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Tinubu meets with PDP governors in Aso Rock

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Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu held a meeting with two governors from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State and Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Governor Eno emphasized the need to set politics aside and focus on governance now that the elections are over. He expressed his commitment to working with the federal government to ensure that the people of Akwa Ibom benefit from democracy.

Eno stated, “We came to visit with the President, to congratulate him on the election and his swearing-in and to pledge our support, our commitment, and our loyalty to the President and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Politics is over and governance has started. Akwa Ibom is an integral part of Nigeria, and we have to work with the federal government to ensure that Akwa Ibomites see the benefits of democracy.”

The governor discussed several areas where federal intervention is required, including the completion of the Calabar-Itu road, the development of the Ibom deep seaport, obtaining an export license, and establishing a free trade zone for Calabar airport. Eno highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships with the federal government to enhance the state’s aviation industry and bring in spare parts for aircraft maintenance.

Eno also mentioned the initiatives undertaken by his administration to mitigate the impact of petrol subsidy removal on the people. He revealed that palliatives had been distributed to local governments and expressed his intention to meet with petroleum marketers in the state to seek their cooperation in alleviating the hardships resulting from the subsidy removal.

READ ALSO  PDP appeals federal high court Judgement nullifying party’s guber primary in Edo

“We are looking at ways to support our people and shield them from the effects of the subsidy removal. As we get into early next week, you will see various measures we are going to put in place,” Eno added.

The governor expressed optimism that President Tinubu would consider their requests and work toward the development and progress of Akwa Ibom state.

President Bola Tinubu held a meeting with two governors from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State and Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Governor Eno emphasized the need to set politics aside and focus on governance now that the elections are over. He expressed his commitment to working with the federal government to ensure that the people of Akwa Ibom benefit from democracy.

Eno stated, “We came to visit with the President, to congratulate him on the election and his swearing-in and to pledge our support, our commitment, and our loyalty to the President and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Politics is over and governance has started. Akwa Ibom is an integral part of Nigeria, and we have to work with the federal government to ensure that Akwa Ibomites see the benefits of democracy.”

The governor discussed several areas where federal intervention is required, including the completion of the Calabar-Itu road, the development of the Ibom deep seaport, obtaining an export license, and establishing a free trade zone for Calabar airport. Eno highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships with the federal government to enhance the state’s aviation industry and bring in spare parts for aircraft maintenance.

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LG funds: FG floors govs as S’Court outlaws caretaker exco, joint accounts

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LG funds: FG floors govs as S’Court outlaws caretaker exco, joint accounts

The Federal Government on Thursday floored the 36 state governors at the Supreme Court as the apex court granted full financial autonomy to the 774 local governments in the country.

The seven-man panel in a unanimous decision outlawed the appointment of caretaker committees to administer the local governments by state governors.

The panel also declared that it was illegal and unconstitutional for governors to continue to receive or retain funds allocated to the local councils, under State and Local Government Joint Account.

The court delivered the landmark judgment in suit: SC/CV/343/2024, filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) against the 36 state governors.

The AGF had sued the state governors through their respective state attorneys-general.

By this development, the governors’ control of the 774 councils’ allocation has been halted.

An analysis of the monthly distribution document released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicates that the LGAs got N2.6tn allocations from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee between January and December 2023.

In the first five months of 2024, the local councils have also received N1.42tn.

Also, several states without elected local government officials may have their council allocation withheld.

The states include Rivers, Ondo, Osun and Plateau whose LGAs are being run by caretaker committees.

In the originating summons, the AGF prayed the court to order the direct allocation of funds from the federation account to the local governments.

He also sought an order prohibiting the unlawful dissolution of local government administration and the state governors’ appointment of caretaker committees to run the councils.

AGF’s case

The suit was hinged on 27 grounds that the constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, state and local government as three tiers of government.

All the governors opposed the suit. They urged the apex court to strike out the case for being grossly incompetent.

They claimed the AGF lacked the locus standi to institute the suit for the local governments.

In the lead judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court declared that the government was portioned into three tiers-federal, state and local governments.

The court further declared that a state government had no power to constitute a caretaker committee and that a local government council is only recognisable with a democratically elected government.

“A democratically elected local government is sacrosanct and non-negotiable,’’ the apex court declared, putting an end to the practice of appointing caretaker committees to run the councils by the state governors.

