LIBERIAN PRESIDENT, BOAKAI, SLASHES OWN SALARY BY 40% President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, of Liberia on Saturday, voluntarily slashed his salary by 40 per cent. Mr Boakai, who was quoted in a statement published on Liberia’s government website on Saturday, said this move was “aimed at setting a precedent for responsible governance and nation-building.” “In fulfilment of his commitment to fiscal integrity and national financial security, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr. has announced a voluntary 40 per cent reduction in his salary,” the statement added. According to Mr Boakai, the announcement reflects his determination to lead by example in strengthening government accountability and demonstrating solidarity with the people of the nation. This followed Mr Boakai’s public declaration of assets last month.The Liberian leader said his action is in fulfilment of his commitment to upholding the constitution and laws of Liberia, in addition to his dedication to fostering a culture of accountability, integrity, and good governance.


BREAKING: PRO-WIKE LAWMAKERS ISSUE FRESH ULTIMATUM TO FUBARA, DEMAND RESUBMISSION OF 2024 BUDGET The Rivers State House of Assembly, led by Martin Amaewhule, has given the state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara a 7-day deadline to resubmit the 2024 budget. This order was issued during the first session of the pro-Wike House on Monday after a break of several months. Meanwhile, a parallel session is being held by the House faction led by Victor Oko-Jumbo. Governor Fubara had previously presented the budget to the other House loyal to him, with his current Chief of Staff, Edison Ehie, presiding as Speaker. Ehie and the pro-Fubara lawmakers had passed the Rivers State budget estimates months ago, which the governor quickly signed into law.


HOW I RECEIVED NEWS ABOUT ABACHA’S DEATH, BY ABDULSALAMI ABUBAKAR Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, shared his recollections about the death of Nigeria’ s former dictator, General Sani Abacha, in 1998 and the subsequent events that followed. Abubakar recounted that the news of Abacha’ s death was first brought to him by the then Inspector- General of Police, Ibrahim Coomassie. Abubakar explained, ” General Abacha died on the day he was supposed to travel to Togo for an ECOWAS or AU summit. ” I received a call from the Villa that General Abacha wanted to see me. Initially, I thought he had changed his mind about the trip and was going to ask me to go in his place. At that time, I was effectively the second- in- command because General Diya and others were dealing with allegations of a coup. ” He continued, “I was preparing to leave for the summit when I received another urgent call.I quickly dressed in a tracksuit and headed to the Villa. To my surprise, I was asked to wait in the waiting room for over 30 minutes. ‘Eventually, Coomassie approached me and took me to the house, where he informed me that General Abacha had passed away during the night. “ Upon arriving at Abacha’ s residence, Abubakar saw the late General’ s body and offered prayers. He then joined a gathering of officials, including Coomassie, the Chief Justice of the Federation, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, and several security operatives, to discuss the next steps. Abubakar emphasized the urgency of the situation, noting that the Chief Justice advised against leaving a power vacuum.Thus, they quickly convened a Council of State meeting to appoint a new head of state before announcing Abacha’ s death to the public. Abubakar described the intense period following Abacha’ s death, including his need to summon the military ruling council and prepare for the transition of power. He remained in his tracksuit during the initial meetings due to the shock and urgency of the situation. Once formally dressed, he rejoined the council members, who had by then arrived, to discuss the transition. Ultimately, the council deliberated on who should succeed Abacha, considering the seniority of General Useini, then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and Abubakar himself, who was the Chief of Defence Staff. The discussions highlighted the importance of maintaining stability and continuity in leadership during such a critical time for the nation.In conclusion, Abubakar’ s detailed account sheds light on the immediate actions and considerations taken by Nigeria’s leadership following the sudden death of General Abacha, emphasizing the complexities and challenges of navigating a smooth transition of power amidst a national crisis.


