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Senate Warns Against Sale Of N’ Theatre, Tafawa Belewa Square …Summons IGP Over Killings …As Dariye Co-Sponsors Motion From Prison

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The Senate has reaffirmed its commitment to the non-sale of the National Theatre, Tafawa Balewa Square and other national monuments. This is sequel to the adoption of the report of its Committee on Culture and Tourism at plenary, yesterday.
Presenting the report, the chairman of the committee, Sen. Fatimat Raji-Rasaki said the committee was instructed to examine monuments across the country and report back.
According to her, the committee traveled to Lagos and other parts of the country to assess the monuments and recommends that, given their historic and monetary value, they should not be disposed of.
The chairman further said the committee came to a conclusion that some other monuments, which were hitherto not recognised as national monuments should be given that status.
“Senate debated motion on proposed sale of the National Theatre and Tafawa Balewa Square and mandated the committee to work on it and report to back. “This followed the motion I moved on December 20, 2017 on Federal Government’s plan to sell the monuments.
“The Tafawa Balewa Square was instrumental to our history and the National Theatre was built for all blacks gathered to gather to celebrate the uniqueness of the black race. “The committee traveled to all the locations of all the monuments across the country and has concluded work on 32 edifices. Eight natural sites and four technological edifices,” she said.
Contributing, Senator Shehu Sani (PRP-Kaduna), said the monuments were important to Nigeria’s history and should not be sold off.
He added that selling them off would be a great mistake as the historic identity attached to them would be erased, while generations to come would not have any sense of Nigeria’s history. “When we travel to other countries we visit historic monuments, and adding to revenue generation in those countries.
“It therefore behooves on us to keep ours for visitors to have where visit and for generations unborn to have a sense of our history. “I visited Benin Republic monuments and the Slave Castle in Ghana among other countries and I saw how much they generate from them,”he said.
The lawmaker urged parents to take their wards to historic places to teach them the country’s history rather than just visiting eateries and amusement parks.
He advocated that rather than selling them, the country should find a way of funding and maintaining them. Senator Yusuf Yusuf (APC-Taraba) said since the position of the senate is not to sell them, workable strategies needed to be evolved to manage them properly.
“Selling may not be the best option but what do we do. I hear the square is under concession but is not well managed,” he said. In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, said the monuments should be maintained rather than being sold off. “We need to maintain them and try a structured concession.
There is no gainsaying the fact that monuments that should be maintained to be part of our history. “Some other ones should be identified in the course of time and as we evolve as a country to be named as national monuments,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate has summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to appear before the upper chamber and brief it on increasing spate of killings in different parts of the country.
This followed a 10-prayer motion by Senator Shehu Sani at plenary, yesterday.
The bill titled, “Senseless Killing of a Briton and Abduction of Three Others in a Holiday Resort in Kaduna State by Bandits” was co-sponsored by all other lawmakers.
The Senate also urged security agencies to immediately deploy drones and interceptors in tracking kidnappers that were asking for ransom.
It equally urged the Federal Government to set up an inter-agency task force to tackle cases of banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger States.
Furthermore, the Upper Chamber urged security agencies to give special cover to foreign workers and tourists.
It also urged telecommunication companies to provide security agencies with information in areas where kidnappings were taking place.
Presenting the motion, Sani expressed concern over the spate of killings
Contributing, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said the creation of state police was one of the major solutions to cases of killings in the country.
He further urged kidnap victims to open up on the hideouts and activities of kidnappers, to assist security agencies in arresting them.
“Kidnap victims should learn to open up and narrate their ordeal so that their hideouts can be traced.
“For instance, some people were kidnapped some time ago and one of them was a customs officer.
“They manhandled him more than their other captors and the ransom demanded from him was more than that of others.
“As they kept beating him, a lady advised him to pretend to be a fake customs officer and that was how they brought down the ransom from N10 million.
“From what has happened to the Briton it is time we tackle this menace. It is becoming an embarrassment to the country, so, if it means declaring an emergency it is necessary.
“We need to declare a national state of emergency to enable the government put in place measures to end this problem.”
