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Bille Deserted As Army Invades Community …IYC, Others Condemn Action

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Tuoma and Oruoma communities in Bille Kingdom, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, have been deserted following the alleged invasion of the communities by members of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF).
Consequently, the communities have called on the Rivers State Government to intervene to save the people from total extermination.
Speaking with The Tide, last Monday, the Secretary of Tuoma Community, Opiriyagbo Oferi Isaac said that, at least, 20 buildings in the community were razed by the JTF during the operation.
Isaac appealed to the Rivers State Government and the Army High Command to intervene and save the people of the community.
“The Nigerian Army invaded my community and also set ablaze some buildings following sporadic gun shots. There were a lot of casualties; some of them are still missing in the bush. Some have been taken to the nearby hospital in Bille for first aid treatment.
“The leadership of the community has not been told the reason for the invasion. We are now calling on the state government and the Army authorities, in charge of the JTF to call them to order and also to free the sea route for the Bille people and their satellite communities,” Isaac appealed.
In his reaction, the Chairman, Bille Kingdom Community Development Committee, Asatubo Igbanibo Kemuel, said that the soldiers impounded seven passenger boats plying the Bille waterways for about nine hours.
Kemuel confirmed that one person sustained several bullet injuries while others had fled the community to unknown locations.
“The soldiers came in several gunboats and other speedboats numbering about eight and raided Touma community, burning down houses and destroying a lot of property worth several millions of Naira.
“Residents of Touma community were forced to flee for safety, and at present, many persons are reported missing.
“One person, Mr Profit Joseph, a resident of Touma community, sustained severe injuries as a result of gunshots by the Army,” Kemuel said.
However, in a statement jointly signed by the President, Bille Kingdom Youth Council, Obirabi Sylvanus and the CDC Chairman, Asatubo Kemuel, the community lamented that the action of the soldiers may not be unconnected with last week’s attack on an Army House Boat by yet-to-be-identified persons.
The Tide investigation revealed that residents of both communities, most of whom are fisher folks, have since the military operation, been denied access to their only sources of livelihood, thereby triggering untold hardship and starvation in the communities.
Some of the people, who were scheduled to travel to Port Harcourt for one business transaction or the other, were also denied the opportunity to meet their desired needs, thereby making it impossible for them to realise their dreams of achieving economic prosperity and empowerment.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has condemned the JTF invasion of Tuoma and Oruoma communities in Degema LGA, saying that the suspected reprisal attacks were unnecessary.
In its reaction to the attacks, National Treasurer, IYC, Luckyman Agiela, said that several people have been displaced and others missing since last Monday when the soldiers invaded the two communities and shot sporadically.
“As I am talking to you now, some persons are still in the bush, a lot of people are still missing. Yesterday, movement along the Bille waterways was suspended. They did not allow any boat to and from Bille for the whole day.
“As a result, economic activities were shut down. They left Tuoma community and went to Oruoma community, and did the same thing,” Agiela noted.
However, in his remarks, the spokesperson, IYC Worldwide, Daniel Dasimaka, condemned the action of the militants who had earlier attacked the military personnel in the area.
“IYC as the national body, we want to condemn, in its totality, the attack on the military by hoodlums. We understand that they attacked the House Boat belonging to JTF, carted away some arms and killed some military personnel. We cannot take side evil and criminality, so, we condemn the action of the militants, and call on the security agencies to ensure that the culprits are arrested and brought to book.
“We also condemn this act of the military. We expected the military to act professionally instead of displaying acts that suggest they are also militants,” Dasimaka added.
The Nigerian Army, while confirming the Army operation in Tuoma and Oruoma in Bille Kingdom, urged the public to avoid attacking soldiers deployed to protect innocent citizens.
The Army’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Aliyu Iliasu, condemned the allegation of military invasion of the communities, saying that the soldiers were in the communities on official security operations to checkmate any untoward acts by hoodlums in the area.
The Army spokesman, however, said he would give details of the alleged operations in Tuoma and Oruoma communities, and cautioned people against mistaking military operations as acts of invasion.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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World Bank To Fund $30bn Projects In Nigeria, Others

