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How Governor Fubara Got Trapped

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By Eric Elezuo

“On his part, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Siminialayi Fubara, who has the mandate of the people of Rivers State to govern them for the next four years, has shown feebleness of character, by agreeing and appending his signature on a document containing such absurdity.

“He has betrayed the people who elected him as Governor and those who stood behind him in this cause. Mr Fubara has shown naivety in his actions; by signing that document, he has signed his death warrant, believing that the President will show him some sort of favours. Mr. Fubara’s mandate is Constitutional and so, he cannot surrender it in the face of intimidation from any quarter. And it is quite unfortunate. Did he go to that meeting to speak and justify his actions, or he went there to take directives from an equally elected President?

“As Governor of a State and as the Chief Security Officer of the State, he has shown tremendous lack of courage and competence. It will be in his best interest to resign if he cannot govern the State as constitutionally provided, or he may as well decamp and join APC, and be taking directives from Nyesom Wike and President Tinubu on the governance and leadership of the State,” – Chief Edwin Clark

This is not the best times for the Governor of Rivers State, Siminialayi Fubara, as he continues to battle for his political life even as he remained the constitutionally elected number one citizen of the state.

In the light of the above, the governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, was recently quoted as describing Fubara as being in government but not in power.

Fubara’s travails started barely five months into his administration, when he reported fell out with his godfather and political benefactor, Nyesom Wike, the immediate past Governor of the state, and currently the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. By October 2023, all hell was already let lose in the oil rich state.

Observers have said that Fubara’s refusal to be continually humiliated and have his executive authority undermined drew the irk of Wike. Consequently, a plot was hatched to impeach the governor with the majority of the members of the House of Assembly, who have unequivocally pledged loyalty to Wike. And so, Fubara’s political battle ensued.

The governor, according sources, was unperturbed as he had a majority of Rivers people behind him.

“Much as the elites of the state, who had had one form of connection or allegiance with Wike, were backing the FCT Minister, the man on the street stood solidly behind Fubara. And so, when the impeachment plot was noise about, the Rivers people came out enmasse, and quashed the attempt.

Fubara had vowed that he will resist any unjustified impeachment attempt against his government.

The remarks came on the heels of the crises that engulf the state when rumors of impeachment of the governor began to make the rounds.

Addressing a crowd of supporters at the government house, Fubara narrated how he was ‘shot at’ by OC operations on his way to ascertain the extent of damage resulting from a Sunday night fire incident at the Assembly complex.

“If I am impeached, I will not be the first person nor the last one. But any attempt that is not justified will be resisted,” the governor vowed.

But he was later to be ambushed, trapped and subjected to sign an eight point agenda, presented by the president and the men of Wike. Not a point of the agenda was to his advantage, stakeholders have reasoned.

They also reasoned that by his act, he had frustrated the backings given to him by the Rivers people and notable stakeholders like Chief Edwin Clark and Chief Ayo Adebanjo among many other men and women, who have stuck out their necks to protect both the constitution and democracy at play in the state.

However, the political crisis in the State, suddenly assumed a new dimension as President Bola Tinubu is accused of flagrantly desecrating the same provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which he swore to protect. His actions through the peace meeting he supposedly brokered, was dismissed by not a few Nigerians as extra constitutional, and without respect for the law of the land.

BACKGROUND OF THE CRISES

The crisis, which erupted as a result of the perceived desire of the former Governor of State, who is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, to control the mechanism of the state government to the detriment of the incumbent governor, Siminialayi Fubara, witnessed the massive decamping of 27 lawmakers to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and resignation of nine commissioners, including the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.

The long list of commotion, and the bid to stop the lawmakers loyal to Wike from possible impeachment of the governor, Fubara hastily demolished the State House of Assembly Complex, and in its wake obtained a court order, preventing the sitting of the decamped lawmakers at any place.

TINUBU’S INTERVENTION AND THE EIGHT POINT COMMUNIQUE

But the president, seeking to restore peace, invited the contending duo to Abuja for settlement. Reports say that while the loyalist of Wike were represented in their numbers, only Fubara attended from his own camp, leaving his people out of the negotiation. Fubara, according sources, was at this point trapped.

An eight Communique was subsequently drawn and signed to after the the meeting. The terms of settlement as recorded in the document, were dismissed as one-sided, and counterproductive both to Governor Fubara and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This therefore, begs the question as to the reason behind Tinubu’s desire to jettison the constitution, replacing it with his own drafted resolutions.

Reacting, Elder statesman and Leader of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, expressed disgust at the 8 point Communique released after the meeting.

The elder statesman, who could not hold his anger, while addressing the media, said they will resist any of such draconic, arbitrary and unconstitutional action of the president and Wike.

