HAS PANDEF SOLD OUT? PANDEF WITHDRAWS IT'S NOVEMBER 1ST ULTIMATUM. GROUPS KICK AGAINST IT




The leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF, has revealed that they are calling off the November 1st ultimatum, initially given to the Federal Government. 

This came after a closed door meeting with the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Yesterday. 

This move is obviously not going down well with people of the Niger Delta Region as various groups have come out to condemn this declaration, calling the PANDEF leaders, Sell Outs and traitors of the region. Could this be true, or is it just BLACKMAIL? 

What could have been reason for PANDEF's backing out? Did they consult their people before taking any decision? So many unanswered questions.. 

We are watching the situation closely and will update you, once we get extra information. 

NDAGG 


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IJAW YOUTH COUNCIL SET TO SHUT DOWN NDDC. ERIC OMARE FROWNS AGAINST IT, CALLS FOR ARREST OF PROTESTERS



NDAGG has gathered that the Oweilaemi Pereotubo faction of the Ijaw Youth Council is set to stage a protest at the NDDC Headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 

Oweilaemi, who is affiliated with most of the past IYC leaders is said to have mobilized thousands of youth, in a bid to disrupt the activities of the NDDC and bring the agency to a lock down. 

This style of engagement has been a normal practice in the Ijaw Youth Council and has been used by past leaders of the council to arm twist government and private companies into doing their bidding. 

We've gathered that this particular move is being sponsored by a group of Ijaw stakeholders who feel neglected by the current NDDC administration. Some of the sponsors our sources have revealed include, Dr Chris Ekiyor, Famous Daugbarah and Ex Militant Leader, Boy Loaf. All efforts to reach Oweilaemi or members of his exco has been futile. 

Interestingly the President of the other faction of the Ijaw Youth Council, Barr Eric Omare, has frowned against the planned protest, calling on security agencies to arrest anyone found disrupting the activities of the NDDC. This information was picked up from the News bulletin of Rhythm 93.7 Port Harcourt, this morning. Barr Eric claims that the IYC under his watch has no business blocking gates of government agencies, and called on all Ijaw Youth to resist temptation and follow his style of Peaceful, Diplomatic Engagement. 

As events unfold we will update you


NDAGG 





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How Nigerian Senators Took Bribes To Pass Peace Corps Bill


To pass the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, senators received kickbacks in form of job slots and cash reward from the promoters of the proposed paramilitary organization, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

Scores of senators received at least seven employment slots each to back the bill, which was passed to, amongst other things, create the Nigerian Peace Corps as the country’s newest law enforcement agency.

Some of the lawmakers considered key to the passage of the law got as much as 500 slots, our findings show.

Other senators received cash rewards for their acquiescence, multiple senators, including those who benefited, told PREMIUM TIMES.

The bribery scheme became so brazen that some senators who were members of the committees that worked on the bill pointedly accused each other of being bought by the Peace Corps.

But the leadership of the Senate quickly weighed in, made peace amongst the feuding senators and hushed up the case, consequently saving the upper chamber from another major embarrassment, our sources said.

But the Peace Corps denied offering bribes to lawmakers to secure the major milestone in its decade-long quest to become a government agency.

“At no point did our organization offered any bribes to lawmakers,” Milicent Umoru, the group’s spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday. “The bill actually suffered a whole lot before it was finally adopted a few days ago.”

Both chambers of the National Assembly passed the bill “because they see it as necessary to curb acute unemployment amongst Nigerian youth,” she added. It remains unclear Saturday whether members of the House of Representatives also took bribes to pass the bill.

The Senate approved the harmonized version of the controversial bill on Tuesday, despite deep skepticism from its own Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters that the bill offers virtually no unique service to the public.

David Umaru, the committee chairman who was mandated by the Senate to look into the significance of the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, delivered a scathing review of the paramilitary group when he laid the findings of his committee before the Senate Tuesday.

“The powers, functions, e.t.c., of the Peace Corps call for concern and this committee would wish that they are subjected to further examination,” Mr. Umaru, APC-Niger East, said.

The senator said the attempts by promoters of the Peace Corps to make government absorb it was strange and starkly different from the approach of its sister organization in the United States.

“The American Peace Corps, which is used as a model, does not operate as a permanent and pensionable employment as intended in Nigeria under this proposed legislation,” Mr. Umaru said. “Rather, its employment is for a limited period of five years only for regular employees and 24 months for volunteers.”

Yet, Mr. Umaru went on to recommend that the Senate should proceed with passing the harmonized version of the Peace Corps Bill, clearing the way for its onward transfer to the president’s desk for assent.

