President Muhammadu Buhari says “harder times’’ await bandits whose disruptive activities have brought sorrow to Nigerians, kept many away from their means of livelihood, and heightened insecurity in parts of the country.
The President stated this when he received a delegation of Eminent and Respected Citizens of Niger State led by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in State House, Abuja, yesterday.
Buhari maintained that the activities of the bandits had forced many to abandon their farms and homes, adding: “we will now be harder on them.
“I was taken aback by what is happening in the North-West and other parts of the country. During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising.
“It is not ethnicity or religion; rather it is one evil plan against the country.
“We have to be harder on them. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security. If we don’t secure the country, we will not be able to manage the economy properly.’’
He said the onslaught of the bandits had also affected agricultural output in some parts of the country, in spite of the favourable weather for farming, because many farmers were attacked, and others had to stay away for safety.
The President said the poverty level in the country would be significantly controlled by diversifying into agriculture, instead of the heavy reliance on oil, urging more Nigerians to take up agriculture.
Buhari said discovery of oil and gas reserves in Chad Basin, Benue trough and Bida, and some parts of Bauchi and Gombe, would further bolster current efforts to strengthen the Nigerian economy.
He advised leaders in the Niger Delta to “counsel those who blow up pipelines, resulting in spillages that affect farming and farmlands’’, noting that the loss had always been collective, sometimes, and turning hard working farmers to victims.
The eminent and respected persons said they needed to show appreciation to the President for his many interventions on infrastructure, security and appointment of indigenes of the state into key positions of government.
Speaking for the group, the former governor of Niger State, Aliyu Babangida, said activities of bandits had rendered many homeless, while others could no longer go the farms, thanking the President for taking a more decisive action by directing aerial protection by the military.
Babangida called on the President to intervene in completion of some federal roads, like the Mokwa-Birnin Gwari-Kaduna road and Kotongora road.
He also asked for more attention on the Minna airport, which should complement access to the FCT.
In his remarks, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, assured the President of continuous support, praying: “May God give you strength and wisdom to handle the affairs of our great country, Nigeria.’’
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, stated this in his speech to welcome senators from the Christmas and New Year recess.
He reiterated that the security situation in the country required serious attention and due consideration by the Senate, and indeed, the National Assembly.
He said that the Senate would engage the executive arm of government to discuss the implementation of the recently launched National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019.
He added that for a long time major stakeholders in the security of the country and police authorities appeared to achieve consensus on the necessity of introduction of Community Policing in the country.
Lawan said: “Recently, the security in the country had deteriorated and the attendant loss of lives is not acceptable.
“We need to secure the lives and property of our citizens, as enshrined in our Constitution.
“We all are witnesses to how our economy is also affected by the inclement security situation. Therefore, we need to speedily seek for solutions to fix the security problem bedevilling our dear country.
“There is urgent need for paradigm shift and reform of the architecture and structure of our security systems.
“Equally important is the citizen participation, and collaboration in providing security. In this regard, the Senate will engage the Executive arm of government to discuss the implementation of the recently launched National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019.
“For a long time, major stakeholders in the security of our nation and police authorities appear to achieve consensus on the necessity of introduction of Community Policing in the country.
“The Senate is going to pursue the implementation of community policing vigorously.
“To this end, the police authorities will be invited to brief and update the Senate on the progress made so far.”
Lawan stated that pursuant to the Legislative Agenda of the Ninth Senate, the next six months, like the first six months, will be a busy and engaging period to address the challenges facing the oil and gas sector as well as the nation’s electoral system.
He added that the National Assembly needed to start work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) immediately.
“The previous attempts in the sixth, seventh and eighth assembly sessions to pass the bills failed.
“This Senate should learn from the mistakes that militated against the successful passage of the bills.
“We need to break the jinx. We must avoid the pitfalls that worked against the passage of the previous bills,” Lawan said.
According to him, the Petroleum Industry Bill when passed will encourage investments into the oil and gas sector.
