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It’s not every dissenting voice that’s an opposition voice, JDPC tells KGSG

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It’s not every dissenting voice that’s an opposition voice, JDPC tells KGSG

By John Akubo

Miffed by what it termed as lack of understanding of the basic knowledge of budget and implementation an NGO, the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) has cautioned Kogi State Government not to perceive every dissenting voice as that of opposition.
It therefore urge the government to accept constructive criticisms for the development of the State.
This was contained in a statement that was signed by Rev. Fr Leonard Odomeja, the Director of JDPC, Catholic diocese of Lokoja and was made available to the Guardian in Lokoja recently.
The monitoring and evaluation unit of the JDPC, a non governmental Organisation of the Catholic Church had raised alarm over non implementation of the provisions for water, sanitation and hygiene in the 2017 budget.
Odomeja had pointed out that the 2017 budget provisions of N300 million earmarked for the expansion and improvement of the township water supply schemes and N450 million allocated for the construction of urban towns and local government headquarters water schemes have not been implemented.
He also stated that the N144. 747 million set aside in the budget for water schemes in some communities including , Ege , Idoji, Obangede, and Adogo among others were yet to become a reality.
Despite N800 million provided for water project schemes, several communities in the Anyigba, Ejule, Idah, Agaliga lack access to portable water, he had stated
He had punctured the claim by the Ministry of Water Resources that it has rehabilitated/ constructed 23 water projects as it could not verify them neither could they see the projects in any of the communities mentioned as beneficiaries
In reaction, the State Commissioner for water resources Barrister Salami Momodu Ozigi had berated the JDPC for being shallow minded even as he heaped the blame of the lapses on the previous administration for its failure to implement its budget.
According to Odomeja, “What I see in the Commissioner’s reactions is largely the use of ‘Ad Hominem and Petitio Principii’ arguments in response to an otherwise fact-based publication.
“It portrays an inability to accept constructive criticism. If you occupy a public office and remain closed to criticisms or pick offence at everyone who challenges your actions/inactions, it will be very difficult to make impact no matter how good your intentions may be.”
He insisted that it’s not every dissenting voice that’s an opposition voice.
Fr. Odomeja said it is equally instructive to check the background of any critical voice before responding to critiques.
Ordinarily he observed that the
2017 budget should have taken care of the non-implementation of projects by previous administrations which the Commissioner alluded to.
He indicated that the JDPC’s Press statement only pointed out the inefficiency in the Government when it did not plan ahead.
He said what JDPC observed was about the 2017 budget and not the previous administration’s non-implementation record.
“It’s logical to argue that the release of funds is pertinent to implementation. Does the government ever make information available when funds are released?
“The budget was published and citizens became aware of the content. But are they subsequently informed about further processes of implementation? Given this situation, an NGO such as JDPC will therefore work within the limit of the information at its disposal because investigations do not yield the right or desired results.”
According to him, all the line ministries connected with the Citizens’ Participation project were visited repeatedly by the Project Officer and JDPC’s Project Manager adding that entries in the log books in the ministries are evidences of the fact.
“Acknowledgment copies of correspondences between JDPC and the Ministry of Water Resources are also available in our office. Hence the Commissioner’s claim that JDPC didn’t visit the ministry for enquiries or consultation before going to press therefore was not true.”
He explained further that JDPC’s observation was about the need to implement these projects and not an indictment of a particular ministry.
“JDPC intended to sting the State government into consciousness to implement these projects and the release of funds is essential to their implementation. Thus, without providing fact on the paucity of funds, Honourable Ozigi’s response remains an indictment of Kogi State Government on the non-implementation of the said projects.”
Continuing he said even if funds are not released, budget proposals raise great expectation among the citizenry, essentially where the project is dear to them.
“Raising the issue of non-implementation remains valid, because implementation simply didn’t take place. Lack of funds may then be a reason, and this could be given with respect and not insult.”
He said the commissioner’s response raises further questions: was the State Government able to meet its revenue projection? If the government did, why were funds not released for the projects?” “If revenue projection wasn’t met, how did government decide the priority or otherwise of the projects implemented, neglecting such an essential project such as water?”
According him, the commissioner did not however disprove the fact that the claim by the government about having rehabilitated or constructed 23 water projects is untrue.
“This is a call from the Catholic Church through JDPC to the State Government to dust up its acts and learn to deliver where and when necessary. Suffice it to say that media propaganda isn’t going to help any government anymore in this social media age.”

He said People are becoming more aware of governance processes adding that they shouldn’t be taken for a ride anymore.
The clergy reiterated the fact that the state belongs to the people and not to a party or to the few in government positions.
“Democracy is for everyone and there shouldn’t be any direct or indirect effort to exclude anyone from a government that concerns everyone. Kogi is our common patrimony.”

The commissioner had earlier explained that they proposed and raised memo but there was no cash backing because of the financial situation.
“When you see provisions in the budget it is just there in paper, you cannot use that one against anybody that maybe he has budgeted Over N100m for a particular project, it is when that can be translated into money and it is released then they can ask questions that border on implementation.”
He said money has not been released for the budget adding that critics are supposed to have gone further to investigate whether the money was made available an it was expended.
“They should have come to the ministry to ascertain their facts.”

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INEC chair: Lawan denies taking N2b bribe to confirm Yakubu

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INEC chair: Lawan denies taking N2b bribe to confirm Yakubu

By James Ojochegbe

The president of the senate Ahmad Lawan has denied collecting any gratification of N2b to facilitate the confirmation of the INEC chairman as alleged by an online publication.

