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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Osinbajo: squabbles must end in people’s interest [THE NATION]

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday warned that unless the Executive and the Legislature close ranks, the government will be unable to deliver on matters that are central to the interest of the people.

He also said rigid adherence to separation of powers and legality will not solve the “life-threatening problems our people have to confront everyday”.

He said: “Law itself must be interpreted and implemented in context. What is the reality of the context that we operate in today? We all know, our nation has millions of extremely poor people, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened employment and poverty.

“We have huge deficits in infrastructure; many children are out of school. If that is our context we will be callous and irresponsible if we don’t come together, work together to sort out these grave life-threatening problems our people have to confront everyday.

“The dogmatic emphasis on procedural niceties is a luxury we cannot afford. In any event, there is no pure practice of the doctrine of separation of powers. The Anglo-American traditions that we hold on to in support of the separation of powers are not pure…so, for example, the US Vice President serves as the President of the Senate and presides over the Senate’s daily proceedings.

“In the absence of the vice president, the Senate’s president pro tempore (and others designated by him) presides. As one of the Senate’s constitutional officers, only the vice president has the authority to cast a tie-breaking vote. So, even in the country that has the most advanced jurisprudence on separation of powers, they are wise enough to provide for a concrete bridge between the executive and the legislature.

“In the UK, the convention is that every minister must be a member of the House of Commons or the House of Lords and every minister must be a legislator. So if that were in Nigeria, all the ministers would be either senators or members of the House of Representatives. So, these countries we look up to, recognise that any strict separation of powers will impede development, impede governance and shortchange the people.

It is time to focus on what we have been elected or appointed to do. This is the welfare of our people. The law and practice as between parliament and executive is a means to an end, not an end to itself. The means must not jeopardize the end.

“Our people just want food on their table, shelter over their heads, clothing on their bodies, healthcare and education for their children and themselves.

“So, the good legislature or good minister is not the one who is waving the law, and procedure, and doctrines, it is the one who says the spirit of our Constitution is that we secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.

“The good legislator and minister is the one who will do all in his or her power to serve the needs of our people, even if it means walking the fine lines, as Hon Wudil said between the law and reality”, he said.


Worries over $2b forex demand backlog [THE NATION]

Fitch Ratings has expressed concerns about the state of the naira and rising forex demand backlog estimated at $2 billion.

The forex demand backlog stood at $1 billion in May, according to investment banking firm FBN Quest in a note to investors.

The dollar demand has been swelling and piling up pressure on the naira.

It rose after the six-week economic lockdown was lifted with manufacturers and other importers seeking more greenback to import goods for the end of year sales. The lack of access to foreign exchange is hampering manufacturers’ ability to import vital raw materials, machines and spares that are not available locally.  Importers with due obligations have been scrambling for hard currency while providers of foreign exchange such as offshore investors have exited.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is expected to gradually clear  the backlog as business activities begin to return to normal and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

The CBN in August, adjusted the official rate to N379 per dollar from N360. This has not reduced the pressure on the local currency which now trades at N453 per dollar in the parallel market, indicating that it could weaken further.

According to analysts,  there remains severe risks to the external reserves and the currency, especially given weak prospects for the recovery of oil and non-oil sources of forex supply.

Fitch Ratings  had earlier downgraded Nigeria’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘B’ from ‘B+’ with a negative outlook in April due to COVID-19 pressures. However, Fitch revised its outlook to stable following reduced uncertainties, stable oil prices and the reopening of the economy.

The rating action was also largely influenced by CBN’s  management of external liquidity pressures through partial exchange rate adjustment, capital controls, forex restrictions and the rise in external reserves following the disbursement of International Monetary Fund’s $3.4 billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).

Analysts at Afrinvest West Africa, an investment and research form, told investors that the revision to the rating is surprising given that severe external and fiscal financing pressures persist. “While Fitch alluded to stable oil prices, the potential threat to oil demand from the second wave of the pandemic is putting downward pressure on prices. The slow and uneven recovery in global oil demand is also expected to linger till the end of next year, implying that oil prices would remain below 2018 levels while uncertainties still abound in the oil market due to global geo-political tensions,” it said.


