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Tinubu To Wike: I Owe You Nothing, Faults Request For Project Refund

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•Describes him as dependable ally 

•Rivers governor seeks amendment to procurement law

•You’re desperate for favour, accommodation, Shehu Sani blasts Wike

President-elect, Bola Tinubu, yesterday, faulted Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike over his request for the federal government’s refund of money spent on the construction of federal roads in the state, saying he owes the governor nothing.

Tinubu, who was in the state to inaugurate two projects executed by the state government, however, described Wike as a dependable ally.

Nonetheless, the Rivers State governor sought amendment to the procurement law.

The request came as former senator and civil rights activist, Shehu Sani, condemned Wike as desperate for favour and accommodation by Tinubu.

Wike had while giving a speech at the inauguration of the Rumuokwuta/Rumuola Flyover (12th Flyover), performed by Tinubu, requested that immediately after handover, the president-elect should consider refunding Rivers State the money spent on all the federal roads in the state. He requested the Tinubu-led federal government to do the refund to his successor, Sim Fubara.

Wike stated, “The governor-elect is here. As I leave office, I will sign all that is required and he will simply pass the papers to you. That will be one of the first things you do when you are sworn in as president on May 29.”

Reacting, Tinubu told Wike that he owed him nothing, and that the governor and his people were using the roads in question.

However, while commending Wike for making Rivers people happy with his developmental strides, Tinubu stressed that they should look at how to move the country forward.

The president-elect, nevertheless, promised to have a private discussion with the governor over his request.

He told the governor, “The demand you made for refund, I owe you nothing, it’s your road. You are the one living on this road. I commend your effort, and you had to lobby me to collect.

“Nyesom, as you make people create excitement and development across this state, we have something to look forward to for Nigeria. You and I will discuss that not expected debt.”

Tinubu described the governor as a dependable ally, who was ever ready to pursue a just cause in the national interest.

Tinubu expressed joy that he commissioned the projects, in fulfilment of his earlier promise to Wike during the presidential campaign rally in the state. He recalled the gruesome campaign he went through to emerge president-elect in the February 25 election.

The president-elect stated, “The newly elected governor of Rivers State, I am very happy to meet you. The newly elected House of Representatives members and senators that will be collaborating with me in Abuja, if you talk of character, you can well say that Governor Wike is very dependable.

“I am a very happy man because I went through a gruesome campaign, fought hard, supported by many of you and I won. To my victory, I couldn’t have done it without some structural support describable in a flyover.

“In His Excellency, I see a man of principle, he took a principled stand that the presidency must return to South and he has the courage to stand by his conviction, not minding whose ox is gored. Nyesom is a real man of integrity, not about him, rather, the interest of the nation, and you promoted unity.

“There was so much gossip and speculation, but you stood your ground and found the construction of this flyover and my invitation to commission this project today is another way of building bridges, which cannot be overstated in Nigeria. So, it’s on the strength of your character I stand to fulfil my promise I made during the campaign.”

Wike, who spoke earlier, noted the need for the federal government to amend its procurement law in order to end abandonment of projects it handled. He said the current procurement law of the federal government only allowed for about 15/30 per cent to be paid as mobilisation fee to a contractor, stressing that such a sum does not allow the contractor to make good progress on projects before being caught up by inflation effects and high cost of materials, which eventually requires variation of contract terms.

The Rivers State governor, who explained the process of awarding contracts in the state, stated that some of the constructed flyovers were on federal roads and the state should be refunded. 

It was at this point he requested the incoming Tinubu administration to consider a possible refund to the Rivers State, adding that it would serve as a motivation to other states that would feel more encouraged to also work on federal roads in their jurisdictions.

Wike said, “Unfortunately, these projects ought to be federal government projects because they are federal roads. But if we had said because they are federal government roads, we won’t do it, who are those to suffer? Since we have said we don’t want our people to suffer, I also believe that the federal government should say, look, you have done well for us.

“These are projects we should be doing, can you bring your bill, let us refund you the money you have spent doing these roads. That is what it is supposed to be for a partnership with a good federal government. I can assure you as you enter the office and you approve to pay this money back, other states will have the courage to also do the same thing.”

Some of the dignitaries present at the occasion included Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; and governors of Oyo State (Seyi Makinde), Jigawa State (Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar), Imo State (Senator Hope Uzodinma), and Ebonyi State (David Umahi).

Others were former governors: Dr. Peter Odili (Rivers), Chief Bisi Akande (Osun), James Ibori (Delta), Chief Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), and Chief Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa).

But Sani, who reacted to a public holiday declared in Rivers State by Wike in view of Tinubu’s visit, condemned the governor’s action and urged Tinubu not to encourage such acts.

The former lawmaker, who represented Kaduna South in the eighth senate, noted that grounding the economic, social and educational activities of the state to commission projects was a mark of desperation for favour and accommodation.

Writing on his Twitter handle, Sani said, “Commissioning a project is a mark of a great achievement. Kudos. But grounding the economic, social and educational activities of the state for that purpose is a mark of desperation for favour and accommodation by a lickspittle. Tinubu can say no to that or else it becomes the norm.”

