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MESSI, RONALDO’S EARNINGS HIGHER THAN OSUN, NASARAWA BUDGETS

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The budgets of Osun, Nasarawa, Enugu and seven other states in the country are less than the annual earnings of 10 top athletes in Europe and America put together, Sunday PUNCH has gathered.

The combined yearly salaries of athletes such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball star, Lebron James, are higher than the budgets of some states in Nigeria put together.

According to reports published on sportreview.com, the total amount earned per year by the three athletes from salaries, sponsorships and endorsements is N148,992,480,000.

Using the Central Bank of Nigeria exchange rate of N424.48 to $1, Messi earns N55,182,400,000 ($130m); Ronaldo gets N48,815,200,000 ($115m), while James takes home N51,362,080,000 ($121.2m).

Whereas the combined 2022 budgets of Nasarawa, Ekiti and Abia states is N356,750,000,000. In December 2021, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, signed the N110bn 2022 budget into law.

In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, signed the 2022 budget of N100.75bn into law with a promise to complete all ongoing legacy projects and consolidate other achievements recorded in the past years.

On his part, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, signed into law a total of N147.28bn as the state’s budget for 2022.

Economy weak – Experts

Speaking in separate interviews with Sunday PUNCH, experts attribute the low budgets by states to a weak national economy.

A professor of Economics at the University of Uyo, Akpakpan Edet, said states should stimulate the economy by cutting down the cost of governance and creating an enabling environment for investors to thrive, thereby creating quality jobs, which would enable the citizens to pay taxes.

According to him, all available resources should be concentrated on the economy to achieve desired development in the states.

He said, “What it means is that the economy of the states is very weak. They are not able to generate substantial internal revenue; when the economy is weak, they don’t have many people in employment and those who are able to find anything to do at all will be doing menial jobs that don’t pay them substantial income, so they end up being unable to pay taxes; that’s the problem.

“Look at what governors earn and all the security votes and so on, they don’t account for them. If half of the money the government is spending on frivolities is put in the economy, things will begin to change.

“What the states need to do, and in fact the entire nation, is to stimulate the economy and that can be done within two to three years; changes can be made. Whatever resources you have, you put into productive activities.

“If a government comes into office and directly takes two productive activities and establishes something in the state with it, even if it is a farm, and plan it very well so it will succeed, whatever you produce, you will be adding value; with that, you create opportunities for more people to earn better income and then you can tax them.”

Edet added, “That way, you will be increasing the number of human beings who can pay tax and then you collect your tax and make sure that every citizen pays tax. And this is one of the problems; the states don’t have opportunities for taxpayers and they are inefficient in taxing.”

“Then, you can add factory overtime; if he’s a smart governor, he can attract a company that is producing some of the things that are being sold in your market and tell that company to put the factory in your state, create a conducive environment and expand your economy. Sensible people should run the economies of society and not greedy people who don’t have any business in government offices.

“They all run to Abuja to share oil money and when they get it, they run back home and spend it on themselves and their cronies instead of putting the money in productive activities, that’s why you have so many people unemployed.”

A professor of African Economic History and Development at the Federal University of Kashere, Noah Attah, said, “The fact is that we are operating an economy that does not produce, but consumes. The analogy of the athletes is straightforward, what they are earning is the by-product of the production that has already taken place, and they are offering services for those who want to enjoy pleasure; if you go to our stadiums today, except maybe Nigeria is playing against another national team, you are not likely to find people in the stadiums, because somebody who doesn’t know where the next meal will come from will not think of going to the stadium.

“Our states are not producing; they go camping and they wait for the meal ticket from Abuja every month, where they share the money. And then when they share it with those in power, you know what they do with it.

“To save the situation, first you have to put the horse before the cart. When we are talking of leadership, they are the type of people who go there for the purpose of primitive accumulation in the sense that they go there to enrich themselves. Therefore, we need people who will not go to the government house to steal. When you look at the emergence of the US, Britain and Japan, you will also discover that those who hold the means of production are the ones who found themselves in the position of governance and not dropouts, not people who have no jobs, not people who don’t have a record of their productive achievements.

“Those in government, most of them are people who are involved in buying and selling; they buy contracts and they sell contracts. They do not produce a pin. Even toilet roll, they cannot produce. Such people, what will they do in the National Assembly to turn around governance?”

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ELECTRICITY WORKERS DEMAND REVERSAL OF POWER SECTOR PRIVATISATION

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…Describe new owners as hustlers, hawks

THE National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, yesterdasy, urged the Federal Government to reverse the privatisation of the nation’s power sector, describing new owners of the privatised companies as ‘hustlers’ and ‘hawks’ who have contributed poorly to the power sector.