Clark accused the president of being bias, resolving the matter to the benefit of the loyalists of Wike, and leaving Fubara to hang in the wing.

He said, “However, the terms of settlement as contained in the Communique issued at the end of the reconciliatory meeting is what is baffling, appalling and unacceptable to the people, especially, the Ijaw ethnic nationality. From the terms of settlement, it is obvious that President Tinubu sees his role as a mediator, to once again, show gratitude to the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for “delivering” Rivers State to him during the past Presidential elections, having first of gratified him by making him the Minister of FCT.
First Observation:
The composition of the attendees of the meeting was one sided in favour of Nyesome Wike, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), because while Martins Amaewhule, a former Speaker, (because he has automatically lost his seat the very moment he decamped to another political party), was present at the meeting, it would have only been equitable and expedient, for Edison Ehie, the Speaker as affirmed by constitutional provisions and by the granting of the court, to be in the meeting, if there were sincerity of purpose.

The 8 resolutions reached, are the most unconstitutional, absurd and obnoxious resolutions at settling feuding parties that I have ever witnessed in my life. As a matter of fact, some medias captured it very well when they described it as Directives. And for the fact that such thing was done at the Villa, the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria, is sacrilegious, because any place housing or is a custodian of symbol of authority, ought to be sacred.

It is obvious that Governor Siminialayi Fubara was ambushed and intimidated into submission. President Tinubu should know that with all the powers he possesses, he cannot override the Constitution. From all that transpired at the meeting, the laws of the land have not been obeyed. President Tinubu simply sat over a meeting where the Constitution, which is the fulcrum of his office as President and which he swore to uphold and abide by, was truncated and desecrated.

27 or so members (because the figure is not certain), of the Rivers State House of Assembly left the political party on which platform they were elected. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear on that. Section 109 is quite clear on that and it says:
A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if
Being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:
Provided that his membership of the later political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored;
The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.

“Nyesom Wike is quite abreast of these constitutional provisions. He shouted his voice hoarse calling for the removal of persons like David Umahi as Governor of Ebonyi State, Ben Ayade as Governor of Cross River State and Bello Matawalle as Governor of Zamafara State, when they decamped from the PDP on which platform they were elected into office, to the APC, citing the above constitutional provisions. What has changed?

“A Court of competent jurisdiction has pronounced Edison Ehie as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. That Ruling has not been vacated, and based on that he exercised the duties conferred on him by Section 109 (2) as quoted above, when the 27 or so members openly defected to APC, waving the flags of the party and singing President Tinubu’s campaign songs, from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). As at today and going by the Constitution, the Rivers State House of Assembly has four members who are recognised by the laws of the land Therefore, on what premise is Mr. President saying that the 27 decamped members should go back to the House? Under what political party, the PDP or the APC. The directives of Mr. President is absurd and cannot hold water. Mr. President should be aware that Siminialayi Fubara, today, is the elected Governor of Rivers State in the same manner Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the elected President of the country. And as a Governor, Mr. Fubara possesses all the powers as conferred on him by the Constitution.
2. Re-Submission of the names of Commissioners who have resigned their Appointments:
Another “directive” of Mr. President that the names of the Commissioners who were nominated by Nyesom Wike and who resigned on their own volition, and who have lost their trust in Governor Fubara, should be represented to the Rivers State House of Assembly for clearance to become Commissioners again, is ridiculous. Who is nominating them to become Commissioners again? Is it Mr. President? Was Mr. President thinking that he was mediating in a matter between Nyesom Wike and employees in Nyesom Wike’s private company? Is it what Nyesom Wike means when he talks about “structure”, referring to Rivers State as his personal holdings or enterprise?

3. Re-Presentation of a Budget already signed and passed into Law:
Another unthinkable “directive” of Mr. President is that a Budget which has been passed into Law, should be represented. It is absolutely ridiculous and unconstitutional.

“By President Tinubu’s actions and directives, he has overruled the Constitution of the country; he has shaken the foundation of the country’s democracy. People lost their lives fighting for democracy in this country. Today, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has made of no effect the blood of the freedom fighters shed to salvage this country. He has thrown the country’s democracy fifty years backwards; this is unacceptable. Rather than building a strong system and society, we are building strong, invidious characters, with our national patrimony through corruption and avarice.

“By the actions of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he has really shown his dislike and disdain for the Ijaw people. and confirms his hatred for them. And as the leader of the Ijaws, we will resist it.

