Python Dance Troops Deployed To Southeast To Begin Operation

The Nigerian Army said last night that Operation Python Dance II in the Southeast of the country would continue today as planned.

A statement from the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig General Sani Usman, urged Nigerians to disregard the rumors that the army would withdraw from the operations from the Southeast.

The statement Reads: ” The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to some stories in the media that it is withdrawing its troops from Exercise EGWU EKE II, crediting such information to Abia State Governor and the General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army. This is not true.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to enjoin members of the public to disregards such rumors. For the avoidance of doubt, the Abia State Governor in his speech stated that “there will be a gradual withdrawal of soldiers on the streets of Aba and Umuahia from tomorrow”.

“This should not be misconstrued as withdrawing of troops earmarked for Exercise EGWU EKE II. The General Officer Commanding 82 Division has not said such thing. Consequently, we wish to state that Exercise EGWU EKE II is commencing tomorrow as scheduled.

“Commanders have been instructed to ensure that all hands are on deck to commence the Exercise to its logical completion. We wish to state further that the successful completion of the exercise will dovetail into the various states security outfits till the end of this year.

” Members of the public especially in the areas where the exercise will take place are please enjoined to go about their lawful businesses. We wish to also state that we would not allow any individual or group to jeopardize the conduct of the field training exercise through unlawful or criminal activities.

” Hoodlums and criminal elements are once again warned to be law abiding and not cause any breach of peace. We hereby reiterate that our troops would conduct themselves in the best professional manner, abide by the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct in line with requirements of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

” Any act of indiscipline by any of our personnel would be decisively dealt with. While we enjoin all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, the Nigerian Army urge all to support the troops as they carry out their constitutional duties and make Exercise EGWU EKE II a success”.

PHOTONEWS: Southwest Governors Meet In Ogun for Regional Integration

Governors from Southwest states, Nigeria, Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Akintunde Ambode (Lagos), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) on Monday met in Abeokuta, Ogun state for Southwest Economic Governor’s Forum.

The meeting which was organised by Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), the governors reaffirmed determination of the region to rebuild Yoruba nation amid mutual collaboration from member states.

See those in attendant……………..

Aregbesola’s Lonely Road To South West Regional Integration

Although many of his critics described it as a ploy to feather his personal political nests, the call by Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, that individual political aspirations in the Southwest geo-political zone should not be limited by state boundaries, is a major step towards achieving regional integration.
Aregbesola who, in the current dispensation, is perhaps the greatest advocate of politics-without-boundary in the region, is alleged to be nurturing the ambition of occupying Lagos West Senatorial District seat after his two-term tenure as Osun governor next year.
As a former member of Lagos State Executive Council where he served as Commissioner for Works for 8 years and where he still maintains a strong political structure especially in Alimosho, the most populous local council area in the state, Aregbesola’s senatorial ambition, if backed by other forces, could be a fait accompli.

But long before the rumour of the senatorial ambition that was strengthened by reported sightings of his campaign posters in Lagos, Aregbesola, who however denied nurturing such aspiration, had been a disciple of bringing regional politics under one umbrella to facilitate local development.

After his November 26, 2010, inauguration as governor, Osun State became an experiment in reliving the good old days of Western regional government and attempts, albeit controversial, were made at recording the same level of successes that the defunct government made in the development and regional identity.
The Western regional coat of arms, flag and anthem were adopted for the state and massive investments in the education sector, one of the greatest hallmarks of the old regime, was embarked upon particularly in the expensive school feeding programme that increased pupil enrolment to the largest in the country and spread the wealth among operators.
The school system was reorganized to reflect the old days by merging institutions, introducing single uniform, expanding infrastructure, laying emphasis on indigenous knowledge and reenacting pupils calisthenics displays, a gymnastic and entertaining practice that was popular in the old Oyo State from which Osun was created to, in the words of the governor, “promote sound minds in sound bodies.”
For the first time, traditional religion was given recognition by the state government as local adherents get annual official public holidays and Ifa devotees, like Imams and Pastors, get recognized and offer prayers at public functions even as great efforts were made to partner with Yoruba in Diaspora, especially in Brazil and Cuba, for cultural renaissance.
Of course, this cultural and religious revival and the effects of the school restructuring on former missionary schools put the Aregbesola administration on a collision course with some faith-based organisations which accused the governor of promoting idolatry and attempts to disrupt the state’s religious balancing.
As the 2014 governorship election was drawing nearer, with a lot of issues being woven around the face-off between the governor and Christian groups by opposition politicians especially following the leave granted by the Judiciary for Muslim students to reflect their faith in school dressing, a major crisis hit the education system as protests erupted in schools.

