Niger Govt Making Efforts To Ensure Release Of 136 Kidnapped Pupils

The Niger State Government has assured that they are making progress in ensuring the release of 136 pupils kidnapped in the state.

The Deputy Governor of the state, Ahmed Ketso disclosed this while giving an update on the situation at the Government House, Minna, on Wednesday.

This is the latest in a string of school kidnappings in the country.

Ketso, however, noted that the negotiation is not about the payment of ransom but on how to secure the release of the pupils unhurt.

“We can now confirm that a total of 136 students were abducted. This was followed by a briefing on measures been put in place for the safe release of the abductees.

“We are also in contact with the parents. We call on them to be patient, government is making all efforts to secure the release of the children,” Ketso said.

The Deputy Governor also announced a total ban on commercial motorcycle operations in Minna, the state capital.


Mass School Abductions

Gunmen have often targeted schools in remote areas, where pupils live in dormitories with little security protection, before hauling their victims into nearby forests to negotiate ransoms.

Police said gunmen attacked Tegina town in Niger state on Sunday, arriving on motorbikes and shooting indiscriminately.

Niger state police said the criminals killed one resident, injured another before kidnapping children from the Salihu Tanko Islamic school.

President Muhammadu Buhari in his reaction ordered security forces and intelligence agencies to step up efforts to rescue the children.

Buhari “condemned as unfortunate” the kidnapping of children, according to a statement from his spokesman Garba Shehu, and urged all those involved in the rescue operation to do their utmost in securing their immediate release.

The attackers also released 11 of the pupils who were “too small and couldn’t walk” very far, the authorities previously said.

Mass kidnappings have been on the rise in northwest and central Nigeria. According to AFP, more than 700 children and students have already been kidnapped by gunmen for ransom in Nigeria since December.

Niger Govt. Approves 2.06Billion Naira To Pay Pensioners

niger_state_robberyThe Niger state government has approved the release of 2.06billion Naira for pensioners under the old pension scheme.

Niger state Head of Service, Mr. Yabagi Sule and the Director General Niger state Pension Board, Hon. Usman Muhammad, made the disclosure in separate addresses at the opening of a two day workshop for management and staff of the State Pension Board.

The Head of Service who was represented by the Permanent Secretary Human Resources, Mr. Yahaya Abubakar, said the 8billion Naira was domiciled with the National Pension Commission.

He described the contributory pension scheme as very germane in the whole pension business because it touches the lives of retirees.

He added that the misconceptions about the CPS is as a result of lack of training which he said the workshop was designed to arrest.

Mr. Abubakar, however, hinted that a new pension law that would ensure regular payment of pension and gratuities but did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Hon. Mohammad made it known that over 1000 retirees had been paid over 1billion Naira while another batch of 569 retirees would be paid any moment from now.

He noted that the state and local government pensioners have been receiving their monthly pensions promptly because the governor has instructed that it should be a first line charge.

He assured that all matters “standing against the CPS will be dealt with very soon, we will have a clearer picture of it not too long from now”.

Niger State Targets More Revenue With Gurara Waterfalls

gurara-waterfalls-in-niger-stateThe Niger State government is desperately in search of investors to partner with in developing the Gurara Waterfalls Site to a World class standard.

The plan was announced by the state’s Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Honourable Jonathan Vatsa, at the maiden edition of the Christmas Carnival; first of its kind, organised by the Niger State Government in partnership with the ministry of information, culture and tourism.

Over the years, none of the different administrations has been able to put Gurara Waterfalls, one of the country’s greatest tourist attraction, to an admirable condition to stand the image of the tour site, as such waterfalls had done all over Africa and the world in general.

At the Gurara site, the Commissioner attributed the delay in the facelift of the site to the rise in dollar exchange.

Niger State government believes Gurara Waterfalls could draw more tourists to State if well managed

He said, with the current rise in dollar against Naira, investors would spend more in the execution of the project.

Mr Vatsa prayed to God for a great and fast miracle before January 2017 on the exchange rate, believing it will help the state government in wooing more investors into the state, not only for the Gurara project, but for many more projects of the government.

He was confident that with the backing of the governor, the best is yet to be seen, as the government, according to him, is planning improvements and better programme in the coming year.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism was full of praise for the governor of the state, Dr. Abubakar Bello, for his continuous support to the Christian community.

Although the Christmas Carnival is linked to the celebration of the Christmas, a large number of the Muslim community turned out for the Carnival, a development that the Permanent Secretary said was a sign of the spirit of oneness.