EKPA SLAMS SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS: SAYS THEY LACK LEGITIMACY TO NEGOTIATE FOR KANU’S RELEASE The Simon Ekpa-led Biafran Republic Government in-Exile, BRGIE, has told South-East governors and other leaders in the region to stay clear of negotiating for Biafra declaration and the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu with Nigeria. Ekpa, who is known as the Prime Minister of BRGIE, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday through his official X handle. This comes as South-East governors, lawmakers and other groups from the region and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Mr Peter Obi recently drummed support for the release of Kanu as a panacea to peace in the region. However, BRGIE, headed by Ekpa, has warned the governors and the leaders against such negotiation, claiming that they lacked legitimacy. According to him, it was only BRGIE that had the legitimate right to call for the release of Kanu and Biafra declaration. He noted that those parading in the name of negotiating for Nnamdi Kanu’s release were sabotaging Biafra liberation. “Those selfish politicians and traditional rulers who are now jumping up and shouting negotiation with Nigeria after sabotaging the Biafra liberation are warned never to speak again. “The warning will not come again; none of you have the mandate to speak for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu or Biafrans. “We will not allow anyone to negotiate anything from tonight (Sunday). “The Biafra Republic Government In Exile remains the only legitimate entity to do that. “Those selfish individuals now taking center stage and shouting negotiations should stay away. Biafrans are not joking”, he said. Recall that in the past week, the call for Kanu release resonated in the media space after Southeast governors met in Enugu State. In a communique read by Governor Hope Uzodinma after the meeting on July 3, 2024, the governors resolved to meet with President Bola Tinubu to secure Kanu’s release.Ekpa on his part had also earlier in May urged the Nigerian government to engage its Finland counterpart for mediation to end the conflict in the region.


FG ALLOCATED N732B ON VALUE EMPOWERMENT PROJECTS IN 2024 BUDGET – TRACKA Tracka, a subsidiary of BudgIT, has said that Nigeria allocated N732 billion on vague empowerment projects higher than the N646.5 billion allocated to health projects in the 2024 national budget. Ayomide Ladipo, the Head of Tracka disclosed this in a statement on Sunday. Tracka maintained that Nigeria’s empowerment projects were vague and challenging to track due to their nature. According to Tracka, the huge allocation for empowerment projects would have been channeled to curb the gap in Nigeria’s health sector having the second-highest child mortality rate in the World. Tracka alleged that empowerment projects were used as a funnel to siphon public resources. It noted that the National Assembly has 7,447 projects valued at N2.24 trillion in the 2024 budget. Further analysis of Tracka’s report also showed that over 2,558 projects worth N624 billion were allocated to agencies outside their mandate. Accordingly, Tracka asked anti-graft agencies in Nigeria to probe these anomalies in the 2024 budget to forestall diversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement. “Tracka maintains that empowerment projects are vague and challenging to track due to their nature. They are also used as a funnel to transfer public resources to party loyalists, resulting in the misuse of public funds. “In the 2024 Federal Government budget, there are 4,440 empowerment projects. Previously, empowerment projects were limited to constituency projects, but over the years, they have gradually seeped into capital projects through insertions by the National Assembly. For instance, the National Assembly inserted 7,447 projects valued at N2.24 trillion in the 2024 budget. “Tracka identifies this as a problematic trend, considering the huge infrastructure gap and budget deficits the nation is grappling with. “Further analysis also showed that over 2,558 projects worth N624 billion were allocated to agencies outside their mandate. An example is the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) – ERGP20241489 – allocated N5 billion for the Procurement and Distribution of Official Vehicles to Selected Traditional Rulers in the Six Geo-Political Zones in Nigeria (Multiple Lots). Another is the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NiOMR) – ERGP20245718 – allocated N2.32 billion to construct a 3.5km Road from Methodist Church Ibu to the Eri River,” the organisation said. BudgIT’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo commenting on Tracka’s discovery said, “The implications of assigning projects to agencies outside of their mandate are that it undermines monitoring, evaluation, and the sustainability of these projects. “These agencies lack the expertise and personnel to ensure quality service delivery for these projects, leading to under-delivery and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and scarce resources.”Recall that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu signed the N28.7 trillion 2024 budget into law in January this year.


