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GOVERNORS, PEOPLE OF SOUTH-SOUTH DEMAND RESTRUCTURING, FISCAL FEDERALISM.

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Governors and people of the South-South geopolitical zone have demanded for restructuring in line with the principle of true federalism, to guarantee peace, security and stability of Nigeria.
The governors , observed that the country is not at peace with itself and not working as it should, particularly, for the people of the South-South region.
Chairman of the South-South Governors forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa stated this as the position of the zone during the regional stakeholders meeting with presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Governor Okowa, explained the people of the South-South are committed to restructuring of Nigeria in a way that guarantees true federalism and devolution of powers to the states to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.
“True federalism guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each State of the federation as it was the case in the first republic.”
He said the kind of federation the South-South geopolitical desires, is one where federating units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like Local Government Areas, manage their elections and control their judiciary.
“We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of efforts, imagination, hard work, sacrifice and leadership, every state of the Federation as of today, has the ability and capability to contribute to the national purse. This should be encouraged rather than the whole country depending substantially on a region of the country.
“What is worse and even more painful in this ugly situation is the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and the uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who have refused to understand the challenges of the South-South region of the country especially, the degradation of the environment and our waters. As a result, most of the demands of the region have remained unattended to while the resources of the region have been used continually to develop other parts of the country”.
The governors reiterated the call for the relocation of the headquarters of major oil companies, NNPC subsidiaries from Lagos and Abuja to the South-South region.
Governor Okowa requested for immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-South region get its share of $55billion shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.
The governors further called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri in order to enhance the economic development of the South-South region.
In addition, they demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and one in Warri that have continued to bleed the country’s resources in the name of turn around maintenance, should be privatised. According to him: “Enough is enough. Let us now privatise them and in doing so however, allow the States and the region among others, considerable equity in the name of fairness and justice”.
Concerned about the rot in the NDDC, the governors observed that one of the major failures of the intervention agency is its refusal to forge and foster synergy, consultation and cooperation with the state governments especially, on project location, development and execution.
“We have resolved and we, as the State governments will no longer allow NDDC to execute any project (s) in any state of the region without it consulting State governments. Frankly, enough is enough and we have a court judgment to back our position.”
In his remark, the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, said the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the presidential delegation comprising of all the Ministers from the region to visit and consult with representatives of the people regarding the recent EndSARS protest.
Gambari, noted that reports indicated that there were instances , where breakdown of law and order was reported across various locations in the South-South states. He lauded the governors of the South-South States for their quick response and actions in addressing the EndSARS crisis.
Beyond the EndSARS issue, he said, the President acknowledges that the citizens in the region have also been dealing with other concerns that are particular to the region such as the degradation of environment due to decades of mishandling and adherence to environmental standards.
The chief of Staff said he will convey the demands of the region to the President
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said excuse of insecurity by the multinationals for not relocating to the South-South region is not tenable.
He stressed that the relocation of the multinationals oil companies to the region will help stem restiveness.
He urged the Minister of state for Petroleum to make history by ensuring the oil companies relocate to the region during his reign in office.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the leaders of the region to avail themselves of the on going review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly since most of the issues contained in their demands are constitutional matters.
The Director General of Department of State Services, DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, lauded Governor Nyeson Ezenwo Wike, for his stance against the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) which hijacked the EndSARS protest and killed 10 security operatives, torched stations and court buildings in Oyigbo.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, said fake news gave impetus to the nationwide EndSARS that culminated in the death of civilians, police personnel and their assets.
Adamu alleged that intelligence has confirmed that the EndSARS protest was funded from within and outside the country. He further added that one of the primary objective of the protest was to effect a regime change.
Present at the meeting were: Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akw Ibom; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Others are: Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta; Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum; Goddy Jedy Agba ,Minister of State, Power; Festus Keyamo, Minister of State, for Niger Delta; Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammad. The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi was however , absent.
Other eminent persons present included: the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, rtd; former President, Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze Okocha (SAN); among others.
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FG Disburses another N123.34bn Grants to States

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The Federal Government has disbursed another round of performance-based grants to states in the sum of N123.348bn ($324.6m) under its States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by the ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Hassan Dodo.

Ahmed explained that the disbursement followed the achievement of results by the states in the just concluded 2019 Annual Performance Assessment.

The assessment was carried out by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation as the independent verification agent and approved by the programme coordination unit of the finance ministry.

