Civil Societies Protest, Reject Privatisation Of Edo Specialist Hospital

Members of the Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO) protest at the State Specialist Hospital in Benin City on October 22, 2019.



Civil groups in Edo State have staged a protest against the alleged privatisation of the Specialist Hospital by the state government.

The protesters, under the aegis of Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO), stormed the facility on Tuesday to reject the purported action of the government.

They had stated a similar demonstration on Friday last week and threatened to empty the facility of patients and staff should there be any on the ground on their arrival today.

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Dozens of protesters participated in the demonstration which took place at the Edo State Specialist Hospital located on Sapele Road in Benin City, the state capital.

The state government has since denied the allegation of privatising the hospital as claimed by the protesters.

Ugwuanyi Promises Better Welfare Of Inmates In Enugu

Ugwuanyi Promises Better Welfare Of Inmates In EnuguEnugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has assured the inmates in the state of his resolve to attend to their welfare.

Speaking during his 53rd birthday celebration at the Enugu Maximum Prisons, Governor Ugwuanyi said he has set aside funds and necessary logistics to lawyers and Civil Society Organisations to secure the prompt release of inmates.

“Having taken notice of the over-crowding or congestion in the prisons, especially the ever-growing population of inmates that are awaiting trials, we have set aside funds and we are providing necessary logistics to lawyers and civil society organisations to secure the prompt release of inmates where legally possible.

“I have listened to the demands of the Comptroller of the Enugu Prison Command, I want to assure and reassure you that very soon, government will attend to some of those issues,” he said.

In her address, the Enugu State Comptroller of Prisons, Mrs Ukwuori Ndukwe Kalu, commended the Governor for the attention the command has received since inception of his administration.

“I have been following with keen interest your assistance to prison inmates since my arrival in the state, ranging from prompt intervention during the Nsukka jail break incident in 2016, renovation at the Enugu Prison, release of funds for procurement of drugs for inmates and granting of pardon to seven deserving inmates among others,” she said.

The Prisons Comptroller noted that the level of sophistication of inmates would require proactive measures to avoid incidents like jail breaks and riot in the prisons.

“To be proactive, we need five escort vehicles to convey armed squad personnel to and from courts in Enugu, three eighteen-seater buses with gadgets for effective communication to convey suspects and inmates to courts across Nsukka, Oji River and Enugu Prison in the State Command,” she said.

Mrs Kalu also called the governor’s attention to the sewage challenges they face in the facilities, especially in Nsukka.

In his response, Governor Ugwuanyi reiterated his commitment to assisting the command in the area of welfare.

“We have taken note of sewage and other allied challenges confronting these prisons and I have resolved to take necessary measures and we will address them adequately and satisfactorily,” he said.

50 Civil Society Orgs. Name Gov. Ayade ‘Man Of The Year’

CSOs, Ben Ayade, Man Of The YearCross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has been named the ‘Man of the Year’ by 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the aegis of the Civil Society National Lectures and Awards (CISNALA).

The latest award is coming on the heels of similar recognition by three Nigerian newspapers – Vanguard, Business Hallmark and the Authority newspapers respectively.

The conferment of the CSO Man of the Year on Governor Ayade, according to CISNALA, “is for his recorded milestone in good governance, democracy dividends, people-oriented policies and programmes, transparency and accountability, as well as infrastructure and human capital development”.

A statement which unveiled the honour was jointly signed and issued on behalf of the CISNALA by its convener and the National Coordinator of COCMEP, omrade Innocent Okadigbo, and the Convener of Transparency Centre Network, Mr Umar Farouk, among others.

According to the group, the exercise which led to the eventual “emergence of Governor Ayade as the CSO Man of the Year, was a product of a keenly contested and due process compliant selection system” which the Governor had no inkling of.

The statement disclosed further that the award would be conferred on the Governor in Abuja on a date yet to be announced.

The CISNALA also highlighted other considerations for the conferment of the award to include “(Ayade’s) strident green life advocacy, construction of the largest garment factory in Africa, construction of multi-million dollar rice city project, completion of Calabar International Convention Centre, prompt and regular payment of workers’ salaries, ongoing construction of his signature projects, namely, the Bakassi Deep Seaport and 260km Digital Superhighway, among others”.

House Urges CSOs To Engage Lawmakers Before Passing Bills

House, CSOs, BillsThe House of Assembly has called on various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria to engage legislators before bills are passed into laws.

The Chairman, House Committee on Civil Society Organisation, Peter Akpatason, made the call during a meeting with some civil society organisations in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Akpatason stressed the urgent need for civil society groups to engage the lawmakers and make meaningful contributions immediately after a bill passes first reading at the legislative chamber.

Speaking on Thursday, the lawmaker noted that the need for such engagement became more critical as many lawmakers rely on consultants who draft bills, which in most cases do not meet the expectations of the masses.

Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, National Conscience, asked political office holders to match their words with action, if Nigeria must attain any meaningful development.

The Convener of the group, Dr. Andy Osaze, expressed confidence that positive results could be achieved if the right decisions were taken by the nation’s leaders.

