APPREHENSION, PANIC OVER PLANNED NATIONWIDE PROTEST, POLICE ON RED ALERT The imminent nationwide protest has sent shockwaves through government officials, causing widespread panic and alarm. The planned demonstration, expected to draw a significant number of citizens, has ignited fear and apprehension among those in power. With demands for better governance, transparency, and accountability looming large, the protest represents a formidable challenge to the authority of the government. In response to this looming threat, the police force has been put on red alert, heightening security measures to maintain law and order during the protest. The prospect of large crowds assembling to voice their grievances has raised concerns of potential violence and disruption, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the upcoming event. The gravity of the situation is underscored by the palpable tension that permeates the air in the lead-up to the protest. Government officials are under pressure to address the demands of the protesters and defuse the brewing discontent, lest it erupts into chaos on the streets. The looming specter of unrest has created a climate of unease and foreboding among both authorities and citizens alike. As the government prepares to navigate this critical juncture, there is a sense of urgency to avert any escalation that could jeopardize the stability and security of the nation.The standoff between the officials and the protesters underscores the deep-seated issues at play and raises the stakes for both sides as they brace for a potentially volatile confrontation that could have far-reaching implications for the country.


EFCC GOES COLD AS SUSPENDED MINISTER, BETTA EDU, STAGES COMEBACK The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have gone cold six months after investigating embattled Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu on corruption allegations, as speculation emerges about her comeback. The embattled minister, who is officially suspended, appears to have been let off the hook by the anti-graft agency, as she, yesterday, wrote an official condolence message on the ministry’s letterhead over the recent Jos school building collapse. In a message on her X handle @edu_betta, Edu equally posted a screenshot of her condolence message on the website. In her message, Edu extended condolences to all those affected. The statement reads in part: “Our hearts are heavy with sorrow for the families, who have lost their loved ones and for the community enduring this devastating ordeal. “In times like this, we find ourselves united in our shared grief and determination to support one another through this tragedy.“May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may the injured receive swift and complete healing. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and all those affected during this incredibly difficult time.”


OMBUDSMAN WRITES DAILY TRUST, ASKS RESPONSE ON ITS SAMOA REPORT The National Media Complaints Commission (NMCC), otherwise known as the Ombudsman, has written to Daily Trust, requesting a response to the federal government’s formal complaint on the newspaper’s report on the Samoa deal. In a letter dated July 12 and signed by Feyi Smith, the interim secretary of the commission, Daily Trust is expected to file a formal response to the complaint filed by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, which alleged that Daily Trust’s report on the Samoa deal was fake news published for public incitement. “The commission is in receipt of a complaint from the office of the Minister of Information and National Orientation dated July 8, 2024. “In the said complaint, your esteemed organisation was accused of publishing fake news and public incitement through your front page of July 4, 2024, headlined “LGBT: Nigeria signs $150bn Samoa deal.” We request that you should avail the commission your response to all allegations within 14 working days of receipt of this notice,” the letter read in part. Reacting, the Group Chief Executive Office/Editor-in-Chief (Print), Ahmed I. Shekarau, said the newspaper will respond to the letter within the specified timeframe. It would be recalled that in the letter of complaint signed by Dr Ngozi Onwudiwe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and National Orientation, the federal government stated that the content of the report was misleading. The demands of the federal government to the Ombudsman also include: “To direct the management of Daily Trust to publicly retract and correct the false information with equal prominence as the original article; and also direct the management of Daily Trust Newspaper to issue an unequivocal apology for recklessly disseminating false information.“Also, for the management of Daily Trust Newspaper to implement stricter editorial guidelines to prevent a repeat of such reports by any newspaper in the future,” it equally demanded.


