday, bringing the total infection cases in the country to 20,162, with the death toll standing at 1,278 up to that day.
Although the Health Ministry's data showed that the accretion of the COVID-19 cases slightly dropped to a daily record of 949 on Saturday from the highest figure of 973 on Thursday, people are suggested to remain aware of a possible further surge in the number of the virus cases due to some facts.
Let alone the fact that thousands of people were crammed into Indonesian markets in certain areas as some of them are declared red zones of the COVID-19 including Pasar Anyar marketplace in West Java province's town of Bogor, which has been considered as a new coronavirus cluster.
A number of COVID-19 cases were also reported at traditional markets in some areas in the country including West Sumatra province's capital of Padang with 39 people tested positive for the virus, and East Java's city of Sidoarjo where Krian market was closed down after two persons with coronavirus disease were detected.
Chairman of the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly Bambang Soesatyo has expressed concern over violations of social restrictions in a number of areas in the country, urging government authorities to further tighten the implementation of the policies on the matter.
He cited as an example that the violations occurred at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten province and traditional markets including that in Jakarta where many people without wearing face masks do not obey the requirement of physical distancing.
Such a situation could lead to a possible second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, Soesatyo said, hoping that the number of the COVID-19 cases would drop to a flattening curve based on which the government could consider relaxation of restriction policies.
Considering the high risk of fatality due to the disease, Soesatyo who is also the former speaker of the House of Representatives called for strict penalties for those who violate the health protocols.
President Joko Widodo has also observed activities at markets packed with people before the Islamic post-fasting festivity Eid-al-Fitr comes even when the social restrictions are still underway to curb the further spread of the COVID-19.
However, the head of state said he did not mind the crowds on the marketplaces as long as people abide by tight procedures on the COVID-19 mitigation.
"I have the health protocols strictly carried out. Persons in charge of the fields must continue to remind people of wearing face masks, keeping physical distances and washing hands," the president told a recent virtual cabinet meeting in Jakarta.
In addition to the market crowds, what is also worrying is the huge traditional exodus of people who have managed to pass check points to go hometowns for celebrating the Eid-al-Fitr as they may carry the virus which could be transmitted to their families, friends, neighbors and other people.
Not to mention Indonesian migrant workers who arrive from different countries, the worries would even become bigger when the cars with more people from the villages come back for works and other purposes in Jakarta and its neighboring cities as Bekasi, Bogor, Tangerang and Depok.
Due to the risk of the lethal virus, the government has urged the people to suspend trips to their hometowns for celebrating the post-fasting festivity.
It was reported that the police have since April 24 forced some 52,000 cars on their traditional trips to villages to return back to their places of origin including those in Jakarta and its surrounding areas.
Amid this week's surging tally of the COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, head of the National Covid-19 Task Force Doni Monardo told a press conference that the country is approaching a critical period in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak before and after Eid-al-Fitr.
A federal lawmaker, Rep. Babatunde Hunpe, on Saturday pleaded for calm as commercial motorists protested police extortion on the Lagos-Badagry highway.
Hunpe, representing Badagry Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, made the appeal in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Badagry, near Lagos.
On May 22, commercial motorists protested what they described as “high rate of police extortion on the Lagos Badagry Expressway.
“I was not happy when I heard about the protest by motorists plying Lagos-Badagry Expressway on the extortion by the security agents.
“The extortion has been on for long and has become a recurring decimal.
“I have sent a high-powered delegation led by Rep. Setonji Balogun to the Area Commander of Area K Police Station, Morogbo over the protest.
“The area commander assured me that he had personally waded into the matter
“Thereafter, the area commander met with the motorists union, drivers and stakeholders and promised to reconvene another meeting after sallah holiday,” he said.
The lawmaker appealed to the protesting motorists to sheave their swords and wait for the outcome of the meeting with the security agents.
Hunpe also appealed to other security agencies, including the Nigeria Immigration Service, Customs, Federal Road Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Officers and the Lagos State Transport Management Authority, to consider the pain being passed to commuters.
Edited By: Gregory Mmaduakolam/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
American political leaders have set this autumn for an awards ceremony honoring more than 18,000 Chinese Americans who served U.S. forces in World War II (WWII), NBC news website reported Friday.
A spokesperson for U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the media that organizers hoped the event, cancelled in April due to COVID-19 concerns, can be rescheduled for later this year.
The Chinese American veterans were collectively honored in 2018 with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors, with the official ceremony originally scheduled last month at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Ed Gor, national director of the Chinese American WWII veterans recognition project, told NBC that fewer than 300 service members are still alive today, who had never been acknowledged for their service.
It is estimated that between 12,000 and 20,000 Chinese Americans served in the United States during WWII.
Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo, has assented to a bill repealing the law that created pension allowances and gratuities for former governors, deputy governors, assembly speakers and deputy speakers.
Signing the bill into law in Owerri on Friday, the governor noted that the erstwhile law runs contrary to the 1999 constitution as amended, which stipulates that a pensioner must have worked for at least 10 years and must be up to 45 years of age.
He regretted a situation where some of the beneficiaries of such payments also get huge amount of money as salaries and allowances in other positions they occupied such as serving as senators or members of the House of Representatives.
“Apart from the inconsistency of such a law to the provisions of the ground norm, which is the Constitution of 1999 (as amended), this has led for a very long time a precedence that does not encourage diligence and prudence in service delivery,” the governor said.
He, however thanked the State House of Assembly for rising to the occasion and embracing totally the desire of government to strengthen the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base of the state.
He assured the people of the state of his commitment and desire to grow an economy that will stand the test of time.
On his part, Speaker of the Imo House of Assembly, Chiji Collins, said that the house of assembly presented two bills for the governor’s assent: the Bill on Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Bill on the Repeal of Pensions and Gratuity.
He said that the Bill on Pensions and Gratuity has long been repealed in many states of the federation when it was discovered to run contrary to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
Present at the signing of the bill into law were the Dep. Gov. Prof. Placid Njoku; the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Amara Iwuanyanwu; the Majority Leader, Uche Ogbuagu and other members of the House, as well as some members of the State’s Expanded Executive Council.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Obike Ukoh (NAN)
The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation has cautioned Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) against tampering with the 2020 Appropriation Act.
The Chairman of the committee,Rep. Muktar Betara (APC-Borno) ,issued the warning in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, no MDA has powers to tinker with the budget as only the National Assembly is statutorily empowered to review, adjust, consider and pass budget.
“There are reports that following the downward review of the budget from N10.59 trillion to N10.52 trillion due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“As a result of the dwindling oil prices, some MDAs were already adjusting the budget proposal to suit their needs.
“Such acts will not be condoned by the National Assembly as any MDA or official found to be engaged in such illegal practice will be made to face the music.
“I want to warn that no other arm or department of government has any power over budget except the legislature, which is the National Assembly,” he said.
The lawmaker stressed that the process to review the budget was ongoing in line with the powers of the National Assembly.
He said that the Constitution confers appropriation powers on the parliament as well as its responsibilities over the national purse.
According to him, both the 1999 Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 provide for no limitations on the National Assembly’s power to amend the Appropriations bill.
“Section 80 (4) specifically provided that ‘no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
“Therefore, we shall not shirk in our responsibilities and we will also not hesitate to wield the big stick on whoever goes beyond his brief to tamper with the budget,” he said.
Betara said that because of the importance the National Assembly attach to the budget, members of the relevant committees would continue work on it during the two-week Sallah break.
He assured that the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation is committed to working with other relevant committees, the Senate and Executive to have workable and implementable budget to help the country overcome the negative economic effects of COVID-19.
Edited By: Buhari Bolaji/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)