PMB Will Be Remembered As Father Of Democracy- Obaseki [LEADERSHIP]

Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, declared yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari will be remembered as father of democracy in Nigeria for ensuring last Saturday’s governorship election in the state was free, fair and credible.

Obaseki stated this while receiving his Certificate of Return at the head office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

The re-elected governor, who hailed President Buhari’s insistence on the need for credible election, noted that the president had the option to ensure the APC candidate won the governorship election in the state but decided to do the right thing by allowing the votes of the people to count.

Obaseki as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeated his main challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), last Saturday to retain the governorship position of the state.

Speaking after receiving his certificate of return, Obaseki said, “I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for the part he played in ensuring a free, fair and credible election. He will be remembered as the father of democracy in Nigeria. He had a choice to ensure his party was declared winner but insisted that the right thing be done.”

Obaseki however extended the olive branch by calling on former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole; gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other members of the APC to join hands with his administration to develop the state.

He said, “I use this opportunity to reach out to our brothers on the other side of the divide as we are one family in the pursuit to provide public good for our citizens. The election shows that they trust us more now to provide leadership. It doesn’t mean the opposition parties don’t have a role to play.

“I use this opportunity to extend the hands of fellowship to my brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his other colleagues in the APC as well as other parties to join hands with us to move Edo forward.

“I call on Adams Oshiomhole that the fight is over and he should come and join in building the house which he was part of, in laying the foundation. We have no malice but only disagree on the approach in moving Edo forward”.

The governor also commended the leadership of INEC for the unbiased role they played in the election.

Hailing the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, for not buckling under pressure as an umpire, the governor said advocated the deployment of more technology as a measure to ensure fair and credible polls.

He stated: “I want to thank the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for his intellect in introducing technology to provide transparency in the process. He should be hailed by all as INEC was able to view results as the counting of votes was ongoing in units across the state. This has introduced another ornament of transparency in the way we do election in Nigeria.

“Technology is the way to go, if we must have free, fair and credible elections in the future. Edo people spoke and their voices were heard because INEC did its best, did its job and decided to remain impartial in the whole process of the election”.

The governor who praised the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its tenacity and doggedness in ensuring the party got victory also saluted the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, for the fatherly role he played in ensuring the election held peacefully.

He added: “I also thank the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, for his fatherly role in ensuring that the election was peaceful. I thank Edo people and Clergy men for their prayers and support towards ensuring a successful election. I thank God for helping Edo State conduct an election which many predicted would be bloody and characterised by violence, but God stepped in and made it peaceful”.

Presenting the certificate of return to the governor, the INEC national commissioner in charge of Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the certificate presentation is in fulfilment of the statutory obligation of the commission as required by the electoral law.

She noted: “This occasion is made possible because of the successful conduct of the Governorship election on Saturday. I must thank all stakeholders and the good and peace-loving people of Edo State for your contribution and commitment to credible and safe conclusion of the election process in Edo State. INEC has played its humble part and we always maintain that a successfully conducted election is a collective effort as this election has proven to be”.

The resident electoral commissioner in Edo State, Alalibo Johnson expressed appreciation to the security agencies for their collaboration which led to the huge success of the poll.

He said, “Section 76 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended has mandated the commission to issue Certificate of Return within seven days to the candidate who wins the election. This event is another fulfilment of the law.”

 

Bulk Purchase Behind Rising Food Prices – FG [LEADERSHIP]

The federal government yesterday attributed the hike in the prices of foodstuff to bulk purchase of food commodities by the three tiers of government and wealthy individuals for distribution as COVID-19 palliatives.

The National Food Security Council which disclosed this after its meeting at the presidential villa also hinted that it will ensure the reduction on the cost of NPK fertiliser from N5,500 to N5,000 per bag as earlier ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari in April to boost food production in the country.

Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, who is also vice chairman of the National Food Security Council gave the hint while briefing State House correspondents alongside his Jigawa State counterpart, Abubakar Badaru, after the meeting of the Council.

He revealed that the federal government spent a whopping N31billion to support farmers as part of measures to avert food crisis.

Bagudu stated: “In fact, one of the key initiatives as the very first intervention of the national food security council, was to recognize how to support people to resume economic activity following the disaster.

