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‘$1.5 billion to renovate Port harcourt refinery is suspicious’ – Atiku queries FG

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Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has queried the plan by the federal government to spend $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.

The  minister of state for petroleum at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting yesterday had announced the government’s plan, explaining that the repair work would be undertaken in phases for a total of 44 months.

However, Atiku, in a statement  on Thursday described the proposal as a waste of resources, especially coming at a time that the nation’s economy is in dire straits.

The PDP Chieftain submitted , “to therefore budget the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate or turn around the Port Harcourt refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for a multiplicity of reasons.”

He also suggested that the best course of action will be to privatize the refineries for more effective and efficient management.

He described the planned rehabilitation as too expensive, saying shell petroleum development company sold a refinery of similar size in the US last year for $1.2 billion.

“We cannot as a nation expect to make economic progress if we continue to fund inefficiency, and we are going too deep into the debt trap for unnecessarily overpriced projects”, the former Vice President added.

He noted that the country’s debt which has spiked from ₦12 trillion in 2015 to ₦32.9 trillion today, is shocking enough to cause the nation to be more prudent in the way it borrows.

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National Issues

Obaseki raises alarm over Nigeria’s rising debt profile

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Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state on Wednesday raised an alarm over the country’s rising debt profile, stressing that the situation is more critical now because of the huge amount borrowed to service the ailing economy.

The governor raised the alarm during a meeting with the Transition Committee members at the Government House in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

Obaseki also observed that the major oil giants like Chevron and Shell no longer invest so much oil as was obtainable in the past.

The investment banker further noted  that Chevron is now one of the world’s investors in alternative fuel, just as he disclosed that Shell intends to pull out of Nigeria.

According to him, “In another year or so, where will we find this money that we go to Abuja to share every month? Last month, we got FAAC for March. The Federal Government printed an additional ₦50 to ₦60 billion to top-up for us to share.

“We say remove subsidy, they say no. This April, next week again, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, the total borrowing is going to be in excess of ₦15 to ₦16 trillion.

“My worry is that we will wake up one day like Argentina, the naira will be ₦1,000, ₦2,000 and will be moving because we don’t have money coming in. You are just borrowing, borrowing and borrowing without any means or idea of how to pay back”, he added.

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National Issues

UK Medical Trip: Buhari needs not transmit power to Vice President Osinbajo, Presidency insists

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The Presidency on Tuesday insisted that it is unnecessary for President Muhammadu Buhari to transmit power to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated  this while featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

President Buhari had earlier departed the Presidential Villa for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja at about 2:30pm after which he proceeded to London for a routine medical check-up.

Speaking further, Garba argued that President Buhari has not contravened the laws of the land by not transmitting power to  Vice President Osinbajo while away from the country for a number of days.

According to him, “Buhari will continue from wherever he is,” Shehu argued when asked if the President had transferred duties to the vice president.

“The requirement of the law is that the President is going to be absent in the country for 21 days and more, then that transmission is warranted. In this particular instance, it is not warranted”, he continued.

The Presidency had also informed that the President was expected back in the country in the second week of April.

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Army Recruitment: I mentioned 50 Million youths in error, Tinubu clears the air

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National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC),Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has informed that he made an error while calling for more youths to be drafted into the Nigerian Army in a bid to adequately tackle the nation’s security challenges.

While advocating for national employment and giving an inference for a security policy that could stem the tides of insurgency, Tinubu asked the Federal Government to recruit 50 million youths into the Nigerian Army.

The former governor of Lagos state while addressing guests on Monday at the 12th colloquium organised in his honour, he noted that the recruitment move will help restore peace within troubled regions and stop miscreants from recruiting young people to do their biddings.

Tinubu has however stated on Tuesday that contrary to comments made at the colloquium in Kano where his 69th birthday was celebrated, his intended recommendation was to have fifty thousand (50,000) youths recruited into various national security agencies, including the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army.

According to a communique issued by his media aide , Tunde Rahman, “Asiwaju seeks the expansion of security personnel by 50,000 for the armed forces, not the N50 million that was mentioned in error. It was an accidental verbal mistake of which we all commit from time to time especially when reciting a series of large numerical figures.

“He did not mean N50 million, which is almost a quarter of our total population.

The crucial matter is that Asiwaju rightly observed that such strong recruitment would serve the twin-purpose of helping to tackle unemployment while at the same time enhancing the security of every Nigerian.

“Please forgive any confusion due to this innocent error. The most vital thing is that he set forth a wise and timely approach that would help us face two of today’s stiffest challenges.

“It is in the spirit that we hope you view and assess his proposal for it seeks to provide a way for more youths to participate in building a greater, safer and more prosperous country”, the communique added.

It also noted that the APC chieftain canvassed the urgent need to combine employment and national security policy by the recruitment of 5 million youths in all aspects of nation-building, ranging from infrastructural development to agricultural modernization.

Tinubu,as contained in the statement believes the more job opportunities are presented to youths, the less some of them will be tempted to delve into illegal and dangerous activities.

As part of this overall approach, the former Senator believes that eligible youths should be recruited into the armed forces, police and other security agencies to augment the functional capacity of Nigeria’s security apparatus, thus ensuring the better security and safety of the people.

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