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No rest until insurgents, bandits’re crushed –Buhari

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has again issued marching order to security chiefs over insecurity across the country occasioned by activities of bandits and insurgents, saying they must not rest until all Nigerians are at rest.

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the disclosure at the end of  the National Security Council (NSC) meeting at the State House, Abuja.

He said the president, after receiving briefs from  the armed forces and other security agencies and intelligence organisations, charged them not to rest on their oars, notwithstanding the progress and efforts being made to eliminate insurgency, banditry, kidnapping for ransom and all the other criminalities.

“The president said we are not yet where we should be; that Nigerians deserve to live in peace and that until we achieved that we will not rest.”

Asked if resurgence of criminal activities along Abuja-Kaduna highways was discussed at the meeting, Aregbesola said: “Oh, yes. The police and other security agencies had been mobilised to intensify surveillance, patrol in pursuit of the criminals. And it’s not only about Abuja and Kaduna. Yes, Abuja-Kaduna belt was discussed specifically but we appreciated the fact that we are in the season of festivity. So, all agencies committed to providing security for Nigeria and the maintenance of law and order have been ordered to improve on their activities, intensify surveillance and minimize, if not eliminate totally any threat to law and order anywhere in Nigeria.”

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Asked if the military or the police would be taking the lead, he said: “Police, as I said, is the lead agency on internal security. So, whatever I’ve said about maintenance of law and order will start with the police and then extend to all the other security agencies, certainly.”

On if the issue or bandits collecting ransom, taking over and administering some  areas in the country were discussed, he said: “Specific orders have been  given to all our security  agencies. And we’ll see an improved response to all those challenging the sovereignty of Nigeria in whatever form and creating insecurity in whatever form anywhere. The council, today took firm decision on what to be done and I can assure Nigerians that with the charge from the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces today, there will be an improved response to all forms of criminality in any part of Nigeria.”

On whether there were new strategy to that effect as this will not be the first time such charge would be given, the minister said: “But what I know is that for as long as there is life, we must not rest until our objective of making Nigeria safe for Nigerians is made possible. So, I am convinced that with the renewed charge to our security agencies, from the military, to the police, intelligence organizations and all other security forces, certainly Nigerians will feel and live better going forward.”

He said Buhari was also particularly happy with the news that the Head of INTERPOL National Central Bureau, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Garba Umar, has been elected vice president (Africa) and executive committee member of the International Criminal Police Organisation  (INTERPOL).

The minister said President Buhari was particularly pleased with the outcome of the November 6 gubernatorial election that produced former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Charles Soludo, in the Anambra State governorship election.

“The president was particularly happy with the fact that a free and fair election was made possible by the INEC and our security agencies. And he was quite happy that the combination of INEC and the security agencies from the military to the police and all the other agencies made that possible with the support of the people and the government of Anambra. We all saw the outcome. With that, there is no doubt as to the commitment of our administration to promoting democracy and ensuring that 2023 is not in any way threatened.”

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Educational empowerment’ll equip rural communities in fighting poverty, insecurity-Hon. Mwadkwon

From Gyang Bere, Jos

Member representing Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Simon Mwadkwon said educational development will equipped rural communities in the fight against poverty, insecurity and other forms of injustice in Nigeria.

He noted that education and health facilities have received major attention in his constituency projects with the aimed of building a healthy and educative constituency.

Dr. Mwadkwon disclosed this yesterday during the commissioning of six classroom block at COCIN Bible School (CBN) Foron, Modern Health Care Facility Zaron, three classroom block and learning materials each at Mazat and Razat villages in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

“Education for me is key because without education, I don’t think I would have been in the House of Representatives. For instance, the Asian Tiggers today pride themselves with the level of development they have simply because they invested hugely in education.

“That gave birth to several research that led to so many discoveries which brought about the development they are enjoying today. Also, look at also Singapore; it was at the same level of development with Nigeria bit because of their investment in education, it is one of the best country in the world in terms of development.

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“Education is everything that will take us out of poverty and the current insecurity. When you give people education, you have giving them life because even if you don’t have a job but if you have education, you will know how to take care of yourself.

“That is what inform my focus on schools infrastructure and equipping it with learning materials to provide a conducive learning environment.”

He appreciated people in various communities for given him the mandate and vowed to always stand in defending the fundamental rights of the people.

Mwadkwon who is contesting for Plateau North Senatorial District expressed strong determination to liberate the people from the current insecurity and change the poverty narrative in the region.

He decried the soaring prices of foodstuffs in the market and urged  Federal Government to reverse it decision concerning the removal of fuel subsidy which the are contemplating pegging fuel price at N340 per litre.

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President Church of Christ of Nations COCIN, Rev Dachollom Datiri applauded Mwadkwon for coming to the rescue of the mission school.

He noted that the school has been soliciting for support to enable it upgrade to to Diploma certificate but with the construction of six classrooms by the legislators, the Institution will be upgraded to NCE awarding institution.

Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Plateau State, Hon. Chris Hassan said PDP is a party a political party that is sensitive to the need and aspiration of its citizens.

He explained that elected representative under the party from Plateau are fulfilling their campaign promises and applauded Hon. Mwadkwon for keeping in touch with the grassroot.

Hassan expressed disappoinment with the performance of the APC in the state and described the party as insensitive to the plights of the citizens.

 

Traditional rulers who spoke at the projects commissioning applauded Mwadkwon for identifying with the needs of his people and vowed to give him maximum support in his future endeavor.

 

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What government should do to halt buildings collapse – Okoronkwo

By Vincent Kalu

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kings Court Realtors, Emeka Okoronkwo has highlighted steps the government should take to mitigate incessant collapse of buildings. He was speaking against the background of the recent collapse of 21 storey building under construction in Ikoyi, Lagos.

What could have been responsible for the collapse of 21-storey building under construction in Ikoyi, Lagos?

The only way we can understand it is to do a proper analysis of what happened. The people that are competent to do this are forensic engineers. There are enough materials on that site to tell us what went wrong. So, it is up to the authorities if they want assistance we can offer them.

However, only two things can cause construction failure. One is lack of integrity of the construction materials. Integrity refers to strength. The second one is instability, which refers to how the loads in the building are divided. If the loads are not divided and transferred through correct vector lines down to the base, which is the foundation, it will collapse. If the load is too much for the strength of the foundation, it will collapse. If the soil test wasn’t professionally done, and there is an unequal settlement in the foundation, it will fall. The same lack of integrity in terms of professional efficiency of the structural engineering calculations will lead to this collapse. What happened at that site is failure of professional integrity. If the professionals there were competent, you would never find this type of calamity. It is only a weak character that will permit weak materials to be used for a building that would serve​ the public.

Let me use this opportunity to make a distinction. A developer’s responsibility is to the people that gave him money whether to the people that bought off plan or the bank that lent him money; that is the people he is answerable to. If the building was abandoned in future, the people that gave him money which may be banks or the investors would not hold the architect; they won’t. There are three aspects of a building intervention. The developer is after the money and his profits; the site is under the management of the professionals; the head of the construction team is the architect. The architect is the agent of government in the site. He took an oath to ensure that everything he does is in compliance with the regulations. This is why the government cannot give approval to a developer, but a qualified architect.

A construction team is made up of an architect, a structural engineer, a quantity surveyor, a mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, civil engineer, town planner if you like and then an estate surveyor and valuer. When these approvals are obtained, government would periodically come to the site, but it doesn’t have enough manpower to be at every site 24 hours. So they expect that the person that they have given authority would act on his professional integrity based on the oath of professional acceptability or confirmation of the body he belongs. In every site, there is site meeting. These site meetings are such that the whole work is reviewed to ensure that it is in line. When people try to place their blames, we should understand how it functions. Government, are they culpable? Yes to an extent.

The ultimate clients in a development site are the end users; some of them may be oblivious of how the construction was done and at the end of the day, they would bear the consequences of shabby work. This is the more reasons that the government must step in now to protect the public. You cannot be a judge in your own case. A developer should not be selling property directly to the public. Before, a patent medicine dealer used to sell fake drugs to Nigerians until pharmacists through Dora Akunyili insisted that anywhere you want to sell medication to Nigerians; a qualified pharmacist must be there to protect the public. The moment that was done, statistics shows that the medications that Nigerians used to take and the consequences came down to about 80 per cent. The same way for the estate surveyors and valuers, their course is such that they have working knowledge of these sister professionals – architects, quantity surveyors, civil engineering, town planning, and structural engineering. If estate valuers are representing end users, it is easy for him to say this is in compliance or is not in compliance because at the end of the day the construction team will leave the site, he will be the one to manage the property. The consequences will be for him to deal with the daily challenge of these end users.

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Apart from the above you highlighted, are there other failures in property development?

There is also building services failure. When there are poor materials for electrical works, plumbing works, kitchen cabinet, etc. Those ones may not directly cause life and death, but what it does is what we call, the ‘money pit’; you keep spending money in that house, which you never planned, and sometimes it results to death. You hear stories of people electrocuted while having a bath. The next kind of building failure is the design defects. If you are not trained, when you look at your house, what you are going to see is the beauty of the picture; the architect will so beautify the external that you think it is lovely. But, a trained eye will look at the workability, how practical is it to live in this house. How is the air in the house, is there going to be lighting problems, will you need to spend more money on power and all that. Will you have accident because a lot of people design houses that each time people are falling down and the old people, young children can’t function there? All those things don’t open the eyes of an average investor. The final building failure occurs out of poor maintenance. At each point in time, this is an incredible cost to the end user. To be able to mitigate the cost is to run ahead of time and get involved in the construction because the bitterness of low quality will stay longer after the joy of cheap price is gone.​Go and ask those that are buying these retail houses, the moment they buy it, come and see how much expenditure they incur, some of them in one year have to change all the plumbing and electrical fittings. Those things are happening because developers are allowed to sell directly to the public; there is no buffer between them. The best thing to do is for the government to empower the participation of estate surveyors and valuers and professionals realtors. Their role is fundamental and we have seen it now, where scores of people died there. We can forestall this.​ ​

​ You mentioned poor building materials as responsible for collapse of buildings, now some unscrupulous business men import especially from China poor quality building materials, don’t you think we are going to have more buildings collapse?