The union also accused the new owners of deceiving the Federal Government into paying N2 trillion subvention, even as it insisted that they had continued to impoverish Nigerians, leaving the country pillaged.

It claimed that despite recognizable improvements in the wheeling capacity of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, of 7,000 megawatts, the generation output had now dwindled below 5,000 megawatts.

The union pointed at the activities of the new owners as part of reasons the power sector has gone almost comatose and the impoverishment of the average worker in the sector.

The Zonal Organising Secretary (Liaison), Kolade Ayodele, who spoke to journalists on behalf of his colleagues, said Nigerians should also be worried, even as electricity tariffs continued to rise without commensurate service delivery.

He said: “Since the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector in October 2013, electricity workers, under the age of the National Union of Electricity Employees, have been in the fore-front of speaking out on behalf of the Nigerian people

“It is an undeniable truth that the power sector privatisation has not added value to the lives of the ordinary Nigerians. The entire exercise, which could be described as a charade, has not brought any meaningful impact/improvement to the sector.

“Rather, it has led the nation to a huge setback. The infrastructural development by the new business owners in the power sector has almost gone comatose while the socio-economic status of the average worker in the sector has continued to decline amid prevailing harsh economic conditions.

‘’The same equipment inherited from pre-privatisation have remained what drives the sector as there are no visible attempts by the Generation Companies (GenCos) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) to upgrade and expand their capacities/networks.

“Nigerians were deceived into believing that the ‘harvestors’ had the financial/technical muscles to improve power generation and distribution to Nigerians. Can Nigerians be told today that this purpose has been achieved?

‘’The answer was echoed in the print/electronic media by members of the National Assembly who even called for the total reversal of the entire process.

“Despite improvement in the wheeling capacity of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, which is still Federal Government-owned to over 7,000MW, the generation output has been dwindling below 5,000MW.

“Alas! the ‘hustlers’ who deceived the Federal Government into paying almost N2 trillion subvention to the owners of the new companies since privatisation, are being used to call the union names in order to exploit Nigerians and sustain the current comatose situation. Their mission is simply to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it, while they keep smiling to the banks.”

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2023: WHY WIKE REMAINS DOOR TO ATIKU’S WIN OR DEFEAT

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The task of becoming the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a daunting one. And, understanding this explains why all the presidential candidates are probably facing one of the most difficult moments of their political careers.

Undoubtedly, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar contesting on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the toughest job among the three main contenders. He has a hurdle of the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike to scale if he must return to Aso Villa, which he left in 2007 as the vice to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

While Wike’s challenge looks insignificant to the eye, he’s hydra-headed and eventually posing as a door – to either Atiku’s win or defeat. A lot of other issues are attached to Wike, all of which will be treated in this report.

Why is Wike larger than life? The Rivers State governor does not only have people in the party who share his sentiment, he shoulders the interest of all aggrieved members in the party. From the South that was schemed out of 2023 presidential race to the rise of Peter Obi of Labour Party and romance with the ruling party, among other petty political Lilliputians seeking relevance, Wike still remains the link bridge connecting them all.

Wike’s cronies also include his counterpart governors and some members of the National Working Committee (NWC). Hence, it is substantial to say that Wike has turned the fight into a South-North dichotomy.

In a nutshell, Atiku has to win this internal battle before marching to the warfronts against his counterparts – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) presidential candidates – Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi respectively. If he eventually reconciles Wike to his side, he would have won half of the scuffles ahead.

Atiku and Okowa’s emergence

The battle for Atiku began the moment he emerged as the standard bearer of the main opposition party. It’s not the status itself that poses a challenge, but the process that brought him in. This doesn’t affect only him, his running mate, Governor of Delta state, Ifeanyi Okowa is also in the picture.

Prior to the PDP primary election in Abuja, in late May, Wike had pledged to support whoever emerged as the party’s flag bearer. He also assured he wouldn’t leave the party, regardless of what happened.

It was almost certain to conclude that Wike would emerge to fly the party’s flag going by his political muscle. Sadly for him, his colleague from Sokoto state, Governor Aminu Tambuwal withdrew from the race and urged his delegate supporters to vote for Atiku. This, obviously won the battle for the ex-vice President. Wike was obviously outplayed by a ‘friend’.

Rivers Governor could stomach Atiku’s victory at the primaries, but his ego was bruised when his neighbour in the South-South was picked to be the vice presidential candidate. Up till now, Wike has neither publicly congratulated Okowa nor commented on the issue.