APC, PDP in final push for votes [THE NATION]

Major political parties are in the final leg of the campaign for votes ahead of Saturday’s Ondo State governorship election.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and All Progressives Congress (APC) party leaders will host the ground rally in Akure, the state capital today.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is leading members of the Campaign Council to the mega rally.

The Peoples Democratic Party’s campaign train will roll into Ondo town, where its Campaign Council Chairman, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, and other leaders will campaign for its standard bearer Eyitayo Jegede.

On Tuesday, the two candidates signed a peace pact at the instance of the National Peace Committee headed by former military Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, in a bid to foster a violence-free poll.

In the last three weeks, inter-party confrontations had peaked and campaigns marred with violence in Akure, Owo, Ijebu-Owo, Ipele and Akoko axis, with the APC and PDP trading blames.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, appealed to the candidates and other stakeholders to maintain decorum before, during and after the poll.

He said:”Unfortunately, the Ondo State governorship election holding this Saturday is generating its own tensions. The charged atmosphere demands that political parties and candidates should affirm, respect, support, promote and commit to peaceful elections which, I understand, are the five cardinal pillars on which the Peace Accord rests.”

As the two major parties intensify mobilisation, a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the alliance plans between the PDP and the Zenith Labour Party(ZLP), led by former Governor Olusegun Mimiko, has not fizzled out.


Why SARS can’t be scrapped, by Police HQ [THE NATION]

Police authorities may not heed the calls for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), it was learnt on Tuesday.

Force Public Relations Officer at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, Frank Mba, said SARS cannot be scrapped because it is still needed to combat armed robbery and other violent crimes across the country.

Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), gave reasons for retaining the outfit during a live Instagram chat with popular Nigerian musician, Azeez Fashola (aka Naira Marley).

The Force spokesman assured Nigerians that more will be done to monitor policemen to ensure the rights of citizens are not violated.

For the citizens to help police authorities to further sanitise the Force, Mba said: “But if a policeman is doing something wrong, you can take pictures and record videos and send them to us. But make sure you do so safely.

“If you feel in your interactions with the police that they are beginning to cross the line, you can take pictures and videos as long as it is safe for you to do so. When you send them to us, we will definitely follow up the matter and see it to a logical conclusion.”

Also, Lagos Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu on Tuesday banned the command’s SARS unit from detaining suspects in their cells.

Odumosu spoke on Channels Television morning programme, Sunrise Daily, where he advised residents on the appropriate actions taken to enforce the directives of IGP Adamu on SARS reforms.

“It is going to be different because there will be more monitoring and supervision. The additional directive I gave yesterday (Monday) is that they must not even go to investigate any case without booking their arrival at the Area Commander’s office so that the Area Commander will know that they are in that area doing what they ought to do. Once they finish, they must go back and file entry.

“Secondly, I gave a directive that they must not detain anybody in their cells any longer. They can only detain at my office or at the Area Commander’s office. And the Area Commander must interview any suspect they want to detain and ascertain that the suspect had done what warranted being detained,” he said.


Malnutrition: A silent pandemic ravaging children [THE NATION]

Malnutrition remains a silent pandemic ‘consuming’ children in Nigeria. It is mostly being fueled by ignorance of parents and caregivers, poverty, inadequate food intake and poor sanitation, among others. COVID-19 may have stopped a lot of things, but it did not stop malnutrition, writes Justina Asishana

Thirty-six-year-old Aisha Isah was beaming sunnily. This was the first time in weeks that she could smile after being told that her son, Ibrahim, was out of the woods and would survive his battle with acute malnutrition.

Initially, when she noticed there was something wrong with him, she began self-medication on him, administering herbal remedies. But he gradually deteriorated, becoming more bones than flesh. Taking him for orthodox care became a last resort when all else failed.

Aisha did not know that her son was being ravaged by malnutrition until he became too weak to eat or drink anything. This made her take him to the Minna General Hospital, where one of the Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) Centres in Niger State is located.

After the doctor examined him, Aisha said that she was directed to the SAM Centre for further examination, “then they told me that my son had severe acute malnutrition and needed urgent care.”

According to anthropometric measurements, a three-year-old like Ibrahim should be weighing about 14kg. But he weighed 6kg when he was tested at the SAM Centre. His mid-upper arm measurement (MUAC) was 10 cm indicating red which meant the child was acutely malnourished.