The court held that the use of a caretaker committee by the state governments to administer the local government violated the 1999 Constitution.

S’Court faults caretakers

The Supreme Court further held that the LGAs should be governed by a democratically elected government but “the states by the abuse of their power has worked against this law.”

The court declared that the 36 state governors had no power to dissolve democratically elected local government councils to replace them with caretaker committees.

“Such an act is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void,’’ Agim stated.

The apex court barred the state governors from receiving, retaining or spending the local government allocation.

It said the practice of receiving and retaining local government funds by the states had gone on for too long and that it was a clear violation of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The court held that the 1999 Constitution, as amended, states that any money leaving the federation account must be distributed to the three tiers of government.

It added the local government administrations should receive and manage funds meant for the local councils.

Agim declared, “I hold that the state’s retention of the local government funds is unconstitutional.

“Demands of justice require a progressive interpretation of the law. It is the position of this court that the federation can pay LGA allocations to the LGAs directly or pay them through the states.

READ ALSO  LG funds: FG floors govs as S’Court outlaws caretaker exco, joint accounts

“In this case, since paying them through states has not worked, justice of this case demands that LGA allocations from the federation account should henceforth be paid directly to the LGAs.”

Granting other reliefs sought by the Federal Government, the apex court affirmed “A declaration that the local government council funds must be paid to only democratically elected local government council. Anything other than this will be taken as a gross misconduct.”

Other reliefs granted include “a declaration that the state government has no power or control to keep the local government council money or funds.

“A declaration that the local government council is entitled to the local government allocation.’’

The Supreme Court also granted “An order of injunction restraining the defendants by themselves, agents or privies from spending local government allocation.

“A declaration that no state government should be paid any money meant for the local government; an immediate compliance to this judgement.”

Court faults govs

Earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed the preliminary objection of the state governors, describing it as frivolous.

The apex court held that as the chief law officer of the federation, the AGF has the right to sue in the public interest to protect and enforce public laws.

The court added that the AGF also has every right to file the suit as the subject matter of the suit is not speculative, noting that he also has the right to protect the Constitution and prevent any government features from going extinct.

“I hold that the plaintiff’s request is hereby approved and all the reliefs granted,’’ Agim stated.

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the National Union of Local Government Employees and others have lauded the judgement.

Welcoming the verdict, the President said it “Affirmed the spirit, intent, and purpose of (Nigeria’s) Constitution on the statutory rights of local governments.”

According to him, a fundamental challenge to the nation’s advancement over the years has been ineffective local government administration, as governance at the critical cellular level of socio-political configuration is nearly absent.

He stated this in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled ‘President Tinubu welcomes Supreme Court judgement affirming constitutional rights of local governments.‘

The President emphasised that the onus was on local council leaders to ensure that the broad spectrum of Nigerians living at that level were satisfied that they were benefitting from people-oriented service delivery.

He said, “The Renewed Hope Agenda is about the people of this country, at all levels, irrespective of faith, tribe, gender, political affiliation, or any other artificial line they say exists between us. This country belongs to all of us.

“By virtue of this judgement, our people – especially the poor – will be able to hold their local leaders to account for their actions and inactions. What is sent to local government accounts will be known, and services must now be provided without excuses.”

The President noted that Thursday’s judgement stands as “A resounding affirmation that we can use legitimate means of redress to restructure our country and restructure our economy to make Nigeria a better place to live in and a fairer society for all of our people.”

He said the provision of some essential amenities and public goods, such as the construction and maintenance of certain roads, streets, street lighting, drains, parks, gardens, open spaces, and other residual responsibilities, including community security, has tottered owing to the emasculation of the local governments.

Therefore, he affirmed that the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutional rights and ideals of local governments as regards financial autonomy, and other salient principles, is of historic significance and further reinforces the effort to enhance Nigeria’s true federal fabric for the development of the entire nation.

READ ALSO  PDP appeals federal high court Judgement nullifying party’s guber primary in Edo

The NLC and NULGE similarly commended the Supreme Court’s ruling on the LG autonomy.

The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement, described the verdict wresting the councils from the control of state governors as courageous.

The statement read, “For years, we watched with dismay and discontent the remorseless and mindless erosion of the powers of the local governments and had embarked on a series of national protests as workers.

“We also note the effort made by the (Muhammadu) Buhari administration to prise off the stranglehold of governors on local governments. We must also mention the commendable role on this matter by the 9th Assembly.