​ The truth is that we hope that it doesn’t happen. ​ A lot of people are wise enough to leave the construction of the building carcass which is the most fundamental part of the building to professionals. When that is done with integrity, you are sure the building cannot collapse. What they normally do is that they divide the construction into phases. During phase one, they allow a known professional to do the carcass. When it is standing well, they now take it over and do the finishing themselves. There is what that is called Client Relationship. I’m professional, if you come to seek my service; you are going to be guided by me. A developer is under the professional protection of an architect. In the same way, the public should be under the professional protection of the valuer when you want to buy property. It is then my responsibility to go the extra mile to ask those questions that you didn’t even think of, to ensure that your investments are better protected. In that regard, there is what we call in my profession ‘caveat emptor’; beware. You can only beware if you are dealing with a professional who knows the right questions to ask. We ask those right questions and if we do not have satisfactory answers we blow the alarm to the end user. But if you do not have us in all these multiplicity of developments; you, the investor are at the mercy of the developer. Whatever he is given, he takes it. This tragedy at hand would have been forestalled if the government has made it possible for this man to have appointed a valuer. There is no qualified estate surveyor and valuer that would stand and sell this kind of property to the public after observing that there were obvious infractions and regulations were not followed. We won’t do it; we have a responsibility to protect the public; the same way the architect has the responsibility to protect the investor. If the developer comes to say he has approval for 15 floors, made it 21. What was the role of the professionals in this thing? If the professional said, no, this tragedy would not have happened.

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With this tragedy, how does the outside world view Nigeria; for a property that was given approval for 15 floors was raised to 21?

Government agents in a construction site are the professionals they gave approval to. Government is required statutorily to pay visit to the site to ensure compliance, but the responsibility rests squarely on the professionals at the site to do the right thing. Should this have been identified earlier on, the tragedy would have been avoided. When government wants to give approvals for certain kind of buildings, it should also do a little bit of background check of professionals that are applying for approval; you have to worry about their experiences, the engineers at the site, the equipment. I will suggest that for certain kinds of site, let the professionals at the site be already proven. Government should have the responsibility to appoint other professionals to join them. If government has said, in the whole of Ikoyi and Victoria Island, we are appointing three architects to periodically give us quarterly reports on project sites A, B, C, D, E, etc, over and above the architects that we have given approval, we can begin to see balanced opinion, especially where either staff of government are likely compromised, incompetent or unknowledgeable. However, whichever you look at it, government cannot be at site from day one of construction to conclusion. Unfortunately, that is why it required that people who are qualified are the ones given approval to do this work. I’m not absolving the government, but the responsibility lies with the professionals.

Don’t you think with what has happened; it will put fear in people who live in the high rise buildings in the Island?

Without a doubt, it will put fears in them, but we have competency in Nigeria. When we were in school and we were sitting in board to review a construction job. About three of them had made presentations on their bids. One bid and his price was 40 per cent higher than the others. One other person bid 10 per cent above what the quantity surveyor said the cost of construction was going to be. Our supervisor left us to make a decision. Funny enough about 60 percent of us said we should go with the cheapest price. I asked one question, this man that was bidding so low if we give him this job how is going to survive because you can’t do a job of this magnitude and you can’t make a decent profit. If a job is ten million naira and somebody is quoting N10.5 million, how is he going to do the job and how will he survive after the job with N500, 000. It means that there will be compromises somewhere. What we did was to call the man who bided 40 per cent and reduced it to 30 percent. With this it was decent earning.​ There is no need getting an architect and start arguing with him about his fees and agreed with one funny amount. He is going to cut corners to make money. Government should help to ensure that professional fees are paid adequately. We are also left in the hands of all these developers and they will manipulate, do this and that and may not pay you. Since there are no jobs, anything he offers, you take it and start cutting corners.

