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PDP to Otti: Prove Ikpeazu wasted N10billion on P’Harcourt road project

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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenged Abia State Governor, Alex Otti to prove his allegation that Okezie Ikpeazu, his predecessor, spent N10 billion on Port Harcourt Road without working on it by setting up an independent body to inquire into the matter.

The party, which has maintained a frosty relationship with the governor, in a statement on Monday, said his claim on the issue, represented a new low in the execution in his avowed agenda of running his government via propaganda.

Demanding a separate panel of inquiry to be set up, the party insisted that the said investigative body, must include engineers from the Federal Ministry of Works, from the Otti and Ikpeazu administrations as well as certified projects.

Abraham Amah, Abia PDP Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary, who made the demands on behalf of the party, said that Otti’s statement during a media hangout on Sunday night, did not present any fact regarding the Port Harcourt Road Aba project that was started by the Ikpeazu’s administration.

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The PDP said that the role of the verification panel will include: “That the Port Harcourt Road was awarded to HARTLAND NIG LTD, at the cost of #9,882,752,246.4 (Nine Billion, Eight hundred and Eighty-Two Million, Seven Hundred and fifty-Two Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Six Naira Fourty Kobo) only.

“That the total length of the road awarded for dualization in 2017 is 5.9km and that the Ikpeazu administration implemented a total of 13.5km of drains (representing both sides of the road) along the road through Hartland Construction Company that was awarded the original contract.

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“Review and verify documents showing how much the Ikpeazu administration paid so far to Hartland Construction Company in lieu of the project and ascertain if the dredged Umuagbai and Uratta ponds to receive stormwater from Port Harcourt Road is still standing or not.

“Ascertain and publish the scope of the current more than N30bn work awarded to Julius Berger without due process and competitive bidding as well as budgetary approval by the State House of Assembly if any.

“Ascertain and publish the relevant designs and cost of the contract awarded by the Ikpeazu administration as well as work already done and the design and scope of the over N30bn project awarded to Julius Berger by Alex Otti and measure and confirm the total length of the road from Ngwa Road junction to Asa Nnentu Junction.”

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Emphasising that the Ikpeazu’s administration never spent anything near the N10billionn as the governor claimed in what he described as propaganda, he challenged him to publish the documents to prove his claims on the 5.9kilometre Port Harcourt Road, or forever hide his face in shame for consistently trying to deceive the people of the state and country with false claims.

Wondering why a government would prefer to embark on constant falsehood with so much audacity rather than focus on delivering dividends of democracy to the people as it promised during election campaigns, the statement added: “The good people of Abia are at liberty to go to the site and see the drainage or check the Umuagbai and Uratta works and also confirm the earthworks done from Uratta Junction to No. 1 Port Harcourt Road section of the road.

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“Even videos produced by the propaganda team of Alex Otti when they visited the road in April 2023 showed the drains and other works done, yet the Governor was not restrained by these facts to tell such brazen lies before journalists that have also visited the place at different times,” the PDP said.

The party further challenged Otti to make available the humongous “compensation” purportedly set aside in the Julius Berger version of the project to the affected people rather than attempt to pocket the same.

“If Otti does not accept our challenge of setting up an independent technical panel to ascertain the state of the project, let it be known that every word uttered by the Governor and his team should never be believed by any reasonable person who is interested in facts and not farce.

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“We call on the good people of Abia to disregard to tissues of lies bandied around by Alex Otti and his media team concerning the Port Harcourt Road project and understand that the project had been 40 per cent delivered by the Ikpeazu administration,” the statement, said.

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Rebranding, customer-centric policy, paying off – Berger Paints MD

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The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Berger Paints Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Alaba Fagun, has ascribed the outstanding performance of the company for the financial year ended December 31, 2023, to the market appreciation of its rebranding, customer-centric policy, deployment of modern technology to ensure quality products and availability of strong human capital.

Despite the inclement operating environment, Berger Paints, a leading manufacturer of coated paints and allied products in Nigeria, has proposed a dividend of N231. 9 million for the 2023 financial year up from N202.9 million paid in 2022 and would be paying a dividend of N.80 kobo per share for its shareholders, subject to the ratification at its 64th Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, in Lagos.

The dividend will bring the final dividend for the review period to N1 per share. At the AGM, the company shall seek ratification of payment of an interim dividend of 20 kobo per share, which amounts to N58.0 million.

Other performance indicators of Berger Paints include its profit for the financial year, which grew to N468,797 from N208,670 in 2022, and basic earnings per share, which jumped from 72 kobo to 162 kobo, an increase of 125 percent respectively.

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“Despite the myriad challenges in our operating environment, impacting both our business operations and the daily lives of our customers and team members, we achieved a remarkable 125% growth in our bottom-line figure compared to 2022.

A review of the company’s other performance indicators shows that its revenue hit N7.91 billion, an increase of 25 %, Year-on-Year, Operating Profit, N730.18, an increase of 84 %, and total assets, N6.61 billion, an increase of 20 % amongst others

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According to the Managing Director, the year 2023 underscored the enduring Nigerian love for vibrant experiences and Berger Paints rose to the occasion by exceeding customers’ expectations in the quality of products and service delivery. “With Berger Paints, you can never go wrong. Our commitment to customer satisfaction has been the bedrock of our success since 1959’, she added.

‘Throughout the year, we revitalized our corporate ethos by reshaping our brand. More than just a logo, our brand embodies a commitment to quality assurance and customer-centric values: Professionalism, Integrity, Innovation, customer focus, and Teamwork which helped us to achieve a strong position in the market’ the MD stated.

‘’Looking forward, we aspire to conquer the African market landscape with our products and services. Our dedicated team is poised to leverage resources efficiently, and innovate to deliver exceptional service to our customers,” explained Fagun.

