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Kogi is an evil forest, I’m the messiah that will cleanse it – Dino

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How could a government wake up and sack 120 professors in one day? But this was what we saw. Yahaya Bello, the current Kogi State government myopically and porously sacked 120 professors and lecturers at the Kogi State University. These are people who became professors in Nigerian first-generation universities.

This was one of the issues raised by Dino Malaye, Senator formerly representing Kogi West at the National Assembly, now governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the November 11 governorship election in the state, with which he painted what he described as the sordid picture unleashed in the state in the last seven years, by the government of Yahaya Bello of  the All Progressives Congress.

Dino, who described the state as an evil forest, vowed to begin its cleansing rites immediately he takes over next year as the new governor, vowing not only to restore it to its old glory, but surpass the dreams of the founding father, by tapping into the huge potentials in human and material resources.

Vowing to chase away the evil that had been plaguing the state over the years of the APC, the Senator, himself a founding member of the ruling party, both in the state and at the national level, while stressing that outside Ekiti, Kogi was next in the concentration of the highest number of academic professors in the country, stated that he would tap their knowledge in the development of the state.

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A guest on Prime Time, an evening current affairs programme on Arise News, Dino, said: “Kogi State is like an evil forest that needs instantaneous redevelopment and needs a messiah. I’ll be instrumental in ameliorating the pains of those living in the state. Things have never been this bad in the history of Kogi. The state is now more divided than at any other time in the state’s history. I have never heard of the Igala, Okun, or Ebira agenda. All these, I am assuring you, will come to an end.

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“Since the All Progressives Congress came into power in the state, they have completely polarised and divided the people, and there is serious disunity. Part of the PDP’s agenda is to first reunite the state. That is why our campaign slogan isOne Kogi, One Destiny. The satanic manifestation of the APC in Kogi State is legendary. A few days ago, the governor announced the upgrade of 300 traditional rulers. This is a manifestation of panic.”

Though he claimed he would never involve himself or the party in any form of violence or thuggry, which he said, had become the hallmark of the APC, he however assured the people of Kogi that the type of violence witnessed in the state in the 2019 election that gave Bello a second tenure would never repeat.

“This time, no matter what the APC is trying to do, the PDP will defend its vote, stand by our people, and defend our people. We will not allow what happened in 2019 to repeat itself. In 2019, a woman was burned alive. My nephew was shot dead within the perimeters of my compound. Eleven people were murdered on the day of my election, and a helicopter was spraying bullets from the sky on innocent people.

“The PDP is a peaceful party, and I am a peaceful man. I don’t believe in thuggery or violence, but we will defend ourselves. Tension has been part of the lives of the Kogi people since the APC came into power seven years ago. I have survived four assassination attempts; I have had 12 court cases of FG vs Dino Melaye, and I have been attacked severally. It is not new, as it is in the DNA of the APC to be violent.”

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See also  South East roads: Will Umahi make or mar them?

Regarding the interest that kept pushing him into the search for political offices despite these said ordeals, he said it had to do with the desire to serve the people, but maintained that because he had the protection of God, he believed no man could harm him and therefore not perturbed.

His words: “I keep coming back not because of a political ambition but because I have a big God who is always there for me. There is nothing man can do to me. Kogi is the only state where a level 16 officer is paid N16–20,000 and we cannot allow that to happen. We have to come out and defend the people. We are trying to rebuild what the APC has ruined.

I plan to bring change to the Kogi people because today we have a government without governance. The people are living in fear, and we need to restore their confidence in governance. We will do that by treating every Kogite like a customer, and as we know, the customer is always right and treated with respect, dignity, and decorum. We’ll fight insecurity and tame those who are responsible for violence in the state.

“There are no functioning primary schools in Kogi State. There are no teachers. Local government workers have not been paid, and those that are paid are paid 25 per cent of their salaries. “We launched a website just days ago, www.senatordinomelaye.org, where you will see ‘JUSTICE FOR KOGI WORKERS’, and we have requested that every worker that has been sacked visit the website and fill out the form.”

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“In just a few days, over 300 people have visited the website and lodged complaints. I hope to reabsorb them back into their places of work, as they were vindictively dismissed in the first instance. The PDP will improve the IGR of Kogi State without taxing poverty. We have over two dozen mineral resources of commercial quality in Kogi, and only limestone has been tapped. We will make sure there is exploration of those mineral resources to the advantage of the state.

