Why Nigeria Needs To Invest More In Healthcare, Education Reforms – DFID

 

The Department for International Development (DFID) says Nigeria needs to invest more in healthcare, education and economic reforms.

The country head of the oganisation, Debbie Palmer, said this on Monday during a conference organised by the Not Too Young To Run group in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

She explained that there are projections that soon Nigeria could become the third largest nation on earth which could mean a rise in the number of the working age and potentially, a boost in the nation’s GDP.

However, according to her, this can only be possible if the nation invests in its health, education and economic sectors.

Palmer said, “According to projections, Nigeria is set to become potentially, the third largest nation on earth by 2050 after China and India.

“So, what that means is, there will be a huge rise in the number of Nigeria’s working age over the next 50 years and in theory, this could transition Nigeria from being a lower middle-income country to being a higher middle-income country with a GDP per capita of over $8,000 per person.

“That is a bright future to work for and that would be a fantastic future for Nigeria.

“To get there, Nigeria needs to be investing in its healthcare, education and economic reforms.

“Because in a nutshell we’ve got huge numbers of Nigerians being born and we need those people to be nourished, educated, healthy, skilled and to become productive members of the society, having jobs and driving this economy forward”.

Also addressing the youths, the sponsor of the Not Too Young To Run bill in the House Of Representatives, Mr Tony Nwulu, asked them to walk their talk anytime they recite the country’s national anthem.

Read Also: President Buhari Signs ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill

“The Not Too Young To Run initiative has truly brought us into the spirit of the national anthem. Today, we can actually say that we have answered that clarion call for young people to get involved in mainstream politics.

“So if you could have made it through your party primaries, go through the rigors and every other thing that goes with it and you emerged as a party candidate, then you know that you’ve truly been called to serve this country with strength and faith and I ant all of us to continue to reflect on the national anthem,” he said.

The conference brought together candidates from 91 registered political parties to educate them on the need to build the right values that would help them deliver good governance and quality representation in Nigeria.

President Buhari had signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill into law in May, reducing the age limit for presidential candidates from 40 to 35.

On the other hand, the minimum age for National and State Assembly members was reduced to 25.

The aim of the law is to increase the participation of young people in politics, as more than half of the nation’s population is below age 30.

Kaduna Govt. Proposes Life Jail For Rapists

Kaduna Govt. Proposes Life Jail For RapistsWorried by the rising cases of sexual assault against minors in Kaduna, the State Government is proposing a life jail sentence as punishment for rapists in the new Child Right Bill that has been forwarded to the State House of Assembly for passage into law.

The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Amina Sijuade, disclosed this during the commissioning of the Sexual Assault Reform Centre at Gwamna Awan General Hospital in the state capital.

The Commissioner explained that the decision became necessary, following incessant cases of rape, particularly of minors, being recorded frequently in the state.

The Commissioner, after commissioning the Sexual Assault Reform Centre, said that the centre would work closely with security agencies and hospitals in order to achieve the desired objective.

“The Ministry of Justice has already designated a gender desk officer who will prepare all legal documents for legal action for victims.

“Also, all the officials that will work at the centre have already been trained with support from the Department for International Development (DFID).

“This initiative will greatly help in curbing the alarming rate of violence and sexual assault against minors in the state,’’ she said.

She spoke further: “Already there is a review of the penal code for the 19 northern states. This initiative was chaired by myself together with all the attorney-generals of the 19 northern states. And in the penal code, what we did was we escalated the penalty for rape in response to calls by the public.

“What we are proposing is life imprisonment for rapists. Definitely it will help address the menace not just for minors but rape generally of both sexes. We emphasize the importance of traditional rulers in this fight, the community and religious leaders and lastly the media.

“Most of the reports on rape come from the communities where community and religious leaders are in charge, and the fight against it and sensitization cannot be successful without their help.

“So, they will be engaged in sensitizing their communities. The media is also crucial to this and we have commenced sensitization on radio and television. And we solicit for your cooperation.”

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre would be run by the Ministry of Justice, in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Social Development, Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies.

Incidences of rape are becoming rampant in Kaduna state. It is particularly disturbing that the offenders are mostly elderly men whose victims are toddlers and minors within the age range of three to six.

In most cases the suspects are related to the victims.

