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What I will Do With Bayelsa Money if Elected Governor-Agbedi

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Hon. Fred AGBEDI is a third time member in the House of Representatives. He was  former state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Bayelsa State. He also served as Special Adviser to Governor Dickson on Political Matters.

Agbeti who represents Sagbama/ Ekeremor Federal constituency in the House of Representatives is one of Governorship Aspirants  in the forth coming governorship election in Bayelsa state.

   In this interaction with the members of the Federated Correspondents the Aspirant bares his mind on the development of the state and his plans if elected.

Excerpt:

Can you speak briefly about yourself?

I am Fred Agbedi from Agoro community in Ekeremor Local Government Area  of Bayelsa State, I am the member of the House of Representatives, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, of course the third time member in the House of Representatives.

I was first in the House in third Republic which was 1992 under the National Republican Convention (NRC), today as a member of PDP, am serving my second term in the ninth Assembly at the House of Representatives. In Bayelsa state, I have held series of offices. I was the pioneer Secretary of NRC in Ekeremor LGA which office I contested and won to the House of Representatives. I have been chairman of PDP in Bayelsa state since 2005 to 2008. I have also  been  Special Adviser, Political Matters to Gov. Dickson and of course two times Director General  of Dickson Campaign Organisation, the Restoration Campaign 2011-12 and also 2015
to 2016, I have led three campaigns across the length and breath of
Bayelsa State and that makes me an household name and a committed loyal member  of the PDP.
I attended COE  where I read English and History, I attended
Uniport where I read English, I attended University of Abuja where I read Master in Public Administration am currently defending my seminar
on my thesis at Uniport. I pride myself as a professional politician, I have
been in politics for about four decades, I believe that am the only
professional politician that is running for the governorship position in Bayelsa state. I am also a professional in many respects, as teacher, character moulder, trainer, a Counsellor. As somebody who studied English, I can expressly express the desire of
my people and as graduate of Public Administration, am an
administration expert and for you to be a governor, you must have that
competence which I have as a development study student, a development expert of course

  Why do want to be Governor of Bayelsa State?

why I want to be a governor is to develop Bayelsa and I believe that if you want to be a governor, then you must understand the essence of a governor, the essence  number one is to realize that you are to be a servant and you must be able to render service, you should not see yourself as boss or rather you should see yourself as the servant of the people that is what I know very well and that is what I have come to do, to be the servant of the people. I also know that the position of a governor is a supervisor, yours is to supervise others, you understand the essence of supervision and you
too must have the capacity to supervise, because the governor does not do everything by himself, the governor identifies competent and capable hands who represent him in implementing policies and actions of Government and until you understand that a governor is a supervisor and that as a
supervisor, your first responsibility is to identify the right people
who have competency and capacity to implement policies of Government is what makes you stand out as a man who  knows your job from day one and so I realize that as a governor your duty is to supervise and understand how to check, monitor and applaud your lieutenants when they have done well, the ability to call your lieutenants to order when you believe that they are straying out of the radar and of course treat where it’s important and necessary to treat policies and their implementation and if you see that they are not achieving the desired goals and because I know and understand this, and I feel that the only way to express this is to serve at a greater height, which is the geographical expression that we refer to as Bayelsa.

  Can you talk about your contributions to  develop your constituency?

I am  serving at my Federal constituency, I have rendered projects to my federal constituency as a member of House of Representatives. I have attracted empowerment to atleast 16 to 20 communities  in my constituency, I think that I have gone to the level that I have come to seek the same role at the center and that is why I have come and have been mandated to fly the flag of Peoples Democratic Party in the November 16, governorship election in the state.

 What is your plan to develop Byelsa?

One of my plans is to render services, to serve my people. I feel that Bayelsa should be empowered. First and most important is the empowerment of Bayelsans.
  Bayelsans don’t have financial
empowerment, if they don’t have skill empowerment, then of course
there is nothing you can bring to Bayelsans that will be worth more
than empowerment.

