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Senator Godswill Akpabio reacts to Joi Nunieh’s allegations

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The Honourable Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON said his attention been drawn to a cornucopia of false, malicious, and libellous press interviews granted by Ms. GBENE JOI NUNIEH, the erstwhile Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) in some news and social media platforms and a series of concerted vicious campaigns of calumny deviously orchestrated by her against his person ranging from allegation of corruption, sexual and workplace harassments, pipelines bombings, secret cult activities, abuse of office, amongst other lies peddled by her.

The Honourable Minister’s initial attitude was to allow his lawyers and the judicial system vindicate him of the false allegations against him, but he is compelled to react to some of the wayward allegations levied against his person by Ms. Nunieh, especially the one bothering on sexual harassment.

To start with, let it be known that there is no scintilla of truth in all the allegations peddled around by Ms. Nunieh. They are simply false! The Honourable Minister did not at any time, place or circumstance make any form of sexual advances to Ms. Nunieh, not even to put himself in a position or posture suggestive of sexual advances towards Ms. Nunieh, or any female staff of his Ministry or the NDDC.

For the records, the Honourable Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON is happily married and contented with his wife. Together they are blessed with children, four (4) of whom are young women. The Honourable Minister is an avid believer of the Affirmative Action and that was visible in the appointments he made as a two (2) term Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015. Under his watch, he appointed several women into various high level positions as

Chairpersons of Local Government Councils, Magistrates, Judges, Heads of Parastatals, Directors, Permanent Secretaries, and Commissioners.

He is the first Governor in Akwa Ibom State to have a female Deputy Governor, was also the first to appoint female Chief Justices of the High Court, recommended women for ministerial appointments one of whom was the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, and supported for appointment the first female Vice Chancellor of the only Federal University in the State etc. He has always championed and still champions the cause of women and young children.

Whilst the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, the Honourable Minister summoned the political will and effrontery to stop modern day slavery in his state, where young women and children were ferried away from the State to other states in Nigeria to be used for all sorts of menial chores as house maids and most suffered unimaginable unethical trade malpractices and maltreatments. He ensured that anyone caught in that trade was severely punished. He signed the Child Rights Law to protect children, especially the girl child from stigmatization and punishment by ordeal where some were executed or banished on allegation of witchcraft. The Child Rights Law also made primary and secondary education in Akwa Ibom State free and compulsory; educating the girl child was his topmost priority.

The Honourable Minister has never hidden his admiration and respect for his wife, Mrs. Ekaete Akpabio, Children and sisters, he therefore felt compelled to react to the malicious attack on his person by Ms. Nunieh bothering on allegations of sexual harassment. The Honourable Minister therefore finds the said allegation nauseating and a very cheap blackmail, for Ms. Nunieh to suggest or insinuate that he sexually harassed her, while she was the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC.

The Honourable Minister also finds it appalling that, Ms. Nunieh, never deemed it fit to report the alleged incident to the police at the earliest opportunity she had, before, during or after her tenure as the Acting Managing Director on 17th February, 2020, if indeed the allegation was true. Waiting till July 10th and 13th 2020 when the National Assembly appears to be probing some of her actions as the Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee (“IMC”) exposes her motive, especially at a time when the momentum for the Forensic Audit

Investigation of the NDDC is heating up and the truth is about to be unveiled for all to see? The critical question is who is afraid of the Forensic Audit at the NDDC? Who is Afraid of the Truth?

There is no doubt that Ms. Nunieh’s attacks are both personal and sponsored. Those afraid of the truth, and who wish to bury it from seeing the light of the day, are strenuously behind Ms. Nunieh’s vicious campaign of calumny.

The Honourable Minister has a mandate from Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to unearth alleged looting and financial misappropriation that had gone on at the NDDC since its inception in 2001. He is committed to that mandate through the forensic audit of the NDDC and will not be deterred or distracted from that goal. The aim of this campaign of calumny is simple, get Senator Akpabio out, kill the forensic audit, and continue business as usual at the NDDC.

On the allegations of the Honourable Minister’s involvement in contract racketeering, bombing of oil pipelines, corruption/diversion of funds, the Honourable Minister has stated several times and at various fora that since his assumption of office, he has only awarded three contracts till date- the appointment of the lead forensic auditors which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC); the emergency procurement contract for COVID-19 intervention in the Niger Delta Area which due to its urgency had his interim approval and Presidential approval in line with the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the award of Vehicles procurement duly approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council but yet to be consummated. It is noteworthy, that all these contracts went through due processes.

