Jonathan gives Ministers two weeks to vet Ribadu’s report

In a bid to fulfill his pledge that recommendations made by the controversial Ribadu Report would be looked into, President Goodluck Jonathan has set up white paper committees to prepare Draft White Papers on the reports of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force and two other reports on the nation’s oil sector.

The others are reports presented by the National Refineries Special Task Force and the Governance and Controls Special Task Force.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Dr Reuben Abati on Thursday announced the appointment of the latest committee to probe the nation’s oil sector.

According to Dr Abati, “the committees are to study the reports, review the issues raised and prepare Draft White Papers for the consideration of the Federal Executive Council within two weeks.”

The white paper committee on the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force report-now known as Ribadu report-will be chaired by the Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, with the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, Minister of State for FCT, Chief Jumoke Akinjide, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed as members.

It will be recalled that President Jonathan, after the rancour between members of the committee during their submission of the report, gave the assurance that despite the rancour , his administration will look into the report and prosecute any one alleged of misappropriation in the nation’s oil sector.

The Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and a member of his team, Steve Oronsaye traded words at the presentation of the committee’s report to the President with the latter alleging that the report was flawed with unconfirmed figures.

The white paper committee on the report of the Governance and Controls Special Task Force will be chaired by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama  Pepple.

Other members of the committee are Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, and Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mallam Bukar Tijani.

The white paper committee on the report of the National Refineries Special Task Force has Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Mohammed Sada as chairman, and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate and Minister of State for Education, Mr. Ezenwo Nyeson Wike as members.

According to the statement, the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will provide a secretariat for the committees.

The statement further adds that the President has made the move “in furtherance of his declared commitment to doing all within his powers to ensure greater accountability, probity and transparency in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.”

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.”