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In March last year, Berger Paints took the Nigerian manufacturing sector and the financial market by storm, when it unveiled its new brand identity. The rebranding was prompted by the need to capture the younger demography especially those aged 25-45 to ensure business continuity and success.

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BREAKING: Why Ihedioha quit PDP *Weighs next political option

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Emeka Ihedioha, Governor of Imo State from May 29, 2015 to January 14, 2020, has finally ditched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform under which he became Deputy Speaker for eight years before he ran for the number one job in his state – one of the major outcomes of the current crisis in the nation’s main opposition party.

Ihedioha, announced his resignation in a letter to the ward Chairman in Mbutu, Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday, five days after the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, citing his unhappiness with the way its affairs were being handled, which he could no longer live with.

An acolyte of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and two-time presidential candidate of the party in 2019 and 2023, it is believed that the position of former Deputy Speaker had to do with the inability of the PDP NEC, the second highest organ to deal decisively with the issues that have been beleaguering its leadership since the 2023 elections, in which it was split down the middle.

One of the issues was the failure of the party to take action against some renegades, who worked against Atiku in the last election, particularly the G-5, a group of five governors on the platform of the party before the election, led by Nyesom Wike, former Governor of Rivers State, now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The group, which also included Samuel Ortom of Benue, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, whose tenures ended in 2023 and Seyin Makinde of Oyo, currently in his second and final term, had stood staunchly against Atiku on the ground that he did not support the removal of Iyorchia Ayu, as National Chairman of the party, since both of them came from the North.

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Against the backdrop that Wike and his group would be sanctioned with possible suspension or outright expulsion from the party, the NEC took a middle ground in what was not only seen as a slap in the wrist, but a victory for Wike against the Atiku camp, which had favoured full sanctions.

It is believed that this was what Ihedioha, was referring to when he lamented in his letter dated April 23, and delivered to the PDP headquarters on Tuesday, where he pointed out that he has no doubt whatsoever that his decision to quit was the right course of action, given that the party had deviated from its original character.

He wrote: “Since 1998, I have contributed my quota to the development and transformation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as one of the founding members. All these years, I have taken pride in the fact that the PDP is a party that will always look inward for internal reforms and provide credible leadership for the people, whether in power or outside power.

“I have had the benefit of serving and benefitting from the party at various levels. Regrettably, in recent times, the party has taken on a path that is at variance with my personal beliefs. Despite my attempt to offer counsel, the party is, sadly no longer able to carry out internal reforms, enforce its own rules or offer credible opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress.

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“It is in the light of the foregoing, that I am compelled to offer my resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party effective immediately. While this decision was difficult to take, I, however, believe that it is the right one. Despite this resignation, I will always be available to offer my services towards the deepening of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.”

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It is however not certain where the former governor is headed, as one source is saying that he could be heading to the All Progressives Congress (APC), having helped Hope Uzodimma, the incumbent governor, who incidentally ousted him through the Supreme Court, in 2020 win his second term elections on the promise of a payback in 2027.

However, another source told Whirlwindnews.com.ng that the former Deputy Speaker, considered the ruling party too dirty and a no-go area to achieve his ambition, preferring the more popular Labour Party (LP) as the next destination.

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BREAKING: MAN celebrates, as Dangote crashes diesel price again

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Less than one week after Dangote Petroleum Refinery announced the reduction in the price of Automative Gas Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel from N1,200 to N1,000, the company, the first privately owned refinery in the country and one of the largest in the world, on Tuesday, moved further with another price crash this time with a reduction of N60, to bring the price per litre to N940.

It was also a day the company announced the decrease in the price of Aviation Turbine Kerosine (ATK), otherwise known as aviation fuel to N980 per litre, a move expected to further reduce the cost of air transportation, which has hit the roof and is now beyond the pockets of average Nigerians.

The price change of N940 is applicable to customers buying five million litres and above from the refinery, while the price of N970 is for customers buying one million litres and above, Anthony Chiejina, Head of Communication of Dangote Group, explained on Tuesday, saying the new price is in consonance with the company’s commitment to cushion the effect of economic hardship in Nigeria.

“I can confirm to you that Dangote Petroleum Refinery has entered a strategic partnership with MRS Oil and Gas stations, to ensure that consumers get to buy fuel at affordable price, in all their stations be it Lagos or Maiduguri. You can buy as low as 1 litre of diesel at N1,050 and aviation fuel at N980 at all major airports where MRS operates.”

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Informing that the partnership would be extended to other major oil marketers, he added: “The essence of this is to ensure that retail buyers do not buy at exorbitant prices. The Dangote Group is committed to ensuring that Nigerians have a better welfare and as such, we are happy to announce this new prices and hope that it would go a long way to cushion the effect of economic challenges in the country.”

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On April 5, the management of the company had announced reduction of the price of diesel from 1200 to 1,000 Naira per litre, the second time after initial reduction from the N1,700, the price stood at when the company commenced operation early in the year.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu had also commended Aliko Dangote, President of conglomerate for the initial price reduction, describing it as an “enterprising feat.”

Reacting to the latest development, The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Ajayi Kadiri, said: “The decision of Dangote Refinery to first crash the price from about N1,750/litre to N1,200/litre, N1,000/litre and now N940 is an eloquent demonstration of the capacity of local industries to positively impact the fortunes of the national economy.

“The trickledown effect of this singular intervention promises to change the dynamics in the energy cost equation of the country, in the midst of inadequate and rising cost of electricity. The reduction will have far-reaching effects in critical sectors like industrial operations, transportation, logistics, and agriculture, contributing to easing the high inflation rate in the country; a lot of companies will be back in operation.”

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