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Saraki Throws Jibes At Tinubu, Says Kwara Will Never Take Instructions From Lagos

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Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in a leaked audio clip has vowed that Kwara State will never take instructions from any political leader in Lagos State.

Saraki, who spoke largely in Yoruba in the audio clip, stated this while addressing young Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members in Kwara State.

The leaked audio clip yesterday drew the ire of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, which requested the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to investigate the claim that the Senate President spent between N200 million and N400 million to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections for the All Progressives Congress, APC, in states of the federation.

In the audio tape, recorded for about 33 minutes, which had since gone viral across social media platforms, Saraki, who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the opposition PDP a few months ago, said he benefited little from his membership of the ruling party.

In the tape, the Senate president threw jabs at APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, by pledging to protect Kwara from the grip of godfathers in Lagos. Although the former Kwara governor did not specifically mention the name of the Lagos-based APC leader, his words were punctured with anti-Tinubu rhetoric from his supporters.

Saraki said if he remained the only member of the PDP, he would ensure that he resisted the ‘invasion’ of Kwara by Lagos godfathers, alleging that he was being persecuted, despite helping President Buhari win the election.

“If you don’t even want Bukola, bring someone from Kwara and empower him. I know you young people are ‘sharp’. Today, there is none in APC (‘empowered’ by government).

Instead, they want you, they want us, to be going to Lagos to get instructions. Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has requested the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to investigate claims that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, spent between N200 million and N400 million to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections for the All Progressives Congress, APC, in states of the federation.

In an open letter to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmod Yakubu, SERAP urged him to collaborate with other necessary agencies of government to investigate the veracity of the audio linked to Saraki, where he claimed to have spent between N200million and N400million in every state, except the six South-West states, to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections for APC.

SERAP also urged INEC to “investigate the sources of other cases of apparently unexplained campaign financing and contributions for the 2015 elections by politicians and supporters of the two main political parties, the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

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BIG STORY

UN Pledges Support For Nigeria As Millions Endure Humanitarian Crisis

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Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), has returned from a four-day visit to Nigeria.

Griffiths witnessed firsthand the humanitarian situation and reaction in the region’s north, promising to increase international awareness of the catastrophe and draw attention to the fights around Lake Chad.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, federal government officials, Chief of Defence Staff Leo Irabor, and Borno Governor Babagana Zulum were among those that met with the USG.

In Maiduguri, Bama, and Damasak, he met with Nigerians who had been affected by the violence, as well as humanitarian partners.

In Damasak, on the border with Niger, Griffiths heard from some women and families displaced by the violence. They told him of their hopes to return home.

The humanitarian chief expressed sadness about the deep impact of the violence and repeated displacement for many citizens.

Griffiths disclosed that people he met demonstrated amazing courage in the face of vicious violence, killings, and kidnappings.

In Bama, women told the UN top officials, stories of how they escaped from years of armed group captivity only weeks ago.

He, however, confirmed getting Zulum’s commitment to the authorities’ zeal to improve security and build resilience for the most vulnerable.

“It is clear we share a common objective: upholding the dignity of Nigerians and finding ways to ease the suffering too many of them face today.

“People are yearning for security, livelihoods, and better access to social services, and we stand ready to make this a reality with the Government and our humanitarian partners.”

Griffiths hailed aid workers in Bama and Damasak after listening to the challenges they face in reaching those in need.

“Brave humanitarian workers, most of them Nigerians themselves, work tirelessly and often at great personal risk to help others.”

The coordinator promised to continuously advocate their safety and for the necessary support to the persons they serve.

The humanitarian community reached more than 5 million people in Nigeria last year. The 2022 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan, for launch in February, requires over $1 billion to help 8.4 million people.

The UN added that the Lake Chad basin conflict has taken a heavy toll on communities across Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, putting 10 million people at risk and in need of assistance.

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Subsidy: Presidency, Governors Deny N302 Fuel Increase

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The presidency and governors have reportedly distanced selves from a planned hike in fuel pump prices from N165 to N302 per liter next month. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has spoken out against the planned removal of the petroleum subsidy, which the National Economic Council (NEC) ad hoc committee advising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the appropriate pricing of premium motor spirit (PMS) said would save the country N250 billion per month.