“When he was admitted, he had to be fed through a tube in his nose, because they said his case was very serious and he could not take food through his mouth. They asked me why I didn’t bring him earlier and I told them I thought the problem was that he was teething, so I was using herbs. It was at the hospital that they explained to me what malnutrition is, “ she said.

Two weeks after he was brought in, Ibrahim was discharged and followed up strictly with checkups.

“I am happy that today, the nurses told me that Ibrahim is finally out of danger and is now weighing 14.2 kg, which is the required weight for his age. I am so happy, my mind is finally at ease. What would I have done if I didn’t know what was wrong with him and he died?”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an April 1, 2020, report, across the world, “47 million children under 5 years of age are wasted, 14.3 million are severely wasted and 144 million are stunted, while 38.3 million are overweight or obese.

“Around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age are linked to undernutrition. These mostly occur in low- and middle-income countries,” like Nigeria.

UNICEF reports that an estimated two million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition, but only two out of every 10 children affected, are able to access treatment. UNICEF also rates Nigeria as having the second-highest burden of stunted children in the world. The country has a national prevalence rate of 32 per cent of children under five years and seven per cent of women of childbearing age, suffering from acute malnutrition.


Nigerian economy unstable, directionless under Buhari, says economic society [PUNCH]

The Nigerian Economic Society on Tuesday berated the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over its handling of the economy, which it said was directionless and unstable.

The President of the NES, Prof Sarah Anyanwu, who stated this when she led members of the society on a visit to the Senate Minority Caucus, lamented that Buhari’s regime excluded economists from its economic management team.

According to her, because of the exclusion of economists from the team, the economy is nose-diving.

She noted that members of the NES were in the past included in the economic management team for the required professional advice and guidance on whatever economic policy the Federal Government adopted.

She said, “The practice assisted past governments in making sound economic policies required by circumstances or situations on ground.

“However, the exclusion of economists from the National Economic Management Team under the present administration  has glaringly shown  in  the adverse effects on the economy, which those who can read the indices and indicators correctly,  can see  is nose-diving .

“Our exclusion from the NEMT is seriously making the nation’s economy to be unstable and somewhat directionless.”

Apart from being excluded from the NEMT, the NES president lamented that the various ministries, departments and agencies were not patronising members of the society for required expertise and capacity training of their staff.

She,  however,  urged the National Assembly to expedite actions on consideration and prompt passage of the bill which NES  forwarded to both chambers early in the year.

The Senate Minority Leader,  Enyinnaya Abaribe, in his response, said he was not surprised by the parlous state of the nation’s economy since those managing it had little or no knowledge on how to make it vibrant.

Abaribe said, “We are not surprised that the economy went into recession and moving towards that direction again, since as disclosed here, required knowledge from the experts is not being sought by the government.”


Resign and go into farming, ASUU replies minister [PUNCH]

The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Tuesday advised the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, to resign and go into farming.

The Chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan chapter, Prof Ayo Akinwole, stated this in a statement in Ibadan while reacting to the minister’s criticism of the union.

He said the minister’s criticism showed that he was naïve on education matters.

The minister had,  in an interview on Monday,  said the striking lecturers should resort to farming,  saying they could not dictate to their employers, how they should be paid.

He had said, “Government is actually not holding anyone to ransom. It says ‘this is how I want to pay and it has to be through IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System)’  You can leave the employment. You can opt out of it and say ‘I no longer want to teach’. You can find other professions. What we need now are probably more farmers.

“You cannot keep forcing your employer and tell him, ‘I will like you to pay me my money through my pillow. Or, ‘I will like you to pay it through this mailbox’. ASUU has a lot of complaints and dissipation around

But Akinyole described Nwajiuba’s statement as a reflection of his shallow understanding of the academic profession and the low premium the current administration placed on education.

He said the minister of state had “displayed his naivety on educational matters.”

He added, “If the Minister of State for Education is interested in farming, he should resign his appointment and stop displaying his cluelessness of the problems in the education sector.

“We are on a just fight to ensure that those in public offices become responsive and responsible to the masses they swore to serve. They must fund public education. We have been on the same salary since 2009. That is no longer sustainable.