In what was clearly instigated by outside forces, Christian students, while protesting against the leave granted their Muslim counterparts, appeared in school wearing choir robes while in one instance, a masquerade was sighted in one of the schools with full compliments of students who professed traditional religion.

But aside creating a Yoruba identity and agenda for the state, Aregbesola was also on the forefront of actualizing the much-touted south-west regional integration, which he displayed by establishing a full ministry in his administration to execute the mandate.
When the idea, which is seen as a practical step towards restructuring of the Nigerian federation, was mooted, the whole Southwest geo-political zone planned to work on the template of a confederation with shared development agenda to benefit the people.
For instance, the Oodua Investment Company, a conglomerate of companies and industrial concerns established by the old Western region now inherited and managed by the five states in the geopolitical zone, was to build a railway line to connect Lagos, the nation’s economic hub and Ibadan, the region’s political capital.
There were also plans to have a centrally-funded electricity generating plants that will take advantage of the petroleum and gas deposits in Ondo State to boost power supply while seaports, owned jointly by the states, was to be constructed somewhere between the region’s coastal line that connected the three states of Lagos, Ogun and Ondo.
To achieve the set objectives, a commission to drive the implementation of a blueprint on Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) was established with the aim of bringing a new dawn of development.
Speaking at a forum in Ibadan a few months after his inauguration, Aregbesola said South West regional integration for sustainable development could not be a herculean task “as the people have a lot in common especially in the area of education, agriculture, transportation, health and job creation.”
On agriculture, Aregbesola said, “The origin of our wealth is agriculture and we must return to it. There is no nation in history that went through development that did not begin with the development of agriculture. We must start that with the notion that farming is a big business with the farmers having their eyes on profit.

“Transportation is crucial to agriculture, movement of goods, personnel and general social interaction. Transportation is necessary for integration. The whole of the region should be linked together, seamlessly by road, rail, air and a common hub should be in Lagos in order to facilitate movement of goods and persons.

“It is a common knowledge that the federal roads are bad and we must seek to take over the maintenance of federal roads in the South West.
“Also, for a mass movement, rail takes precedence over other modes. The current attempt to develop effective rail transportation within Yorubaland should, therefore, be encouraged. We have to begin the process of extending rail lines to Ekiti, Ondo and Edo States and all the major cities in the region.
“With good transportation system, the other western states can attract a large chunk of the industries in Lagos, save it from overcrowding and in the process, kick-start their own industrialisation.”
Although the idea no longer enjoy the commitment of other governors for reasons not unconnected with economic recession and political differences, the Osun governor remains a strong disciple of regional integration and on his own, has opened up the state’s political space by having non-indigenes as members of the executive council and seeking economic partnerships with neighbouring states.
Last week at a public enlightenment forum, “Ogbeni Till Day Break,” an all-night audience-participatory programme hosted by the governor, Aregbesola harped more on his desire for regional integration saying if the South West blazed the trail, other regions would see its importance to human and physical development.
According to him, “the best period of growth in Yorubaland was when we were in a region. It was when the Southwest became the trailblazer in all facets of human endeavours and the spirit of unity was the driving force.”
In his reaction to the rumoured senatorial ambition in Lagos, Aregbesola said, “although I don’t have such thoughts now, there is nothing wrong with the idea. As a Yoruba man, I am qualified to contest for elective positions in any parts of Yoruba land.

“I was born in Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State, came into political limelight in Lagos State and now I am governor here in Osun State. I am as politically strong in Lagos as I am strong in Osun. So if I want to seek the ticket, I don’t need to take permission from anybody to do it.

“But I have not really made up my mind about it and I don’t want people to speculate on a decision that has not been made. When I leave office as governor of Osun State on November 26, 2018, there will be a clear six months to the 2019 National Assembly elections. People should wait till that time.”
He warned critics of his yet undeclared ambition to stop, “fanning the embers of sectionalism among a people that are united by history and culture and who have the same agenda and capacity for development.”
Aregbesola also said he would not be deterred by the criticism if eventually, he made up his mind to contest the senatorial seat in Lagos stressing, “politics is basically the resolution of conflicts. If I was not deterred when it was almost impossible to even look at the eyes of the incumbent in Osun, why would I be deterred now?”
But whether Aregbe, as the Osun governor is fondly called by his admirers, would have a smooth ride back to Lagos, remains to be seen as the 2019 politics of the state unfolds.
Source: News Gist

Southwest Zone on a Rally over LG Autonomy

Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel  the president of the  Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), eads his national Executive and members of local government councils in the South West Zone on a rally over local government autonomy today, Soji-Eze Fagbemi, looks at the position of NULGE and what the union would present to the leadership of the states House of Assembly and other issues surrounding the autonomy of local governments in the country.