On the disbursements, the minister said it included N91.048bn ($239.6m) of performance-based grants for the 2019 APA results achieved by 32 eligible states across various Disbursement Linked Indicators.

She said the indicators covered fiscal transparency, accountability, expenditure efficiency, revenue mobilisation and debt sustainability.

States received grants per the number of results achieved, with Sokoto State receiving the highest amount of N6.61bn, while Kano got the lowest amount of N1.71bn.

“Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers and Zamfara states got zero allocation due to their inability to meet the 2019 eligibility criteria which required states to publish online approved annual budgets and audited financial statements within a specific timeframe,” Ahmed stated.

She further noted that the 2019 APA results were a significant improvement on the 2018 APA results where the total performance-based grants of N43.416bn ($120.6m) were received by 24 eligible states.

This, she said, demonstrated the substantive progress states had made on fiscal reforms.

According to her, the second part of the disbursement involved a new COVID-19 response DLI, which was the implementation of a tax compliance relief programme for individual taxpayers and businesses by states by 30 September 2020.

On this, she said 34 out of 36 states were able to achieve the results for the new DLI for the total of N32.3bn ($85m) of grants, as only Anambra and Zamfara states missed out.

The disbursement came after the recent one in November 2020 by the Federal Government where the sum of N66.5bn ($175m) was granted to 35 states.

The minister observed that since the first disbursement in April 2020, the Federal Government had thus far disbursed the total sum of N233bn ($620.6m) to the states.

This, she said, was under the $750m World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results.

Ahmed said the World Bank-assisted SFTAS programme was principally meant to strengthen fiscal management at the state level to ensure effective mobilisation and utilisation of financial resources.

She said the resources were for the benefit of citizens in a transparent, accountable and sustainable manner, thereby reducing fiscal risks and encouraging a common set of fiscally responsible behaviours.

According to her, the SFTAS programme could not have come at a better time, given the dwindling government revenue occasioned by oil price volatility and the impact of COVID-19.

Ahmed stressed that with the disbursement of N233.26bn since the beginning of the programme, the government had successfully adapted and implemented the SFTAS to provide timely support to states.

She said this was to strengthen the financial capacity for responding to numerous fiscal challenges in their respective domains.

“The increase in the number of benefitting states and results achieved is indicative of the wider acceptance of SFTAS ideals by all states of the federation and this would herald a new era of transparency and accountability in fiscal governance at the sub-national level,” Ahmed said.

Source: The Punch Newspaper

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 Nigeria Univarsities that have Announced Resumption Dates

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Students are return to school after several months of being out of their classrooms.

Below is a list of universities that have announced resumption dates:

  1. University of Ibadan on Friday announced that academic activities will resume on February 22, 2021.

  2. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria announced that it will be resuming on Monday, January 25th, 2021.

  3. University of Lagos has decided that academic activities will be resuming on January 25th, 2021.

  4. University of Ilorin resumed academic activities online on January 11, 2021.

  5. University of Jos will resume on January 22, 2021.

  6. University of Benin will resume academic activities on February 1, 2021.

  7. Lagos State University has already resumed and practicing what it called staggered resumption.

  8. University of Port Harcourt has announced that academic activities will resume on February 1, 2021.

  9. Rivers State University has resumed activities since January 4th, 2021.

  10. Bayero University Kano will begin a new academic session on January 18, 2021.

  11. Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta will resume on January 18, 2021.

  12. Ekiti State University will begin academic activities on January 18, 2021.

  13. Federal University of Technology, Akure will begin classes on January 18, 2021.

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Ogun Schools to resume on Monday 18th January

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Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology wishes to announce to the general public that resumption date for all Primary, Secondary schools and Government Science and Technical Colleges in the state is Monday 18th January 2021.
With the emergence of the second wave of COVID-19 parent/guardians, teachers, schools administrators and other stakeholders must ensure full compliance with all COVID-19 protocols/guidelines as released by NCDC and Government. This include, among others:
* Wearing of facemask by all learners, teachers and other non-teaching staff at all time;
* Use of infrared thermometer for temperature check;
* Use of hand washing facilities with soap and water;
* Use of hand sanitizer;
* Social and physical distancing should be maintained while large gathering such as assembly should be discouraged; And
* Isolation room, health clinic/bay already created in schools should be functional and regularly maintained.
All stakeholders are to ensure strict compliance.
Signed:
Prof. Abayomi A. Arigbabu, FMAN
Hon. State Commissioner for Education, Science And Technology.
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