On her allegation that the Honourable Minister directed her to change the Dollars in the NDDC’s Account; for the records, it should be noted that NDDC’s Account is domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Every inflow and outflow is known and traceable. NDDC gets its revenue in Dollars which is paid directly to its Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Dollar is then converted to Naira by the CBN and paid into the NDDC Naira Account still domiciled with the CBN upon a written application from the NDDC. It is therefore impossible for any sum of money belonging to the NDDC with the CBN including the several figures bandied around as missing to be missing.

It is important to state, that unlike in the past where the NDDC had over three hundred (300) bank accounts in different commercial banks, that practice had since changed under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which gave full effect to the application of the Treasury Single Account and the NDDC now has its accounts with the CBN. The Honourable Minister does not give verbal instructions to anybody, all instructions are in writing and in response to a request from the Commission.

On the allegation that the Honourable Minister directed Ms. Nunieh to remove Mr. Kaltungo, same is false. His track record marks him out as a totally detribalized politician and one of the best friends of Northern Nigeria. The Honourable Minister was informed by the NDDC management that over twenty three (23) top Management Staff, from various part of Nigeria including the Niger Delta region, who have evaded leave in the last ten (10) years or had the tendency to influence negatively the ongoing forensic audit were recommended for mandatory leave by the lead forensic auditors. They are still staff of the Commission currently receiving their monthly salaries and benefits.

The Honourable Minister has taken steps to instruct his lawyers to seek necessary redress in a Court of competent Jurisdiction on his behalf over the defamatory statements made by Ms. Nunieh.

On a final note, while encouraging all Nigerians to hold their leaders to account, he urges them to take their time to sift between the chaff and the substance before embarking on far reaching allegations, opinions and views.

 

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Chinese Loans: Again, Eze assures no peril to Nigeria’s sovereignty

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Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has again, allayed the fear that China may soon invade the country to take over critical national assets to settle Nigeria’s sovereign debts.

In a statement made available to media houses, Eze, who had earlier lent his voice against the viral misinterpretation of the loan clause to serve some whimsical interests said, there is need for proper public enlightenment and  understanding of the subject to save Nigerians the unnecessary trending kerfuffle.

Recall that China has also come out to deny any clause on the loan agreement transferring Nigeria’s sovereignty to her. This was made known by the Chinese foreign Ministry where the country denied imposing it’s will on the internal affairs of African countries. The statement equally debunked the rumour that China seeks selfish political gains in her development supports to African countries.

Going forward, Chief Eze  said the loan amount in controversy which stands at $500 Million is critical to the funding and completion of the 2000 Kilometers Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail project (Eastern Rail Line), which he said is of cardinal importance to the city of Port Harcourt and the rest of the South/East.

The party Chief opined that the project which  connects Port Harcourt, Owerri, Nnewi, Anambra, Awka and Abakeliki also links Gombe and Yobe and will only provoke speedy economic acceleration. Chief Eze said halting the loan will amount to sheer wickedness and unfairness because the project, when completed, will generate jobs in massive hundreds to people of the South/East and some part of the South/South, improve the economies of states and generate revenue to the Federal and state governments of the South-East region, as well as Port Harcourt Yobe, Gombe and Maiduguri.

In further pacifying the panicky mode which citizens have been thrown into by the fictitious interpretation of a clause inserted in the loan agreement, the party chief said it is an Internationally and legally recognised standard of practice and referred Nigerians to his previous publication on the subject matter for better clarification, stressing that the country is safe and her sovereignty unshaken and intact.

Eze noted with grief, the high-tech politics playing-out to frustrate the plan of the APC led Government to revive the rail system within the three key regions of the country that could aid the country to revive it’s economy.

Without any doubt, every Nigerian is fully aware that the South South is the main sustainer of the economy of Nigeria through her resources, mainly Oil, while the South East is the major purveyor and engine oil through which the economy is sustained as the hub of the commercial activities of this Nation with the North East as the Food Basket of the country which if harnessed will not only feed the entire populace, but will also provide other means of raising resources apart from oil to sustain the economy and enhance sources of livelihood.