“Nyesom Wike is not an emperor. For the eight years he was in power as Governor of the Rivers State, he ruled with an iron fist. As Governor, he will not accept such treatment from anyone, as he is spear heading to be meted out to the current Governor of the State, Siminialayi Fubara. Barr. Wike destroyed his opponent’s houses and even threatened to kill them as cried out by Senator Lee Maiba from Ogoni, and Dr. Abiye Sekibo from Okrika
It is still fresh in our memory, how Nyesom Wike, as Minister of State, Education, used federal might to fight the then Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi that almost led to the grinding to a halt of governance in Rivers State when the Judiciary was closed down and the House of Assembly was shut down by the then Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. President Jonathan did not interfere in his action because if he did, he will definitely be breaching Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, which President Tinubu has deliberately breached, despite his oath of office to uphold and promote the Constitution. Nyesom Wike is Minister now, and again, he is using the federal government to truncate the wishes of the people of Rivers State. The rule of law in the country is completely truncated by President Tinubu. While it will be noted that presently, the National Assembly is discussing on the Bill of Local Government Autonomy, President Bola Tinubu is directing Governor Fubara to put into effect, a Bill passed by people who are no longer law makers.

4. The members of the House of Assembly choosing where they will sit to carry out their legislative duties:
It is the duty of the executive to provide legislative accommodation for the Houses of Assembly including the National Assembly, and not the members of the House of Assembly to choose a place to meet. It is in this vein that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in presenting his Budget to the National Assembly, recognised the FCT Minister, Nyesome Nwike, as the land lord, because he is of the executive arm of government. It is the FCT that owns the National Assembly complex and maintains it. It is, therefore, ridiculous and unconstitutional for President Tinubu to direct, in his settlement, that the members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, should meet wherever they want to meet.

“We will resist such draconic, arbitrary and unconstitutional action by Mr. President and his customer Nyesom Wike. We will go to court to challenge this so-called one-sided and oppressive action of Mr. President.

Holding that ‘Enough is Enough’, Clark vowed to go court to seek redress on the ambushment of Governor Fubara

Also responding, a former Minister of Work, and two terms governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana and other prominent lawyers in the country, mostly from the Niger Delta region, came out boldly to condemn the actions of Tinubu, saying his intervention is not required as the constitution doesn’t give room for such.

Meanwhile, a cross section of respondents have faulted the outcomes of the reconciliatory meetings with Tinubu, which they agreed that Fubara ‘erroneously’ signed.

They maintained that while he has fulfilled all the terms of the agreement to his own detriment, the camp of Wike has refused to live up to theirs, and continued to rattle the governor. They further accused Fubara of leaving behind the people who have stood solidly with to unilaterally sign a document that betrayed all the efforts put in place to checkmate godfatherism in the state.

A Rivers elder, who craved anonymity, said that for Fubara to get back on his feet, he needs to get back on the good books of the people.

“The governor must apologize to his people for taking the stand he took; for allowing himself to be armtwisted and trapped in such a manner that 27 already resigned lawmakers are back to their seats and threatening his administration. The same way nine resigned commissioners are also recalled,” he said.

Stakeholders have also berated those governors frolicking around the presidency seeking to curry his favour as men and women without adequate sense of history, saying that they are playing into his hands to interfere in every aspect of their administration including judicial pronouncements. They recall that it is this same Tinubu that stood up against former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and was applauded by Nigerians.

They see it as highly ironical that it is the same Tinubu that is today armtwisting governors to dance to his tune.

It would be recalled that most governors prior to their cases in the Supreme Court were regular visitors at the Aso Rock Villa, and after the judgments, were heard thanking the president for their victory.

“Are they giving the president kudos for what happened in the judiciary? Is the president the judicial officer. Are they not invariably giving the president the power of interference even in court matters. These Governors should think again,” a stakeholder queried.

The way it stands, if Fubara fails to rise to occasion, take his stand and fight for what rightly belongs to him, he will remain a stooge of Wike and his handpicked lawmakers.

The governor, as matter of urgency, must begin to regain the trust of the people, whose concern he jettisoned when he signed Tinubu’s eight point document, for any form of restitution to take take place.

Today, he is trapped in the political quagmire and lockjam, but there may hope in the coming days if he retraces his steps, but would he?

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‘How MTN Use Interconnectivity Rates to Stifle Other Telcos in Ghana, Nigeria’

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By Eric Elezuo

A study conducted by a former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, has described how telecommunications giant, MTN, is stifling other companies in the industry, preventing them from engaging in healthy rivalry through high interconnectivity rates. The former Presidential spokesperson use a case study of Ghana and Nigeria to buttress his point.

In a documentary titled ‘How MTN’s Monopoly Destroyed The Ghanaian Economy. And Nigeria Is Next!’, which he produced after a painstaking investigation spanning several months and covering three African countries including Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, Omokri expised the “practices of telecommunications giant, MTN and their effect on the economies of multiple sub-Saharan countries.”

