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Mbah: Reviewing one year of effective governance

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By Hon. Anayo Edeh
It is so often used that it has become a cliché. But notwithstanding the number of times it has been used, the message inherent in it remains as true and germane as when it was first uttered or at any point those in love with, came to hear it. This is the Chinese saying that a thousand journey starts with one step.
But, what many people have not added is the proviso: in what direction is that step?
Yes, the step could in the right or wrong direction. It could be forward or backwards. It could also be in circles. In whichever way, it will still qualify as a step. However, a cursory look at the first steps, of Dr. Peter Mbah, since he was sworn in as Enugu State Governor, nobody is likely to ask the question or be at sea as to which direction, his step is headed and where it would likely land Enugu State, during the pendency of his office. The direction is as important as the impetus of motion, as Woodrow Wilson, former American President, put it.
If the morning foretells the day, then, the achievement of the governor in his first one year in office, which was celebrated on May 29, 2024, is a pointer to his clear direction and impetus of motion. I make haste to say that Mbah’s one year in office has witnessed the conception and commencement of major projects in all sectors that are capable of transforming the economy of Enugu State to give the people a new lease of life.
Let us journey together by assessing some of these steps, not only to underscore the impacts they are not only having already, but project in critical terms how the accomplishment of the visions embedded projects would support the belief that Mbah’s reign will change the course of the history of the state, positively.
For the first time in our history, Enugu is witnessing the construction of 260 World-class Smart Schools and another 260 Health Centres in all the Political Wards in the State. The Smart Schools and Health Centres will be equipped with State-of-the art facilities seen in the developed climes of the world. Today, everybody knows that the world is already in the age of knowledge economy and the most prosperous tomorrow would be those who have accepted the reality of the new global education template that sits on hi-tech.
That Mbah is not only thinking about this, but is already on top of it, speaks very much about how Enugu will turn out in the next few years. Definitely, it is going to sit on the foundation the governor is laying, and by time the skeletons of the architecture are fitted out with bricks irons, and other beautifying elements, Enugu would become the centrepoint of technological takeoff, not only in the South East, but Nigeria, if not Africa.
That is vision. Outside the smart schools, the governor, had within the period, embarked on the drive to recruit more teachers and enhanced their training not only to re-position education in the state, but make a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to counter future challenges and act as springboard for the envisaged quantum development.
Add to it Mbah’s vision in the healthcare sector, through the thorough rehabilitation of hospitals. A visit to the Parklane Hospital, one of the elite government-owned institutions in the state, gives an ample perspective about the new thinking the governor is bringing and how he is keying into healthcare as one of the critical indices of development. The wards have suddenly taken new shape as part of a comprehensive work in his vision to ensure that more people have access to health care in the hospital.
One of the major characteristics of Mbah’s government, is his aggressive construction of roads and bridges to effectively link up all parts of the state and aid commercial activities. No area is spared in this direction. Within the major streets in the state capital, videos of Mbah being greeted by exited residents of Enugu have become one of the regular catalogue of events in the state.
It is irrefutable that poor road infrastructure in the state was hindering both human and vehicular movements and making the evacuation of agricultural produce from the rural areas to urban centres very difficult. Farmers have seen their yields waste as a result of their inability to move them to Urban centres where they are needed more.
But this is changing as the new roads being constructed by the Mbah Administration is already opening up Enugu not only for its people, but the rest of the world, a development, which by extension is expected to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to the state. One of the more enchanting part of the story is that most of the roads are also being constructed simultaneously with flyovers for ease of traffic.
For years now, Enugu metropolis, the capital of the South East, from where four other states have been carved has not seen water flow from the public taps, despite promises by various governments. Mbah has promised that his government, would be the last to allow such a parlous story. His promise is that soon, every home in Enugu, would have running water.
The governor is also embarking on some legacy projects. This includes the re-modeling of the Enugu International Conference Centre (EICC) and the construction of a new five-star hotel to enhance it original status and make it the destination for international conferences. The EICC, the Central Terminal Stations, as well as the hotel projects, which includes the revamping of the hitherto comatose Presidential Hotel is expected to help in boosting the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state and create jobs for our youth.
In this direction, the governor is also keying into the area of agriculture and agro-allied projects, among which is the N100billion Palm Deal, – an inroad in the development of palm produce, one of the major mainstays of the economy of the old Eastern Region. The revamping of this particular produce is certainly a masterstroke in re-positioning Enugu economy.
In recognising that all his vision and efforts could be scuttled or run into troubled waters if security of lives and property is not tackled, the governor, is firming up the security architecture in the state, aimed at confronting troublemakers who are causing mayhem in the state. A robust collaboration with security agencies, has remained one to the templates for achieving this.
The governor has not hidden the fact that his intention is to move the state economy from $4 billion to a $30 billion. This is certainly a tall order, given the general downturn of the Nigerian economy. But, regardless, from the picture so far, such an uncommon feat may not be far from being achieved, given that Mbah belongs to an uncommon class as a transformational leader.
As the government marches forward, there is no doubt that Enugu will witness total transformation under this quintessential governor with the gusto to change the direction of things in Enugu. If anything should go to the wager, it is that the state would be among area that would attract the collective attention of Nigerians and the world in general.
One gratifying dimension is that the governor is carrying the workers along in this journey. One of the key achievements in this direction is the lot of pensioners. For this class known as senior citizens, the days of weeping, wailing and gnashing of the teeth, is now over. They now receive their monthly pensions promptly in addition to their gratuities and other emoluments.
Despite the fact that it is not an Oil-producing State, Governor Mbah is using the meagre resources of the State to positively change the lives of the people and place Enugu on the path of irreversible and sustainable development.
Anayo Edeh is the Convener of Nkanu-east Consultative Forum.