He said: “The International Oil Companies (IOCs) have deferred investments in the industry largely due to two decades of fiscal uncertainties occasioned by various failed attempts to deliver on the petroleum industry legislations that practically subsisted since 1967 and disputes associated with fiscal clarity of the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts.
“It is, therefore, imperative to speedily deliver on the reforms in the oil and gas sector to spur economic growth and prosperity for our people.
“It is my belief that when the petroleum industry governance and fiscal laws are delivered, economic uncertainties will be eliminated and conducive environment for exploration and production of oil and gas will be emplaced.”
He said that it is imperative that the National Assembly starts work to effect amendments in those areas of the nation’s electoral processes and procedures that posed some real challenges to free, fair and credible elections in previous elections, and insisted that for elections to express the will of the electorate, “they must be free and fair.”
Lawan said: “The Senate will consult widely with stakeholders to ensure that any legislative intervention reflects the necessary step to reforming the electoral environment.”
He recalled that before the Senate went on recess, it held roundtable discussions on the power, agriculture and solid minerals sectors with the view to identifying the challenges militating against the optimum performance by those sectors.
The Senate president said: “The reports of the discussions are ready and will be presented to the Senate by the appropriate committees.
“The reports will be debated in plenary and necessary resolutions will be taken.
“Ultimately, there will be shared responsibilities between the Legislature and the Executive on the way forward to address the various bottlenecks.”
He stated that it is an incontrovertible fact that the power sector cannot function optimally and thrive under the current circumstances.
He lamented that the anticipated outcome of improvement in effectiveness and efficiency of the privatization process has not been achieved, and doesn’t look feasible.
“Therefore, we have to take all necessary steps to salvage this indispensable sector.
“The ensuing debate on the report of the Roundtable Discussions will no doubt reveal the actions that the Federal Government will need to take,” Lawan said.
He also lamented that the solid minerals sector was neglected after the discovery of oil.
Lawan noted that though there have been attempts to revamp the sector, “it is yet to make any meaningful contribution to our economy.”
He added: “Today, the solid minerals sector accounts for only about 0.3% of our Gross Domestic Product.
“It is obvious that we need to take a holistic look into the challenges in the sector. It has also been reported that, presently, about 80% of mining operators fall into the category of artisanal and small-scale miners.
“This deserves our attention, to ensure inclusion, effective and efficient operations by those involved.”
The Senate President also reminded his colleagues that agriculture played an important and leading role in the nation’s economy before the discovery of oil.
He said: “Prior to the discovery of oil in Nigeria, agriculture was the mainstay of our economy.
“Agriculture was then the highest earner of foreign exchange for the country and Nigeria was also largely self-sufficient in food production.
“However, with the discovery of oil, the lure of petro-dollars turned the focus of the country from agriculture.
“Despite the present efforts of the Federal Government to enhance the performance of the agricultural sector, there is still much to be done to make the sector perform optimally.
“No doubt, the agricultural sector is critical for the diversification of the economy of Nigeria, as we can create jobs, create wealth, earn foreign exchange and ensure food security.
“We therefore, should ensure the restoration of the viability of this sector in order to utilize the abundant potentials and opportunities it offers.
“The challenges and work before us are enormous and indeed urgent.
“But, we have demonstrated patriotism, commitment, capacity and willingness in our previous handling of similar challenges.
“We can, therefore, equally tackle these issues with the same dispatch and commitment.”
However, the immediate past deputy president of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, will soon reintroduce a bill for the creation of state police.
The Media Adviser to the Senator, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, stated this on Political Platform, a RayPower Radio programme, monitored in Abuja, yesterday morning.
Anichukwu said although the Bill, which Ekweremadu sponsored along with about 74 other members of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review in the 8th National Assembly could not progress beyond the first reading, there have been calls for the Bill to be reintroduced in the 9th Assembly.
Anichukwu said, “The senator has been receiving calls from across the country on the need to reintroduce the State Police Bill.