The politician, who was in the camp of Atiku Abubakar during the last presidential election, declared that “the exposé traced the economic malaise now afflicting the Ghanaian economy partly to the monopolistic policies of MTN, which had led to an unprecedented capital flight from that beleaguered West African nation.”

He noted further: “Last year, Ghana was forced to label MTN a monopoly and slammed heavy fines of $773 million on them for damaging the Ghanaian business environment. MTN went to court, but in October, it was defeated at the Appeals Court, which ruled that the Ghanaian government was right in its classification of MTN.”

Omokri’s report is a consequence of researches to Ghana, where he interviewed government officials, chambers of commerce operatives, and labour union activists, as well as market women and ordinary Ghanaians; Kenya,  where he was told that the shenanigans that happen with MTN in Ghana and Nigeria cannothappen there because the government live up to expectation,  and are alive to their duties to the people; and Nigeria.

Some of the takeaways from his interviews in Ghana are that “ordinary Ghanaians were observed lamenting the erosion of their personal economy, with a market woman saying, ‘All of us in this country now work for MTN’.”

Also, “Labour leaders complained about MTN’s use of interconnectivity rates to stifle other telcos” and that “whereas all the large and medium-sized African nations where MTN is operating have struggling economies, the fastest growing large economies in Africa, such as Ethiopia and Tanzania, both with an average 6% GDP growth rates, do not have MTN operating in their countries.”

He reasoned that available data has proved that the situation could not be coincidental.

“The documentary also quoted Kevin Ekow Taylor, a prominent journalist in Ghana, as saying that: “MTN is basically monopolising the system. They have taken advantage of the market too much. It is all because government upon government have given MTN too much room.

“Every day, an estimated $2 million leaves the Ghanaian economy to South Africa, MTN’s home country. That is disastrous for a country with a GDP of less than $80 billion.”

Juxyaposing Taylor’s assessment, Omokri also quoted also a well-known Kenyan activist, Bishop Wycliffe Khaemba, who said: “The type of things that are happening in Nigeria and Ghana in the telecoms sector can’t happen in Kenya, because our government is alive to its responsibilities.”

He was referring to Kenya’s Information and Communications Act (Interconnection). This legislation is light years ahead of similar legislation in other African nations.

The Kenyan legislation specifically targets preventing a monopoly in the telecommunications industry by requiring “dominant providers to adhere to the principle of non-discrimination. A dominant interconnection provider is obligated to determine the interconnection charges based on objective criteria and to observe the principles of transparency and cost orientation. Failure to comply will result in the CA requesting the interconnection provider to adjust the charges or risk the imposition of a default interconnection charge by the CA.”

The documentary, now making the rounds on social media, also featured a prominent U.S. Mayor, Mike Arnold, the elected mayor of Blanco, Texas, who advised Nigeria and Ghana to look inwards, rather than outward to foreign goods and services, especially in the telecommunications sector.

It would be recalled not long ago,  MTN Nigeria has been involved in an imbroglio with Nigeria’s indigenous telecoms company, GLOBACOM, owned by Dr. Michael Adenuga Jr. It threatened to disconnect Glo users from calling MTN numbers, over a supposed N6 billion debt, until the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) brokered peace, giving a 21-day period to restore parity.

It is also on record that Omokri has consistently advocated a delisting of MTN in Nigeria while Glo is prioritized as it is a wholely-owned Nigerian product.

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Why Tingo Must Continue to Thrive – Dozy Mmobuosi

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By Eric Elezuo

Tingo Group is a company that reputes itself as innovative and beneficial. Their stock in trade revolves around agriculture, real estate and education.

Reports have said that it has humongous experience in human relationship and offers assistance to all categories of people, a quality stakeholders say has made it competitive in the industry.

The Founder, who recently stepped down as the CEO, Mr Dozy Mmobuosi, in this brief interview, laid bare everything that make the company thick, including the genesis and near-resolution of all challenges it has faced in recent times.

Excerpts:

Tell us about the Tingo Group journey and how you as a Nigerian built a company that is today listed on NASDAQ

Well, it’s a long story that is summarised in the event of Octover 19, 2021 when following a unanimous approval at a meeting of the Tingo Board of Directors on October 18, we submitted an application to list our shares on the NYSE. The application to the NYSE is part of the Company’s efforts to broaden our appeal to the U.S. and international investors. There was no difficulty in getting the application accepted as it satisfies the NYSE’s initial listing criteria.

It is worthy of note that I have dedicated the past 20 years, leading Tingo to become a highly profitable company that focuses on making a genuine impact to people in rural communities. My vision has always been to bring technology and opportunity to our customers through financial inclusion, poverty reduction and food security.

