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PDP crisis: Govs split, Wike’s camp snubs campaign offers

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There are no signs of respite yet in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite the vote of confidence passed on the party’s National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, on Thursday by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Governors elected on the platform of the party seemed to have drawn the battle line by showing where they belong in the face-off between the PDP presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.

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Out of 13 governors, only four – Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto); Douye Diri (Bayelsa); Darius Ishaku (Taraba); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) – attended the Thursday meeting

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom sent his deputy Benson Abounu, while Adamawa State Deputy Governor Crowther Seth stood in for his principal, Ahmadu Fintiri.

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It was unclear yesterday whether Ortom, who is currently in the United States of America, remains in Wike’s camp or he is on Atiku’s side.

Although Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki was represented at the Caucus Meeting on Wednesday by his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, there was no representation for him at the NEC session.

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Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (the Vice Presidential Candidate of PDP) and Akwa Ibom State Governor Emmanuel Udom were said to be abroad.

A top source told The Nation yesterday that the NEC meeting “revealed the depth of the crisis in the party.”

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The source said: “While Atiku could boast of six governors, five others are with Wike including Ortom who was said to be ‘floating’ last night.

The source described Governors Obaseki and Udom as the ‘tie breakers’ in the party.

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The top leader said: “Despite the concessions made by Atiku’s group, Wike’s camp has remained adamant on Ayu’s exit and the NEC meeting on Thursday foreclosed reconciliation.

“Our governors are now in four camps. Some are for Ayu, others for Wike, the so-called neutral group and some on a spying mission.

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“To preserve the unity of the party, Senator Walid Jubril, who had three months left in office, was asked to step aside as the chairman of PDP’s Board of Trustees (BOT).

“To sack Ayu was an impossible task because the founders of PDP have stood by him. They believe that Wike as an individual is not greater than the party,

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“These leaders also do not joke with party discipline. Most of them were angry that Wike was riding the party roughshod.”

Asked of the next step, the source, who has been privy to all negotiations, said: “Atiku will proceed with his reconciliation agenda and campaign.

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“We are confident that more governors will back Atiku because it is about PDP returning to power.”

A source in Wike’s camp said: “Go and check your facts; the governors with Atiku are not up to six. You will see what will happen soon.

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“We have rejected the so-called concession of the post of the BOT chairman to the South. This is not substantial.”

Pressed to expatiate, the source said: “Wike’s camp may reject campaign directorate offers from Atiku unless Ayu is removed.

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“The camp may not contribute to Atiku’s campaign and it may also engage in minimum participation at all levels.

“We will protect the party’s interest to retain power in 2023 in our various states. It is good luck to those who do not want equity.

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“We will certainly not disclose all our options until we get to a safe bend.”

NWC to meet Wike next week
Embattled National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, is not losing hope of reconciliation ahead of next year’s polls.

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He said yesterday that the PDP NWC would be meeting next week with Governor Wike and other aggrieved members of the party.

Ayu broke the news of the planned meeting to the acting chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Adolphus Wabara.

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“I want to also reveal to you that the NWC under the leadership of the Deputy National Chairman, Amb. Iliya Damagun, will be going to see not only Governor Wike but every other person who is aggrieved,” Ayu’s Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Simon Imobo-Tswam, was quoted him as saying.

He added: “It is the unanimous decision of the NWC and we think that your leading the fight for peace and full reconciliation in the party will be helpful,”

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The mission to Port Harcourt will be led by the PDP Deputy National Chairman (North) Iliya Damagun, he said.

“There is a time for anger and there’s a time for the anger to stop. So help us to reach out to all aggrieved members and try and heal the party with your new role as the party Chairman of the BoT.”

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I stand with Wike, says Fayose
A former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, declared yesterday that he was standing by Governor Wike in his fight for justice, equity and fairness in the PDP.

Fayose said those asking the PDP’s Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to call the bluff of Wike and his group are the real enemies of the party.

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The former governor also said those hanging around Atiku should allow him to win the forthcoming election.