Historically, Lagos has been seen as the center of Nigeria political agitation and especially the struggle for that which is right. Today, the members of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by their National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, will storm Lagos in continuation of their protest rally and campaign for local government autonomy across the six geo-political zones of the country.

The South West rally is particularly important to the success of NULGE campaign in favour of Political, financial and administrative autonomy of local government areas, because most of the states from the zone voted against the idea during the seventh assembly, when it was time for state assemblies to vote of the amendment and bill to grant local government autonomy.

With another constitution amendment going on in the National Assembly, NULGE has took off where it stopped during the failed attempt to have local government autonomy. The difference this time is that NULGE has intensified its efforts. Part of its planned strategy to ensure that local council in Nigeria is granted autonomy in the present efforts to amend the 1999 Constitution is to Organize rally across the six geo-political zones where they will meet the members of the state house of assemblies on the imperative and need for them to support autonomy for local government and sensitize the generality of the people.

With successful rallies in Lafia, Nasarawa State and Calabar, Cross Rivers state for the North Central and South South zones respectively, NULGE is due for Lagos today.

NULGE President, Khaleel said the campaign, through the protest rally has become one of the most viable options left for Nigerians and especially the local government workers to draw attention to “what we can correctly describe as the re-colonisation of our people.”

Being the nucleus upon which the entire national political edifice of the country rests, he insisted that the workers in the local government system will be abdicating in their responsibilities if they are not in the frontline of the struggle to extricate the nation from the exploitation and vice grip of the political elites.

Today’s rally is expected to end with a meeting with the members of Lagos State House of Assembly, where the union will presents its position and makes submission to the Speaker. The union will be canvassing for major amendments to the constitution, which the union believes will rescue the local government from the state governors and underdevelopment.

NULGE wants all the contradictory provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended) that allow for the confusion and manipulation of local government system by state governments erased. Citing example, Khaleel said in section 7 (1), all the phrasing appearing after the words “and accordingly” should be deleted. Instead the following should be inserted: “there shall be for the Local Government Council a Chairman.”

NULGE also insist on strict observance of the provision of section 7 especially the full observance of the provisions on democratically elected local councils. He said, “The constitution should be reviewed such that a provision caters for the areas of Structure, Functions, Composition, Establishment, Funding, Status and other matters that affect local governments, rather than delegating it to the state governments or Houses of Assembly.”

NULGE is also demanding that new provisions/amendments to Section 5(4) on Local Government Councils, which shall read thus: “The executive Powers of Local Government Councils shall be vested in the Chairman.” The NULGE president said Subsection (5) The Executive Powers vested in the Chairman in Subsection (5) shall not be exercised so as to impede or prejudice the exercise of the Executive power of the Federation or of the State in which the Local Government Area concerned is situated or to engender any asset or investment of the Government of the Federation or the state or of the Local Government Area;

He said: “Those other provisions that contradict full autonomy should be expunged from the constitution to avoid the serious contradictions. For instance the structure, finance, establishment, composition and functions of Local Government Councils should not be vested in the state governments or state Houses of Assembly but in the Constitution in view of section 5 that proposes vesting Executive Powers of the Local Government Council in the Chairman.

“The Constitutional provision on the existence and functions of the State Independent Electoral Commission should be expunged completely in the 1999 constitution because they have become the instruments of anti-democratic practices by the State government.

“In terms of Power and control over public Funds: The adoption and adaptation of section 120-124 (3) to Local Government Chairman, Vice Chairman, Auditor–General for Local Government and the Chairman and members of Local Government Service Commission (LGSC).”

The union also insists on full observance of fiscal Federalism as enshrined in the constitution, and proposes that the Local Government Service of each state should be represented by the most Senior Accountant deemed fit by the Local Government Service Commission at any meeting of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission called for the purpose of distributing money from the Federation Account to the Federal, State and Local governments.

Besides, he said that local government should retain functional and fiscal relations with the higher tiers of government, Mathis includes, the state allocation of 20% of its internally generated revenue to the local governments within the State and establishment of a joint Planning Board through a law enacted by the House of Assembly, to require each local government in the state participate in the economic planning and development of the local government areas.