Our listing on the NYSE is an important step forward for Tingo. The NYSE is the premier exchange in the United States and one that will raise our profile to the broader investment community. The uplist will both increase liquidity in our shares, and ultimately create shareholder value in line with our international peer groups.

I am excited to announce expansion plans and partnerships that will further highlight our commitment to UN SDG’s which will deliver greater returns for our investors.

Tingo is playing a significant role in the agriculture value chain in Nigeria, tell us about your agricultural initiatives and how you have been impacting the lives of farmers in the country.

Ordinarily, Tingo is an Agri-Fintech company offering a comprehensive platform service through use of smartphones (using GSM technology) to empower a marketplace to enable subscribers/farmers within and outside of the agricultural sector to manage their commercial activities of growing and selling their production to market participants both domestically and internationally.

We recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection. As a result, we have adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development goals as guiding principles.

Our Agri-Fintech model has created a new impactful agri-based farming solution, which has a unique ecosystem has the potential to create jobs and uplift the income for millions of rural farmers in select markets, not only in Nigeria, but the entire African continent.

You recently stepped down temporarily as the CEO of Tingo; who is currently running the company and how does this affect the Nigerian operations?

We hired the best to run Nigeria and our Africa operations. Local knowledge has remained important in driving the ecosystem we have created. We have a seasoned accountant (Edwin Obasogie) who leads our Africawide strategy, Auwal Tahir, he runs our Nigeria operations,especially driving our collaboration with the All Farmers Association of Nigeria,Neha Meta,she runs Tingo Foods new initiatives (beverage lines and soon to be launched retain products) and Uzo Onunonu, she is driving our mass market focused fintech platforms. At the group level we have Ken Denos who is a lawyer, he will be supported by our Africa team,and I maintain that this is the only way to drive the business,and sustain all our initiatives.

Given the recent SEC charges against you and Tingo-affiliated companies, as well as the charges brought by the DOJ, how do you plan to move forward as an entrepreneur at home in Nigeria and abroad?

It is my opinion that there is no perfect company/organisation/entrepreneur out there in the world. I began my journey as an entrepreneur 23 years ago. And made an attempt to list our holding company in 2020, we experienced all sorts of blockades,and then I got introduced to Darren Mercer who was the CEO of MICT, Inc. I believed we shared the same vision-showcasing Africa and all disenfranchised people (Africa and Asia). We were to merge Africa and China, thus showcasing the best of both continents in terms of companies that believed in using local tech to uplift lives. We began the process of merging both companies,and that meant assembling the best professionals from all over the world. The merger was phased into 3, as I chat to you today that merger hasn’t been completed. I personally feel disappointed in the process thus far, all these allegations to my knowledge is designed to stop us from executing our strategy-ensuring food security and empowering smallholder farmers who are naturally disenfranchised. To be clear, I have not run the day to day operations of Tingo for 6years now,I only help provide product support/creating products,which I feel is where my strengths lie.

As an entrepreneur, I will prove my innocence via legal channels, and I encourage all farmer cooperatives that I supported via Tingo to speak out. I will remain an entrepreneur breaking grounds in the sectors I play in (healthcare, mining, energy, real estate and sports). The world has gone crazy, bad news sells and our so called experts who people rely upon for information have become so lazy. I invite everyone into our world, go and see what we have created. We have board members and former colleagues who are lazy, and can’t stand the heat they feel joining the rest of the lazy world to accept that I have done something wrong or misled the public…take your time to analyse what we have built. I will thrive as an entrepreneur anywhere. And I promise those that I have served (farmers) that I will not let them down.

As the founder of Tingo, what are you doing to reassure investors, employees, and the public about the stability and integrity of the company in light of these legal challenges?

A court in the US granted the SEC a TRO, I have respected that by stepping aside. But I will use every media available to me to encourage all stakeholders (employees, shareholders and partners) to keep believing, and to know that whatever it is that might have happened in Tingo would be uncovered, and as for me, I will provide every support possible to keep the vision alive. Tingo must thrive.

The SEC complaint alleges a multi-year scheme to inflate financial metrics. Can you provide your perspective on the nature of these allegations and explain any discrepancies in the financial statements?

They claim we had just $50 at a time, how have we sustained staff and projects?
I will stand by what I have said before. I will cooperate with investigators,and we shall get to the root of this. We always knew that we needed to improve our internal controls and governance. And had started working on all of that since the merger started. Just to be very clear again, this merger is still not complete. And I hope this isn’t a conspiracy to take the business away from us or to stop the merger. I want to point out that those who heard Darren Mercer talk about the Tingo story bought into it and those who heard me speak passionately must have also loved the story. I have never gone on any road show to raise capital anywhere as people claim in false statements. I challenge anyone anywhere in the world who says that I Dozy Mmobuosi raised money for Tingo, let that person speak publicly with proof. I will address all allegations through the legal system across various jurisdictions.

