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Mambilla: We Won’t Encourage White Elephant Projects, China tells FG

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Zhou Pingjian, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, has said his country will not support white elephant projects.

The ambassador made this comment on Thursday when he received Saleh Mamman, the minister of power, and Suleiman Adamu, the minister of water resources, and Jedy Goddy-Agba, the minister of state for power.

At the meeting, the ministers assured Pingjian that the federal government is committed to the actualisation of Mambilla power project which was conceived 40 years ago.

According to a statement released on Thursday by Aaron Artimas, the minister’s special assistant on media and communication, Mamman said the federal government is working to remove any impediment that could pose a threat to the delivery of the project.

He urged the Chinese diplomat to impress on China EXIM Bank to expedite action and ensure that the loan meant for the project is released for work to commence.

He insisted that the Chinese government had enough influence to impress on EXIM Bank to hasten the process as the project could not be frustrated by any arbitration.

Adamu said an environmental impact assessment on the project is being carried out and a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Taraba state government as compensation to landowners that would be affected by the project.

On the release of an interim fund of $200 millions by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Agency, Adamu said that the ministry of justice is already working on a comfort letter to the China EXIM Bank.

Adamu explained that although arbitration is ongoing with a previous investor on the project, the government is willing to indemnify any funds agreed after the arbitration without affecting the loan agreement with EXIM Bank.

In his response, Pingjian made it clear that his country would not encourage white elephant projects.

He advised the ministers to promote direct participation of the Chinese government or companies in some of its projects so as to reduce much borrowing and facilitate easier execution of projects.

Pingjian said that although the Chinese government would not push the Eximbank, it would try its best to impress on it to meet its commitments.

The construction of the 3, 050 megawatts power plant is estimated to cost $5.72 billion with the Nigerian government providing 15% as counterpart funding.

The Chinese government is expected to provide the rest in the form of loans.

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Don’t Shrink the Democratic Space, Atiku Warns Promoters of Anti-Hate Speech Bill

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Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says the new bill to criminalise hate speech is backed by “those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the bill breaches Nigerians’ right to freedom of information.

The senate had reintroduced the bill seeking to establish a commission for the prohibition hate speech in the country on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation, which has passed first reading, comes a week after the upper legislative chamber introduced a bill to regulate social media.

In a statement from Paul Ibe, his spokesman, Atiku urged lawmakers to channel their energy to seeking solutions to Nigeria’s numerous challenges rather than “this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious.”

“The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech,” he said in the statement shared with TheCable.

“Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms.

“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.”

He said freedom of speech is not only guaranteed by Nigeria’s constitution but is also “a divine right given to all men by their Creator.”

He added that Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns including being the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as “the global epicentre of out-of-school children.”

“Again, Atiku cautions that we must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians,” the statement added.

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Edo APC LG Chairmen Ask Party’s National Leadership To Expel Obaseki

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The 18 Local Government Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State have called on the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to expel the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, from the party.

They made the call on Tuesday in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman of the body and Etsako West Chairman, Ibrahim Akokia, as well as his Etsako Central and Owan West counterparts, Suleiman Bagudu and Lugard Alukpe respectively.

This comes as the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party deepens, following the suspension of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by the party’s leadership in Edo State.

The state leadership had explained in a statement issued earlier that Oshiomhole was suspended following the vote of no confidence passed on him by the APC LG chairmen.

The LG chairmen, however, distanced themselves from the said suspension of the APC national chairman, saying the claim of passing a vote of no confidence on Oshiomhole was not true.

On the contrary, they accused Governor Obaseki of harassment and intimidation, adding his actions could pull down the APC in the state.

“He is on a mission to destroy APC in Edo State but we will resist it,” they said.

The chairmen added, “We are the chairmen of the party in the 18 LGA s and we are not aware of the meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on the national chairman of our party, Comrade Oshiomhole who is doing very well.

“Rather we are aware that majority of the chairmen haven suffered intimidation, harassment and assault in the hands of the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration, what we have never seen in the politics of our dear state.”

The chairmen, thereafter, passed a vote of no confidence on Governor Obaseki and the embattled state chairman of the party, Anslem Ojezua.

They alleged that both men have not only failed the party but the people of the state, adding that they have been involved in anti-party activities and lacked the moral rights to remain in the APC.

“Oshiomhole remains our leader and we pass vote of confidence on his leadership.

“It is sad that the governor and his cohorts are using money to induce our members but majority of them, we are happy, have resisted his moves to intimidate them,” the LG chairmen alleged.

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Edo APC Suspends National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole

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The crisis in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a new twist with the suspension of the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

The decision followed the vote of no confidence reportedly passed on Mr Oshiomhole on Tuesday by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

A statement jointly signed by the APC Chairman and Assistant Secretary in Edo, Anselm Ojezua and Ikuenobe Anthony, respectively explained that Oshiomhole was suspended for his alleged role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.

“Consequent on the development, the State Executive Committee has adopted the vote of no confidence passed on him and the subsisting suspension order from the organs of the party in the state.

“The vote of no confidence on Oshiomhole and the suspension are the fallout of his role in trying to disintegrate the party in Edo State,” it said.

The state party chieftains stressed that the suspension was necessary to prevent a repeat of what happened in Zamfara State, where the APC was unable to field any candidate in 2019 general elections.

The statement added, “Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the one behind the crisis in Edo APC. We have passed a vote of no confidence in him and he stands suspended from the party.

“We don’t want what happened in Zamfara State or other parts of the country to happen in Edo State.”

In another statement jointly signed by the Chairman of the body and Etsako West Chairman, Ibrahim Akokia, as well as his Etsako Central and Owan West counterparts, Suleiman Bagudu and Lugard Alukpe respectively, the 18 LGA Chairmen of APC in Edo distanced themselves from Oshiomhole’s suspension.

They insisted that they were not aware of such a meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on Oshiomhole who they said was “doing very well”.

On the contrary, they accused the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, of harassment and intimidation, adding that his actions could pull down the APC in the state.

They, therefore, called on the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to expel Governor Obaseki from the party over allegations of anti-party activities.

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