“The universities are being run with personal sweat of lecturers while politicians siphon money for personal aggrandizement. We cannot accept the IPPIS that is against the laws of the land and which fails to recognise the uniqueness of academic profession and culture.


IGP orders AIGs, CPs to sack, prosecute errant cops [PUNCH]

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered Assistant Inspectors-General in charge of zonal commands and state Commissioners of Police to arrest, detain and dismiss from service any cop, who violates the rights of the citizens.

He said the errant operatives should also be charged after being indicted in an orderly room trial.

The IG also directed the officers to compile recent cases of abuse of power and violation of rights of the citizens by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Special Tactical Squad, Intelligence Response Team, Anti-Cultism Squad and other teams, and forward same to his office not later than Friday.

The returns are to include the dates and venues of the incident, the special teams involved, details of the incidents and personnel involved, and the actions initiated by the head of the concerned commands as well as the status of the matter.

Adamu gave the directive in a letter dated October 5, 2020,  titled, ‘Order and directives: Restrictions on the operations of F-SARS, SARS, IRT, STS, state anti-kidnapping units and other special units under any nomenclature that operates in mufti across all formation, zones and state commands’.

The order with reference cb:4001/IGP.SEC/ABJ/V.115/911, stated, “Any police personnel that, henceforth, abuses his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the lives and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested, processed through our internal disciplinary machinery, and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service.

“In addition, such personnel could be charged in consonance with their level of criminal liability in the instance.”

The letter further directed the CP X-Squad, Force Provost Marshall and IGP Monitoring Unit to immediately coordinate and deploy joint teams to enforce the order across all the 36 state commands and the Federal Capital Territory.

“Any personnel of the special units found violating the order must be arrested and escorted to the Force headquarters for appropriate actions. Weekly update on this operation must be forwarded to the office of the Inspector-General of Police for review and appropriate directives,” it added.

The police boss noted that the unprofessional activities of some special operatives had continued to drag the Force into acts that “pit us against the citizens that we were engaged, paid and statutorily obligated to serve and protect.”

Adamu said some cops had been violating citizens’ rights in utter disregard for consistent warnings, previous orders, their professional training, international protocols, constitutional dictates, force policies, and ethical standards.

He added that no component of laws or international protocols authorised the unlawful killing or degrading treatment of fellow citizens, stressing that no element of professional training or ethical standards permitted any police personnel to deploy lethal weapons either consciously or otherwise, except as provided for in the statutes and in Force Order 237.

“Unfortunately, all the recent incidents of abuse of police powers violated these provisions,” the IG lamented.

“We have brought an alternative using our members’ money. People like this minister of state mirror the disdain of ruling class for the workers and people of the country.”

ASUU had on March 23 begun an indefinite strike to force the Federal Government to implement its agreements with the lecturers and protest against the IPPIS.

The union on Monday said its members would not call off their strike despite the directive of the Federal Government that all educational institutions should resume on Monday, next week.

The National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, had told The PUNCH that the Federal Government was not sincere  about negotiations with the union. He said lecturers would not resume on an empty stomach.

He had said “You can’t expect people to go back to their offices on an empty stomach. You don’t expect my members to suspend this action when their demands have not been met. It is a very clear decision that anybody would make in  this circumstance.”


Akeredolu shuns deputy’s handshake as candidates sign peace accord [PUNCH]

WITH barely four days to the Ondo State governorship election, candidates contesting in the poll on Tuesday signed a peace accord to ensure a violence-free election.

Incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Rotimi Akeredolu, his Peoples Democratic Party and the Zenith Labour Party counterparts and 14 other candidates signed the accord at an event organised by the National Peace Committee in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission.

A mild drama, however, played out at the end of the event as Akeredolu declined a request by the Master of Ceremonies for him to either shake hands, touch elbows, or embrace his ZLP opponent; the state deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi.

Our correspondent observed that the governor and his deputy earlier exchanged pleasantries with the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, by touching his elbow as requested by the MC but when it was their turn to greet each other, Akeredolu declined and simply waved at Ajayi.

Earlier, the three major contestants promised to abide by the terms of the accord by eschewing utterances and conducts that would encourage violence before, during and after the elections.