“This statement will not be complete without paying tribute to the Tinubu government for its presence of mind to institute this action at the Supreme Court. We specifically commend the President and the Attorney-General of the Federation.”

Speaking further, Ajaero argued that true freedom for the local governments must come from those who govern them.

“Should SIECS (State Independent Electoral Commission) be allowed to conduct elections or should INEC take over (even as they are over-burdened and are not exactly the best example)? Should there be a regulatory agency or commission with oversight over SIECs? We will find the devil in the details through a stakeholder conversation,” he added.

In a statement, the National President of NULGE, Hakeem Ambali, said the masses would be better for it, surmising that LG autonomy would reduce the nation’s problem by at least 50 per cent.

“It will reduce the infrastructural gap, and improve community security, and food security. LG will return us to good years of functional and well-run primary education systems and health centres.

“We also want to warn the political class that the local level. We don’t expect to see looting of resources at that level. There must be transparency and accountability at the local government level.’’

A former Chairman of the Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun State, Mr Wale Adedayo, hailed President Tinubu over the Supreme Court judgement.

Ex-chairman lauds Tinubu

Adedayo was impeached after alleging that Governor Dapo Abiodun diverted over N10.8bn meant for the 20 local governments in the state.

He had claimed that the 10 per cent of the state’s internally Generated Revenue, which the constitution also stipulated should go to the local government, had not been given to the councils since Abiodun got into office.

He was charged before an Abeokuta Magistrate Court for over the allegations against the governor.

The state government, however, denied the allegations, describing them as baseless and spurious, stating that the Abiodun administration had been augmenting the council funds.

Adedayo observed that the court order would reinforce the belief that the Tinubu-led administration was ready to deepen democracy.

The ex-council boss said, “For me, the current federal administration headed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appears ready to deepen the practice of democracy in Nigeria.

“Besides, it appears also that he is feeling the pain of our people at the grassroots and he wants them to have a feeling of good governance.

“The summary of my letter to former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, is what the Supreme Court just ruled on. But I was charged in court.

“My criminal trial initiated by Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, continues tomorrow (today) at the Abeokuta Chief Magistrate Court, Isabo.’’

Speaking further, he noted that Nigeria might never develop without an effective LGA system.

“Once these funds go directly to each local government, you’ll be amazed at the number of quality people vying for positions at the local government level,” he submitted.

READ ALSO  Rivers coalition warns against Fubara’s impeachment

The Niger State NULGE Chairman who doubles as the state NLC Chairman, Idrees Lafene, said, “We welcome the judgement, we are happy. This is what we have been fighting for, we welcome it.’’

The Niger State governor’s Special Adviser on Political Strategy, Nma Kolo said the government was still studying the judgement.

In a related development, the Supreme Court judgment is expected to stop the allocations to local governments and local council development areas being run by caretaker committees appointed by the governors.

While the LGAs in Rivers are managed by caretaker committees those in Ondo and Enugu states are headed by senior career officers.

In Osun State, 30 local government areas, 32 LCDAs, six Area councils and one administrative Office are run by caretaker committees appointed by Governor Ademola Adeleke.

Findings indicate that LGAs in Benue, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Plateau and Kwara states are under the administration of caretaker committees appointed by their governors.

In Enugu State, career officers with the designation of higher personnel managers, are in charge of the councils’ administration.

Checks show that Lagos and Osun top the list of states with LCDAs which were created by the state governors as part of the local government structures.

In Osun, besides the 30 LGA and the Ife East Area Office recognised by the constitution, the state also has 32 LCDAs, six area councils and one administrative office created by the Rauf Aregbesola administration.

Ekiti State has 22 LCDAs, while Ebonyi has 66 Development Centres, equivalent to LCDAs.

Morrison Quakers, SAN, said the constitution only recognised the 774 LGAs in the country.

He said, “We have 774 local governments constitutionally recognised, but recall that the Supreme Court had made a pronouncement sometime back when the then President withheld funds that were meant for LGs. So, that decision is still in place.

“But what the Supreme Court has now said is that the money that is meant for the local governments cannot even be given to or be spent by caretaker committees. So, that now laid this issue to rest.”

On his part, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, affirmed that only the recognised 774 local governments would receive money from the federation account.

He added that governors who wished to keep the LCDAs in their states must devise a means to sustain them.