Generally, rape laws in a lot of countries are strictly clarified and efficient in terms of implementation. The same cannot be said of Nigeria where no capital punishment is meted against those that have been caught in such act.

Sadly, while the suspects suffer light or no punishment at all, their victims would have to contend with the trauma that comes with being a rape victim.

London Telegraph Is Strengthening Boko Haram Terrorism – Presidency

garba Shehu, London Telegraph, Boko Haram, The Presidency has lashed out at UK tabloid, London Telegraph, over an article it published on July 30 which suggested that the Nigerian government is diverting funds meant to combat terrorism to persecute President Muhammadu Buhari’s political foes.

Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday that the claims were incorrect and unhelpful to Nigeria’s war on terrorism, rather it further strengthens the insurgents’ quest to divide Nigeria.

The London Telegraph’s article “Children Face Death by Starvation in Northern Nigeria” (30th July, 2016) repeats a claim from an earlier piece “Nigeria Using UK Aid to Persecute President’s Political Foes” (12th April, 2016) – that Nigeria is diverting UK aid monies away from defeating the Islamist terror group Boko Haram towards those the newspaper identified as political opponents of the Buhari administration.

“This is as incorrect as it is unhelpful,” Mr Shehu said.

“These claims in both articles are attributed to an unnamed ‘source’ in the United States, and ‘Western officials’. Yet when the first article was published it drew the condemnation of the US Embassy in Abuja as having drawn conclusions directly opposite to the position of the US government.

“To state the facts: the UK government does not give development aid to the Nigerian administration for use in military operations against Boko Haram. Where British military support – such as intelligence – is provided, it is precisely and only, given for operations directly against Boko Haram.

“Similarly, the Nigerian Government is in no position to divert aid monies used for emergency relief for refugees or IDP camps for any other purpose, as these are dispensed directly by DFID, USAID, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and many other organizations – with which we enjoy excellent relations.

“The humanitarian situation in these camps is real. The Administration remains deeply concerned about the medical, health and nutrition challenges and we are doing everything with the limited resources we have at our disposal to improve the situation.

“However, the blame for the plight of refugees lies with Boko Haram. They are its cause, not the Nigerian Government.

“In the light of ongoing efforts, we regret the recent attack on the UN humanitarian convoy in the Northeastern region and are encouraged by the world body’s determination to continue rendering assistance to the displaced victims.

“That the attack was repelled by Nigerian troops escorting the convoy shows precisely how the Government and humanitarian agencies are working together.

“As for claims that the administration is targeting Christians and the opposition, these are without foundation.

“Since assuming office, President Buhari has treated all Nigerians without bias for ethnicity or religion – as the composition of his cabinet and the policies and programmes of his administration demonstrate.

“To suggest his government as deepening Muslim-Christian division is not only untrue, but plays into the hands of Boko Haram who wish to divide Nigerians along religious lines.

“Fighting this group is key priority of President Buhari’s administration. Indeed, the international community has widely acknowledged his determination to defeat terrorism in Nigeria and the entire Lake Chad Basin.

“There is nothing to gain by attempting to mould public opinion against these facts. Therefore, we invite The Telegraph to visit Nigeria to witness first hand, not only the challenges we face, but the administration’s determination to confront them.”

UK Donates £6.7m To Support Boko Haram Victims

Boko HaramThe British government has donated the sum of 6.7 million Pounds in support of humanitarian assistance for the 2.2 million victims that were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria.

The donation is coming on the heels of the visit of the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Anelay, who arrived Nigeria on Tuesday.

The Press and Public Affairs Officer of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr Joseph Abuku, said in a statement that the Minister would hold high level discussions with government officials on how to ensure the protection of civilians in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.

He added that Anelay, who is also the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI), would meet with various civil society activists and NGOs to discuss the importance of preventing sexual violence in such conflicts.

According to Abuku, “The Minister will discuss additional humanitarian support that the UK is providing in helping those affected by the fight against Boko Haram.

“This includes £6.7 million to enable the government of Nigeria, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), UN agencies and the Red Cross to deliver food assistance, education, sanitation and safe water, shelter material (as well as) other basic necessities.”

The Commission’s spokesman added that “The Minister will meet with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign and reiterate the importance of preventing gender based violence in conflict.

“She will also visit UK sponsored projects that work to reduce intra-community conflict and violence against women and girls, promote community-government security dialogue and improve access to schooling.”

