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Abuja

Eminent Nigerians have been urged to intervene in the face-off between the federal government and Academic Staff Union (ASUU).

The national youth leader of the Action Congress (AC), Mr Timi Frank, who canvassed a quick resolution of the crisis, sought the sack of minister of education Dr. Sam Egwu “for not doing enough to remedy the situation.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Frank said the federal government should give equal attention to education as the Niger Delta; adding that the ongoing strike, which has crippled the nation’s tertiary institutions is a national embarrassment and a threat to the survival of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

The silence of the political class on the issue is unfortunate and regrettable, as they have failed to add their voices to compel government to sincerely negotiate with ASUU and other striking unions,” he said.

Frank also said it is high time that nation’s elders complemented the efforts of the committee of chancellors of Nigerian universities in resolving the dispute.

He sought the intervention of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and civil society groups in the resolution of the impasse.

Urging the youth not to lose hope in the Nigerian project, Frank reiterated that Egwu should either resign or be removed.

“I therefore, call on all Nigerian youths not to lose faith in the Nigerian project and ensure that henceforth, they will be active agents of change by ensuring, that their votes count in elections so that responsive leaders that will project their interest at all times can be elected, the statement added.

Kano

The political row between former Kano State Governor, Alhaj Abubakur Rimi and the immediate past governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has been resolved as both leaders have vowed to unseat the ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the 2011 election.

Efforts to unite the political gladiators began at the August 15 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Congress, in the state.

Kwankwaso’s camp clinched the leadership position of the party.

This followed a meeting in Kaduna where PDP chieftains met to settle the differences between the two leaders.

The meeting which was presided over by the party’s North-West Vice-chairman, Dr Danladi Saikara, was convened at the instance of the national secretariat, Abuja.

Other PDP members at the meeting included former House of Representatives Speaker Alhaji Salisu Buhari and his successor Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba.

Kaduna

The Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board says it has processed about 4.500 visas for intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

The board’s executive secretary, Alhaji Muktar Abdullahi, said yesterday in Kaduna that the visa issuance would be completed before the first week of October.

It was learnt that no fewer than 8.000 pilgrims are expected to perform this year’s pilgrimage from the state.

Muktar said 14 houses had been secured for the pilgrims at Murtalu in the Holyland, while more convenient residence would be hired to ensure the comfort of the pilgrims.

He added that government had bought two additional buses and would sponsor some pilgrims as well as officials.

The 23 local government areas, according to him will sponsor no fewer than 900 pilgrims in line with Govrnor Namadi Sambo’s welfare policy.

Muktar urged that pilgrims to reciprocate the gesture by obeying laws and exhibiting high sense of patriotism during their stay in Saudi Arabia.

Oyo

Former Oyo State Governor Lam Adesina has scored president Umaru Yar’Adua low, saying he has failed to roll out polices that can lift Nigerians out of poverty.

He urged Nigerians to use the Ramadan to pray to Allah to touch the president’s heart so he can initiate policies that would raise the citizenry above poverty line.

The Action Congress (AC) chieftain spoke yesterday at a lecture marking the end of Ramadan in his Felele, Ibadan home.

Lamenting that Nigerian leaders have failed to use its resources to better the lot of the people, Adesina recalled that when he first travelled to Saudi Arabia in 1982 for Hajj, he slept in a dilapidated building in Medina but he was dumbfounded seeing that the same city had witnessed an unprecedented improvement in 2000.

Besides, Saudi Arabia had only four aircrafts Nigeria had 16.

But now while Nigeria has none; Saudi Arabia owns 200 aircraft, Adesina added.

His words: “A single government  policy can change the fortune of Nigerians. Which good policy has president Yar’ Adua introduced? I am talking as a Muslim. We should pray to Allah to touch his heart to make good policies that will help Nigerians out of poverty.

The former governor said he was saddened by a report by the United States Agency for International Department (USAID) that of the nation’s 140 million people, 138.6 million are living below poverty line.

Adesina hoped that the 2011 elections will bring the desired change.

At the lecture were politician and prominent businessmen and women.

Lagos

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has urged Yar’Adua to resolve the strike before nation’s 49th Independence Day celebration on October 1.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday the state chairman of the CLO, Mr. Eneruvie Enakoko, urged the president to ensure that the agreement between the federal government and ASUU was signed before October 1.