ENUGU LEADS SOUTH EAST IN EXTERNAL DEBT OF $494.72M, RECORDED ZERO FOREIGN INVESTMENT – DMO/NBS Nigeria’s five South-East states have accumulated a total of $1.89 billion external debt in four years, between 2020 and 2023; but recorded a paltry $261.6 million foreign investment during the period, The South-East region comprises Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. Data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the states’ combined external debt jumped by 14.1 percent from $428.3 million in 2022 to $489 million as of December 31, 2023. Enugu state has the highest external debt stock of $494.72 million and recorded zero foreign investment during the period. The reports showed Anambra in the second position of the zone’s external debt portfolio with $429.6 million during the review period. However, the state recorded a foreign investment of $51.48 million during the reference period. Abia’s external debt amounts to $381.24 million, however, it recorded the highest foreign investment of $210.12 million among the south-east states during the four-year period. The DMO data showed that Imo’s external debt position was $308.22 million but the state recorded zero investment inflow during the period. Similarly, Ebonyi which recorded the least external debt of $283.7 million had no capital inflow to the economy during the period. A further study of the reports showed that Abia attracted its highest foreign investment within four months of Dr Alex Otti’s tenure as governor from May 29, 2023. Although Abia is among the few Nigerian states that attract foreign investment to their economies on a fairly regular basis, the state never attracted capital inflow to the tune of $150.09 million within three months, as was the case in Q3 2023 under Otti. By that outstanding feat, Abia came third after Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FTC) Abuja in capital importation destinations during Q3 2023. The report further revealed that Abia and Anambra remained investment destinations among the South-East states, while investors shunned the other three – Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi. That of Imo was most disappointing. Despite housing the largest natural gas reserves in West Africa, and significant crude oil deposits, Imo attracted zero foreign investment in four years, between 2020 and 2023. The NBS reports showed that, after recording $3 million in 2019, Imo had no dime to its name by way of investment inflow to the state during the four years. Imo was also the only oil-producing state that attracted no foreign investment for the period. The situation did not change in the Q1 2024 report by the NBS. Among the five South-East states, Anambra and Abia achieved a total of $51.48 million and $210.12 million, respectively in four years (Abia had received a cumulative of $60.03 million from 2020 to 2022.) . Commenting on Imo’s potential energy wealth, former Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, said Nigeria has nearly 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, ranking 9th in the world, with Imo holding the largest reserves amongst all. “Imo state with 200 trillion cubic feet of gas deposits should be set for economic boom”, Sylva said during a visit to Governor Hope Uzodinma in Owerri in April 2019. “Governor Otti is on a fast lane and has proved in practical terms that he has not come to tell stories like what his predecessors in office did. Matching words with action is the way to go. You will soon see Abia and Anambra ahead of the other South-East states” said Clifford Okoro, a Lagos-based investment analyst from Abia. Governor Otti on January 18, 2024, inaugurated the Abia Global Economic Advisory Council, with a charge to evolve initiatives that are focused on identifying, capitalising and showcasing the state’s area of comparative…


WHAT STARMER’S ELECTION VICTORY MEANS FOR JAPA The United Kingdom has a new leader. After more than a decade of Conservative rule, Labour Party’s Keir Starmer has been named the new British prime minister following a landslide victory at the general elections on Friday. “The work for change begins immediately,” Starmer said in his first speech outside of 10 Downing Street. “We will rebuild Britain…Brick by brick we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity.” But Starmer’s vision for a new Britain poses implications for the country’s international appeal and raises eyebrows on Labour’s immigration policy plan, particularly among Nigerians, who make up a large percentage of its migrant population. Starmer’s net migration plan Since last year, the Labour party has made clear its intentions to slash net migration numbers and build the country from within. “The overall [immigration] level must be properly controlled and managed. So, Labour will reduce net migration,” Starmer stated. “We will reform the points-based immigration system so that it is fair and properly managed, with appropriate restrictions on visas, and by linking immigration and skills policy.” Though Labour has not set a specific target, it has said it will reduce net migration to “a couple of hundred thousand a year.” This comes after the Conservative Party under Rishi Sunak had tightened its visa restrictions to stop up to 300,000 people from coming to the UK yearly. The Office for Budget Responsibility’s most recent forecast from March 2024 suggests that net migration should settle at around 350,000 per year from 685,000 in the next five years. “We will end the long-term reliance on overseas workers in some parts of the economy by bringing in workforce and training plans for sectors,” said the prime minister, who plans to reform the apprenticeship levy to upskill resident workers in its construction, IT and engineering industry. “The days of a sector languishing endlessly on immigration shortage lists with no action to train up workers will come to an end.” Salaries, dependants and minimum income Last year, the UK raised tensions in the country and across the world after announcing unprecedented major changes to its migration policies, including increases in minimum income requirement for family visas from £18,600 to £29,000. Starmer said he will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to review the effectiveness of these policies in achieving its migration goals, but has asserted that he will retain the ban on care workers’ bringing dependants into the UK. In 2023, the UK, under Sunak, implemented increases to UK immigration fees by 35 percent to £490, and the Immigration Health Surcharge from £15 to £115. Starmer is yet to decide on these fees, but it is expected he will make one in line with his party’s migration goals. Implications for the UK If the Labour Party is to implement its proposed decisions on immigration, it will come at a cost. Notably, a high proportion of the UK’s net migration figure are international students, and Nigeria and India account for the most increases in student or sponsored study visas granted by the UK in the past five years, according to official immigration data. BusinessDay reported that the majority of the increase in main applicants between 2019 and 2023 were from India (an addition of 85,849) and Nigerian (35,366) nationals. The Migration Advisory Committee has observed that the tuition fees paid by these students subsidise that of domestic students and help to expand the range of courses offered while making up for financial losses on domestic students and research, increasingly participating as a short-term labour supply for UK businesses, both as students and graduate route participants. Since the ban on bringing families, the United Kingdom has already witnessed a decline in the number of international students, including Nigerians…


