45bn Naira Too Small For Northeast Reconstruction – Sani Zorro

45bn Naira Too Small For Northeast Reconstruction – Sani ZorroChairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees, Mr Sani Zorro says the 45 billion naira earmarked for the reconstruction of the northeast Nigeria is too little.

Zorro said the infrastructure destroyed by years of Boko Haram insurgency far exceeds the amount the federal government is willing to part with.

“We take specific note of the cost of infrastructure destroyed which he (Governor Kashim Shettima) told officials of the National Assembly (and) which he put at 9.6 billion dollars saying that Borno state has suffered the destruction of infrastructure close to seven billion dollars.

“Now the federal government has earmarked only 45 billion naira in this year’s budget for the reconstruction of the northeast? I just hope that this 45 billion is just counterpart funding. I just hope it is a component; maybe there is a bigger funding coming from elsewhere,” he said.

Zorro and his colleague – the Chairman House Committee on Air Force, Muazu Lawan, were in Borno state to convey the feelings of the House of Representatives over recent attacks in the state.

“Our mission is on behalf of the House of Representatives and its leadership and apart from commiserating with the government we have also visited the state specialist hospital where we saw those who have suffered various degrees of injury and we are happy to report that all those who were admitted in danger list are now recovering very fast.

“We were able to talk to each one of them and offered our sympathy. We have also been to the office of UN OCHA where we met a lot of humanitarian partners and we have interfaced with them. ”

However, the Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force, Muazu Lawan, believes the specialist hospital Maiduguri needs to be expanded to meet the growing needs of citizens.

“We went to the specialist hospital and we saw the injured, they are responding to treatment and we saw government’s effort.

“The only thing the government has to put in place is expansion of the hospital. There are a lot of room for expanding the healthcare institution, not only because of this incident but for the future, anything can happen.

“We are not hoping for things of this nature to be reoccurring, we hope it will be the last.”

Treatment Of Terror Victims Now Free, Thanks To PCNI

Treatment Of Terror Victims Now Free, Thanks To PCNIThe Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative (PCNI) has taken responsibility for all bills incurred by those injured by insurgency.

In furtherance to that, Vice Chairman of the initiative, Tijjani Tumsa, has pledged on behalf of the PCNI to support the Maiduguri specialist hospital with the sum of 20 million naira.

This, according to him, is to ensure that “none of the victims has to pay for any treatment given to him whether in medication or operational requirement”.

The committee was in the state to commiserate with the University of Maiduguri and members of the Rann community who were injured during an Air Force operation that went wrong recently.

The PCNI Vice Chairman said: “We are pledging from the PCNI, on behalf of the chairman, General TY Danjuma, the complete payment of their medical needs and we would start that with the provision of 20 million Naira to the specialist hospital to ensure that none of the victims has to pay for any treatment given to him whether in medication or operational requirement.

“In addition to that, we have also pledged the sum of ten thousand naira for each patient for their personal consumables and a total sum of a million naira for the caregivers to be more encouraged to facilitate care giving to these patients.”

Tumsa thanked members of the International Red Cross and other caregivers for having a lot of input in the survival of the victims.

“We are consistent on our belief that the victims of terrorism should not suffer any other burden apart from what they have already suffered.

“The PCNI will ensure that it doesn’t happen and any medical needs or requirements that are a result of injuries suffered from this insurgency will continue to be treated free of charge,” Tumsa stated.

Porous Security

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Professor Ibrahim Njobdi, conveyed the institution’s gratitude to the PCNI for offsetting the hospital bills of survivors of an on-campus explosion which killed a professor and two students.

The Vice Chancellor urged the PCNI to consider providing a solution to the porous nature of the university which paved way for a seven-year-old to beat security posts and penetrate campus.

Professor Njodi said that the Senate of the institution decided unanimously to keep the school open to encourage operatives fighting the terrorism war.

“The only way to encourage the military and other activities going on is for us to remain here so that they have a reason to fight and struggle against the terror. That was why we resolved as a university when the heat was too much way back in 2014; the Senate came here and we collectively took our decision that we would not close the university, we would not run away from terror and that is how it has been,” the VC said.

100 Years Behind

Professor Njodi also spoke on the need to address the challenges facing the education sector in norther Nigeria.

“Education in the north is endangered; I have said it at different fora that prior to Boko Haram there were some studies – some speculative some real, that were conducted that the north was 100 years behind the south educationally.

“That was before Boko Haram. What this means is that at that time if the South stopped going to school, it would take the north 100 years to catch up.

“When you now come to the north and break it up into North-West, Central, and East, Northeast was 150 years behind the South.

“So if those reports are anything to go by, I don’t know what the picture will be now, probably it may be 500 to 1000 years. And this is how bad our situation is educationally.”