Atiku backs judgment

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgement affirming fiscal autonomy for local government councils across Nigeria. In a statement released on Thursday via X, Atiku described the ruling as “A win for the people of Nigeria” and a step in the right direction.

He criticised the earlier arrangement, stating that it was borne out of “politics of hasty compromise.”

The Labour Party also commended the judgement of the Supreme Court.The party said that while the resolution of the crisis was late, it was better than never having such an end to the long due crisis where state governors take over funds disbursed for local government administration, from the federal coffer.

A statement by LP National Publicity Secretary, Obiorah Ifoh, read, “We at the Labour Party welcomed the Supreme Court decision granting financial autonomy to Local Government Councils in the 36 States of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory.

“This decision was long in coming but like the saying goes, it is better late than never.

“It has put to rest the debate as to whether or not local government areas that are the closest level of government to the ordinary people deserve to enjoy some form of autonomy to address challenges facing the masses within their jurisdiction.

“We can now safely say local government areas now have greater freedom to initiate and complete projects which will reduce suffering at the grass roots.”

 

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Rivers coalition warns against Fubara’s impeachment

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared that God has removed all obstacles against his administration.

A group, the Coalition of Rivers State Leaders of Thought, has called on the Martin Amaewhule-led House of Assembly to drop its plan to impeach Governor Siminalayi Fubara to avoid anarchy in the state.

The coalition said the recent actions of the 27 lawmakers loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, were capable of plunging the state into an unimaginable crisis.

The Appeal Court, on July 4, ruled that Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers in his faction remained members of the state House of Assembly, voiding the earlier High Court order which restrained the lawmakers.

Following the judgment, Amaewhule, while presiding over plenary on Monday, gave Fubara a seven-day ultimatum to re-present the 2024 Appropriation Bill before the House.

Responding on Wednesday, Fubara, while receiving on a solidarity visit, the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas, said Amaewhule and others were no longer members of the state Assembly.

He told his visitors that he would not present the 2024 budget again, adding that he had already initiated the 2025 budget which would focus on healthcare, education and agriculture.

The Convener of the Coalition, High Chief Sunnie Chukumele, however, warned the Amaewhule-led Assembly on Thursday, against inviting anarchy to the state.

While addressing a press conference in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Chukumele expressed worry that the political crisis in the state, rather than improving, had nose-dived to what it was before the intervention of President Bola Tinubu.

READ ALSO  Rivers coalition warns against Fubara’s impeachment

“We call on Martin Amaewhule and his colleagues to jettison the idea of impeaching the governor of the state.

“We advise them that the impacts of the consequences of their threats should only be imagined. Let Amaewhule and his colleagues not ignite a fire that they can never have the capacity to contain. They are inviting anarchy,” the group said.

He called on Tinubu to prevail on Wike, whom the leaders alleged was contributing to the tension in the state.

“Our son, the FCT Minister, can be said to be sufficiently linked to the unabating political crisis in his home state, Rivers State. The situation created in our dear state is unacceptable, and regrettable and has consequences of throwing the state into an irredeemable crisis of unimaginable proportions.

“We call on our son, the FCT Minister, once more to rein in his henchmen and foot soldiers in the political crisis in the state, particularly the recalcitrant wing of the state legislature loyal to him, and as well the immediate-past local government chairmen whose activities in the state are becoming felonious.

“On behalf of the entire people of Rivers State, home and abroad, we sternly call on the President, who our son, Nyesom Wike, is serving under in Abuja, to call him to order henceforth, and that we say enough is enough,” Chukumele said.

The coalition also called on the judiciary to apply wisdom on matters concerning Rivers brought before them, noting that public opinions on their management of matters emanating from the state were negative.

READ ALSO  PDP appeals federal high court Judgement nullifying party’s guber primary in Edo

“We also once again call out the judiciary to employ and apply extreme wisdom on matters concerning Rivers State brought before them. The public opinion on their management of matters emanating from Rivers State is negative.

“The National Judicial Council should, as a matter of urgency, save the image of the judiciary by also taking cognisance of impact assessment on matters the courts are handling concerning burning issues in Rivers State,” Chukumele said.

The coalition reiterated its support for the Fubara-led administration and urged the governor not to lose focus in the discharge of his constitutional mandate of delivering good governance for Rivers people.

