Senate President, David Mark, on Monday denied an allegation that the National Assembly was bribed to pass the tobacco control bill.
He spoke while opening a two-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Health.
Mark said no senator could collect any bribe because of the sensitive nature of the bill.
He said, “Every senator will answer his name. It is not a bill that will call for a voice vote. Everyone will be made to say yes or no so that the public will know where we stand on the issue.
“For a serious bill like this to go through the next reading, people will have to really say where they stand.
“We must begin to accept that Nigerian legislators are patriotic. They don’t need to be bribed before they do their job.
There is much rumor in air. If you have a strong case make your case, when you fail to make your case, then you go with the excuse that people have been bribed.
“Any bill that comes here will pass through the normal process.”
Urging the committee to be fair to opinions from the stakeholders at the public hearing before reading a conclusion on the bill, Mark said. “We stand between health and economy; that is the truth of the matter on the ground. People who are against it are worried about the impact on the health of Nigerians. People who are for it are saying that the nation stands to benefit from it.
“The simple question is when do you begin to worry about economy? Is it when you are dead or when you are alive?
“I admit that there are lobbyists on both sides. No doubt about that. The manufactures are lobbying many people in the country. They have a strong lobbying group all over the world.
“The key issues are health versus economy. How many jobs can we provide from the tobacco industry? How many people are going to lose their jobs if the tobacco industries are not producing?
“If the tobacco industries here close down, will it stop Nigerians from smoking, is one thing, getting the industry going so that people can be gainfully employed is another thing.”
The British American Tobacco (BAT), represented by its Head of Regulatory Affairs, Mr Tony Okwoju, said the regulation was meant to reduce the impact of smoking on public health.
But the said regulation should not be used to “force law-abiding businesses out of operation and leaving the market at the mercy of smugglers”.
The representative of the World Health Organisaton (WHO), Dr Soyinka, said the industry had impacted negatively on the nation’s health.
Tobacco farmers Associations from Oyo and Abia states said about 500,000 Nigerians would lose their jobs if tobacco is banned in the country.
The committee chairman, Senator Iyabo Obansanjo Bello said: “There is no doubt about the health effects of tobacco.
“The world has come to a consensus that there are some detrimental health effects of tobacco.”
Sanwo-Olu Approves Grant For 100 Traders
In continuation of his on going political consultation with stakeholders, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has met with market leaders across the state with an approval of a grant to aid them in their businesses.
He met the traders under the aegis of the Association of Commodity Market Women and Men of Nigeria at the Alausa residence of their President-General, Mrs Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, in Lagos.
The Governor noted that the traders were important stakeholders in the governance of the state, adding that the visit was part of his wide consultation ahead of the general elections.
According to him, the interaction with traders in the informal sector is strategic in reaching out to the grassroots, saying that his administration was committed to the well-being of the traders, while asking for their full support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming elections.
“Market leaders and their members are important stakeholders in the governance of Lagos. We interact with them from time to time and consult them on issues concerning growth of our markets.
“Today, we have come here to thank them for the support they have continued to give our government and to encourage them to continue to be loyal citizens of the state,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said the government had hastened ongoing work to complete all the markets currently being constructed.
He announced continuation of credit grants to 100 micro and small businesses in each market across the state, as the intervention had empowered many women and low-income households to meet their needs.
Sanwo-Olu continued that his administration’s programmes were aimed at improving the lives of residents, regardless of their incomes and status.
“We are in the season of politics and we consider it necessary to meet with our people in the market and solicit for your support in the forthcoming general elections, especially for our presidential candidate, governorship candidate and other positions our party is vying.
“This is an important step, you are part of the crop of people that diligently wait at the polling booths to cast votes for our party. We cannot take you for granted, despite having new people in the electoral register.
“We need to engage and talk to you about our plans. In this case, we are seeking your support for all our candidates in general,” he said.