He also urged Nigerians to play a leading role in monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the level of progress made by those in authority.

House Amends Code Of Conduct Bureau And Tribunal Act

House-of-Representatives-NigeriaNigeria’s House of Representatives has considered and passed an amendment to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

The Act makes it mandatory for the bureau to ensure that any one who is deemed to have breached the provision of the Act is given the chance to explain before such a case is referred to the Tribunal.

The amendment to Section 3 of the Act now includes a paragraph (e) which says “upon complaint(s) of any breach or where it appears to the Bureau that there is a breach of the provision or this Act, the person concerned shall be given particulars of such non-compliance or breaches to explain before any reference to the Tribunal”.

Section 4 (2) was also amended to substitute the word “President” with “the National Assembly” as the one to appoint members of staff of the Bureau and exercise disciplinary control over them.

about a month ago, the Senate suspended the planned amendments to the CCB, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act due to public outcry of Civil Society Organisations.

At the time, the Senate passed it for second reading, the presiding officer, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu had stated that the amendment had nothing to do with the ongoing trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the CCT.

FCT Elections: INEC Seeks Groups’ Support To Improve Awareness

FCT election -INECThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria has sought the support of different groups in improving awareness and participation for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chairmanship and Area Council Elections scheduled for April 9.

During an FCT-INEC Voter education sensitisation forum held on Monday at the Newton Park Hotel, Zone 4, Abuja, INEC canvassed the support of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs), Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) and Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs).

Director of Voter Education and Publicity Department of the Commission, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said the meeting was held with the realisation that INEC alone could not conduct all the voter education.

“To do this needs all the support and buy-in of all segments of the society, and this is one of those specially targeted outreaches that we do. Democracy is all about participation, it is all about choosing our representatives in a fully informed manner,” he said.

The Director pointed out that “where a huge percentage of citizens cannot participate in the process for one reason or the other or are excluded due to policies and processes, then there is something wrong and any election conducted in that atmosphere cannot be said to be credible or free and fair”.

Closer To The Electorate

On her part, the Deputy Director in charge of CSOs, Mrs Rose Oriaran-Anthony, stressed that the forum was convened due to the premium placed on the roles of CSOs, CBOs, FBOs and PLWDs in the electoral process by the Commission.

“The Commission appreciates the fact that for the electoral process to be successful, all component stakeholders must be brought together. For any process to be free and fair it must be inclusive,” she emphasised.

Mrs Oriaran-Anthony stressed that the Commission was doing everything to ensure that everybody, irrespective of status or ability, accessed the electoral process.

“For some time now, we have taken our relationship with CSOs to a higher level because we realize that you are closer to the grassroots and closer to the electorate. You have the platform and machinery in place to take the right messages to the people,” she observed.

Mrs Oriaran-Anthony explained that the Commission had taken into cognisance the challenges faced by PLWDs in accessing voter education materials and messages and was leaving no stone unturned to ensure this was addressed.

She said: “The Commission has come up with various innovations to carry them along, such as the introduction of sign language interpreter in all Commission’s activities such as the INEC Half Hour and jingles for PLWDs”.

She welcomed suggestions from participants on how the Commission could improve the process.

The representative of International Foundation Electoral Systems (IFES), Mrs Mufuliat Fijabi, said “IFES is happy to collaborate with INEC, as voter education is highly of interest to IFES”.

She said IFES was working hand-in-hand with INEC to ensure voter education was far reaching.

“A rich democracy is one that is inclusive. That is why issues of PLWDs are of topmost priority in terms of having a sustainable democracy in Nigeria,” she stressed.

2016 Budget: House Committee Faults Allocation To Critical Sectors

2016 budget-HouseThe Chairman of the House committee on appropriation, Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin, said budgetary allocations to critical sectors intended to diversify the economy are grossly inadequate.

Speaking at a budget collation exercise in the National Assembly, Mr Jubrin said allocation of funds to critical sectors such as solid minerals does not show government’s seriousness in its plan to diversify the economy.

He said that the appropriation committee would work on the 2016 budget reports from the various House committees and make necessary adjustments to save the country’s dwindling economy.

Earlier, the National Assembly had confirmed that it would partner with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in budget preparation, to ensure robust public inclusiveness in the budgeting process.

Senate To Partner CSOs On Budget Preparation

National Assembly in Nigeria-BudgetThe National Assembly has confirmed that it would partner with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in budget preparation, to ensure robust public inclusiveness in the budgeting process.

This decision was reached after the Senate considered a report by its Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organizations.

The report was based on the outcome of an earlier interactive meeting between the National Assembly and the CSOs on the 2016 budget.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Rose Oko, read the concerns raised by the Civil Society Organisations in the 2016 Budget.

300,000 Nigerian Children At Risk Over Malnutrition

Malnutrition-in-NigeriaThe United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says over 13 million children are suffering from chronic malnutrition in Nigeria out of which 300,000 could die.