The Chairman, NPC, and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, urged all stakeholders to commit to the spirit of the accord.

Abdulsalami, who spoke via Zoom, said the intervention of the committee contributed immensely to the success of the 2015 election.

He said, “The governorship election in Ondo State is only a few days away and we want peace during and after the election. We want to see Nigeria as a place, where people come out peacefully and vote during the election without deprivation, and Ondo State deserves this.”

Other members of the peace committee, Bishop Mathew Kukah and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, appealed to the youths of the state not to allow themselves to be used as thugs.


Leave my health alone, Okunbo tells critics [SUN]

Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo has dismissed claims that he is in coma.

He said the media claims being orchestrated by faceless persons were inhuman and should be disregarded.

The Edo-born businessman said he was currently out of the country, where he was receiving treatment based on recent medical tests carried out by his doctors.

He said he was human and he never claimed to be above someone who could fall ill. He warned that those joking with his health status were mocking God.

“My attention has been drawn to a rash of social media posts concerning my health and the inhuman manner in which it is being orchestrated to look as if it was as a result of the outcome of the September 19, 2020 Edo State Governorship election in which I publicly supported Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

“It is evidently ungodly for people to gloat over the fact that I am not feeling well.  God does not approve of such disposition and those who engage in that pastime are only mocking and playing God.

“I have never claimed to be a superhuman being.  I do not deny the fact that I am not well.  I am outside the country for my medicals, which were delayed because of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After a series of tests, my doctors confirmed that I have some health issues. It is, therefore, ill-advised and inhuman for those who are not comfortable with the position I took in the Edo election to joyfully circulate in the social media that I have health issues and that I have slid into coma. Well, I leave them all to God.

“I am over 60 years.  I thank God who gave me the gift of life, an opportunity to live a good life, the grace to build a legacy of achievements and, most importantly, a good name, which is better than silver and gold.

“I hold dearly to heart the words of the scriptures that there is a time to be born; and a time to die.

“But what is most important in life is what I have done with my life.  And, this applies to every mortal being.

“Edo election, which is the reason they are doing this, has come and gone.

“Those who are opposed to me for taking a position in the election, which they won, should leave me alone and get busy with their life.

“I have moved on with life. I advise them to do the same instead of dwelling in the past.

“Nevertheless, I wish them well in all they do. God is on His throne and to Him be all glory, honour and adoration.”

Election not worth human lives, Sultan of Sokoto warns

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar has cautioned the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Rotimi Akeredolu, Eyitayo Jegede and Agboola Ajayi respectively to shun violence during Saturday’s election as the poll is not worth the life of any individual.

He gave the warning during a peace pact signed by the three major parties and their candidates. The event was organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) and attended by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmud Yakubu and traditional rulers from Ondo State on Tuesday.

Others present at the ceremony where all three candidates promised to eschew any act that may undermine the election include former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Kukah.

Speaking, Gov Akeredolu recalled that the election in 2017 was peaceful and added that the poll on Saturday will not be different.

He urged the people to shun all acts of violence and assured that he will meet with the candidates of the PDP and ZLP, who he described as colleagues to discuss the modalities to ensure that peace reigns before, during and after the election.

The PDP candidate, Jegede made a special appeal to the security agencies, especially the Police to arrest and prosecute anyone who foments troubles during the election.

On his part, the ZLP candidate, who is also the deputy governor of the state assured that members of his party will respect the peace accord.


Zulum to army: Leave Ondo election, face B’Haram battle [SUN]

Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum, has charged the military to leave internal security during the next Saturday governorship election in Ondo State and concentrate more on  counter-insurgency operation in the North East.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the combined Chief of Army Staff Quarterly Conference in Maiduguri, Borno State, yesterday, Zulum said he was a bit scared when the army chief mentioned the successes recorded by troops during the Edo poll and efforts to repeat same in the coming Ondo election.

“When the Chief of Army talked about the success story of Edo election and forthcoming Ondo poll, I was a bit scared because I want the attention of the military to be in the forefront fighting the insurgency,” he said.

He also asked the army to embark on confidence building and  confidence sharing with the communities where they are currently carrying out various operations. He urged the military to take the battle to Boko Haram and embark on what he called clinical clearance of Boko Haram remnants after every operation.

