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N20b Loan: Group Protests, Rolls Out State’s Indebtedness

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Group, Joint Forces for the Defence of Democracy (JOFDES) Monday, July 14, protested against alleged Edo State government plan to obtain N20b (Twenty billion naira) from the Nigeria Capital Market few weeks to the Edo State Governorship elections.

The group also alleged that the Godwin Obaseki-led government intends to obtain another $100Million and $150m loan from the World Bank respectively, just as it described the act as ” reckless, irresponsible and ignominious for the Obaseki-led state government to obtain another loan.”

Co-covener of the group, Kola Edokpayi and Felix Osemwengie Isere, Esq in a statement titled ‘we reject the attempt by Governor Godwin Obaseki to mortgage the future of Edo youths by his recent moves to obtain another N20b loan’, noted that the state’s domestic debt profile stands at N84.76 billion, hence it will amount to a calculated attempt by the Governor to mortgage Edo youths future.

” As if these are not enough,  we have received reliable information that Godwin Obaseki also intends to obtain another $100Million loan from the World Bank.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re Committed To Relieving Obaseki Of His Office’- Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation

“This loan, known as the performance for results loan which is awaiting board approval is aimed at funding the overblown Edo Best and Edo jobs projects. We the citizens are aware that Edo Best and Edo jobs projects are a mere facade and failed projects serving as conduit for siphoning funds for the coffers of the good people of Edo State  

” The most shocking part of it is that Mr. Obaseki is considering these loans when Edo State currently services the $150Million credit obtained from the World bank in 2016 and 2017.

” This is the highest level of political and economic betrayal for the good people of Edo State who have entrusted her collective patrimony into the hands of the governor. It is most unfair and is a demonstration of the mortgage of the future of Edo people.

Joint Forces for the Defence of Democracy (JOFDES) protesting against Obaseki’s plan to obtain N20b loan on Monday in Benin

” We find this development not only worrisome, wicked, reckless, irresponsible and ignominious but a calculated attempt to completely mortgage the future of the youth and people of Edo State. This is totally obvious because Mr. Obaseki is fully aware that Edo State is already heavily overburdened by excess debts.

” At no time in the history of our dear state have we come under the volume of indebtedness that we face today”, the statement added.

READ ALSO: Edo Poll: APC, Ize-Iyamu Will Respect INEC’s Regulations – Campaign Organisation

While disclosing that the state is with the highest domestic debt in the South-South and second throughout the nation, noted that the governor has to ” answer reason why the state is indebted so high and other financial mismanagement.”

According to the protesters, with all the borrowing, citizens of the state have not seen any tangible project from the state government “apart from some renovations of already existing infrastructure and window dressing.”

” We have the highest external debt in the entire South-South with an external debt of $257.92 milliion as at March 2020.

” Second, we have the highest domestic debt in Nigeria, second only to Lagos State.

” We must get answers to these and other glaring cases of financial mismanagement that have become the hallmark of the Godwin Obaseki’s government 

” Apart from the few renovation of already existing infrastructure and window dressing of already completed projects, we have not seen any landmark or gigantic legacy projects the Obaseki Government has done with funds accruing to the state”, they said.

READ ALSO: Shame On PDP Leaders Fielding Obaseki After Condemning Him As Non-achiever -Ize-Iyamu

The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari and other concerned authorities particularly Edo citizens to stop the loan from being approved, just as they added that if there’s any reason to obtain such loan, that should be considered after the election.

The group further said, ” We as a pro democracy group committed to defending the interest of Edo sons and daughters worldwide hereby call on the President of Nigeria, Secretary to the government of the federation, Hon Minister of state for budget and national planning, director general Debt Management Office (DMO) Abuja, the Chairman Senate and House of Representatives committees on local and foreign debts, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Senate President and speaker of the House of Representatives, DG of Nigerian Stock Exchange, Attorney General of the federation and all well-meaning Edo sons and daughters who have the future of our children at heart, to do everything within their powers to stop this loan from being approved for the governor of Edo State.

” However, if there is any genuine reason whatsoever to approve such a loan for Edo State, it can be considered after the forth coming Edo governorahip election to forestall the mismanagement of the funds under the tension that accompanies elections.”

However, in his reaction, Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie denied the allegation, just as he accused Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of sponsoring the protest.

Protest against Obaseki’s plan to obtain N20b loan on Monday

There is no such thing as N20 billion debt proposal by the Edo State Government, and Edo people cannot be distracted by such wild claim,” Osagie said.