Dickson Akoh, Peace Corps’ national commandant, said his organizations would offer what the American Peace Corps offers and even more.

The Peace Corps will achieve capacity building for youth creativity and intervention; capacity building for youth development and empowerment in agriculture; and peace education and conflict resolution, Mr. Akoh said.

But a majority of existing government agencies expressed strong opposition to the creation of the organization.

At a House committee hearing during consideration of the bill, the Office of the Head of Service (HoS) said several government agencies with similar mandates as Peace Corps already exist and listed the Ministry of Youth Development and Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity and Ministry of Environment as examples.

Other existing law enforcement agencies include Ministry of Education, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, National Orientation Agency, National Poverty Eradication Programme and, National Directorate of Employment. The list is far from being exhausted, the head of the service said.

Consequently, the HoS urged lawmakers to consider “the implications of the proposed creation of Nigerian Peace Corps on the cost of governance and duplication of duties of existing agencies.”

Law enforcement agencies have taken measures against the Peace Corps since at least 2003 when the State Security Service arrested Mr. Akoh and shut down his offices across the country.

He resumed operation in 2007. But when the SSS clamped down on his organization again, he launched a civil lawsuit which has dragged since then.

This year alone, the police have detained Mr. Akoh at least twice.

At the first incident, armed officers from police, SSS and the Nigerian Army stormed the head office of the Peace Corps and took Mr. Akoh and more than 40 others into custody.

The head office was also shut by the police and has not been reopened ever since.

Mr. Akoh said he had won at least 11 cases against different security agencies over the past 15 years. The police will neither confirm nor deny this assertion.

While several agencies under executive control have openly expressed opposition to the Peace Corps, President Muhammadu Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo have not said whether they will assent to the bill or reject it.

Inquiries directed to presidential spokespersons, including Garba Shehu, Laolu Akande and Femi Adesina, went unanswered throughout Thursday.

Senate sources with knowledge about the tactics of the Peace Corps told PREMIUM TIMES the group’s promoters gave millions of naira to some senators.

“Apart from the cash bribes that they offered, they even gave some key lawmakers who worked to ensure that the bill was passed more than 1000 job slots,” a senator said.

But PREMIUM TIMES could not confirm if Mr. Umaru received cash bribes from the Peace Corps.

Promoters of the Peace Corps also put pressure on some lawmakers through their constituents.

“They asked our constituents to inundate us with calls about jobs prospects in the Peace Corps,” the senator said.

Senate spokesperson, Abdullahi Aliyu, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES request for comments on the allegations.

But Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP-Abia South, denied receiving any bribes from the Peace Corps.

The “allegation is beneath contempt,” he said.

“None at all,” he said while responding to a specific question on whether he received cash bribes.

Mr. Akoh was said to raised funds from the sale of forms to unemployed youth seeking job placement in his organization. He has been selling employment forms to prospective recruits at N1,500 per copy.

But he told PREMIUM TIMES in January that the N40,000 he collects from prospective members was meant for registration, training, procurement of kits, amongst others.

“The ICPC has investigated us in 2004 and established that we’re not extorting money from the youth,” he added.

Other than the possible employment opportunities that an established Peace Corps could bring to Nigerian youth, there appears to be no other unique reason for its creation.

But even “this can be achieved by strengthening existing agencies and not necessarily creating a new one so as not to overburden the federal government,” Mr. Umaru said.

Yet, the senator declined requests from PREMIUM TIMES seeking to know why he urged his colleagues to allow the Peace Corps Bill scale through in disregard of the findings of his committee.


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Gov. Okowa’s Aide Escapes Death Over Attempt To Rig NUT Election For Governor


Mike Okeme, the Special Adviser to Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Labour Relations and SERVICOM, last Friday escaped being lynched during an election of the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) held at the La-Diva Hotel in Asaba.

Okeme, a former state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who was working round the clock to see that the governor’s anointed chairmanship candidate, Timothy Chukunwosa Umukoro, was delivered, invaded the venue with political thugs to smuggle in fake cartons of ballot papers to rig the election.

It was observed that Okeme’s intention was to add up the smuggled fake ballot papers to votes that were being collated when the teachers pounced on him.  He was swiftly whisked away by operatives to prevent him from being lynched.

According to the teachers, Governor Okowa had tried all means to ensure his candidate prevailed over their popular and preferred choice, Titus Okotie.

Speaking to NDAGG shortly after Mr. Okotie was declared the winner despite the governor’s script that was played by Okeme to impose Umukoro on them, a teacher who simply identified himself as Chukwudi, said that before the election, the governor had, through Chiedu Ebie, the commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, issued a series of threats and intimidation should they work against the governor's choice.