If we are also trying to be holistic, building construction and building purchase are the highest investments individuals are making in their lives time. So, both construction and purchase are too technical to be left in the hands of an average investor who has his own challenges. So, he needs guidance. All of these developments springing up all over the places, government must step in now because people may not die in one storey building, duplexes etc, every day, but they are suffering in those buildings because of construction failure, defects in design and service failure in those places. The only way that the society can be further protected is to make it a law that a developer cannot sell property to the public without the certification of an estate surveyor and valuer or realtor. Just like you cannot buy drugs in a pharmacy shop today without a pharmacist approving to dispense it. This way will save life and also save investments.​ ​ ​

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Lagos begins investigation into death of Dowen College student

By Gabriel Dike

The Lagos State Ministry of Education, Alausa, has invited the management of Dowen College, Lekki, and parents of late Sylvester Oromoni Junior, who was allegedly beaten to death by five suspected cult students.

Daily Sun gathered that the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefiayo, has waded into the controversy surrounding the death of the 12-year-old student of Dowen College.

Recalled that the cousin of the late student, Perrison Oromoni, had via his Twitter handle alleged that Sylvester was battered by five students of the college because he refused to join their cult group.

But the Principal of the college, Mrs. Adebisi Layiwola, in statement debunked the allegation and insisted Sylvester fell while playing football, treated by the college resident nurse and released to his guardian for further treatment.

Ahead of the meeting at the ministry which was at the instance of the education commissioner, Daily Sun learnt that the police may take over the case to determine the level of involvement of the five students and possible cover up by the management.

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A senior official at the ministry told our Correspondent that the commissioner was worried about the death of the student and the argument surrounding the circumstances leading to his death.

“The honourable commissioner for education have invited both parties to a meeting at the ministry. She wants to find out the true position of things. The death of the student is an unfortunate incident, the senior official stated.

In related development, the Lagos State Government on Friday send its condolences to the parents of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior, late student of Dowen College.

 

A statement by the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Ganiu Lawal said the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, observed that the incident is shocking and the state is indeed sad about the great loss.

 

He said a delegation comprising top level management of relevant ministries, departments and agencies and the police, has visited the school on a fact- finding mission.

“Preliminary investigations revealed that Sylvester Oromoni Junior was indeed enrolled as a student of Dowen College in its boarding facility and had been treated by the school’s medical personnel before the school requested that the parents take him away for further care.”

 

The state government is in touch with the parents in this difficult time. We reassure the family of the late Sylvester Oromoni Junior and Lagosians  at large that efforts are being made  to unravel the circumstances leading to his demise, even as we reiterate the Government’s commitment to Child Protection.

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Our Correspondent further gathered that some family members of the death student are demanding for autopsy to be carried which will determine the cause of death.

A new video circulating online may have punctured the position of the college management that Sylvester fell down while playing football.

In the new video, Sylvester can be seen in sever pain with swollen month and bruises in some part of his body.

A relative of Sylvester could be heard in the video cursing those responsible for his condition and the college management for trying to cover up the incident.

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Peaceful coexistence pivotal for national development — CG NPC

From Ajiri Daniels, Abuja

In the face of rising insecurity and widespread ethno-religious conflicts across the country, the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC), Dr. Mustapha Abubakar has called on Nigerians to act together as a united force for national reconciliation, nation building and birth of a new Nigeria.

CG Abubakar who spoke on the sidelines of the 2021 National Peace Summit in Abuja, noted that it is the responsibility of every Nigerian, regardless of our ethnic or religious inclinations, to work together towards a sustainable peace and progress of the nation.

The Summit tagged: “Peace, Unity & Security: Panacea to achieving a sustainable and peaceful coexistence among ethno-religious/cultural groups in Nigeria,” sought to create and intensify public awareness on how youth, stakeholders, and traditional rulers’ participation, partnership and engagements can prevent violent extremism and foster sustainable peace and development.

Speaking on the theme of the summit, CG Abubakar said, “NPC believes in the unity of Nigeria. We believe because we have seen that Nigeria’s unity is working for us as a people in 99% areas. The only area Nigeria as a country failed is on the area of ‘polities’ which accounts for only 1%. This is not strong enough to divide us as a people. NPC believes that together we can fix it.

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“Nigeria failed today not because of the marriage between the South and the North, but because of our inability to be responsible partners.

“NPC believes that everyone, not minding your faith, language, or where you come from, as long as you are a Nigerian, is important in this marriage and therefore should be involved in the struggle to build a better Nigeria wherein all will enjoy and be happy.”

Also speaking, the guest speaker and president of Mediation Training Institute (MTI-Nigeria), Dr. Segun Ogunyannwo who harped on the need for peace, unity and security in the development of Nigeria, pointed out the the level of ethno-religious conflicts ravaging the society was due to the absence of love amongst the citizenry.

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Ogunyannwo explained that love was the missing link without which the nation cannot achieve harmony and peaceful coexistence.

He said, “We are here today under the auspices of the Nigerian Peace Corps with a focus on how peace, unity and security will serve as a panacea for sustainable peaceful coexistence in Nigeria, especially dealing with our ethno-religious, ethno-cultural nature.

“Conflicts are always inevitable. Once people come together, with different backgrounds, we cannot but have conflicts. How can we continue to live in harmony? I’m of the strong believe that the missing link is love. If there is love, peace is assured. You can’t have peace without love.