This contained in a Statement issued in Abuja by his special Adviser on media Ola Awoniyi.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Office of the Senate President has been drawn to a report by SaharaReporters alleging that a group led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, collected N2billion from Professor Mahmood Yakubu to facilitate the confirmation of his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to a fresh five-year tenure as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“It is noteworthy that the publication, as always with its ridiculous fabricated reports, could not even expand the entertainment of its readers by providing the names of members of the fictitious group and where the group operates from.
“To be sure, that group exists only in the mischievious imagination of the writer of the fiction.”
The Statement enjoined Nigerians to ignore the report as yet another incident of hallucination by the comical characters operating the fabricated news platform.

“The online medium has long earmed its notoriety as a purveyor of fake news with high profile public officials as its targets. 
“It is well known that only the President can nominate a candidate for appointment or reappointment as Chairman of INEC.
And only the Senate as a body can confirm or reject the appointment, after due screening of the candidate.
“The parliamentary process for the confirmation of nominations by the President is open and involves all distinguished senators.
“The Senate President is only a presiding officer of the Senate and does not lead any group in or outside the august chamber that acts in any way to circumvent the processes of the Senate. “We reassure Nigerians that the Senate President did not receive any gratification, in his or behalf of others, to help Professor Yakubu get a second term as chairman of INEC.”

He challenged SaharaReporters and the sponsors of the false publication to provide whatever evidence that they can in support of their glib claims, failing which Nigerians should dismiss the report as another cheap blackmail from a platform that has no reputation for credible reportage and ethical journalism practise.”

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Lekki shooting: FG barefaced denial refuses to gel as CNN insists its report is authentic

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Lekki shooting: FG barefaced denial refuses to gel as CNN insists its report is authentic


What seemed like a barefaced denial by the Federal Government on the alleged Lekki killings have refused to gel in the midst of various reports and reactions triggered by the shooting.

This was just as the minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed demanded that CNN be sanctioned for publishing the report that is contrary to Government’s position.

The minister, who addressed reporters in Abuja almost 24 hours after the report was published, stated that it was one-dimensional and lacked balance.

However, the Cable News Network (CNN) would not accept that as it reacted to the comments by Lai Mohammed, on its investigation into the shooting that took place at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.

The CNN maintained that it did not rush to publish the report as it ensured due processes were followed, which included thorough research.

“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a spokesperson for the American-based news agency was quoted as saying in an email on Thursday.

Reacting further the CNN on its website stated that the report, titled ‘How A Bloody Night Of Bullets And Brutality Quashed A Young Protest Movement’, was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, as well as photos and video obtained and geolocated by the news agency.

Though the Nigerian Army confirmed that soldiers were deployed at the venue where peaceful #EndSARS protesters had gathered on October 21, it insisted that nobody was killed.

The army has also continued to insist that no live ammunition was fired at the protest ground, stressing that only blank bullets were used to disperse the demonstrators.

CNN on Wednesday released an investigative report alleging that the Nigerian army used live bullets on protesters during its intervention in the #EndSARS protests in Lekki, Lagos state.

The international media outlet also unveiled the identity of a protester who reportedly died on the night of the shootings.

CNN said a forensic probe of the bullet casings recovered from the scene of the incident revealed that live bullets were fired at the protesters

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Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Highway dualisation: Funding no longer a threat – FMWH Director

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Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Highway dualisation: Funding no longer a threat – FMWH Director

By Friday Idachaba

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has assured Nigerians timely completion of the Abuja-Lokoja-Benin highway dualisation project as funding will no longer pose a threat.

Director, Highways North-Central, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Engr Yusuf Jimoh Adekunle, gave the assurance on Wednesday in Lokoja while on a routine check to asses the level of compliance of the contractors handling the projects.

Yusuf said the projects had hitherto suffered setback due to poor funding by previous administration’s but had gotten a new lease on life with alternative funding platforms provided through the initiative of the present administration of President Muhammadu Bihari.

He said, “We have no issues with funding here because it is part of the initiatives of this government. Before the inception of this administration there was nothing like SUKUK but this government has come up with those funding alternatives.

“We now have the SUKUK, we have Tax Relief, we have loans that we got from China NEXIM on some other projects but this particular project is enjoying the SUKUK loan apart from the budgetary provisions.”

He said that he was in the state to see the real progress of work as the project, luckily, no longer had problem of funding adding, “So all we just need is for the contractors to make sure they are working.

“So, this visit is mainly to ensure that quality work is being executed that’s why I’ve come together with my team”, Yusuf added.

Speaking further on the projects, Federal Controller of Works Engr Jimoh Kajogbola, in Kogi explained that dualisation of Lokoja-Benin section one was in two phases.

“We are on phase II now and it is about 41 kilometres. The total length of both phase one and phase two is about 58.15 km. The contractor has partially completed phase one which includes Okene bypass of about 14 kilometres virgin dual carriageway.

The contractor, CGC Nig. Ltd., has completed that except some little little issues which will be cleared but it has been opened to traffic for more than two years now.

Kajogbola said that the last extension granted the contractor was expected to expire in December, 2021.

“So, it is now left for the contractor to work harder to be able to access the provisions made for them within budget and from SUKUK Funding, We have about N2.5 billion to access this year, 2020.”, He said.

Alhaji Yaba Abubakar, Project Manager who spoke on behalf of CGC Nig. Ltd. assured, “By the special grace of God, by December 2021, at the level we are working, this project will be delivered.

Also speaking, Contract Director who identified himself simply as Engr Ephraim, for Gitto Construction Company working on Abuja-Lokoja Section IV, and the last section from the side, said work had attained 76 per cent completion.

Ephraim said the company had been remobilised and the project work was in progress and would be completed and handed over to the Ministry on schedule. #

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