Ques. What is empowerment?

What is empowerment, it is to make sure that  Bayelsans have access to funds, how do they get access to funds, we have Bayelsans that have core competencies in business that as a governor, you must identify the
core competencies of Bayelsans and patronize them, you don’t only
patronize them, you ensure that the service they rendere is paid for
that is the only way to grow your people, as a contractor, business
men, the state patronises you, we should be able to pay you so that
you can make profit, revenue with which you move forward. Once you
empower Bayelsans very well, they will turn the state’s economy around, they will make the economy robust and they will move to compete at the national level and our government will not only empower them and leave them to go and compete at the national level, we will also assist
them where the governor needs to intervene where they are in a
competition and how they are going to have such ventures.  Bayelsa government will
follow up and ensure that we support them to have  ventures at the end of the day. Not only that, we want to grow Bayelsa, not only
to the national level but also to the international level because if we want to be a
national and world player, we must have financial muscle. No matter how competent you are, no matter how effective you are in delivery of
projects, if you don’t have the financial muscle, you will not be able to compete at the national and global level and so that is what our
target is that at the end of the day, Bayelsans, whatever, it will cost
them  to be in competition at the national level and globally, we would ensure that they have that basis to be able to compete wherever they find themselves in Nigeria and across the globe.

  What  do intend to do about encouraging   investors?

If we are talking about investors, the people that can invest  locally are the Bayelsans and if Bayelsans have access to funds that enable then   build factories, industries, it’s the business men that are going to enter into partnership with other business men to  come and grow industries, to come and build factories and so we want to empower Bayelsans in such a situation whereby Bayelsan business men can pull N2 – N5bn  together to say this is the factory we want  to built and they will use the financial muscle and strength they have to
attract partnership to build that factory, to build that industry.

  What does government need to do actualize this?

What Government needs to do is to create enabling environment, a conducive climate, build infrastructure, social amenities and security that will bring a driving economy base, that is what our Government is going to do. Anything about factory, industries and funding of public projects  that are industry oriented will be the responsibility
of businessmen to partner with other businessmen to bring them. Take for example, we are talking about Aggae Deep Sea Port, where the state government has done so much and has done a lot of works and are still looking for investors to come and invest, if we have Bayelsans who can
pull together 3 to 5 Billion Naira, am sure that we would have achieved
a lot or long mileage as it is today because government funds are not
sufficient to develop Bayelsa as it ought to be.  So, once Bayelsans
have good money, once they have financial muscle and financial
capabilities they can attract partners that can put-in so much
billions to bring such projects into fruition, you will see that
Bayelsan money will be domiciled in Bayelsa and they would be financially empowered to strength Bayelsa economy and to attract other investors to come and partner with our business men to invest in factories and industries and to grow Bayelsa, employment will come. Its by so doing we will have robust economy in Bayelsa,   and as a
government we will also attract revenue to boost our internally Generated Revenue.

 Do you have any  plan to establish a   refinery?