Fayose, who spoke while inaugurating Community Secondary School, Obuama, Harry’s Town in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, built by Wike, told Atiku that it was not too late to make amends and bring everybody together to win the election.

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He said the Wike group would meet in due course and take a decision on the way forward. He described the Rivers governor as the soul and lifeline of the party.

Addressing Wike, he said: “Whatever anybody says about you, posterity will be on your side. It is a matter of time. When I was a governor of Ekiti, I honoured people when they were alive not when they were dead. You have honoured yourself by your handiwork.

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“Forget whatever anybody says about you. I said it before Wike, a man with a fierce look but with a good heart, a heart of will to accomplish, to love and to support. Majority of your enemies today are not against you because of anything. They are against you because they know you have capacity.

“I want to believe that Atiku Abubakar is not against you. A lot of people surrounding the throne are enemies of the throne. A lot of people surrounding the throne have one axe to grind with somebody and they take it to where they are not supposed to take it.

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“There is no living being in this party or outside that will not acknowledge your contributions to this party. You are the soul of this party. Even till now what you do, how many people do it?

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“There was a time in this party when I was a sitting governor; I was a nightmare to the APC and the Buhari government. That time when you woke up, you would see Fayose. But today when you open television, you will see Wike. As your senior brother, I was a lion that time. Your good works will never go unrewarded.

“The people that had benefitted from you are the people that want to pull you down. When sitting governors were defecting, we stood the test of time. We never for one day looked at the eyes of the APC. The good man in the history of the Bible is always the enemy of the people who don’t like the truth. Continue to do your best. Don’t give up”.

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Fayose expressed optimism that the party would do the needful and bring everybody together, insisting that the ultimate objective should be to win the next election

He recalled their encounter with Atiku when he visited Wike after winning the party’s ticket, saying he advised him on fairness and inclusiveness.

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Fayose said: “I believe this party will come together. I believe the needful will be done because winning an election is all that matters. Wike hasn’t come out to say Atiku Abubakar is not the presidential candidate. He is.

“I was there the day after the election when our candidate visited the residence of Wike. We had mutual conversation. We were all happy and everything was in place to move forward. I spoke at that meeting. We don’t want to aggravate the situation. I am only appealing to people that matter. In every political party there will be groupings, same family with different interests.

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“We can do better than we are doing. People around the corridor of power allow this candidate to win election. They say Fayose is now Tinubu’s man. When people were defecting, I never did. Losing Ekiti election, if I go into that now you will know the source. But it is not important because we must put things behind us and move forward.

“Some people believe that they have to destroy their leader before they can rise. If you are destroying any leader, you can’t rise. Wike is not a saint, neither am I one. Don’t expect perfection from me. We will not want to come to Rivers here and tell Wike what he wants to hear. We will speak our mind.

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“I remember I say something the day the candidate visited Governor Wike. I told him the knife is in your hand, the yam is in your hand. Cut it in a way that it will be edible. It is still not late. We can still achieve cohesion. We can still stay together and win this election. Use the knife to cut the yam and make it edible.

“Don’t let people come to you and tell you that ‘these do not matter, leave them with their local politics’. You are the man that wants to lead us. God will give you wisdom to rally everybody. My own son is a candidate in the party. He is a PDP candidate. Do I wish my son to fail? No. George Fayose is my son. With the last drop of my blood, I will stand by him.

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“I came out to say it is the turn of the south; that is the position of that group at the time. I want to say to you that everybody has a way to ventilate their anger. It is not enough to allow people who do not have substance to come and destroy the party that God has given you as a candidate.

“Wike is not saying he is the vice-presidential candidate and he is not looking for it. It is important that winning this election is the ultimate. Let us win together. I believe in due course, this group will meet and all their intention is let us win together.

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Fayose who hailed Wike for his generosity called on the leaders of the PDP to do more to unify the party.

He said: “Many people have resources, they can’t spend it because they are not givers. It is not because you (Wike) have the resources but because you have the spirit to give, the spirit to support.