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“I want to assure you that Dino Melaye is a global citizen. I have the contacts to make sure that we develop the facilities that will promote the marine movement. We have more than enough to drive tourism to our state.”

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N15billion VP’s residence: Stop whining, you’re a hypocrite, Shettima attacks Obi

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“President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima have left no stone unturned since they assumed office in the bid to wriggle the country out of the economic and social morass it had been enmeshed in. Under their watch, within a period of seven months, Nigeria’s foreign policy process and international relations have been reinforced with commendable results.”
These were the exact words, with which Vice President, Kashim Shettima, pushed back against attacks from Nigerians over the N15billion proposed by Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for the completion of the official residence of the Vice President in Abuja, saying those kicking against the project, were not being sincere.

He particularly lashed out at Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25, 2023 election, accusing him of speaking out of the pains he still felt over his defeat by President Bola Tinubu and himself, who ran on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The VP wondered why the same Obi, who had as governor, ordered the completion of abandoned projects during his tenure in Anambra would rail against the same move by the Tinubu administration, saying it smacked of hypocrisy on his part, as the project in question came about not because he wanted to live in a new house but that the current government at the federal level desired to complete projects abandoned by previous governments.

In a statement signed by Stanley Nkwocha, his spokesman, the VP, admonished Obi to quietly lick his wounds from his defeat rather than whining endlessly over every move of the Tinubu administration, which he said were bold steps being taken in its determination to turn things around for the country.

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The full statement, read: “We have taken note of statements credited to presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, in which he made yet another frail and futile attempt to paint the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration in bad light.

“For good 24 hours, Obi danced naked in the public square, trying to curry the attention of those who care to listen to his falsehood and warped opinions about waste. On Sunday, he accused the current administration of sponsoring over 1,400 delegates to Dubai for COP28.

“The next day, being Monday, the subject of his new found passion – armchair criticism – after his colossal loss at the presidential poll was the proposed N15.5 billion budgeted by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to renovate the house of the Vice President, which he claimed would pay the annual salary of 3,000 University Professors.

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“Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have bothered to gratify Peter Obi with a response, especially when it is obvious that the Labour Party candidate is an unhealthy subject to post-election trauma.But it has become necessary to put the records straight. In his recent tirade against President Tinubu and his deputy, Vice President Kashim Shettima, Obi started another series of self-aggrandizement aimed at convincing Nigerians that he is the only person who has their interest at heart. But a clear shift of the veil will reveal deeply a man who is still sobbing after his woeful loss in the 2023 presidential election.

“For the records, unlike the “most brilliant, all knowing and Nigeria’s mirific but never-had President,” Mr Peter Obi, both President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, have never claimed to know it all or exhibit anything close to perfection in their dealings. If anything, they have always submitted to their human nature, leaving perfection to the Almighty God only.

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“Giving the reactions and invocations generated by Mr Obi’s comments, however, it is necessary for the sake of history to clarify that the proposed plan for the construction of the Vice President’s official residence, for which budgetary allocation was made in the 2024 budget by the FCT Administration, was awarded by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. It was not originated by the present administration. This, Mr Obi, knows but chose to play dumb all in a bid to inflamate a targeted group of Nigerians and, as usual, score cheap political goals, accolades and praises.

“The project, which was reinitiated in 2010 and was funded by the Jonathan administration, was abandoned. Appalled by the sorry state of the uncompleted building that was now overtaken by weeds and reptiles over a decade after construction started about 13 years ago, the current FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, felt it would be a waste to allow such a project started with public funds to continue to lie fallow; thus, in his wisdom and without the prompting of the Vice President, decided to resuscitate the building.

“We invite more cerebral Nigerians to crosscheck properly which should be considered a waste between Obi’s tantrums because the project has attracted government’s attention, given the decision by the current administration to complete vital abandoned projects. What is more wasteful and reckless than abandoning an edifice to rot and depreciate despite the amount that has been sunk into it over the years?

“We recall that while Obi was governor of Anambra State, he had insisted that contractors should return to site to complete abandoned projects, which he then never considered as a waste. If he did this while deploying ‘entailed wisdom and leadership’ to Ndi Anambra as a governor, the question now is: why should the same action by the Tinubu administration now be termed blue murder?