Tingo Mobile has been a notable player in the Nigerian market. How do you plan to maintain customer trust and loyalty amid the legal challenges and allegations raised by the SEC?

I know it’s a very difficult time for me my family, Tingo, our customers and shareholders. We have maintained best practices as far as customer relations goes, I encourage our customers to remain patient,and continue to see the merit and purity of our products. Evil will not win over good. And to our shareholders, I will fight for you all. I was waiting for the merger to complete before I started interacting with shareholders, was never in control from to w moment the merger started. We shall right this ship, no matter what.

The complaint mentions an injunction against selling or disposing of Agri-Fintech and/or Tingo Group stock. What impact do you anticipate this having on the operations of these companies?

The TRO is focused on me, not the company. But I see that vendors media and certain bodies are taking advantage of the situation to cheat the company. I advise the temporary group managers to respond via the legal framework across the territories we operate in. For instance, I saw a message circulating in Ghana coming from the owners of the property we lease in Ghana,asking Tingo to leave, despite Tingo not owing rent, this individual is going round calling the company a fraud when the company hasn’t defrauded anyone. I expect humans to be decent.

The charge mentions misrepresentations in public statements regarding Tingo’s business operations. Can you shed light on recent initiatives or achievements in Nigeria that you believe accurately reflect the company’s success?

Our works speak for us, speak with the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, and visit our offices. I also want to use this medium to let the world know that the food processing facility being built is not a Tingo project. It has been my ambition to build a food processing facility where foods from farms across Africa can be processed and value added. This project is being built on my family land and I am building with my resources, the banks I approached through my agents declined support, so I decided to build without support. You are invited to see how real it is.

Do you see your recent moves to buy Sheffield United as contributing to this continuing legal ordeal?

I hate to regret any move I make. I have more experience, that’s what I can say. When I did the bid for Sheffield United, all I had in mind was connecting a city as disenfranchised as Sheffield, and a company as disenfranchised as Tingo. I insisted on a confidentiality agreement to be signed, it was signed, but someone leaked my involvement. I deposited almost 9M GBP including helping the club pay its tax bills and wages, then the club qualified to the premier league. This story has not been told anywhere because it’s not a sexy story. A black man rescued the club. There are a few fans who know the true story. I respect the current owners of the club, and will continue to dialogue with them on pending issues. It is fine to disagree. But I am not going to let someone lose cos I must win. Human decency should prevail. I encourage the Western world to shun the superiority complex they have assumed. I will not say that all institutions are that way, for instance, the emergence of Rishi Sunak as the PM of Great Britain gave me hope, and also the emergence of the likes of James Cleverly as foreign secretary and now Home Secretary give me a lot of hope.

I am now busy fighting back and writing a book that tells my side of the story. I encourage my supporters out there to fight on.

Originally culled from Nairametrics 

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” Akwa Ibom Is Rising & The Golden Era is Here”- Governor Umo Eno reveals on New Year

