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We’re Already Preparing 2025 Budget, Pro-Wike Lawmakers Are Gone, Says Fubara

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The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, said his administration has started the process of preparing the 2025 budget.

The governor also dismissed the threat by the Martin Amaewhule-led faction of the state House of Assembly that he should present the 2024 budget again, saying that having defected to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party platform on which they got election, their seats remained vacant.

Fubara said this when he received on a solidarity visit, the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas, led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Etche Ethnic Nationality Worldwide, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor described the recent ranting of the Amaewhule faction as noise-making from delusional folks.

He urged the “25 former lawmakers” to wake up from their slumber, adding that the ship of governance in the state was sailing smoothly.

The lawmakers loyal to the former governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had been having issues with Fubara over the political control of the state.

After an unsuccessful attempt to oust the governor, resulting in the demolition of the Assembly quarters, the lawmakers announced their defection to the APC, a move the state PDP latched on to declare their seats vacant.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, granted an interim injunction restraining the pro-Wike lawmakers from parading themselves as legislators in the state.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on July 4, affirmed Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Holding a session at the state Legislative Quarters on Monday, the court-reinstated lawmakers asked Fubara to re-present the 2024 budget to the Assembly and gave him a one-week ultimatum.

The government, in a swift move, approached the court to restrain the state Chief Judge and others from recognising the Amaewhule-led Assembly, while it also appealed the judgment of the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court.

Foreclosing the idea of presenting the 2024 budget again, Fubara said his administration had commenced preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.

“Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very special and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address.

“Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.

“I wanted to help them, sincerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are people that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rent. So, I wanted to help them.

“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed. They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them because we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said,” he said.

He added, “They thought they were smart. What is holding them is the declaration of their seats vacant as done on December 13, 2023. We are not doing any budget to nullify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.

“As I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and agriculture.”

Fubara said the three priority areas would ensure that even if more roads were constructed, emphasis would be placed on quality healthcare services for the people of the state.

“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have standards. We need to go to good health facilities owned by the government and get standard healthcare services.

“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our thinking.

“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they won’t have time to be involved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our state,” he added.

He reiterated that he was fighting nobody as insinuated, adding that being loyal did not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion and doing what was right.

“I want to assure you of one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But, we are not going to rule (govern) this state on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.

“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfortably, because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in the state and even my generation.

“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of the truth. Let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit,” he said.

Fubara urged the people of Etche Nation to sustain their support for his administration because its vision was clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.

He promised to work with the Nigeria Police to resolve the issue of herdsmen attacks on farmlands and farmers in the area, including the issue of illegal dredging activities.

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Peter Obi Chides FG, Says Poverty on the Increase, Unemployment Rising

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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, has criticized Nigerian leaders for their misplaced priorities amidst the country’s declining economic fortune. Obi, in a social media statement, noted that Nigeria’s GDP growth rate plummeted from 6.72% between 1999-2014 to 2.79% in 2015, followed by a recession in 2016 with a negative growth rate of -1.58% and 0.82% in 2017.

He lamented that the country’s economy has regressed significantly over the past nine years, with Nigeria losing its position as Africa’s largest economy. He said, “When Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999, it maintained an average GDP growth of about 6.72% for 16 years from 1999-2014. The impressive growth trajectory, unfortunately, was not sustained by the then-new government and our GDP growth collapsed to 2.79% in 2015 and then sank into a recession in 2016 with a negative growth of -1.58% and 0.82% in 2017. For the past 9 years, Nigeria’s economy has seen unprecedented retrogression on many fronts.

“In 2014, just before the inception of a new administration a year later, Nigeria had the biggest economy in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product of $568.5 billion and a GDP Per Capita of about $3,200.

“Our economic indices pointed towards hope and prospects for the future growth of the economy. Nine years later, the giant of Africa has retrogressed to the 4th largest economy in Africa.

“Reports showed our GDP in 2023 stood at $375 billion with a per capita of $1700. In 2024, our estimated GDP declined further to $253 billion with an estimated per capita of $1087. These trends and figures show how our 9 years journey since 2015 has resulted in a sharp decline in our national prosperity.”

He added, “Today, poverty is pervasive and on the increase. Unemployment is rising. Food inflation has skyrocketed to over 43%.

Foreign and local investors are losing faith in the future growth of our economy and are leaving in large numbers.

“Businesses are shutting down. Urgent actions need to be taken to salvage the nation from further economic collapse and move it from consumption to production.” Instead of addressing these pressing issues, Obi accused leaders of prioritizing their selfish luxuries and lavishness while blaming others for the country’s problems.

According to him, politics should focus on serving the people and bettering society, committing to inclusive and sustainable growth to alleviate hardship and achieve a peaceful and secure society.

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Aftermath of Monopoly Allegation: Dangote Offers to Sell Refinery to NNPC

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Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote said he is willing to give up ownership of his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to the state-owned energy company NNPC Limited.

The billionaire spoke as a new dispute with one of the key equity partners in the plant heats up in the latest phase of a bitter row with regulatory authorities in Nigeria.

The 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery, which came to life last year after a decade of prolonged construction, cost $19 billion, more than double the initial estimate, promising to help wean Africa’s biggest oil producer off its reliance on fuel from overseas and save up 30 per cent of the total foreign exchange spent on importing goods.

