The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Thursday said Nigerians are disappointed in the present administration because they are looking for results in the wrong place.
Fashola who disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television said Nigerians should note that governance is not magic and the results they promptly need can only be delivered by state and local government which are the closest to grassroots.
“Governance is not magic. It is the act of the possible and our responsibility is to always project hope. Perhaps those who feel that way (disappointed) should be made to realize that what we expect of the Nigerian Federal government lies more with the state government and the local government…some of the most basic things.
“What we should do is to focus on the government that is closest to us. I will urge people to go and read the constitution, the powers the President has are about 45, many of them are categorised as power but they are even functions and duties.
“The government that can transform us and give us what we want quickly are the government closest to us – state and local government,” he said.
Fashola notes that basic infrastructure like primary healthcare, primary education, among others which Nigerians clamour for, can only be delivered by state and local governments.
“Looking for the Federal Government or a magic President is why we seem to have been disappointed. We are looking for the results in the wrong place,” Fashola said.
He urged Nigerians to read the constitution to understand better the divide between the state and the Federal Government.
According to him refuse management, water supply, primary healthcare, basic education, etc are all matters within the local and state government and the duties rest upon the state governors.
One person has died while 16 others are being treated for severe burns in Calabar the Cross River state capital.
The death and injuries occurred following an explosion linked to kerosene adulteration.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Asibong Inyang, who visited the victims at the hospital said the government is investigating the incident to find the root cause of the explosions.
She said the Ministry of Health would also educate residents on the dangers of using adulterated products, and promised to donate medical accessories to the ward in support of their treatment.
Also, while speaking to journalists, the State Commissioner for Petroleum, Itaya Asuquo Nyong, gave the assurance that his ministry would investigate those behind the adulteration and bring the culprits to book.
“We will set up an investigative panel cos we want to get to the root cause of the matter and find out where this product is bought and I intend to involve the services of the operative agencies in this operation, because we intend to ensure that adequate punishment is given. We should never experience such in the state”.
Some of the victims who spoke to Journalists, expressed that they were in deep pains as a result of the burns from the explosion.
The Kaduna State Security Council has enforced a 24-hour curfew in Jema’a and Kaura Local Government Areas of Kaduna State with immediate effect.
This follows the recent attacks by gunmen that claimed lives and property in some communities in the two local government areas.
A statement by the spokesman for the state government, Samuel Aruwan, says the action became necessary in order to protect the lives of residents and avoid further breakdown of law and order in the two Local Government Areas.
The statement directs all security agencies on a special operation in the two local government areas to ensure strict compliance of the curfew, stating that only workers on special duties and those on humanitarian services are allowed free movement after due clearance by security agencies.
The Imo State government says it has spent over40billion naira on its free tertiary education policy since inception four years ago.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, made the disclosure at the Heroes Square in Owerri, the Imo State capital in southeast Nigeria.
He was speaking during the ongoing revalidation and verification exercise organised for Imo indigenes who are beneficiaries of the free education programme in all state-owned tertiary institutions in the state.
Addressing the students, Governor Okorocha who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Uche Nwosu, noted that the state government has decided to concentrate on Imo indigenes and drop non-indigenes from the programme.
He explained that the state government has spent about 40 billion naira to sustain the policy, adding that it would have to drop non-indigenes from the scheme as Imo indigenes in other state-owned schools across Nigeria do not enjoy such benefit.
The governor, however, assured the students of the government’s commitment to sustaining the programme beyond the life of the present administration.
“Nothing less than 40 billion has been spent in the last five years to sustain this free education policy.
“But as you know, our Imo sons and daughters in other schools outside Imo State are not benefiting any similar scheme in their various schools and we can’t keep shouldering their expenses.
“Like the saying: charity begins at home; we need to take care of our own first before others. So we have decided to drop non-indigenes from the exercise,” he said.
Governor Okorocha explained further that the essence of the ongoing revalidation and verification of students was to generate the accurate data of students and to also ascertain that students enjoying the programme were majorly of Imo extraction.
“The idea of this exercise is to capture (those) who are exactly Imo State citizens and to build a data base of who they are, and to inculcate in them the fact that government is training them for free, despite the very lean resources that is available to the government.
“From the form, they have to go back to their villages and get endorsement from their traditional ruler and also get endorsement from the secretary of the CGC (that is President-general).
“By that, we will know that they are from so so and so local government (and) let me tell you that some of them don’t even know their local government.
“The free education has come to stay,” he noted.
Dreams Of Better Educational Standard
In an interview with Channels Television, some of the students said that the free education programme has actually helped them achieve their dreams of a better and higher educational standard without payment.
A student said “because of the free education, I could achieve a lot in the medical school.
“I have not paid a dime since I got admission into the university (and) my siblings are here.
