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Senate probes PPRA over non remittance of 5% pump price commission to FERMA

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Senate confirms for appointments 39 non-career Ambassadorial designates, 1 career nominee from FCT

The Senate has directed its committees on Petroleum Downstream and National Planning to investigate within two weeks why the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) failed to remit five per cent commission it charged on every litre of fuel to FERMA for the rehabilitation of federal roads across the country.

The resolution was sequel to a motion at Tuesday’s plenary by Sen. Gershom Bassey (PDP-Cross River) on “The Deplorable State of Nigeria’s Federal Roads”.

Moving the motion, Bassey said that the deplorable state of the federal roads had become a national shame and an unnecessary embarrassment as there was hardly any part of the country that could boast of good federal roads.

He said that the Senate was concerned that scores of innocent people were kidnapped by bandits, robbed, mutilated and killed daily in avoidable accidents on account of bad federal roads.

“The nation’s economy suffers incalculable losses resulting from poor productivity as immeasurable man-hour is lost in deplorable federal roads.

“Nigerian federal roads have continually failed to meet the international standards that provides for a four lane divided road featuring landscaped islands and separated bike and pedestrian trails on both sides of the roadway.”

The lawmaker further said that federal highways in the country required the sum of N215 billion to revamp 3, 500 kilometres of federal roads every year for eight to 10 years for a total rehabilitation of existing federal highways.

“Section 14(1)(h) of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (Amendment Act, 2007) provides that 5 per cent user charge pump price of petrol, diesel and which 40 per cent will accrue to FERMA.

“And 60 per cent be utilised by the established State Roads Maintenance Agencies.

“The Senate is disturbed that right from 2007, Section 14(1)(h) and 14(1)(I) of the FERMA (Amendment) Act has been observed in breach by the PPRA and the Minister of Transportation thereby depriving FERMA of huge revenue for road maintenance.

“The Senate is further disturbed that the 5 per cent user charge pump price is already provided for in the current pump price of petrol and diesel but PPRA has refused to remit the funds to FERMA for road maintenance as stipulated by law.”

Bassey however, said that PPRA’s remittance of the 5 per cent user charge pump price to FERMA would help ameliorate the deplorable state of federal roads.

Contributing, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu) who seconded the motion said that urgent attention was needed to fix the deplorable federal roads.

“This is especially within this budget cycle that we have before us here that something drastic needs to be done.

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“PPRA should release the fund totally provided for FERMA to do it’s job.

“The raining season is just gradually coming to an end and this is the opportunity for FERMA to go and start rehabilitating our roads so that Nigerians can move freely.

“This is a very important motion moved at the most appropriate time to get the desired attention.

“And I’m standing here lending my support and full weight to get that being done knowing that those of us from the south east are the major complainants of the bad roads in this country and we hope that we get the desired attention from FERMA if this motion scales through,” Utazi said.

In his remarks, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said that “I believe that every part of this country suffers from this problem of deplorable state of our roads.

“So I believe that our committees, given this instruction will swing into action and attend to the issue associated with this motion,” he said.

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Benue Food Security: Alia Denies Receiving N44bn From FG 

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Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue has denied receiving N44 billion from the Federal Government, as part of President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to address food shortage in the country.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue, had alleged that Alia received N44 billion in special intervention grants from the Federal Government between August 2023 to 2024.

This is contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Tersoo Kula in Makurdi on Tuesday.

Kula said some members of the APC and PDP were demanding accountability from the Governor over an imaginary N44bn.

He said the Governor never received such an amount of money from anybody since his assumption of office, adding that he was focused and would not be distracted.

Kula said that the governor since his assumption of office has been transparent, and accountable to the people of Benue and will not hide such a windfall from his people.

*Gov. Hyacinth Alia

He said that the Senate President, Godswil Akpabio who first made the allegation has since apologised to the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).

“The Senate President, who made the allegation that state governors were given N30 billion each, has since apologised to the NGF.

“But in an attempt to give Alia a bad name so as to hang him, the stakeholders who were fully aware of these facts still went public repeating the same lie.

“Alia has never hidden any funds released to his administration. When the N2 billion, out of the N5 billion palliative support was given to Benue, he was among the first governors to announce the receipt of the money,” he said.

He said that this group of stakeholders had stood in the way of progress of the state for a long time, adding that they prefer party politics to governance.

The spokesman said that past governors who served the interest of stakeholders in Benue, only left the state highly impoverished and starved of basic developments,” he said.

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Onslaught: Troops Eliminate 105 Terrorists, Arrest 140 Others In 1 Week – DHQ

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Exercise Enduring Peace recording successes in FCT – Army

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says the troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria operating in different theatres of operation eliminated 105 terrorists and apprehended 140 others in the last one week.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba said this at a bi-weekly news briefing on the operations of the armed forces on Thursday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also arrested 26 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 86 kidnapped hostages in the South-South region.