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The World Bank has said it is set to disburse a total of $30billion to fund existing and new projects in Nigeria and other countries as part of a global response to combat the ongoing food security crisis.
According to the bank, it is working with countries on a $12billion new projects fund for the next 15 months.
It said the projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects.
It added that most of the funds would go to Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.
The global bank disclosed this when it announced how it plans to be part of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing food security crisis.
It stated that it intends to roll out this fund in existing and new projects in agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.
It said, “This financing will include efforts to encourage food and fertiliser production, enhance food systems, facilitate greater trade, and support vulnerable households and producers.”
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said, “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”
The bank added that its current existing portfolio includes balances of $18.7billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.
It stated, “Altogether, this would amount to over $30billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”

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FG Postpones FAAC Meeting Over AGF’s N80bn Probe

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The Federal Government has announced the postponement of May, 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The sudden postponement may not be unconnected with the ongoing investigation of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged fraud to the tune of N80billion.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly meeting where the federation allocates monthly revenue among the three tiers of government.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled to hold virtually between May 18 and 19, 2022.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said this in a letter signed by Director, Home Finance,Stephen Okon.
The ministry said the meeting was postponed due to “certain circumstances.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federation Account/Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings earlier scheduled to hold/virtually on the 18th and 19th May, 2022 have been postponed due to/certain circumstances,” the circular reads.
“In view of the foregoing, I am to further inform you that the new date for the meetings will be forwarded to you in due course.
“While we regret the inconveniences this change might cause you, please accept the assurances of the Minister’s warm regards,” the letter read in part.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Monday arrested and detained Idris over an alleged N80billion fraud.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced indefinite suspension of Idris, last Wednesday.
Ahmed said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

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Nigerian Out-Of-School Children Hit 18.5m

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Nigeria has 18.5million out-of-school children (OSC), the highest number in the world, and out of the figure, 10million are girls, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on ‘Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP 3’, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and implemented by UNICEF.
“For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country. Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), said 50per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture”Farah said.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamid Bobboyi, said this in Abuja at a one-day civil society organisations’ CSO-Legislative Roundtable Meeting where some National and State Houses of Assembly members were present.
According to him, emerging constraints in basic education delivery in the country may necessitate an increase in the consolidated revenue funds from the current two per cent to four per cent.
He buttressed his position for an increase in funding on the security challenges bedevilling the country, insisting that rising student population also poses urgent need for teaching facilities.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Basic Education, represented by Senator Frank Ibezim, decried the failure of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), to sustain some UBEC-initiated projects such as classrooms and libraries earlier introduced by the commission in all constituencies in the country.
While commending UBEC over the construction of classrooms in schools across the country, he lamented the poor maintenance culture, noting that there is no school in the country that does not have a dilapidated block.
A representative of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaoye, called on stakeholders to review the impact of the country’s annual budget on education, stressing that it was not enough that the country is increasing its budget to the sector.
“As we think about reforms, let us think beyond buildings that have been delivered, let us start thinking about how many children have been brought to school,” he said.
“If classrooms are dilapidated, and there are not enough furniture, what about teachers and the quality of the ones available? The Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said there are over 300,000 unqualified teachers in the system.
“Education is very important to be left in the hands of quacks and that is why at TRCN, we are stepping up efforts at ridding the system of unqualified hands. We implore teachers and their employers to take advantage of the various windows TRCN is providing to improve the quality of teachers in the country so as to get better results from our education system,” he said.
For the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Mike Ene, there is need for better funding of the education sector.
He noted that in many states, teachers are overwhelmed by the number of pupils and students they handle.
“In so many states, there is inadequacy of teachers. Some states have not recruited teachers in the last 10 years and yearly, teachers are leaving the system through retirement, resignation or even death. Worse hit by poor staffing are schools in the rural areas. Such schools are called hard-to-staff schools.”
It is in that regard that the welfare packages announced by the Federal Government are very much necessary,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some state governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.
“Some states are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.
“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.

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