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How funds delay issuance of National ID Cards-DG

By Newsdesk

The National Identity Management Commission(NIMC) has said it is working hard to address challenges associated with delay in issuance of new National Identity Cards to Nigerians.
The Director-General of the commission, Aliyu Aziz, said in Abuja on Tuesday that paucity of funds was delaying  production and issuance of the cards.
Aziz said the commission had been inundated with complaints about the delay and that complaints were from Nigerians who had registered long ago but were yet to be issued with their permanent identity cards.

The deputy-general, who explained that the commission has facility to register as much as three 300 million citizens in its data base, said National Identity Number (NIN) is more important than the card,stressing that NIN is a unique 11-digit number assigned to an individual upon successful enrollment into the national identity database (NIDB).

According to Aziz, it is the NIN that helps to tie all records about a person in the database and is used to check the identity verified.
“What is important is digital certification. We have always emphasised that NIN is the most important.
“So, once you have the NIN that is okay. But we are doing our best to issue the cards,” he said.

He assured that the commission is exploring avenues to expand its cope and capacity to be able to deliver faster and more efficient in meeting expectation of Nigerians.
“It is part of measures to create a comprehensive national identity database to drive national development planning and to prevent both double identity and identity fraud,’’ he said.

It would be recalled that NIMC began the enrollment exercise into the NIDB in September 2010 and started the issuance of a multipurpose card in 2013,just as it would be recalled that as at 2016, over 750,000 cards are yet to be collected, while about 300,000 cards had been collected by Nigerians.
Millions of Nigerians have been screened and issued with the temporary NIN, but have yet to receive the permanent Identity card.

Police bans fireworks in Adamawa

As a safety measure ahead of forthcoming yuletide in Adamawa State, the state Police command has renewed ban on fireworks during the festive period across the state.

The police issued the warning in a statement issued by spokesman of the command, SP Othman Abubakar on Wednesday in Yola, the state capital.

Abubakar advised parents and guardians to caution their wards as the command would not hesitate in arresting anyone caught selling or using fireworks.

He listed the ban items to include knockouts, banger and other explosives, restating the command’s resolve to clampdown on defaulters.

“The ban on the use of fireworks such as knockouts, banger and other forms of explosives during the Christmas and New Year festive periods is still enforced.

“This callous attitude may cause not only distractions to the general public but may also constitute a security threat and other environmental hazards.

“The command therefore, advises parents to warn their children/wards to refrain from such ugly trend as police will not hesitate to clamp down on any person(s) caught selling or using these fireworks.”Abubakar said.

Obaseki presents N150bn as 2017 budget

By Newsdesk

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has presented a budget of N150 billion appropriation bill to the state House of Assembly, to fast track economic and social transformation of the state.

Obaseki, who christened the 2017 budget as “Budget of Consolidation and Prosperity” said it was wrapped around six key policy areas.

He named the six key policy areas of the 2017 budget to include Economic Revolution, Healthcare services, Infrastructure development, Institutional Reforms, Environmental sustainability, social welfare enhancement and Culture and tourism.

The governor, said “Mr Speaker, we have proposed a budget size of N150,011,831,079 Billion which is a nominal 29% increase over 2016 budget estimates made up of N74,900,297,917 as Recurrent Expenditure and N75,111,533,162 as Capital Expenditure.

“The revenue estimates are based on a $42.0 benchmark for crude oil and average daily production of 1.9mil barrels per day and expectations of improved performance of Internally Generated Revenue.

“Hence we will maintain a balance of capital to recurrent expenditure (50%: 50%) in line with our plan to spend our way out of recession.

“This Budget would have a deficit of N25 Billion for 2017 which is within the acceptable threshold. The deficit will be funded mainly by external borrowing from the third tranche of the World Bank budget support facility.

The Governor, while reviewing 2016 budget, noted that “the crises we face today are not insurmountable, with focussed planning, discipline and faith in God, we can “develop a modern and progressive Edo State, where every citizen is empowered with opportunity to live life in its fullness. I am honoured to present to you today christened “Consolidation and prosperity”.

According to him, the policy directions of the 2017 budget are largely informed by interactions with people during his campaign which was validated in a strategy dialogue comprising political, religious and traditional leaders, professionals, civil society, women and youth groups.

“The policy bedrock of the 2017 budget rests on Economic Revolution, Infrastructural Expansion, Institutional Reform, Social Welfare Enhancement, Culture & Tourism and Environmental Sustainability.

“These are the pillars which – if pursued with uncommon focus, will help us build a new society, create new jobs, new opportunities and wealth – and usher in a new era of prosperity for all.” He said.