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“You have been the lifeline of this party and anybody wishing you away is an enemy of this party. I appeal to Atiku and those in the corridor of power, let us do more to unify the party. I am with Wike. Wike is in PDP, I am in PDP.”

Earlier, Wike, who for the first time since he commenced the commissioning and inauguration refused to speak on the PDP crisis, said the deplorable condition of the school was brought to his attention by his Deputy Governor.

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He asked the Commissioner for Special Duties to design hostels and dining halls for the students of the school.

Wike said his administration in the past two weeks had been showcasing its strides in the educational sector, adding that the government would soon begin to show its achievements in the health sector.

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He said: “If you look at the pictures, the school was in a terrible situation. We have been able to put in our best to make it a proper secondary school that our children will not only have access to education but will also have quality education.”

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Abuja Court Ruling: Tinubu, Ekiti Gov-Elect, Other APC Candidates Risk Disqualification

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THERE is growing concern in the All Progressives Congress over the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which nullified the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, for the 2022 Osun State governorship election.

Ruling on a suit filed by the People’s Democratic Party challenging the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submission of the PDP on the grounds that Governor Mai Mala Buni who submitted their names to INEC violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

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The court declared that Governor Mai Mala Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC.

The provisions of Section 183 read in part: “The Governor, shall not, during the period he holds office, holds any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

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While the legal representatives of Osun State governor had promised to appeal the ruling, its implication, Sunday Tribune learnt, is already causing panic in the ruling party.

According to legal opinions on the issue, the ruling in its current subsisting nature, means that all actions of Buni while in office as APC acting boss, stand invalidated.

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These actions, include the signing of the nomination of Ekiti governor-elect Abiodun Oyebanji, as APC candidate for the June 18, 2022 poll in the state, the nominations of candidates for other outlier legislative polls, as well as the conduct of the party’s elective national convention which gave birth to the current NWC, among others.

The biggest threat posed by the ruling to APC, is the possible consequential disqualification of all its candidates for the 2023 poll, including the presidential ticket of Senator Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, considering that Adamu’s NWC, conducted the primaries.

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Once the NWC is invalidated by the reason of Buni’s involvement, all actions of the NWC, would be deemed null and void.

Reacting to the unfolding legal drama, constitutional lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, said “It is a plague that could have been avoided if only they took my position on Governor Buni’s chairmanship misadventures serious. But the judgement has vindicated me.”

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In an earlier statement, dated July 31, 2021, he warned that the party could come to greater grief if Buni stayed, considering the subtle warning in the favourable majority decision.

On Saturday, Ajulo referenced the statement which read in part; “Without prejudice to the ratio decidendi of the majority decision of the Court, it is imperative to state pressistimo and very clearly too that with the unanimous position of the Apex Court that it appears the actions of the APC in permitting a sitting Governor as the Interim Chairman of the Party is in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is my sincere view that the Interim Chairman of the APC should immediately step down. My humble but cosmic review of the judgment comes with an indication that the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni has to vacate his seat, as the Chairman of APC with immediate effect.”

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Breaking down the implication of the Friday ruling, he said if the apex court goes with the decision of the high court, the current National Executive of the party, will have to go.

“If the Supreme Court upheld the judgment, the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and other APC candidates for every elective position will have no business in participating in the 2023 General Election.

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“Can one put something on nothing and expect it to stand? Unless some strategic steps are quickly taken, invalidation of the party’s executives and candidates across all levels will be a great disaster to the APC and could mark its total collapse. This development is a stern warning to politicians to henceforth have regards for law and reasoned thoughts,” he reasoned.

But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Felix Morka, a lawyer, dismissed the fears being expressed as misplaced.

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Speaking with Sunday Tribune in an interview, Morka expressed confidence that the judgment of the High Court would be set aside by the Court of Appeal.

He maintained that Justice Nwite erred in his pronouncement.

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He said:” The judgment of the Court is unsupportable. We are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn the judgment.

“It isn’t supportable by fact of law. What the Governor Buni Caretaker did was ratified by Convention, which is the highest organ of the Party. The Court didn’t avert itself to the fact of the matter.

