We Must Protect Our Democracy, Gbajabiamila Tells Nigerians

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that all Nigerians, whether in government or as professionals, must rededicate themselves to the protection of democracy.

He also said all Nigerians must see nation-building as a ‘joint task,’ saying each Nigerian has a critical role to play to achieve the best vision for the country.

Gbajabiamila was speaking on Wednesday night in Abuja at the 2021 Press Freedom Awards organised by the national body of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

The speaker, who delivered the keynote address of the night, spoke on the topic, ‘Press Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance.’

Speaker Gbajabiamila stated, “Our democracy has survived twenty-two long years, but we cannot take it for granted. We are at this moment buffeted by ill wind on all sides.

“Our highest task, our most pressing ambition for which there are no other alternatives, is the protection of this democracy. If we fail in this regard, nothing else will matter, nothing else we do will count in our favour when the tally of history is settled.

“We have it in our power to improve our nation’s future and leave this world better than we found it. So, let us do that together.”

The speaker, represented by the Deputy House Leader, Rep. Peter Akpatason, supported the promotion of free press and free expression, noting that these were “fundamental safeguards of our democracy.”

Gbajabiamila also said he backed journalists in practicing their profession by holding those in government to account.

However, he advised that in doing so, journalists must be truly professional by reporting the truth always, as against the growing trend in certain media outfits of reporting falsehoods.

He added, “You can only live up to this responsibility when you commit to the vigorous pursuit of elusive truths, and dedicate yourselves to the service of paramount principles.

“Unfortunately, a number of those who practice journalism in our country have failed and are failing to live up to the responsibility imposed by the power you hold.

“Far from giving voice to the aspirations of our nation, or holding the powerful properly to account, much of journalism in Nigeria has become an endless pursuit of clickbait through the careless writing of falsehoods and malicious publication of half-truths.”

The speaker urged journalists and all Nigerians alike to rededicate themselves to the ideals of democracy, calling for better safeguards for the practice of journalism in the country.

“So, we arrive at the recognition that all of us – government and journalists alike – have not always lived up to the responsibilities we owe to our country and each other.

“Let us all choose today to rededicate ourselves to the unyielding pursuit of excellence in governance and journalism, recognising that what is at stake is not profit or promotion, political power or personal ambition, but the very survival of our country. Nation-building is a joint task.

“Each of us has a role to play if we will in our lifetime achieve the best vision of a country that works for all our nation’s people.”

The highlight of the event was the conferment of the award of ‘Distinguished Defender of Free Press’ on the Speaker.

Forget 2023 Elections And Fix Insecurity, Lawmaker Tells Politicians

The Senator representing Ekiti North in the National Assembly, Olubunmi Adetunmbi speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on May 3, 2021.

 

The Senator representing Ekiti North in the National Assembly, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, has asked Nigerian politicians to forget political activities for the 2023 general elections and address the worsening security situation in the country.

Adetunmbi stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, noting that without security, polls cannot hold.

“We should suspend this issue of focus on 2023 and focus on how to salvage this country so that people who have the capacity, knowledge, vision and the solution to solve this problem, that is what we should interrogate and not scoring points,” he said.

“The people who want to use security as a means electioneering and edging out those in power for them to come back there, what do they govern when there is no Nigeria?

“When there is war in Zamfara, there is a problem in Katsina. In Ogun State, there are displacements. In Oyo, Ekiti, there are killings going on. In the east, everything is happening. In that kind of context, how do you govern regardless of what party you belong to?”

READ ALSO: FG Establishes Centre For Control Of Small Arms, Light Weapons

Speaking further, the lawmaker called on all Nigerians to collaborate to overcome the security issues facing the country.

As measures to tackling the security issues, President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year replaced his four top military commanders in a bid to better combat the insurgency that has also displaced more than two million people from their homes since 2009.

ISWAP split from mainstream Boko Haram in 2016 and became a dominant group, launching attacks on military bases and ambushing troops while abducting travellers at fake checkpoints.

Since 2019, the army has mostly withdrawn from villages and smaller bases into so-called “super camps”, fortified garrisons meant to give better protection against attacks.

But critics say the strategy has left jihadists with more freedom to roam untouched in rural areas and made highways vulnerable to kidnappings and assaults.

Only In Safety Can Nigerians Enjoy Buhari’s Infrastructure, Agricultural Revolution – APC

We Will Surely Leave A Better Nigeria For Future Generations – Buhari
(File) President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at a dinner with National Assembly leaders in Abuja on July 11, 2019.