He commended the military on renewed vigour in the counter-insurgency operation in recent time.

Lt.-Gen. Tukur Baratai had commended officers and men for the display of professionalism during the September 19 election in Edo.

Buratai said their performance was adjudged satisfactory and highly commended by all sections of the society.

He said their conduct was in tune with his strategic directive for 2020 which is “To Sustain the Professionalism and Responsiveness of the Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles.’’

He said he was happy that his directive on professional conduct was permeating through the ranks as was evident during the recent conduct of Operation Safe Conduct in Edo State.

“This is the standard that must be upheld always and I expect nothing less in the coming Ondo State governorship election on the 10th of October.

“We must continue to chart progressive paths towards tackling the security challenges confronting the nation,’’ he said.


Buhari presents 2021 Appropriation Bill to NASS tomorrow [SUN]

President Muhammadu Buhari will tomorrow present the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly.

President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan, read the letter from Buhari, conveying his intention to present the budget to National Assembly at plenary on Tuesday in Abuja.

“May I crave the kind indulgence of the distinguish Senate to grant me the slot of 11 hours on Thursday 8th October,2020 to formally present the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the Joint Session of the National Assembly.

“While I look forward to addressing the joint session, please accept, Mr Senate President, the assurances of my highest regards.

Meanwhile, senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have  berated the poor economy and how President Buhari-led Federal Government handled it.

This is even as professional economists declared that the nation’s economy was nosediving as a result of exclusion of qualified and knowledgeable economists in the National Economic Management  Team (NEMT).

The senators who were taken aback by the  disclosure said they were not surprised at the parlous state of the economy since those managing it have little or no knowledge on how to make it vibrant.

Lamenting the exclusion of economists, President of Nigeria Economic Society (NCS), Professor Sarah Anyanwu, during visit on the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said since the exclusion of NEC members from NEMT, the nation’s economy has been nosediving .

Besides being excluded from the NEMT, NES president also lamented that the various MDAs were not patronising them for required expertise and capacity training of staffers.

She, however, requested the National Assembly to expedite action on consideration and passage of the bill NES  forwarded to both chambers early in the year.

Irked by her lamentation, Abaribe and other PDP senators including Emmanuel Bwacha, George Sekibo, Sahabi Yau and Chukwuka Utazi said they were not surprised at the parlous state of the Nation’s economy.

Abaribe said: “We are not surprised that the economy went into recession and moving towards that direction again since as disclosed here, required knowledge from the experts are not even sought for.”

He, however, assured the NES members that expeditious consideration will be given to their bill already before both chambers of the National Assembly.

On the entourage of the NES team were Professors Peter Shibayan of the Department of Economics, University of Abuja , Eyilola Olaniyi also from the same Department, University of Abuja and others.

Meanwhile, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) said it would partner with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on information gathering and sharing to achieve its mandate of actualising a corruption-free society.

Prof. Mohammed Isah, Chairman of the bureau, said this when he led board members of the organisation on a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the FIRS in Abuja, yesterday.


Uzodimma’s govt battling for public acceptance – Okorocha [SUN]

Former Imo governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, yesterday, described Governor Hope Uzodimma as a man weighed down by credibility crisis and struggling for public acceptance.

Okorocha stated this in response to a N106 billion fraud indictment by Justice Benjamin Iheaka-led panel probing contracts awarded during his eight years tenure.

The panel set up by the state government had demanded that the former governor refund the monies which it claimed was fraudulently expended on fictitious contracts.

But Okorocha, in a statement by his spokesperson, Sam Onwuemeodo, refuted the panel’s claim urging that details of its findings be made public.

“For almost nine months on seat, the government in Imo has been struggling for acceptance,” he said of Uzodimma, while alleging that the incumbent  governor was complicit in the spending of about  N119billion of federation account fund meant for the state.

Said Okorocha: “In his independence day speech the governor said that he inherited systematic fraudulent system from Ihedioha. Two days after, he said that Okorocha should refund N106 billion. We challenge the government in Imo, led by Senator Hope Uzodinma to publish the Iheaka report verbatim so that Imo people in particular and Nigerians in general, could read the report and see how the panel arrived at N106 billion, which they said that Senator Okorocha should refund,” he said.

