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Bill Seeking Inclusion of New Oil Producing States in NDDC Passes 2nd Reading at Senate

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A bill to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act for the inclusion of new oil producing states has passed second reading at the Senate.

This followed the presentation of the lead debate by the sponsor, Sen.

Solomon Olamilekan (APC-Lagos West) at Wednesday’s plenary.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, Olamilekan said the bill was read for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

He said that the bill sought to amend the NDDC Act 2000 to include states that had attained the status of Oil Producing States with similar circumstances as those listed in the Act.

“In this era of change where government is desirous of raising revenues for development, the discovery of crude oil in new states in the country can only amount to additional revenue for the government.

“Following the discovery of oil in Bauchi, Lagos and Ogun, these states have officially joined the League of Oil Producing States in Nigeria.

“This is following the discovery of crude oil in Alkaleri Local Government, Bauchi; Badagry, Lagos, and Ipokia, Ogun.

“By virtue of this, the states are entitled to the 13 per cent derivation that is due to oil producing states according to the provision of Section 162 Sub-Section 2 of the Nigeria Constitution,” he said.

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Contributing, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said dealing with the issue of 13 per cent derivation was not an issue.

“To us that is not an issue. The issue is whether or not just because they are oil producing states they should come under NDDC.

“The commission is a regional development commission. We must draw a distinction between the NDDC and the oil and mineral producing commission,” Omo-Agege said.

Similarly, Sen. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers East) said “I congratulate these states where my friend said they have discovered oil.

“What I don’t know is that whether the oil is in commercial quantity and they are drilling them out for sales and the money going to Nigerian coffers. That one, he has not expantiated on that one.

“Are they are they exploring oil; are they refining oil in these places and has the oil caused any devastation in that environment.

“The purpose of the NDDC is not just because they found oil there. It is because the place has been so devastated and there is a need to see how they can remedy the place and because that place is so backward.

“Each time there is a law to support a backward people; to support people who are suffering, Nigerians will come out after a couple of years to dampen the strength of that law.”

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Also, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP- Edo South) said “I’m not particularly against the sponsor of this bill. I just believe that the bill should be properly posited.

“The area that constitutes Niger Delta is very clear. The nine states of the Niger Delta region are very clear. Today what each state gets from the 13 per cent derivation is a function of production.

“Gombe is fast becoming a host community; Bauchi and some other states. But to say these states belong to the Niger Delta region is not possible.

“If the idea is you want to share out of the 13 per cent derivation, they are at will as long as they produce oil but to say they must belong to Niger Delta, it makes mockery of the idea in the creation of NDDC.”

President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan thereafter, referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Niger Delta to report back to the house in four weeks.(NAN)

POLITICS

2023: North East Group Beckons on Akpabio to Run for Presidency

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By Mohammed Muktar Umar, Bauchi

A political pressure group within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North East, under the aegis of the North East APC Vanguard for Buhari, has called on the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to run for the presidency on the platform of the party in the 2023 general election.

The call was made by the group in a press release signed by its chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed and made available to newsmen in Bauchi.

The group stated that the former Akwa Ibom State governor performed extremely well when he served as governor, adding that he was doing well even now as a cabinet minister.

This, the group submitted, showed a clear example of leadership on the part of Akpabio, whom it described as the only trusted person from the Southern part of the country and a focused leader.

“It is now time to support people from the South among which Godswill Akpabio is the only trusted person. He is a sincere and focused leader that has the youth, the people and the country at heart. 

“We call on him to come out and declare his interest to contest for the president of our dear country come 2023. We will support him fully.

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“We have already started consultations across our states; our leaders have already shown love and concern for Akpabio because of his track records in the development, unity and progress of Nigeria. Akpabio is the leader that this country needs at this material time,” the group stated.

It added that the former Senator, who represented Akwa Ibom South senatorial district in the National Assembly, has all it takes to lead Nigeria to the promised land. 

According to the group, Akpabio was the leader and the right man for the job come 2023, who could lead Nigeria without rancour or discrimination, adding that the minister was not only a philanthropist but also a  nationalist. 

In his words, the chairman stated that  “Akpabio has all it takes to lead this country to the promised land, realize the dream of our past leaders. Akpabio is the leader and the man for the job come 2023.

“Akpabio is a highly composed person that can lead this country without rancour or discrimination.  He is a philanthropist and nationalist. He is fit for the office.”

The Vanguard chairman then informed that members of the group would soon storm the office of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to present a letter of intent to support Akpabio to him.

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POLITICS

APC Denies Zoning Party Positions

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Ahead of the February 26 convention, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied zoning party positions.

The National Secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator James Akpanudoedehe, while addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, said the committee has not taken a position on zoning.

He described the report in some sections of the media that various party positions had been zoned as falsehood.

The secretary said, “We are also here to rebuff the fake news going round the social media that we have zoned party offices, we are yet to meet on the issue of zoning.

However, in a statement signed by Akpanudoedehe at the end of the Party’s 19th regular meeting on Wednesday, he said they considered and adopted the timetable/schedule of activities for the convention.

He said sale of forms to all aspirants vying for national offices would commence on February 14th.

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BUSINESS

Lai Mohammed Plans Fact-finding on State of Petroleum Subsidy Removal

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said he will need to consult with relevant agencies to know the exact position of government on whether or not fuel subsidy will be stopped this year.

Mohammed, who spoke with newsmen yesterday after the weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, explained that he was going to initiate a fact-finding process to determine the state of things on the removal of petroleum subsidy following the announcement Tuesday by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, that President Buhari had not told anyone to remove fuel subsidy.

When asked to clarity the issue since the 2022 budget has no subsidy provision beyond June 2022, the minister said he needed to consult with the relevant government agencies to determine the exact position of the subsidy removal question.

“As for the removal of fuel subsidy, I think you will give me time to consult with relevant departments and ministries and I will get back to you,” he said.

Last October, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had announced that the federal government made provision for petrol subsidy only for the first six months of 2022 as the government looked towards a complete deregulation of the sector.

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She had said: “In our 2022 budget, we only factored in subsidy for the first half of the year. The second half of the year, we are looking at complete deregulation of the sector, saving foreign exchange and potentially earning more from the oil and gas industry.”

Reacting to Ahmed’s position after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday, Senate President, Lawan, told newsmen that President Buhari had not directed anyone in his government to implement the removal of petroleum subsidy.

But he also conceded that subsidy was a big burden, noting that a solution had to be found to it.

“Well, it will be of interest to Nigerians to hear what I’ve come to discuss with Mr. President among several other things.

“Many of us are very concerned with the recent agitations, protests and many citizens were so concerned, our constituents across the country are very concerned that the federal government will remove the petroleum subsidy. And for us, as parliamentarians, as legislators representing the people of Nigeria, this must be of interest to us.

“And we’ve just finished our recess, we had gone home to our constituencies and senatorial districts. And we felt the pulse of our people. And I found it necessary to visit Mr. President, as the the leader of our government and our leader in the country, to discuss this particular issue of concern to Nigerians, and I’m happy to inform Nigerians that Mr. President never told anyone that the petroleum subsidy should be removed.

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“I know and I agree that the subsidy is very heavy. But I think we must never transfer the burden to the citizens,” he said.

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