“The outcome of this programme is for all Nigerians to see the need to be united. We want peace, we want unity,” he added.

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Igini, INEC commissioner tasks corps members on honesty, integrity

By Gabriel Dike

The Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), serving in Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, has called on the 2021 batch ‘C’ Stream II corps members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) deployed to Lagos to make honesty and integrity the hallmarks of their conducts.

 Igini said this while educating the corps members at the orientation camp, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos on the electoral duties bestowed on them as corps members.

He said honesty and integrity are the values of those who will change the face of Nigeria, intimating them not to be deceived by politicians while on electoral duties at the polling units.

Said he, “Let me tell you that honesty and integrity are the values of those who will change the face of Nigeria.

“And so, when you are called upon, to be electoral officers in the polling units, do not be deceived by politicians. Do not emulate their bad conducts, they won’t last forever. There is reward for honesty and integrity.”

Igini while making an allusion to his electoral activities as REC in Akwa-Ibom State said, when he was accosted on election matters when he arrived the state, he clinged to his integrity.

“I told them I came to Akwa-Ibom to count ballot papers not money. A trillion naira cannot change the will of the people. Even though honesty is a moral choice, I encourage you to take the route of honesty because there will be consequences.”

The INEC commissioner, who reminisced about his NYSC days, which was observed in Lagos, said INEC decided to sign an MoU with the NYSC because of its educated youths who can determine a lot of things about the country.

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According to him, education is a leveler and it liberates, adding “when Prof Attahiru Jega was ASSU chairman, I was the President of Student Union in the University of Benin. Upon my appointment as commissioner in 2010, I was the youngest in the Federation. You can see how education liberates, how it is a leveler. This is the purpose of making use of the NYSC.’

Speaking on the powers wielded by the youths, Igini said the youths hold the largest population in Nigeria based on the INEC demographics, which makes it easier for the youths to be what they desire to be.

Igini said the youths can be change agents that will change the scope of leadership of the country, stating “but you have to learn the ropes, you have a lot to learn, engage in jobs that will improve you. Do not be bothered by these politicians, we are making it difficult for elections to be manipulated. We have introduced a bio-modal electoral process which will make it impossible to circumvent the voters register. If your fingerprints fails, your face cannot fail on the register. Your face will always remain your face.

“Before, politicians can easily manipulate election results by converting the numbers of absentee voters on the register to their advantage in a polling unit but now, the register of present voters in an election in a polling unit is immediately generated which can be accessed on our website anywhere in the world.”

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When asked about the possibility of electorate being able to vote in an election at the comfort of their homes, the INEC commissioner said Nigeria’s ICT infrastructures are not yet developed to have such but quickly mentioned the progress of the electoral body in the election registration process.

He said, “Electoral process development is a work in progress. What we have done is the initiation of online pre-voter registration register which is the first in Africa, you can register online, you will be made to choose a date and a location where you can do your biometrics.’

The INEC REC did not hold back in extolling the ingenuity of the Director-General of NYSC for managing the youths and the pandemic in what should have eroded the legacies of the scheme and consumed it.

Igini said it is the quality of leadership bequeathed to the NYSC that has sustained it.

‘Everything rises and falls with leadership. The difference between developed countries and developing countries is leadership.”

Meanwhile, the State Coordinator of NYSC Lagos State, Mr Eddy Megwa, who described the commissioner as an astute administrator, a man of impeccable integrity and a friend of the NYSC, presented to him the nine books which are the reflections of the Director-General, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim on the scheme, telling him they are literatures which will enrich his library.

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Jailbreaks: How we’re decongesting correctional centres- CG

From Okwe Obi, Abuja

Controller-General, Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, has explained how government is decongesting correctional centre, saying it is done through rehabilitation of inmates as 85 of them currently undergoing various postgraduate programmes in the country.

Nababa stated this recently in Abuja while delivering a keynote address entitled, ‘Penology, Correctional Centres, and Crime Control – Striking a Balance’ at the Shammies Unusual Hearts Foundation 2nd Annual Lecture Series.

According to him, thing things were improving regarding the rehabilitation of correctional facilities across the country, especially with the commitment of officials and the performance of inmates.

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He noted that aside 85 inmates taking postgraduate courses, 532 others were also undergoing Bachelor’s degree programmes in various fields.

Represented by Controller of Corrections, Emmanuel Nwakaeze, he said, “More inmates have been able to actualise their dream of having a university education.

“The Service now has 85 inmates in the National Open University of Nigeria’s postgraduate programmes out of which four are for a PhD, 25 for a Master’s degree programme, and 56 for a postgraduate diploma, while 532 are for the 1st-degree programme.

“More study centres are to be established across all Correction Service formations by 2025.”

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Meanwhile, Executive Director of SUHF, Amb Sara Abdul, appealed to  stakeholders to pay close attention to the health of ex-convicts so as not to plunge them into criminality.