“That is why in 2018, N23 billion was spent to support farmers in 14 states as well as another N8 billion to support some states that were affected by conflict and the need for people to resume economic activity.’’

 

I’m Not On US Watch List, Atiku Insists [LEADERSHIP]

Former vice president and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has described as recycled and regurgitated lies reports linking him with a recent United States report on visa ban and individuals on the country’s watch list.

The former vice president also described the new reports as a desperate gambit by mischief-makers to recast discredited accusations.

In a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, the former vice president said he is “not under any US watch list, neither has he been charged, or will ever be charged by the United States Justice Department or any other in a foreign jurisdiction.”

Atiku in the statement recalled how mischief-makers re-unearthed the same unfounded rumour just before the February 23, 2019 Presidential election. For the avoidance of doubt, he said he “applied for and

received a US visa, whereupon he embarked on a visit to the United States on January 17, 2019, where “he stayed at a hotel just miles to the United States Department of Justice”.

Atiku Abubakar explained that in the course of that trip, he was also received in audience, by officials of the United States Government.

According to him: “These ‘new’ reports are a desperate gambit to recast these discredited accusations. They are meant to divert the attention of Nigerians from the recent statement by the Secretary of

State of the United States, Mr Mike Pompeo, announcing visa and travel bans for certain unnamed but notorious individuals”.

He explained that the timing of the said report, which came less than 24 hours after the Edo State Gubernatorial elections, ought to have given some thought to thinking people.

He said considering the season that we are in, more of such jaundiced stories seeking to discredit him would come, adding that it needs to be reiterated that him and every member of his family keeps a clean

business portfolio that has nothing to do with government resources and in conformity with local and foreign laws of respective countries.

Explaining the hike in foodstuff prices, Bagudu said, “The CACOVID was buying food items for the coronavirus pandemic response in bulk at a peak of the beginning of the season, at a time when demands are not high. So, it contributed to the high cost.

“The global lockdown also contributed because of lack of movement of food items. But now, harvests are coming in and it is good.

“Yes, there are some states that experienced huge draught but that has been overcome by the food coming from elsewhere.”

On President Buhari’s order to stop fertilizer importation, the governor explained that the implementation of the president’s directive was informed by the fact that production of the commodity had been normalized in the country following the reopening of Indorama plant in Rivers.

 

The facts, the myths of ‘Air Doctor’ virus blockers [THE NATION]

Of recent, many notable personalities and political figures around the world go about their respective public functions with the ‘Air Doctor’ virus blocker tag. Sometimes known as ‘Virus Shut-Out’, they look like normal ID badges.

However, according to the manufacturers of the product, they are made of chemicals to wipeout airborne pathogens and protect wearers from the disease.

The manufacturers also noted that the Air Doctor badge releases small amounts of chlorine dioxide which can kill airborne pathogens, including the Coronavirus.

It can be hung on the chest, pocket, or bag.

But how true is this claim and how effective are these virus blockers?

How does it work?

As we adapt to new realities, new questions constantly arise. What kind of masks should be worn? Can air blockers be the solution for any of these problems?

Manufacturers claim that virus removal cards can kill bacteria and viruses because of the key ingredient; chlorine dioxide, a disinfectant used to treat drinking water and sterilise medical equipment.

The claim is that it is able to “provide protection against airborne pathogens”, presumably including the Novel Coronavirus.

The tags, according to the manufacturers, “eliminate all forms of microbial life” and provide “ultimate protection against airborne infectious diseases”, including for children, pregnant women and immuno-compromised people such as cancer patients.

The product is sold under various commercial names, including Air Doctor, Virus Shut-Out and Chlorine Card.

Also, a Japan-based company Kiyou Jochugiku Co. Limited in July launched “Air Doctor” in India.

According to the company, it is a portable product that helps in preventing viruses, bacteria, and fungi from coming in contact with the user within a one-meter radius. It contains sodium chloride, natural inorganic substances – natural zeolite.

The company noted that the product is approved worldwide by the World Health Organisation (WHO), United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration and The Japan Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour.