He said it would be bad for Nigeria to mark the event while its universities are shut.

Enakoko said honouring the agreement with ASUU will boost the people’s confidence in the policies of the Yar’Adua Administration.

He said education must be taken more seriously, “If Nigeria is to meet the Millennium Development Goals or realise the vision 2020 programmes of the federal government”.

ASUU embarked on a nation-wide strike on June 24 in protest against the government refusal to endorse an agreement which they reached in 2006.

The agreement stipulates the allocation of 26 per cent annual budget to education among other issues.

The Non Academic Staff Union  (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) joined the strike, demanding a new salary structure too.

Ekiti

Despite the denial of the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Aondoaka (SAN), of an alleged move to remove the chairman of the Ekiti State Election Petitions Tribunal, Justice Hamma Barka, more criticisms of the “plot” are on.

The Ekiti Democratic Coalition Alliance (EDCA), which described Aondoaka’s denial as “feeble and unconvincing”, vowed that the people of Ekiti State would not condone any attempt to deny them justice after the last re-run election.

A socio-political pressure group, the Positive Force (PF), warned that any attempt to interfere with the work of the tribunal “will lead to anarchy and chaos.”

In a statement yesterday by EDCA National Co-ordinator, Mr. Morakinyo Ogele, the group wondered why some “powerful interest groups” are uncomfortable with the proceedings at the tribunal to the extent of plotting the sack of the chairman.

EDCA said the tribunal had been fair to all in its conduct.

It warned against any attempt to circumvent the rule of law and arm-twist the judges in  the performance of their constitutional duties, stressing that it has no reason to doubt the authenticity of the report, which was first carried by an online news agency.

It urged all parities in the rerun dispute to present their facts before the tribunal and not resort to any unconstitutional act that could impede the wheel of justice.

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95% Of Small Businesses Should Be Off Tax – Oyedele

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The Federal Government is working on a system that will provide tax relief to 95 per cent of the informal sector of the economy in the country.
Mr Taiwo Oyedele, Chairman of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, said this at the closing session of the committee on Sunday in Abuja.
He said this would be achieved through the exemption of businesses earning N25 million a year or less from the various taxes hindering their progress over time.
‘’So, we think that 95 per cent of the informal sector should be legally exempted from all taxes; withholding tax, company income tax, even payee on their staff.
‘’We’re using data to inform our decisions. Currently, if you earn N25 million a year or less, you don’t have to pay company income tax, you don’t have to worry about VAT.
‘’We think that the informal sector are people who are trying to earn legitimate living, we should allow them be and support them to grow to a point where they can then have the ability to pay taxes,” he said.
Oyedele said the new reforms being proposed would focus on the top 5 per cent of that sector, the middle class and the elite for taxes.
He said the committee was drafting the laws to effect the necessary changes in the fiscal policy and tax reform ecosystem of the country.
According to the chairman, the new laws will ensure that reviews become sustained by all governments coming in, adding that: “we don’t want this whole effort to go down the drain, after one or two years.”
On compliance, he urged all stakeholders to fully cooperate with the government in implementing a new fiscal and tax policy that would be used for the general good of the citizens.
‘’We think that the days of being above the law in paying taxes are over. The same thing we’re saying to our leaders, whether they are elected or appointed.
‘’We think they have to lead by example by showing that they have paid the taxes, not only on time, but correctly to the lawful authorities as contained in the various laws,” he said.
He said explained that some of the taxes complained about by Nigerians were those already in the constitution, which the committee had looked at and called for their review.
Oyedele said the committee report would be made to pass through the normal process of legislation in order to give it the full legal backing.
‘’So, our expectation is, as we progress now from ideation, proposal to implementation, you’ll see less and less of those issues and then you’ll see harmony in the direction of the fiscal system.
‘’Not only in the number of taxes we collect, you will also see an improvement in how those monies are being spent.
‘’In terms of priority of spending, in terms of the efficiency of spending and in terms of focusing on what impacts on the lives of majority of our population that live in multi-dimensional poverty,” he said.
Oyedele added that the committee had been working with the sub-nationals and the local government councils in its task of harmonising the taxes into a single digit in the country.
‘’So, we’re convinced, and that’s what the data tells us, that the right path we need to follow, is the path where we repeal many of these taxes, harmonise whatever is left.
‘’We think we can keep that within single digit across local government, state and federal government combined, and then improve the efficiency of collecting those taxes.
‘’We are also very convinced that we need to increase the threshold of exemption for small businesses, for low income earners because if you can’t make ends meet, the last thing you want is someone asking you to pay tax.
‘’We think in fact, when our nation gets to the level we need to be, we should be able to even add money to those who have very little or nothing,” said Oyedele.
At the ceremony, Vice-President Kashim Shettima restated President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to revitalise revenue generation in the country.
“Our aim remains the revitalisation of revenue generation in Nigeria, while sustaining an investment-friendly and globally competitive business environment.
“Contrary to speculations in some quarters, we are not here to frustrate any sector of our economy but to create an administrative system that ensures the benefits of a thriving tax system for all our citizens,” he said.
He said the dynamics of the nation’s fiscal landscape prompted the Tinubu administration to pause and reconsider the direction it was going.
“I am confident that both the Federal and State Governments stand ready to ensure the effective implementation of your reform proposals.
“We shall provide the institutional framework to guarantee the adoption of the consensus of this committee, aligning them with our economic agenda,”said Shettima.

