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Sunday, 10 October 2021

 Jega not interested in 2023 presidency contest

Attahiru Jega

Professor Atahiru Jega, the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said he is not interested in contesting for the Nigerian presidency in 2023.

Jega said this on Saturday while speaking at a lecture organised by Kwara Visioners Network for Rural Development in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.

There have been speculations that Jega may contest for the presidency at next general election after he joined in  the floating of Rescue Nigeria Project, a political movement which has some of Nigeria’s leading technocrats and politicians as members.

Jega is also a registered member of one of the 18 political parties recognized by INEC, Peoples Redemption Party, PRP.

But while speaking at the lecture with the topic ‘Politics, Governance and Leadership Recruitment In 21st Century Democracy,’ in Ilorin, Jega said he had not told anyone he wants to run for presidency in 2023.

“I have not told anybody that I have presidential ambition. These are speculations in the newspapers. It is true that I have registered as a member of a political party because I have decided no longer to do ‘siddon look’, and I have decided to contribute in any way possible to help develop a strong, political party that can be impactful, whether in the local level or in the state level, or at the national level,” Jega said.

“And I am devoting my life and my energy to be able to do that. When we are trying to build a party, first things first. We have to have the structure first. If people start with building a party today and deciding to become a candidate tomorrow, actually, you’re trying to destroy the basis of building the party, because everybody will have ambition.

“So there are times for everything. And I have no ambition. I know I’m a Muslim and I practise my religion and I have faith in God. I know that there is nothing that God cannot do. So, I leave what God can do to God. But I have no ambition, and I have never told anyone that I want to be president. But I want to contribute to bring positive changes to our politics and I can do it from my own little corner.

Buhari given 14-day deadline to reduce N26bn budget for travels, meals


President Muhammadu Buhari has been given 14 days ultimatum “to cut the N26 billion presidency budget for the construction of the presidential wing at the statehouse medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, ‘sitting allowance’, and ‘welfare package.’

The ultimatum was issued by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

SERAP urged the president to use some of the savings to address the growing level of deficit, as well as improve public healthcare facilities across the country.”

SERAP also urged him “to send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the reduced proposed spending on the construction of the statehouse medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, and ‘welfare package’, for its approval.”

In the letter dated 9 October 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said:

“Many Nigerians will find it quite odd, unfair and unjust that the government is spending so much money on many of these items in the middle of a public borrowing crisis. The proposed spending could be better allocated to improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.

“The government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there is a substantial cut to the cost of governance. The government should stop spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people.”

According to SERAP: “Your government has a responsibility to ensure the interest of the well-being and prosperity of Nigeria and its citizens. The growing budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services, and will hurt future generations if not urgently addressed.”

The letter, read in part: “SERAP also urges you to publish details of spending on construction and repairs of the presidential wing at the medical center and office furniture and fittings since May 29, 2015.”

“The proposed spending figures highlight the lack of political will to cut the cost of governance, starting from the presidency. This spending is unsustainable, and would take away critical funding to provide access to quality healthcare and education.”

“This would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to these essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.”

“According to our information, for the Office of the President, you recently proposed in the 2022 appropriation bill to spend N24,835,805,231 for the construction of the presidential wing at the statehouse medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments.

“The construction of the presidential wing will cost N21,974,763,310. N2,309,066,788 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport while N301,138,860 will be spent on foodstuff and catering materials supplies. N250,836,273 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements.”

“For the Office of the Vice-President, N1,136,717,757 is proposed for local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, purchase of office furniture and fittings, and other expenses. The details are: N778,261,411 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport.

“N168,210,826 is proposed for office stationeries/computer, consumables, printing of documents, uniforms and other clothing, food stuff and catering materials supplies. N2,350,626 is proposed for cooking gas and fuel cost.

“N99,795,229 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements. N31,909,380 is proposed for computer software acquisition while N30,817,085 is proposed for the purchase of motor vehicles. N25,373,200 is proposed for the purchase of office furniture and fittings.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests.”

“SERAP is concerned that the huge spending is neither necessary nor in the public interest, especially in the face of the country’s dire economic position, the scant allocations to education and health, and the growing level of borrowing by your government to fund the 2022 budget.”

“Spending limited public funds on the construction of the presidential wing at the statehouse medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, honorarium and sitting allowance, and welfare packages at a time the government is borrowing to fund the budget would undermine your government’s constitutional and fiduciary duties to ensure a responsible budget spending.