Reacting to Crusoe’s allegation that the protesters were sponsored by Ize-Iyamu, Mr. John Mayaki, Chairman, Edo State APC Media Campaign Council said was insulting to the people of Edo State for the Governor’s Aide to attribute anger expressed by the citizens to Ize-Iyamu.

“It is ludicrous and insulting to the people of Edo State who are known for their agency and independence of thought, for Crusoe Osagie to suggest that the anger they expressed today on the streets of Benin over the 20 billion naira loan Obaseki is trying to obtain for his collapsing campaign was done at the behest of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

READ ALSO: PDP Governorship Primary: Aspirants Step Down For Obaseki

“Is Crusoe suggesting that Edo youths cannot read the news, interpret it, and understand the implications of a failed government seeking loans toward the end of its tenure?” Mayaki said.

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Wike Lists His Priorities As FCT Minister To British High Commission

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Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has told the British High Commission in Abuja that security, agriculture and job creation are among the top priorities of the FCT Administration.

The minister made this statement when he received a delegation from the British High Commission in Nigeria led by the British High Commissioner, Richard Montgomery, on a courtesy visit to the FCT Administration on Tuesday.

The British High Commissioner had sought to understand the priorities of the FCT Administration for the development of the FCT in order to improve bilateral relations.

Responding, Wike said the creation of jobs, especially in the agricultural sector, is being prioritized to ensure that the teeming youth in the FCT are provided with a source of livelihood. He added that the FCT Administration, in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has also provided the necessary support to the security agencies to address the security challenges in the FCT.

READ ALSO: Wike Places N20m Bounty On Two Wanted Abuja Kidnappers

He said the ongoing provision of infrastructure in the Abuja city center and the Area Councils, apart from accelerating the development of the FCT, are also avenues for job creation for the youths who would be engaged during the course of the projects.

According to the Minister, “When you say priority, creation of jobs is key. If you are not able to create jobs, of course, you know what that will mean for the teeming youths. So, we believe that the creation of jobs is not only in the white-collar sector. Through these activities, many of the youths are employed.

“If you go to the area councils today, there are lots of jobs going on that have created opportunities for the youths to be employed. So, the creation of jobs is a priority for this administration.”

Stressing that the FCT has vast arable lands for agriculture, the FCT Minister also expressed the readiness of the FCT Administration to collaborate with investors in the agricultural sector to create employment for youths and promote food security.

READ ALSO: SERAP Drags Wike, Others To Court Over Missing LG Funds

We have to remove the youths from the streets. So, we believe that in partnering with investors in the area of agriculture, that will also create jobs. So, that, in fact, to us, is a major priority. We will be interested if we can see partners in these areas,” the minister stressed.

Wike also added that the FCT is open to investments and collaborations in the tourism sector to make the city a major tourist attraction.

Speaking further on the security challenges in the FCT, the Minister stated that remarkable improvements have been achieved in the last few months due to the level of support and commitment of the security agencies.

The FCT Minister, who blamed the heightened insecurity in the FCT in the recent past on the activities of kidnappers and bandits, from the states sharing borders with the FCT, noted that the security agencies have done quite well to tame the activities of the bandits and other criminal elements.

He expressed confidence that the improved security in the FCT will also increase investors’ confidence in the nation’s capital.

We cannot say that we have been able to solve all the problems, but it is important to know that we are making progress, particularly on the issue of security, which has been a source of concern, not only to residents but the diplomatic community,” Wike said.

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Alleged Diversion Of Palliatives: Sacked Kogi Council Boss, Atawodi Breaks Silence

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Hassan Atawodi, the sacked Transition Chairman of Ofu Local Government Area, has opened up on why he was removed.

The Secretary to Kogi State Government, Folashade Arike Ayoade, had on Monday announced the sack of Atawodi in a statement by Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo, for allegedly diverting palliatives meant for his local government.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Atawodi said he was removed from office courtesy of some political leaders who do not like him.

He added that the palliative meant for Ofu LGA was not handed over to him, saying, “How can I divert what was not given to me?”

While noting that it was a gang-up against him, as there was no time he diverted any palliatives meant for his people, Atawodi stressed that he was denied the clearance letter that would have allowed him to collect the palliative.

READ ALSO: Tinubu Launches expatriate Employment Levy

“My travails began from the first day I was appointed, possibly because I was not the choice of some alleged power brokers in my local government. After signing for the palliative for Ofu, the next day I could not get the clearance letter because of orders from above.

