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Jonathan’s minister stole $6bn oil fund –Oshiomhole

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Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday stirred another controversy as he accused a former minister in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan of stealing about $6 billion of oil funds. Oshiomhole, who was a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to the United States last week, said US officials gave the information to the Nigerian delegation during the trip. But the governor, who has been locked in a raging war of words with former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over the management of the nation’s resources by the last administration, did not identify who was the “thieving” minister. Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting with the president, Oshiomhole expressed delight that Nigeria now has a president who talks with confidence unlike “a president that is blabbing and is not sure of what the issues are.”

Reacting to criticism from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the president’s visit to Washington, Oshiomhole said he did not expect the opposition party to be praising a government doing better than it did while the opposition party was in government. Oshiomhole said so bad was the situation under Jonathan that members of the Buhari delegation were told in the US how the former minister stole $6 billion. He said the PDP succeeded in supervising Nigeria’s liquidation. “The PDP destroyed the country. Senior officials of the State Department said one minister under PDP cornered as much as $6 billion in oil fund,” he added.

Oshiomhole, who visited the president alongside his Kebbi State counterpart, Senator Atiku Bagudu, also spoke on the leadership crisis in the National Assembly. He said the crisis would soon be over as the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other stakeholders were making efforts to resolve the power tussle. Oshiomhole and Bagudu were chosen by the APC leadership to mediate in the leadership crisis rocking the Senate as a result of the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate president against the party’s choice, Senator Ahmed Lawan.

Oshiomhole said after meeting with the warring senators on Sunday, he and Bagudu decided to brief the president on the outcome of their meetings ahead of the Senate resumption today. He said with the emergence of the principal officers of the Senate, their intervention was just to ensure that there would be an all-inclusive leadership in the National Assembly.

“I feel the position now is: how do you ensure that having elected this two (Senate president and his deputy), that the remaining positions that are within the discretion of the APC caucus in the Senate are distributed in a way as to give the other group that were shut out of the process a sense of belonging? “We are convinced that a winner-takes-all approach in this case won’t work and building peace is making concession and power works better when it acknowledges that even the person who is powerless has a right to exist. “My brother (Bagudu) and I spent some time with the senators last night (Sunday) and we had what I think was a useful conversation.

We have come today to report to the president what transpired at the meeting and make few suggestions to him and I think for me there is light, as they say, at the end of the tunnel. “One thing is clear, we are all APC family; we are all committed to change. We recognise that there are few issues; people may not be comfortable, but we have what it takes to resolve the issues so that in the National Assembly we will have an APC Senate caucus that is united, that is ready to support the change agenda as the president is committed to and work along with PDP. “Nobody is suggesting that we shouldn’t work with PDP.

PDP exists in the House, just as APC had existed in the House under the PDP government. So, at some point there has to be a way to engage bipartisan. So, that is basically why we are here,” Oshiomhole said. Shedding more light on their discussion with the president, Bagudu said the issue at stake was not about what should be done or what should be left undone. The governor said the important thing was that the APC caucus members in the Senate were desirous of evolving a solution that would bring inclusiveness so that the Senate to make it serve the interest of Nigeria as promised by APC.

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Dangote’s wealth surges by $1.3 Billion in three weeks, nears Senegal’s GDP

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Aliko Dangote recorded a boost of as much as $1.3 billion in his fortune in the year to January 21, a period that was a blessing to investment for shareholders of his cement firm, Dangote Cement Plc.

At $20.4 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index on Friday, the wealth of Africa’s richest man now approaches the value of the economy of the entire nation of Senegal, which the World Bank estimates to have a gross domestic product of $24.9 billion.

Dangote owes the latest rise in its fortune to the execution of the second tranche of the share buyback of his cement firm this week, which investors are betting will lift the valuation of the company further.

Dangote Cement has so far yielded 11 per cent since the turn of the year, firming up its reputation as Nigeria’s biggest company by market value at a market capitalisation of N4.9 trillion as of Friday.

It contributes roughly half of Dangote’s wealth, reaching its peak level of N265.7 per share since 2010 on Friday.

The mogul, Bloomberg reported, is among the 35 billionaires of the top 100 in the world that recorded an increase in their wealth in January. The most phenomenal advance was the jump by $13 billion to $89.5 billion in the riches of India’s most affluent man, Gautam Adani.

Dangote’s wealth is on course to see a much greater boost later in 2022 when his $19 billion petroleum refinery project is expected to be delivered.

The 650,000 barrels per day capacity refinery is said to be the largest single-train refinery in the world and is located on a vast expanse of land, about six times the size of Victoria Island.