HOW AGITATION FOR CREATION OF MORE STATES BREEDS RANCOUR IN SOUTH EAST The Senate, on Tuesday, July 3, 2024, passed for first reading bills seeking to create two additional States in the South-East, to increase states in the zone to seven. A bill seeking the creation of Etiti State in the South-East geo-political zone was also read for the first time on the floor of the House of Representatives during plenary same Tuesday. The development came about three weeks after another bill seeking the creation of Orlu State out of Imo, Abia, and Anambra States, similarly passed the first reading on June 6. The states proposed separately by Ned Nwoko (PDP, Delta North) and Okechukwu Ezea (LP, Enugu North) are the Anioma and Adada States, respectively. Nwoko’s bill seeks to alter three sections of the 1999 Constitution, to delete the word 36 and replace it with the word 37 to accommodate the new State and to insert the word Anioma, immediately after Delta in the list of States contained in the Constitution. The proposed Anioma State would encompass the local government areas of Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North-East, Ika South, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South, and Ukwuani, with Asaba designated as the State capital. Nwoko explained that he was presenting a bill for the creation of Anioma State to correct what he described as a “historical oversight.” According to him, Anioma is composed of nine Local Government Areas, six of which are rich in oil and gas resources. “The region also boasts significant human capital, making it a viable and sustainable candidate for statehood. Creating Anioma State is not just about increasing the number of States; it is about ensuring fair representation and resource allocation for the South East,” he said. In the House of Representatives, five members of from the South-East, proposed the creation of Etiti State to be carved out of the present Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. It will have 11 Local Government Areas, drawn from the five States with the capital to be located at Lokpanta. The sponsors of the bill are Amobi Ogah, Miriam Onuoha, Kama Nkemkama, Chinwe Nnabuife and Anayo Onwuegbu. They want an alteration of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, by replacing 36 States with 37 states. The bill also seeks to alter the listing of local government areas according to states and transfer the 11 local government areas from their current states to the proposed Etiti State. The Local Governments to be affected if the State is created are Isuikwuato and Umu-Nneochi (Abia), Orumba North and Orumba South (Anambra), Ivo and Ohaozara (Ebonyi), Aninri, Awgu and Oji River (Enugu) as well as Okigwe and Onuimo (Imo). The bill comes about three weeks after one seeking the creation of Orlu State to be carved out of Imo, Abia, and Anambra states, passed the first reading in the House of Representatives on June 6. The bill was sponsored by Ikenga Ugochinyere, lawmaker, representing Ideato North/Ideato South Federal Constituency of Imo State, and others. The bill also seeks to amend the 1999 Constitution, by inserting a new paragraph, which will include 28 Local Government Areas, namely Orlu, Orsu, Oru West, Oru East, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Nkwerre, Nwangele, Isu, Oguta, Ohaji Egbema, Onuimo, Ihiala, Uga, Ihiala, Uli, Ozubulu, Akokwa, Arondizuogu, Umuchu, Umunze, Umuaku, New Ideato North, Nwabosi West, Nwabosi East, Owerre Nkworji, Alaoma, Amaifeke, and Owerrebiri Umuowa. Ugochinyere, a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), appealed to his colleagues at the National Assembly to support the bill to ensure its passage through a second reading. He stated that the creation of Orlu State would lead to the emergence of Ideato as a senatorial district. In the current political configuration,…