Wike insistence on Ayu’s removal

Asides from other grievances that sprang up aftermath of the emergence of both Atiku and Okowa, Wike has admitted that his main rancour with PDP leadership is the failure of the party’s national chair, Senator Iyorchia Ayu to resign.

He claimed that there was an agreement during the zoning debate that both the presidential candidate and the national chairman cannot come from the same region.

Since Atiku is from the North, Ayu cannot remain as the PDP helmsman because he also hails from the North. Notwithstanding the resignation of Walid Jibrin as the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Wike insists Ayu must go. Amid this, members of the National Executive Council (NEC) passed a vote of confidence on Ayu. As much as Ayu remains as PDP chairman, Wike cannot work for and with Atiku.

South-South battleground and Rivers electoral value

Whatever Atiku calculated to have chosen Okowa as his vice ahead of the 2023 general elections has arguably boomeranged. This has divided his votes in the South-South already unless the internal wrangling is resolved amicably before Nigerians head to the polls next year.

In the wake of the brawl with the Atiku camp, Wike, while commissioning recent infrastructural projects in his state. Imaintained that he would help PDP not to win elections. This will only change if his demands are met.

But, Atiku must hold on to the belief that the South-South region is a cherished stronghold that would give him votes in the South. By extension, he should strategise not to let Rivers slip away from his grasp even if it means sourcing for a powerful figure in Wike’s state.

Rivers will deliver for Atiku because, in the 2019 presidential elections, Atiku scored 473,971 votes against Buhari who polled 150,710 votes.

However, while Wike’s clout cannot be underestimated in Rivers, Atiku can rake in massive votes in the region including Wike’s state if he plays the game well. The states in the region with the exception of Cross River belong to PDP. He just has to work with Okowa and find a charismatic party chieftain to be on his campaign train.

Makinde and unfriendly South-West terrain

The South-West is a no-go area for Atiku but anything can happen in politics, even at the last minute. Tinubu displayed that during the APC’s presidential primary election, as a political journalist said, “While other presidential candidates go for the delegates, Jagaban goes for the presidential candidates themselves.”

The region is for Tinubu except for Oyo state just like the South-South is for Atiku. But this doesn’t mean there won’t be trickles to gather for both of them in each region.

Going back to Tinubu’s tactics at his party’s primaries, Wazirin Adamawa can adopt such a strategy by enticing the bigwigs in Southwestern Nigeria to his camp if he wants to defeat the national leader of APC in his backyard.

On September 14, 2022, Atiku met with Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde who is also Wike’s closest ally. Atiku knows he needs Makinde if he has to get a substantial number of votes from South-West. Makinde wanted what Wike wanted. Don’t forget that Wike is a door. Atiku can decide to open or shut.

Also, by February 2023, Osun state governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke would have assumed office, but it is not certain if he would have garnered the political experience to deliver large votes for Atiku.

Mark, Ayu, Ortom and North-Central factor

The Middle-Belt of Nigeria is another PDP’s biggest armoury if Atiku’s political antenna is receiving a signal. He must woo another Wike’s ally and staunch critic of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in the person of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state. Ortom lamented a few days back that all is not well with PDP.

Whether Atiku sidelines Ortom or not, he has the shoulders of the former Senate President David Mark to ride on. Mark is a big fish in Benue politics. It is noteworthy that Ayu is also from Benue, and Atiku might not succumb to Wike’s threat of sacking Ayu. It is resourceful to use his status in gaining prominence in the state and the region at large.

Other states in the North-Central, especially those plagued by the atrocities of killer Fulani herdsmen will embrace Atiku and this might smoothen his cruise to victory in 2023.

Kogi and Kwara states are APC states but Atiku can use his influence to wage war against them in dividing the votes. The heavyweight ranks of former Kogi Senator who is also Atiku’s spokesman, Dino Melaye and former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki are strong waves to ride on.

South-East, Igbo presidency and the ‘Obidients’

Any politician that jettisons the wave of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi does so to his detriment. Obi is not only the Igbo presidency that the region longs for, he’s a political figure that the disgruntled young Nigerians want to install via their votes in 2023.

It is expected that Tinubu and Atiku understand this. How they would surmount that hurdle is a test of their acumen. The former VP cannot convince Igbo men with ‘Okowa is also an Igbo’ status to lure their votes.

Although, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has reiterated that it would have preferred that APC and PDP choose a Southeasterner to vie for the highest political office.

The Igbo leaders wanted a repeat of 1999 when PDP and defunct All Peoples Party (APP) fielded Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falae respectively who are Yoruba people.

And since Ndigbo didn’t get this, the ethnic sentiment that Obi is more Igbo than Okowa is a card to play. An Atiku would struggle to win this debate.