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BREAKING: One week after US Congress threat, Court frees, Binance boss

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Exactly one week after the US Congress, moved against Nigeria, Tigran Gambaryan, Head of Financial Crime Compliance of Binance, was let off the hook on Friday, as the Federal Government, dropped charges against him, with a Federal High Court in Abuja, discharging him on the four-count charge of financial crimes.

Sixteen members of the US Congress, had last week, written a letter of protest to President Joe Biden, demanding his intervention into the case of Gambaryan, who holds US citizenship, who they said was in danger of losing his life under terrible conditions in detention in Nigeria, while insisting on his immediate release.

The letter had alleged that Gambaryan, “has been wrongfully detained since late February after granting the Nigerian government’s request for discussions regarding the crypto giant’s business in the country. The government of Nigeria took Mr. Gambaryan hostage and thus needs his government’s help to be freed.”

Raising alarm over the state of his health, the group of lawmakers, which said: “Mr. Gambaryan’s health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” had emphasised “on behalf of Mr. Gambaryan, his family, and concerned Americans, we, the undersigned, urgently request and strongly encourage the transfer of his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.”

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Confirming that the government had dropped the charges against the Binance boss, on Friday, Dare Adekanmbi, spokesman to the FIRS, said: “Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” adding that the accused had been confirmed not to be a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

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He said in a statement: “We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped. Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government. We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Elsewhere in court, the Federal High Court sealed the freedom of the accused, whose ordeal began on February 28, with Justice Emeka Nwite, discharging him of all the charges, bothering on tax evasion charge preferred against the company by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Nwite, in a ruling, discharged and struck out the names of Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, who had since fled Nigeria, after escaping from detention, in March, after Moses Ideho, lawyer to the FIRS, filed a fresh amended charge wherein Binance is listed as sole defendant.

Gambaryan, who was in court during Friday’s proceedings, had stepped into the dock, when Tonye Krukrubo, SAN, who appeared for Binance (1st defendant), then informed the court that the cryptocurrency firm had just appointed a representative in Nigeria in the name of Ayodele Omotilewa.

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Ideho, who confirmed that his office received a notice of appointment of a representative by Binance, also told the court that the notice was dated June 13, 2024, appointing Ayodele Omotilewa as its agent in the country, adding that against the development, an amended four-count charge listing Binance Holdings Limited as sole defendant was filed on June 13 and therefore Omotilewa should be docked to take a plea on behalf of the company.

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But Krukrubo in vehement disagreement argued that the company’s representative was yet to be served with the fresh amended charge, said Omotilewa was only appearing in court for the first time, adding: “I think my learner friend should confirm whether he has served him or not first. We are not there yet. The prosecution has not served us with the amended charges. He ought not to enter the dock. He was appointed for specific purposes, to receive processes. He is one of us; a legal practitioner. The proper thing for the prosecution to do is to address the court on the charge he intended to substitute.

Also arguing in the same direction, C.J. Caleb, who appeared for Gambaryan, argued that law on criminal trial of a corporation did not contemplate that a corporation or its representative should be in the dock, while the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) Act, particularly Part 47, was very clear on how a trial should proceed in respect of a corporation.

“The Act also specifies all that is required for a representative in criminal trial in Sections 478 , 481, 482 and 483. So I align with my learner colleague that the representative is enough to be in court but does have to be in the dock,” he said.

Ideho, however disagreed, citing Section 481 of ACJA to back his argument, while adding: “If my lord is to look carefully at the provisions of this section and subsection, a representative cannot just sit in the gallery and watch like a spectator how the trial is conducted. He should be in the dock because this is a criminal charge not civil matter.”

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But, Krukrubo while jumping into the matter, argued that there was no where in the section cited by Ideho where it was said that a company’s representative must be in the dock, adding: Section 481 is written in black and white and it does not say that a representative of a corporation must be in dock. What he is saying is not contemplated by ACJA.”

When Nwite directed Ideho to move the latest application, the FIRS, lawyer, said: “We will like to amend and substitute the charge with the earlier one of May 17, 2024, which was our last amended charge my lord,” which neither Krukrubo, nor Caleb, opposed.