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday said Nigerians can enjoy the infrastructural projects and agricultural revolution of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government only if the country is safe.

In a statement issued by its spokesman, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, the ruling party said it will not play politics with the security of human lives.

APC’s reaction comes amidst the worsening insecurity across Nigerians with over 200 people reportedly killed in the past week.

Gunmen have been having a field day with kidnap for ransom in the southern part of the country, banditry in the northwest and insurgency in the northeast.

On April 20, over 20 students were abducted from Greenfield University in Kaduna State, with one staff of the institution killed in the process.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Abduct Benue University Students

Three days after, three of the abducted students were found dead after being killed by their captors who demanded N800 million to secure their release.

After that incident, there have been continuous reports of abductions, attacks on security formations and the killing of Nigerians across the country.

Reacting, the APC said, “The issue of insecurity in the country has found expression in terrorist and criminal activities of Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, rustlers and recently the highly condemnable attacks on security formations in some states.”

The party added: “As a progressive party in government, we are fully focussed on identifying and bringing to book the perpetrators and sponsors of this hydra-headed insecurity monster and consolidating on our visible development strides. While the party sympathises with all affected by the security incidents, we call on all to unite against insecurity and criminality, however, expressed.

“Only in safety can we enjoy the current agriculture revolution which has seen Nigeria achieve self-sufficiency in rice and other staple food items.

“Only in safety can we enjoy the current infrastructure revolution that has witnessed the rehabilitation, construction and reconstruction of over 13,000 kilometers of critical federal roads, construction of thousands of affordable and acceptable housing and of course the ongoing national railway projects gainfully connecting cities and towns across the country.”

Again, we must not fall for the plot of sectarian opportunists and unpatriotic partisans who have swarmed the public space with divisive rhetoric in furtherance of their selfish plot to exploit the security situation for hideous gains. It is dangerous to national security and we should not let them succeed. The President Muhammadu Buhari administration is criminalising crime, not ethnicity. The president’s charge to the newly-appointed service chiefs was clear: “We are in a state of emergency. Be patriotic; serve the country well, as your loyalty is to the country.”

Our security services deserve our continued support and cooperation as they undertake their constitutional duty to safeguard citizen’s life, property and our territorial integrity. In our private and public spaces, we have a duty to be vigilant and volunteer information on strange and suspicious activities around us. The President Buhari government will continue and strategically deploy all state resources in achieving public safety.

We must shun the antics and activities of unpatriotic and sectarian opportunists fanning divisive embers, promote peaceful coexistence, eschew bitterness and unite against insecurity and crime, for the development of the country.

From the Ogbomosho taxi driver who was born and lives his productive life in Kaduna State; the Igbo trader who is the Chairman of the Ladipo spare parts market association in Lagos state to the Kano-born Hausa businessman investing and building sugar, cement, petrochemical plants around the country and employing thousands. Despite our natural differences in culture, religion and ethicities, we are more patriotic, alike and united than bigots, sectarian opportunists and unpatriotic partisans try to make us believe. We have a collective stake in our country’s security and ensuring that Nigeria works for all.

 

SIGNED:

*Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, Ph.D.*

National Secretary,

Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC)

All Progressives Congress (APC)

EFCC Belongs To All, Not For Anybody – Bawa

File photo of EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) belongs to all Nigerians and not to anybody.

This is according to the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who stated this on Monday while receiving members of a civil society organization, Civil Society Coalition for Transparency and Good Governance at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

While calling on all Nigerians to embrace the fight against corruption, Bawa said the anti-graft agency cannot win the war alone.

“EFCC belongs to all Nigerians and it is not for anybody,” he was quoted as saying via a statement issued by the commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.

 

READ ALSO: INEC To Blacklist Political Parties Over Violent Congresses

“We realised long ago that the work of the EFCC is not something that can be done alone. Civil Society Organizations and Individuals are all stakeholders because Nigeria is the only country we have.”

Bawa also assured that the EFCC will partner with civil society organizations to ensure that “the mandate of the Commission and what we stand for, which is ensuring good governance, is imbibed and the country is rid of corruption.”

Speaking also, the Vice President of CSCTGG, Nse Victor Udeh, lamented the negative impact of corruption on the country.