Source: The Punch

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PDP appeals federal high court Judgement nullifying party’s guber primary in Edo

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National Chairman must come from North Central — PDP Youth

Chuks Okocha in AbujaThe Peoples Democratic Party, has approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja division, to appeal the Federal High Court judgment that invalidated the primaries that produced Asue Ighodalo as its gubernatorial candidate in the forthcoming 2024 governorship election in Edo State.

The appellant (PDP), in an appeal hinged on 25 grounds, asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the lower court delivered on July 4, 2024.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had declared the PDP primary election held on February 22 in Edo State as invalid.
Justice Ekwo held that the PDP did not comply with the relevant provisions of its constitution or the electoral guidelines for primary elections when it excluded 378 elected ward delegates from participating in the primary election.

PDP, in the appeal dated July 9, marked CA/ABJ/CV/2024 and filed by the National Legal Advise, lawyer Adeyemi Ajibade (SAN), said the decision of the trial court is against the weight of evidence.

The respondents in the appeal were Kelvin Mohammed, Gabriel Okoduwa, Ederaho Osagie (for themselves and on behalf of the 378 ad-hoc delegates), Independent National Electoral Commission, The National Secretary of the PDP, and The Vice Chairman, PDP South-South, as 1st to 6th respondents respectively.
PDP said in the appeal that, “The lower court erred in law when it granted reliefs 2, 3, and 4 sought by the 1st to 3rd respondents,” adding that, there was no basis for the trial court to have arrived at its decision.

READ ALSO  Rivers coalition warns against Fubara’s impeachment

It said on February 4, it conducted a three-man ad-hoc ward congress across the 18 local governments in Edo State, and the 1st to 3rd respondents did not participate and were not among the persons who emerged as elected delegates.

According to the PDP in the appeal, its candidate (Asue Ighodalo) was duly elected by the ad-hoc delegates who participated in its primary election.
PDP also said the court misapprehended their case as the lower court wrongly evaluated their evidence, saying, “The lower court judgement is unsupported in law.”
PDP insisted it did not breach any of the applicable laws and “the respondents’ relief two, being declaratory, ought to have been supported by cogent and compelling evidence.”
On these grounds, they sought the following reliefs: “An order allowing the appeal, an order setting aside the judgement of the lower court, and an order striking out or dismissing the entire suit for want of jurisdiction.”

Source: This Day

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Bill to create new state in south-east passes second reading at house of reps

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Bill to create new state in south-east passes second reading at house of reps

A bill seeking to create a new state in the south-east geopolitical zone has passed second reading at the house of representatives.

The proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by three lawmakers from the region — Amobi Ogah (Abia), Miriam Onuoha (Imo), Kama Nkemkama (Ebonyi), Chinwe Nnabuife (Anambra), and Anayo Onwuegbu (Enugu) — scaled a second reading during plenary on Thursday.

The lawmakers are proposing to alter the 1999 Constitution to create a new state from Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo.

The new state will be known as Etiti, with Lokpanta as its capital.

The state will have 11 LGAs: Aninri, Awgu, Isuikwuato, Ivo, Oji-River, Ohaozara, Okigwe, Onuimo, Orumba north, Orumba south, and Umu-Nneochi.

In his legislative brief, Ogah said the bill seeks to address a “longstanding” issue of regional parity and administrative efficiency within the south-east.

“The establishment of Etiti state is not just a matter of administrative convenience but a step towards ensuring balanced regional development and effective governance,” Ogah said.

“It responds to the aspirations of the people of a very important region to this country and aligns with the principles of equity and inclusivity enshrined in our democratic ideals.

“Suffice it to say that it is a long overdue step in the right direction to foster equitable representation, enhance governance efficiency, and promote socio-economic development within the region.”

The bill was voted for when it was put to a voice vote by Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house.

The bill was read for the first time on July 2.

READ ALSO  Rivers coalition warns against Fubara’s impeachment

On Thursday, the senate also introduced a bill seeking to create Tiga, a new state, from Kano.

LEGISLATIVE HURDLES

The national assembly is currently amending the 1999 Constitution.

In January, Benjamin Kalu, deputy speaker of the house of representatives, said work on the amendment of the constitution would be completed in December 2025.

Requirements for state creation and boundary adjustments are among the most challenging provisions in a constitutional amendment process.

Section 8(1) of the constitution stipulates that a new state can only be created if it is supported by “at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new state) in each of the following, namely — “(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives. (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area”.