Yes, our government when we come onboard will  also bring to the table the issues of oil production. Bayelsa state has oil wells, we have the attala farm, the marginal oil field and what do we need, do we need to sell crude, which is between 40 to 60 dollars per barrel and failed like the way Nigeria fail in selling raw materials?  For me, the right way to go is to tell our partners with the Bayelsa oil company to build refinery. We don’t need to sell the raw crude, we need to refine. If people who don’t have access to crude oil want to built refinery, what about us that  already have access to crude oil. What we need is a refinery to process the crude and this will bring down the cost of this finished products.  Because in Nigeria, Bayelsa is paying more than any other state and other part of this country because Bayelsa has deep riverine areas and anything you are buying at deep riverine, you can never determine what the cost is, so for me, Bayelsa oil company will encourage our partners
to built refinery, process the crude to     what ever finished products that is going to  come out of the crude
oil.  If we have a refinery,
people will be employed, the petrol, diesel that we are going to
process in Bayelsa will reduce the cost of the finished products in
the state, it will create employment opportunities and of course the
government will also draw revenue from it. I am also saying that as a
chairman House Committee on oil and gas resources in the eight
Assembly in the House of representatives, I went into a number of discussions with the major players in the oil industry. You all
know that the Bonny NLNG is a success story and it’s one of the
highest finance contributors to the Federal Government   
and if the Bonny NLNG will bring two more NLNGs will certainly solve the financial  problems of the country,  whatever amount you want to fund your budget with three NLNGs in  Nigeria can solve that problem and they are desirous of getting it done. In the course of our discussion with SHELL, we have agreed that the bony NLNG should invest in Brass NLNG and shell has also volunteer to invest in that project and so, that dream is ongoing, as chairman of that resources in the House of
Representative, we have taken discussion largely to implementation level such that it’s only when some of us come on board, having realise it to this point,  as a governor I can drive it to completion. And what do you
expect, an NLNG in Brass will open up the brass axis, it will bring
employment opportunity for our teeming youths and will also promote businesses and then as a state we are going to drew revenue from it. That is the way to go.

What will your administration do about  the brass fertilizer company?

The Brass fertilizer company that has been on the dream line, I have discussions to the extent that the former Managing Director of NNPC has said what will need to do to make it come on stream and by that discussion their expectation is not much 
beyond Bayelsa state government’s power and having understood that
this is what they want to have Brass fertilizer company to come on
stream because it will also generate employment again, which will generate business, which will generate income, I think that, that is
the way to go because if don’t address the issue that will create
employment, issues that will,   bring about robust business environment, issues that will create more
revenue base for the government, then of course, we will still be
relying on feeding bottle democracy.  

  How do you mean?

We say we are  a federal government, but we are practicing unitary system of government, at the end of the month, we all go to Abuja to collect whatever they appropriate to us, we do don’t know what they are given to us, they just say this is what belongs to you and you pick it and come back, which is not enough to sponsor our budgets and as for some of us, the first and most important thing to do is to look inward and generate an economy that will be self serving and we talk about this because if investors are coming to Nigeria and they land in Lagos, the moments they talk to Lagos audience and they know that it is  a business that is going to succeed, Lagosians will tell you am buying it half  a billion naira, or one billion or two billion and of course
they don’t have any reason to come to Bayelsa when there is already
money, when there is local content that is going  to boost their
investment of course they have to talk to that audience and then move
away from there, that is the sentiment we are coming to government to solve. Bayelsans will have the capacity to put money on the table in negotiating and creating business partnership that will develop our state.

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Green Economy ‘ll Create Greater Prosperity for Investors – Agama

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Stakeholders, intermediaries, issuers, investors, and regulators have been enjoined to take advantage of the enormous resources and potential of sustainable finance to build a green climate resilient economy in Nigeria and create greater prosperity for investors and Nigerians.