“I think the security realities in the country now are very clear and even among his colleagues, the popular opinion is that the bill should be reintroduced immediately.
“As a matter of fact, I just spoke with the Distinguished Senator this morning and he said plans were underway to reintroduce the bill along with his colleagues. It is an idea which time has come,” he said.
On how the bill would address the concerns over funding, possible abuse, among others, Anichukwu explained the bill would likely place funding for each State Police Service on the first line charge.
He also said that the funds could be channelled directly to them through the National Police Service Commission so as to make them financially independent of the state governors.
He said, “Regarding the worry that some states may not have the resources to pay state police personnel, it is important to note that it shall not be compulsory on any state to establish a state police.
“Just as the case of state universities, those who have the resources can start, while others who cannot will continue to rely on federal universities, in this case, federal police.
“First, the idea is to model the issue of policing after what we have in the National Judicial Council.
“The federal police will be responsible for the maintenance of public security, preservation of public order and security of persons and property throughout the federation.
“The governor may give lawful directive to the commissioner of police with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary.
“The commissioner is also empowered by the bill to request that matter be referred to the State Police Service Commission for review if he feels that the directive is unlawful or contradicts general policing standards or practice.
“In such circumstances, the decision of the State Police Service Commission shall be final and shall not be inquired into by any court.
“Again, a governor cannot just wake and sack a commissioner of police of his or her state.
“The commissioner shall only be removed by the governor upon the recommendation of the National Police Service Commission praying that he be so removed on grounds of misconduct in the performance of his official duties, serious breach of policing standards, among others.”
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the planned implementation of the Federal Government’s community policing vision, the Police management team, led by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the DIGs, yesterday, met with the chairman and commissioners of the Police Service Commission for several hours.
The meeting which held at the headquarters of the PSC at Federal Secretariat, brainstormed on the modalities for the employment of a total of 40, 000 personnel drawn from the 774 local government areas and the communities therein.
It was gathered that the meeting followed an unconfirmed communication which some states were brandishing as authorization to commence the recruitment of Police Constables for State Police Commands.
A senior source said that while he cannot discountenance that such communication exists, he is aware that many state police commands are not aware of such a directive including the Police Service Commission.
In driving the community policing vision, Adamu had during a meeting with the police hierarchy at Force Headquarters recently emphasized that tackling the mounting insecurity in the country, grassroots policing is the way to go.
He said, “In order to give full effect to our Community Policing Vision as a pathway towards bridging security gaps, we shall soon commence the implementation of the strategy across all the zones of the country.
“Hopefully, the breakdown of the Community Policing deployment plan will cover the recruitment of a total of forty thousand (40,000) Community Police Officers (CPOs) across the country.
“The CPOs will be recruited from within the communities where the prospective applicants reside and an average of 50 CPOs are to be engaged in each of the 774 local government areas.
“In addition, 1,300 CPOs will be drawn from professional bodies like the academics, road transport unions, artisans, traders associations, religious bodies, women unions, and youth organisations, among others, in order to ensure diverse representation.
Continuing he said, “In relation to the South-West, the CPOs shall be deployed to complement the police in law enforcement functions within their localities by performing low-risk and non-sensitive policing functions.
“They will also act as liaisons between the police and their communities.
“This policing architecture will free up conventional police personnel that hitherto perform such functions and enhance our manpower profile in relation to deployment to frontline operational duties in the South-West and across the country.
“When fully implemented, the Community Policing Strategy will bridge the gap between the police and the citizens in a manner that will enhance optimal, cost-effective, and sustainable law enforcement service delivery by the police.
He explained that the Community Policing concept involves engagement of citizens in identifying and prioritizing prevalent communal security threats as the effect their localities and working together with the police towards developing and implementing solutions.
“In giving effect to this, we are drawing on the Provisions of the Police Act in relation to the recruitment and utilisation of Special Constables who in this instance, will be engaged as Community Policing Officers (CPOs) under the coordination of the Nigeria Police towards evolving a community-focused policing architecture,” he said.
