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Fubara defends Tinubu over peace deal, PDP fumes

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Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Monday defended the peace deal initiated by President Bola Tinubu between him and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, over the crisis in the state.

Fubara, in a broadcast on Monday, said the resolution brokered by the President to resolve the crisis was not a death sentence, adding that it would ensure lasting peace in the state.

He expressed his commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement in such a way that would restore political stability in the state.

But the Peoples Democratic Party National Working Committee in its reaction warned the governor against implementing the agreement he signed without the input of the party (PDP) on whose platform he was elected.

The crisis rocking the state took a new turn on December 11, 2023, when 27 members of the state House of Assembly defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress.

At the instance of Tinubu, Fubara on December 18 signed an eight-point peace agreement with Wike, who is the Federal Capital Territory, in a move to end the political crisis in the state.

However, the PDP officially joined a suit seeking to declare vacant the seats of the lawmakers who defected from the party to the APC.

The party vowed to vigorously pursue the case despite Tinubu’s peace meeting with Rivers State political stakeholders.

Peace deal

But speaking on the peace pact during his Christmas Day broadcast, the governor pledged to implement the agreement without compromising the interest of the people of the state.

Fubara said, “By this singular effort, our dear President has demonstrated that he loves Rivers State and cherishes nothing short of a reign of perfect peace in our State with his presidential peace proclamation on the 18th of December 2023. Mr President’s Peace Proclamation has naturally elicited mixed reactions from our people and across the country.

“As a principal participant in the entire saga, I have taken some time to study the terms therein and have come to the conclusion that the peace pact is not as bad as it may be portrayed by those genuinely opposed to it.

“It is certainly not a death sentence. I reaffirm my acceptance and my commitment to implementing both the letter and spirit of the declaration in such a way and manner that will restore political stability to our dear state without compromising the collective interest of our people and our cherished and shared democratic values.”

The governor also confirmed that he had released the allowances of the lawmakers and that the defected lawmakers had withdrawn their ‘purported’ impeachment.

He stated, “Both parties have demonstrated some goodwill in the implementation process with the withdrawal of the purported impeachment notice on their part and the release of hitherto withheld allowances of the members of the State House of Assembly by the Government.

“I have said before there is no price too much to pay for peace and with the realization that the worst peace is better than the best war.

“We will strive to make peace with all segments and interest groups without surrendering our freedom nor jeopardizing the interest and well-being of the good people of Rivers State who graciously entrusted us with their cherished mandate.”

He added he would toe a path that would best advance and protect the collective interest of the state and its people.

The governor said, “Let me, therefore, crave your kind understanding and call on you to have confidence in the process we are embarking upon to find lasting peace in our state as we are confident that we can achieve stability and progress without endangering the collective interest of our people.”

He commended President Tinubu for his intervention that has brought some lasting peace to the political crisis in the state, stating that the effort showed that Tinubu loves Rivers State.

He pledged that 2024 would witness a speedy transformation of the state with the completion of several projects and programmes, such as the sections of the Port Harcourt Ring Road, the Andoni section of the Unity Road, the Ahoada-Omoku Road, the Emohua-Degema Road and the commencement of many other laudable projects, both in infrastructure and human capital development, as outlined in our 2024 budget.

PDP fumes

But the PDP NWC in its reaction faulted Fubara’s plan to implement Tinubu’s peace deal.

The party Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the peace pact could not be implemented.

He said “ First and foremost the governor is an adult and he was the Rivers State governorship candidate of the PDP in the last election, now the governor of the state. But the issues at stake that President Bola Tinubu bothered himself with are bigger than him. They are also bigger than the governor because they are constitutional issues.

“ The question of the seats of the defected lawmakers being vacant is a clear constitutional issue, not at the wishes and discretion of President Tinubu or any other person. It is a clear constitutional matter.

“ Also, the PDP constitutionally owns the votes, so I don’t see how Governor Fubara will tell the PDP that because he met with the President in Aso Rock, the PDP should not take charge of its votes. As we speak the PDP is in court, the votes belong to the PDP, not to Fubara or the Villa.

“The one within the governor’s purview is to pay salaries and allowances of the lawmakers to the date their seats become vacant. I am sure the governor knows his limit.”

On his part, a former National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri cautioned that the governor would be committing a political blunder to implement a peace pact against his party’s stand.

The member of the PDP National Executive Council noted said the implementation would be morally right, but politically incorrect.

Tsauri stated “As a complete gentleman, he went there and signed the agreement, even though without the consent of the party. So implementation will be made by him and not by the party. But certainly, it won’t be in the interest of the party.

“ The PDP will not allow itself to be dragged into that trap, but he failed to consult the party. If he implements it, he is in trouble, if he doesn’t, is in trouble. Implementation of the agreement is like jumping into awaiting problems. And if he fails to implement it, he is going to enter the Federal government’s trouble. So, either way, is trouble for him.”

Also, a former PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, in a statement on Monday by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi, in Abuja, on Sunday, urged the political class to be wary of actions that might constitute a threat to our nascent democracy and national security.

Abonyi quoted his principal as saying, “With particular reference to the crisis in Rivers State, the former PDP boss contended that the intervention of President Bola Tinubu must be by the spirit and letter of our constitution for it to be implementable.

“There are creative ways a political conflict can be resolved if and when the President acts like a statesman and the President of all Nigerians.

“Mr President would have violated this sacred role if he acted in such a way and manner that gave an unconstitutional advantage to his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and an individual political godfather.