The refinery is expected to wean Nigeria off its almost absolute dependence on imported fuel and transform it into a net exporter, helping the government to conserve scarce forex.

Dangote’s investment ambition knows no bounds, and the industrialist has told the Financial Times his intention to buy an English football club when his refinery project is done and dusted. David Pilling, the Financial Times journalist who interviewed him on the subject in 2018, said Dangote talked of buying Arsenal “as though discussing (buying) the latest model of iPhone.”

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Herdsmen from Libya, Mali, others still killing people in Benue- Governor Ortom

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Cabals have taken over Nigeria – Gov Ortom raises alarm

Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom has raised the alarm that herdsmen from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal were still maiming and killing the peace-loving people of his state.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush terrorists across the nation before he hands over power in 2023.

Buhari’s reassurance is coming as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called on governments at all levels to take urgent steps to stem the menace of anti-social and criminal acts going on in schools nationwide.

Also as part of the efforts to tackle banditry, the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), maintaining peace in Plateau and parts of Kaduna and Bauchi states, has trained 103 youths on armed combat and intelligence gathering.

Speaking on ARISE NEWS Channel, Ortom however, disclosed that the strict enforcement of the state’s 2017 Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law has reduced the level of insecurity, pointing out that herdsmen now comply with the provisions of the law.

The state government had enacted the anti-open grazing law on May 22, 2017, to curb the nefarious activities of herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifles about the state, maiming peasant farmers, killing them and taking over their parcels of land.

But following the failure of the law to deter herdsmen from destroying farmlands and killing farmers, the Benue State House of Assembly amended the law, which was signed by the governor on Thursday with stiffer penalties against violators.

Speaking on the amended legislation, Ortom acknowledged that all “is going well with the enforcement of the law except for the notorious criminal elements of Fulani herdsmen, who came from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal.”

Ortom noted that the intention of the criminal elements “is not for grazing or doing cattle business, but to send people away and take over their land.

“Currently, as I talk to you, those people who come around with AK-47 rifles, AK-49 rifles and other associated sophisticated weapons are not just here with cattle. These notorious elements come to kill or maim our people.”

The governor cited the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who attempted to return to their homes and continue with their farming activities, but were attacked, maimed and killed.

He lamented that the activities of the notorious criminal elements “are part of the reasons we have still over 1.5 million IDPs in our camps across the state.

“The children, who are not going to schools, are not happy. The old men, who are forced to stay in these camps, are not happy. The camps we established here are not even standard. Sometimes, the camps are sited in the school environment.

“The one close to a standard camp is what we have in Makurdi here. The General Theophilus Danjuma Committee constructed it to rehabilitate people. No person wants to live in this camp. But they are forced to live there.

“They want to go back. I am ready to provide logistics for them so that they can go back. But those who attempted to go back were maimed, killed and raped. These terrorist Fulani herdsmen amputated women’s hands.

“The security personnel posted to Benue State have also done their best. But over 100 of them have been killed since 2017. If security personnel, who were trained with sophisticated weapons, were killed, what do you expect averaged farmers, who were displaced and in distress, to go back and do?”

The governor, thus, commended all security agencies including Operation Whirl Stroke, the Army, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the agro rangers for working hard to ensure compliance with the anti-open grazing law and maintaining relative stability in the state.

The governor disputed claims that the legislation “is targeted at Fulani herdsmen in the state. This amendment came as a result of those who felt they have enough money to pay fines or demurrages.

“The issue of the cattle business, as it is today in Nigeria, is not just being done because they have collected enough money. So, they are always ready to pay those meagre sums,” noting that the Tiv, the Igede and the Idoma are equally affected.

Within five years that it had been experimented, Ortom clarified that the law “is not targeted at Fulani herdsmen, Hausa, Jukun or Igbo. It is targeted at every person, including the indigenous people of Benue State.”

He noted that the state’s livestock guards have done well by arresting over 50,000 heads of cattle, while over 600 people were arrested for carrying out open grazing.

“These include the Fulanis, the Hausas, the Tiv, the Idoma and the Igede,” he added.

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Lagos declares end of COVID-19 fourth wave

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The fourth wave of COVID-19 is over in Lagos, the state government has said.

Commissioner for Health in the state, Prof Akin Abayomi, said that consistent decrease in COVID-19 case positivity was an indication of the end of the fourth wave in the state.

Abayomi in an update on his Twitter account said there was a reduction in positivity rates of COVID-19 infection from 29.3 per cent recorded on December 21, 2021, to 1.9 per cent on January  20, 2022.

He put bed capacity utilisation at only two percent and fatality rate at 0.71 per cent.

But the commissioner asked Lagosians to get vaccinated and continue to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions to further reduce the spread of the virus.  

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