COURT ORDERS BUHARI’S MINISTER TO ACCOUNT FOR N729B ‘PAYMENTS TO MILLIONS OF POOR NIGERIANS’ A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development to account for the payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months. The court also ordered the former minister to provide the list and details of the beneficiaries who received the payments, the number of states covered and the payments per state. The judgment was delivered last month by Hon. Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu following a Freedom of Information suit numbered FHC/L/CS/853/2021, brought by the Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project. SERAP said it obtained the certified true copy of the judgment last Friday. In his judgment, Justice Dipeolu held that, “The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person including SERAP. “I therefore grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.” Justice Dipeolu ordered the minister to “provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.” Justice Dipeolu also ordered the minister to “explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five percent of Nigeria’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021.” Justice Dipeolu also stated that, “The minister did not give any reason for the refusal to disclose the details sought by SERAP. SERAP has reeled out the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 that the minister contravened and has in line with sections 20 and 25(1) of the Act prayed this Court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel the minister to provide the information sought.” Justice Dipeolu dismissed the objections raised by the minister’s counsel and upheld SERAP’s arguments. Consequently, the court entered judgment in favour of SERAP against the minister. Justice Dipeolu’s judgment, dated 27 June, 2024, read in part: “Where a statute clearly provides for a particular act to be done or performed in a particular way, failure to perform the act as provided will not only be interpreted as a delinquent conduct but will be interpreted as not complying with the statutory provision. “The minister filed a preliminary objection to this suit dated the 4th of October 2022 and a counter-affidavit to SERAP’s motion on notice. I will first deal with the minister’s preliminary objection because it bothers on the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain this suit. “The grounds upon which the preliminary objection was filed are: whether this suit is not incompetent having not been commenced within 30 days after SERAP’s request for information was deemed to have been denied. “Having not complied with the provision of section 20 of the Freedom of Information, whether this Court can assume jurisdiction to entertain SERAP’s application. “As arguments on both issues, the minister’s counsel submitted that by the provision of section 4,7(4) and 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, subject to lawful exceptions within the Act, a public institution has 7 days to grant a request for information, failure of which would be deemed denial. “SERAP’s request was deemed denied on 6th July, which is the expiration of 7 days. Therefore, SERAP has 30 days pursuant to section 20 of the Act to apply to this Court. “SERAP’s 30 days within which to bring this suit expired on 5th of August 2021, whilst the motion on notice was filed on the 9th of November 2021, outside the 30 days stipulated by the Act. Consequently, this suit is statute barred. “In response, SERAP’s counsel argued that this suit was…


DAILY TRUST REPLIES FG ON     SAMOA AGREEMENT REPORT The Management of Media Trust Group, owners of Daily Trust, Trust TV and Trust Radio, has reacted to the threat of the Federal Government to sue the publication over a report on Samoa agreement. At a media briefing in Abuja, on Saturday, Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information, had described the report on the agreement as “baseless and sensational”. He also accused Daily Trust of attempting to set the country on fire, saying an issue not as severe as such made other governments clamped down on the media. “On the part of the Government, we continue on the honourable path of civility by restraining ourselves from taking self-help or draconian measures. While past governments clamped down on the media for infractions much lower than this, we are however toeing the path of civility and the rule of law.” “The Federal Government is lodging a formal complaint to the NPAN Ombudsman on this irresponsible reporting. In addition, the Federal Government will use every lawful means to seek redress in the court of law,” he had said. But responding in a statement signed by Maryam Aminu Bello, Esq, the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Media Trust Group, the newspaper said, “Two ministers of government, and other sundry commentators have taken us to the cleaners over our story on the Samoa Agreement in particular, and some other reports published earlier. “We have followed with attention what these government officials said, and left unsaid, and we will publish that in full, for the records. We have also acknowledged lapses in our reporting on this particular matter, pointed out to us by professional colleagues, and we will review and take appropriate measures. “As our editors understood it, the Samoa Agreement signed by Nigeria has expanded the definition of gender rights, from the traditional male-female, to a new norm, captured by the term LGBTQ (Lesbian; Bi-sexual, Gay, Transgender and Queer). That is the crux of the matter. “If the agreement does not aim at promoting such new orientation, widely accepted in Western countries, then we are wrong in our interpretation. We will readily apologise both to the government and to the public for crying wolf. “We expect that those qualified, by training and experience, to make such a judgement, will weigh into the matter and we will as usual, publish all sides in the discussion, including that of the government. “We wish to add that in this story, as in others over the last 26 years, the Daily Trust tried to be guided by public interest. “It is also important for us to clarify some of the insinuations by the information minister about other stories that Daily Trust had done. First, the statement that our newspaper had given “a banner headline to a baseless accusation that the Government was working on citing foreign military bases in the country”. “Nothing could be further from the truth. We only reported in the Daily Trust of Sunday, 5th May, 2024, details of an open letter by six scholars and activists urging the president and the National Assembly to reject any bid to cite United States of America and French military bases within Nigeria. “Also, the minister said “Daily Trust concocted and popularised a lie that the Federal Government had renamed the Murtala Muhammed Expressway in Abuja to Wole Soyinka Way”. We did publish two opinion articles in Daily Trust of Wednesday and Saturday, June 12 and 15, 2024, in which the opinion writers raised concerns over alleged renaming of the Murtala Muhammed Way, Abuja, after Wole Soyinka. “We recall that the information minister’s press statement on that matter, which was issued on the 17th of June, 2024, with the headline “Abuja’s Murtala Muhammed Way NOT Renamed after…