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Rivers to go After Amaechi, Tonye Cole Over Gas Turbines Sales

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Thisday award Amaechi

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Rivers State Government has revealed that the former Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi; the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Tonye Cole of Sahara Energy Ltd, and others may stand trial over alleged fraudulent sale of four gas turbines, other valued state assets and diversion of state funds worth N96 billion.

Governor Nyesom Wike said that leaders of the state will meet to decide on whether to commence criminal prosecution of the former Minister of Transport and a presidential aspirant of the APC and others.

This is coming after the Supreme Court recently dismissed the former Minister’s appeal to stop the investigation into the activities of his administration as governor of Rivers State between 2007 and 2015.

The Governor during a media parley said the Supreme Court dismissal of Mr Amaechi’s appeal has vindicated the Rivers State government, stating that on his assumption of office in 2015, the state government set up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the activities of the former Rivers State governor’s administration.

“The judicial panel was mandated to investigate the sale of the 150 Megawatts gas turbine in Omoku, Afam 360 MW Gas Turbine, Trans-Amadi 136 MW Gas Turbine and the 75 MW Gas turbine in Eleme; Monorail Project; the sale of Olympia hotel; and non-execution of the contract for the construction of Justice Karibi-Whyte hospital after the Amaechi administration paid $39.2m to the contractor,” he said.

Governor Wike added that the judicial panel at the end of its investigation submitted its report and recommendations to the State government. According to him, this necessitated the State Government to come up with a White Paper Report.

“So many people were indicted by that report and so we didn’t go to court to file charges against those that were indicted because some people went to court, particularly, the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi. And as those who obey the rule of law and have respect for the court, we said we will not take any step further until the court decides.

“At the State High court, the Rivers State Government won. The former governor went to the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Government won. And then he appealed to the Supreme Court to set aside the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and the White Paper of the government.

“To the glory of God, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his appeal against the judicial panel of the inquiry report and the government White Paper Report,” the Governor stated.

Mr Wike said the state government has been justified by the Supreme Court judgment because those indicted by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry were given the opportunity to defend themselves, but some of them chose not to appear before the panel.

“If you see that report, as a Rivers man you will cry. Nobody who loves Rivers State will see that report and will not cry. Now that the Supreme Court has come up with its judgment, the leaders of the State will decide what next step to take. It is not for only me. Yes, I am a governor, I can’t do it alone. If the leaders of the State say we must prosecute them, I have no choice.”

“The money that was collected by Sahara Energy and Tonye Cole, it is for the leaders of the State to say should we go ahead and file charges against Rotimi Amaechi and his cohorts, or should we allow it to be. It is for the State elders. The State elders will meet and agree on what next to do. But the point is, let the world know that nobody who will see that report and not be angry,” he disclosed.

The Rivers State governor narrated how the sum of $50 million was diverted from the State account and paid to Sahara Energy for inexplicable reasons. According to him, there is no evidence of any transaction indicating that the State is indebted to the company.

“What did Sahara Energy do for us? What is the transaction that we paid $50 Million for? You said Sahara Energy bought our gas turbines, if they bought our gas turbines, why are we paying them $50million? Did we borrow money from them and where is the agreement to show we borrowed money from them? Nothing.

“People will come out and begin to sing we are innocent. I thank God we have been vindicated. We did the right thing. It is for the Rivers people to decide the next line of action. If they decide today that they will file criminal charges, I have no choice than to direct the Ministry of Justice to file charges against Rotimi Amaechi, Sahara Energy, and Tonye Cole,” he quipped.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Obasanjo Charges Africa to Decide Its Energy Future

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Olusegun Obasanjo Africa

By Adedapo Adesanya

Former president of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, has said Africa must take charge of its own energy destiny and use its rich resource assets for the benefit of its own people.

His comments come in support of the Africa Oil Week (AOW), which is necessitated as the world scrambles to find new sources of oil and gas to meet its energy needs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this context, Mr Obasanjo noted that African countries cannot be beholden to the unrealistic ideals of the Global North for an exclusively renewables-driven economy, saying this is particularly true when the developed world is itself accepting the need for hydrocarbons.

“Like the rest of the world, Africa must follow energy policies that promote socio-economic development and sustainable hydrocarbon use,” he said.

The former Head of State, who ruled Africa’s largest crude oil producer from 1999 to 2007 said, “Africa is the lowest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions and needs to lift nearly half-a-billion citizens out of poverty.

“Responsible management of our hydrocarbons and investment in our economies is necessary to ensure a just energy transition and sustainable growth for our people.”

The European Union (EU) had previously said it intends to cut Russian-supplied oil by up to 90 per cent by the end of 2022, and the announcement has already caused global energy costs to soar.