The importance of these regions that provides major resources that sustain the economy of this country and to the overall being of Nigeria need not be overemphasized so with few member of a cabal plotting to deny these regions the required loan to facilitate the provision of modern rail system already provided for the South West and some parts of the North Central and North West is not only unpatriotic but sheer wickedness.

One need not consult an economist to imagine the monumental loss Nigeria particularly, these regions will incur should this plot to deny these regions a modern rail system sees the light of day.

Eze highlighted that the South East is the commercial hub of Nigeria and require proper transport system to thrive economically. He posited that it will remain easier and cheaper  to smuggle shoes from Aba to Cameroon than any part of the North East without the railway system in the East. Eze expressed worries that the Igbos suffer all kinds of losses including robbery attacks, too much payment to police and customs in moving containers from Lagos to the East.

He reiterated that the East remains the largest producers of Palm oil in West Africa and to transport palm oil containers from East to other parts of Nigeria by road is a business killer plot.

He said any Nigerian patriot will definitely sob for the South South, South Eastern and North Eastern Regions, should the Chinese Loan to revive the rail system in these regions turns out a failure.

Eze appealed to the National Assembly not to fall into the hands of the enemies of the regions and support the Buhari’s Administration in its efforts to fulfill the APC Pledge to the Easterners by approving the Loan required in this regard.

Should this plot scale through, the party Chief said, the Easterners and North Easterners will  understand who their enemies are; not President Buhari, not  Amaechi but the cabal that wants to destroy Nigeria if their unholy plot to govern Nigeria come 2023 fails.

Similarly, the party chieftain quoted the  Debt Management Office as saying that the total value of loans taken by Nigeria from China as at March 31, 2020, was $3.121 billion. This represents only about 3.94% of Nigeria’s total public debt of $79.303 as at March 31, 2020. Furthermore, in terms of external sources of funds, loans from China accounted for 11.28% of the external debt stock of $27.67 at the same date. He said the report appropriately points that China is not a major source of funding for the Nigerian Government.

According to Eze and the DMO report, the afore-mentioned loans are concessionary loans, with interest rates of 2.5% per annum, tenor of 20 years, and a moratorium of 7 years.

He said Nigerians could get further details about the loan terms from the DMO website.

Further quoting the DMO, Chief Eze said total loans from China is $3.121 and are project-tied and listed some to include: The Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Idu-Kaduna section), Abuja Light Rail Project, Nigerian Four Airport Terminals Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt), Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Lagos-Ibadan section), and Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja-Keffi- Makurdi Road Projects.

As stated by the DMO, Eze said the impacts of these loans are not only evident but visible. For instance, the Idu-Kaduna Rail line has become a major source of transportation between Abuja and Kaduna.

Also, the new International Airport in Abuja, has improved air transportation for the populace, while the Lagos-Ibadan rail line will ease traffic on the busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

He called on Nigerians to support President Mohammadu Buhari and the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to deliver more dividends to the Nigerian people.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze. APC Chieftain & former National Publicity Secretary, nPDP

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Ecobank Group announces the 2020 Fintech Challenge Finalists

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 Ecobank Group  today announced the finalists from  the 2020 Ecobank Fintech Challenge. The challenge, in its third edition, is designed to deepen collaboration between Ecobank and Fintechs with Africa focused products.

The 10 finalists Fintechs from 7  different countries, who emerged from a competitive pool of over 600 fintechs, will participate in an online Finale scheduled for August 21, 2020.

The 2020 Finalists are:

Always In-Touch Real-time ( South Africa), Fluid AI (India), Franc Group (South Africa), Growth Factor (Ghana), Leaf Global Corporation (Rwanda), Moja Ride (Ivory Coast), Nokwary Technologies Limited (Ghana), Papersoft S.A (Mozambique), Ukheshe Payment Solutions (South Africa), PayChap Technologies (Tanzania).