“(iii) And the local government councils in respect of the area is received by the National Assembly; (b) a proposal for the creation of the State is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for the creation of the state originated.

“(c) The result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the states of the Federation, supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly.

“(d) The proposal is approved by a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of members of each House of the National Assembly.”

No state has been created since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.

 

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Appeal Court upholds APC’s Ododo’s election as Kogi governor

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Appeal Court upholds APC’s Ododo’s election as Kogi governor

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has upheld the election of Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the governor of Kogi state.

In a judgment on Thursday, July 11, a panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Muritala Ajaka, and his party on the grounds that it is unmeritorious.

The Court of Appeal, which resolved all the four issues, identified for determination, against the appellants, held that the appellant failed to prove allegations of over-voting, and certificate forgery, among others.

Source: The Nation

READ ALSO  PDP appeals federal high court Judgement nullifying party’s guber primary in Edo
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We’ve started preparing our 2025 budget — Gov. Fubara

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Rivers State Executive Council has approved N74.9bn for various contracts in the state out of which N19.5bn will be used to reconstruct

Rivers State governor, Sir Simi­nalayi Fubara, has said that his administration has started the process of preparing for the 2025 budget, just as he insisted that the legislative seats of Martin Amae­whule and his co-travellers that were declared vacant on Decem­ber 13, 2023, will remain so.

The governor stated that they are truly gone and will eventually return home because they desired it to be so when they defected from the Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), the platform on which they won their election, to the All Progressives Congress (APC), voluntarily.

Governor Fubara spoke when he received on solidarity visit the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma local government areas led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex so­cio-cultural organisation of Etche ethnic nationality worldwide, at Government House in Port Har­court on Wednesday.

The governor, who dismissed their recent ranting as noise mak­ing from delusional folks, urged the 25 former lawmakers to wake up from their slumber to see the ship of governance in the state sailing on smoothly.

Governor Fubara also said that his administration has start­ed preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.

He said, “Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very spe­cial and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address. Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.

READ ALSO  PDP appeals federal high court Judgement nullifying party’s guber primary in Edo

“I wanted to help them, sin­cerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are peo­ple that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rents. So, I wanted to help them.

“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed! They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them be­cause we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said.”

Governor Fubara stated: “But, they thought they are smart. What is holding them is the dec­laration of their seats vacant that was done on December 13, 2023. That is what is holding them. We are not doing any budget to nul­lify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.

“For me, as I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and ag­riculture.”

Governor Fubara explained that the three priority areas that the 2025 budget will focus on would ensure that even if more roads will be constructed, empha­sis would be placed on providing quality healthcare services to keep the people healthy.

“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have stan­dard. We need to go to good health facilities owned by government and get standard healthcare ser­vices.

READ ALSO  Rivers coalition warns against Fubara’s impeachment

“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our think­ing.

“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they wouldn’t have time to be in­volved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our state,” he added.

Governor Fubara reiterated that his administration is not fighting anybody, and will contin­ue to show appreciation to those who have contributed to the good fortunes that he has received in life.

The governor, however, clari­fied that in being loyal, it does not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion, and what is right, which is why he will not be a gov­ernor forced on his knees to stair the affairs of the state.

He added, “I want to assure you one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But we are not going to rule (govern) this state on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.

“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfort­ably because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in the state and even my own generation.

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“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of truth. So, let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit.

“We want to assure you that we recognise all ethnic groups, and we are not here because of any particular group. We are here and standing for Rivers State. Our greatest support has come, not from my own people (Opobo), but from all of you.”

Governor Fubara urged the people of Etche nation to sustain their support for his administra­tion because its vision is clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.

In his speech, Oyeisi Etche, His Eminence, Eze Emmanuel Opurum, said Etche and Omu­ma people will continue to give full support to Governor Fubara and ensure that his administra­tion succeeds.

Eze Opurum, who also said that the political crisis in Rivers State is an ill wind that will do no good to anybody, called on governors of the 36 states of the federation to quickly summon a meeting to collectively find a last­ing solution to the crisis, which should be communicated to Pres­ident Bola Tinubu and eventually enforced.

On his part, the President Gen­eral of Ogbakor Etche Worldwide, Sir Charles Nwonuala, said the Etche people, who share in the travails, joy and the many victo­ries of Governor Fubara, came to pledge their unalloyed support, confidence and faith in him and his administration.

 

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