He said if the country had functional health, education, aviation, road and other infrastructure, “We will have less to worry about,” adding that “apart from scarce resources, corruption is responsible for the failure of public infrastructures.”

“We as civil society are offering ourselves as those who will continue to project the message of ‘say no to corruption’ in whatever form,” he assured.

FG Apologises To Nigerians Over Poor Power Supply, Says Eight Plants Down

A file photo of a powerline.
A file photo of a powerline.

 

The Federal Government has apologised to Nigerians over the current power outages and shortages in various parts of the country.

This was caused by the breakdown of some National Integrated Power Plants (NIPP) supplying electricity to the national grid, the Federal Ministry of Power explained in a statement on Thursday.

Aaron Artimas, who is the Special Adviser to the Minister on Media and Communications, listed the affected plants to include Sapele, Afam, Olonrunsogo, Omotosho, Ibom, Egbin, Alaoji, and Ihovbor.

He noted that while the Jebba Power Plant was shut down for annual maintenance, the Shiroro Power Plant has water management problems.

Seven other integrated power plants – Geregu, Sepele, Omotosho, Gbarain, Omuku, Paras, and Alaoji – are experiencing gas constraints.

Artimas decried that the condition of the plants has drastically affected power generation, leading to effectively minimising the national grid.

@EngrSMamman

 

In a series of tweets on Thursday, the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, regretted the unfortunate situation and offered his apology to all affected Nigerians for the inconveniences the power shortages have caused.

He, however, assured Nigerians that the ministry through the appropriate agencies was working assiduously to rectify the technical problems affecting the plants, as well as making effort to resolve the gas issues to the others.

The minister stated that the national grid would be restored to its previous historic distribution peak of about 5,600MW of electricity achieved earlier in 2021, so as to relieve Nigerians from the current harsh climatic conditions and restore full economic activities.

See the minister’s tweets below:

‘Nigerians Are Fed Up,’ Wike Asks Politicians To Stop Making Fake Promises

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has warned politicians in the country against making fake promises to Nigerians when seeking election into public offices.

He gave the warning on Saturday in Bori, the headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.

“The time has come; when you make a promise to the people, you must fulfil the promise. So, you have to be careful of the promises you make,” he said.

According to the governor, Nigerians are already fed up with empty promises made by politicians before and during elections.

He was hopeful that by 2023, no politician would be able to manipulate election results in any part of the country.

Governor Wike added that manipulating results would not even be possible with the use of security personnel, as the electorate have become more knowledgeable to resist electoral fraud.

He accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government of complicating the situation of the people of the country.

The governor alleged that the government has failed to fulfill all its campaign promises to the people since 2015, even after the elections.

He, however, commended the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led administration in Rivers for providing infrastructure in various parts of the state.

“The time has come that we can no longer listen to empty promises of politicians, like what the ruling party is doing today.

“When they came in 2015, they told us that naira and dollar will be equal and today, what is the equivalent? They said they will create jobs, but Nigeria has the highest rate of unemployment in Africa – 33 per cent; why won’t there be a crisis?” the governor questioned.

Governor Wike spoke during the PDP campaign rally for the local government election scheduled to hold on April 17.

At the rally, the governor along with some party chieftains received some new members from the APC, led by a former Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Befil Nwile.

Easter: All Will Be Well With Our Country, Osinbajo Tells Nigerians

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has encouraged Nigerians to have great hope that things will get better for the country, amid the insecurity and other challenges in Nigeria.

He gave the words of encouragement during a brief chat with journalists after he attended the Easter Sunday service held at the Aso Villa Chapel in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“All will be well in Jesus’ name,” the vice president was quoted as saying a statement on Sunday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, as Christians all over the world celebrate the Easter season.

He added, “I just want to thank God for our nation and pray that our nation will experience the grace and mercy of God in so many different ways that we are expecting His grace and mercy.”

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo speaking at an event.

While wishing Nigerians a Happy Easter celebration, Professor Osinbajo believes the message of Easter is a message of the special and exceeding love and grace of God.

“God’s plan for humanity was that Christ will die and will resurrect. The resurrection is evidence of the fact that those who believe would be saved eternally and would live eternal joy and peace with the Almighty, and that promise is open to every single person.

“Whoever you are, that promise is open to you. That is, if you subscribe to that plan; if you accept that Christ died for you and rose again and that the plan is fulfilled in the resurrection,” said the vice president.

According to him, the Easter season is one of great joy because Christians celebrate the evidence of the plan of God who has given humanity a receipt of salvation in some way.