The Nation discovered that the product has been marketed as a flu treatment in Japan since 2015, long before the novel Coronavirus emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

However, the Japanese consumer affairs agency on May 15, 2020, warned the public that the product was ineffective against COVID-19.

How much does it cost?

According to the manufacturers, once it is opened, the tags are effective for up to one month.

However, the effective period may differ under different circumstances.

The Nation found out that Cleaneat Integrated Services is one of the major dealers of Air Doctor, Virus busters, and other air purifiers in Nigeria.

The Nation’s online checks on the items revealed that the price of Air Doctor depends on the quality and also fluctuates depending on the level of demand for the tags.

Currently, the retail price for the Air Doctor tag is N17,000 while the wholesale price is N150,000 per pack of 12 pieces.

 

Petrol price, electricity tariffs: Labour set to begin strike [THE NATION]

Labour on Tuesday set Monday for “unprecedented mass action” and “total strike” to get the government to reverse the hike in petrol pump price and the increased electricity tariffs.

The Nigeria Labour Congress National Executive Council (NEC) took the decision at a meeting with members of the National Administrative Council, Presidents and General Secretaries of affiliate unions and state council chairpersons and secretaries.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) whose ultimatum to the government ought to have expired yesterday, shifted it till Monday to concur with the NLC on the commencement of industrial action.

Following the withdrawal of subsidy, the price of petrol rose to between N159 and N162 per litre at the pump at the beginning of this month.

The Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) raised their tariffs two days later, having been prevented twice by the government on April 1 and July 1.

The government said it played no role in the new price regime because market forces are now determining the rates.

But labour rejected the new rates and threatened to call out workers on strike. A government delegation led by Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige, met with Labour leaders last Tuesday.

The meeting agreed to reconvene Thursday to resolve the issues and agree on sucour for Nigerians.

But the NLC and the TUC are not persuaded that Thursday’s meeting would address the issues, given their resolution on Tuesday.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who read the communique of the meeting, said: “NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 per cent as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation.

“This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens.

“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed but counter-productive.

“NEC also observed that the privatisation of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result. Whereas, the entire privatisation process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.

“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continuous exploitation of Nigerians.

“On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of PMS, this particular issue had been on the table for more than three decades and the argument has not changed.

“Whether it is the name of full deregulation or subsidy removal, what is obvious is that it is fuel price hike and this has further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage because it has spiral effects which include the high cost of food and services and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.

“While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally, NEC also concluded that government has business in doing business because the primary purpose of governance is about the security and welfare of the people and if in other countries, governments are maintaining refineries, and they are working optimally for the benefit of the people, Nigeria cannot be an exception.

“In the light of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the Federal Government to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28th of September should be the date that those decisions should be challenged by the Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and other labour centres.”

Dr Ngige said the Federal Government would meet again with Labour on Thursday as talks to avert a strike continues.

He said: “We are engaging with them. We’re going to engage further by Thursday with the NLC and TUC.

“The government opened the books to them during our meeting last Tuesday. They agreed to brief their members, but if they are not satisfied, we’ll continue to engage them.”

Ngige said a nationwide strike would hurt all Nigerians, including members of the Organised Labour.

“If the economy is shut down, all of us will lose. Nigeria is not Chris Ngige’s or President Buhari’s country. It belongs to all of us. We’ll continue to explain it to them.”

 

How Water Resources Bill will benefit Nigerians, by Fed Govt [THE NATION]

There is no hidden plan for proposing the National Water Resources Bill for passage, the Federal Government said on Tuesday.

It added that the bill will be pushed ahead having been endorsed by many states, the National Water Council and the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The government said contrary to misgivings, the bill is a panacea to likely water conflicts in the country.

It denied that the bill is a ploy for the reintroduction of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA).

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Water Resources counterpart Suleiman Adamu gave the government’s position at a news conference in Abuja.

Mohammed said:  ”I am sure you have all been following the controversy trailing the National Water Resources Bill 2020, which is currently making its way through the National Assembly. Critics have, among other things, accused the Federal Government of having a hidden agenda by pursuing the Bill. We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever.

“There is nothing new about the National Water Resources Bill. This is because it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence for a long time. These are: Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; the River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004; the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004; National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004.