It was learnt that a clear picture on how the 40, 000 Community Policing Officers will be issued after the meetings between the Police High Command and the Police Service Commission arrive at workable modalities.
Wike Lifts Curfew On Parts Of Port Harcourt …Lifts Suspension Of Obio/Akpor LG Chairman, Deputy …As RSG Moves To Implement Palliatives
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has lifted the curfew imposed on Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction along Ikwerre Road, and Obiri-Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba, effective, today.
Wike also lifted the suspension of the chairman and deputy chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
He announced these decisions during a state broadcast, yesterday.
Wike said: “With effect from tomorrow, April 3, 2020, the 24 hours curfew imposed from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction along Ikwerre Road and Obiri-Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba has been lifted.
“All borders and markets in the state remain closed.
“Following the interventions of some well-meaning citizens of the state, the suspension of the chairman and deputy chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area has been lifted.
“However, this should serve as a warning to local government chairmen and traditional rulers who will allow markets to be open in their areas.
“Residents of Mgbuosimini-Rumueme in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area are hereby warned to desist from flouting government directive on closure of markets or be prepared to face unpleasant consequences.
“Commercial vehicle operators will soon get appropriate directives on their operations in order to maintain social distancing”, the governor said.
Wike explained that his administration was working out palliative measures to cushion the effects of the sit-at-home directive.
He said: “Implementation of palliatives to cushion the effects of recent directives on the citizens will soon take effect.
“International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the state should support government by donating towards the containment of the virus”, he appealed.
The governor thanked Rivers people for their cooperation, saying, “My Dear Good People of Rivers State, let me sincerely thank all of you for your patience and understanding all these days.
“The sacrifices we are all making have greatly helped us not to record any positive case since the index case was reported.
“As we continue to put in our best as human beings, we expect that the Almighty God will intervene on our behalf and wipe away this plague from our midst.
“May I, therefore, urge you all to continue to seek the face of God as we earnestly await His divine intervention,” he added.
US, UK Diaspora Groups Hail Wike’s Measures Against COVID-19 Spread
Two Rivers groups based in the United States of America, Ikwerre Peoples Forum, and Rivers Development Forum, have commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for taking proactive measures to check the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
In separate press statements, yesterday, the two groups expressed satisfaction that the governor was committed to the protection of Rivers people through actions that have stopped the explosion of Coronavirus in the state.
The Chairman of Ikwerre Peoples Forum, USA, Mr Michael Ewule, said that after Lagos State, Rivers State was the next major hub in the country that can be accessed through air, land and sea.
He said that the determined efforts of Wike saved the state from the uncontrolled spread of Coronavirus in the state.
The forum stated that: “We have watched closely what is happening all around Nigeria, and we are happy that our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has worked hard to prevent Coronavirus from spreading.
“We support the measures that have been taken by Governor Nyesom Wike to stop Coronavirus from killing our people. Worldwide, such measures have been taken by governments to stop Coronavirus”, the forum noted.
The group urged the Rivers State Government to continue to review the measures in line with new developments.
The forum stated that it was working with non-governmental organisations and faith-based groups in Rivers State to reach out to Rivers people with donations of hand sanitizers and face masks.
The group also commended Governor Nyesom Wike for setting up a world-class treatment centre, which was handling the index case in the state.
The IPF further lauded the Rivers State governor for mobilising health professionals, facilities and drugs to tackle the disease.
Similarly, the Chairman of Rivers Development Forum, USA, Piegbara Baridoma, said the union was happy with Governor Nyesom Wike for working for the people at this tough time.
He called on Rivers people to support the governor to keep the state healthy through the right measures.
Baridoma noted that the sensitization process by the Rivers State Government since the index case of Coronavirus in Nigeria was reported has helped to create awareness of the disease in the state.
He explained that because the people are aware, it would be easier for health professionals in the state to contain the disease.