The Obidients are also everywhere. They are the youths that want to pay back APC and PDP in their coin for many years of the nation’s woes. These are energetic and resolute Nigerians who are ready to share spoils with Atiku and Tinubu for Obi’s advantage.

Having said this, Atiku cannot totally lose out in the South-East, another former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim and the new Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Adolphus Wabara will not hesitate to embrace Atiku to oust the APC government.

Dicey North-West, North-East’s strongholds

The core North, despite APC’s damage to security and economy, will still most likely queue behind Tinubu who is promising a facelift of Nigeria in the pattern of Lagos when he was governor and other gimmicks he and his party will push out to Nigerians.

Governors like Nasir el-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje, Aminu Masari and Bello Matawalle of Kaduna, Kano, Katina and Zamfara states are key to Tinubu’s win. Kano’s votes are instrumental. In 2019, Buhari polled 1.4 million votes in a landslide.

Whoever between Tinubu and Atiku owns Ganduje automatically owns those Kano’s votes. How Atiku would get an appreciable fraction of those votes is also important.

However, Atiku can slug it out with Tinubu on the basis of the son of the soil. He’s a Northerner. He can appeal to the ego and sentiment of the Northern political class and stakeholders from the region.

Atiku is the most prominent politician in the North-East. This would have been a free ride for him but Tinubu chose his running mate, former governor of Borno state, Senator Kashim Shettima to spoil the show for Atiku.

The ex-VP needs to possess the North-East as his home. He must campaign vigorously to weaken the APC even in the terror-laden Borno. He’s a politician who knows what his campaign programmes should hit at.

Way forward

Kwankwaso: the beautiful bride

As integral as Kano’s votes are to winning the presidential election, the former governor in the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso is a major stakeholder. He has massive followers through his Kwankwasiyya movement.

All along, whoever Kwankwaso supported would reap Kano’s votes, but this time around the former Defence Minister is running for President under the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). If he doesn’t step down, it is almost certain that Atiku, Tinubu and Obi should forget Kano as a determining factor in winning.

There are speculations that Kwankwaso would align with any of the three front runners at the dying minutes – and Atiku might have to lobby to win him over.

Nigerians own the votes

The 2023 presidential election largely depends on the aggrieved, hopeful and optimistic Nigerians who desire and demand a better, safer, richer and greater country, and would do all within their reach to achieve this. They are the ones Atiku should appeal to. They are the voters he should convince. He will definitely use the inadequacies of APC against them. But, he needs more than that. Nigerians want practicalities.

With the new Electoral Act, political analysts have supported the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to say it would be difficult for politicians to rig elections. So, 2023 is for Nigerians, Atiku and other candidates in the race must understand and work with that fact.

But, the ball is in the court of Nigerians whether to continue with the status quo or have a paradigm shift. Whichever way, Atiku has a bigger challenge than Tinubu and Obi in winning the election. Since his entry into politics in 1989, he had contested five times in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. And he knows more than anyone that 2023 is probably his last chance.

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[INCREDIBLE!] SKELETAL REMAINS OF LANDLORD FOUND INSIDE BEDROOM 4 YEARS AFTER HE WAS LAST SEEN

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The skeletal remains of a landlord, identified as John Aderemi Abiola, has been discovered in his bedroom after almost four years since he was last seen.

Residents of Adeosun/Idi Orogbo Community in Ido Local Government Area of Oyo State were shocked by the discovery on Sunday, September 4, after the community leaders decided to clear the overgrown bushes in his compound due to the invasion of snakes.

It was learnt that the man was last seen in December 2018, one year after he moved into the community, and barely related with people in his neighborhood.


He told two people that he was travelling to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and would be back for the Ileya festivities in 2018. However, when they did not see him, they thought he chose to stay back in Rivers State.

As the years went by, the weeds in his compound grew beyond his fence into the next compound, where the owner of the property had already moved in, leading to the invasion of snakes and other reptiles.

Skeletal remains of landlord
Following a complaint to the community landlords, they decided to find a way to gain access into the compound to clear the bush and got permission from the Apete Police station.

Last Sunday, the community hired labourers to clear the thick bush as the house was built at the back of the land while the front side was free space.

As they were clearing the land, they first noticed Mr Abiola’s volkswagen Golf car with registration number AKD 769 DC which was was covered by bushes.

Skeletal remains of landlord
They then saw the building and noticed that the window of his room was opened. Out of curiosity, they looked into the room and saw the man’s skeletal remains sprawled on the bed, prompting them to raise alarm.

Police officers, operatives of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Ministry of Environment went to the scene to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, efforts to contact his family has been futile because his lines has been disabled.

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