In his review of the budget proposal, Obaseki sets aside N7.5billion for investment;N22.2billion for economic sector; N22.3billion for infrastructure, development and upgrade; N3.2 billion for pension scheme; N6.05billion for outstanding grauitities and pension and N6.6 billion to rebuild infrastructure of institutions in 2017.

He said “this Budget of Consolidation and prosperity clearly outlines our first priorities and serves as our compass to the future we seek.

“Building this new society for Edo State will depend on the timely implementation of reforms to further boost business climate, attract private investment, improve our social welfare and foster needed development.

“Therefore, the timely passage of this budget is crucial. Edo State must become the standard bearer of progress in Nigeria. We must lead the nation in social and economic progress. We will be unrelenting in our pursuit of a cleaner, greener and digital Edo.

“In this task, our government will shun all acts of corruption. We shall hold all accountable and will aggressively ensure justice is meted to offenders.’’

Obaseki, assured that that both executive and legislative arms would enjoy harmonious working relationship in interest of the state.

“I remain confident that we would continue to enjoy a harmonious working relationship in the interest of our dear State and to the glory of God, our Maker”. he said.

Expert links stress to mental disorder

By Peter Moses, Ilorin

A consultant psychiatrist serving under University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Ilorin, Kwara State, Prof. Alfred Makanjuola, has warned Nigerians to guard against putting themselves under stress, saying the situation could lead to mental problem if not checked.

Makanjuola spoke on Friday in a paper presentation entitled: “Mental Health in a Dwindling Economy”at Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) 2016 Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference held in Ilorin.

He said that Nigerians are facing a deluge of problems emanating from genetic factors, environmental factors as well as economic and societal factors.

The expert postulated that there was a correlation between steady rise in mental illness and dwindling economy, especially, as the country is currently in recession.

Makanjuola described mental health as the state of well-being where an individual realizes his or her abilities and can cope with normal stress of life, be productive and make contributions to the community.

He, however, explained that such a state of well-being could be disrupted in one-third of individuals during their lifetime.

“Mental problems denote emotional and psychological difficulties, which causes distress and interfere with how people go about their everyday life,” he said.

According to the expert, mental ill-health is characterized with sadness, loss of appetite, confused thinking, prolonged depression as well as feelings of extreme highs and lows.

Others, he said, are excessive fears, worries, anxieties, social withdrawal, and dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits as well as feelings of anger.

Makanjuola lamented that the society was gradually degenerating from age-old extended family but becoming lonely and an isolated nuclear family.

He also lamented continuous failures in marriages and increasing breakdown of children upbringing in the country.

According to him, some products of these failed institutions, eventually, turned to hard drugs which in-turn affects them mentally.

The professor said there was an increase in mental illness as global indices for mental illness indicated 21.2 per cent in 2013 to an increase of 32.4 per cent in 2016.

The expert, therefore, advised people to always monitor movements of their children and wards and the friends they move with.

He added that drug abuse had been taken to new levels where common medicines such as Tramadol are taken with soft drinks, soups or tea and could not be detected easily by parents.

Makanjuola said there must be principle of equality in access to essential healthcare facilities to enable people to have standard health care, adding that the treatment of mental health is not as costly as some ailments.

“The government should ensure the expansion of mental health and a continuous destigmatization of people with mental ill-health”, he said.

Also speaking at the occasion, Vice-Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Prof. Mohammed Ibrahim, said that everyone was a candidate for mental ill-health due to various stresses being face in life.

He added that the financial incapability, as well as societal problems faced by people in the society, makes the theme apt and an essential topic for discourse.

Ex-Minister tasks FG on anti-corruption war

By Newsdesk

Former Minister of National Planning, Prof Osita Ogbu has urged Federal Government to intensify effort and avoid distraction in its ongoing war against corruption in the country.

Ogbu who lauded the government’s zeal and determination to eradicate the scourge in the country, said more needed to be done to achieve desired result.

Speaking at a forum on Thursday in Enugu to mark 2016 International Anti-Corruption Day, the former minister explained that successive administrations had done their bits in tackling corruption, noting that such efforts should be sustained.

He said, “There is an emerging culture of corruption that does not frown at illicit acquisition of wealth but the good news is that government has not folded its arms.”

Ogbu, who is Head of Institute for Development Studies at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, called on anti-corruption agencies to beam their searchlights on the political sector.

He argued that endemic corruption in the political sector had denied Nigerians quality governance.

“There is corruption in the recruitment of political office holders. The mandate of the masses is distorted to suit a few, thereby, denying society the benefits that arise from government institutions.