The programme witnessed entertainment from the state cultural group – Gwape, the Gurara Traditional Group, the Boys Brigade band and the ECWA gospel band.

Guests were also treated to lots of food and drinks to their satisfaction.

How Niger State Succours Women And Girls In Recession

Niger State, Women, GirlsThe increasing rate of poverty and unemployment have become worrisome for the Niger State government, especially in the face of Nigeria’s economic recession.

One the efforts being made by the State government to aid its people in this trying time is an empowerment programme to train 250 women and girls in making of soap, cosmetics, air freshener, perfume and fish farming among others.

The scheme, which was initiated by the Niger State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, was flagged off on Tuesday in Minna by wife of the State Governor, Dr. Amina Bello.

Dr. Bello said the programme was a deliberate strategy for poverty alleviation in the state and stressed the need to be financially and economically independent.

She urged the beneficiaries to pay more attention to the whole exercise to enabled them have the prerequisite knowledge for effective and efficient productivity when they are on their own.

The governor’s wife also assured them that she would sustain her programme on the treatment of every women infected with VVF in Niger State to better their lives.

In her welcome address, the Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Roseline Abara, urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the opportunity given to them.

Mrs Abara explained that training was aimed at making them self-reliant in their homes, adding that the beneficiaries would be provided with the necessary requirements to start with after their training.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Princess Rachel Yisa, disclosed that the programme cut across all the 25 local governments in the state.

She also urged the trainees to choose centres designated in each of the senatorial zones nearest to them to ease transportation.

Niger State Approves 0.5bn Naira For Power Contracts

Niger State, PowerThe government of Niger State has approved the sum of 536,944,754 naira to connect two local government headquarters with 33KVA direct line to the national grid after decades of abandonment.

The state’s Commissioner for Works, Transport and Rural Development, Abdulmalik Cheche, disclosed this to reporters on Monday after a State Executive Council meeting in Minna, the Niger State capital.

He explained that the approval was made as Mariga and Agwara local councils have never been connected to the national grid since their creation.

The Commissioner was optimistic that the completion of the projects at Bangi and Agwara, the headquarters of Mariga and Agwara respectively would have added value to the people and boost their economic productivity.

He regretted that the two local governments remained the only councils in Nigeria that were not connected to the national grid, despite Agwara’s proximity to Kanji Dam.

Mr Cheche further stressed the need for the project to alleviate the plight of the people of the areas, as other local governments were connected to 11KVA.

He stated that the contract would be completed at the stipulated time agreed so as to ensure its commissioning by January 2017.

The Commissioner disclosed that Mariga and Agwara projects cost 401,252,162 naira and 135,692,592 naira respectively.

He said that the Niger State government has never relented in the payment of its statutory 35 million naira monthly due to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for its power consumption.

Cheche stated that contractors were given equal opportunity to bid for the contracts, adding that all due processes were followed in the award of the contracts.

Niger Govt. Urges Citizens To Remain Committed Despite Recession

Niger, recession, citizensThe Niger State government has urged the people of the state to strengthen their commitment and obligation to the state as well as continue to show their understanding, in the face of the ongoing national economic recession.

The Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Jonathan Vatsa, in a statement, expressed the readiness of Governor Abubakar Bello’s administration, to see the state through the path of greatness despite the recession.

He further stated that the administration had since inception, been positioned to always take the interest of the people above all others, even in the face of challenges.

He said the government highlighted the need for the support of the people to be able to achieve its set objectives.

“We call on all ‘Nigerites’ to meet up with their obligations, such as paying taxes, playing their roles diligently wherever they find themselves, especially if in positions of responsibility, remaining productive by identifying areas of comparative advantages, such as agriculture, and most importantly, protecting public institutions and property,” he stated.

He assured residents that whatever resources were available to the government, would be judiciously used for the best interest of the state emphasising that “since this government came to being, we have not put anybody in doubt about the readiness of the government to block areas of leakages and avoid wastage”.

“We are aware we have a date with history and the restoration agenda in key areas we set to achieve, that is why we are doing everything possible to make sure that we have projects ongoing in every sector of the state’s economy,” Mr Vatsa stated.

This he said was in order “to lubricate the system  and also focus on priority areas that have multiplier effect on the people at short, medium and long term basis”.

The Commissioner further urged the people to support the government and show considerable levels of understanding of the economic situation.

