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Delta 2019: Gov. Okowa’s ambition cripples Asaba Airport upgrade…. • As ULO Construction Company pulls out • Okowa allegedly diverts N1.5Bn budgeted for the project

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The ripples generated by the build-up to the next governorship polls in Delta State is rubbing off on some infrastructural developments in the state starting from the Asaba International Airport project.

 

Society Reporters NG Government House sources have seen a letter sent to the governor by ULO Construction Company, owned by Asaba-born billionaire Uche Okpuno on the company’s desire to pull out of the construction work it is currently carrying out in the state airport.

 

Detailed findings by our team of reporters authoritatively link the refusal of the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to review the contract upward in line with global standard as a subtle way of fighting the chairman of ULO.

We gathered that the governor is already gearing up for 2019 elections and sees Okpuno as a rival whose financial war chest must not be allowed to grow beyond measure.

 

According to one of our sources, the governor is jittery as he believes one of the APC aspirants eyeing his seat has the backing of Okpuno. He fears that if the very influential aspirant decides to throw his hat in the ring, the billionaire businessman would be one of the financial pillars during the campaign period, which will not go down well with his camp.

 

To clip the wings of the powerful APC governorship hopeful, the governor has decided to frustrate ULO by not making any payment to it or reviewing the contract upward, but insisted that it completes the job with specification of 2014, which will definitely lead to a huge loss for the company should it fall into the booby trap set by the governor, a source noted.

 

A copy of the Delta State 2017 budget at our disposal under the Economic Sector, Sub-sector transport, Subhead No. 261, shows that a whopping sum of N1.5 billion was budgeted for it while N2.51 billion was budgeted the previous year for the construction company to continue its work, but the state government refused to release it. Deltans who spoke to us expressed dismay and believe that the money may have been diverted to private purse.

 

We gathered that the decision by ULO to pull out of the construction site is as a result of Gov. Okowa’s inability to come to terms with reality that the quotation used for 2014 cannot be used for 2017 as prices of construction materials have shot up astronomically.

 

“It is also pertinent to note that the estimate prepared by the Ministry of Works in 2014 without our inputs negates due process and principles of contract. Neither our company nor any other civil engineering company of competence was involved in the preparing of a competitive Bill of Engineering measurement and evaluations”, ULO wrote.

 

The company also noted that the state government’s inability to review cost of materials that have tripled since the adoption and measurement of actual works by them makes it unfavorable for it to carry out construction and maintenance work to international standard and to maintain its integrity, it has decided to serve a notice of disengagement.

We reliably learnt that several correspondences from ULO to Okowa have been ignored while entreaties for meetings were re-buffed.

 

The company declared its readiness to engage the services of construction reputable firms to carry out comprehensive cost audit jointly with officials of the Ministry of Works to determine who will make refunds be-tween them and the state government, after evaluation of all the woks done.

THE AVIATION CONSEQUENCE ON ASABA AIRPORT

 

The decision by ULO to pull out of the rehabilitation of the Asaba International Airport Runways and Taxiways has been viewed by aviation experts as a terrifying time for the governor and the state if a roundtable discussion is not held between the company and the state government urgently.

 

Our findings revealed that if the disengagement is allowed to happen, anyone using Asaba Airport to fly to Abuja and Lagos should consider going to the neighboring state for flight, as Asaba Airport may likely be downgraded or completely shut down.

 

The downgrade of the airport, according to a source in the Ministry of Works, will be a case of penny wise and pound foolish, as the state government will spend more in bringing its subsequent upgrade, as it must still review the price upward and even more to any company that it will engage to carry out such rehabilitation.

 

When we tried to confirm the story, neither the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah nor the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu responded to our enquiry as at press time.

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Just In: Nnamdi Kanu Arrives Court For Trial

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Detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr Nnamdi Kanu has arrived the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, venue of his trial over allegations of terrorism and treasonable felony.

Although his visuals could not be gotten, he was however believed to be among a convoy of about six vehicles that drove into the court premises around 8am on Thursday morning by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS).

The convoy was led by a black Prado jeep, followed by two Hilux, two buses and other two other Hilux.

Before his arrival, security operatives including DSS, Nigerian Army, Police and the NSCDC had condoned off all enterances leading to the headquarters of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Even staff of the Federal High Court had to alight from their staff bus to be screened before they were allowed to go in.