National Assembly Will Continue To Work For Nigerians – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Senate President Ahmad Lawan has assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will continue to Nigerians in their pursuit of peace and happiness.

The Senate President said this on Thursday in his goodwill message to Christians, as they join the rest of the world in celebrating Easter.

He said, “the National Assembly will continue to work for the Nigerian people in their legitimate pursuit of peace, happiness, and prosperity.”

[READ ALSO] Easter: Don’t Let ‘Mischief Mongers’ Divide This Country, Buhari Tells Nigerians

Senator Lawan noted that Easter is one of the most important events in the Christian calendar which is to celebrate the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He urged Nigerians to use the occasion to preach religious tolerance, love for our neighbours and commit to our civic responsibilities.

The Senate President asked Nigerians to continue to support the Government in its efforts to provide security and an enabling environment for economic growth and prosperity.

 

Nigerian Returnees From Saudi Arabia Allege Abandonment By FG

Some of the Nigerian returnees from Saudi Arabia. Credit: NIDCOM

 

The latest batch of Nigerian returnees from Saudi Arabia has alleged that the country’s consulate in Saudi Arabia is returning more citizens of the neighboring Niger Republic than Nigerians who are stuck in deportation camps in the Arabian country.

The affected Nigerians who served mostly as house helps in Saudi Arabia also accused their former bosses of sexually molesting and maltreating them while in their service.

“They are not Nigerians, they are Nigeriens. Nigerians are there and they are suffering, I was there for two months plus in the deportation camp,” a visibly angry Nigerian told journalists in Abuja.

Another returnee, who spoke in the Hausa language, lamented the dehumanising treatment they were subjected to in Saudi Arabia.

She said, “My suffering started from my arrival in Saudi Arabia. I was sad because my education couldn’t help me in my country. I was in my master’s house doing my chores.”

READ ALSO: Easter: Don’t Let ‘Mischief Mongers’ Divide This Country, Buhari Tells Nigerians

But reacting, the Nigerian government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for calm while addressing the allegations.

The Consular-General in the Ministry, Ambassador Akinremi Bolaji, said the Federal Government would launch a probe into the incident.

“I am telling you, that with the permission of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, what you have said here will not go uninvestigated,” he said.

“Now I will meet with those who have said this  and tell us specific mention, and if you have names, let us know.”

Since January 2021, the Federal Government has evacuated over 3,000 people from Saudi Arabia, with last week witnessing the return of over 1,000 people.

Although some of the returnees have tested positive for COVID-19, they have been receiving adequate treatment because they are asymptomatic.

Accusations of abuse and maltreatment of Nigerians in foreign countries have been rife in recent years.

A viral video from India recently alleged that a Nigerian was killed in India, prompting protests and calls for intervention from the Nigerian government.

We Won’t Borrow All $1.5bn To Rehabilitate Port Harcourt Refinery, FG Tells Nigerians

 

The Federal Government says the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery in Rivers State will not significantly add to the nation’s burden.

A total of $1.5 billion has been proposed by the government to fund the project – a decision that has sparked controversy and debates in various parts of the country.

In what seems to be the latest reaction among several others, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, doused the concerns that the project would worsen the nation’s debt profile.

He stated that the government does not intend to borrow all the funds to rehabilitate the refinery which he said would be functional in 18 months.

Sylva disclosed that a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) – Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC) – and others would contribute the money to be used for the project.

“There are questions asked – when are we going to fix our refineries, when are we going to rehabilitate our refineries? Now, we are rehabilitating the refineries but unfortunately, it is generating all these (issues),” the minister said during an interview aired on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

Mr Timipre Sylva says the federal appropriation will contribute $800 million to the project.

 

He added, ”Let me tell you how this rehabilitation is going to be funded; it is not going to be all debts, we are not going to borrow all the monies that are going into the rehabilitation (project).

“Some of the money will come from NNPC’s internally generated revenue – from NPDC, some of it will come from the Federal appropriation, and just a little fraction will come from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).”

 

The Repayment Plan

The minister gave an assurance that there was no need for Nigerians to worry about how the loan to be secured would be repaid.

He explained that going by the way the project was structured, the operations of the refinery would pay back the funds to be used.

Sylva insisted that the rehabilitation of the refinery would not really be a debt that would add to the general debt burden of the country.