Addressing a gathering in Abuja, UNICEF Chief Nutritionist in Nigeria, Arjan de Wagt, said that 300,000 children would die in 2016 alone if they were not treated.

Severe Acute Malnutrition

Reading out a report of her group, the National Coordinator of  Civil Society Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Philippa Momah, said more than 1.6 million Nigerian children between six months and five years were suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

“These children are nine times more likely to die than well nourished children.

“Without treatment, do you know that about 300,000 of these children will die in 2016 alone?” she questioned.

“On the foregoing, we call on the Federal, State and Local Governments to create nutrition specific budget lines in the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture at the Federal States and LGA levels in Nigeria.

“We call on them to develop nutrition plan and action.”

Mr Wagt is, however, hopeful that if drastic commitments were made, most of the malnourished children would survive.

Both UNICEF and a coalition of Civil Society Organisations called on the Federal Government to act by making funds available for the treatment of malnourished children.

UNICEF is a United Nations programme that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.



IMF’s Lagarde Arrives Nigeria For Economic Talks

ImfThe Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, has arrived Nigeria for a four-day official visit during which she will meet President Muhammadu Buhari.

The meeting is expected to help strengthen the IMF’s partnership with the largest economy in Africa and to discuss how to address Nigeria’s economic challenges and the impact of low oil prices.

According to a statement by the IMF, “Mrs Lagarde believes that Nigeria is working hard to improve its business environment, promote opportunities for growth in the private sector and strengthen social cohesion and all areas where government has an important role to play.”

The IMF Managing Director, who arrived in Abuja at about 3:00PM, was received by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; the Governor of Central Bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele and staff of the IMF at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

Mrs Legarde is expected to also meet with principal officers of the National Assembly, business leaders, prominent women and representatives of Civil Society Organisations.

Residents Protest Proposed Demolition Of Buildings By Kaduna Govt.

kaduna protestSome aggrieved residents of Lokoja, Gwari and Muri roads in Kaduna metropolis have held a peaceful protest against plan by the Kaduna State Government to demolish their buildings.

The residents, mostly artisans, said they were served notice of eviction through the Chairman of Kaduna North Local Government Council, to vacate their shops and residential buildings within two weeks, after which they will be demolished.

Spokesman for the aggrieved residents, Mr Abiola Eneja, said the two-weeks ultimatum given to them to vacate their shops was too short, and more-so they had all valid papers for their shops.

He appealed to the State government to provide them with an alternative land where they could build new shops, or at least give them sufficient time to relocate.

Reports says the area is home to majority of the commercial printing houses in the state capital, with over 300 shops being marked for demolition.

Carrying placards and singing protest songs, the shop owners marched along the roads to show their anger over the proposed demolition.

In the copy of the eviction notice obtained by Channels Television’s correspondent, dated August 5, 2015, the council based its action on the state’s 1958 township building rules and Environmental Protection Law of 2010.

The notice, however, warned that any violator of the eviction order would be dealt with.

In reaction to this, the printers said their opinions were not sought on the planned demolition and they were only presented with a fait accompli.

They also explained that the land was allocated to them by the government to build their shops more than 25 years ago, wondering why the government wants to evict them from the same land.

The Senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani, described the ongoing demolition exercise by the State government as harsh and anti-people.

Mr Sani advised the government to trade with caution, in order not to plunge the citizens into severe hardship.

While addressing a coalition of youth groups and Civil Society Organisations, who marched to his office to support the ongoing demolition exercise, Governor Nasir El-Rufai said his administration would continue to resist any attempt by land grabbers to take over schools and hospital lands in the state.

He added that those with genuine papers and had obtained valid building permits would be adequately compensated.

Two weeks ago, about 93 private buildings illegally erected within a government secondary school premises in Zaria were demolished by the Kaduna State Urban Development Authority (KAPSUDA), while over 700 others including shops, hotels and worship centres have been marked for demolition in Zaria and the state capital for being illegally erected on government lands.

PVC Collection Ends In Nigeria

Permanent_Voters Cards_in_Nigeria PVCToday marks the deadline for the collection of the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) across all 36 states of the Nigerian Federation as well as in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had extended the distribution and collection exercise of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by two weeks when the general election was postponed from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11.

INEC said on its website that of the 68,833,476 registered voters only 56,350,776 representing 81.87 percent had collected their PVCs, as at March 17.

On March 19, the Chairman of INEC, Professor Atahiru Jega confirmed the readiness of the electoral body to conduct the 2015 general elections scheduled to take place next week.

Professor Jega gave the assurance at a meeting with Civil Society Organisations in Abuja to assess INEC’s preparedness for the conduct of the elections, which is expected to begin on March 28.

The umpire has however stressed that citizens will only be allowed to vote provided they have their PVC, despite calls from several pvcquarters that the Temporary Voter Card (TVC) be used as an alternative.

Hence, it is imperative that the PVC is collected.

This is also backed by a court ruling which struck out a suit filed by a group, Society for Advancement and Protection of Public Rights, seeking an order to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from exclusively using the Permanent Voter Cards for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.