The Finalists  will pitch their products to a jury for the cash prizes for the  top 3, worth US$10,000, US$7,000, and US$5,000.  All the finalists will be enrolled into Ecobank’s Fintech Fellowship where they will spend the next 6 months exploring partnership opportunities which includes :

  • Multinational product roll out: An opportunity to pursue collaboration with Ecobank and possibly launch products in Ecobank’s  33 African markets.
  • Service provider partnerships: A chance to become a pan-African service partner to Ecobank for Fintechs with the qualities to become product partners and offer joint services with Ecobank
  • Mentoring and networking support:  Access to networking and mentoring opportunities within the Ecobank Group and its vast network of global and African partners
  • Integration with existing Ecobank digital offerings: An opportunity to potentially integrate with Ecobank’s existing digital offerings.

Eddy Ogbogu, Group Executive, Operations & Technology  said, “we congratulate the 10 Fintechs that have made it to the 2020 Finals. This is an impressive cast of innovators and we  look forward to the Final event where we will honour them and potentially build productive collaborations.”

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge is designed in partnership with the advisory firm Konfidants and is supported by partners across Africa and globally.

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The Claim on Palliatives is Baseless – Odili

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The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has refuted claims by the erstwhile Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, that N6.25 billion funds approved for the procurement and distribution of COVID 19 palliatives to the poor people of the Niger Delta region was embezzled by the Interim Management Committee, IMC.

The Commission in a statement signed by NDDC Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Obi Odili and circulated to local, regional and international news platforms, journalists, editors and media practitioners stated that the allegation, “is another false claim orchestrated by the same forces who have been waging a campaign of falsehood against the Commission and its management since President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Commission in the past 19 years. Although the Commission is minded to ignore this claim, we have to respond to re-assure our stakeholders that the IMC is honest in the management of the common trust in their care.”

The statement went further to state the facts thus:

 

*High Chief Jackrich approached the Commission to work with it in different ways. He was then chosen to oversee the Committee involved in the distribution of the COVID-19 Palliatives to communities in the Niger Delta. The Committee was put in place to ensure transparency in the process.

 

*Immediately the constitution of this committee was announced, some of the

 

State Governors reached out to the Commission that they would have nothing to do with it. Instead, they demanded that the palliatives meant for their states be given to them. In fact, one particular Governor declined to give the permit to move the items during the COVID lockdown unless the Commission directly deal with his government in the matter.

 

*The Education, Health and Social Services Directorate (EHSS), which oversees the COVID-19 response raised a memo advising management to accede to the demands of the governors. The memo dated May 22, 2020 argued that in view of the need to collaborate with state governments in the Niger Delta, the management should grant approval for state directors ‘to liaise with their respective state governments, on behalf of the Commission in drawing up a programme for the flag off and donation of the COVID-19 Palliative items in their respective states.

 

*On May 23 2020, management approved the request of the EHSS directorate. As a result of this approval and the change in policy, the task of the High Chief Jackrich Committee became redundant. This means the High Chief was no longer and could no longer be involved in the direct distribution of the Palliatives. This also means he could not have accurate information on the exercise.

 

*As at today, none of the nine state governments has denied receiving its own share of the food items for distribution under the COVID-19 Palliatives programme.

 

*The bulk of Mr. Jackrich’s petition dwelt on the refusal of the IMC to pay him a humongous amount of money for being Chairman of the Committee. This has led to this blackmail.

 

It needs be stated that apart from the palliatives distribution to vulnerable people, the COVID-19 Intervention of N6.25 billion approved by President Buhari had two other components: the procurement of medical kits and a public sensitisation campaign. The following medical kits were procured:

  • 27 trilogy 202 ventilations,
  • 65 ECG Machines,
  • 54 RT PCR Machines,
  • 18 APC smart digital UPS 5KVA,
  • 36 infra-red thermometers,
  • 18 double jar suction machines,
  • 18 Fluid warmers,
  • 18 multi parameter patient monitors,
  • 94 standard ICU beds,
  • 95 oxygen cylinders,
  • 95 oxygen masks,
  •      95 infusion pumps,
  • 18 mobile X-ray machines,
  • 18 mobile ultrasound machines,
  • 18 mobile dialysis machines,
  • 18 arterial blood gas machines,
  • Sanitizers and syringe pumps.

According to Odili, all the procured equipment have been distributed to the nine Niger Delta states and received by the state governments.

“Beyond COVID-19, this intervention has boosted the health care delivery capacity of the nine states. We are grateful to Mr. President for this intervention, which has saved lives in the region” Odili declared.

Charles Obi Odili

Director, Corporate Affairs

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