The former governor while  demanding for the public publication of the report that indicted him, said he did not believe that the chairman of the panel, a judge, could go ahead to submit a report on a matter that was pending at a Federal High Court in which the presiding judge had ordered for the maintenance of the status quo.

“No serious panel would have made such recommendation. It could only take a ‘Ben Johnson’ panel to do that. And let the government publish the list of contractors who handled contracts under Okorocha, state the contracts they did, how much they were paid respectively, how they were paid and what they should have been paid, in the estimation of the panel members.

“Governor Uzodimma should explain what he has done with the N119 billion he has collected from the federation account and N6.4 billion ISOPADEC fund vis-à-vis the IGR.”


Lagos Assembly set to criminalise encroachment on LASU lands [THE GUARDIAN]

Lagos State House of Assembly has directed the management of the Lagos State University (LASU) to come up with a legislation that will criminalise anybody or a group of people that encroaches on the land of the institution.

Chairman, House Committee on Finance and a member of Public Account Committee (PAC), Mr. Rotimi Olowo, who gave the directive, yesterday, during an interaction with the institution’s management, enjoined the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, who appeared before PAC for 2019 auditor-general’s report, to hastily reclaim all incursions on the lands belonging to the institution.

Olowo said invaders should be kept at bay because LASU is on the way to greater deeds and would need the lands for infrastructural growth. Fagbohun, who expressed gratitude to the legislators, said the Assembly played a role in making LASU what it is today.

He said that some residents of Epe community had trespassed on the institution’s land and that there was indeed a need to act fast otherwise, it would pose serious threat to the school in future.

The vice chancellor also lamented how the military, which ceded the land to LASU originally, are coming back to make incursions on the property.

HOWEVER, the Assembly has approved N153 billion sought by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to construct the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT), also known as the Red Line and the Blue Line.

Chief Press Secretary to Speaker of the Assembly, Tolani Abati, who confirmed the development to The Guardian, said the House unanimously approved the amount after adopting the report of the House Committee on Finance as submitted by its Chairman, Olowo, at its plenary session on Monday.

He said that while N93 billion would be sourced through Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention facility from First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Zenith Bank for the Red Line, the remaining N60 billion would be sourced from DCRR, CBN intervention loan funds for the Blue Line.


Tough funding options for teachers’ new salary [THE GUARDIAN]

Even as details of the new Teacher’s Special Salary (TSS) remain unclear, the Federal Government may face tough funding options when it is ready to implement the new policy. The new measures as announced on Monday by President Muhammadu Buhari would scale up remunerations for the teaching profession.

This comes amid widespread confusion in relevant ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) over the module for implementation of the new policy. Key offices, in their interactions with The Guardian last night, claimed they had not been briefed about the new salary scale, which stakeholders in education sector described as “overdue.

Checks at key ministries and departments indicated that the policy was declared without proper briefing of authorities relevant to its core implementation. Worse still, the increment, it was learnt, is not captured in the 2021 appropriation bill scheduled for presentation to the National Assembly on Thursday.

President Buhari, during his speech to commemorate the World Teachers Day on Monday, approved a special salary scale for teachers in the country. He also increased the number of years of service of teachers from 35 to 40.

When implemented, both decisions would mean significant expansion of government’s recurrent spending. YET, government may not be in a hurry to implement the new salary scale, going by the information gleaned from the Ministry of Finance and its agency, the Budget Office. A top official at the Ministry confided in The Guardian, saying that the policy declaration was still being digested and that a clearer workable and implementable plan would be drafted in due cause.

“We are still digesting the new policy thrust as declared by the President. All the necessary agencies involved are still studying the policy. It is too early to begin to make comments that may contradict what the President said,” the source who pleaded anonymity, disclosed.

Another source at the Budget Office said the new salary scale was not captured in the appropriation bill the President will present to the lawmakers tomorrow.

“We have since concluded the 2021 appropriation. The new salary scale was not contemplated. Maybe it will come later in a supplementary budget. Certainly, it is not in the plan prepared for Thursday’s presentation,” said the staff.

When The Guardian inquired about details of the approved document at the Presidency, it was referred to the Federal Ministry of Education, implying that relevant personnel at the establishment might not have any further information beyond what the President told other Nigerians.














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