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“Nigerians know that the issue of a befitting residence for the Vice President had been a recurring decimal in the budget of Nigeria since 2007. It did not start today, same for residences of the Senate President and the Speaker. The array of abandoned Federal Government projects littered all over the country is a national embarrassment that the current administration has taken a bold step to save the country from. This is why it has made it a priority that all abandoned projects must be completed before new ones are initiated, save for some on exceptional basis, either because of the need for strategic alignment or economic significance.

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“Comparing the amount budgeted for the residence of the VP and salaries paid to Professors is an analogy taken too far. This is the only government that has repeatedly made it clear that the welfare of lecturers is paramount and the need to increase the budget of the educational sector is a gradual process in the face of the daunting security challenges it met on ground.
This same government directed that the backlog of salaries owed both teaching and non-teaching staff of universities be paid immediately despite the ‘no work, no pay’ order, while negotiations for their welfare continue in view of a wage package in 2024. The introduction of a student’s loan scheme is also a masterstroke that is targeted at ensuring that nobody, no matter his/her status, will be denied the right to quality education.

“Taking into cognisance the recent inflation rate, which has become a global phenomenon that Nigeria is not immune to, budgetary provisions are estimates aimed at advancing monies to complete projects that have bearings on the lives of the people. That the amount budgeted for various sectors are deemed to be on the high side is not unconnected with inflationary trends as being witnessed the world over. And since Mr Obi has qualms with this, he may as well explain to Nigerians why despite being a self acclaimed billionaire he and his likes continue importing all manner of junks, including toothpicks to sell to Nigerians all in a bid for his NEXT business empire to flourish at the detriment of our foreign exchange and economy.

“Curiously, it is under the Tinubu administration that Obi has suddenly “become a man,” with a shrill voice in the opposition camp. His claim about Nigerians needing leaders willing to make sacrifices for the nation’s development smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order. It appears the former Anambra State governor has forgotten so soon reports about the plethora of contracts he awarded in the twilight of his administration, including road contracts worth over N30 billion he awarded within a record period of three weeks.

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“Nigerians have also not forgotten the investigation by the global International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)-led Pandora Papers project which linked Obi to a number of secret business deals and relationships that he kept top secret, including businesses he surreptitiously set up and operated overseas. He later admitted that he did not declare these companies and the funds because he wasn’t aware that he was expected to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else as provided by the law.

“There is no other context to situate Obi’s sermon about waste other than the fact that he has refused to swallow the bitter pills of reality. It is pitiful that since he was mercilessly defeated by President Tinubu, he and his army of social media cohorts have continued to brazenly unleash a campaign of calumny against the President and now, his administration.

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“But despite Obi’s divisive rhetoric, Nigerians have since put a final seal on religious and ethnic politicking so that the country can move forward against the wish of certain persons in the mold of Obi who have continued to fan the embers of division and falsehood just to create tension and spurn vexatious narratives in the polity.

“They have turned themselves into marketers-in-chief to attract direct foreign investments, all in a bid to turn around the nation’s economic fortune for good. But the likes of Obi have not for once applauded these efforts. Still labouring under post-election trauma, the Labour Party candidate and his ilk are bent on pulling down the Tinubu administration at all cost.

“We advise him and his fellow travellers in the opposition to accept defeat honourably, and put the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians first as patriotic citizens they claim to be. Nigerians are not so gullible to be hoodwinked by statements that fly in the face of common sense. Our candid advice for him is that he should join hands with the current administration in nation building instead of all these red herrings he is throwing around.

The Vice President is a very busy man. He has committed himself to serving Nigeria and helping President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to achieving his set goals and objectives. As his work attitude and skills speak to, Senator Kashim Shettima is a very serious-minded leader. He is not into dubious or phony politics of statistics manipulation or mind games. Leadership, to him, is a serious business and not a circus show!”

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South East roads: Will Umahi make or mar them?