“So, why are the laws being re-packaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020? The answer is that they are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

“The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the well-being of its citizens.

“The Bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of the people (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).

             ”The Bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons. Among other benefits, the Bill: provides for the creation of an enabling environment for public and private sector investment; provides for capacity building processes to foster good governance; establishes water use and licensing framework to ensure sustainable financing for water sector development from tariffs.

“With the above stated lofty goals, one is then compelled to ask: why has the Bill generated so much controversy? The first thing to say is that many of those criticizing the Bill have not even bothered to read its provisions, thus depending on second-hand information to reach their conclusions. Those who have read it have perhaps done so perfunctorily.”

Mohammed added: “Critics contend that with the Bill, the Federal Government is poised to take over the nation’s water resources by licensing and commercialising the use of water.

“This is not the intention, because the current Water Resources Act, 2004 (made pursuant to the Constitution) already makes provision for this. This Bill is only trying to provide a framework for implementing that provision.

“The regulatory provisions of the Bill require that commercial borehole drillers obtain a Licence. The Code of Practice for Water Well Drillers issued by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the NWRI in 2010 already requires this.

“The Code provides technical requirements that a driller must possess to undertake drilling as well as information on each such borehole to be provided to the national database. That Code however requires the License to be issued by the NWRI in Kaduna. This Bill provides for such Licenses to now be issued by the States, under delegation of the National regulator, the Water Resources Regulatory Commission.

“Please note that borehole regulation is an international standard for abstraction of large volumes of water. Most countries in Africa, and almost every developed country, regulates commercial abstraction. It is also important to note that there is no requirement for licensing domestic abstraction.

“Regulating abstraction of large volumes of water is necessary, because groundwater abstraction is an activity that has environmental and ecological impact.

He said Section 75 of the bill was not designed to deny Nigerians access to potable water.

“Section 75 states that ‘subject to the provisions of this Bill, no borehole driller, whether corporate or individual, shall commence borehole drilling business in Nigeria unless such driller has been issued a Water Well Driller’s licence by the Commission’’.

“Why is a technically-competent driller afraid of obtaining a Licence? It is a licence to practice, just as a medical licence or any other licence to be obtained by people professing to have the technical competence to do something.

“Most collapsed boreholes are drilled by charlatans. It is therefore incumbent on the government to prevent this. On the provision of potable water, this is the responsibility of State governments. The national policy for water resources prioritizes abstraction for water treatment in the allocation of water use.

“Sections 76-79 of the Bill clearly provide that the states will undertake this regulation under a national framework provided by the regulator to ensure homogenous policy implementation.

He faulted the claim that the Supreme Court’s ruling has overwritten the National Water Resources Bill by claiming that the power of physical planning in any state of the federation is exclusively vested in the state government.

The Information minister said:  “This is not a Physical Planning Bill. This Bill only relates to the management of water resources that crosses state boundaries. The constitution already grants the federal legislature this responsibility (item 64, Exclusive Legislative List, CFRN 1999).

“The interaction of the Federal government with the State is only as it concerns the management of the inter-state water that passes through the state.

 

CBN disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 intervention cash [THE NATION]

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had disbursed N3.5 trillion to different sectors of the economy to cushion the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It will also contribute N1.8 trillion into the N2.30 trillion Federal Government’s one-year Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) through its Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele stated this on Tuesday after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.

Emefiele gave a breakdown of who got what out of the N3.5 trillion COVID-19 intervention as follows: Real Sector (N216.87 billion); COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (N73.69 billion); Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (N54.66 billion); Pharmaceutical and Health Care Support (N44.47 billion); and Creative Industry Financing (N2.93 billion).

Under the Real Sector Funds, Emefiele said: “a total of 87 projects that include 53 manufacturing, 21 agriculture and 13 service projects were funded.

He added: “In the health care sector, 41 projects which include 16 pharmaceuticals and 25 hospital and health care services were funded.”

The CBN boss also said: “Under the Targeted Credit Facility, 120,074 applicants received financial support for investment capital.

“The AGSMEIS intervention has been extended to a total of 14,638 applicants, while 250 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), predominantly the youth, have benefited from the Creative Industry Financing Initiative.”