"Okeme thinks he smuggled fake ballot papers to rig election for Okowa's candidate,” he said.  “We all decided to show solidarity to our popular and well-accepted candidate and shunned all forms of intimidation from the state governor who has through his aide and commissioner threatened to deal with us should we throw our weight behind our candidate. We are very mad at governor Okowa, for over their five months now no salaries and he expects us to do his bidding by voting for the candidate of his choice to enslave teachers forever in Delta State." 

Also speaking, a teacher from Ukwuani Local Government who identified herself as Mrs. Ahona, stated that through the eagle eyes of the teachers around, the governor's aide was caught when trying to smuggle in the two bags of fake ballot papers into the collation hall.

"Governor Okowa through his aide, Okeme and Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie had before the election threatened to sanction some Education Secretaries across the state if they aligned themselves with the unpaid teachers to vote out the governor's candidate. Okeme’s mission to the election venue was a clandestine move aimed at ensuring that the government’s candidate emerged, but was rattled.”

She said they were taking the opportunity to call on Governor Okowa to offset their salary arrears and pay salaries as at when due especially to the primary school teachers who are suffering over non-payment. 

“Promotion should be given to teachers who are due for a promotion,” she continued.  “Teachers should no longer be shortchanged. The money used in buying the clock-in machine would have been used to pay teachers’ salaries."

Mrs. Ahona reminded the governor of the forthcoming general elections, saying that teachers might be forced to boycott the election or vote him out for a better candidate that has the interest of teachers, workers and all Deltans at heart.

When contacted, Mr. Okeme simply said he was not bothered, adding he does not respond to issues such as this.


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EX MILITANTS ATTEMPT BLACKMAIL! NDDC FIGHTS BACK



That Misguided Attack on NDDC

At a time the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is busy pursuing innovative policies aimed at delivering services more efficiently to the people of the Niger Delta region, some misguided youths are intent on distracting the Commission.

We are aware that the NDDC is driving a well-articulated reform programme tagged the 4-R strategy, which entails restructuring the balance sheet; reforming the governance systems; restoring the core mandate of the Commission and re-affirming commitment to doing what is right and proper.

Against this background, the recent allegation by a nondescript Egbesu United, EU, a group of former Niger-Delta militants, targeted at the NDDC and one of its directors, is misguided and flows largely from ignorance.

The youth group, based in Bayelsa State, appears to have a penchant for making frivolous claims against public institutions and officials. Now, for no justifiable reason, they are calling for the sack of a formidable NDDC Executive Director.
 
In the past, the same ex-militant group, also called for the sack of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs for not doing their bidding.
The group, whose actions and utterances have not been grounded on sound judgment, seems to have shifted its focus on the NDDC and its officials. A document released by the publicity secretary of the group, Odubu Ebirie, in Yenagoa Bayelsa, accused the NDDC director of “serving personal interest and ego rather than promoting the interest of the region.”

The group claimed that apart from not meeting regional interests of the Commission, the actions of the Executive Director was “capable of destroying the All Progressive Congress, APC, fortune in the region.”

We hope that they realize that as a Federal Government agency, the NDDC has a responsibility to serve the people of the Niger Delta irrespective of their political affiliations.

Beyond the issue of politics, the claim of not working for the general good of the people is preposterous, considering the numerous development projects of the Commission. It is a common knowledge that the NDDC had invested in infrastructural development, especially on roads, electricity, healthcare, education, agriculture and environment.

We are aware that the Commission has so far built 3,489 roads (5,900 km). It has also intervened in coastal areas through shoreline protection, canalization and jetty projects. It has equally built electric power transmission lines and sub-stations in rural communities.  

We can also affirm that NDDC has conducted 266 medical missions covering about 3 million patients in the region. It has built 47 cottage hospitals and 187 health centres and is currently building regional hospitals in different parts of the Niger Delta region.

In the area of education, the Commission has awarded Post-graduate scholarships to 1,411 students covering 344 PhD and 1,067 MSc. In order to boost education, it awarded contracts for the construction of 678 classroom blocks, 449 of which had been completed, while 229 are currently on-going.

The interventions in agriculture and various youth empowerment programmes are too numerous not to have been noticed by the Egbesu United.

Although we cannot discountenance the effects of political interference in the activities of the NDDC, we are pleased that the current board and management have adopted measures to check these extraneous influences.

From all indications, the current NDDC board and management are doing things differently by adopting new strategies. It is, a new dawn at the Commission and the era of underhand practices are over. So, the claim by Egbesu United “that the Commission awards contracts to proxies,” cannot be true.

The former Niger-Delta militants should know that the NDDC has moved on.

Ibitoye Abosede
Director Corporate Affairs

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