CSOs Ask UN, AU To Secure Sowore’s Release    

Sowore Accuses APC, PDP Of Spending Beyond N1bn Threshold At Primaries
Omoyele Sowore speaks during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on December 2, 2018.

 

Calls have been made from about 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) asking the United Nations and the African Union to intervene in the Federal Government’s case against the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore.

They also want the international bodies to secure the activist’s release.

The groups include the Amnesty International, Media Rights Agenda, All Workers’ Convergence, and Afrika Movement for Freedom and Justice .

The CSOs had filed an appeal on Sowore’s behalf at the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) on August 23.

This comes after one of the lawyers representing Sowore alleged that the Department of State Services (DSS) repeatedly blocked a bailiff of the Federal High Court in Abuja from serving a fresh court order for his release.

CSOs Not Doing Enough To Fight Corruption – Osinbajo

CSOs Not Doing Enough To Fight Corruption – Osinbajo
File photo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has accused the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) of not doing enough to fight corruption.

Professor Osinbajo, who made the accusation at a meeting with members of various CSOs, called for more support in the Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive.

“There is not enough outrage from civil society on the anti-corruption war, they are not speaking up… this is an existential problem for Nigeria,” he said on Thursday in Abuja.

The Vice President believes the fight against corruption is not the responsibility of the government alone, but other stakeholders including the civil society groups and the citizens.

He said amid the calls for the restructuring of the country, nothing would be achieved if corruption was not tackled to the barest minimum.

“Over N15 billion unaccounted for and the campaign from CSOs remain silent. Even if we get the best of restructuring in place and not much been done in fighting corruption then, we wouldn’t have achieved anything,” he said.

Professor Osinbajo further assured the activists that efforts are on by the government to reveal the amount of looted funds recovered so far.

He also faulted the claim that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was “printing money to fund government’s activities”, describing it as “absurd and false”.

“Very soon, we will make known how much has been recovered in terms of real estate as well as cash and owing to popular demand, we are considering naming infrastructure after the recovered funds so it would become clear how the monies are being spent.

“There is a CBN account designated for the purpose of stashing recovered funds and soon, the total amounts deposited will be made known,” Osinbajo said.

He hinted that the government was also making spirited efforts to return the remaining 113 schoolgirls abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram terrorists from Chibok community in Borno State.

Other issues discussed at the dialogue session with the vice president include rights violations, government promises on developmental issues, and the economy among others.

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.

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.

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.

Reps To Table Lawmakers’ Allowances Before Nigerians

reps to revel legislators' allowancesNigerians have been assured that legislators’ allowances that is generating controversy will soon be put across to the people for discussion with a view to finding what will be appropriate as allowances to the lawmakers.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, told Journalists that the House will be conducting a legislative needs assessment by competent Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in conjunction with development partners, to discuss the issue of allowances received by the legislators.

Dogara, who spoke to Journalists in Jos, North Central Nigeria, after visiting the Governor of the state, Simon Lalong, explained that the salaries of the legislators were fixed by the Revenue Mobilisation Fiscal Allocation Committee (RMFAC), while the allowances are subject to discussion.

The Speaker also addressed issues of the economy as it affects states owing salaries which he believes would soon be properly addressed in spite of the economic depression.

With the stability enjoyed by the out-gone National Assembly, the newly elected Speaker gave an assurance that fairness and justice would be ensured at the zonal and state levels, in order to stabilise the Lower Chamber.