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Abia Tackles Poverty In Rural Areas

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Abia State government has pledged to tackle poverty in the rural areas through provision of infrastructure and information and communication technology , especially, internet services.
The new Commissioner for Co-operatives, Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development, Chief Israel Amanze, who made the pledge shortly after taking charge of the ministry’s affairs, also assured that the ministry would evolve rehabilitation programmes for commercial motorcyclists (Okada riders) whose operations government recently banned in the metropolitan local governments.
Beaming with smiles after receiving the handover note from the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ojum Ekeoma Ogwo Amanze said in an interview with The Tide that the ministry was specifically created to find solutions to rural development and empowerment of the ruralites to alleviate poverty in the state.
“We can never neglect the rural areas because over 75 per cent of our people live there. So these are the people we need to touch their lives. It is this ministry that is encumbered with the responsibility of improving their lives by provision of rural infrastructure: rural roads, rural electricity, formation of cooperatives and maintenance of such structures and alleviation of poverty for our vulnerable groups. I feel this is the best time for us to make a mark in this area,” the former Abia State Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said.
“We will try to do our best to cushion the effects of poverty, using government policies, through this ministry, to touch the lives of our people so that they will be positively influenced and positively motivated,” he said.
“So, having come in as commissioner, I have already challenged the directors, we will find out immediately what we can do to alleviate poverty, to improve rural infrastructure and what we can do to improve the lives of our people in the rural areas. So it is a challenge and with the goodwill of His Excellency, Governor T.A.Orji (Ochendo) who has said he is interested in the people, he wants to move the people forward, we will succeed in doing that,” he assured.
“As the dry season is coming, I want to see how we can galvanise ourselves to go into the field to see how we can improve rural infrastructure. I have also seen what is going on with our people who are Okada riders, we want to see how to alleviate their plight but it is something I want to discuss with His Excellency before I will know how we will go about it. But it is an area I want us to go into” the commissioner added.
On sensitising the populace on the programmes of his ministry, Amanze said that apart from using the media, the ministry “will also explore the possibilities of doing some rural internet services.” He said plans were afoot to get those to install the facilities and link up the various rural communities and make the relevant in the new information age.
The United Nations consultant said he was on a familiar terrain, having been participating in “rural empowerment.” “I have worked in the rural areas in farmers’ emancipation and empowerment of the rural poor.

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FOI Act Implementation Bothers BPST Boss

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The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has expressed regrets that the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has remained very low since the law was enacted.
The BPSR boss made the observation during a workshop held on Wednesday in Abuja on the appraisal of Freedom of Information Act.
Arabi said the Act was meant to entrench transparency and openness in governance through improved compliance to annual reporting obligations of public institutions.
“It is also expected to guide and improve compliance of public institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower citizens, the right to access information held by the state.
“Regrettably, since the introduction of the FOI Act, it is evident that the level of compliance among public institutions still remains low.
“While the level of engagement by citizens still remains insignificant and in some cases fraught with misunderstanding between the State and Non-State actors,” he added.
Arabi, therefore, said that the workshop was to resolve some of the grey areas around FOI, as well as foster a harmonious relationship between the State and Non-State actors towards the implementation of the Act.
He said good governance and transparency would only thrive in the country when citizens access to Information is assured.
The DG emphasised that the FOIA provided platform for inclusiveness that sought to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision making process.
Arabi said that the Bureau had worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Act and was making efforts to ensure that it was institutionalized across the public sector.
He said that the interventions were in the areas of training public service workers and development of feedback mechanism through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request were deployed.
Others, he said, are score-card for ranking the performances of websites of public institutions using specific benchmarks, including FOI portal.
“Creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes such as the monthly Lunchtime Seminar series,” he added.
Arabi said that the Bureau had also deployed information technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management using intranet and Electronic Data Management Systems.
He continued that they were working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of citizens on public policies.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria, Dr Gloria Ahmed, said making information open was a hallmark of democracy and a basic human right.
She said that the FOIA has given citizens the opportunity to access information as regards government policies and reforms.

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FCTA Harmonises Mobile Adverts, Haulage System Against Double Taxation

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS), has launched the FCT/State Mobile Advertisement and Haulage permits for 2023 financial year.
Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, while launching the system sought the cooperation of the business owners in the FCT, in order to achieve the objective of the initiative.
Adesola said the move was part of efforts to facilitate the ease of doing business drive in the nation’s capital.
He commended DOAS for the initiative. aimed at improving institutional cooperation and partnerships with the critical stakeholders.
Adesola warned: “FCTA would no longer tolerate acts of thuggery in the collection of taxes, as there are better ways of doing such, which will ensure the attainment of ease of doing business.”
He commended the leadership of Area Councils for resolving to synergise with DOAS to streamline the system.
The Permanent Secretary said the proliferation of collection authorities for mobile advertisements had led to serious loss of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the FCT.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, Kwali Area Council, Danladi Chiya, said although Area Councils have the constitutional right to collect such advertisements, they have no issue with FCTA over the establishment and mandate of DOAS.

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LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation

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The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.

By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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