ECONOMISTS PROJECT HIGHER INFLATION AHEAD OF NBS REPORT Ahead of the release of the National Bureau of Statistics report on the country’s inflation for June 2024, some economic watchers have projected that inflation would maintain its upward movement but at a slower pace as seen in recent months. Inflation had reached a 28-year high in May at 33.95 per cent, higher than 33.69 per cent recorded in the preceding month, representing an increase of 0.26 per cent. On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.54 cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023, which was 22.41 per cent. On a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate of increase in May 2024 was 2.14 per cent, which was 0.15 per cent lower than the rate recorded in the previous month (2.29 per cent). So far in 2024, headline inflation has averaged 32.49 per cent, compared to 22.20 per cent in the first five months of 2023 and 24.52 per cent for the entire year 2023. Experts have attributed the persistent rise in inflation to the ongoing structural challenges in agriculture, including insecurity in food-producing regions, high transportation costs, and the continuous depreciation of the naira. In May 2024, food inflation and core inflation grew at a slower pace, hitting 40.66 per cent and 27.04 per cent respectively, owing to a modest increase in the prices of some food items. Experts at Meristem projected that the uptrend in food inflation would persist in June 2024, driven by lingering challenges in the sector. Some of these challenges include the infestation of tomato leaves which led to higher prices for staples like tomatoes and yams during the month. Additionally, increased demand during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration and rising importation costs are also expected to contribute to the elevated food prices in June 2024. “We expect the core inflation index to rise further, driven by higher transportation costs and the depreciation of the naira (1.94 per cent in June). “However, given the relatively stable naira exchange rate on the NAFEM window during the period (compared to a 5.61 per cent depreciation in May 2024), Govt urged to tackle insecurity as inflation hits 31.7%anticipate a month-on-month moderation in the core index. Ultimately, we project a rise in headline inflation,” they stated. Meristem researchers projected headline inflation at 34.01 per cent, food inflation at 40.74 per cent compared to 40.66 per cent in May and core inflation (including all items less farm produce and energy) at 27.30 per cent. Analysts at Cowry Assets Management Limited projected an even higher inflation figure of 34.25 per cent on the back of similar concerns earlier highlighted. They said, “Over the past year, food prices in Nigeria have soared, driven by factors such as supply chain disruptions, currency depreciation, and the impact of climate change on agriculture. This has led to basic staples like rice, beans, and vegetables becoming increasingly unaffordable for the average Nigerian, stretching household budgets to their limits. “The food index constitutes over 51 per cent of the inflation basket, and this escalation can be attributed to rising prices in fundamental food commodities, including bread, cereals, oil, and fat. “Specifically, all 43 food items surveyed reported price increases on a year-on-year and month-on-month basis between April and May 2024. An unweighted simple average, which does not account for consumption trends, shows that the average price of food items in the bureau’s designated basket increased by 137.3 per cent year-on-year and 13.4 per cent month-on-month.” As the inflation figure is projected to trend upward, analysts believe that the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria will also hike the benchmark lending rate given its avowed inflation-fighting stance. At different fora, the CBN governor, Dr Olayemi Cardoso,…


SUPREME COURT BLOCKS 462 LGCS IN 22 STATES FROM FEDERAL ALLOCATION In a historic decision, the Supreme Court has decided that 462 LGAs in 22 states will not be eligible to receive funds from the Federation Account until new leaders are elected. Among the states that will be profoundly impacted by this judgement are Rivers, Anambra, Imo, Kwara, Zamfara, Yobe, Ondo, Osun, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Abia, Enugu, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, and Jigawa. News from Ripples Nigeria: Falana orders AGF to reveal monthly distribution to states and LGAs The appointment of caretaker committees to oversee the local government regions breaches Section 7 of the Constitution, which led to the judgement. The presence of duly elected authorities to oversee LGAs is required by this subsection. The goal of the court’s decision is to make sure that municipal governments are open and accountable. In order to govern the LGAs, the impacted states must quickly hold elections and install elected officials. Important funds for providing basic services and developing infrastructure are available through the Federation Account, which they will be able to access using this. The decision has ignited a discussion over the power of local governments and how resources are distributed. Opinions on the matter vary; some regard it as an attack on federalism, while others see it as an improvement in openness and responsibility. As a challenge to the current system, the federal government has been directed to fund local municipalities directly rather than via state governments. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, Falana urges caution regarding local government funds (News Digest).A protracted political and judicial struggle is likely to ensue as a result of this judgement’s far-reaching ramifications. The end goal, though, is for local governments to be run constitutionally and for taxpayer money to be used wisely for the benefit of the people. Keeping a careful eye on developments and making sure the rule of law is respected are vital as the crisis evolves.