Meanwhile, Rivers United Front, a Coalition of Rivers State Indigenes based in the United Kingdom has commended Governor Nyesom Wike for displaying pragmatic leadership in the fight against coronavirus.
In a statement issued by the President and the Secretary of the Group, Dr.Tubotamuno Mpaka and Mr. Kingsley Chimzi respectively, they stated that the proactive approach employed by the Governor has helped to contain the virus.
Lockdown: Open Food Reserve Centres Now, PDP Tells Buhari
Federal lawmakers from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the House of Representatives have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately unlock the national food reserve agency and distribute items to Nigerians across the 774 local government areas.
This, they said, will curb the spate of hunger in the land amid the lockdown order to halt the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In a statement issued by the parliamentarians under the umbrella name, “PDP House of Reps Caucus”, yesterday, signed by their leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers State, PDP) and made available to newsmen in Abuja, the members said that available records indicated that compliance to total lockdown has not always been 100 per cent successful if the food question was not addressed.
While commending Buhari for the directive during his state broadcast last Sunday, the caucus, in the statement titled, “COVID-19 Pandemic: A Call for Further and Decentralized Action”, also asked the National Assembly to immediately enact a law for national food prices control.
The caucus said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taken our country on the emergency course, unexpected and unanticipated at the beginning of the year that strategic legal, policy and legislative responses have dovetailed into measures directed at curtailing or halting the pandemic.
“As members of the PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives, we have consistently called, and we still continue to call, for measured responses that take the poor economic conditions of Nigerians, the rights of citizens, the scaling up of the medicare framework, into account in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While many governors have stepped away from what Prof Wole Soyinka rightly described this week as an attempt to halt the spread of the pandemic virus by constitutional piracy, we note that the absence of a structured federal response, based on the dictates of the law, may have led them to ramp up measures outside the remit of their constitutional powers.
“The rule of law has now prevailed, and it is in this light we welcome some of the measures outlined in the President’s belated broadcast and in the Regulation (COVID-19 Regulation 2020) made pursuant to Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act; though the presidential broadcast and Regulation took a long time coming. Well, better late than never. While we find the measures largely satisfying, it is our considered view that the palliative measures outlined in the presidential broadcast and regulation are not far-reaching enough, while some are completely inapplicable.
“Experiences through history have shown that citizens’ rights to movement are often heavily implicated when measures directed at halting the spread of contagious diseases and restoring public safety do not address the food question behind the curtains, worsening food security conditions.
“During the Ebola outbreak a few years ago, citizens of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone openly defied the restrictions that were imposed on movement to limit the transmission of the disease, after staying indoors for a few days in hunger. We must learn quickly from these experiences by ensuring that immediate measures on food security are ramped up.
“One way of doing this is to open up our national food and grain reserves across the country and distribute food to the poorest of the poor in our country at the Local government level. The President should as a matter of utmost urgency issue an Executive Order, pursuant to his powers preserved by Section 5 of the Constitution 1999, directing the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, National Food Reserve Agency and National Emergency Management Authority to release and manage the distribution of food in our national reserves.
“The Executive Order must set out clear consequences for breach, particularly as they relate to public officials who seize on the times to make brisk businesses and gains from the miseries of the people.
“Other measures such as food prices control should be ramped up; though specific, targeted and temporary legislation on food prices control will be needed for enforcement. This is where the National Assembly comes in – by establishing a framework of teleconferencing and social media communication, where the current lockdown and the medical advisories that bar public gatherings make it impossible for the reconvening of the National Assembly, to deliberate and pass such bills, as the Food Prices Control, COVID-19 Containment, Emergency and Disaster Management, into law.”
Also commending the Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the House for the timely passage of an emergency bill to provide palliatives and the donation of members’ of March and April, 2020 salaries to fight the disease, the opposition lawmakers, however, asked that their deductions be transferred directly to their constituencies, saying they had no confidence in the sharing formula of the government.
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