According to him, a commercial discussion between the NNPC and Afreximbank on how the money will be paid from the operations of the refinery is ongoing.

FG To Revive Refineries By 2019 – Kachikwu
A file photo of crude oil pipelines at a refining site.

 

Giving a further breakdown of how the money would be sourced, the minister said, “The NNPC is going to spend about $200 million from its internally generating revenue sources, while the Federal appropriation will put in about $800 million and it is already broken down into three parts.

“The 2020 appropriation will give $350 million, 2021 appropriation will give another $350 million, and 2022 appropriation will give another $100 million, making it all $800 million from appropriation, and then the rest of it will now come from Afreximbank.”

Governors Back Continuous Use Of AstraZeneca Vaccine, Ask Nigerians To Remain Calm

A screenshot taken on March 17, 2021 shows members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) at a virtual meeting. Photo: [email protected]

 

Members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have supported the continued rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine across the country.

They insisted that the vaccine was safe for use, stressing that no side effects had been reported by those who have so far received the jabs in Nigeria.

Concerns about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which had been suspended in some countries, formed part of the discussions at the meeting of the NGF held on Wednesday.

The meeting which was presided over by the NFG Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, received a brief on the status of the vaccine roll out from its COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) led by renowned virologist, Professor Oyewale Tomori.

In its briefing, CTAG recommended that Nigeria should continue to vaccinate all eligible persons with the AstraZeneca vaccine, in line with the latest recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The governors, in their response, reiterated their belief in the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and agreed to continuously encourage uptake of the vaccines by all eligible persons in their states.

They, however, called on the people to report any adverse events noticed after taking the vaccine jabs.

READ ALSO: FBI Received 443 Internet Crime Complaints From Nigeria In 2020 – Report

In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP
In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP

 

In his remarks, Governor Fayemi congratulated his colleagues for accepting to be vaccinated and declared that so far, the vaccines have not shown any signs of side effects as reported.

Away from the pandemic, he urged the governors to step up their support for the Forum of Governors’ Wives, who he said was driving the campaign against gender-based violence in the country.

The governors also deliberated on illicit drugs and related crimes and pledge their support for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) by providing logistics support among others, to enable the agency to deliver on its mandate.

Read the communique issued at the end of the NGF meeting below:

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, deliberated on issues affecting the country, particularly on the roll-out of the Covid19 vaccines and the attendant issues that have arisen since the rollout.

The chairman congratulated his colleagues for accepting to be vaccinated and declared that so far, the vaccines have not shown any signs of side-effects as is widely rumoured.

The Chairman also briefed his colleagues on the visit of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of States’ Universities, the activities of the governors’ spouses around Gender-Based Violence and the VAP Act, calling on his colleagues to step up to the plate in support of the activities of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum nationwide and the progress made with the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) project.

After the briefing by the Chairman:

The Forum received a presentation from the British Deputy High Commissioner (DHC) in Lagos, Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, on the Accelerated C-19 Economic Support (ACES) programme which is aimed at supporting Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The current focus of the ACES programme in Nigeria is trade facilitation through e-customs and digital jobs booster to activate the digital economy and accelerate the creation of local tech jobs in the country.

Following the presentation, the Forum committed to supporting a Federal Government-led cross-agency trade facilitation as a critical objective of the e-customs programme coordinated through the National Trade Facilitation Roadmap.

Nigeria will be able to achieve the objectives of the e-customs programme (i.e. enhanced user experience, and approximately 10% growth in customs revenue to hit the US$176 billion revenue target) with a broader cross-agency scope of reform, including fulfilling its Word Trade Organisation (WTO) trade facilitation agreement.

Members also committed to encouraging digital infrastructure expansion, accelerator programmes, and investment promotion to facilitate job creation in highly potential digital areas such as IT and business processing outsourcing, digital media, e-commerce, start-up innovation and smart manufacturing based on the comparative advantage of each State.

In the light of this, state governments are encouraged to set up one-stop shops to accelerate approvals and harmonise fees for priority broadband infrastructure across the country.

Furthermore, the NGF Secretariat will partner with the British High Commission, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), as well as partners at the federal level on the workability of the ACES programme and the role of state governments to maximise its opportunities.

The Forum’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) led by Professor Oyewale Tomori briefed members on the status of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out across the States including the increasing concerns of the public on the safety of AstraZeneca vaccines. CTAG recommended that Nigeria should continue to vaccinate all eligible persons with the AstraZeneca vaccine in line with the latest WHO recommendations as available evidence, including findings from research in which some CTAG members are involved showing that the Astra Zeneca vaccine is safe.