DANGOTE REFINERY TO ROLL OUT PETROL IN AUGUST,  RESOLVES CRUDE SUPPLY ISSUES President of the Dangote Refinery, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, says the refinery is now set to roll out its petrol from August 2024, having resolved its crude oil supply issues through the help of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the federal government. Dangote told senior journalists in Lagos on Sunday that the crude supply challenge, which affected the supply of petrol from the refinery, was resolved last week after the federal government intervened. The journalists were on a guided tour of the refinery, which is located at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos. Recently the Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) raised an alarm over attempts by international oil companies (IOCs) to frustrate efforts at purchasing crude for the refinery. “While the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC)are trying their best to allocate the crude for us, the IOCs are deliberately and willfully frustrating our efforts to buy the local crude,” the Vice President, Oil and Gas at DIL, Devakumar Edwin, told energy editors in June. “It seems that the objective is to ensure that our Petroleum Refinery fails. It is either they are deliberately asking for ridiculous/humongous premium or, they simply state that crude is not available. “At some point, we paid $6 over and above the market price. This has forced us to reduce our output as well as import crude from countries as far as the US, increasing our cost of production.” Fertiliser productionBeyond resolving the crude supply issues and announcing plans to roll out petrol in August, Alhaji Dangote also told journalists that the refinery’s fertiliser unit would resume production in two weeks. This would give farmers more access to fertiliser for their farm products. Dangote told over 70 journalists who were part of the refinery tour that there was a massive request for fertiliser from Nigerians and the rest of Africa, so his group had no choice but to respond positively.


PDP OUT FOR MAKE OR MAR CONGRESSES Faced with a lingering state and national leadership crisis, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has begun the process of uniting its members nationwide to conduct successful state congresses on July 27, 2024. Findings show that there are only a few states of the federation where the centre still holds. In fact, some factions in the states are ready go into the contest with their separation preparations and delegates, while others have reached out to the opponents, accepting responsibility for the poor management of the party affairs that led to its dismal performance in both state and national elections in 2023. There is also a pervasive self-denial in some states, where the leaders carry on as if nothing had happened and boast of conducting successful congresses.In Kano State, for instance, the chairman of the PDP caretaker committee, Mai Adamu Mustapha, has said preparations for the congress have reached 95 percent success. In a recent telephone interview, he said the congress will hold in the 488 wards, 44 LGAs, and also at the state level. Mustapha said the party’s register has been updated and submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for scrutiny and authentication. “That was done successfully. The constitutional requirement is that once you have the two-thirds majority of the constituency, you are good to go, and we have gotten that 95 percent. So, we are ready,” he said.On the ruling New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), which dealt the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC), a big blow in last year’s election, he stated “it is in a state of gradual collapse. The party is ruling only in Kano State and has no national outlook.” “NNPP is just replicating PDP. It is a stringent brother, and I know at the end of the day we shall come together, continue as a formidable party, carry on with our good work, and bring succour to the masses,” he added. On Senator Doguwa’s defection from APC to PDP, the chairman said his defection is more than a boost to the party in the state, a person with high political standing to join the party. He however expressed hope that, more of such defection will manifest just like the “tsunami happening in Edo State.”In Imo State, the exit of former governor Emeka Ihedioha and hundreds of his supporters has turned the party into a one-man show. Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the party’s national secretary, is in full charge. The director-general of Imo PDP New Media, Lancelot Obiaku, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the era of shortchanging and imposing people on the party was over. He said, “We are prioritising internal democracy, a system where no one is cheated, and all members who are qualified and are aspiring to serve the party in any capacity are given a level playground.He said the state caretaker committee chairman, Sir Chidi Dike, “inaugurated the congress committee for the 27 local government areas to supervise and play an advisory role where necessary while working with leaders and members of the party at various LGAs to ensure that the congresses are free, fair and democratic.” In Niger State, there are no camps in the leading opposition party, but those eyeing elective positions are scheming to gain control of the PDP during the Congress. A party stalwart who preferred anonymity told LEADERSHIP Sunday that members are aware of the antics of the party’s former governorship flag bearer and are ready to fight against his total control of the party. It was learnt that the plans of those who wanted a change in the party’s control are thickening, and they are ready to execute them during forthcoming congresses. While some local governments may settle for consensus, it was…