IDPs Return To Konduga Home, Cry Out For Help

North east, lake chad, NAPTIP, Human Trafficking, NigeriaThe newly inaugurated Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative has commenced operations in Borno state with one of its mandates being to help returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) settle in their home towns.

Konduga Local Government where no fewer than 20,000 persons have already returned is one of the first beneficiaries of the intervention.

Konduga, about 40 kilometers to Maiduguri is one of the Borno towns notorious as a battle ground between the military and the outlawed Boko Haram.

Residents caught up in the crossfire were evacuated to Internally Displaced People’s camps in the capital city.

Three years later, with the assailants pushed out of the ancient town, villagers weary of living in makeshift camps are returning home in droves as explained by government officials.

An official of Konduga LG, Bello Musa said: “Presently we have over 20,000 people in this town since when the Governor flagged off the campaign of returning our people to their communities.

“I think on the first day 7.000 people came here. Almost 85% of these people are living in their houses. It’s only 15% that are living in the camp.

“Since our return, the governor of Borno state has been providing food, NEMA too and some organizations are coming in now…from last week we received three or four NGOS that are here to assist our people.”

Meanwhile, survival for the returning IDPS is for the fittest, with the young, old and widowed scrambling for a portion of food anytime help comes.

With no source of livelihood, only security presence can stop a stampede anytime there is food to be shared.

One of the returnees, A’isa Mala, lamented the tough conditions they have had to deal with.

“Our children go to the bush to get local vegetables which they sell, and buy flour for our meals. Some days we go without food, six of us in the house. When they bring food we eat, when they don’t we sleep without food.

“If I join the queue they’ll kill me in a stampede so I stay here; anything I get from here will be fine, money or food.”

In the pilot relief items distribution, the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative is targeting 1,800 Konduga families, according to the sub Committee team leader, Prof Hauwa Biu.

“This committee is a sub Committee and our mandate is to go round Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states to assist those who have returned home after the insurgency as well as those that are in the camp.

“So we are here specifically to distribute items which have been kept for a long time. For now we are in three different towns; Mafa, Konduga and Damboa simultaneously; what we’re doing here is replicated in the two other places.”

The Committee’s mandate is expected to span through a period of three years.

SURE-P: Fashola Advocates Massive Investment In Infrastructure

Gov-FasholaThe Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has advocated a massive investment in infrastructure across the nation with proceeds from the nation’s oil.

Governor Fashola stressed that if  the oil proceeds were well invested, the fund would help bridge the infrastructural deficiency which had stunted the country’s economic growth.

He was speaking at the Lagos House, Ikeja, while hosting the Presidential Committee for Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) led by its Chairman, General Martin Luther Agwai (rtd).

The Lagos State Governor also called for a policy framework that would enable intervention agencies of the Federal Government such as SURE-P, to deliver enduring and long-term benefits across the country.

“Since oil prices fluctuate globally, the Federal Government should be able to invest proceeds of the commodity during boom time on enduring infrastructure and services that benefit the larger society,” the Governor said, pointing out that the government would be able to point at such infrastructure and services later as evidence of its service to the people.

Citing the National Theatre, the National Stadium and the Tafawa Balewa Square among other such infrastructures as legacies of the oil boom of the 1970s, the Governor stressed that such legacies defined the period of the boom.

“Since such funds are seasonal, their enduring nature would depend on what is done with them.

“They are the kind of defining things that you and I can look back and say, ‘okay around the Year 2014 when the SURE–P money came, this is what we did with it”, he said, emphasising that there have been many other booms to which Nigerians cannot ascribe any legacy.

Advising the SURE-P committee to re-strategise on how and where to invest the oil fund in order to give maximum benefit to Nigerians, Fashola pointed out that building and construction has helped to energise the economies of many nations across the globe. He urged the agency to always have it at the back of its mind that the revenue from oil would not last forever.

A Petroleum Trust Fund, set up by the Federal Government at the time of one of the booms, invested the money on roads in some parts of the country, bringing development to the region.

He urged the agency to pursue a model that would bring enduring benefits to Nigerians. “For me, when I look at some of the places in some parts of Nigeria, where I know that it was the PTF Fund that gave them roads, it probably commends itself to me as a model to pursue.

“It was good that some of the SURE-P fund went into the repair of the Third Mainland Bridge, but there are not less than 28 bridges in Lagos that belong to the Federal Government that have not been maintained in the last 40 years.

“The Apapa-Ijora Bridge, the expansion joints have widened so dangerously that it is a nightmare to drive on it. Some of the studies that we did I have sent the report to the Federal Ministry of Works showing what needs to be done and how much it will cost to do them”, he said, advising the committee to look at renewing the  infrastructures instead of investing on areas where state or local governments have already invested.