Emefiele said in addition to  the  initiatives, the   apex bank “is set to contribute over N1.8 trillion of the total sum of N2.30 trillion needed for the one year  ESP, through its various financing interventions using the  PFIs.”

 

Obaseki offers olive branch to opponents [THE NATION]

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday presented Certificates of Return to Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, and his running mate, Mr. Philip Shaibu.

The ceremony took place at the collation centre in INEC’s office in Benin, the state capital.

The poll’s Returning Officer, Prof. Akpofure Rim-Ruke, on Sunday, declared Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the election, having polled 307,955 votes to defeat his closest opponent, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who garnered 223,619 votes.

There were 12 other candidates in the election.

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, presented the certificates to Obaseki and Shaibu.

In his acceptance speech, Obaseki hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring that the poll was free, fair and credible.

“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for the part he played in ensuring a free, fair and credible election. He will be remembered as the father of democracy in Nigeria. He had a choice to ensure his party was declared winner but insisted that the right thing be done,” he said.

Calling for the cooperation of APC members to jointly build the state, the governor said: “I use this opportunity to reach out to our brothers on the other side of the divide, as we are one family in the pursuit to provide public good for our citizens. The election shows that they trust us more now to provide leadership. It doesn’t mean the opposition parties don’t have a role to play.”

He added: “I use this opportunity to extend the hands of fellowship to my brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his other colleagues in the APC as well as other parties to join hands with us to move Edo forward.

“I call on Adams Oshiomhole that the fight is over and he should come and join in building the house, which he was part of, in laying the foundation. We have no malice but only disagree on the approach in moving Edo forward.”

The governor praised the leadership of INEC for its unbiased role in the poll and the commission’s National Chairman’s ability to withstand pressure as an umpire.

“I want to thank the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for his intellect in introducing technology to provide transparency in the process. He should be hailed by all as INEC was able to view results as the counting of votes was ongoing in units across the state. This has introduced another ornament of transparency in the way we do election in Nigeria.”

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Menem, has constituted an election tribunal to adjudicate petitions arising from the just-concluded Edo State governorship election.

A statement on Tuesday in Abuja by the tribunal’s Secretary, Sunday Martins, reads: “The general public is hereby put on notice that the Honourable President of Court of Appeal of Nigeria, Justice M. B. Dongban Mensem, has established the election petition tribunal secretariat and accordingly constituted a panel in respect of the governorship election conducted in Edo State.

“The Chief Judge of the state, Justice E. A. Edigin, has graciously approved the use of High Court complex (Election Petitions Court Hall), Sapele Road, Benin, for the tribunal’s sittings. The secretariat is now open.

 

NUC to varsities: prepare for full reopening [THE NATION]

Vice Chancellors of universities were told on Tuesday to conclude arrangements for the immediate and full reopening, following the decline in COVID-19 infection rates.

The National Universities Commission (NUC), which issued the directive, said the Federal Ministry of Education has accepted its request for varsities to get set for immediate resumption of academic activities.

The Director, Directorate of the Executive Secretary’s Office, Chris Maiyaki, conveyed the directive to the vice chancellors in a memo on behalf of NUC Executive Secretary Abubakar Rasheed.

Copies of the memo titled: “Fresh directives for the safe re-opening of universities for academic activities during the Covid-19 pandemic”, were sent to Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono.

According to the commission, since the curve of coronavirus infections was declining, it is safe for reopening formalities to commence.

The Federal Government ordered the closure of schools for a period of one month after the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March.

It, however, announced an indefinite closure in May, following the spread of Coronavirus infections across states and the Federal Capital City (FCT).

In the memo, NUC stated that varsities can now conclude their resumption arrangements as long as they are in line with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines and other existing NUC assurance and guidelines.

Water Resources Bill: Afenifere, Ohanaeze, others tackle govt as FG says critics ill-informed [PUNCH]

The Federal Government on Tuesday defended the National Water Resources Bill 2020, saying it was being opposed by people who had access to the media.

It said it would go ahead and ensure that the passage of bill because it would be for the good of the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said these at a press conference he addressed with the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, in Abuja

He said critics of the bill were ill-informed because they had not read it.