He reiterated the need for the support and understanding of the people in tackling the challenges, as the government continues to leverage on the basic tenets of democracy.

“It would also encourage engagements and will be as open as possible, as the economic situation functions along the variables of recovery,” he added.

Verification Exercise In Niger State Uncovers 800m Naira Fraud

Naira fraud in Niger  StateThe ongoing verification exercise by the Niger State government to authenticate the state workforce and cut cost has discovered over 800 million Naira monthly fraud apart from the ghost workers menace.

The consultant carrying out the verification during investigation led by Sa’adat Bakrin- Ottun discovered the fraud in the Niger State Hospital Management Board (HMB).

A nominal roll showing the job description of each employee in the hospital and requested for by the consultant to ascertain the salary scale used for their earnings showed some anomalies that had led to loss of huge funds.

It was discovered that the administrative department, especially those saddled with the responsibility to issue cards to patients needing doctors’ attention and other groups earned salaries higher than that of their department grade level.

This according to findings resulted into loss of over 800 million Naira per month in only HMB.

A report by the consultant revealed that a medical record staff who only issued cards to see doctor at Hospital Management Board earned over 332,000 Naira monthly instead of a supposed salary of 56,821 Naira.

Niger State Government Commits To Press Freedom

sani bello
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello

It is World Press Freedom Day and the Niger State government has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding and promoting press freedom.

The government says such freedom will enable it engage the people for open and transparent governance.

The Commissioner of Information, Tourism and Culture in the State, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, made the position of the government known in a statement issued on Tuesday to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

Mr Vatsa assured the media that the present administration in the state viewed press as the fourth estate of the realm, partner in lubricating participatory governance as well as ensuring accountability and fight against corruption to achieve development.

He stated that, the government was desirous to always promote freedom of expression as a way of allowing the people to contribute to the process of governance and leveraging on such expression to make correction when necessary for the overall development of the state.

The Commissioner said: “At this auspicious time of the World Press Freedom Day, the government of Niger State under the leadership of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is assuring all practicing journalists in Niger State the commitment of the government to providing the right avenue legally and genuinely possible to continue in discharge their duties”.

According to him, “just as Governor Bello has always said, our doors are always open to constructive criticism that will help to move our dear state forward. We will always advise our dear friends in the media to practice within the confines of the ethical codes that guide their profession”.

“Once again I congratulate the entire media practitioners in the state, Nigeria and world over on this World Press Freedom Day that is a General Assembly of United Nation declaration to promote freedom of expression”.

Niger State Sets Up Committee To Boost Economy

Niger State-Abubakar BelloDisturbed by the dwindling financial resources, Niger State government has set up a committee on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to boost its revenue base.

Governor Abubakar Bello on Wednesday, inaugurated the 22-member committee headed by the Vice Chancellor of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University in Lapai, Professor Nasiru Maiturare, during the weekly State Executive Council Meeting at the Government House in Minna.

He explained that the committee was also saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the activities of the Niger State Revenue Board and proffering solution that will focus on strengthening it.

Governor Bello tasked the committee to come up with policies and identify issues related to the current procedures in the state internal revenue collection.

“It is no longer news to us that all the states in Nigeria and Federal Government can longer meet the financial obligation due to fall in crude oil, the fall does not mean we cannot live our lives.

“We have all opportunity in the state to live a comfortable life and work hard to improve our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),” he said.

The Governor stressed that Niger State had the potentials and the capacities to generate at least three billion Naira instead of 400 million Naira, comparing the State with Kaduna State that generates two billion Naira.

He lamented that the state had ignored many leakages in the past and did not save for the rainy days and stressed that they had to borrow to augment and to pay three months salaries.

“That is not a way forward, because it will come to a stage that no one will want to borrow us money again,” he said.

In his remarks, Professor Maiturare said that the committee would make use of the opportunity to harness potentials that would make the state financially sustainable.

Governor Bello also set up a Committee on Sunti Golden Sugar Company, to liaise and establish a cordial relationship between the company and the host communities and ensure agreed compliance for peaceful coexistence.

The committees have been given six weeks to submit their reports and recommendations.

Niger State Governor Orders Payment Of LG Workers

Sani-Bello-Niger--WorkersNiger State Governor, Sani Bello, has directed the immediate release of March salary to the staff of local government councils in the state.

He hinged the delay in payment on the ongoing verification of the entire workforce on the Niger State government payroll and that of the 25 local government councils of the state.