In related development, Umahi, also a senator-elect, urged Tinubu to bring Wike on board, saying he has a lot to offer.

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Politics

I Will Not Interfere In Ondo Assembly Affairs – Akeredolu

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Akeredolu

• Leadership positions privilege, not right, Fayemi tells Ekiti lawmakers-elect
• Says selection prerogative of party

Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has assured the incoming members of the 10th House of Assembly of non-interference in their legislative affairs by his administration.

Akeredolu emphasised that his administration upholds and respects the principle of separation of powers among the three arms of government, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

The governor gave the promise, yesterday, during a two-day induction programme for the 26 lawmakers-elect in Owo, ahead of their June inauguration.

He, therefore, urged the incoming Assembly members to legislate effectively and promote good governance and development for the benefit of citizens, with the expectation that the legislature will operate independently.

MEANWHILE, the immediate past Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has cautioned the newly-elected members of Ekiti State House of Assembly not to see the position of principal officers as a right but a privilege.

He said it is the prerogative of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to decide the presiding officers of the Assembly.

Fayemi, who spoke during the retreat organised for the outgoing and lawmakers-elect, held at the Ikogosi Warm Resort in Ekiti West Local Council of the state, declared that the lawmakers can’t lobby or contest for positions.

Akeredolu, while urging the lawmakers-elect to see themselves as trustees of the entire state, said the decision of their constituents to elect them as representatives is a big testimony of the confidence reposed in them.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa, described the legislature as the engine room of democracy, adding that when the legislature is removed, what is left is autocracy.

He noted that his administration had a robust relationship with the outgoing Ninth Assembly and urged the incoming 10th Assembly to do the same for continued development.

Earlier, the Speaker of the House, Bamidele Oleyelogun, who declared the event open, said the essence of the programme was to broaden the mind of the elected legislators on the legislative agenda, the procedures, and processes, as well as to remind them of the primary needs of their people.

Oleyelogun noted that the programme is the process of introducing members-elect to the legislative terrain, emphasising that any knowledge acquired at the end of the programme will go a long way in determining their performances as legislators.

Guardian

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I Am In Partnership With Yari To Produce Next Senate President, Deputy – Kalu

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Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, has confirmed a partnership with former Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State to produce next president and deputy of the 10th Red Chamber. 
 
In an interview with journalists in Abuja, the erstwhile governor of Abia State said sponsors and supporters were on ground, adding that details of the partnership would be unveiled soon.

“We won’t disappoint Nigerians. We are capable of representing ourselves. Yari-Kalu or Kalu-Yari won’t disappoint Nigerians. We will give Nigerians what they require, and the Nigerian people won’t be disappointed,” he promised.

Kalu said the move was to ensure that only the most popular candidate emerge leader of the next Senate.

The ranking lawmaker, who declared that he would not step down for anybody, said the partnership would consult exhaustively.
 
Checks, however, revealed that Kalu might have settled to be deputy to Yari.

Prodded on candidate for the Senate presidency, the Abia lawmaker responded: “It’s what we don’t know now. This is why it is coming out in the coming days. We are not greedy about it. We are going to face realities. We are going to get a support base. It is not going to be problem. The most important thing is to have an independent legislature that will represent the interest of Nigerians, and represent also, the interest of our colleagues.”

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Wike No Longer Our Member – PDP NEC

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A member of the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Executive Committee, Timothy Osadolor, says the immediate-past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is no longer a member of the party, given his conduct before, during and after the 2023 general elections.

Osadolor, who gave the hint in a telephone conversation with The PUNCH on Tuesday, noted that the leadership of the party had decided to isolate Wike and render him inconsequential in the affairs of the PDP.

According to him, Wike’s recent public outings wherein he appeared to be leaning towards the All Progressives Congress, give him away as a man in perpetual craving for the spotlight at all times and regardless of the cost to his image as an opposition political leader.

He said, “The PDP has ignored Wike because the man is no longer himself. There are more ways to deal with people apart from sanctioning them. You can keep someone in isolation. He (Wike) can boast that he is the one that stayed away but is it not better to stay away than come to party activities and nobody wants to associate with you? He has been given a cold treatment because he went to court to procure a judgment that says he cannot be suspended but there is no judgment that says he cannot be avoided. That is what the PDP has been doing to him and technically, if Wike wants to say the truth, he will tell you that he is no longer a member of the PDP. No PDP leader or member behaves the way he does.”

But in a swift reaction, a chieftain of the PDP and immediate past Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Chris Finebone, said Wike remained a bona fide member of the opposition party.
Describing Osadolor’s comments as wishful thinking, Finebone said he does not have any power to speak for the party.

He stated, “We can’t identify who he represents, but I think it is wishful thinking. It is wishful thinking and the man who is said to have said that is inconsequential as far as we are concerned.

“And so, whatever he has said is of no effect. His Excellency, the former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is 110 per cent a member of PDP and nothing has changed. And nothing can change it.”

On the accusation that Wike has been hobnobbing with Tinubu, he said it was petty and frivolous.

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