Governors reiterated their belief in the safety of the Astra Zeneca vaccines and commit to continuously encourage uptake of the vaccines by all eligible persons in their States, Governors also encourage the public to report any adverse events noticed following COVID-19 vaccination.

Following a briefing from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Rtd. Gen. Muhammad Buba Marwa on Managing the Drug Crisis in the country, state governors committed to supporting the logistics and operational activities of NDLEA officials in their states, as well as programmes that will promote drug use prevention in the country.

Given the high correlation between drug use and insecurity in the country, the Forum will push for a greater role for NDLEA in Nigeria’s security fight especially as it relates to combating drug abuse and the illicit trafficking of drugs.

H.E Emmanuel A. Akabe Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State briefed the Forum on the inception activities of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) which was set up to accelerate economic growth and lift at least 100 million people out of poverty by 2030.

The PEAC has recommended the development of a poverty and growth strategy for the country focusing among others, on macroeconomic stabilisation, redistribution, structural transformation, and industrialisation.

The strategy will be overseen by the National Economic Council (NEC) through a Steering Committee which should include at least one governor from the six (6) geopolitical zones in the country.

On the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) PforR, the NGF Help Desk and SFTAS Programme Manager, Mr Olanrewaju Ajogbasile, reported that the Independent Verification Agency has begun preparatory activities for the validation of the 2020 SFTAS Annual Performance Assessment (APA).

He also presented highlights of upcoming technical assistance activities coordinated by the NGF Secretariat for states, including support on preparing Budget Implementation Reports in line with the National Chart of Accounts (NCoA); preparing a State Audit Law for the Offices of the State and Local Government Auditor-Generals; preparing State and Local Governments’ Audited Financial Statements for FY 2020; developing a Domestic Arrears Clearance Framework and Guide on the Online Publicly-Accessible Domestic Expenditure Arrears Database and the reconciliation of State Governments’ Outstanding Debt Obligations (Foreign and Domestic Debt) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Debt Management Office (DMO) and State Ministries of Finance.

The latest SFTAS results show that 28 States – (Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara State) achieved the disbursement linked indicator (DLI 12.1) to strengthen their procurement function for COVID-19 or emergency situations and facilitate the participation of SMEs in public procurement in the resilient recovery phase. These States will be eligible for SFTAS disbursements under the DLI.

Lastly, the Forum received a presentation on the 2018 audited accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER) led by its team lead, Mr Henry Adigun.

The Forum welcomed the fiduciary risk assessment of the corporation. The additional information will support the work of state governments in engaging with the Federal Government to improve the governance arrangement of the oil industry.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

17th March 2021

‘You Were Absolutely Amazing,’ Okonjo-Iweala Appreciates Nigerians For Support

 

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and appreciated the ministry and Nigerians in general for their support.    

The newly appointed WTO DG who was received by delegates led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama lauded the Minister for his role in contributing to her success in her race for the WTO DG seat.

“You worked night and day along with the Ministry of Trade and Investment and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. You worked personally to make sure that this happens. I remember calling you so many nights with one complaint or the other or one demand or the other and you kept your cool and were always trying to sort it all out.

READ ALSO: SERAP Sues Buhari Over Move To Borrow N895bn From Nigerians’ Dormant Accounts

“In short, you were absolutely amazing and I want to thank you for your personal attention to this,” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala also appreciated young Nigerians who she said were always on social media cheering her on. According to her, this was a crucial encouragement in the ‘tough race’.

“I say it and I will not stop saying it – without all of you and without support from ordinary Nigerians, especially the young people who were always on social media all the time encouraging me, I wouldn’t have been able to make it because it was a very tough competition with eight of us at the start, over a period of six months – very grueling – so it needed a lot of encouragement.

“It’s a proud thing that Nigeria has been able to make it. I am honoured and humbled to have been selected,” Okonjo-Iweala said in her appreciation message.

Okonjo-Iweala’s visit to Nigeria comes about a month after she was confirmed as the Director-General of the global trade organisation.

As the first woman and first African to lead the international body, her term began on March 1 and would last until the next four years.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was nominated as Nigeria’s candidate to lead the WTO by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020.

She is a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert who has a 25-year career at the World Bank, scaling the ranks to the second top position of Managing Director, Operations.