Subsequently, Caleb applied that the court should strike out the two earlier charges that listed his client, Gambaryan, as 2nd defendant, dated March 22 and the amended charge dated May 17, adding that Gambaryan should be discharged from the dock and from the proceedings in its entirety.

Nwite, before adjourning the matter to July 12 for pleas, granted the Federal Government’s request for the substitution of the June 13 amended charge for the May 17 one, set aside the earlier order, directing Gambaryan to be served on behalf of the company, and thereafter discharged him from the dock, while ordering parties to file written addresses as to whether Binance representative should be docked or not.

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NLNG signs agreement for new cooking gas vessel

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Shipping and Marine Services Limited (NSML), a subsidiary of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) and Temile Development Company Limited on Tuesday, signed a Vessel Management Agreement (VMA) to provide comprehensive vessel technical management services for the new 23,000 cubic metre LPG vessel, LPG Alfred Temile 10.

At a ceremony in Abuja, NSML’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abdulkadir Ahmed, and Temile’s Chief Executive Officer, Alfred Temile, signed the VMA at the event, witnessed by Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, represented by Ekanem Ogegere Celia, Deputy Director, Cabotage and Shipping; Felix Omatsola Ogbe, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board; Andy Odeh, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development; Salihu Jamari, Chief Investment Officer, NNPC Gas & Power Investment Services, among others.

Speaking at the milestone event, NSML’s MD, Ahmed, emphasised that NSML will leverage its expertise and resources to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of the Alfred Temile 10. He stated that the relationship with Temile Development Company started with the delivery of the first LPG vessel – LPG Alfred Temile – to NLNG in 2020.

“The relationship grew and continued with the construction, supervision and delivery of the 2nd LPG Vessel – Alfred Temile 10 – to Nigeria in March 2024. This momentous occasion represents our shared commitment to excellence, safety, and innovation in the maritime industry. It also represents the tenacious can-do-spirit of Mr Alfred Temile who has grown his LPG vessel fleet within a span of four (4) years. The Alfed Temile 10 is a testament to our dedication to operating a modern, efficient, and environmentally responsible fleet. With its cutting-edge design and technology, this vessel will set a new standard for LPG transportation in Nigeria and the West Africa,” he said.

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Also speaking at the event, Mr. Temile, stressed that the new vessel will play a critical role in gas transportation in Nigeria, enhancing the company’s capacity to deliver high-quality services while adhering to the highest standards of safety and environmental stewardship.

“We are confident that this partnership will set a new benchmark in the industry, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. As we embark on this new chapter, we also anticipate further strategic investment decisions including a third gas carrier later this year, demonstrating our commitment to deliver sustainable growth and value to our shareholders and Nigeria,” he added.

The keynote speaker, Engr. Felix Ogbe, commended NSML and Temile Development Company for partnering together. He stressed that there was ample human capacity, resources and tenacity in-country to achieve great feats, calling for increased colloboration and cooperation in the maritime industry.

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Presidency to get two new aircraft for Tinubu, Shettima

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President Bola Tinubu and Vice President, Kashim Shettima, would be cruising in brand new aircraft soon, going by the indications coming from the National Assembly, which has announced its approval to allow the acquisition of two of the flying birds for the Presidency.

The House of Representatives, which gave indications on Wednesday, explained that the need to acquire the aircrafts was to ensure maximum security for the President and his deputy, as part of its findings after an audit of the presidential fleet currently serving the two principal officers of the nation.

The House relying on the recommendations of its committee on National Security and Intelligence, said: “The committee is of the strong and informed opinion that considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of technical/operational inadequacy of the presidential air fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended.

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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The investigation, which was sequel to the inability of the VP to travel with his aircraft in May this year owing to technical faults, was instigated by a motion by Satomi Ahmed, member from Jere Federal Constituency of Borno State, who had raised an alarm over the matter, on the floor of the House, leading to a comprehensive investigation being ordered by the members.

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Despite the heated debates over the matter, with some lawmakers, who were uncomfortable with the suggestion, citing the current poor economic situation in the country, urging the Tinubu and Shettima to use commercial aircrafts of travel by road, Ahmed explained that the proposal remained the best solution at the moment.

The committee had met the commanders of the Presidential fleet, when Shettima, was forced to use a chartered plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia during his recent trip abroad, after initially cancelling a trip to the US to represent Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

Ahmed, who told reporters on Wednesday that the committee would set up a technical committee to interface with the officials at the presidential air fleet and come up with a resolution.

Reports say the six aircraft currently in the Presidential fleet, include one Boeing 737 (19 years old, currently unserviceable and undergoing maintenance); one Gulfstream G550 (13 years old, in good condition), one Gulfstream GV (23 years old, unserviceable); two Falcon 7Xs (one serviceable, one unserviceable); and one Challenger CL605 (12 years old, serviceable).

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The helicopter fleet includes two Agusta 139s (17 and 18 years old, both unserviceable); four Agusta 189s (no information on their condition).

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