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno has outlined his achievements since the administration came into office seven months ago, noting that the signs are evidence that the state is on the rise, the Golden is here and there is hope of a better future.
Here is full text of the speech:
O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercies endured forever.
MY DEAR AKWAIBOMITES
1.  Let me start by giving God the glory and honour for making it possible for us to be alive, healthy and sound to see this New Year. My wife, Her Excellency, Pastor (Mrs)Patience Umo Eno and I, wish you a very Happy and prosperous New Year. We are hopeful and confident that it is going to be a year of Restoration, of Increase and of Expansion across the lengths and crannies of this State, so help us God!
2.  On March 18, 2023, you bought into our vision of growth and development, as broadly laid out in our ARISE Agenda, and went ahead to reward us with a massive victory at the polls.
3.  Today, seven months after our inauguration, I make bold to say that in spite of the hazy economic horizon, the fundamentals of our development are strong and resilient. Akwa Ibom State is Rising with the ARISE Agenda and the Golden Era we had promised is already here. Even though we still have many miles to go, what we have collectively achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow and beyond.
4.  Seven months down the line, every critical pillar of this well-defined and well-thought out Economic Blueprint has been touched and activated for the growth and continuous development of our State.
5. In the area of Agriculture, we have started the steady but firm commitment to engendering agricultural revolution in our State. The Ibom Model Farm, a collaborative effort with the world renowned Songhai Farms of Porto Novo, Benin Republic, was flagged-off a little over two weeks ago, in Ikot Edibon, Nsit Ubium local government area. It promises to be the most integrated farm in this part of the Nation. It will not only guarantee food security but will also create jobs for thousands of people and stimulate tourism.
We have requested the Local Government Council Chairmen, to donate lands for the establishment of demonstration farms in each of the local government areas. We have revitalized the Dakkada Palm Oil Estate with new seedlings and have equally invested funds in Cocoa plantations in the state.
6.  We are paying deep attention to developing and improving the quality of life of residents in both our urban and rural areas as well as the maintenance and expansion of infrastructure in the State. So far we have flagged-off and funded the construction of not less than 17 roads across the state. We have been intentional to ensure that these roads are selected across the three senatorial districts in the state. Some of these roads include:
• Construction of Ndiya Street, overlay of portions of Johnson Street, Water Works, Solar Light and Toilet Facilities at Akpan Andem Market, Uyo. This project was flagged-off and commissioned within the first 100 Days of our administration, in fulfillment of the campaign promises I made when I visited the market.
• Construction of 1.1km Access Road to Goretti Secondary School with 0.875km Discharge Drain in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.
• Construction of 1.3km Underground Discharge Drain from Atiku Abubakar Avenue to Olusegun Obasanjo Way, Uyo, currently ongoing.
• and the ongoing construction of the Ukpong and Effiong Essang Streets in Oron Local Government Area.
7.  We have also in the course of the last seven months, undertaken several ecological intervention projects such as:
• Construction of ravine control facilities at Etim Umanah Street, in Uyo
• Reclamation and construction of Udoinwang Road and the Construction of Erosion Control Facilities.
8.  In fulfillment of our campaign promises to complete ongoing projects initiated by the immediate past administration, we have released over Ten Billion Naira to get contractors back to various sites across the state. Works are ongoing at these project sites such as the Victor Attah International Airport Road Expansion and others located all over the State.
9.  In the Aviation sector, we have released about 6.5 billion Naira to support ongoing projects at the Victor Attah International Airport. We have also kept all our financial obligations with Airbus Corporation and about a month ago, we received the first of the ten Airbus A220-300 Series into the Ibom Air fleet. Ibom Air, which is the pride of our State, was one of the first places I visited shortly after my inauguration, where I had restated my desire to continue to support and expand the operations of that great project which is a testament to vision and creativity. We have invested heavily in the MRO and very soon, that will be fully commissioned.
10.  In the Power sector, we have directed that an operational audit of Ibom Power Plant be done. Our aim is to reposition that critical plant to yield the expected dividends for our people. We believe strongly that with adequate power, our entrepreneurs in the state can do better and our economy will be better for it.
11.  To maintain the peace and safeguard our status as one of the safest states in Nigeria, we have created a full-fledged Ministry of Internal Security and Waterways manned by a retired general of the Nigerian Army. Two weeks ago, we successfully launched the Ibom Community Watch programme with 550 watchers commissioned for Uyo Local Government Area. The objective of this programme is to raise a well trained team that will protect government assets across our communities and assist in the gathering of intelligence for our security agents. This initiative shall also create over five thousand jobs for our youths.
12.  Still on security, on December 13, 2023, I signed into Law, the Akwa Ibom Security Trust Fund Bill earlier passed by the State House of Assembly to help us mobilize funds to improve on the security architecture of our state. Three days ago,  we launched the Akwa Ibom State Waterways Security Assets whose central mission is to secure the waterways of the State and thus help protect governments critical assets, boost the state’s comparative advantage in the blue economy, support our fishermen through the provision of enhanced security among others. At the event, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, was on hand to help us launch the 14 State Patrol Gunboats we had bought and donated to ensure this operation
runs seamlessly. We also signed a contract with the Nigerian Naval Shipyard for the construction of a Passenger/Cruise ferry, with the view to turning our coastline towns into tourism hubs.
13.  In the Education sector, we have started the construction of model primary schools, the first of which is to be commissioned at the Christ the King Primary School, on Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo. This is one of the projects selected under the One Project per Local Government Initiative which is one of our efforts at ensuring that we give government back to the people and allow the stakeholders to select and pick the projects they desire for their communities, so that they can own those projects. These projects once unanimously selected, will be executed within the next couple of months under the First Phase of this bold Initiative.