He added that the troops recovered 208 assorted weapons and 5,332 assorted ammunition comprising 95 AK47 rifles, one assault rifle, 39 locally fabricated guns, 34 Dane guns, 14 pump action guns, among others.

In the North East, Buba said the troops of Operation Hadin Kai neutralised seven terrorists and arrested four terrorists as well as recovered 20 AK47 rifles, two fabricated guns and 12 dane guns.

He added that 353 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 209 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 34 live cartridges, 62 mobile phones and the sum of N100,000, among others, were also recovered.

According to him, 224 ISWAP/JAS terrorists fighters and their families comprising 23 adult males, 126 adult females and 87 children surrendered to troops in the Bama and Konduga areas of Borno within the week.

Army raid kidnappers, rescue C/River commissioner; Police neutralise 3 suspected gunmen, recover 50 arms

In the North Central, Buba said the troops of Operations Safe Haven and Whirl Stroke neutralised 35 insurgents, arrested 65 violent extremists and 15 rescued kidnapped hostages.

He added that troops also recovered various caches of arms and ammunition within different theatres of operation.

In the North Central, the defence spokesman said the troops of Operations Hadarin Daji and Whirl Punch, neutralised 57 insurgents, arrested five and rescued 66 kidnapped hostages during the week.

In the South-South, Buba said the troops of Operation Delta Safe destroyed 18 illegal refining sites and recovered 657,300 litres of stolen crude oil, 23,750 litres of illegally refined AGO and 1,050 litres of DPK.

He added that the troops discovered and destroyed nine dugout pits, 19 boats and 21 storage tanks, 35 cooking ovens, nine vehicles, nine mobile phones, and three pump machines.

According to him, troops rescued three kidnapped hostages and apprehended 50 people suspected of oil theft and other violent extremists/insurgents as well as recovered 20 weapons and 243 ammunition, amongst other items.

In the South East, Buba said the troops of Operation UDO KA neutralised six insurgents, arrested five and recovered various types of arms and ammunition.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authorities for further action,” he said.

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Food Prices: Tinubu Directs Immediate Release Of Grains, To Foreclose Crisis

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A little respite in the nation’s food crisis is expected as President Bola Tinubu has directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to release about 42,000 metric tonnes of grain including maize, millet, and garri. The gesture is to douse hunger and prevent looming protests.

Some Nigerians however told the Maritime First that the directive was a lot coming late; and the metric tonnes being expected, too little, for over a hundred million people. Some cynics bluntly blame the President for his inability to tame insurgency and terrorism, which apriori, prevented the farmers from going to work.

ALSO READ:… Nigerians Now Eat Junks as High Food Prices Put Balanced Diet Out Of Reach- Survey

Some states have begun dress rehearsal for the real crisis protests, over galloping food prices. A bag of rice which sold for N62,000 Tuesday, last week in Bodija Market in Ibadan, emerged N69,000 Wednesday morning. less than 24 hours later, throwing calculation to the winds.

The Maritime First can freely indicate that widows, single mothers, and those from polygamous-induced large families are presently, not finding it too easy to cope.

In the meantime,, the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria has also committed to immediately release over 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the public. The body however failed to indicate why they waited till the Presidential directive, before making their commitment.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this after the meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention on Thursday in Abuja.

The Minister also failed to indicate measures to be adopted, to ensure that middlemen do not hijack and mess up Tinubu’s honest effort.

He said that these were immediate measures taken by the Federal Government to reduce the hardships faced by Nigerians who are made to bear the brunt of high prices of food in the market.

“These will be made available and we know that that is enough to take Nigeria in the next couple of weeks. One month, six weeks, perhaps up to two months.

“Now the whole idea of this is to crush the cost of these food items. And these are measures that will happen immediately.

“Now, the third item is that government is also looking at the possibility of, if it becomes absolutely necessary and as an interim measure, to also import some of these commodities immediately so that these commodities can be made available to Nigerians,” he said.

Idris also said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security would further invest massively in the farming process to boost production and ensure the country’s food potential is fully exploited.

He said that government would appeal to persons or groups to stop hoarding these products in order to maximise profit at the detriment of ordinary Nigerians.

“Government of course is also looking at all those who are hoarding these commodities because actually, these commodities are available in the stores of many traders.

“Government is appealing to them that they should open up these doors and make these commodities available in the interest of our nation.

“There is no point when the whole country is looking for this food you are locking up these products where you make more money and then Nigerians suffer. Of course, the government will not fold its arms.

“If they don’t respond by bringing these commodities to the market, the government will take appropriate measures to ensure that these products are made available to Nigerians.”

The Minister said that the government would also take measures to ensure that food continues to be accessible and affordable to Nigerians.

“We ask that Nigerians need to be more patriotic; be our brother’s keepers. Sell this thing, of course at a margin but at a margin that is not also killing to Nigerians.

“This is an emergency. Every nation faces emergency situations. This is our own time to face these challenges.

“The President has directed that whatever it will take, food will be available to Nigerians at a cost that is also very reasonable,” he said.

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