Prominent Nigerians and groups including Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka,  the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere had kicked against the reintroduction of the bill, saying it was a plot by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to seize people’s water resources for  Fulani herdsmen.

But Mohammed on Tuesday said those condemning the bill either had not read it, did not understand its provisions or they were doing so out of mischief.

On his part,  Adamu said the bill was never rejected by the eighth  Senate as being said in some quarters.

Answering questions from journalists, the minister of information said, “You asked if the government will go ahead with the bill despite the criticism by people and we have just told you that the bill is for the good of the nation.

“Who are the people that you said are against the bill? They are people who have access to the media. There is nothing that concerns the people of my village or people of your village with this bill.”

Mohammed said the bill was for the good of the nation, adding that it had no hidden agenda whatsoever.

He said, “We cannot rule out deliberate mischief by some of those who have been portraying the bill as a new source of conflict.

“We are, therefore, using this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the bill to avoid being misled by those who have chosen to politicise it.”

“When passed into law, the National Water Resources Bill 2020 will provide for the enhancement of the Nigeria’s water sector in line with global best practices.”

Faulting the claims by critics, the minister said there was nothing new about the bill which he described as an amalgamation of water resources laws that had been in existence for a long time.

He listed the existing laws that made up the bill as the Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004; the River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004; the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004; and the National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004.

He said the different laws were being re-packaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020 because they were being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in integrated water resources management.

Mohammed explained, “The bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of the people (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).

“The bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons.

“Among other benefits, the bill provides for the creation of an enabling environment for public and private sector investment; provides for capacity building processes to foster good governance; establishes water use and licensing framework to ensure sustainable financing for water sector development from tariffs.”

“The first thing to say is that many of those criticising the bill have not even bothered to read its provisions, thus depending on second-hand information to reach their conclusions. Those who have read it have perhaps done so perfunctorily.”

 

Electricity/fuel price hike: NLC, TUC plan total shutdown from Sept 28 [PUNCH]

The labour movement is set to commence strike and nationwide protest across the country from September 28, following the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the increase in the electricity tariffs and pump price of petrol.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress said they would work together with their affiliate members to execute the industrial action for maximum effect.

Rising from a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, the National Executive Council of the NLC comprising the chairpersons of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory endorsed the decision earlier taken by the Central Working Committee of the Congress last Wednesday.

The CWC had handed down a two-week ultimatum to the FG to reverse the price hike or face industrial action.

The decision was taken after reviewing the meeting that took place between the government and organised labour on September 15, where the NLC was represented by 14 of its leaders.

Reading the communique after the NEC meeting, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, explained that the body resolved to reject in its entirety the hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 per cent as well as the fuel price increase ‘in the name of full deregulation’.

He said the resolution was premised on the twin decisions alongside other policies of government including the increase in Value Added Tax by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges by commercial banks on depositors without any explanation, which he said would further impoverish Nigerian workers and their families.

He said the increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, was not only ill-timed but also counterproductive.

The NEC also condemned the privatisation of the electricity sub-sector.

Wabba stated, “Whereas, the entire sector was sold at about N400bn, we are also surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5tn over and above the amount that accrued from these important assets.”

TUC mobilises state chapters for protest

The TUC, which held a meeting in Lagos to review its mobilisation strategies on the forthcoming strike and protest, resolved to collaborate with the NLC and the civil society allies to execute the decision.

In a statement issued after the parley signed by the TUC President, Quadri Olaleye and Secretary-General, Musa Lawal, it said the ultimatum issued to the government which should expired by midnight of Tuesday had been extended to September 28 ‘for maximum effect’.

It said, “Consequent upon this, the ultimatum which should expire by midnight of today 22nd September 2020 has been shifted to 28th September 2020 for maximum effect.”

The congress called on Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector, to bear with them while the industrial action would last.

Olaleye also informed The PUNCH in a phone interview that the TUC leadership has dispatched letters of mobilisation to its state chapters and affiliated members nationwide to prepare for the strike and protest.

When contacted, the spokesman, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Charles Akpan, said the government would soon hold discussions with the labour leaders to address their demands.