14. We have equally undertaken some critical interventions in the educational sector, some of which include:
1st Phase of Education Support fund for Physically Challenged persons in Akwa Ibom State studying in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. So far, we have paid about 106 persons under this scheme at N250,000 per undergraduate and N300,000 per Postgraduate student.
• We have paid bursary to students of Akwa Ibom State origin studying in public tertiary institutions in Nigeria. So far, not less than 5000 students have received their bursary.
• the free and compulsory education policy in our state shall be continued and we have already paid examination fees for all Secondary School students. In addition to this, we have paid for the production of school uniforms, shoes, school bags and books for our pupils in primary schools.
15.  In the Healthcare sector, we have taken bold steps to fulfill our campaign promise to revitalize the primary healthcare sector to complement the great works done by past administrations in the Secondary Healthcare sector. The first of the Primary Healthcare facility which was flagged-off a little over two months ago, at Ikot Nkwo, Ibesikpo Asutan, is now ready and will be commissioned soon. The facility comes with the most modern equipment with Maternity Section, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Library, ICT Room, Consulting Suites, Emergency Unit, Immunization Centre and other critical services. This facility is being replicated in Oboyo Ikot Ita, Nsit Ibom Local Government Area and Eyulor in Urue Offong-Oruko Local Government Area. We will also have similar facilities in all the 11 other Local Government Areas that have chosen Primary Healthcare Centers in the One Project per Local Government Scheme.
16.  I have directed the Ministry of Health to get to work towards the establishment of Dialysis Centres in each of the ten Federal Constituencies in the State. This is aimed at mitigating the rise in kidney-related diseases in our State. We have, in fulfillment of our campaign promise, made plans to open a Medical Corridor between the Ibom Specialist Hospital and the Sheraton by Four Points in Ikot Ekpene. When completed, it rank among the best in the country. Contractors have also been mobilized to commence work towards the completion of the General Hospital in Ukanafun Local Government Area.
17.  We are determined to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in our people and this vision is being championed by the Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurial Centre (Ibom-LED). So far, we have successfully hosted the maiden Edition of the Made in Akwa Ibom Trade Fair, where the 400 registered attendees were given a grant of five hundred  thousand Naira each to progress their businesses. We have also set up and commissioned the Ibom-LED Tailoring & Shoe making Hub among other great things the Center is doing.
In line with our commitment to support our indigenous entrepreneurs, we have ensured that all contracts for the production of school uniforms and shoes for our pupils and uniform and boots for the men of the Ibom Community Watch are handled by our youths at the Shoe and Fabric Hub housed at the Ibom – LED Centre. I call on all of you to avail yourself of the programmes initiated by the Centre
18.  So far, we have paid over 12 Billion Naira in gratuities to retired state and Local Government workers and Leave Grants in fulfillment of my campaign promise to tackle the issue head-on. We have equally spent over Five billion Naira to augment the Federal Government’s Palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal and ensure that the welfare of our people is enhanced. For us as a government, we will ensure that the welfare of our citizens is paramount.
19.  The Tourism sector will continue to receive a major boost in our administration. We have constructed a 20-thousand seater amphitheatre which was used in the recently concluded Christmas Carol and would be used for other cultural, social and even religious events in the state.  We will establish a theme park at the Unity park to provide leisure services for our children. We will also revamp our tourist sites such as the Lord Lugard’s Amalgamation House, The Bridge of No Return, and the Women War Museum, among others
We have concluded plans to build a Centre for the Elderly Citizens in our state. This centre will house a hospital, library, supermarkets and other facilities for the use of our Elders.
I believe that we should take care of our Elders while they still live and appreciate them for their huge contributions towards the development of our state.
20.  We have also made plans to build an international Market in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. We believe that this market will boost the economic activities in our state and will reduce production cost for most of our young entrepreneurs who often have to travel out to buy their raw materials. We are committed to ensuring that work commences on this project within the first half of this year.
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21.   My dear compatriots, what we have achieved in seven months gives us hope on what lies ahead in the New Year. We will continue to demystify the work of government and bring governance closer to the people. This we have already demonstrated in more ways than one. I have ensured that all the Wards in this state have a Personal Aide working and reporting directly to my Office.  I have ensured that all the units have a Watcher of the Ibom Community Watch drawn from them and I have taken time to consult with our stakeholders in most of my initiatives so far. I shall continue to run an all-inclusive government, paying respect to all our past leaders.
22.  I therefore, call on you to continue to pray for us, support us and bind our thoughts and actions with love and unity. We should strive to look out for the downtrodden and vulnerable and give them a reason to be hopeful. I have no doubt that our tomorrow will be better than today. We are determined to work to achieve that, and I know we can count on you to get this done.
Let me, before ending this address, thank the legislature and the judiciary for their overwhelming support in ensuring that we work harmoniously and deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. I call on you to continue in this collaborative efforts as we continue to partner with you to make Akwa Ibom the best place for our people to live in and do business.
23.  Happy New Year once again and God bless Akwa Ibom State, God bless our dear President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, as he leads our Nation to a new dawn of development, God bless you all!

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