Nnamdi Kanu was arraigned alongside four others on six count criminal trial charge bordering on alleged terrorism and treasonable felony in 2016.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was admitted to bail in the sum of N100 million with three sureties in like sum, one of which was a serving Senator, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

However, he had jumped his bail in 2017 after his family house in Afarukwu, Abia State was invaded by personnel of the Nigerian Army.

Following the jumping of his bail, trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako had voided the bail and issued a warrant for his arrest.

After nearly four years of being a fugitive, he was re-arrested by security agents in collaboration with interpol and brought to Nigeria in late June to face his trial.

At the proceedings in July, his trial could not go on because of the failure of the DSS to produce him in court.

Justice Nyako had held that the court could not try him in absentia now that he has been re-arrest and in the custody of the federal government.

She accordingly adjourned to today for his rearaignment.

Only few days ago, the federal government had amended the charge to seven.

It would be recalled that the court had in 2019 separated Kanu’s trial from the others after he jumped bail and ordered his trial in absentia.

Details later.

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Real Reasons EFCC Grills Ex-Kano Governor Kwankwaso Over N10billion Fraud

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Kwankwaso was invited for allegedly diverting the N10billion meant for the payment of pensions and construction of houses.

Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Saturday, grilled the immediate past Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, over allegations of abuse of office, diversion of public funds and fraudulent allocation of government properties to cronies

Punch reports that Kwankwaso was invited for allegedly diverting the N10billion meant for the payment of pensions and construction of houses.

Kwankwaso, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, was first invited by the EFCC in September but failed to honour the invitation.

The report stated that some retirees are believed to have written a petition to the commission demanding the investigation and possible prosecution of the ex-governor.

The retired employees had told the EFCC that the former governor mismanaged pension remittances to the tune of N10 billion between 2011 and 2015, to fund a housing project for his cronies.

“Kwankwaso came in today. He is responding to questions on alleged fraud following a series of petitions the EFCC received against him. In one of such petitions, the former governor was accused of diverting N10bn meant for the payment of pensions and construction of houses,” an EFCC detective said.

The former governor, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, is among those rumoured to be nursing a presidential ambition for 2023.

 

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ADVAN rejects APCON standard of practice document

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The Advertisers Association of Nigeria ADVAN rejects the implementation of the new Advertising Industry Standard of Practice as it makes an unconstitutional attempt to infringe on the rights of private entities to determine their contractual terms.
ADVAN is very supportive of the plan to create a Standard of Practice for the advertising industry, a key objective of ADVAN is to facilitate and support progress in the advertising and marketing communications industry. ADVAN is excited to be a part of any initiative towards the development of industry best practice which will facilitate business and economic growth.
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The Supreme Court has in many decisions, pronounced that the rationale for freedom of contract is founded on public policy: i.e., parties of full age and competent understanding are deemed to have the utmost liberty of contracting, and that their contracts when entered freely and voluntarily must be held sacred and be enforced by courts of law,
Furthermore, as principal benefactors of Advertising services our role and input with regards to this AISOP has not been fully onboarded, the current AISOP is void of critical elements that protect the rights and interest of the ADVAN community.
It is the submission of ADVAN and all its members, that the current AISOP does not serve collective interest, but rather permits unfair authority of certain parties over others and   creates an unfriendly business framework. It portrays a clear indication of discriminatory standards where the AISOP document in section 5 sub section b (Discounts and Commissions) states that “No party will unilaterally dictate or impose rates on another party except as may be mutually agreed by upon by the parties” however in the summary submitted to the press there is a clause that states “Media rates may be increased at any time provided that at least 30 days’ notice is given prior to implementation”. Latter of which was not included on original documents, further portraying an inconsistency in expectation.
ADVAN requests that in all instances, the condition of a mutually agreed terms by both parties be upheld and not only as it applies to expectations from Advertisers.
Government has a specific and critical role in supporting industry development by providing fair and enabling legislation and guidelines for ethical business practices, this involvement however, should not overrule the constitutional rights of business entities to conduct legitimate business activities.
The perception of a discriminatory regulatory system will be counterproductive to the collective objective of creating a conducive business environment.
Consequently, in the interest of creating an inclusive free, fair, and transparent industry standard of practice, ADVAN has sent in a clear representation of expectation. ADVAN is on standby for the acknowledgment of this position and further engagement on a standard of practice framework that is in the mutual interest of all.

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