“If not for the free education, I don’t think there is a way we can do it but I just thank the government for giving us the free education”.
At the inception of the Governor Okorocha led administration in 2011, education was declared free at primary and post-primary levels in all public schools in Imo State.
The government subsequently extended the gesture to all the state-owned tertiary institutions on February 14, 2012, including the Imo State School of Nursing and Health Technology.
As an extension of the free education programme in November 2012, the government slashed the tuition fee of non-indigenes schooling in the state-owned tertiary institutions by 50%.
However, the revalidation and verification exercise is supposed to last for two weeks of which students are meant to take their forms to their traditional rulers and government liaison officers in their communities for identification and return the form to the state government within the specified period.
Abia State government has signed an agreement with a private investor that may see the state become the largest palm producer in Nigeria.
The State government says the Memorandum of Understanding will produce an Abia State Palm Estate in Ohambele in Ukwa East Local Government Area of the state to increase the wealth of the State.
The Palm Estate is expected to support the governor’s drive to restore the state as the number one palm producer and create jobs for youths.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Uzo Azubuike, assured the investor that the state government would keep their part of the agreement.
He highlighted that the state government was in a hurry to return the state to the years of palm plantations dotting the landscape of the state.
“Part of what we are signing now is that the private investor, S-ATM Nigeria Limited will build an oil mill inside the Palm Estate here in Ohambele.
“This palm estate is expected to employ more than 5,000 Abians, with greater percentage of the employment from the Ohambele community.
“The government will leave no stone unturned in bringing to materialisation one of the pillars of this administration in the area of revitalisation of agriculture,” he told the investor.
Meanwhile, the investor and his bankers expressed appreciation to the State government for providing the enabling environment for them to do business in the state without excessive bureaucratic bottlenecks.
The Managing Director of S-ATM Nigeria Limited, Mr Ogunleye , assured the state government that his company would fulfill the terms of the agreement which include investing the needed funds to realise the goals of the state palm plantation which is to reduce unemployment.
“My assurance to you is that more than 40 per cent of the company’s employees will be Abia residents and also the members of the host community, thereby reducing the rate of unemployment in the state,” he told the state government official.
The investor and his bankers expressed appreciation to the State government for providing the enabling environment for new investors to do business in the state without excessive bureaucratic bottlenecks.
Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) from the 36 states of the federation led by the National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba on Wednesday converged in Owerri the Imo State capital.
The protest is to express their displeasure over the lingering issue of the concession policy by the state government as well as the suspension of workers from 19 parastatals in the state.
The Labour shut down all activities at the Sam Mbakwe airport, Owerri and other government offices under the NLC to effect the compliance of the protest.
However, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Oyegun is presently at the Government House in Owerri to brief newsmen about the issues.
Meanwhile a meeting between State Government and the State Executive of the Nigeria Labour Congress is at the moment ongoing at the office of the Secretary to the Government of Imo State as they are trying to see how to resolve the issue at hand.
The Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, may be asking his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam, to explain the 600 million naira allegedly over paid contractors for biometrics for local government officials.
The state government observed that the said amount was withdrawn from government coffers and was later recovered as payment for biometrics.
The Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Targema Takema, told newsmen in Makurdi that the former administration allegedly mismanaged the funds which was meant for 23 Local Government Areas.
He said that as a former member of the transition committee he was privy to the fact that the former administration left huge debt for the current government to settle.
He said that the new government of Governor Samuel Ortom, is now battling for survival.
The Benue State government says it is making effort to generate funds that could clear backlog of unpaid salaries to workers and pensioners in the state.
Workers in the State have been owed about five months Salaries while pensioners have not been paid since November 2014.
In a telephone interview on Monday, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Targema Takema, told Channels Television that the government owed about 12 billion Naira to the workers and pensioners.
Mr Takema said that the Governor had held discussions with his economic team to find a way of paying the workers.
“They have been doing some kind of negotiations with the bank. They are also discussing with President Muhammadu Buhari to see how the Federal Government could assist.
“There are plans to see how March salary could be paid,” he said.
Mr Takema said the State government would implement reforms that would help ensure improvement in its Internally Generated Revenue.
He also gave indications that the government could slash number of workers.
“The governor has put in place a group of experts and we are looking at implementing reforms along the lines of internally generated revenue. We have about 20,000 workers and we know that what the state may need will not be up to that number.
“We have a ridiculous position of about 250 million Naira a month. We are looking at raising up to one billion or 1.2 billion Naira in a month from the IGR. There is a lot of gaps in the collection and remittance of the IGR,” the State government official said.
The SSG stressed that the State government spends about 360 million Naira per month, as overhead cost, explaining that persons in charge of planning were not too careful.
He said corruption had also contributed to the rise in the amount of monies owed.