This was stated by Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dr.
Emomotimi Agama during a capacity building workshop for capital market operators on Green Finance in Lagos yesterday.
The workshop is part of an ongoing capacity building initiative administered by the African Development Bank Group and financed by the Capital Market Development Trust Fund (CMDTF) of the Bank.
The SEC DG represented by Executive Commissioner Operations SEC, Mr. Bola Ajomale, emphasised that the Commission is steadfast in its commitment to champion sustainable finance initiatives as the Rules on Green Bonds have already facilitated a couple of sovereign issues and multiple corporate issues.Agama said, “The Federal Government through the Debt Management Office (DMO) has led the way in Africa in this regard by issuing the first sovereign green bond in December 2017. It has since followed up with another N15bn issuance in June 2019 specifically to fund renewable energy, afforestation and transportation.”The Commission also approved two green bond issues by North South Power Services Ltd and Access Bank Plc worth N8.56bn and N15bn respectively to finance various infrastructural projects in the power, water and agriculture sectors of the Nigerian economy. The onus therefore lies with all of us distinguished ladies and gentlemen to continue to expand these issuances by locating a need and fashioning appropriate sustainable financing products to meet themThe SEC DG disclosed that the Commission continues to strongly support and champion efforts to deliver coordinated and coherent policy advice, capacity building and regulatory support to leverage actions across a broad spectrum of sectors to build the momentum for a green economy, which could bring socially inclusive and environmentally sound economic transformation.Agama said the workshop presents an opportunity to stakeholders in the capital market to enrich the discussion on Green Finance and more importantly, take concerted action on issues relating to climate change and sustainability.According to him, “The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) defines a green economy as low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive economy. An economy where growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy resource efficiency, and prevention of loss biodiversity and ecosystem services.”Climate change, as we all know, is one of the major risks threatening the well-being of mankind. Since the Paris Agreement was reached in December 2015, international efforts in combating climate change have gathered enormous momentum. According to the IMF, in the past four decades, we have witnessed the warmest years on record and the number of natural disasters more than doubled in that same time frame.”The SEC DG said embracing green finance remains a critical approach to addressing these challenges adding that it is crucial to involve key stakeholders in conversations that promote green finance.”We are at a pivotal moment where we can shape the future of our investment practices to align with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles. Transitioning to a green economy is crucial for the sustainable development of Nigeria.”The primary objective of the workshop is to provide capacity building for capital market operators and stakeholders to enhance knowledge and understanding of green finance, promote collaboration and networking among stakeholders, support regulatory compliance with SEC Rules, and facilitate the funding of innovative, environmentally friendly projects that will drive sustainable economic growth.”He expressed excitement at the promising trend of sustainability-themed funds gaining prominence, especially in developed countries, saying this reflects a growing global adoption of green finance criteria within the investment community, and notably, green finance performance has shown a strong correlation with overall financial performance.

Agama urged stakeholders, intermediaries, issuers, investors, and regulators, to support this transition through their business activities by directing financial flows towards more sustainable and climate-friendly solutions, divesting from unsustainable practices, setting standards and frameworks, and integrating green finance into investment decisions and practices.In his remarks, Executive Director, Climate Transition Limited Mr. Olumide Lala said that Climate change is real adding that the transition to a green economy is essential for Nigeria’s sustainable development, and green finance is a critical component of this transition.”It is not just about the impact on a world that is far from us, it is here with us. The message today is for us to invest in assets, infrastructure assets that are climate efficient.”If you look around today, the impact of climate is upon us, it’s affecting our food security, it’s affecting our way of life. It is even affecting our country’s security as people are moving from place to place in search of a better life” he stated.Lala said the desertification of the Sahara is impeding the world, as people are moving towards the south, water resources is being compromised and there is climate risk associated with the financial investments people make.”There is the need to reduce emission, essentially the message today is change. The regulator is here trying to reassure investors that the governance structure is there to ensure the safety of the money they are investing. The governance structure is constantly being enhanced in line with global values.”We see this as a market development opportunity to educate the market on the benefits as well as the risks. But more importantly, how do you change the risks into opportunities? As the market changes and as we develop more opportunities for those coming behind us,” he added.

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Senate Suspends Rules, Passes N70,000 Minimum Wage Bill to Hasten Implementation

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By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja

The Senate yesterday suspended the relevant sections of its Standing Orders to pass the new minimum wage bill, 2024, saying the move was to fasttrack the implementation of the newly approved N70,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.President Bola Tinubu had earlier sent the bill to the two chambers of the National Assembly, and pleaded with them to give expeditious treatment to the proposal to enable him address the minimum wage crisis, which heated up the polity in the last few months.