“Let them (NNPCL) buy me out and run the refinery the best way they can. They have labelled me a monopolist. That’s an incorrect and unfair allegation, but it’s OK. If they buy me out, at least, their so-called monopolist would be out of the way,” Mr Dangote told PREMIUM TIMES in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“We have been facing fuel crisis since the 70s. This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery.”

The multisectoral investor’s big bet on oil and gas, which he ventured into following years of relatively stress-free dominance of Nigeria’s cement, salt and sugar industries, is turning out problematic in its early days.

Set for its first roll-out of petrol to the Nigerian market in August, the mammoth plant has been operating just above half its capacity since the January start of refining operations, constrained in part by difficulties in sourcing crude from international producers.

Dangote Refinery said those companies are either demanding outrageous premiums before agreeing to supply crude or simply claiming the product is unavailable.

NNPC, once a sweetheart of the refiner before the current dispute soured relations, had delivered only 6.9 million barrels of oil to the plant as of May since last year, according to S&P Global Platts, a tracker of supply data.

NNPC Limited has a supply deal with the company dating back to the commencement of operations and previously agreed to a 20 per cent equity participation, the refinery saying only 7.2 per cent has been fully paid for before the deadline issued to the company to acquire the stake.

Starving the refinery of the feedstock required to keep it running at present capacity means it has turned to countries like Brazil and the US to bridge the gulf in supply.

“As you probably know, I am 67 years old, in less than three years, I will be 70. I need very little to live the rest of my life. I can’t take the refinery or any other property or asset to my grave. Everything I do is in the interest of my country,” Mr Dangote told PREMIUM TIMES.

“This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery. At least the country will have high-quality products and create jobs,” he added.

Mr Dangote said the obstacles his refinery is facing seem to have vindicated friends and associates who conselled him to tread with caution as he pumped billions of dollars into the Nigerian economy.

“Four years ago, one of my very wealthy friends began to invest his money abroad. I disagreed with him and urged him to rethink his action in the interest of his country. He blamed his action on policy inconsistencies and shenanigans of interest groups. That friend has been taunting me in the past few days, saying he warned me and that he has been proven right,” the businessman said.

Culled from Premium Times

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Media Office Alleges Plot to Arrest Peter Obi by Tinubu’s Govt

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The Peter Obi Media Reach has refuted allegations made by the presidential spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, linking the 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to a planned protest.

The media office described the allegations as wild, wicked and baseless, saying that the presidency was planning to use the planned protest to arrest Obi.

In a lengthy post on his verified X handle on Saturday, Onanuga claimed that Obi’s supporters are behind the planned nationwide protests against the Tinubu administration.

The presidential aide said Obi and his supporters should be held responsible for any mayhem that may occur in the protest, alleging that “they are not democrats but anarchists.”

Onanuga accused the protest organisers of lacking the patience to wait for another election in 2027 and instead, “destabilise Nigeria by staging a civilian coup against President Bola Tinubu.”

He claimed that those organising the protests were also behind the ENDSARS protest of October 2020, which later turned violent and urged security agents to interrogate the “agents of destabilisation” behind the demonstrations.

However, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Yunusa Tanko, on Saturday, the media office said the “unsubstantiated allegations are being orchestrated to arrest Obi and limit his freedom and association”.

Tanko also stated that the allegation was an attempt to stop Obi’s propagation of good governance, which the presidency found injurious to their lavish lifestyle.

He added that the former Governor of Anambra State has not in any way shown or been associated with violence, even in the most obvious provocations.

The statement reads, “The attention of the Peter Obi Media Reach, POMR, has been drawn to the wild, wicked and baseless allegations by one of the Spokespersons in the Presidency, Bayo Onanuga, accusing the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, of being the mastermind of a planned protest in the country.

“The statement even said that Obi should be held responsible for any mayhem that may occur in the protest. But POMR can report from good and reliable authority that these unsubstantiated allegations are being orchestrated to arrest Obi, limit his freedom and association and stop his propagation for good governance which they find injurious to their lavish lifestyle.

“Peter Obi, by his mien in and out of political office, has not in any way shown or been associated with violence even in the most obvious provocations. He has always shown, even during the electioneering, that he is issue-driven as he carries on without calling anybody’s name.

“POMR is also aware that multiple attack dogs have been hired and strategically deployed to ensure that Obi does not enjoy the ear of the Nigerian populace who are keen on hearing his voice on issues.

“These spine doctors and hirelings, to justify their pay, indulge in all kinds of falsehood ostensibly to distract Obi and confuse Nigerians who already see Obi as a suiting balm in the current turbulent political and economic environment.”

The media team urged Nigerians to ignore the Presidency’s cheap blackmail as Obi and his supporters all over the country and in the diaspora remain resolute in their search for a new Nigeria.

“It added, “All the problems, real and imagined, created by their insensitivity and lavish lifestyle they have curiously tried to link to Obi. Notable challenges of the administration, which are a consequence of their actions and inactions like fuel subsidy fallouts, growing poverty in the land, inflation, nepotism and unresolved historical conflicts, among others they blame all on Obi.

“POMR, therefore, wishes to urge Nigerians to ignore the Presidency’s cheap blackmail as Obi and the Obidient family all over the country and in the diaspora remain resolute in their search for a new Nigeria that is possible and would not be cowed or be made to lose focus.”

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