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“So, there is nothing to worry about. That decision will be challenged and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn it.”

In the Friday ruling, the court, headed by Justice Emeka Nwite, sided with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which initiated the suit, primarily to disqualify Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, as the candidate of the ruling party in the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state, eventually won PDP’s candidate, Ademola Adeleke.

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But the suit, commenced on April 7, 2022 may be doing a more significant damage to the fortunes of the ruling party, across board, with the trial judge upholding the argument that all Buni’s actions in office as the party’s acting chair, were null and void.

The party chair, alongside the national secretary, by the dictates of the election laws, signs the nomination of every candidate of the party, before such could be deemed valid, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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With Justice Nwite ruling that Buni, being governor, should not have held another executive position as the acting chair of the party for two years less 25 days.

It will be recalled that Buni, the sitting governor of Yobe State, was sworn in as the acting chairman of the party by the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, following the controversial ouster of an elected National Working Committee, chaired by former Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, by President Muhammadu Buhari-inspired National Executive Council.

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Justice Nwite’s ruling, however, appears in dissonance with the majority decision of the Supreme Court in the appeal arising from Ondo governorship election of October 9, 2020, won by the incumbent Rotimi Akeredolu of APC.

In a razor-thin split decision which favoured him, the apex court held that the conduct of the primary election and nomination of candidates, is an internal affair of a political party, which the judiciary can’t scrutinise.

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The majority decision went further in resolving the appeal brought by Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP that even when a political party is in error of its rules, its internal activities can’t still be challenged. The minority report how- ever ruled that Buni’s acting headship of the ruling party, was an incurable constitutional error, which invalidated Akeredolu’s nomination as the party’s candidate, because it was signed and passed to INEC by Buni.

The minority decision of three justices, out of the seven that heard the appeal, had invalidated Akeredolu’s election victory, because of Buni. While the majority decision didn’t go fully into the con- stitutionality of Buni holding two executive positions at the same time, it ruled that not joining the governor as a necessary party, to argue his case directly, weighed in his favour and by extension, Akeredolu’s.

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The judgement was given on July 28, 2021. Immediately the judgement was delivered, some top party leaders asked Buni to step down, including Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo. Buni, aided by his legal team, heavily backed by the deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, spurned the call.

Keyamo now speaks for Tinubu’s presidential campaign, while serving as minister. Possibly taking its cue from the stance of the majority ruling, PDP, this time, joined Buni as a necessary party in the suit, which was filed almost nine months after Akeredolu’s narrow judicial escape.

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Buni, being joined as a necessary party, must have also emboldened Justice Nwite to go into the merit of the suit, despite the subsisting Supreme Court precedent.

With the appeal arising from the all-important suit expected to advance to the apex court, an opportunity would finally be presented to Buni, to defend himself, and the final court to decide whether he violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, by accepting the acting appointment while serving as governor.

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Bayelsa Monarch, Ijaw Leader Kick against Alleged Plan to Scrap Amnesty Programme

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By Kayode Sanni Arewa

The Federal Government has concluded plans to terminate the Presidential Amnesty Programme in May 2023, NaijaBlitzNews.com has learnt.

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Our correspondents gathered that the office of the National Security Adviser had directed the Interim Administrator of the Amnesty Programme, Major General Barry Ndiomu (retd.), to commence the process of winding down the programme.

Ndiomu, who was appointed about two weeks ago, replaced the former PAP head, Milland Dikio, although no reason was given for his unceremonious removal which was announced in a statement by a presidential media aide, Femi Adesina.

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme was established by President Musa Yar’Adua’s administration in 2009 as part of the government’s measures to reduce militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

It was reported that 30,000 former militants had been enrolled into the programme with over 65 per cent of participants said to have been successfully reintegrated

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Despite reportedly gulping over N5 billion monthly, international development consulting firm, Nextier Security, Peace and Development said the PAP had failed to address the various challenges that necessitated its establishment.

