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House Endorses Independent Candidacy

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House of Representatives on Tuesday endorsed independent candidacy for future political aspirants after a request by President Umaru Yar’Adua for constitution amendment had gone through the second reading.

The constitutional clauses submitted for amendment by Yar’Adua seek to broaden the political space by allowing aspirants to public office run without political affiliations and to make Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) independent of the executive in funding.

The proposed amendments as contained in the “Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and for matters connected thereto, 2009” are drawn from the Muhammed Uwais’ committee report on electoral reforms.

In a lead debate, House Leader, Tunde Akogun, said “the bill provides for independent candidates, thereby expanding the political space for persons seeking election as the president, governor, members of the national assembly and the state Houses of Assembly.”

Other highpoints of the bill, he stated, include the amendment of section 84 of the constitution on the remuneration of the president and certain other officers.

“This section is sought to be amended to make funding of the INEC a first line charge on the consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.”

The bill also canvasses amendment to a section that “seeks to exclude the decision of the administrative panel of inquiry as a condition for disqualifying a candidate for election to the office of the governor.”

Other amendments are “provision of the constitution dealing with the restriction on formation of political parties.”

“This amendment proposes an additional condition for an association to function as a political party so as to check the proliferation of non-functional political parties,” Akogun noted.

The bill also seeks “to amend the constitution by providing for an affirmative action for increased women participation in executive positions.”

Minority leader, muhammed Ali Ndume, in his contribution, said with reports from national political reform conference, Uwais’ committee report and the immediate past efforts to amend the constitution, the job of the national assembly was half done.

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Banditry Displaces 151, 380 People In Two Years In Niger

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At least over 151, 380 people, mostly peasant farmers, were displaced by the activities of bandits in the last two years in Niger State, the state government has said.
The Secretary to the State Government, Ahmed Matane, who addressed a press conference in Minna said the state’s emergency agency compiled the figure.
However, Mr Matane said the figure could be higher as many displaced persons who took refuge with their relatives could not be captured in the displaced persons register.
He said although the state has two official permanent internally displaced persons camps, most of those registered were at temporary camps opened following incidents of attacks.
Matane said the displaced persons were registered in 13 local government areas of the state, with Rafi council area neighbouring Zamfara and Kaduna topping the chart with 28,987 displaced persons.
In Shiroro Local Government Area, 27,678 persons were displaced in the last two years, while in Munya 19, 712 persons were displaced.
There were 11,678 in Paikoro, 22,754 in Mariga and were displaced 8,913 in Kontagora.
Matane said the state has spent over N300 million on the displaced persons within the period, while individual donors and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs also expended millions of naira in support.

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Subsidy: ‘N5,000 Palliative Huge Disgrace’

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The Archbishop of the Enugu ecclesiastical province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma has asked the Federal Government to jettison the idea of paying N5,000 palliative to 40 million Nigerians.
The Federal Government had said the decision was to cushion the effect of the planned removal of fuel subsidy.
But Archbishop Chukwuma, who rejected the removal of subsidy, described the proposed N5,000 palliative “as a huge disgrace.”
He said this during a press conference on the activities lined up for the 50th Anniversary of the Enugu Diocese, Anglican Communion.
While noting that the Enugu Diocese was concerned about the level of governance of Nigeria, he added that “we are also concerned about peace and the unity of Nigeria, as well as infrastructural development.”
He called on the government “to be sensitive about the situation of Nigeria; we frown against the killings, the banditry, the kidnappings, inequality, injustice and all the evils.
“Of late, we can see how ‘Mkpurummiri’ is destroying our youths, it is highly condemnable. We are calling on our youths to please avoid this so that they don’t get their heads out of order. This is not how they will become future leaders.
“Right now, I want to say that the government of Nigeria has not treated the South-East fairly; particularly now that we are getting into the yuletide, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is a total disaster, Enugu-Port Harcourt they are putting it to use but it is not yet complete.
“We are calling on the minister of works to stop playing pranks and politics with the roads in the South-East. Rail transport should also be extended to the South-East; we see no reason the minister of transport should neglect his own zone.
“It is important for our government to know that most youths are angry; they are angry because they are hungry. I just heard about giving N5,000 to 50 million Nigerians, it is a disgrace. It will not bring any positives on our people. We are also frowning at galloping inflation.
“Our naira is becoming useless and something must be done about it. E-naira or whatever is not the solution at all.”
He also called on the residents of South-East not to toy with the on-going voter’s registration exercise, stressing that “these things count; South-East should stop shortchanging themselves; that’s the only way they will have a say in 2023.”
On the Church’s anniversary, Archbishop Chukwuma disclosed that, “It became a Diocese in August 1970; exactly last year August, Enugu became 50 years of its inauguration with the first Bishop, Rt, Rev. Gideon Nweke Otubelu. By the grace of God, he championed the course of Enugu Diocese for 27 years.
“Last year, when it became 50 years of Enugu’s inauguration as a Diocese, we could not celebrate because of COVID; we had to shift it to this year.

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UNICEF Alerts On 152,243 Stunted Children In Enugu

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said on Friday that 152,243 children below five years of age are stunted in Enugu State, Nigeria’s South-east.
Its Planning and Monitoring Specialist, Enugu Field Office, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, disclosed this at a policy dialogue with Enugu State executive and legislative councils on investment in nutrition.
Zubie-Okolo attributed the situation to poor nutrition arising from poor maternal, infant and young child feeding practices during the first 1,000 days of birth.
“In Enugu State, only 7.8 per cent of children below five years of age receive the minimum acceptable diet, while less than one-fifth of children 0-5 months are exclusively breastfed.
“This is a call for both the executive and legislative arms to come together to ensure that nutrition is placed on the government’s agenda,” she said.
She said malnutrition had become a silent emergency with “too little attention”.
She said that the meeting was in line with the Sustainable Development Goals agenda of ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
Zubie-Okolo said the goals also included achieving the internationally-agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children below five years of age by 2025.
UNICEF was committed to working with its partners, including the state government to achieve the agenda, she said.
Nutrition, according to her, gets low attention in Nigeria and in Enugu State and, therefore, contributes to the high global malnutrition rates.
She said that investment in scaling-up nutrition would yield immediate returns, save lives, and enable children and their mothers to have a better future.
In her contribution, a nutrition specialist, Chizoba Steve-Edemba, said the nutrition indices in Enugu State were so low and needed to be addressed.
Steve-Edemba appealed to the state government to extend maternity leave of nursing mothers to six months.

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