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2018: Ekweremadu Assures On Constitution Amendment …As Dogara Tasks Buhari On Policies, Projects

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The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has assured Nigerians of early conclusion of the ongoing Constitution Amendment exercise to enhance better governance in the country.
Ekweremadu made this known in his New Year message to Nigerians as he noted that the Constitution Alteration Bills currently before the State Houses of Assembly were very critical to the nation’s development and therefore urged the State legislators to uphold national interest and follow their conscience by accelerating all actions on the bills
According to a statement by Ekweremadu signed by his Special Adviser on Media , Uche Anichukwu, among the bills before the state Assemblies are bills capable of instituting saving culture by the government for the rainy day as the bills would ensure compulsory saving of 10% of revenues in the account for at least a five year period without any withdrawal from it.
The statement reads in part “Currently before the State Assemblies are bills for compulsory saving of 10 per cent of revenues paid into the Federation Account and which must not be tampered with for at least five years in order to build a saving culture for rainy days, reduction of the period within which a President or Governor may authorise the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in absence of an Appropriation Act or budget from six to three months, a uniform tenure of three years for local government councils, financial autonomy for State Assemblies as well as abrogation of State Joint State Local Government Account and establishment of a Consolidated State Revenue Fund from which the Assemblies and local governments would directly access their funds.
Ekweremadu also stated that the Bill for the reduction of the age qualification for the post of the President of the federation from 40 years to 35 is also among the bills at the State Assemblies
“Others include a 30-day timeframe from the day of inauguration within which the President or Governor must submit the names of ministerial or commissioner nominees to the National Assembly or State Assemblies along with their proposed portfolios, independent candidacy, reduction of age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 35 years, reduction of the age qualification for the offices of House of Representatives and State Assembly from 35 to 25, and setting a timeframe for the determination of pre-election matters, among other critical electoral reforms
“We also transmitted to the State Assemblies bills for the establishment of the office of the Accountant-General of the Federal Government separate from office of the Accountant-General of the Federation as well as amendments to grant financial autonomy to the offices of the Auditor-General of the Federation and Auditor-General of the States by placing them on first-line charge of the Consolidated Revenue funds of the Federation and of the States, respectively”, he said .
Ekweremadu also noted that some of the bills are to cater for proposed amendments on judicial reforms, already passed by the National Assembly,
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Yakubu Dogara has reiterated the need for the Federal Government to attend to needs that have direct bearing on the lives of Nigerians.
A statement issued yesterday by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan quotes Dogara as saying that “2018 presents an opportunity for stock taking.
“And a strong resolve to sustain the gains of Nigeria’s exit from economic recession.
“Improvement of the economy, security and welfare of Nigerians must remain our priority in the New Year.
“Although employment generation and wealth creation remain priorities of our All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration, it is imperative for us to create more employment opportunities for the youth and women in order to underscore our drive for economic recovery and growth’’.
Dogara added, “we should also endeavour to attend to those needs that have direct bearing on the lives of the people and dire consequences on our nation, as democracy cannot succeed where poverty thrives.
“On our part in the House of Representatives, we will continue to pass laws that will better the lives of Nigerians, create conducive business environment for investments and secure the lives and properties of Nigerians.’’
The speaker, who commended the resilience and determination of Nigerians in the midst of daunting challenges, expressed optimism that better days were ahead.
He urged Nigerians to renew their commitment to sustain the nation’s unity and progress in 2018 and also draw from the lessons of 2017 to strengthen the bonds of unity, solidarity and peace.
Dogara further urged Nigerians to continue to demonstrate love and exhibit compassion toward one another by extending hands of support to the less privileged as well as vulnerable members of the society.
“As a people, we must continue to imbibe the spirit of togetherness and love for one another.
“We must also support government at all levels by contributing our quota in the generation of wealth and alleviation of poverty in the land,” he said.

 

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi

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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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