Chairman of Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, King Bubaraye Dakolo-Agada IV and the 2nd Vice President of Ijaw National Congress, INC, Chief Nengi Eriworio, have kicked against the reported plan by the Federal Government to scrap the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP.
King Dakolo-Agada IV and Eriworio stated this in separate interviews in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
They both agreed that PAP has contributed to the unity of Nigeria, sustained the peace in Niger Delta with increased volumes of oil and gas production, and assisted the Federal Government in generating excess revenues of over $300 billion from the sale of oil and gas products in the last 12 years.
While King Dakolo commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of the new Interim Administrator, Major-General Barry Ndiomu (retd), he noted that PAP should be sustained so that the youths of the region would have more opportunities to be trained and empowered to become useful citizens from the region.
Eriworio, who is also the Bayelsa State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, argued: “Despite the challenges of control and misapplication of priorities in terms of training and funding, the PAP should be sustained because it assists thousands of families and youths across Niger Delta, which produces majority of the natural resources that have continually sustained the country, and the region remains the major source for Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.
“The PAP has also assisted in areas of manpower development, entrepreneurial skills among Niger Delta youths, and in sustaining the peace for oil and gas expatriates to operate freely across the region.”
King Dakolo-Agada IV, said: “While thanking President Buhari for the appointment of our capable son into the programme at this point in history, we want to call that PAP be sustained so that the teeming youths in the region, who are still suffering from one form of displacement or unemployment are properly trained and empowered for the future of the region.
“These youths will have a reason and an opportunity to be properly trained to become more useful citizens of Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.”
Also speaking, Eriworio called on President Buhari to shun the calls for the scrapping of PAP, saying instead, the president should increase funding for the training and empowerment of the youths of the region.
Eriworio, who expressed concern over the excessive external influence in the PAP, said: “There is the need to sustain the amnesty programme and allow for proper training and engagement of the youths of the region, there are many youths that are still waiting to be trained. Some are even in court seeking to be included in the programme, while millions of youths across the region are eagerly expressing their desires to be included in the programme.
“Therefore, it is in the interest of the Federal Government to sustain this affordable peace, instead of scrapping this cost effective peace for an unknown alternative that might cost ten to twenty times more.”
NACCIMA, Nigeria’s Road To Prosperity – SDP Presidential Candidate, Adebayo
The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Prince Adewole Adebayo, has said that the road to prosperity in Nigeria is through The Nigeria Association of Chambers and Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
Adebayo who spoke at the 4th quarterly meeting of NACCIMA in Enugu assured that the SDP, if elected into power, would not be a lawbreaker government but a law abiding.
He added that one of the difficulties facing the industry is that government does not respect contracts.
He posited that times have changed because in the past before government presents the country’s budget, captains of industries are always consulted, and the government doesn’t take decisions without considering the effects.
Adebayo driving his point and acknowledging the importance of NACCIMA said ‘In the past when you see presidential candidate, governorship candidate, senatorial candidate, you in NACCIMA will say he’s my boy, he use to work for me, he’s a good boy.
He added that Nigeria must return to such lifestyle, because the road to prosperity in Nigeria is through NACCIMA.
True Federalism: Expert Wants NULGE Join CSOs, Others For Constitutional Amendment
Professor Festus Imuetinyan, federal Commissioner, Federal Character Commission, Abuja has called on the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) to join hands with other unions and civil society organizations working for the amendment of the nation’s constitution to make the constitution truly federal.
Imuetinyan made the call on Wednesday in Benin City at the Edo State chapter of NULGE 2022 week celebration with the theme,”Sustaining an autonomous local government as a catalyst for national development: The role of NULGE”.
The university don opined that local governments will only become catalyst for national development when they are put in firm control over local affairs as well as encourage the emergency of local solutions to local problems.
He advocated that the local government matters must be removed from the national constitution and placed within the purview of the states to save them from the challenge of forced uniformity in the face of endemic diversity of local problems.
He added that NULGE, as the major trade union in the local government system in Nigeria, has a duty to ensure that the present unified local government system which is unwieldy is jettisoned.
“Unfortunately, many local government staff are beneficiaries of the present system and do not see any urgent need for changes.
“Your members are the ones that are made sole administrators when elected council heads are illegally sacked by state governments. Many enjoy posting to areas that they are not conversant with the custom and tradition of the people whose problems they are called upon to solve.
“Others are promoted in the face of inadequate utilization of available resources to manage waste and protect public utilities within their jurisdictions.
“It is often alleged that many of your members extort money from members of the public and that they enrich themselves at the expense of the development of the communities”, he said.
He further opined that the present local government system is not patterned to achieve any developmental goal rather than a smooth vehicle for the transfer of centrally collected funds to the pockets of States’ political elites.
Imuetinyan emphasized that the 1999 Constitution makes it possible for state governments to cripple Local Government Councils financially by routing the amount of money standing to the credit of Local governments in the Federation Account (FA) through a joint State Local Government Account rather than directly to local councils.
He asserted that the arrangement adversely affects the fiscal autonomy and viability of most local governments.
According to him, some state governors make inexplicable deductions or unduly delay the release of funds from the joint accounts to local government chief executives.
“Local government chairmen are bullied by state governors to surrender much of their statutory allocations under duress. When they fail; they find other ways to replace them with caretaker committees of selected loyalists.
“Expenditure and project discretion had become a thing of the past. Most states expect their Local governments to seek and obtain permission to embark on projects. Local government projects are inspected periodically by officials of state governments.
“More financial load has been placed on Local governments’ share of the Federation Account. For example, funds for primary school teachers’ salaries and pension charges are now charged centrally to the Local governments.
“The central deductions at source of these charges and several other unfunded mandates in environmental and social spending by the State Governments tend to leave many Local Governments with little funds.
“And unfortunately, many Local governments especially those in the rural areas have limited access to productive tax bases”, he added.
Governors’ Domineering Treatment Of Local Govt Councils Unfair – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has criticised State Governors, over what he described as unfair treatment meted out on the third tier of government.
Buhari who has been strengthening advocacy and autonomy for local government administration in the country alleged that such a domineering stance of state governors was counterproductive to the entire country.
The President said it beats one’s imagination how some state governors will collect, N100 million from the federal allocation and then go around to present N50 million to the Local Council Chairmen then cap it up by compelling the Council boss to sign that he or she collected N100 million.
Buhari warned that such actions are rather despicable and speak of the height of corruption in Nigeria.
The President made the allegation on Thursday, at the Presidential Villa Abuja, while speaking at a Presidential Parley
with participants of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru.
His words, “I feel it is necessary to digress after this speech and this digression is a result of personal experience.
“A Chief Executive of a state, a qualified lawyer, trained. The treatment of local governments, what he did, this is my personal experience. If the money from the federal government to state governments, let’s put it at N100 million (naira). N50 million will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received N100 million.
“The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants. And then the chairman of the local government will be struggling to pay salaries, and what goes into development?
“Money for salaries will be given, someone will put it in his pocket, this is happening in this Nigeria and its a terrible thing. You cannot say the person doing that is not educated. He is a qualified lawyer. He is experienced and is participating in this type of corruption.
“It’s a matter of personal integrity. Whichever level we find ourselves, the elite has to sit and make all the sacrifices for the country. This is why we are putting you through institutions and getting you ready to lead. The fundamental thing is personal integrity”.
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