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Outburst Over Fuel Price Increase Understandable But Misplaced, Says NNPC GMD

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The Group Marketing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, has dismissed the criticism that followed the recent fuel price increase.

“The outburst is very understandable but I also believe very strongly that it is misplaced because Nigerians are not aware of the opportunities lost,” he said during an interview on Wednesday.

According to Kyari, the issue of subsidy has been a big issue in the country for many years but the government can no longer afford it because of the economic issues facing the country.

“And not only that, every corruption that you are aware of in the downstream industry is one way or the other connected to fuel subsidy,” the NNPC boss added.

Kyari is the latest government official to defend the decision to fully halt subsidy, a decision that saw the price of fuel surge from N48/litre to N60-61/litre drawing criticism from organised labour, the opposition and many Nigerians.

But the NNPC boss insists it is the right decision.

“It requires courage to make this decision, I can share this with you. Only a Buhari regime can make this decision,” he said, insisting the move would pay off in the long run.

According to the NNPC boss, contrary to what most people believe, subsidy is something that is beneficial only to the rich, not the average man.

“The subsidy in itself, is by every means an elitist thing and I can share this with you. It is only the elite that will have three, four, five cars in their houses, fill their tanks and also feel comfortable doing this.

“The ordinary man is not the beneficiary. First, he loses in infrastructure, hospitals are not built, schools are not built and ultimately, the brunt of the corruption in the downstream sector will be transferred to the ordinary man. So, overall, you lose everything.

“It is very understandable for people to get angry that prices have gone up. Just like the prices of every commodity, when it goes up, there can be difficulties and challenges that people will naturally face but once prices go up, the other natural thing that must happen is that your income needs to increase so that you are able to procure the things that are now delivered at higher prices.

“You can’t do this anywhere in the world if there is no productivity.

“And there will be no productivity except there is growth in infrastructural development, industries are able to work, therefore, there is a connection between production and consumption. What subsidy does is to remove that connection.

“When people get angry, this is coming from people who, practically are not aware of this situation and they are not aware of the loss that they have and most importantly they are being engineered into making those statements, and we understand this perfectly.

“We are the national oil company, it’s our role to ensure energy security. But you can’t do this until you are able to deliver cost. And that cost is lost daily as prices of crude oil goes up and you are unable to do many things”.

Plans for refineries
On the state of the nation’s refinery, Mr Kyari explained that plans are on the way to rehabilitate the four major refineries to maximum capacity.

According to him, this plan is expected to place Nigeria as the world’s biggest exporter of oil in the next three years.

Fuel price was increased on Wednesday last week for the second time this year after being reduced to N123.50 in April as coronavirus-induced lockdowns crashed global oil prices.

As economies across the world reopened and the price bounced back, the retail price in Nigeria shot back up to N148 in August before the latest increase.

Although the increase in fuel price has sparked outrage with various groups holding nationwide protests across the country, the Federal Government has stood by its decision.

On Tuesday, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) said it was no longer going to be releasing price bands for the sale of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS/petrol) at filling stations.

The agency reiterated that the price will now be fully based on the forces of demand and supply.

“It is based on bargain power,” the General Manager (Admin and Human Resources) of the PPPRA, Victor Shidok, said. “It is based on where you source your products.”

However, he noted that the government will ensure customers are protected from price-gouging and other ills associated with free markets.

“You could have a regulator that always stand and remain a watchdog to see how these forces are being played out, how the interest if both operators and consumers are being taken care of,” he said.

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Bandits Lay Siege To Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Jaji

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Some criminals, suspected to be bandits, are currently laying siege around the premises of Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) located in Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Their mission, according to some locals in the community who spoke to our correspondent during a telephone conversation, was to abduct some staff of the college and the communities around the area.

This is coming in less than two months after bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Mando, also in Kaduna and kidnapped no fewer than 39 students.

AFCSC is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy.

A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Adamu, told Daily Trust via telephone that the bandits have always surrounded the institution while terrorising the communities around the college.

“It is only Allah that has been saving us. They (bandits) have always rustled cows in our communities. Military operatives do engage them in gun battle anytime they come around, that is why we don’t have major casualties yet,” Adamu said.

The Commandant of the college, Air Marshal Olayinka Alade, confirmed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Army Headquarters to brief Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, on the development and other issues in the institution.

Alade said the institution has decided to launch impromptu searching and clearance operations in some communities where the bandits are operating around the college having informed General Officer Commanding 1 Division.

“There are some communities around the school that have developed and because it is like part of the college, maybe they are hiding under that cover, so some bandits are there. Because of that, there is collaboration with other institution’s heads in the college. Constantly, we try to conduct an impromptu searching. We conduct search and patrol from time to time.

“What we discovered now is that, not too far ahead, some communities… it is like all these bandits have made all that place their aim, so I discussed with GOC 1 Div. From time to time, we need to carry out clearance operations,” the AFCSC Commandant said.

The Commandant further disclosed that the bandits rustled some cows behind the college on Tuesday, April 13 – a development that led to gun duel between them and the military operatives.

He, however, did not disclose whether there was any casualty, noting that he came to brief the COAS so as not to be surprised if he hears anything subsequently.

According to him, “In fact, yesterday (Tuesday), I was told that some bandits came to come and rustle some cows just behind us. There was an exercise that was carried out by the NACI. They actually encountered these bandits, they had to exchange fire during the exercise.

“Those are the things we’re trying to ensure that we are not surprised if they have come that close, then, we need to sit tight and ensure we clear that place.”

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$1bn Arms Procurement: Clear Your Name Now, Coalition Charges Defence Minister

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The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) has called on the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, to clear his name from the controversial purchase of security equipment.