NULGE is also advocating for regular auditing of the accounts of all the local governments within the state.

Khaleel said: “In terms of the funding of Primary Education, the level of participation by the local government councils shall be in accordance with an Act of the National Assembly. We also recommend that the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries should be the sole responsibility of the federal and state governments. Primary Education is a subsidiary function as per provision of the 4th schedule of the 1999 constitution and April 2002 Supreme judgment on funding of Primary Education.”

Khaleel told Nigeria Tribune that during the rally, the union will also be conveying the main content of their submission to the governor of Lagos State, for onward transmission to the President, Muhammadu Buhari, while the presentation to the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, is also for onward transmission to the leadership of the National Assembly, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

Against the backdrop that local government lack capacity to govern themselves, Khaleel pointed out that up till this now, there are many, many committed and patriotic Nigerians in all the 773 local government across the country that, if allowed, will provide dedicated and committed service at this critical tier of government, which is closest to the people.

He stated that at the beginning of the current republic in 1999, many excelled themselves serving at the local government level before the systematic and complete negation of the local government system.

He said “You all must have witnessed the levels of instability in the administration of the local government system in the country. Local government administrations are either not allowed to function as state governments starve them through the operation of state-local government joint account; or they are prematurely terminated or dissolved and caretaker committees set up, made up of political cronies and rookies.

“Looking back since we embarked on the journey into the current democratic dispensation on May 29, 1999; it is clear that our ruling elite across the political divide, irrespective of party affiliation, see and indeed operate local governments as personal fiefdoms from which they exploit without being accountable to the people. This obviously goes against the intent and rationale for the creation of the local government system which was deliberately designed for inclusive development or to take development to the very base/grassroots of our society.”

The NULGE president blamed the state governors for the plight of local government people and the underdevelopment of the local areas. He, therefore, pleaded with the members of state house of assembly across the federation to free themselves from the claw of the state governors. To him, the present struggle is a twin-struggle and not for the freedom of local government alone but also a fight to free the state assemblies from the unconstitutional control of the state governors.

Khaleel said the campaign is simply target at political, financial and administrative autonomy of local government; abolition of State/local government  joint account; payment of 10% internally generated revenue by State governments to local government,; stopping the deduction from local government’s’ federal revenue allocation by State governments; proposal for payment of teachers’ salaries to be on first line charge of FAAC, and abolition of State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and reverting the conduct of local government elections to INEC,

It also includes the implementation of the ruling of Supreme Court judgment against appointment of caretaker committees for LGs and reckless dissolution of elected local government councils. He said: “Our daily experience as workers at the local government level shows that the most prevalent situation in local government administration is the perpetual encroachment of the financial and administrative powers of local councils by the state governments.”


Source: Tribune


Fuel Scarcity Impedes Southwest

The Southwest branch of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has threatened to withdraw services, following the introduction of Bulk Purchase Agreement (BPA) fee by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

If the marketers make good their threat, it will spark another round of petrol scarcity in the region.

The association yesterday lamented the introduction of BPA, noting that petroleum marketers were usually exempted from payment of such fees.

It warned that the introduction of a five-year BPA fee by NNPC may set it on a collision course with its members.

The Chairman, IPMAN Ibadan Depot, Raheem Tayo, confirmed the development to Osun Defender , adding that the NNPC’s decision was unacceptable.


