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Fight Corruption, Labour Urges FG

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As Nigeria celebrates its 15 years of democratic rule, labour movements have called on the Federal Government to fight corruption to a standstill.
A cross section of the labour leaders who spoke to the newsmen said that for democracy to strive in the country, corruption must be reduced to the barest minimum.
The President General, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Malam Bobboi Kaigama, said that for democracy to have meaning, governments must weed out corrupt officials.
He said that the activities of the corrupt officials did not allow the campaign to “hold water”.
“ As we mark another democracy, it is our desire and advice as a congress to government that the fight against corruption must be total.
“The belief out there is that democracy in this country gives opportunity for people to steal, particularly politicians.
“Everyone just does what he wants without blinking of an eye, even as government officials loot the treasury without thinking of the consequences.’’
Similarly, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE),  Malam Ibrahim Khaleel said that corruption was the most critical factor stalling economic and political development of Nigeria.
He said that the government must use the period of the celebration to put everything in place in order to clean Nigeria’s image from being among the world’s most corrupt nations.
He said that government must ensure that the nation’s resources that usually ended up in the hands of few were recovered and put back into the national treasury.
“Stealing from the people is the same as corruption.
“However, we want our government to educate government officials and the people in authority that when they steal from us, they steal from the generation unborn too.
“We plead with government to take a stand on this through this celebration to show the world that we have a government who is ready to fight corruption.’’
National President, Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees (NUPTE),  Mr. Sunday Alhassan said that Nigerian leaders in the last 20 to 30 years had said a lot about fighting corruption without results.
He said that serious efforts must be put in place to address the real causes of corruption.
He added that without proper diagnosis of the causes of corruption, trying to fight it was akin to treating symptoms instead of treating the disease itself.
“ Until we address the causes of corruption in this country, we may not be able to tackle it,’’ Alhassan said.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers in the National Assembly, have described Nigeria’s 15 years of uninterrupted democracy as a ‘significant milestone’ in the life of the nation.
They also re-affirmed their determination to pursue ‘aggressive’ legislative agenda to reposition the legislature as a key branch of government.
The lawmakers said this yesterday in Abuja in separate interviews with  newsmento mark the 2014 Democracy Day.
Senate Minority Whip, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon (APC- Lagos), said that although Nigeria had achieved tremendous growth in the last 15 years of democracy, a lot more could still be achieved.
“We have witnessed some political development and political growth.
“If you are talking of democracy as participatory governance as against other forms of government, I think we have achieved some development.
“We have had four elections even at a time when we thought it was going to tear the country apart, we still held ourselves.
“By and large, we have achieved quite a number of successes as far as democracy is concerned.
“But relating that to economic development and the living standard of the populace, we still have a very long way to go and they must go hand in hand,” Solomon said.
Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri (PDP Bayelsa) asserted that the country was better off under democracy, adding that the worst democracy was better than the best dictatorship.
Lokpobiri, who described democracy as ‘a very slow journey,’ however expressed confidence that the country was making progress under democratic governance.
“We are making progress, for instance in the issue of human rights. A lot of Nigerians enjoy their fundamental human right particularly under president Jonathan.
“It is also only in a democracy that you can constuctively or destructively criticise any government or anybody.
“It is only in a democracy that you can hold your leaders accountable.
“I believe that Nigeria’s parliament is the most active in the world given our age; you don’t expect us to attain the same level of perfection as the older democracies like America which is over 200 years, ours is just 15,’’ he said.
Sen. Robert Boroffice (APC-Ondo) said that though the Nigerians were not enjoying democractic dividends as expected, it was better to practice democracy than military dictatorship.
He said: “It depends on the way you see it, but as it is said, the worse democracy is better than the best dictatorship.
“I think so far so good, we are enjoying our freedom. The dividends of democracy may not be coming as we expect and we know why it is so.
“This largely is because of the problem of corruption in the society, impunity on the part of government in some decisions taken which contradict the principles of democracy because there is no accountability.”
Rep. Farouk Lawan (PDP-Kano) said that Nigeria had recorded ‘noticeable and laudable’ achievements since the return of democracy to the country 15 years ago.
He said that Nigerians were now free to exercise their fundamental human right which was not the case under military government.
He said that the country also made ‘remarkable’ achievements in the last 15 years of democracy.
“In election matters, there has been noticeable improvement. We made improvements in 2007, there were improvements in 2011 and I expect that by 2015 they would be improvements,’’ he said.
Rep Innocent Tirsel (PDP-Plateau) said the country had benefitted from the dividends under civilian rule.
He cited rehabilitation of roads, the on-going resuscitation of railways and improvement in the power sector as some of the gains of democracy.
Rep. Ossai Ossai (PDP-Delta) said that developments recorded under the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration were some of the dividends of democracy.
However, the Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos) did not share these sentiments saying “there is nothing to celebrate in 15 years of democratic rule.
“I don’t think that we have anything to celebrate.
“I said this in 2013, I said it even the year before. God has given us so much and we acting like toddlers; so why would you celebrate stunted growth when you have all the potentials.
“We can mark our democracy day but we shouldn’t be elebrating; there is a difference between marking and celebrating.
“You celebrate something when you are happy; when you are grateful, you mark something on the calendar, so that is what we should be doing.
“We should be marking our democracy day not celebrating it,” Gbajabiamila said.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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