The group noted that Magashi must explain how his ministry expended the $1billion approved by the Federal Government in April 2018.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, national coordinator, Timothy Charles, described the minister’s silence as “unholy” and an “embarrassment” to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Charles said the group is alarmed that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim is carrying out acts to shield the minister.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice, therefore, advised the COAS to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

The group also urged all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the minister comes out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.

While absorbing the former service chiefs of any involvement, the Coalition for Truth and Justice added that Magashi must come clean for Nigerians to take the FG more seriously in its quest to address the security challenges in the country.

Read the full statement below:

The Coalition for Truth and Justice, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria dedicated to the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria, welcomes you all to this important press conference that is intended to address some of the pertinent issues that have surrounded the $1 billion released for the purchase of arms in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities across the country.

We must agree that these issues are of great importance to the well-being of the country at large, given the country’s security challenges in recent times as well as the government’s efforts in addressing these challenges.

It is common knowledge that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had in April 2018 approved the release of $1 billion to Nigerian Defence authorities for the purchase of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.

Thus, it is pertinent to state that since the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, arms purchases have been domiciled with the Ministry of Defence and not individual services as erroneously projected in the public space.

It is also succinct to state that the Honorable Minister of Defence, who is in charge of the Ministry of Defence, should provide answers to questions surrounding arms purchase in the country. It is thus despicable that there has been some well-orchestrated attempt by some vested interest to divert attention from the Minister of Defence.

We are constrained to add that the statement credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, during his appearance before the House of Representatives is diversionary and an indication that he is carrying out the whims and caprices of the Honorable Minister of Defence.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice views the recent happenings as a sad development in the sense that as a high ranking officer of the Nigerian Army and one who is conversant with the operational procedures in the Nigerian Military would elect to feign ignorance to an issue as sensitive as arms purchase in the prosecution of the war against terrorism in the country.

We are aware that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for arms purchases and the unholy silence of the Honorable Minister of Defence in this regard leaves many questions unanswered. This is also an embarrassment of unimaginable proportion to the Muhammadu Buhari administration that the Honourable Minister of Defence cannot articulate a response to the questions surrounding the monies meant for arms purchase.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice uses this medium to call on the Honorable Minister to come out clear by providing the much-needed information surrounding the $1billion released to purchase arms.

If this is not the case, we then wonder why the Honorable Minister of Defence has elected to play to the gallery in a case as sensitive as this. More alarming is that the Chief of Army Staff has been carrying out acts that aim to shield the Honorable Minister of Defence.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice frowns at such display and wishes to advise the Chief of Army Staff to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

We are constrained to add that if the Chief of Army Staff who has barely spent months in office would not be bold enough to call a spade a spade, we are afraid that his ability to lead the prestigious Nigerian Army is indeed questionable.

It is also curious that the Chief of Army Staff could ask that the past service chief be invited to answer questions on arms procurement during their tenures. This is indeed an anomaly that all well-meaning Nigerians must resist.

This also goes to the Honorable Minister of Defence, who, by his actions, has displayed that he does not have a grasp of the operational strategies of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is our considered opinion that the Honorable Minister of Defence must, as a matter of necessity and urgency, provide the general public details on how the $1billion was expended under his watch in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the Honorable Minister of Defence come out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.

Therefore, it would be inexcusable for the Honorable Minister of Defence to continue to shy away from his responsibilities by pushing a distractive narrative in the public space. And not until this is done, the government’s seriousness in the prosecution of the war against terrorism would always be called to question.

The general public must also be aware that the former service chiefs were never involved in arms procurement and must do good to ignore the well-orchestrated campaign in this regard. Consequently, the Honorable Minister of Defence must come out to clear the air if we are indeed serious in addressing the security challenges in the country.

This is the position of the Coalition for Truth and Justice as critical stakeholders in the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria.

We thank you for your time and charge all present to take this message to their various constituencies.

God bless Nigeria.

God bless the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

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UK Group Task Ibomites to Support Their Leaders

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The people of Akwa-Ibom state have been urged to celebrate their own rather than castigating leaders who have sacrificed for the development of their region.

The president General, Global Peace Movement International UK, Dr. Mike Uyi made this declaration in a statement on Thursday in London.

According to him, the people of Akwa-Ibom should see themselves as a region in Nigeria that are lucky to have a leader like the former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio now minister of Niger Delta.

He said, “People of Akwa-Ibom state should learn to celebrate what they have. For any reason whatsoever, Sen. Godswill Akpabio is a palm tree, an iroko which is known by every native and international farmer”.

“Akpabio is tested and trusted. As commissioner, Governor, Senator, now a minister of Niger Delta, he performed excellently and still have outstanding performance among his minister counterparts. So, why attack him?”.

Uyi said assessing Akpabio’s political journey so far, one will not be wrong to call Akpabio a successful politician because of his antecedents.

“If not for anything else, he puts Akwa-Ibom state in the Guinness book of record. The state or region is currently enjoying what Akpabio left on the ground”.

“Global Peace Movement International UK is saying clearly that the future of Nigeria is in Akwa-Ibom”.

Dr. Uyi said Akpabio’s progressive portfolio has added a label (GSM) to his personality. The label GSM stands for: Governor (G), Senator (S) and Minister (M).

“His starling performance can not be compared to any in the history of democracy in Nigeria and in Akwa-Ibom state since the creation of the state”.

Uyi further stated that Akpabio has long transcended state or regional barriers. “His sole motivation has been raising the standards of living of Nigerians, promoting the good image of the country and empowering ordinary citizens of Nigeria to not only pursue their dreams but more importantly in providing them with the means to achieve these dreams”.

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