“The country’s fiscal situation must be changed – and changed quickly – through some combination of cuts in the areas highlighted above. Cutting waste and apparently unnecessary spending would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.”

“The recommended measures would also ensure that your government is spending the country’s maximum available resources to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights to basic needs of the poor and marginalized groups.”

JUST IN: Petroleum tanker drivers shelve tomorrow's strike

The National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Sunday said that the planned strike by its affiliate members, Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), has been suspended.

The strike, which would have kicked off on Monday, disrupting fuel supply, was shelved because of the intervention by the Federal Government.

Mr Tayo Aboyeji, the South-West Zonal Chairman of NUPENG, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to Aboyeji, the suspension is to allow union’s representatives and that of government to address the knotty issues at stake.

“The leadership of the union after a brief meeting with representatives of government decided to suspend the strike in the interest of the nation.

“The meeting with the government continues during the week with the assurance that the union grievances will be positively addressed,” he said.

NUPENG said on Saturday that the tanker drivers would commence strike on Monday over the deplorable state of the nation’s highways and other issues.

Aboyeji said the union has lost many lives and property due to bad roads.

“This is not the first time that we will signify our intention to go on strike but we have to call it off because it will generally affect majority of Nigerians but now our hands are tied,” he said.

But today, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Sunday appealed to the drivers to immediately shelve their planned strike in order not to further hurt the economy and Nigerians in general.

Mr Garba Deen, the NNPC spokesman, made the appeal in a statement in Abuja.

“While it is not the responsibility of the NNPC to build or rehabilitate roads, the national oil company reckons that any disruption in the distribution of petroleum products to different parts of Nigeria will adversely affect the business of the NNPC.

“It will also endanger energy security, which the country has enjoyed in recent times.

“In recognition of this, the NNPC wishes to assure the petroleum tanker drivers that in addition to the ongoing efforts by other agencies of government, the NNPC has initiated a process that will provide a quick and effective solution to the road network challenges as expressed by the PTD,’ he stated.

“We urge PTD to immediately call off the (planned) strike and give the current efforts by the government and its agencies a chance to solve the challenges in the interest of all.

“We also wish to strongly advise Nigerians not to engage in panic buying of petroleum products as the NNPC has sufficient stock to last through this festive season and beyond,’ he said.

Gunmen storm Adamawa police station, kidnap two

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A file photo of two armed men.

Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have attacked Ngurore Police Station in Yola South Local Government Area of Adamawa, police authorities say.

They also attacked a house in the area, abducting a woman identified as Hauwa Umaru and her daughter in the early hours of Sunday.

Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Sulaiman Ngurore, confirmed the attack to Channels Television via a statement.

He said the gunmen stormed the station at about 2 a.m. on Sunday, but no casualty was recorded.

“The criminals separated into two groups; one attacked the police station to divert the attention of security operatives, while the other group attacked Alhaji Umaru’s house and kidnapped his wife, Hauwa Umaru, and her daughter,” he said.

“The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Mohammed Barde, has ordered the deployment of the operational assets including Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Crack Squad and Anti-Kidnapping units to Ngurore.”

According to the police spokesman, the operational units were expected to carry out confidence-boosting patrols within the hotspots in coordinated operations to rescue the kidnapped victims and apprehend the culprits.

The commissioner assured that the command was committed to working with other patriotic stakeholders towards restoring public order in Ngurore and other parts of the state, he added. 

This is even as the Head of the Police Intervention Team, Babagana Abubakar, was already on the ground to coordinate police investigative operations and rescue responses.

The police authorities also asked residents of the state to go about their businesses in the most peaceful and law-abiding manner and report any suspicious person(s) around their neighborhoods to security agencies.

2023 Elections: APC, PDP have misled Nigeria for 21 years – Jega

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Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have led Nigeria astray for the past 21 years.

Speaking during a lecture organised by Kwara Visioners Network for Rural Development in Kwara State, Jega said the two dominant parties are becoming incapable of directing the country in the right way.

“The current two dominant parties – APC and the PDP – with their quality recruitment and leadership selection processes who have shared power and have tended to lead Nigeria astray in the past 21 years are becoming incapable of directing Nigerian political and governance processes in the right direction,” he said on Saturday.

“The dominant elites in these parties are self-centered, preventing the few good ones among them to be impactful. They are also fractious and quarrelsome and lacking even enlightened self-interest.”

According to the professor of Political Science, there is a need to create a special vehicle that can go into alliance and work together to free the country from the stranglehold of parochial and reckless politicians.

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