He said that an estimated 2.2 million people have been displaced and over 14.8 million others were affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Mr Abuku disclosed that the UK government is providing £6.7 million of humanitarian support to help those affected by Boko Haram, while 60% of DfID’s £222 million development budget for Nigeria would be spent in the northern region.

We Did Not Call For Fresh National Conference – Kumalia

National ConferenceThe Chairman of the Northern Reawakening Forum, Modibo Kumalia, has explained that their call was not for the convening of another National Conference.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, he said that the conference they are calling for is different from that which was held in 2014.

He explained that what they want is a conference where stakeholders would “come and share experiences” and provide advice on how to rebuild the northeast region of Nigeria

He stated that media reports that they were calling for another national conference were erroneous as their statements were misunderstood. He also did not rule out the possibility of mischief in reporting them “out of context”.

The former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, further decried the sensational headlines in the newspapers which he said did not represent the views they clearly communicated to the media.

“I have been a member of the last National Conference, I know the work that has gone into that conference and we made no issue about throwing away that conference or not throwing away that conference. It was not the subject of our press conference.

“The press conference that we held was to read the communique of a 2-day engagement. We held a summit on Saturday, we held a retreat on Sunday under the auspices of the Northern Reawakening Forum, where a number of stakeholders were invited and various issues were discussed.

“We had in attendance, governors of Northern Nigeria, development partners – World Bank, DFID, African Development Bank, United Nations Humanitarian Office, representatives of CBN, National Planning Commission, NEMA and a host of others.

“We even had philanthropic organisations such as the Dangote Foundation, TY Danjuma Foundation, and there was a paper that was delivered by the Governor of Borno, which talked about building a safe, secure and economically inclusive northern Nigeria.

“The communique we read was a 6-page document that talked about good governance and accountability, infrastructure and IT, youth development and education, security and human suffering as well as healthcare.

“The only thing that these two papers were interested in was the issue of the National Conference which they even took out of context.

“So, I will say that the premise upon which people had reacted to this issue was wrong. They were misled, I don’t know the motive (but) the Northern Reawakening Forum did not call for a fresh national conference or a political reform conference.”

UK Offers Aid To Nigeria For 2015 Elections

InecThe UK government says supporting Nigeria’s 2015 general elections is a vital part of the UK’s global commitment to supporting free and fair elections across the globe.

At the launch of a program by the UK’s Department For International Development, the Permanent Secretary of the DFID, Mr Mark Lowcock, urged Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that electoral process would continue to improve.

“The upcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun States will be an opportunity for INEC to demonstrate successful electoral management and ability to work with political parties and security agencies to conduct successful elections,” Mr Lowcock said.

The program called ‘Deepening Democracy in Nigeria 2’ will cost 35 million pounds and it is aimed at strengthening democratic governance in Nigeria.

The electoral body had said that the Ekiti  and Osun States governorship elections would be used to test run the introduction of a permanent voters card which would be used in the 2015 general elections.

INEC had made several efforts to reassure Nigerians of the commission’s commitment to conducting  credible elections after a governorship election in Anambra State last year witnessed series of irregularities that led to the call for the cancellation of the election result by the opposition parties.

 

FG Releases ‘Conditional Grants’ To 148 LGAs

The Federal Government has announced the release of ‘conditional grants’ to 148 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in order to improve investment at the grassroots level.

The senior special assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); Precious Gbeneol, who announced this in Abuja at a pre-implementation workshop for local government officials said the conditional grants scheme has availed the nation the opportunity of leveraging resources from all tiers of government in order to achieve socio-economic development of the rural areas.

She explained that the scheme is aimed at reducing poverty and providing even development of local government areas.

Ms Gbeneol warned the participants not to misuse the grants allocated to their local government areas.

Development partners from the Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) pledged their support for the programme.

The Akwa Ibom state Commissioner for economic development who declared the workshop open, stressed the need for local government authorities to positively affect the lives of their people.

The conditional grants scheme is an initiative of the federal government funded from the debt relief gains to enable states and local governments access funds to scale up specific projects in their localities.

Fashola Canvasses Increased Cooperation Between UK And Nigeria

The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola on Monday canvassed increased relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, saying more areas of opportunities are still unfolding on both sides that call for greater attention for the mutual benefit of the people of Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Lagos House, Alausa, while playing host to the new British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Peter Carter, noted that the existing alliance between Nigeria and Britain has been mutually beneficial but added that there was need to explore other areas of engagement.