She said, “for a crime to be less attractive and correctional facilities to fulfil their mandates, there is the need to partner with the major stakeholders in the correctional value chain to push for reforms which will, in the long run, have a positive impact on our nation Nigeria.”

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World Bank charges Nigeria to tax alcohol, cigarettes to improve primary healthcare

 The World Bank Group has called on the Federal Government to impose special taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and sugar-sweetened beverages to improve primary healthcare.

“If we want to improve healthcare in Nigeria, we need to tax the things that are killing us.

“The economic rationale for taxing these products is strong if we want to save lives and make a better and healthier Nigeria,’’ Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank Group, said.

He made the call on Friday in Abuja at a special National Council on Health meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Chaudhuri noted that taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages would reduce the health risks associated with their consumption and expand fiscal space for universal health coverage post-COVID 19.

The country director stated that investing in stronger health systems for all would contribute to tackling rising poverty and inequality.

He added that health tax increases would have the additional advantage of reducing future healthcare costs by curbing the growth of the non- communicable diseases that tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages cause.

In his goodwill message to the meeting, Dr Walter Mulombo, WHO’s representative in Nigeria, said he could attest to the enormous health needs of Nigerians and efforts made so far in meeting the needs.

He said his attestation was based on the fact that he had visited half of Nigeria’s 36 states in less than two years in the country.

Mulombo noted that while COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in global economy including health, he considered it a unique opportunity for a thorough evaluation of existing resources and mechanisms to prepare better for a more resilient future.

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He pledged that the WHO would continue to lead technical support for Nigeria in the development and implementation of its home-grown policies and plans.

This, he explained, would be in the context of the global health agenda as reflected in the country’s Cooperation Strategy.

“This we have taken into consideration, even as we currently review our operational plan and budget for the next two years,’’ he said.

Mulombo said the duty of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through building resilient health systems, was a collective responsibility requiring incremental steps in the right direction and continuous improvement.

“Tracking implementation of the resolutions of this Council in line with Nigeria’s and global health agenda will strengthen on-going journey towards promoting health, keeping the world safe, and serving the vulnerable,’’ he said.

In his contribution, UNICEF’s Chief of Health, Dr Eduardo Celades, noted that it was optimistic that the meeting would arrive at recommendations to drive tangible, equitable and sustainable results for Nigeria.

This, he stressed was particularly for women and children in line with the SDGs vision of “leaving no one behind’’.

Celades said that achieving the desired outcomes would require the match of deliberations with the needed actions.

“Accordingly, I urge Council members and delegates to reflect on how best to address the chronic obstacles between Nigeria’s great potentials and her aspirations in the health sector.

“Notable among these challenges is a persistent decline in health expenditure as a proportion of GDP from 1.2 per cent in 2004 to only 0.58 per cent in 2018

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“Inadequate financing of primary healthcare services at service delivery points and the current suboptimal allocation of 1.5 million naira per ward under the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

“Inadequate human resources for health – there are fewer health workers for Nigeria’s population, skewed distribution towards urban centres, skills gaps, poor motivation, weak regulation and poor visibility.

“Suboptimal primary healthcare infrastructure and equipment, erratic availability of essential commodities and supplies and poor maintenance culture.

“Weak coordination and accountability mechanisms resulting in duplication, inefficiencies and lack of value for money, are the others, he said.

“Working together, we can tackle the problems using tried and true strategies and available best practices,’’ Celades stressed.

He assured that UNICEF was committed to continued partnership with Nigeria to protect and promote the right of everyone to survive, thrive and transform.

He added that UNICEF was determined to apply its comparative advantage as an agency to support Nigeria’s development efforts within the health sector and beyond.

“We are finalising the next Country Programme Document for 2023 to 2027 at the heart of which is an increased emphasis on coordinated, multi-sectorial action.

The theme of the 2021 National Council on Health meeting is: “The journey to attaining sustainable development goals: Applying lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic towards building a resilient national health system”. (NAN)

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Bandits ambush Kaduna community, kill 2, abduct several others

From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Bandits on Friday night ambushed Unguwan Gimbiya community on the outskirts of Kaduna metropolis, killing two persons and abducting unspecified number of residents in the area.

A source said, “it was like the bandits were hiding somewhere in the community and in the night, they started shooting sporadically in the direction of their targets.

“Two persons were killed in the community and many others were abducted”.

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Another source who pleaded anonymity, said: ” the bandits struck on Friday evening, invaded Ungwan Gimbiya Community of Sabo Tasha area of Chikun local govt area of Kaduna state and abducted many people and killed two.”

“A total number of 13 families were visited by the bandits. The attack lasted for about 2 hours with heavy gunshots.”

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Meanwhile, residents have started fleeing the community to places considered safer, even as security agents have intensified patroll and vigilance in the neighbouring areas.