The ad hoc committee, led by Kaduna State governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufia, is said to have suggested a petrol price of N302 per liter, which will be enforced by February. The presidency, on the other hand, denied that a resolution like this was passed at NEC. NEC sessions are presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

His media aide Laolu Akande, who also coordinates NEC media activities, in a tweet on his handle, @akandeoj noted that: “While there are indeed ongoing discussions on the issue of fuel subsidy, at no time has NEC made any such resolution. Public discourse can be better served by seeking further clarification from relevant quarters on matters of such importance.”

Nigerian governors, who met in Abuja on Wednesday night, dismissed the report that they were the ones pushing for an increase in the pump price of fuel. Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the umbrella body of the governors, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who briefed journalists at end of the meeting, argued that it is not within the mandate of sub-national body, such as the NGF, “to decide on what happens to PMS price.”

According to the Ekiti governor, “the National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President has been dealing with this issue over time.”

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How Construction Firm Completed Road To Buhari’s Kaduna Residence In Few Days

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Residents in Kaduna were astounded when the construction firm in charge of the road leading to President Muhammadu Buhari’s private Kaduna residence completed the work in a matter of days.

“This has shown that with the right people and the required resources, infrastructural development could be achieved in this country,” Malam Bala, a trader near Sultan road Kaduna has said.

He said the company engaged the engineers and other workers to work round the clock on the road that connects to the President’s house, and the result was marvelous.”

“We heard that the contractor was mandated to complete the section of the road leading to Buhari’s residence before the president’s arrival and before the president flew into Kaduna from The Gambia, the road had been completed, with street lights installed as well as road signs.

“The road is not opened for general use, security agents are still there. The construction workers worked day and night, for 4 days so as to deliver on the road. It’s a surprise that the road could be fixed within such a short time. As of last Saturday, that section of the road was under construction, a lot of work had not been done, only for me to see that a rapid project was being made and it was completed before the President arrived. This shows that if the leaders are determined, they can work for the people,” he said.

The President, who was impressed with the numerous projects he commissioned across the state, exclaimed that “if you had not been in Kaduna for some time now, surely you would miss your road home just like me. El-Rufai has really changed the face of this state. I relocated to Kaduna after serving my jail term in the 1980s from Daura. I cannot find my way home with the current development.”

On Friday, Buhari commissioned the ultra-modern Sabon Gari market in Zaria, amidst applause from locals who have not seen the President physically, some years.

President Buhari had commended Malam Nasir El-Rufai for committing himself to change Kaduna, noting that the Kaduna State Governor has been successful in that quest.

The president, who was on a two-day working visit to Kaduna State to commission some of the state’s urban renewal projects, was speaking at the Murtala Square in Kaduna.  He had arrived in Kaduna on Wednesday night direct from Banjul, Gambia.

From Kaduna, President Buhari, accompanied by Governor El-Rufai, flew to Kafanchan this morning to commission Emir Road, Katsina Road and Dan-Haya Road.

He returned to Kaduna around noon, and immediately commissioned the remodelled Murtala Square, a sprawling sporting, event and recreational centre.

Noting the impact of the urban renewal programme, President Buhari said that he can no longer find his way around Kaduna, even as someone who has lived in the city for a long. Commending El-Rufai, the president said, “you have committed yourself to change Kaduna and you have been very successful and people throughout the country are appreciating it. You are writing your history in letters of gold. I congratulate you for your achievements so far.”

The president commissioned some of the 19 completed urban renewal road projects, including the reconstructed Kawo Flyover, an almost one-kilometer long dual carriageway with three ground rotaries, the 5.6km Aliyu Makama Road, the multi-storey Basic Education Mega-School in Lokoja Road in Rigasa, and the dualised Yakubu Gowon Way and Leventis Underpass.

President Buhari also commissioned the Infectious Disease Hospital in Mando, after Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, explained the thinking behind the project. He also commissioned the fertiliser blending plant of Barbedos Group.

Malam Nasir El-Rufai launched the Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme in June 2019 by Governor El-Rufai, shortly after which the projects commenced in Kaduna before those of Kafanchan and Zaria started. “The goal of the urban renewal programme is to regenerate Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria, the three major cities in the state.”

According to Malam El-Rufai, “these unprecedented investments in urban infrastructure are to consolidate the state’s position as an investment destination, improve its economic competitiveness and promote the welfare of the residents of the state.”

The president would be hosted at a state banquet in Kaduna on Friday.

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