“This is the scenario the unenforceable agreement reached at the instance of Mr President purports to foster.”

He urged well-meaning Nigerians to call on the President and other stakeholders to act in the interest of peace in Rivers State and “ensure genuine, unbiased, generally acceptable, and enforceable reconciliation of the crisis.”

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Order CBN to honour Letters of Credit– SINET to Tinubu, NASS

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Amidst several hardships facing the Nigerian populace, the Social Integrity Network, (SINET) has urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the leadership of national assembly to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.

The group also urged the Federal Government to make further clarification concerning a statement credited to the CBN Governor on issues regarding the alleged and well-publicized revelations of a $2.4 billion forex trading fraud.

SINET recalled that “On February 5, 2024, the governor of CBN made this declaration in both his interactions with Senate committees and his interview on a national television, following the engagement of Deloitte Management Consultant to conduct a forensic investigation where he claimed that the said amount was uncovered.

A statement issued on Monday by SINET national coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, disclosed that “On the contrary, we wish to unequivocally state that these claims lack merit and do not take into account the consequences they will have on businesses, public perception, or the economy of our cherished nation and its implication on forex both at home and abroad.”

According to him, “Without sentiment, the claim is completely falsehood and unacceptable as he, the CBN governor, failed to consider its economic implications. It is pertinent to state that genuine businessmen and women across the country, borrowed Funds from commercial banks, some with interest rates as high as 30% to secure forex from the CBN through their respective commercial banks since CBN does not sell the dollars to individuals directly.

“The same funds have been deposited with CBN for the past one and half years for forwards allocated for which the Apex Bank is now claiming were fraudulent transactions. May we remind Mr. Governor that while the CBN allocated the forwards after collecting the naira for each forward allocated, the commercial banks used these same forward contracts as a hedge and issued Letters of Credit (LCs) to their various customers against their offshore credit lines and also as a sovereign guarantee to their offshore banks which stand unpaid till today as a result of the failure of CBN to honour the various forward contracts.

“May we also remind our CBN Governor that as a result of their failure to honour these contracts, the outstanding foreign loans continue to accrue interest (post-negotiation charges), which the commercial Banks are passing to their customers: the same customers you say do not have a genuine claim.”

The statement further stressed that, “The public would like to ask Mr. Governor the following questions: What will happen to the foreign bank that is expecting their payment to be paid back? What will happen to the businessmen and women who had borrowed Naira from commercial Banks and paid the same into the CBN account for the purchase of forex for over eighteen months? Who will bear the interest charged on borrowed funds locally? Who will bear the charges running against the offshore lines used in establishing Letters of Credit? What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the employees that are dependent on the survival of the businesses that CBN is trying to kill?

“We call upon the senate president and, in fact, the president and Commander In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to call the CBN governor to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.

“Let us state categorically that the CBN is killing businesses by cancelling the forward contracts that were sold to them about 18 months ago at the rate of N450/dollar and now selling the same funds to the commercial banks and directing the bank to sell the money at the rate of 1,500/dollar to the same businesses who initially had a forward contract at the rate of N450/dollar.

“May we also remind Mr. Governor, that failure to honour these forward contracts is taking commercial banks longer time to clean the offshore lines already used for establishing Letters of Credit against which shipments have been done and payment made to LC beneficiaries by the offshore banks. The delays of the commercial banks to settle their Forex obligations to their offshore banks is making our country risk to be very high.

“Lastly, the public will like to call on the coordinating minister for the economy, Mr. Wale Edun to engage the CBN regarding this issue of undelivered forward contracts because at present in Nigeria, almost 60% of companies in the manufacturing sector have been closed due to the volatility of Forex in Nigeria in order to avoid the other 40% from also closing down.

“This will go a long way to help the few remaining manufacturing companies still in operation in Nigeria and also encourage the new investors that the president and commander in-chief of the federal republic is trying woo to bring their investments to Nigeria.”

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Senate Passes Sen Ashiru’s Bill To Establish National Road Transport Council

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The Senate on Tuesday granted first reading to a bill seeking to establish a National Road Transport Council which is to be saddled with the responsibility of regulating the road transport industry and the transport profession in Nigeria.

The bill titled National Road Transportation Council (Establishment) Bill 2024 is sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader Senator Oyelola Ashiru and was introduced to the Senate plenary after the Senators resumed from their 30 day recess.

Further details of the bill fronted by the Kwara South Senator reveals that if signed into law a council board will be established which shall consist of a Board chairman and six members drafted from each geo-political zone of the country.

More insights of the bill sighted by the Sun also states that the board shall be presided by a representative from Ministries of transport, commerce and industry and aviation and they shall not be below the rank of a Director.

As highlighted in the explanatory memorandum of the bill , [b]the functions of the proposed council include; creating an effective regulatory framework on road transport service operators; determining the standard of knowledge and skills required for road transport service operators; encouraging the advancement of education in road transportation; ensuring accessibility of road transport facilities, [/b]channels, and routes; monitoring the performance of the regulated road transport industry; conducting background check on road transport service operators; registering all road transport service providers and determine the fees for such registration; setting guidelines and general policies for road transport service operators; updating the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual and audited reports; reviewing progress and suggest improvement within the provisions of this Bill and do such other things as are necessary or incidental to the objects of the Council under this Bill or as may be assigned by the Federal Government.

The bill received the nod of the Senators via voice votes presided by the Senate President Godswill Akpabio shortly after it was introduced to the floor of the Red Chambers by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

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