The Governor gave the directive on Wednesday when he paid an unscheduled inspection to the venue of the ongoing verification exercise of local government staff at the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre in Minna.

Majority of the council workers said that they were not opposed to the staff audit but expressed displeasure at suffering being experienced in the conduct of the exercise.

Moved by the plight of the workers who came from afar for the exercise, Governor Bello directed the release of the salaries of the council workers immediately, in order to ease hardship on their families.

“I want to appeal to you all to be patient, I have directed the release of everybody’s money (March Salary) and you people should go back to your councils,” he said.

The Governor noted that government was not unmindful of the hardship experienced by the civil servant, insisting that the verification must be carried out so as to fish out ghost worker in the system.

“I wish to assure every one of you that the verification exercise was not a punitive measure targeted at anybody (but) the staff audit is a necessity.

“You all can bear with us that since the inception of this administration, we have always paid workers as and when due but we need to get our figures right, hence this exercise,” he added.

Justifying the staff audit, Governor Bello lamented that the revenue accrued to the state from the Federation Account could not accommodate the wage bill of the state.

“We have a very high wage bill we cannot accommodate. This month (March) alone, the whole money we got from (the) Federal Government is 2.69 billion Naira and our wage bill is N2.4 billion. We have to borrow over 400 million Naira from the bank, so, the verification must continue,” he said.

He pleaded with the council workers to exercise patience and told them that the verification exercise would be rested for a while to enable government fine-tune some identified lapses in the exercise and continue it in a more organised manner.

Agriculture: Niger State Government To Re-establish Grains Board

NigerThe Niger State government is re-establishing a Grains Board in order to help farmers reduce poverty in the state.

This was made known in a statement by the Niger State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Jonathan Vatsa, on Sunday in Minna, the state’s capital.

With the economic challenges faced by the country, Mr Vatsa expressed belief that the board would also create more jobs for the teeming youths.

He said that the board would help to checkmate people who act as middle men that are in the habit of exploiting farmers in the state.

The statement, while calling on the people of the state, especially farmers to embrace the board, stated that the Niger State government had made agriculture one of its topmost priorities since the fall of oil price.

The Commissioner promised that the State government would put everything in place to encourage farmers to achieve their desired goals, assuring the farmers that the government would buy their produce from them.

He said that the three senatorial zones in the state would be identified with a particular crop and they would be assisted to produce such crops to attract international markets.

“Zone ‘A’ is known for the production of rice and banana, zone ‘B’ produces yam and zone ‘C’ is into cotton and rice, which at the end of the day will generate enough revenue to develop the state,” he said.

Mr Vasta admonished the people to go into mechanised farming, adding that the government would simplify ways of farming without stress.

He said that the government has practically demonstrated its commitment in agriculture, youth and women empowerment as contained in the budget recently presented to the State Assembly.

The Commissioner said that Niger State government had resolved to embark on people oriented programmes and projects tailored towards ensuring that the people get value for the lean finances of government.

He promised that the government would constantly engage the people by adequately informing them of its programmes and policy which are in conformity with the direct principle of good governance and rule of law.

Niger State Govt. Urges Residents To Be Vigilant During Yuletide

niger-state-yuletideNiger State Government has urged all the people of the state to strengthen their vigilance during this Christmas season and provide security agencies with information on any suspicious act, in order to have incident free celebrations in the state.

According to a statement from the Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism in the state, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, the government was always ready to leverage on the already established synergy with security organizations in the state to provide security, but the people have a role to play.

Mr Vatsa noted that though the state has always been peaceful, the people should not take any unusual occurrences and people around them for granted because those who want to breach the security of the state may want to hide under the Yuletide to commit crimes.

He stated that for the security agencies to effectively carry out their duties, the people must be ready to co-operate with them by providing the necessary information on undesirable elements and their acts in the state.

According to the Commissioner, apart from various development programmes, like boosting education, health care delivery, Agriculture, as well as women and youth empowerment and providing infrastructures, the administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in the state takes the security of lives and property very seriously.

He added that “it is within the framework of the change agenda that the needed peaceful environment should be provided for development to thrive and we emphasized here that nothing will derail the present administration from ensuring that the people enjoy the outcome of the change they massively voted for”.

“We must expose the mischief makers and those who will want to deny us of the peace we all cherish by giving the security agencies the appropriate information. We should do that in good fate not by raising unnecessary alarms” Vatsa admonished the people of the state particularly and Nigerians in general.