“Students only protest that they are not awarded good grades but I will also like to see the day they will protest that they have not been taught by their lecturers.” he said.

Ogbu noted that role of the anti-corruption agencies had been made more complicated by poor parenting.

According to him, when parents give their children advantages inconsistent with public order, corruption will rise and be transmitted to their generation.

He said, “The major challenges anti-corruption agencies face are loss of values and patriotism by most people. We need to raise the level of patriotism of citizens and give them a stake in the country and in the future.

“I submit that the Federal Government needs to establish a National Commission on Integration as a uniting factor that prioritises honest and upright behaviour.

“When we see ourselves as one nation, people will not steal and scramble to have undue advantages over others.”

Also speaking, South-East Zonal Commissioner of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Hassan Mohamed, said that the commission had developed strategies for enforcement of its mandate.

“The recent interim seizures of assets under the Federal Government’s defunct Sure-P initiative and from some retired directors are some of our immediate and sustainable strategy of denying beneficiaries the proceeds of corrupt practices.” he said.

Mohammed said the ICPC would continue to develop and enforce relevant anti-corruption policies in all sectors for sustainable growth and transparency.

IG pledges to check extra judicial killings

By News Desk

The Inspector-General of Police, (IGP) Ibrahim Idris has promised to check extra judicial killings by police personnel in the country, just as he pledged that such cases would be investigated.

Idris made the pledge on Wednesday when he received Association of Eze Ndi Igbo (Igbo traditional leaders in diaspora) in his office in Abuja.

It was gathered that the association comprised all Igbo traditional leaders resident in 31 states of the country outside South East region.

Idris said the present administration is prioritising safety of all Nigerians, hence need to do the needful to achieve desired goal.

“I promise you that you will not experience extra judicial killings in your various areas.  We will do everything possible to support the association by investigating all cases of extra judicial killings,” he said.

The IGP urged members of the association to continue to give support to the police in their various communities for better service delivery.

Idris noted that no police all over the world can succeed without partnership with members of communities, adding that the administration takes seriously issue of partnership.

Earlier, President-General of the association, Dr Boniface Ibekwe called for increased police presence in states where their members lived.

“We solicit for increased police security in states where extra judicial killings involving our people happened recently, with a view to forestall future occurrence,’’ he said.

Ibekwe assured the IG of the association’s continuous cooperation with commissioners of police in their respective states.

He said that the formation of eminent persons forum by the police has enhanced operations of personnel at the various commands.

The president commended the IG for his initiative for putting in place police and community relations strategy for effective policing in the country.

The association comprised all Igbo traditional leaders resident in the 31 states of the country outside the South East region.

 

 

 

 

FG deploys medical specialists to Akwa Ibom over church’s collapse

By News Desk

The team of medical specialists deployed to Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state capital by health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole to complement efforts of medical personnel already on ground has arrived University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, (UUTH).

Speaking with reporters on arrival at UUTH, leader of the 10 man team and a consultant orthopedic Surgeon from University of Lagos, Prof. Suleiman Giwa, said that FG emergency team was put together by the Health Minister to offer necessary assistance and support needed for victims of the collapsed church building.

He disclosed that the team consists of two Neuro Surgeons, three Orthopaedic Surgeons, three Plastic Surgeons and two specially trained Operating room Nurses.

His words: “The unfortunate incident as you are aware did not affect only the people of Akwa Ibom but all Nigerians and the Health Minister in his wisdom raised a team of medical experts to come to Uyo and render a helping hands and bring succor to the weak, the sick and those who are in dare need of complicated surgery.”

Prof. Giwa said that team would visit all the hospitals where the victims of the tragedy were admitted and also examine them and offer useful medical suggestions where necessary to ensure that those who are sick get back to their normal life.

Giwa said: “As we are here in Akwa Ibom, we did not come empty handed we came with drugs and other medical supports to make our coming easier, and we are prepared for the task ahead.

“We have visited the University Teaching Hospital and we are now at the Ibom specialist Hospital, so far most of the patients we saw are responding to treatment which is gladdening”.

On his part, UUTH’s Chief Medical Director, Prof. Etete Peters thanked the Federal Government delegation for coming to Akwa Ibom at most appropriate time and not leaving the state alone in time of sorrow.

 

 

Prosecutor’s lateness stalls ex-Abia governor, other’s alleged N3.2bn fraud trial

By Aina Amune

Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday fixed hearing of trial of former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, his former aide, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, to March 6 2017, over alleged N3.2 billion fraud.

The trial which was scheduled for yesterday could not go on following lateness of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuting counsel Adebisi Adeniyi.

The EFCC had re-arraigned Kalu, his former Aide, Udeh Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on an amended 34-count charge, before the court over the offence which they pleaded not guilty to.