Kogi Oil Community Demands 13% Derivatives
Indigenes of Ibaji Community in Kogi State recently named oil producing area by the Federal Government, have called for a share of their host community fund and 13 per cent derivative.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, on Wednesday, the President, Ibaji Unity Forum (IUF), Stephen Ochola, said Ibaji has become an oil-producing area after over 70 years of exploration yet, has been denied of its accruables.
Stephen Decried poor roads among other infrastructural decay as well as the devastating effects of the recent flooding that it said destroyed about 200 houses and killed 33 persons.
He expressed regret that the proceeds of the oil will be shared with Kogi and neighbouring Anambra State.
Ochola noted that Ibaji needs to benefit significantly from the host community development fund as both states have been proclaimed as oil-producing states.
“Both states are to partake in the 13 per cent derivation fund. Also, the states are to share the proceeds on a 50-50 basis from the oil wells namely Anambra River 1, 2 and 3, which are clearly on Kogi soil,” he noted.
Ochola said the Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State has been neglected for so long as its over 129,000 population lack social amenities.
“The 2022 flood and its effects have downgraded that of 2012 to a child’s play. According to reports, over 33 persons have lost their lives and 200 houses were destroyed leading to the displacement of our people to relocate to Idah, Igalamela, Enugu, Anambra and Edo states.”
He also said the flood water though unfit for bathing and drinking, remained the only available water for the people, according to a test result from the Federal Capital Territory Waterboard.
“Our people are in serious poverty due to the flood and its post effect. Even those who died of natural causes have no place to be buried because of the flood,” noting that Ibaji was the most devastated of the nine affected LGAs in Kogi State.
Group Seeks Media Support To Combat Human Trafficking
A Civil Society Group, “Action Against Trafficking in Persons Cluster”, has called for media synergy to combat trafficking in persons.
The group’s Programmes Director, Timothy Ejeh, made the call when he led a delegation to an advocacy engagement with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Council Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche in Abuja, recently.
Ejeh said the initiative was anchored by the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Archdiocese of Abuja, with the aim of implementing the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) component 4 projects titled “Galvanising Action for Effective countering of Trafficking in Persons Regime in Nigeria” .
According to him, its major aim is to seek increased funding for the focal agency – NAPTIP, reactivation of victims of Trafficking Trust Fund and improved prosecution of traffickers.
He explained that the initiative comprised of six CSOs, the JDPC, Earth Spring Intl, Children Against Child Abuse (CACA), Health/Justice Development and Peace Initiative (H/JDPI), Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) and CEDARSEED Foundation.
The Programmes Director said the meeting would help to get the union’s buy-in into the SCALE Project currently being implemented
“We have discovered that the focus of the local government agency that is saddled with the responsibility of tackling trafficking of persons have some gaps in doing their jobs.
“We feel that we can come and support them to be able to deliver on their mandate because there is a whole lot they have been saddled with which is NAPTIP.
“We have discovered that they are severally underfunded and when you do not have funding, you do not have manpower and won’t be able to achieve any results.
“One of our advocacy acts is to push for reforms to see how NAPTIP can be properly funded to be able to carry out the mandate given to them by the government.
“We have also discovered that there is this weak political drive towards the prosecution of traffickers,” he said.
Ejeh added that a whole lot of traffickers were out there and nobody was pushing to ensure arrest and confiscating the process of trafficking.
Health4 days ago
US Approves New Drug To Delay Type 1 Diabetes
Niger Delta4 days ago
Dry Season Farming: Edo Distributes Irrigation Equipment To 516 Farmers
Niger Delta2 days ago
Delta, AUDA-NEPAD Empower 3,380 Farmers Against COVID -19, Flood
Business2 days ago
$1bn Looted Funds Recovered Since 2015 – Malami
Metro2 days ago
Oyigbo Gets New Health Fillip From Rotary
SMEs4 days ago
MSMEs Contribute 46% To National GDP – SMEDAN
Sports4 days ago
Super Eagles Don’t Deserve To Be In W/Cup- Amokachi
Featured2 days ago
Rivers Judiciary Nets N1.2bn In 12 Months, Disposes 19,864 Cases