Primary school teachers in the state are also owed over nine months’ salary, but Mr Takema said the government was taking a holistic approach to ensure that the payment of the Salary arrears.
More than 16 states in Nigeria are owing workers salaries, after the Federal Government reduced their allocations due to drop in price of crude oil, which is the nation’s major source of revenue.
Kaduna State government has paid the retirement benefits worth over N840 Million Naira to 309 retired civil servants; who have served the state meritoriously.
While speaking during the presentation of cheques to the pensioners, Governor Yero noted that, despite the dwindling revenue accruing to Kaduna, the state government has expended over N2 billion for the payment of gratuities of civil servants who retired between January to July, 2014.
The governor also disclosed that his administration has paid a total of N4.7 billion as backlog of retirement benefits for the state civil servants dating back to seven years, and also cleared the backlog of gratuities and death benefits of retirees and deceased staff in the service.
It was a moment of joy for this senior citizens as they filed out to receive their cheques from the governor, most of whom just retired from service last year.
The beneficiaries are batches 5, 6 and 7 of pensioners who were captured in the months of May, June and July, 2014. They filed out to receive the cheques from the state governor in the admiration of their relations and colleagues.
While pledging the commitment of the State government towards ensuring prompt payment of pensions and other retirement benefits, Governor Yero said his administration remained committed to settling all pension liabilities as part of efforts to raise the production capacity of the civil service.
Some of the beneficiaries expressed appreciation to the state government for the payment of their pension and gratuities, and also promised to reciprocate the gesture by voting massively for the governor, who is seeking a re-election for another four year term.
It is expected that the wealth of experience that this pensioners have acquired over the years in service will be an added advantage in terms of initiating viable ventures with the money.
The Lagos State Government has declared Friday a work-free day for its workers to enable them collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).
The State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, enjoined private sector employers to release their workers early to enable those who are yet to collect their PVC to do so in their various polling units.
The Head of Service in the state, Mrs. Oluseyi Williams, gave the directive in a statement that the State Government was desirous of ensuring that all public servants in the state participate in the voting process, adding that they should take the opportunity to go out and collect their PVC at their polling units.
Enjoining private sector employers to release their workers early today for the same purpose, Governor Fashola said “The prosperity and the brighter rewarding future that we all seek, for ourselves and our children over the next four years, would be determined by what we do in the next few days.”
He added, “No sacrifice could be too much a price to secure a better future over the next four years and beyond.”
The Governor noted that in order for democracy to be truly representative, it must be participatory.
He also stressed that such participation confers eligibility and imposes a duty on all the citizens from 18 years and above to vote in the elections even as it also enables them to have a say in the elections.
The Lagos State Government has dismissed the allegation of non-implementation of the National Minimum Wage policy in the state as a display of ignorance by the opposition, asserting that Lagos was the first to implement the policy among the 36 states of the Federation.
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, was quoted recently in some national dailies as alleging that the Lagos State Government was yet to implement the National Minimum Wage policy of the Federal Government.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, he described the allegation as another display of bold ignorance by the PDP governorship candidate, explaining that the issue of minimum wage was settled on Tuesday February 7, 2011, when the State Government signed an agreement with the 14 approved labour unions in the State Civil Service.
The agreement, brokered by the then Commissioner for Establishment and Training, Mr. Jide Sanwoolu, the Statement said, increased the minimum wage of the lowest paid worker in the employment of the government by 69.6 percent which is a 7.6 percent increase over the Federal Government approved National Minimum Wage.
The statement enjoined the PDP governorship candidate to always endeavor to verify his “facts” before going public, adding that doing so would save him the continued public display of ignorance of the workings of the very government he is striving to head.
The Kaduna State government has threatened to publish the names of contractors who collected money from the state government and abandoned the projects.
The government also said it would revoke any road contract that had failed to meet government’s expectations on quality delivery.
Governor Mukhtar Yero issued the threat through his spokesman, Ahmed Maiyaki, during an interaction with journalists on Tuesday.
The governor disclosed that most of the abandoned road projects were awarded in 2012 by his predecessor, Late Patrick Yakowa, who died in a helicopter crash in December that year.
With the death of Yakowa, Governor Yero alleged that some of the contractors who were already mobilised with 25 per cent of the contract sum, abandoned the site with the intention of working away with taxpayers’ money.
He stated that some of the road contracts had been revoked by the government and re-awarded to competent contractors who have been given specific period to complete them.
Governor Yero further assured the indigenes of the state that the government would use all legal means to recover the money from the non performing contractors.
The governor urged the contractors, handling road projects in different parts of the state to increase their pace for greater impact before the next rainy season. He also expressed his commitment towards the rehabilitation of roads in the state, emphasising that he has not abandoned any road contract awarded by his predecessors.