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ATIKU: Niger-Delta Can Have 100% Of Oil Revenues

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said he is willing to let Nigeria’s oil producing states have absolute control of crude oil revenues from their domains, but added he is reluctant to immediately implement such policies at this stage of national development.

The PDP candidate told The Africa Report that federating units once had considerable control of their resources, unlike the current federal laws that only allow 13 percent derivation for states in the Niger-Delta, where Nigeria’s sweet crude is extracted.

Although Mr Abubakar acknowledged the appropriate sharing formula might be difficult to say at this point — suggesting it would depend on ‘negotiations’— he recommended a limited role for the federal government in appropriating crude revenues.

Nigerian states “can get more because in the First Republic the regions had 50/50,” Mr Abubakar told The Africa Report in an interview published Wednesday. “I don’t mind giving even 100% […], but I would tax those states to maintain the federal government.”

But the former vice president recognised this is “not advisable at this stage of our development.”

“Even during the First Republic there was this derivation sharing between revenues and resources, or between the regions and the federal government. So I think we could have a middle course. It would be unfair to ask me for specifics; that will depend on negotiations,” he added.

Of all the presidential candidates for the 2019 election, Mr Abubakar has emerged the most vocal advocate of restructuring, an ideological standpoint that canvasses more powers for states at the expense of the central government.

He believes Nigeria’s subsisting Constitution, which recommends a federal system but implements a unitary one, should be urgently reviewed and replaced with a sovereign document that would engender a more peaceful and economically viable nation.

Oil revenues still account for over 80 percent of the Nigerian government’s revenues as of 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, despite efforts towards economic diversification.

In the face of a floundering agriculture and services sector, reducing the federal government’s share of oil revenues to only taxes paid by about nine oil-producing states could be difficult to achieve soon.

“It is a good thing that the former vice president said he cannot go ahead with giving the Niger-Delta total control of oil income right now,” Busola Odukoya, an economist, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning.

“The only problem here is that it could cause some people in the region to resume violent agitation for resource control, especially if Mr Abubakar is elected.”

Ms Odukoya said it would be difficult to predict any negotiation that would result in allocating up to or more than 50 per cent of crude earnings to the states.

“Apart from the offshore oil revenues which the government in Abuja can easily control, the crude lifting within states’ borders in the Niger-Delta cannot be shared even 50/50 with the centre,” the economist said. “The negative impact on some states in the northern or central parts of the country can only be left to imagination.”

“You have to allow decades of regular economic growth, some of which I have seen the candidates talk about this year, before you can be thinking of cutting oil revenues from federal government,” she added.

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BREAKING: Arrested PDP thugs moved to Police Headquarters Abuja

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Some hoodlums who were hired by PDP chieftains to unleash mayhem during last Saturday botched Presidential and National Assembly elections have been moved to the Police Headquarters in Abuja for interrogation.

This is as the sponsors of the violence may have gone underground to evade Police arrest even as the Police have vowed to redouble their efforts and track them down and arrest them to explain their roles in the burning of vehicles which conveyed electoral officials and materials.

Top Police sources said three key members of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration in Akwa Ibom State, have been linked to the mayhem that was visited on the people of Obot Akara Local Government Area of the state on the eve of the rescheduled presidential election.

According to confessional statements made to the Police by some of the  thugs at the Police Area Command in Ikot Ekpene on Saturday, the hoodlums have indicted three top officials who are wanted to shed more light on their roles in sponsoring militants.

The mayhem, which left four people dead and vehicles completely burnt on the eve of the rescheduled presidential election in the council was carried out by hoodlums imported into the state by three top officials who are indigenes of the senatorial district.

The Police in Akwa Ibom state had arrested over 400 thugs and militants imported into the state by chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party to assist them in ballot box snatching and intimidation of voters.

Parading the suspects at the Police Area Command in Ikot Ekpene, a Police man who pleaded not to be named, disclosed to newsmen that the hoodlums were rounded up at Nto Ndang, Obot Akara after they got hint of their activities at the INEC office.

The Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu is said to have ordered a crack down on perpetrators of election violence and their sponsors. We gathered that those arrested with arms would be treated as terrorists and would be eventually arraigned in court.

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House Okays N30,000 as New Minimum Wage

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The House of Representatives has finally approved N30, 000 as the New national Minimum Wage.

President Muhammadu Buhari had sent a N27, 000 minimum wage bill to the National Assembly last week Thursday.