However, as at the time of filing this report, no official statement from relevant authorities on the incident.

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Fake news: NOA trains over 180 on fact-checking

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) said on Friday in Abuja that it has trained no fewer than 180 people on how to discern fake news through fact-checking

Director-General NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said this at the closing ceremony of the 3rd session of training for fact-checkers

He said the training was part of federal government’s efforts to tackle the menace of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.

Participants were drawn from the Nigerian Navy, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Federal Island Revenue Service (FIRS) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Others were from the Department of State Services (DSS), Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMAN) and Nigeria Financial intelligence Unit (NFIU).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NOA will train 37,000 Nigerians on fact-checking in the 36 states and FCT over the next five years.

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Abari said the training was part of the agency’s core mandate, adding that it was collaborating with news outlets, including radio, television and newspapers on fact-checking.

He described as worrisome the prevalence of fake news, misinformation and disinformation in the country.

“We need to make efforts to combat the menace of fake news, misinformation and disinformation, which is also link to a large extend with hate speech.

“I am mostly concerned about the impact of fake news, misinformation and disinformation in Nigeria. Although fake news and hate speech are global phenomenon the degree varies from country to country.

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“Nigeria, as a country with peculiar diversity, we must have to develop and manage our diversities.

“What defines us as a Nigerian is our love for each other, respect, integrity, honesty, dignity of labour as well as other values,’’ he said.

Abari urged the participants to work towards defeating fake news, stressing the need to emphasise on things that unites rather than those that divide us as a nation.

“You have a vital role to play in fact-checking because it is obvious that fake news is devastating,’’ he said. (NAN)

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Gov. Matawalle restates commitment to the fight against GBV

 Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has restated his administration’s commitment to the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the state.

This is contained in a statement issued in Gusau on Thursday by the Director Press in the Office of the Governor’s wife, Zainab Shua’ibu.

Matawalle spoke while receiving the State Steering Committee on GBV chaired by Hajiya Aisha Matawalle, his wife, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

The governor applauded the work of the committee for ensuring that violence was not unleashed on women and children in the state.

“I am satisfied with the effort of my able wife who is always there for me, especially in uplifting the lives of vulnerable groups in the state.

“I am aware of your strategies and activities to eradicate GBV in the state. Your effort is indeed laudable and appreciative.

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“This visit is timely and a welcome development. I consider every member of this committee as a great partner for the success of my administration.

“I appreciate your kind contributions in complementing my administration’s policy to move our dear state forward,” Matawalle said.

The governor also said the government would soon come up with new laws against GBV in the state.

“We are working with the House of Assembly to enact various laws against GBV,” he added.

Earlier, Hajiya Matawalle said she led the committee to the Governor’s Office to appreciate his contributions to the eradication of violence against women in the state.

“We came to you as a father of the state on a courtesy visit and also to seek your fatherly blessings and advice towards promoting our activities, to ensure a GBV-free society.

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“Your Excellency, with your kind support and contributions, various achievements have so far been recorded by our committee in fighting violence against women and children in the state.

“We are here to inform you of the 16 days of activism against GBV in the state and our 2021 annual programmes and activities against GBV,” Hajiya Matawalle said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor’s wife had earlier flagged off the 16 days activism against GBV in the state.

The international event for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children is aimed at focusing on massive awareness campaign against violence against women and children. (NAN)

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District Head of Dambatta in Kano state dies @ 95

Alhaji Mukhtar Adnan, the District Head of Dambatta in Kano state, died on Friday at the age of 95, one of his sons, Alhaji Ado Mukhtar has said.

Ado said that Mukhtar, also Sarkin Ban Kano, died at a hospital in Kano where he was receiving treatment for an ailment.

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He said that the deceased left behind four wives, 26 children and grandchildren.

He said that his funeral prayer would be conducted by 2p.m. in Dambatta on Friday.

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The deceased was a former Commissioner for Education in the old Kano State. (NAN)

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Osun APC eulogises late Sen. Joseph Wayas

The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Osun State on Friday in Osogbo described the death of former Senate President, Dr Joseph Wayas, as a loss to the country.

Dr Wayas died in the early hours of Tuesday at a London hospital at the age of 80 years. He was born on May 21, 1941.

He was Nigeria’s senate president in the Second Republic between 1979 and 1983.

APC’s spokesman in Osun State, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Wayas was a peace-loving fellow at the Senate during the Second Republic.

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“He made great impact and left a vacuum that had been difficult to fill.

“The senate was so interesting when as a journalist you are covering him and his colleagues.

“It was politics without bitterness because of the love and support he enjoyed from other senators,’’ Oyatomi said.

He said Wayas was loved by the majority, especially journalists because of his exemplary qualities.

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“He was a man full of wisdom and knowledge, making newsmen to always want to hear him speak at the senate.

“He was full of wisdom and knowledge, making him a special person,’’ he said.