Source: The Nation

South-West, Kwara Assemblies, Senator Laud Oyintiloye on FRCN Award

Members of Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti and Kwara States Houses of Assembly, as well as the Senator Representing Osun East Senatorial District, Babajide Omoworare have congratulated the Chairman, Osun Assembly Committee on Information and Strategy, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye on the Best South-West Lawmaker award 2016, conferred on him by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).
In separate congratulatory messages through their speakers, the parliament said the honour on Oyintiloye was a well-deserved one.
The Speaker, Osun Assembly, Honourable Najeem Salaam said, the honour has confirmed the clear demonstration of Oyintiloyes commitment to adding value, especially in his legislative assignments.
He said, the honour was a well-deserved one, saying, it would encourage him and his colleagues to be more committed with the belief that somebody somewhere is watching.
Salaam commended the FRCN management for recognizing and rewarding excellence, diligence and commitment to community service.
Also, in a letter signed by the Ogun Speaker, Honourable Suraju Adekunbi, he said the honour was an eloquent confirmation of Oyintiloyes mastery of the job of information management of the legislative arm of government.
I wish to congratulate you on the well-deserved honour conferred on you by the FRCN. To me, it is a clear testimony to your stride in the State of Osun and Nigeria as a whole.
It is an eloquent confirmation of your mastery of the job of information fulcrum of the legislative arm and be assured of my standing in solidarity with you now and in the days ahead, Adekunbi said.
The Ekiti Speaker, Honourable Kola Oluwawole said, the award was a demonstration of Oyintiloyes commitment to the development of the grassroot.
He congratulated him and urged him not to relent in his efforts toward quality representation of his people.
Also, the Speaker, Oyo Assembly, Honourable Micheal Adeyemo said, the selection of the Osun lawmaker was not misplaced, saying, he actually deserved the honour.
He noted that this would strengthen the determination of other lawmakers in the South-west region and Nigeria as a whole to make meaningful impact in the lives of the people.
In his own, the Kwara Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad in a letter said, Oyintiloye has become a pride of the legislative arm of government in his state and South-West in general, saying, the honour would be appreciated by those who believe in hardworking, diligence and commitment to grassroot development.
He said: With the little I know about Honourable Oyintiloye, he has always been committed to adding value, especially on media management and community development for which he was honoured.
Also, Omoworare, in a letter personally signed by him, said, Oyintiloyes recognition by the FRCN was an indication of his reputation as a season media practitioner and information manager.
Indeed, you are a source pride and inspiration to not just the people of Obokun, but the entire people of Osun. This award is a sound of an irrefutable confirmation that your appointment as the Osun House Committee Chairman on Information and Strategy is a classical example of a round peg in a round hole.
 You have justified all expectations in the discharge of your constitutional duties as a quintessential politician. While I am convinced that this award is just the beginning of greater things to come, please be assured of my continue support, Omoworare stated.

Securing of Bond For Infrastructural Development In Southwest- Fashola

The Federal Government has assured that it will approach the capital market to secure bonds for the repayment of cumulative debts incurred by states on the rehabilitation of federal roads in their respective domain.

The Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, made this known during a visit to the Osun state Governor, Rauf Aregbesola in Osogbo, the state capital.

Fashola who is on a five state tour of Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Ogun states to assess positions of Federal Government projects, stated the ministry’s readiness to partner with state governments in order to ensure an infrastructural revolution in the country, as promised by the Buhari-led administration.

On power generation, he further stated that the Federal Government has approved the expansion of the Osogbo transmission station which should bring relief in power provision to the state and its environs.

He added that there has been an improvement in power generation across the various power plants in the country with the major challenges bearing on transmission.

Aregbesola on the other hand, thanked the minister for his visit to the project sites in the state.

He also seized the opportunity to solicit the assistance of the Federal Government in the construction of the Ilie -Ikirun -Ifelodun bridge to help assist residents in the area, particularly in creating ease for the farmers to transport agricultural produce to the towns,

Yoruba Group Cries Out Over Herdsmen Attack

The Yoruba Initiative (TYI) a socio-cultural and non-political group in the Southwest has raised the alarm on the menace constituted by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmlands in the South west and other parts of the country. It describes the unceasing encroachment as a threat to the economy and poses danger to the distressing national economy.

TYI in a statement signed on behalf of the group by Mr Folu Olamiti, Chairman Media Committee, alluded to the most outcries and complaints from farmers in South West, Delta, South Eastern states and recently from Catholic Bishops Conference Of Nigeria (CBCN) in Abuja on the havoc being wreaked by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmlands.

The group, against this background, therefore called on the Southwest governors to take the problem as a challenge by collaborating with the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) to immediately develop an action plan aimed towards preventing further encroachment of farm lands.

TYI in the statement said the Federal Government should urgently intervene by looking into the problems and dangers posed by the cows rampaging farmlands in the south-west and other parts of the federation, averring that the problem if not curbed has the potency to cause commotions and disaffection among ethnic groups in the country.

The group noted that the grazing of cattle on farmlands in specific areas of the south-west by the herders had been discouraging the business of farming in the region, more so as farmers continued to count their losses each time cows maliciously devoured crops in their farms.

The group lamented that the efforts by the Federal Government to diversify the economy with farming as a major anchor, are already being defeated through the danger now being constituted by the rampage on arable lands by cows, thereby rendering them useless for viable farming ventures saying “if it continues it will worsen poverty and food scarcity not only in the south-west, but also across the federation in the foreseeable future.”