But the lawmakers adopted the report by the ad-hoc committee set up on the New Minimum Wage Bill which held a public hearing Monday and presented the report to the National Assembly.

The bill has already been passed for the third reading.

The lawmakers were unanimously in support of the adoption of the N30, 000 recommendation by the committee, which labour leaders insisted was approved by the tripartite committee set up by the President.

Details later….

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Governors express concern over increase in arms ahead of elections

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has expressed concerns over the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the country ahead of the February 16 general election.

The Chairman of the forum and governor of Zamfara state, Abdul’aziz Yari, said the governors were also alarmed over the spate of kidnapping across the country.

Addressing journalists at the end of an emergency meeting held with the Office of the National Security Adviser and head of security agencies on Tuesday in Abuja, Yari said the governors have recommended a stronger collaboration and intelligence sharing amongst security agencies to ensure that lives and properties are protected.

According to him, the governors have further resolved to collaborate with security agencies to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible.

He said: “Governors as major stakeholders, they seek our cooperation so that their job would be easier. We promised to do our best and ensure the election is free and credible. Not only that, we came through the ballot box and we are going through the same process to seek reelection and make sure that the election is free and is commended by the international community as they did in 2015.”

Yari further absolved the presidency of the allegation that the present administration was planning to rig the election saying the president has promised that he is not taking the “election in any way as do or die”.

While speaking, the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu reassured Nigerians of a violence-free poll.

He assured further that the security agencies are ready for the election and would ensure that they mop up illegal arms in the system while saying the neutrality of the police shouldn’t be in doubt.

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Atiku writes UK, US others over Onnoghen’s suspension

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The opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential Candidate and former Vice president of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar has petitioned the United Kingdom, United State of America, France and Germany over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Nigeria’s chief justice.

“I have chosen to write this letter to Your Excellency for the enviable role that your country plays as champion of Democracy and the Rule of Law,” Abubakar wrote in the letter on Tuesday.

“As a Presidential Candidate in the forthcoming General Elections that will be conducted and supervised by the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

“I feel the urgent need to share with you some of these key violations of the provisions of our constitution and to demand that you pile pressure on the Federal Government to desist from these violations and ensure a level playing field for the General Elections that are only a couple of weeks away.

Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari on Friday swore in Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed as the new acting Chief Justice of Nigeria to replace embattled Onnoghen.

His swearing-in followed Onnoghen’s suspension by the president, who acted based on an order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Onnoghen is facing a six-count charge of non-declaration of assets when he became the chief justice of Nigeria. Buhari said the allegations against Onnoghen were “grievous enough”.

Onnoghen’s suspension sparked reactions from Nigerians including the U.S. and Uk government

Uk noted that the “timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern.”

“It risks affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of the forthcoming elections,” the statement read.

“We, along with other members of the international community, are following developments closely,” the statement read.

While the United State, on the other hand, said it “is deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.”

“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of the government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent, and peaceful.”

The Nigerian government said the reactions of the two countries were hasty.

The government said it would welcome partnerships for successful 2019 general elections but would not condone unfair interference in matters that are specifically internal.

“Nigeria reserves the right to be insulated from suggestions and or interference with respect to wholly internal affairs and commends international laws, customs and norms that mandate and require nations and the comity to respect this prerogative to all,”  presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday.

“Nigeria is confident of its electoral processes and her preparation for the imminent elections and the federal government has supported the independent electoral umpire in both its independence and resources needed to accomplish our desire and insistence on free and fair elections,” he added

But the former Vice president in his letter insisted that the “attempt to muscle out the Chief Justice of Nigeria using phoney charges at a time when His Lordship was primed to play a central role in the fast-approaching nationwide electoral process represents the boldest steps in the march to undermine our democracy,”

“This is undoubtedly an anti-democratic act which my political Party and I reject without reservation and for which I urge Your Excellency to condemn unequivocally,” he added

Abubakar affirmed that the “brazen authoritarian and imperious stride of the President Buhari is the latest action in a series of carefully planned onslaught on our nation’s hard-earned democracy by an extremely power hungry and anxious President and the cabal that feeds fat around him as February 16, 2019, draws nearer.”

Nigerians will be heading to poll less than a month from now to vote in a new president.

Buhari is seeking re-election with Abubakar mounting a strong challenge.

Abubakar, a former vice president during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration from 1999 till 2007, is contesting the office of the president for the fourth time.

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