Sen. Joshua Lidani (PDP-Gombe) said the development if not addressed as soon as possible would greatly affect tourism and investment, among others.
He said, “It has become a routine to observe a minute silence and it is disheartening.
“The implication of the spate of killings in the country is enormous. It affects tourism as countries might begin to warn their nationals against coming to Nigeria.
“Every day we are inundated with reports on killing and kidnapping; in fact, armed robbery is no longer in vogue. If not tackled we will not have an investment in this country.
“Nigeria is becoming a killing field and this will have an effect on investment and tourism. We need to do something drastic, something unusual that we have not done before.
“We need to mobilise the military to those areas and we should not be shy of asking for help, “he said.
Sen. Babba Kaita (APC-Katsina) called for specific suggestions on how to tackle the problem.
He said it was a collective fight that must not be left for the Executive alone.
The lawmaker said, “We should marshal out plans from the chambers of this Senate to secure this country.”
The Deputy Minority Whip, Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha also called for the creation of state police.
He also called for synergy between the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) vigilance groups and locals of affected states, adding that such move would drastically reduce the menace.
“We also need massive military deployment to these flashpoints, as well as come up with capital punishments for these crimes.”
Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC-Zamfara) said, “The North is at war. Unless something is done, I am afraid that in the next two to three years, the situation might be out of control.
“This has become a business because there is technically no business in the north. The way forward is to fight corruption and set standards.”
Senator Andrew Uchendu (APC-Rivers) said the major reason for the menace was the high level of unemployment.
He noted that “until our youth are engaged, this problem will continue”.
“We need to find appropriate economic policies to engage idle hands.”
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said it was time workable solutions were employed to nip the problem in the bud.
‘’When we talk about the way forward, we need to be honest with ourselves because in addressing these issues we need to be frontal on what has led us to where we are today.
“We must look beyond our political parties and see it as a problem that all of us need to address.
“Where there is a fault, we must be bold enough to say where the fault is and where there are sanctions we must be bold as well to say so,” he said.
Saraki expressed optimism that with the new Police boss, the relationship between the National Assembly would improve.
He said, “You have all been in this chamber for one year and noticed that we could not even communicate, converse or engage with the Nigeria Police.
“You were all here when the Head of Police refused to even come before us.
“How can we work together to move things forward because, at the end of the day, we must begin to sit down with those in charge and discuss what we need to do.
On the death of Faye Mooney, the Briton killed in Kaduna recently, the president of the Senate said it was unfortunate.
“Here is a lady that used to work in Iraq and Kosovo and did not die until she came to Nigeria. That does not portray this country in a positive way at all.
“As the Deputy Senate President and Senator Lidani said, there are going to be questions of people coming to invest in a country like this.
On efforts made by the legislature in the past, Saraki said, “If you recollect we invited the heads of security agencies and directed them to submit to us what they need and there was no response till date.
“So, what I think is that we should take it up from here. We should not get discouraged.
“We should go back and review where we are and find a way for our committees to re-engage the heads of our security agencies,” he said.
In another development, the Senate, yesterday, listed Senator Joshua Dariye (Plateau Central), who is currently serving 10-year jail term, as a co-sponsor of a motion on insecurity in Kaduna State and the attendant killings.
Dariye’s name was number 89 on the Order Paper, alongside those of 107 senators who had supported the motion.
At the plenary, yesterday, the upper chamber of the National Assembly considered and adopted the motion entitled, ‘Senseless Killing of a Briton and the Abduction of Three Others in a Holiday Resort in Kaduna State by Armed Bandits.’
The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, sponsored the motion, together with 107 other lawmakers, including Senator Joshua Dariye, who is currently in jail.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had prosecuted Dariye for fraud he committed while he was governor of Plateau State.
Unanimously adopting the motion, the lawmakers resolved to observe a minute’s silence in honour of the departed souls, while urging the security authorities to intensify the search for the perpetrators and bring them to book.
The Senate also urge the Federal Government to set up an inter-agency task force to tackle cases of banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states, while urging security agencies to give special security cover to foreign workers and tourists.
