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CSO Wants Kaduna Budget To Address Poverty, Inequality

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The Budget Research and Development Policy Advocacy Centre, a civil society organisation, has called on the Kaduna State Government to work toward addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality in its 2020 budget.
Its Executive Director, Dr Elisha Auta, made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Kaduna, while reacting to the state’s 2020 budget processes.
According to him, if budget cannot reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality issues, then the budget process becomes merely an academic exercise.
“The government have been executing projects outlined in the state budget for the past four years and we have not seen much in terms of how it has affected the lives of the commonman.
“The state government said in its Development Plant 2016 to 2020, that when it took power in 2015, the absolute poverty rate in the state is 60 per cent.
“This is four years ago, and we still have no idea where we have moved in terms of reducing poverty and creating jobs.
“Therefore, as the state prepares yet another budget for year 2020, we want to see how the budget is performing in terms of reducing poverty and in terms of creating jobs to reduce unemployment.
“We also want to see how the budget is reducing inequality gap.”
Auta, who is also a lecturer in Economics Department, Kaduna State University, noted that the concern of the government should be delivering jobs and ensuring social security.
He added that this could only be achieved through good governance, transparency and accountability.
“We need to know how the budget is performing, not in terms of how much was spent, but how it is impacting on the lives of the people.
“Some people see the budget as an economic document, while others view it as a political document.
“But in reality, there is a political and the economic aspects of the budget and one must not overshadow the other.
“If the government allow the political aspect of the budget to dominate the economic aspect, then we will not get anything substantial in terms of economic growth and development.
“Because it is these economic growth and development that will impact on the lives of the people,” Auta added.

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Presidential Broadcast: Don Urges FG To Look Beyond COVID-19

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Dr Elisha Auta of Economics Department, Kaduna State University (KASU), has advised the Federal Government not to limit interventions on curbing the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, but also focus on the aftermath.
Auta gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Kaduna while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast on Covid-19 Pandemic last Sunday.
He noted that the broadcast, which was long awaited with high expectation by Nigerians addressed critical issues, particularly the current situation and what was being done to bring the pandemic under control.
He added that the broadcast also explained what government institutions and agencies were doing towards cushioning the effect of the current lockdown across the country, to curb the spread of the virus.
Auta, who is also the Executive Director, Budget Research and Development Policy Advocacy Centre, however, said that not much was said about efforts to keep the economy floating after the pandemic may have been addressed.
According to him, the Federal Government needed to assure the public that it was not only looking at curbing spread of the virus, but also putting measures in place to sustain the economy.
“The global economy is already in a recession following the devastating effect of the Covid-19, with most developed countries facing serious economic crises.
“As such, if we only focus on the pandemic without looking at the bigger picture, we will find ourselves in a much bigger problem, following the already crumbling economy with dire consequences on the poor.
“There is, therefore, the need to have a marshal plan, a critical stimuli to lift the economy, otherwise a bigger crisis will emerge after the pandemic has been brought under control.
“The government needs to mobilise effective and efficient hands to address not only the pandemic, but also the consequences it will have on the citizen’s ability to feed and access basic needs of life,” he said.
The economist also lauded the government palliative measures but noted that there was nothing new except keeping existing social investments afloat during the lockdown.
He stressed the need for specific palliative measure, targeting the poor and other vulnerable persons across the country.
“This is very important because the current financial palliatives either target corporate institutions, or individual that operate in the formal sector, while majority of Nigerians operate in the informal sector.
“Also, how many Nigerians, for example are benefiting from the conditional cash transfer, TraderMoni, MarketMoni or FarmersMoni social investment programmes?
“Even for those that are benefiting, how much is the amount? The Federal Government needs to be aware of the heavy shocks and hash economic condition that the population will be faced with.
“I, therefore, advise that the palliative measures should not be limited to existing social investment programmes, but nationwide, targeting the poor and the vulnerable in our communities who will be largely affected,” Auta said.

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Enugu Denies Reports Associating Minister, Aide With COVID-19

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Enugu State Ministry of Health has debunked reports trending on social media that the two cases in the state that tested positive for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Geoffrey Onyeama and his Personal Assistant.
In a statement by the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi, the state government stated that the claims are untrue, fictitious and baseless as well as the handiwork of mischief makers who want to dent the image of the Minister.
Dr. Agujiobi maintained that the two positive cases of COVID-19 are returnees from United Kingdom (UK) and are currently on Isolation, doing very well.
He clarified that the patients are husband and wife from Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of the state, adding that the state Ministry of Health is currently conducting line listing and contact tracing of all those linked with the couple in the state.
The clarifications came as the state government took delivery of two additional ambulances and one incident vehicle it purchased to support the state’s response to the Coronavirus Disease pandemic.
According to Agujiobi, “Suffice it to say that Geoffrey Onyeama and his Personal Assistant are not the two cases of COVID-19, recently reported in Enugu.
“We hereby enjoin the general public to disregard any information on COVID-19 in Enugu State that does not emanate from the state government through the State Ministry of Health or Information. Let us be well guided”.

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Obiano In Self Quarantine

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The Anambra State Government has confirmed that the Governor of the State, Chief Willie Obiano has gone into self-quarantine.
The Secretary to the State Sovernment, SSG, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu and the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr Primus Odili gave the confirmation in a joint press briefing, yesterday in Awka.
The officials said the Governor has been in self-quarantine since 11 days, and has not shown any sign of the disease.
“The governor was at the NEC meeting last Thursday, and you know how the sitting arrangement is, after the Anambra State governor, you get the Bauchi State governor, who has announced his status recently.
“But if you are aware of the sitting arrangement during the meeting, you will find out that they usually observe social distancing. That you are in a hall with a man who has the disease does not mean that you can be infected.
“The governor is a very enlightened person, and because he knows he has been in a meeting with such Calibre of people, he decided to go into self-quarantine.
“Obiano is on self-quarantine. I have not seen him for the past one week, and we only talk on phone. We had two hours meeting yesterday (Sunday) using zoom. There are no fears about his health at all,” the officials said.
They also appealed to individuals and corperate organisations to donate to the state government to keep fighting the virus.
They said about N1 billion had already been spent to procure personal preventive equipment (PPE).

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