The Leader of the Senate, Opeyemi Bamidele presented the bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019 to increase the National Minimum Wage and reduce the time for periodic review of the National Minimum Wage from five years to three years and for related matters, 2024 (SB.
550).”According to legislative tradition, the bill passed first, which was the reading out of President Bola Tinubu’s request; then it passed through second, which involved debate on general principles, and went through third reading, which was the final passage, all within one hour.According to Bamidele, the bill sought to raise the country’s minimum wage for the civil servants from N30,000 to N70,000, noting that N70,000 was agreed upon by all the parties after negotiations by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.“This is part of the Federal Government’s short term measure to mitigate the situation in the country,” Bamidele said.Contributing to the debate, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Tahir Monguno said that there was a need to review the minimum wage to align with economic realities in the country.“The review of the minimum wage used to be after every five years. It is now every three years,” Monguno said.Also passed by the Senate yesterday is a bill, inter alia that sought to reduce the time for periodic review of the National Minimum Wage from five years to three years, and for related matters.The Executive Bill forwarded to the Senate by President Bola Tinubu was presented for the first reading, then scaled second reading and was read the third time and passed.In his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, Senator Bamidele said, “Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I humbly rise to lead the debate on the general principles of the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (SB. 550).“You will recall, Mr. President, my dear colleagues that in recent times, a plethora of agitations and clamours have been recorded from Organised Labour and another segment of our society, for an increase in the National Minimum Wage given the prevailing economic situation in the country.”In response to the agitations and after a series of negotiations between the Federal Government and the Organised Labour, the current National Minimum Wage of N30,000 only has been reviewed upward to the sum of N70,000 only.”

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Tinubu, Atiku Disagree on Planned Nationwide Protest

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By Johnson Eyiangho, Abuja

As the days of the planned nationwide protest against bad governance near, President Bola Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday expressed divergent positions on the matter.While the president appeals to aggrieved Nigerians especially the youth to shelve the action, the former Vice President warned that the Tinubu-led administration must allow citizens exercise their right to protest.

Atiku said it is ironic that those who seek to stifle the rights to protest the hunger, poverty and insecurity ravaging the country now led protest in 2012 when the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan adjusted upward the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol.
Commenting on the planned nationwide protest slated to begin on August 1 on his X account, Atiku said that a responsible government must ensure a safe and secure environment for citizens to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to peaceful protest.He said, “Chasing shadows and contriving purported persons behind the planned protests is an exercise in futility when it is obvious that Nigerians, including supporters of Tinubu and the ruling APC are caught up in the hunger, anger, and hopelessness brought about by the incompetence and cluelessness of this government.”Any attempt to suppress these rights is not only unconstitutional but a direct affront to our democracy.”Atiku stressed that the rights of citizens to protest are enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and affirmed by the courts, adding, “Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as altered) unequivocally guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and association.”The nationwide protest is billed to hold from Aug. 1 to 10.The leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has thrown its weight behind it.The National Chairman of SDP, Shehu Gabam at a press conference in Abuja last week said the demonstration is in the interest of the masses.However, the Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum and Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma exonerated Tinubu from the inflation and economic challenge ravaging the country.He argued that the biting hardship is a global phenomenon and not limited to Nigeria.Mr Bayo Onanuga, a presidential aide on Sunday accused supporters of the Labour Party candidate in the 2023 presidential election, Mr Peter Obi of planning the protest.Onanuga who is Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy said that Obi would be held responsible for whatever crisis that may emanate from the action.Yesterday, Tinubu pleaded with youths to shelve the planned action, saying there is no need for it.The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, conveyed the president’s plea while speaking with State House correspondents after his meeting with Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.The minister stated, “We discussed the issue of the country in general and Mr President has asked me to again inform Nigerians that he listens to them, especially the young people that are trying to protest.“Mr president said he listens to them and takes what they say seriously and he is working assiduously to ensure that this country is good not just for today but also for the future.“The issue of the planned protest, Mr President does not see any need for that. He asked them to shelve that plan and he has asked them to await the government’s response to all their pleas.”With Atiku voicing out now, it appears the voices in support of the planned protest are increasing by the day.

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