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By Chudi Okologbu Uwandu
Will the Hon Minister for works, Senator, Chief, Nweze Umahi, gladen the hearts of South Easterners and embolden them to travel to their homeland this Christmas , or scare them away with potholes, craters and broken bridges?
Soon, in less than 25 days, it will be Christmas and Easterners, especially, Igbos, will begin their traditional exodus from all parts of the world to their communities to perform pilgrimages of sorts, to reconnect with their umbilical cords
The yearly visits have become, more or less, a ritual, traceable to time immemorial, before the creation of Nigeria and before the first celebration of Christmas in Badagry, Lagos, 181 years ago.
Christmas in Badagry was the first in history to be marked in the territory that later became Nigeria in 1914, after the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates by the colonialists.
Two West European Missionaries, Reverend Thomas Birch Freeman, a pioneer Methodist Missionary and Reverend Henry Townsend, his Anglican counterpart , were said to have organised the historic Christmas for the earliest freed slaves and some newly converted locals on December, 25, 1842.
Christmas is celebrated widely in the world to mark the birth of Jesus Christ whom Christians believe, is the son of God. It is a period they use to particularly appreciate God for sending His only son to die to save humanity from sin.
But for the Igbos, Christmas, or, these end-of- year visits, means a lot more. After a year or two of sojourning in far-away lands, they find it difficult to resist the urge to return to their homeland.
Like mechanical vehicles, they drive home to refuel with energy and inspiration, from their ancestral filling stations, to strengthen their entrepreneurial acumen and brother’s- keeper spirit.
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This home-coming, is so significant for many reasons among which are: family reunions, search for marriage mates and celebrations of marriages, rest from the hustles and bustles of the year and commemoration of festivals coloured with masquerades and dances .
In addition, it has recently, become a veritable season to organise and launch community development programmes and projects. In short, activities in Igbo communities, at Christmas, turn into carnivals for various reasons considered too important to be missed by any “Nwafo,” true Igboman.
Unfortunately, not so much any more from the recent past. The lure to spend Christmas at home, has lately become weak, primarily because of bad roads and insecurity.
Obviously, road, as a major infrastructure, facilitates these movements. Good roads help to improve citizens’ quality of life and greases economic activities. The Igbos, more than any group in Nigeria, take these advantages home every Yuletide.
But in their current dilapidated and worn-out condition, roads to and in the South East, have become very difficult and challenging to use. Some of them have become near impassable at several points, thereby, negating these benefits.
Consequently, travels to destinations now take three to four times their normal durations. Vehicles get knocked and damaged; sometimes, abandoned in the middle of nowhere, to the mercy of robbers, bandits and terrorists.
For instance a journey to Umuahia from Abuja, a distance of about 700 kilometers, which would normally take nine and half hours, now takes about 14 to 16 hours, depending on the type of car used.
The increased wave of insecurity occasioned by clashes between sponsored non-state actors and federal and state security agencies is another reason going home at Christmas and embarking on such end-of-year visits, have become less attractive and a risky venture.
Considering other benefits of good roads which include: improved connectivity between other parts of the world and homeland, attraction and repatriation of investments, free flow of products and services as well, as, increased economic stability and quality of life , the call for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and construction of strong, paved roads to the east, can therefore, not be overemphasised.
Their rehabilitation, will consequently go a long way in restituting the confidence and desire of Igbos to revive their waning homeland spirit.
It is in this light that the appointment of Senator, Chief Nweze Umahi, as the Minister of works by President Bola Tinubu, has ignited hopes of redemption among the Igbos, nay, Easterners, that Christmas 2023, may be be a turning point for their demoralised homeland spirit.
Chief Umahi, himself, a core Igboman and an astute politician was a former Governor of Ebonyi State. His deployment to the works ministry by President Bola Tinubu, is an absolute testimony to his transformation of Ebonyi into a modern state through the provision of infrastructure in various departments of that state’s economy.
Any wonder, then, his appointment has raised the hopes of many Igbos and a euphoria for the revival of the mass return.
As a key agent of Mr President’s “Renewed Hope” mantra and the first Igboman in recent history to be appointed to the portfolio, the big question many Igbos are asking is: “will the roads leading to and in the east, be built now, that our son is in charge or will he leave them in their current ruinous and parlous state?
The Honourable Minister, is aware of the state of the roads in the South East, as well as other parts of the country. He is also aware of the expectations of his kinsmen to make a difference in his administration of road infrastructure in the region this time around.
For instance , at one of his meetings with Contractors handling roads, in the six geo-political zones in the country, the thoroughbred structural engineer, admitted as much.
He was quoted as saying: “I shed tears for the kind of hardships our people are enduring. I travelled through the roads myself and I was brought to tears by the pain our people are experiencing… I was glad that I experienced the hardships firsthand.”
At another meeting, where he got emotional, he added, that there was no evidence of good roads in the South East.
His other statements that “we will get it right. The time to do a good job is here. If you were doing a bad job before, this period is not for you. We must work 24 hours to do a good and acceptable construction that will last,” evidence his strong commitment to deliver on his mandate.
The Federal government recently allocated four hundred billion naira (N400billion), for roads and infrastructure in the 2023 supplementary budget, but the Minister says over seven trillion naira,(N7trn), will be needed to reconstruct South Eastern roads.
The – Enugu- Abakaliki- Ogoja, and the Amawbia – Ekwulobia – Nnokwa roads, are among the 20 road construction projects across the six geo- political zones recently billed for dualization at he cost of fifty- billion naira(N58 billion) naira, while sources at the Federal ministry of works add that eight billion, four hundred million naira(N8.4billion), has been allocated to the rehabilitation of highways in the South East.
Additional statements made and actions taken by the Minister on the roads, seem to be thawing the doubts in the minds of South Easterners and reassuring them that the roads will be built.
For example, while inspecting the state of the roads, he directed contractors handling road projects in the region, to redesign them and to use concrete to complete the remaining dilapidated sections.
Again, , the prompt attention the Minister gave to the collapsed fly-over bridge at the Enugu end of the Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway is another indicator that he will rise up to the expectations of the people of the South -East.
It demonstrated his sensitivity to the pains users of the road which links Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Edo states would have experienced if they dared travel the route this December in its damaged state.
Aready, palliative work has begun on the bridge. Full reconstruction of both of its lanes has been slated for the middle of December.
Following the development, an elated Governor of Enugu state, Dr. Peter Mbah praised Chief Umahi for quickly mobilising for the repair of the failed bridge immediately it collapsed.
The Governor, recalled that the Minister visited the bridge within 48 hours of its failure, to demonstrate his preparedness to walk his talk in respect of building and reconstructing eastern roads.
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Bad roads have been the major worry of Igbos since the end of the civil war. Major arteries destroyed during the unfortunate conflict have remained so, more than 60 years after the war.
It is one of the major reasons Igbos feel marginalised and have not trusted the leaderships of the Central governments since the return to civilian rule in 1999.
Some political analysts have propounded that President Bola Tinubu, appointed an Igbo to the prominent ministry of works as a strategy to win the confidence and support of the Igbos, who barely voted for him in this years general elections.
There is little doubt that if roads in the South East are rehabilitated, reconstructed and constructed by the Tinubu administration, many Igbos will review their assessment and perception of Mr. President and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Until then, the question in the hearts and mouths of many Easterners will remain ” Will Umahi mar, or, make our roads?”
Uwandu, foremost journalist, senior citizen, wrote from Abuja