 

Two robbers nabbed while sleeping in stolen car [PUNCH]

Two yet-to-be-identified suspected robbers have been arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly dispossessing a driver, identified simply as Utibe, of his Toyota Corolla car, in the Ibeju-Lekki area of the state.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the suspects had ordered a ride from Utibe, who works with a car-hailing company, Bolt, around the Lagos Business School area of the state.

While on their way to their destination, Utibe’s friend, @sama_on_point, chronicled on Twitter that the suspects brought out sharp objects, stabbed the driver and absconded with his vehicle.

He stated that the car stopped abruptly on the way, adding that the suspects thought fuel had finished in the vehicle and slept in it until the police tracked them to the location.

 

No going back on Water Resources Bill –FG [SUN]

The Federal Government’s decision to press ahead with the Water Resources bill has drawn a groundswell of opposition from Nigerians.

Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, said critics were ignorant of proposed amendments and new provisions in the bill.

They said the bill was not new as it was an amalgamation of four water resources laws already in existence.

However, opponents of the bill said if passed into law, the Federal Government would not only deprive the states of the minerals and oil within their territories, but would take the only resource left for states to administer to the benefit of their people. Others also flayed the government for attempting to reintroduce the rejected RUGA in disguise.

But Mohammed insisted: “There is nothing new about the National Water Resources bill. This is because it is an amalgamation of Water Resources laws that have been in existence for a long time. So, why are the laws being re-packaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020? The answer is that they are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the well-being of its citizens.

“It is not the intention of government to take over licensing and commercialising the use of water. This is not the intention, because the current Water Resources Act, 2004 (made pursuant to the Constitution) already makes provision for this. This bill is only trying to provide a framework for implementing that provision.”

Critics contend that the Bill, when passed into law, will clip the wings of state and local government authorities, as well as individuals, from making use of the water in their backyards without permission from Abuja.

Both ministers, however,  said Nigerians could drill boreholes for private use without  obtaining licence as long as it was not for commercial purposes.

“You can drill a borehole in your house to use without a licence. But, there are multinationals who are drilling water and bottling it without a licence.This bill is not anti-people as critics have made it to be.

“This bill only relates to the management of water resources that crosses state boundaries. The Constitution already grants the federal legislature this responsibility (item 64, Exclusive Legislative List, CFRN 1999).

“The bill does not apply to water that is wholly within the boundaries of a state. It also does not apply to land. It clearly states that land required by any of the institutions established in the bill will be obtained in accordance with the Land Use Act that is with Governor’s consent.

“Communities on River Banks are guaranteed undisturbed use of water as stated in Section 3 of the Bill. Also, all occupiers of land are guaranteed the right of abstraction for domestic and sustenance, whether by borehole or rivers. Section 3 reiterates the right of persons to continue to access water without charge for subsistence and preserves existing customary rights to water.”

Adamu reiterated that the “bill shouldn’t be a problem, but for some reasons it has become controversial unnecessarily.”

“The idea was to merge the four laws on water in the country into one. As a professional, I feel  that this bill is good for the country and I directed that copies of the bill be sent back to the states to look at it. Some commented on it, some didn’t. The bill was approved by FEC and after it was cleaned up by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. It was then sent to the National Assembly.

“The House of Representatives passed it, but when it got to the Senate for concurrence, that was where the problem started. There’s no subterfuge and nothing subterranean about it. This is not a Buhari bill. It’s a water bill for Nigeria..The Bill started in 2008; Buhari has nothing to do with it,” he said.

 

Herders behead 5, injure many in Benue [SUN]

Gunmen suspected to be herders have reportedly beheaded five persons at Tse-Apera Village, Nzorov district of  Guma Local Government Area of  Benue State.

A villager , Terwase, said the gunmen who stormed the village at about 5.am on Sunday also left many people injured.

Terwase ,said: “We heard clearly  the invaders speaking Fulfude language . When they came and started knocking  on  people’s doors  and as the  people came out to see who was knocking, they attacked the innocent people.

“It was the cry  of anguish from  people that were being attacked  that woke me up and I wasted no time  to flee and hid  in the bush until daybreak . When some people and I  returned home , we saw five dead bodies .One of the bodies was  beheaded.”