At the resumed hearing of the case, on Tuesday, lawyers to Kalu and his former Aide and Company, Awa Kalu and Solomon Akumah, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), informed the court of their readiness to go on with the trial of the case but expressed dismay at absence of the EFCC Lawyer, Adeniyi Adebisi, whom they said failed to inform either the court or the defence of his absence.

They specifically told the court that since the defendants were charged to court about nine years ago, they have been ready to face trial, adding that the prosecution didn’t call or give them any explanation for to appearing before the court to start the trial.

Consequently, they urged the court to dismiss the case against their clients, for lack of diligent prosecution.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Idris, after listening to the defence counsel submissions to dismiss the charge against the defendants stated that for the interest of justice he would adjourn the case one more time to enable the prosecution start trial.

Justice Idris cited sections 351(1) and 351(2) of Administration of the Criminal Justice (ACJA), which empowered the court to strike out a case if no reasonable excuse is given before the court for the prosecutor’s absence, said that the court will use its discretion to give the prosecution a last adjournment.

While in the process of adjourning the matter the EFCC’s counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi, entered the court and apologised for coming late, stating that he was held up in traffic and that he had gone to the office with the hope to come with a witness who is a bank staff for the trial whom he was assured would be available but that he was later informed that the witness was no longer available for the trial.

Upon the agreement of both parties, the matter was adjourned till March 6 to 10, and April 10 to 13, 2017, for trial.

Kalu and other accused persons were alleged to have allegedly diverted about N3.2 billion from Abia State Government’s treasury between 2001 and 2005.

 

 

Obasanjo lauds Obaseki’s policies, programmes

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and business man, Capt. Hosa Okubor on Tuesday paid courtesy visit to Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki at Government house, Benin.

In a statement by Obaseki’s Chief Press Secretary, Jon Mayaki, Obasanjo was in the government house to give his blessings to Obaseki, his policies and programmes, especially in area of industrialization, job and wealth creation.

The statement said Obasanjo and Okunbor had visited Wells Sam Carlos Farm within Benin metropolis along Sapele Road bye-pass before calling on Obaseki.

According to the statement, Obasanjo while speaking with reporters said he was in the state just to greet the governor and check on his well-being.

When probed further by the reporters, Obasanjo maintained that “I have come to visit the Governor and the Governor has accepted my visit.”

He added in pidgin parlance “I say, I come greet Governor, I come salute Governor and Governor don pick my salute.”

It would be recalled that Capt. Okunbor had recently started a multi-billion naira agro-allied business in the State in partnership with a Mexican firm, Wells Sam Carlos Farm worth $750million (about N150 billion).

The farm, designed to create 85,000 jobs in the State, would provide 25,000 direct jobs and 60,000 indirect jobs.

 

Obaseki pledges to strengthen local industries

By News desk

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has said his government would develop an industrial hub which would focus on agro business value chain, and provide about 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths in the state.

Obaseki made the declaration while receiving Board and Management of Benin Electricity Distribution (BEDC) led by its Chairman,Victor Osibodu and Managing Director/CEO, Funke Osibodu in Benin recently.

He reiterated his resolve to achieve economic prosperity for Edo State by attracting private capital into all states owned enterprises and creates 200,000 new jobs in four years, saying role of BEDC in this regards as power provider was critical.

The governor however reaffirmed his government’s focus on leveraging on comparative advantages and key factor endowments in production and commerce, stressing that the partnership with BEDC as a service provider in area of electricity would assist his administration optimize job creation potentials.

Earlier in her presentation, Managing Director/ CEO, BEDC, Funke Osibodu had solicited for partnership from Edo State government on power improvement and in enumeration process.

Osibodu who disclosed that about 50 per cent of energy supplied to customers in Edo-State was not paid for, sought for the government’s assistance in criminalization of energy theft and fast-tracking prosecution of offenders, through set-up of specialized courts for power sector offences.

She told Obaseki that Edo State has highest number of customers with pre-paid meters in the country and enjoys average of 12 hours power availability per day- one of highest in the country.

Speaking on YongXing Power Steel Company, Osibodu said the outfit enjoyed preference in terms of power supply because the company realizes economic growth importance to the state development.

“We realize its importance to the economic growth and development of the state particularly in the area of job creation, despite protests and agitation from the public that BEDC is diverting power to the company.”

“During the last tariff review, we had also taken the above factors into consideration and seek to make its product competitive among its peers. We offered the lowest tariff to its customer categories compared to other DISCOS with the presence of major steel factories like Ikeja, Ibadan,” she stated.