Africa is one of the potential new sources of energy to replace this supply, with an estimated 61 billion barrels of oil equivalent being discovered in the region over the past 10 years.

Mr Obasanjo’s view aligns with that of the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), which also called on member countries and other global institutions to use petroleum as a catalyst for energy security, sustainable development, and economic diversification in Africa through collaboration and partnerships.

Mr Obasanjo has been a major leader of Africa’s post-colonial period, having overseen Nigeria’s transition to representative democracy. Since his move out of the government sphere, he has been a senior statesman, active in defining geopolitical issues – including energy.

He also helped to shape the modern Nigerian oil industry, inaugurating policy reforms that have seen the country become an energy superpower on the African continent.

“Creating an African oil industry that benefits Africa’s people needs strong policy and regulation.

“During my time in government, we launched oil-and-gas policy reforms that helped to build a modern oil and gas hub. There were many learnings that we can apply across the wider region. I look forward to discussing these opportunities for Africa.”

He then called for accelerated dialogue on the sustainable development of hydrocarbons, and the role of Africa as a supplier of global energy needs.

“There has been much talk at forums such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos about a just energy transition. However, we must not allow Africa to be dictated to. The discussions at AOW will be pivotal in charting a new energy course for Africa. We will decide what is best for us,” he said.

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Akande-Sadipe Mourns as Another Oyo APC Chieftain Dies

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Muili Ojuolape Oyo APC chieftain

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A member of the House of Representatives, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, has expressed sorrow over the death of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, Mr Muili Ojuolape.

In a statement on Thursday, the lawmaker from the Oluyole Federal Constituency in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, described the Oyo APC chieftain as a father who would be missed.

Mrs Akande-Sadipe, in the statement signed by her media aide, Mr Olamilekan Olusada, prayed to God to comfort the family of Mr Ojuolape and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.

She expressed shock over the death of the party chieftain, saying, “The unthinkable happened. We received the news of the second loss in Oluyole APC. We are saddened by the exit of another committed progressive. It’s difficult to bear the pain!”

“Baba Ojuolape, as I fondly called you, Baba Muili Ojuolape, you were indeed a father to me in Oluyole. As you go to your maker, I pray you to rest in perfect peace. I will surely miss you, APC Oluyole will surely miss you, and APC ward one shall surely miss you too. TASK Oluyole shall surely miss you. My sincere condolences to your immediate family. May the Almighty uphold your family to bear this loss,” she added.

Mrs Akande-Sadipe stated further that, “It is natural to grief when death strikes in a well-knitted family, but we have the confidence that the sacrifices you made in your life to build the APC in your local chapter, Oluyole into a viable democratic institution, shall not be in vain.

“You have played your part and left, and your democratic credentials should always spur us to greater service.”

It was gathered that Mr Ojuolape, a prominent member of the APC in the Oluyole local government area of Oyo State, died on Tuesday after a brief illness in Ibadan.

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Pensioners Only Experience Few Payment Issues—PTAD

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PTAD Few Payment Issues

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has claimed that pensioners only witness a few payment issues, which it said should become a thing of the past very soon.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Ms Chioma Ejikeme, while speaking at a Sensitization and Collaboration Forum, which had critical stakeholders in attendance, said efforts are being made to make the process seamless.

She explained that the event was put together to carry stakeholders along, especially security officials, so as to weed out fraud from the system.

Ms Ejikeme said PTAD was ready to collaborate with other agencies to curb pension fraud and resolve issues regarding pension payments to the pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS).

“The Directorate has deemed it fit and important to engage these group of stakeholders in order to continually re-strategize and come to terms with the realities of pension payments and its attendant challenges.

“The pension industry had been swamped with complaints of extortion by fraudsters and phone calls demanding for money in order to quicken computation and payment of outstanding liabilities,” she said.

“It is important for agencies that like ICPC, and EFCC to really understand what we do, because of the perception of pension admiration out there as many people think PTAD keeps pensioners’ funds, which is not true.

“As such, we want to make sure that our processes and the way we conduct our payments is very well known to these agencies not just them, but also the general public,” she disclosed.

“Certainly, there are challenges in payment arising from the Government Integrated Financial Management Systems (GIFMIS), but the magnitude is really not significant.

“Consequently, we are here today to look at some of the minor challenges while we sit with the relevant stakeholders and look at how to address them and also get input from the financial managers of the government,” Ms Ejikeme stated.

On his part, the President of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Mr Godwin Abumisi, lauded the efforts of PTAD in managing their pension and stated that they had never had it so good.

“Indeed the union and its teeming members will be eternally grateful to the federal government and the National Assembly for the establishment of PTAD via the Pension Reform Act of 2014 (as amended). The establishment and operations of PTAD is far better than where we are coming from,” he said.

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