“Upon assumption of office, I appointed my five aides and six special advisers. Later, they reported me to the powers that be that I made the appointments without consulting them.

“They went to the extent of sending pictures of somebody I appointed to say he was a member of an opposition party.

“I was asked to meet with the Leader of the local government in the company of the House of Assembly member, the local government, and the zonal party chairmen, which I did and asked that they should please forgive me, following their report, with a call on them to please join me so that we can work together.

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: Agencies That May Be Scrapped Based On Oronsaye 800-page Report

“Following my appeal to those who reported me over the appointment, I was asked to dissolve the aides I appointed, which I did by going on air as promised and dissolved all the SSAs.”

The former Transition Chairman said he is innocent of the allegations of diversion of palliatives leveled against him, calling on the State Governor of Kogi State to look into the matter critically, as the said palliative was never handed over to him.

Continuing, he said, “I was not given a palliative to share. On hearing about the palliative, I went to the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, who said there is an instruction for me not to be given the palliative.

“The ommissioner asked me to put a call across to the Deputy Governor before it could be released. I called from the morning through till about 4:00 pm on the said day, without my calls being picked.

“I later went back to the Commissioner, who said the Deputy Governor is yet to call. I had to leave to return the following day.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: CBN Begins Sales Of Dollars To BDCs

“The next day, upon arrival at the Government House, I saw the DLG, SLG, and the APC Chairman for my local government. The commissioner said he has been directed to release the palliative to them.

“I was asked by the Commissioner to remain calm, particularly that with the several leaders I have in my local government, he doesn’t think I should bother myself with how the palliative would be shared.

“After they moved the palliative from the Muhammadu Buhari Civic Centre, I called the DLG to ask about the whereabouts of the palliative, that is the 1200 bags of rice. He said it was off-loaded at the residence of the Zonal Chairman in Ejule. I asked if it was safe there, as I would have guaranteed that if brought to the Local Government Secretariat, it would be safer and would reach the intended beneficiaries.

“I was at the Governorship Tribunal in Abuja yesterday when somebody called me to inform me that a letter of replacement was being typed to replace me, after which I was later told that I had been replaced.”

While the former Transition Chairman said he has taken the power play against him as the will of God, he lamented that he was surprised to read on social media that his sack was connected with the alleged diversion of palliatives that were never given or handed over to him.

“My hands are clean, and I know that my God will fight for me. Since my assumption, it’s been one battle to another. The DSS are all aware of my travails.”

The former Transition Chairman called on Gov. Ahmed Usman Ododo to constitute an investigation into the reason behind his removal, pointing out that it could not have been over a palliative that was not handed over to him.

 

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FX Crisis: Dollar May Exchange For N4000 By End Of 2024 — Ozekhome Warns

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Human rights activist, Mike Ozekhome, says the Dollar may exchange for N4000 by the end of 2024 should the Naira keep falling against the Dollar at its current rate.

Ozekhome stated this in an interview on Channels Television on Tuesday.

The senior lawyer said there are no visible signs that the Naira won’t fall any further.

He said, “Just today, we paid out another $400 million that was so identified. In terms of the reserves, it has gone up to $34 billion.

READ ALSO: Forex Crisis: EFCC 7,000-man Task Force Goes After Dollar Racketeers

“If we are not careful we will get to the situation in Ghana, where they were carrying cedis in baskets to the market to go and buy things and put in their pockets.”

”Why have BDCssit under the trees and tables control our economy.”

Ozekhome stated that the government needs to do everything in its power to alleviate the suffering by going back to the drawing board.

He expressed surprise at the current administration blaming its predecessors for the economic state of the nation

”But to me, it is most embarrassing when I see officials of this government blaming the Jonathan government that left office in 2015, nearly 10 years ago.

READ ALSO: Cooking Gas Price Rises By 38% To N16,250

”Ironically blaming his own predecessor whom they took over from in the APC government. I think everything has gone wrong,” he said

Ozekhome noted that the current administration’s slogan of renewed hope translates to poverty.

This is not renewed hope, this is renewed poverty.”

Recall that recently, the scarcity and demand for dollars have led to a significant decline in the Naira. The problem according to analysts has been compounded by persistent foreign exchange supply challenges and a significant demand backlog.

But, the CBN governor, Olayemi Cardoso, in his MPC meeting announcement on Tuesday said he ”will do what it takes” to address the monetary issue equally promising to generate more liquidity for the forex market.

”Before the end of this year, if we are not careful, the Naira may exchange for N4000 to the dollar because e there is nothing in place,” he added.

 

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