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Probe $3.7bn repair cost on ‘dead’ refineries, Timi Frank urges EFCC, ICPC

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The nation’s anti-graft agencies should urgently probe alleged award of $3.7billion contract to rehabilitate dead refineries, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has charged.

Frank in a statement in Abuja on Sunday condemned in strong terms the award of the said $3.7billion contract to rehabilitate the nation’s refineries as revealed by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating the state of refineries in the country.

He described the sum of the contract as an unimaginable heist and brutal looting of the nation’s financial resources under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch in a country where average Nigerians can no longer afford one meal per day.

He also condemned the refusal of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari and other officials from appearing before a statutory committee of the National Assembly to explain why and how such colossal amount were earmarked to service moribund

He called on the EFCC and ICPC to wake up from their slumber by arresting and prosecuting all those involved in the nauseating contract scandal.

He insisted that the sum has either been grossly mismanaged, outrightly stolen or about to be looted.

He wondered why cases of mismanagement, corruption and abuse of office will continue to recur under the watch of General Buhari, a self contest anti-corruption czar and who was in 2018 conferred with the African Union’s Anti-corruption Award.

“Since 2015 till date, Buhari has been the substantive Minister of Petroleum and he cannot claim ignorance of the award of this bizarre contract.

“It is benumbing that despite revelation by Mr Tony Elumelu that 95 per cent of oil production in Nigeria is being stolen, Buhari who is in charge as Minister of Petroleum has not deemed it necessary to go after the thieves or order anti-corruption agencies to go after the evil cartel stealing the nation’s crude oil.

“When will Buhari truly fight corruption in Nigeria? Will it be after he leaves office in May 2023?” he said.

He insisted that money being frivolous stolen by those in positions of authority in the name of maintaining apparently dead refineries and payment of subsidies since 2015 could have helped the country to build over three new modern refineries.

He said: “Today, Dangote is building a 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in Lekki at an estimated cost of $19billion. However, as at September 2013, it was estimated to cost about $9billion.

“Similarly, as at October 2013, Uganda announced that it plans to build a 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery at an estimated to cost $2.5billion.

“This means that between May 2015 and April 2022 that APC has been on the driving seat of governance, money spent to ‘repair’ the nation’s antiquated refineries, most especially the recent rehabilitation contract of $3.7billion and the N4trillion earmarked for fuel subsidy in the 2022 budget, would have been enough to build at least a new 100,000 barrels per day refinery in the country.

“Today, the price of crude oil has shot up due to Russia invasion of Ukraine, but Nigeria cannot benefit from the windfall being enjoyed by other oil producing countries because of its over dependence on refined products being imported with borrowed funds.”

He warned the House of Representatives against any form of compromise in its ongoing probe and urged it to employ all constitutional means to compel all invited officials to appear before it.

“This is one issue we will follow up keenly to ensure that it is not compromised or swept under the carpet. The National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives’ Adhoc Committee chaired by Hon. Ganiyu Johnson, must ensure that they get to the root of this monumental sleaze or else Nigerians will not forgive them should they decide to sell out to thieving officials to frustrate the probe,” he said.

He added: “This was how these same persons colluded and imported toxic fuel into the country that damaged millions of car engines and up till now nobody has been held accountable for that unpatriotic act.”

He wondered why monies always go missing anytime Buhari is in charge of Petroleum ministry.

“This was how a humongous amount went missing under his watch as then head of petroleum ministry. Today, $3.7billlion is being spent in suspicious manner under his watch,” he said.

He called on the President to ensure that those responsible are made to account for their deeds saying the next government would not fail to unravel the truth should he fail to act now.

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Makinde tackles Akpabio for dishing out fake news

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Akpabio, Makinde
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***says Akpabio lied as no gov received N30b

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has taken on Senate President Godswill Akpabio over the fake news he dished out that states got an additional N30 billion each to address food scarcity.

Akpabio had made the comment some days back but at the commissioning of a newly renovated Iseyin Central Mosque provided by an Iseyin-born legal icon Ahmed Raji (SAN), Makinde said Oyo State did not get such funds.

“This is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security,” Governor Makinde said on Thursday.

“Please, listen to me loud and clear. I can speak for Oyo State and can also speak for any of my colleagues. This is because, as the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I know when things are happening.

“If I want to play politics, I will keep quiet and let this slide, but I am not going to let this slide. FIRS cannot give money to any state. It is not possible. All revenues accruing to the country go into the federation account and it is distributed to all tiers of government. The FG does not give states money.

“The money in the federation belongs to all of us; it does not only belong to the Federal Government. So, if the Senate President, who is the number three citizen in this country, could be quoting an unverified report, people are looking at us as leaders. This is the period that we are supposed to give confidence to our people. It is not the period to start playing politics or to start looking for scapegoats.