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Kaduna bombing: How I lost 34 family members – witness *After the first, they returned to cause the main havoc

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“As we rushed to aid the injured, the jet returned, unleashing a second bomb, this time, many of those who had come to help were among the casualties,” were the exact words with which Idris Dahiru used to paint the gory incident of the massacre of his kinsmen after the bombing of his community by soldiers from the Nigerian Army.

Dahiru, who claimed he lost 34 of his family members in the incident to which Taoreed Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), attributed to mistaken identity as the operatives mistook them for bandits, said there was an initial attack in which the first set of victims were torn to shreds where others escaped death by the whiskers.

Stating that it was when rescuers from the village, who initially dispersed for dear life, returned to help the wounded that the more devastating attack happened as the soldiers returned to drop more bumbs.

Lagbaja, a Lieutenant General, who led other military top brass to commiserate with the community, where he donated N10million to help victims of the attack which occurred on Sunday, had told his hosts, “Having trailed them for sometimes, the decision was taken to conducts a strike based on the observations of tactics usually employed by bandits. Unfortunately, the report we got thereafter revealed that it was innocent civilians in Tudun Biri that the drone carried out the strike on.”

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Stating that the reason for the urgent and essential visit to the village was to commiserate with the community on the unfortunate incident, Lagbaja assured them that a thorough investigation had commenced on the matter even before the directive to that effect by President Bola Tinubu.

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Dahiru, who spoke with the BBC Hausa, said the bombing, which went off without notice killing many people, disrupted their Maulud celebration, adding: “Unexpected airstrikes shattered our annual Maulud celebration. The first bomb exploded without warning, killing innocent people, including women and children, the blast tore apart some victims.

“My family alone has lost 34 members in this tragedy. We have 66 loved ones receiving medical care at Barau Dikko Hospital.”

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