Chairman of Guma LGA ,  Mr Caleb Aba, said two people were killed on the spot by the gunmen while a third person who sustained injuries during the attack died at the hospital.

“The attack was  around 5 am on Sunday, the herdsmen invaded the village ,Tse Apera, and shot  the people that came out. For the people who had not woken up, they knocked on their doors and when they woke  up , they were shot at close range. They killed two people and one of them was  beheaded while eight others were injured. Six of the injured  persons were taken to Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) while two others were taken to General Hospital in Gbamjimba but one of the injured that were taken to BSUTH died on Monday morning”.

 

Ondo COVID-19 fund: My hands are clean, says Olugboyegun [SUN]

Mr Segun Olugboyegun, a member of committee for the Ondo State COVID-19 Response Fund, has said that the false message trending on social media is nothing but an attempt to jeopardise Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s second term bid.

He made this known in a statement where he exonerated himself and the committee of any wrongdoing in managing the fund made available to them.

He disclosed that for the state to have value for money, an open, transparent, and competitive bidding process was adopted by the committee where quality, competence, and competitive pricing were employed.

Olugboyegun promised that about N700million donations received by the committee in cash and kind would be made public very soon. He explained that contrary to the claim of malicious massage being circulated, that “I, Segun Olugboyegun (formerly Fagboyegun) was the chairman of the committee. The chairman is no less a personality than distinguished Mr. Kayode Falowo, who is the chairman of Greenwich Trust Limited. I was just one out of six other members of the committee, excluding the Secretary.”

He stated that the members of the committee did not collect salary, remuneration, sitting allowance, perquisites or anything whatsoever from either the state government or the State COVID-19 Response Fund Committee. Besides, some members of the committee, including him, also made donations to the fund.

On transparent and accountability of the committees, Olugboyegun stated that they appointed an audit firm and other international professionals as advisers to over see their activities:

“The same thing was demonstrated the committee when it responded promptly to an Abuja-based organisation, Connected Development, which wanted information on COVID-19 donations/interventions under the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the request was made on July 20, and it was quickly and appropriately responded to within four days.

“This recorded message contained wilful allegations obviously meant to assassinate my character and damage my reputation and standing in the reckoning of reasonable members of the public.

“It is obvious that this bare-faced campaign of calumny, targeted at Akeredolu, is propelled and driven by the sinister motive to smear him and adversely affect his chances in the October 10, 2020, governorship election.

“While the vile recorded message left no conscionable, discernible, and right-thinking person in doubt that it was a sponsored hatchet job, I make bold to say that this is politics carried too far by political jobbers lacking in integrity and conscience.

“My concerns, however, are the references made to my person, image and reputation which I had laboured to build over the years, as well as my pedigree which I value, cherish, and hold dear more than gold. The malicious distortion of my role in the committee must also not be allowed to go unchallenged and unpunished.

“It is a sad day indeed when those driven by the passion, zeal, and enthusiasm to serve the public interest are abused and called names they do not deserve by malevolent elements serving selfish ends and playing base partisan politics with a matter like the COVID-19 pandemic, which involves life and death.

“Without the timely intervention of the committee, which worked assiduously to fill the identified yawning gaps in the Ondo State healthcare delivery system, especially with regards to its response to the novel COVID-19, I shudder to think what the figures of fatalities arising from the pandemic would have been in the state.

“Because of the zeal, passion, and enthusiasm with which the members of the committee discharged their assignment, Ondo State recorded the second highest fund contributions coming after Lagos State.

“It is, therefore, most unfortunate when highly placed persons who, by dint of their own hard work and the grace of God upon their life, having attained heights where they feel they owe it a duty to give back to society, are maligned and vilified for doing so.

“As a member of the committee, I have been compelled to volunteer the above information because of the patent falsehoods contained in the malicious recorded message under reference.

“It is important for me to so act in order that my silence may not be misconstrued as the admission of guilt. The masterminds and sponsors of the message can run and hide under pseudo-names but they will not be able to do so for too long. Efforts are on to unmask them be made to face the full wrath of the law as well as serve as deterrent to others.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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