The firm, in a report released in 2020, explained that the programme was taking a heavy toll on the revenue of the Federal Government, while rewarding militancy and aggressiveness in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

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However, multiple sources said Ndiomu had been directed to shut down the programme within eight months.

He was said to have disclosed this to the PAP members of staff during a meeting last week.

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A source said, “The interim administrator informed the (member of) staff during a meeting that the ONSA has directed him to wind down the amnesty programme within eight months. In essence, Ndiomu was appointed as the undertaker of the amnesty programme. The workers were shocked and sad to hear the news.

“But there is no justification for the decision because a similar programme to rehabilitate displaced persons in the North has not been shut down. So, why should they shut down the amnesty programme which is empowering many Niger Deltans? This is unacceptable and may spark another round of unrest in the region.’’

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Another source observed that the scrapping of the amnesty programme was not acceptable to the Niger Delta region, saying the fact that the government awarded a N4.5 billion pipeline protection contract to a former militant leader, Government Ekpemopolo aka Tompolo, was not a tenable reason to end the programme.

But reacting to the development, the President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof Benjamin Okaba, argued that the government should ‘’re-strategise the programme’’ rather than end it.

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The Ijaw leader admitted that the rehabilitation phase of the amnesty programme had not been fully achieved while the training aspect had successfully produced many beneficiaries.

Okaba, however, said whatever failure had been identified should be blamed on those who were in charge of its operations, insisting that the programme itself did not fail.

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According to the INC leader, the disarmament of the militants was one part of the programme that had run smoothly, adding that the rehabilitation phase posed the greatest problems.

Okaba stated, “What I’m saying is that the amnesty programme itself did not fail, it is the operators of the programme that failed. The intentions of (former) President Yar’Adua in putting together the programme was to address the fundamental developmental question in the Niger Delta.”

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‘’So, if they want to scrap it, what is the alternative to the amnesty programme? Now that there is no alternative to the amnesty programme, I think the best option is to re-strategise.”

When contacted for a reaction on Saturday, the PAP spokesperson, Ms Donu Kogbara, promised to respond on Tuesday but when asked to provide an immediate response, she said, “If you are keen to wrap this up quickly, let me see whether I can talk to the interim administrator later tonight or tomorrow,” in a text message.

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The Head, Strategic Communications, ONSA, Zakari Usman, did not respond to calls and a text message sent to his phone on Saturday

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World Bank commits $8bn to Nigeria in 12 months

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The World Bank has committed a total of $7.93 billion in the 2022 fiscal year, which was from July 2021 to June 2022.
Data obtained from the bank’s website showed that this was an increase of 74.67 per cent from the $4.54bn recorded in the 2021 fiscal year, which began in July 2020 and ended in June 2021.

According to the World Bank, commitments covered the total amount of loans for which contracts were signed in the year specified.

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The data obtained ran from 2018 to 2022, covering both loans from the World Bank’s International Development Association and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Between 2018 and 2022, a total of $38.2bn was committed to Nigeria by the World Bank.

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Within this period, the highest commitment of $10.45bn was in 2018.

Recall that rising debt pushed Nigeria up the World Bank’s top 10 International Development Association borrowers’ list.

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The World Bank Fiscal Year 2021 audited financial statements, particularly the IDA financial statement, showed that Nigeria was rated fifth on the list with $11.7bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2021.

However, the World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for IDA showed that Nigeria had moved to the fourth position on the list, with $13bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.

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The top five countries on the list slightly reduced their IDA debt stock except Nigeria.

In a statement issued on Thursday by the World Bank, the global lender said it had approved the Nigeria State Action on Business Enabling Reforms Program-for-Results.

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The $750 million IDA credit is expected to help Nigeria accelerate the implementation of critical actions that will improve the business enabling environment in states.

The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, was quoted in the statement as saying, “Following the significant progress made by states on fiscal reforms through the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability program, the SABER programme endeavours to offer similar support to the states to undertake critical business-enabling policy and institutional actions that will incentivize private sector development.

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“Private sector investments remain the major vehicle to create more jobs, increase revenues to the states and improve social and economic outcomes for citizens.”

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