Reiterating the need for the agency to re-strategise and invest on enduring infrastructure, the Governor said: “If it is one big Power Plant even in only one state of this country, you will later go back and say ‘this is what we did with the money”.

Earlier, the SURE-P Chairman, General Martin Luther Agwai (rtd), said the purpose of the visit was to explore ways of partnering with the Lagos State government in order to facilitate the planned programmes of the Federal Government to create jobs, particularly for the nation’s graduates.

The former Chief of Army Staff said the Committee was planning a Graduate Internship Scheme to commence in the State by September 1, 2014 and that the visit was to get the governor prepared.

According to him, the second reason for the visit was to assess the importance of Lagos  as the economic hub of the nation in terms of the number of firms, industries and other business organisations in the State, explaining that the Committee intends to get the industries to participate in the scheme to tutor and mentor the graduates for the purpose of making them employable at the end of the programme.

Nigeria Will Not Collapse – Akinjide

Former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Richard Akinjide has described the speculation that the amalgamation of Nigeria would expire in 2014 as a ruse.

Recounting Nigeria’s pre-independence history on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’, Akinjide pointed out that the existence of Nigeria started way before the 1914 amalgamation, specifically the Berlin Conference and thus cannot expire.

He noted that the British made it clear that they joined the country and not the people, indicating that the people still had a strong influence on the future of the country.

He admitted that although, the underlining motive of the British Government was for their own economic interests.  “Substantially, what they did was good, as there were no sovereign countries in Africa before they came, except Liberia and Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia).

“We’ve been brought together as a nation and I think we will remain as a country, I don’t see the collapse that people are talking about,” he said.

Akinjide also noted that Nigeria’s recent economic growth was a proof to the strength of the country, and with President Jonathan “having started well, we will get better.”

He encouraged Nigerians that while 1914 was a critical year in the history of the country, it was important to look beyond it and see a better future.

National Conference

In view of the history of Nigeria’s amalgamation as recounted by Akinjide, the call for a National Conference came to the fore. He admitted that he could not give any intelligent report on it as he was not privy to information on the report compiled by the Presidential Committee.

He, however, said that although a constitutional amendment was not a bad idea, and Nigeria might indeed need it, but what Nigeria needed to change was character. He asked, “what are we doing with our resources?”

He cited Southern Korea, which was captured by Japan during the 2nd World War but whose character has made bigger than many countries, including Japan as an example for Nigeria to follow.

Akinjide also spoke about many issues of national interest, including the sensitivity of the office of the Attorney-General, stating that the office requires that its occupant must be a first class lawyer, a patriotic person, and of good character, irrespective of the region he comes from.

Boko Haram Could Be War Criminals – UN

The United Nations Human Rights Office has warned that the Boko Haram sect could be classed as war criminals, as it condemns a bloody attack on a wedding convoy.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cecile Pouilly, said members of Boko Haram and other groups and entities, if judged to have committed widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population could be guilty of crimes against humanity.

Pouilly called the wedding convoy attack atrocious and condemned Boko Haram’s campaign of attacks against civilians, politicians, members of government institutions, foreigners and the security forces.

Besides condemning the sect’s bloody campaign, human rights groups have also slammed government troops for killing civilians and for other violations in the battle zone.

Pouilly added that the UN is following up closely with the Nigerian authorities’ allegations of abuses and human rights violations which may have been committed by security forces when conducting operations.

She noted that the Nigerian military is in the process of finalizing a report on people detained in connection with the insurgency, and urges the government to disclose its findings.

Boko Haram: Committee Submits Report To Jonathan

The Presidential Committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to dialogue with the Boko Haram dreaded sect has submitted its report to the President.

The committee which had spent 7 months travelling round Northern Nigeria trying to get the leaders of the sect to stop their widely condemned act admitted that the leadership of the insurgent group refused to have any dialogue with them despite all their efforts.

Chairman of the committee, Kabiru Turaki said, “Some of our difficulties in having a productive dialogue include the refusal of their leaders to submit to dialogue. However, many of the key members of the insurgents both in detention and at large have positively responded to contacts and have accepted the dialogue option as capable of full resolution of the conflict.”

It was in this vain that the committee recommended that the President should set up an advisory committee on continuous dialogue to continue from where they stopped.

Receiving the report, President Jonathan said that Government will look into all the recommendations, promising to set up a committee to follow up on the dialogue.

The president however told them that government will rather provide assistance to the victims of the attacks rather than compensations.

Following Boko Haram attacks and the attendant insecurity in the land, Nigeria’s President had in April 2013 set up the committee on dialogue and peaceful resolution of security challenges in the North.

Although the committee is winding up, President Jonathan has said that the Nigerian Government remains open to dialogue.