The lawmakers also urged security agencies to “immediately deploy the use of drones and interceptors in tracking kidnappers asking for ransom,” while advising community and traditional rulers and all stakeholders to cooperate with security agencies.
Other resolutions were to “urge telecommunication companies to provide security agencies with information in areas where there are kidnappings; and urge Senate to send a delegation to the British embassy and condole the British Government.”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, made an additional prayer to invite Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adamu Mohammed, to appear before it “next week” and explain the spate of insecurity across Nigeria.
The prayer was unanimously granted.
Moving the motion, Sani condemned the attack on a holiday resort in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, the killing of a 29-year-old Briton, Faye Mooney and another Nigerian, Mr. Mathew Oguche, and the abduction of three others on April 19, 2019.
He said, “The Senate notes with sympathy and total dismay, the wave and spate of armed banditry and kidnappings in most parts of the country, from the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western parts of the country without a formidable and technological approach to fighting the heinous crime.
“In recent times, the attacks on individuals, houses and villages have become one too many, and there is no single person that has been brought to book as a result of the wanton killings; and the so-much-emphasised efforts at combating the crime is not yielding fruitful results.
“The Senate is more worried due to the fact that perpetrators of these heinous activities tend to be gaining more courage to perpetuate their dastardly acts without fear of confrontation due to their acclaimed superior fire power.”
Sani recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, earlier in the year, had ordered senior security chiefs to curb kidnappings in the region when four western tourists – two Americans and two Canadians – were abducted in Kaduna in an ambush in January, which left two of their police escorts dead.
The lawmaker warned that the recurrence of “this banditry where foreigners and tourists are involved may put Nigeria’s diplomatic relationship on the line, thereby raising red flag to other tourists who may wish to visit Nigeria.”
Sani said in parts, “The northern part of Nigeria has become a theatre of killings and kidnappings, especially in states like Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger. Kajuru in Kaduna State is notorious for killings and kidnappings.
“Worthy of concern also is the spate of killings and kidnappings that have found base in Zamfara and Niger states.
“In Munya Local Government Area of Niger State, over 20 housewives were kidnapped; and areas such as Kushaka, Kurebe, Pandogari, Gidigori, Kusherki, Koregi, and Alawa, Kwaki, Bataro, Chikuba, Shafa, Kauri, Zazzaga in Rafi Local Government Area are under serious siege by the kidnappers.
“Other areas under siege include Kakangi, Gayam, Dan Canji, Maganda, Dawari and Kazage. Distinguished colleagues, you will be astonished to hear that the kidnappers had the audacity to write and warn the member representing Birnin Gwari/Giwa in the House of Representatives, Hon. Hassan Adamu Shekara, warning him of his activities, thereby forcing him to evacuate his family from the area.
“Distinguished colleagues, as I present this motion, negotiation is ongoing to pay ransom for the abductees of the Kujuru incident. The abductors had earlier demanded for N60million as ransom.”
However, the Senate has passed the Federal Cooperative Colleges Bill, 2019.
The Bill, titled Senate Bill 418, was read for the third time, yesterday, during the plenary and then passed.
Earlier, Senator Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano North) had presented the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on the National Commission for Colleges of Education Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2019 (SB. 561).
The Senator representing Kaduna Central at the Senate, Shehu Sani, seconded it, and urged the Senate to consider it.
The Senate then dissolved into the Committee of the Whole for the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill; following which the Senate reverted to plenary and reported progress of the Bill.
The National Commission for Colleges of Education Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2019 (SB. 561) was then read for the third time and passed.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, thanked the senators for the conclusion of the Bill, saying “it would provide avenues for young people in the education sector of our economy.”
In the same vein, the Report on the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on the Federal Cooperative Colleges Bill, 2019 (SB. 418) was presented by Senator Barau Jibrin.
It was titled Senate Bill 418.
Senator Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger North) seconded that the Senate should consider the report, following which Jibrin presented the report.
The Senate dissolved into the Committee of the Whole for the clause-by-clause consideration of the Federal Cooperative Colleges Bill, 2019 (SB. 418).
The Bill was also read the third time and passed.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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