Oyatomi prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest and his family the fortitude to bear the loss. (NAN)

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Maize farmers get 25 units of hand driven planter to boost production

 Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) has received a donation of 25 units of Hand Driven Planters from Corteva Agriscience to further support and boost maize production in Nigeria.

Dr Bello Abubakar, National President, MAAN, made this known on Friday in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

The statement stated that MAAN received the machines on the sideline of the just concluded seed connect Africa 2021 conference and exhibition in Abuja.

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The hand held planter would ease the stress maize farmers go through while planting, save time as it is faster and also save cost for farmers to pay workers.

The President of the Association said the company recognizes MAAN’s effort in the sub sector in recent times and decided to encourage maize farmers by donating the machines.

“They donated these planters to MAAN in order to encourage our Farmers and to complement what MAAN is doing now in production, to enhance means of production in Nigeria. That’s why they contributed their own quarter to maize production in Nigeria.”

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While appreciating Corteva Agriscience for the donation, Abubakar said MAAN would continue to partner them to enhance maize production in the country.(NAN)

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One dies in lone accident on Lagos-Ibadan expressway

The Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) in Ogun on Friday said one person died in a lone accident involving a Nissan pickup around Sagamu interchange on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Mr Ahmed Umar, the Sector Commander, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abeokuta that the accident occurred at 2:30 a. m.

Umar said that the crash was caused by excessive speed, which caused the vehicle to lose control and skidded into the bush leading to the death of the driver, who was the only occupant.

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He said that the corpse of the victim had been deposited at the morgue of Idera hospital, Sagamu.

The sector commander said that the vehicle with registration number AA 240 ZY had been towed off the road.

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Umar cautioned motorists against speed violation especially this period of high vehicular movement, advising them to always obey traffic rules and regulations.

He commiserated with the family of the deceased and enjoined them to contact FRSC, Sagamu for more information about the crash.(NAN)

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NACCIMA Women advocates 30% public procurement for women entrepreneurs

 The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Business Women Group (NAWORG), Thursday urged the Federal Government to ensure 30 per cent of all procurement sum is given to women businesses.

Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, Chairperson, NAWORG, made the call at a press briefing after a roundtable advocacy event for the Implementation of the Presidential Executive Order on the Consideration and Allocation of Quota to Women Owned Businesses in Public Procurement in Abuja.

The theme of the advocacy is “Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through inclusive Government Procurement Processes”.

Abubakar said channelling some percentage of the procurement sum to women entrepreneurs would ensure their inclusion in public procurement processes and enable them contribute to the nation’s economy.

According to her, in spite of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 003; instructing all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to grant preference to local manufacturers in their procurement of goods and services, a little percentage goes to women-owned businesses.

“The case for gender equality is founded in both human rights and economic arguments. As such, closing gender gaps must be a central part of any strategy to create more sustainable and inclusive economies and societies.

“We, therefore, advocate specifically for improved market demand for products and services of women-owned businesses by leveraging on the Presidential Executive Order 3 published in 2017, titled, Executive Order on Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by the Federal Government.”

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Abubakar said that the case for gender equality is founded in both human rights and economic arguments.

“While gender parity in education attainment is improving, women still remain severely under-represented in key growth-enhancing fields of education such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Women are less likely to work for pay, and do more unpaid housework than men. Given this backdrop, it is no surprise that women’s position in business leadership and entrepreneurship needs to be strengthened,” she said.

The Chairperson also called for increased access to support networks, including professional advice on legal and fiscal matters, apart from importance for improved market demand for products and services of women-owned businesses.

Also, Mrs Vera Ndanusa, President, Nigerian Association of Women Entrepreneurs, said inclusiveness, transparency, competitiveness and professionalism in Nigeria’s public procurement would improve participation of women businesses.

Ndanusa, who is also the National Coordinator, Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED), said the Executive Order 003 and 005 provided an opportunity for women businesses to thrive.

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“In Nigeria, women businesses accounts for only 1% of all procurements at the federal and state levels.

” This is due to lack of access to information about the opportunities, legal and regulatory challenges, and other barriers preventing women from having access to this critical sector of national growth.

“While globally procurement is estimated to be $5.5billion, Nigeria spends $1.1billion on procurement. This equivalent to N473billion. Only N4.73billion goes to women businesses.

“Let us, therefore, work together to ensure that the commitment by Nigeria’s stakeholders to ensure 30% of all procurement is given to women businesses by 2026 becomes a reality,” she said.

Also, Deputy Registrar, UNWomen, Mr Lansana Wonneh, stressed the need for the government to strengthen women owned business to move the naion’s economy, create job opportunities and bridge gender gap.

On his part, Mr Ayoola Olukanmi, Director General, NACCIMA, reiterated their commitment to the success of the implementation of the Executive Order so that the 30 per cent procurement sum for women businesses would become a reality. (NAN)

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