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Consultant Tasks Journalists On COVID-19 Budget Tracking

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Public Finance Analyst and Consultant, Mr Kenneth Okoineme, has advised journalists covering health issues to track budgetary provisions on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) funds in the country.
Okoineme made the call in an interview with The Tide source on the sideline of a 3-day Annual Health Conference of Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) at Goshen City, Nasarawa State.
Okoineme, a consultant with the International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH), however, rated health journalists high in the covering of COVID-19.
“The media have done well in the reportage of COVID-19. If not for the media, there would have been a lot of fake news and a lot of conspiracy theories.
“The media have been able to find its purpose in the whole situation, in trying to give balance and accuracy that reflect the reality on the ground.
“The media need to play a more significant role in terms of the reportage it puts out there. It has to deepen the nature of reports it puts out there.
“For example, the issue around mismanagement of COVID-19 funds.
“The media have a role to tell the people the truth. The media needs to deepen its reportage; it needs to do more of investigative reporting to help build our country again,’’ he said.
According to him, it is important that every kobo counts.
He said “This is where I call upon the international development partners, Civil Society Organisations to support journalists on budget tracking. It will help them to build the reign of accountability in country.’’
In addition, he said that COVID-19 had impacted on journalism, saying “COVID-19 distrusted a lot of things, the way news is reported, accessed and shared; what we have seen is full digitalisation of the media.
He said the pandemic had changed the way news is reported, is accessed and shared; what we have seen is full digitalisation of the media.
“Full digitisation and the use of big data and investigative reporting because the pandemic has taught us a lot of things on public finance management, accountability in public finance management.
“It has put journalists at the fore front of providing the kind of information that people need; that places more responsibility on the media.’’
Okoineme said why ISMPH was interested in budget tracking for journalists was to educate them on their role in tracking mismanagement of public finance.
“COVID-19 has changed the role media plays in terms of management of public finance and if we want to meet the target of eradicating several acute malnutrition; it is important to track budget.
“It is important that money that is budgeted for this purpose, serves the purpose in which it is budgeted for.
“The resource of government has declined because of COVID-19 and what it means is it that government has to prioritise and the resources available should be used more judiciously.
“The media plays an important role to ensure that accountability happens so they should take a closer look at the issue of financing in their reportage,’’ he said.
Okoineme, a resource person at the conference had earlier spoken on “Tracking and Utilisation of Nutrition Budget.’’
The conference which started last Friday ended yesterday with knowledge learnt on ways of deepening reportage in health sector, COVID-19 and reproductive health, among others.
The focus of the 4th Annual Health Conference of ANHEJ is on “COVID-19 Reportage Assessment.’’

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FG Sets Up To Recover Illegally Refined Crude Oil

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In a bid to block revenue leakages, the Federal Government, yesterday, inaugurated an Inter-Ministerial Committee to tackle illegal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta region of the country.
Members of the committee, who took their oath at the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, were drawn from the Ministry of Defence, the Nigerian Army, the Navy, Defence Headquarters, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as well as from the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Environment, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
The Solicitor-General of the Federation (SGF), and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Umar Mohammed, who represented the AGF at the event, said the major mandate of the committee, was “the recovery of illegally refined petroleum products (crude oil) in the dug-up pits found around the creeks of the Niger Delta”.
According to the SGF, “In line with the policy of the current administration on security and economy, as well as the preservation of the environment from negative hazards.
“The office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, in collaboration with all stakeholders, have put in place a mechanism for effective and efficient management of illegally refined products recovered from dug-up pits found around the creeks of the Niger Delta.
“This mechanism was agreed by the relevant stakeholders and submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, who considered and approved the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the purpose of implementing the Mechanism known as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) For the Recovery of Illegally Refined Petroleum Products (Crude Oil) in the Dug-Up Pit found around the creeks of the Niger Delta”.
The SGF said the Federal Ministry of Justice would coordinate the process and the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
“The responsibility of the Inter-Ministerial Committee is to detect, report, evacuate, assess and ensure transparent disposal of the product with due consideration to the environment.
“The Inter-Ministerial Committee shall be guided by the SOP, developed for the project.
“The content of the SOP is drawn from the provision of the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019.
“It is my hope that the proceeds from this exercise will be a source of additional revenue for the country”, the SGF added.

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FRSC Threatens Sanction Against Fleet Operators Over Speed Limit

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says it will sanction any fleet operator found sabotaging the implementation of the Speed Limit Device.
Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi said this during the 2021 annual safety managers retreat yesterday in Abuja.
The retreat aimed at sensitising safety managers on the implementation of the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme to attain best practices in fleet operations.
The theme of the retreat is: “Assessment of Speed Limit Device Implementation in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”.
Oyeyemi, represented by Deputy Corps Marshal, Motor Vehicle operations, Mr Hyginus Foumsuk, said that the corps would also sanction Speed Limit Device vendors identified for complicity.
The corps marshal expressed concern on the spate of road accidents and needless loss of lives, especially involving fleet operators.
“These, according to many experts investigations, could have been avoided if the concerned safety managers had been responsive in their duties,” he said.
Oyeyemi said that recent findings by the corps have also revealed a low level of compliance on the installation of Speed Limit Device and associated sharp practices among some fleet operators.
He noted that these practices included tampering with Speed Limit Device and connivance with vendors to deceive enforcement operatives.
This, he said, was with compliance certificates without actual installation of the device, calibration above the approved speed limits and others.
According to him, these shall no longer be tolerated as the corps will not hesitate to sanction violators henceforth.
Oyeyemi urged relevant stakeholders to address the decline on the proper vehicle maintenance as well as implementation of the passenger manifest by fleet operators and the drivers’ recruitment policy.
“We all know the essence of the passenger manifest and the significance of its proper implementation. You are therefore urged to take these issues seriously in the interest of safety.
“Passenger manifest is considered pivotal, thus its enforcement should continue along other traffic offences to compel the needed compliance. It is therefore pertinent that strict adherence to the existing policies be sustained,” he said.
“There is need for fleet operators to introduce improved practices to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers in compliance with traffic regulations.
The Director-General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Mr Babatunde Irukera, commended the efforts of the corps on road safety.
Irukera noted that injury and fatality on the road were caused by speed, describing speed as a catalyst, aggravator and mitigator.
He urged motorists to take cognisance look into installing Speed Limit Device to avoid road traffic crashes and save lives and property.
He, however, assured FRSC of the commission’s support to punish violators, saying that excessive speed attracts a penalty.

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Sokoto Assembly Approves 2021 Virement Request Of N155m

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The  Sokoto State House of Assembly yesterday approved Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s  request of N155 million virement warrant on some capital projects  in 2021 approved budget.
This approval  followed the consideration of a letter by the state governor presented at the plenary by the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Achida.
Alhaji Bello Ambarura, the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader in  the assembly, had  moved a motion asking  the lawmakers to consider the request at its plenary session.
Ambarura said that the request was necessitated by the present administration’s commitment to addressing  a number of developmental projects.

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