He told the Deputy High Commissioner: “I personally think that our alliance with your country has been quite mutually beneficial and it is something that we should do more. There are many areas that we are still engaging and there are many other frontiers to explore”.

According to the governor, “The character of the Lagos Economy itself is still very dynamic. New frontiers are still opening, frontiers that will, most certainly, engage the interest of the British Government and that of British entrepreneurs”.

One of the ways to increase and improve on the existing relations and cooperation, the governor said, is by reviving the half-yearly meetings between the Deputy High Commission in Lagos and the State Government, pointing out that it would provide the best platform to talk in more details on issues that would create greater opportunities for the people on both sides.

Pointing out that the state government is at the moment focusing on Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing, Governor Fashola expressed gratitude to the British Government for the support it has continued to render to the state through its Department For International Development (DFID), especially in the areas of public lighting, healthcare, education and others.

“The list is endless but we continue to receive these reports. But, as I told the Prime Minister when he visited, we only expect that the DFID’s pockets and envelops will be larger and deeper, but wherever they have impacted, we have seen progress,” the governor said.

He recalled that some of the things he discussed with the Prime Minister were centred on healthcare, especially, vaccines for the cure of some of the health issues still prevalent in the country adding, “One of the issues I raised with him is why not manufacture the vaccines here instead of them being shipped from Britain”.

While accepting the Deputy High Commissioner’s invitation to reciprocate the visit at a later date, Governor Fashola expressed gratitude to the Deputy High Commission in Lagos for continuing “to demonstrate the depth of its resourcefulness in terms of improvement of human capital quality”.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Deputy High Commissioner said he was at the Lagos House to express his appreciation of the commitment of the Governor to reformation and transformation in Lagos, adding that the commitment has made tremendous impact on the Nigerian Economy.

Describing Lagos as the engine room of the Nigerian Economy, the Deputy High Commissioner declared, “Lagos is fundamental to the economic well-being and growth of Nigeria”, noting that Nigeria has a historical link with Britain spanning many years and including both economic and cultural links.

“Before I arrived Nigeria, the United Kingdom has a unique relationship with Nigeria. Aside economic link, we also have cultural link. Many Nigerians have made the UK their homes where they reside, work and raise families while Nigeria remains their ancestral home,” he said.

He said part of his brief in Nigeria was to revive and increase the relationship between Nigeria and Britain, pointing out that in the past this relationship had largely been taken for granted.

Federal government approves $11m for condoms to aid family planning

The federal government has approved the sum of $11.5million for the procurement of family planning commodities such as condoms and contraceptives.

The Director of Family Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, stated this  during the 47th National Council Meeting of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, where Mr. Oladele Olaniyi succeeded Mrs. Lami Buba as President.

According to her, “last year, in order to reduce maternal mortality rate, the government proclaimed that reproductive health commodities and family planning commodities like condoms and implants to be made free.”

“So the government along with the partners made a forecast as to what we need in the country and contributed $3million in 2011 through a Memorandum of Understanding which we implemented.”

On July 11 in London, there was a family planning summit organized by DFID and other partners to increase the commitment of governments all over the world to family planning.

“Nigeria came in a big way and Mr. President, through the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate, announced the government’s commitment to the world with additional $8.3m reproductive health commodities.”

Dr Bridget added that maternal mortality has reduced in Nigeria, right now I can’t really say the rate until we do the National Demographic Health Survey next year”, adding that “the Federal Government is also committed to reducing maternal mortality rate in the country.”

545 deaths per 100,000 births

Decrying the current mortality rate in the country, Dr Okoeguale stated that,“for now, our maternal mortality rate is 545 per 100,000 live births and you will agree with me that it is very high and nothing to be proud of.”

She further explained that the federal government is collaborating with international agencies such as UNFPA, DFID, USIS, USAID and “we are appealing to states for support because health is on the concurrent list.”

“The Federal Government has a plan and policy but we cannot force states to key in. We can only advocate for them; they make requests to us as regards what they need but it is for them to ensure that these commodities reach the grass roots.”

She also revealed that “some states do not have budget line for family planning because of other priorities. I don’t have the statistics but I do know that some states have not been able to create a budget line for family planning and we are calling on them to do.”