“We need to engage with our people. If our policies are not working, we need to listen to the people and amend them. So, if the number three citizen had nothing but an unverified report, why did he need to say it?

“Does his statement give confidence to the people or solve the problem of hunger and anger in the land? Let me say it clearly: as for Oyo State and most of my colleagues, there is nothing like N30 billion being given to states for food security and I stand to be challenged.

“Yes, the Federal Government promised the states N5 billion, and out of that, it only gave N2 billion and they are even asking that the N2 billion should be refunded right now.”

Makinde added that his government has been doing its best to mitigate the hardship on residents of the state, having been the first to announce and implement measures to cushion the effect of the hardship through the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SafER).

“This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on the 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAfER.

“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit.

“We have health insurance for our own people, we gave farm inputs to our farmers but, at this stage, we need to cry to God. For the workers, we have been paying a wage award; N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months.

“Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage. Well, we know there is much to be done and we will continue to do everything within our power to support our people through this hard time,” Makinde added.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to manage the fiscal situation in Nigeria and manage the inflationary trend we have in the country right now. We have been transparent about everything we are doing here and this is the time for us to stay together as a nation to solve the problems we are facing. It is not the time to engage in blame games and propaganda. Hunger and anger are real and, as leaders, we must address them,” the governor said.

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Creative Economy Ministry explore possibility of creating 2 million jobs by 2027

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he Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy is exploring a framework for financing the development of Nigeria’s creative economy to create twenty million jobs by 2027.

The Minister, Hannatu Musa Musawa made the disclosure at an interaction session with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group NESG in Abuja on Wedneday.
Special adviser on media to the minister Nnekka Ikem Anibeze quoted Musawa to have expressed the optimism to work with the NESG on fund generation and capacity building through which the ministry can contribute 100b to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030.

“With the support of NESG, the private sector and the right funding mechanism, I think we can do so much to help Nigeria out of the doldrums. The Federal Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy is the happy place of Nigeria no matter what. This is the sector that Nigerians want to hear about; the art, the films, the music … it is an expression of who we are.

“This is something that we really want to tap into especially now that the whole world is interested in the Nigerian content. With this, we can reposition Nigeria, so we came up with this brilliant initiative, Destination 2030 which is poised to change the narrative of Nigeria.

“The government will work towards producing a conducive environment that encourages growth and private investment to ensure that Nigeria’s cultural influence transcends borders as a brand, and unites Nigerians across all initiatives.

“We need to prove to the administration that the ecosystem can really bring value back. So it is not just about giving to the creatives by investing in them, but by also proving that we can get back the value, all the way down to the grassroots. So, funding for our programs is very key and I would love to share a number of these initiatives and programs with you to see where we can pull the funds from,” Musawa stated.

Earlier, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group led by the facilitator on Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment, the Creative Economy, and Sports Dr. Ikenna Nwosu, said that NESG will provide technical assistance to the ministry to enable it to attract the funds.
Dr Nwosu also expressed readiness to collaborate with the ministry to update the National Policy on the Creative Industry and also train the ministry’s staff on efficient data collection.

“We discovered that the ministry does not have a National Policy on Creative Economy. It does not have an updated National Policy on Culture. The one they have is since 1988. We don’t have a National Policy to incentivize the sector. There are other sectors that were incentivized by government like the gas and telecommunication to build initiatives and train the operatives in the sector”.

Nwosu pledged support to the Ministry to enable them to carry out its mandate.

“The NESG decided that we must give the Honourable Minister the full complement of our human, technical, and development partner expertise to succeed.

“There is no limit to what she asks us to do . We are at hand to do it on a
24-hour basis and this is a commitment that we have made. We have demonstrated it and will continue to demonstrate it”.

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Niger Protests: Tinubu directs provision of food intervention to curb Shortage

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In his bid checkmate the shortage of food in the country, President Bola Tinubu has directed that a food intervention should be provided

The Minister of Information and National Orientation Muhammed Idris said this at the State House after a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention convened by the Chief of Staff to the President Femi Gbajabiamila.

The gathering is coming against the backdrop of protests in some parts of the country over the rising cost of food and living.
The demonstrations had broken out in Niger and Kano states, prompting calls for urgent action to arrest the spiraling prices of essential food items.

Idris indicated that the government is concerned about what Nigerians are going through and is taking some steps to ensure they get some relief.

The meeting had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari; Minister of State for Agriculture, Sabi Abdullahi; the Minister of Budget and Planning, Atiku Bagudu; the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Yemi Cardoso among others.

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