UNN FEMALE STUDENT PUSHED AT HOTEL BALCONY IN ENUGU, DUES A young lady suspected to be a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, has reportedly died after being pushed by yet-to-be-identified persons in a hotel within the Enugu metropolis. The Students Union President of the University, Enok Utazi, who confirmed the incident to our correspondent in a telephone conversation on Thursday, noted that the studentship of the victim had yet to be ascertained. He added that though there were reports that the victim was a student, efforts were ongoing to verify the claim while stating that the SUG had involved the police on the matter. He said, “I learnt about the incident and we have been trying to verify the studentship of the lady. We cannot ascertain claims that she is a student. The police are involved in the matter and are investigating to unravel it. “As a union, we are committed to serving the student populace without discrimination for religion, tribe or gender, and we are very much committed to their safety.” Sources on social media that the victim, identified as Favour Eze, had gone to the hotel with some persons who allegedly pushed her from the balcony. When contacted the UNN Director of Students Affairs, Prof Edwin Omeje, noted that the university had yet to receive a report of such an incident. He said, “No such incident was reported, and there are no missing student reports from anyone. This is a case of human life, if there is something of such, it would have been reported to me. So, let’s leave it at there was nothing of such.” Efforts made to get the reaction of the state Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, proved abortive as he asked our correspondent to give details of the inquiries through a message that had yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report. On July 8 that the management of the University of Nigeria Nsukka confirmed the tragic death of another first-year student whose lifeless body was discovered in a drainage on Friday, July 5. The deceased, identified as Favour Okenyi from the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, was found near Akanu Ibiam Stadium within the university premises.The university’s acting Public Relations Officer, Okwun Omeaku, confirmed the incident in a statement, stressing that the university community was deeply shocked and saddened by the unfortunate death of the young student.


LG AUTONOMY: BATTLE NOT OVER, GOVS WILL FIGHT BACK – SENATOR Senator representing Kogi West, Sunday Karimi, has said the battle for local government autonomy is not over, saying some governors will fight back. Addressing newsmen on Sunday in Abuja, the senator said the National Assembly will amend the constitution to address contentious issues including the conduct of local government elections. He said the National Assembly would do so to ensure that state governments strictly adhere to the judgement. The Supreme Court had ruled on Thursday that it was unconstitutional for state governors to hold funds allocated for local government administrations. The court also granted autonomy to the local councils, following a suit filed by the federal government on the matter. Reacting to the judgement, the senator said, “These include grey areas like the transfer of the responsibility of the conduct of elections to the local councils from the various state electoral bodies to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).” “Some state governors will fight back. President Tinubu allowed the judiciary a free hand to operate in this particular instance, irrespective of the fact that he is but a first term President who may desire a comeback in 2027. “I thank Mr President for mustering the courage to do the right thing. Since 1999, the third tier of government literally speaking, has been nonexistent. State governments treated them as appendages of the state governments. No President, has been able to change that.”He said President Tinubu has made history following the “landmark judgement” on financial autonomy for local government areas.