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138.9m Nigerians Need Interventions Against Tropical Diseases -WHO

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Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 138.9 million Nigerians require interventions against Neglected Tropical Diseases.
This is according to the latest epidemiological and programmatic data for 2022, which were gathered, compiled, and analysed in 2023, and obtained from the WHO on Saturday.
The body also said NTDs are endemic in Nigeria as it ranks first in the African region and second globally after India.
WHO defined NTDs as a diverse group of conditions of parasitic, bacterial, viral, fungal, and non-communicable origin, noting that there are more than 15 NTDs in Nigeria.
The report stated, “They prevent children from going to school and adults from going to work, trapping communities in cycles of poverty and inequity. People affected by disabilities and impairments caused by NTDs often experience stigma within their communities, hindering their access to needed care and leading to social isolation.
“Nigeria is endemic for several NTDs. The only disease eliminated was dracunculiasis (Guinea-worm disease) in 2013. The population requiring interventions against NTDs was approximately 138.9 million in 2022, ranking first in the African region and second globally after India.
“This includes 138.9 million requiring treatment for lymphatic filariasis through mass drug administration; 48.7 million requiring treatment for soil-transmitted helminthiases through mass drug administration; and 43.5 million requiring treatment for onchocerciasis through mass drug administration.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government had in 2023 said it would eradicate NTDs in the country by 2027.
The Director of the WHO Global Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme, Dr Ibrahima Fall, said, “With a renewed focus on strategic priorities addressing advocacy for action, partnership, costing and accelerated implementation, technical gaps including research and development and leadership.
“We must intensify our collective action to address the deep-rooted inequalities that fuel the transmission of NTDs in the populations where they persist.”

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NDLEA Intercepts Three Trailer Loads Of Opioids, Others, Arrests Suspects

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Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted three trailer loads of opioids, comprising 3,450,000 pills and 344,000 bottles of codeine syrup.
The agency said the illegal drugs at Abule Ado in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, last Thursday.
The NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, adding that three suspects were also arrested in connection with the seizure.
The statement partly read, “The multi-billion naira consignments were loaded into two 40-ft container trucks and another 20-ft truck at the AML bonded terminal, Abule-Osun, near the International Trade Fair complex before heading to a large warehouse at Abule-Ado, where NDLEA officers eventually arrested the suspects and recovered the opioid consignments on Thursday, May 9, 2024.
“Those arrested include the warehouse agent, Cosmas Obiajulu, 51; Ridwan Balogun, 25, and Banjo Tayo, 30, both drivers of two of the trucks, while the third driver jumped off to escape arrest.”
The statement also revealed that in Ekiti State, a 75-year-old grandpa, Jibril Audu, was arrested on Friday with 7.5 kilogrammes of cannabis at Oke-asa village, Ijero-Ekiti, during a raid operation, while a 70-year-old grandma, Tikwase Nytor, was nabbed with 15.6 kilogrammes of the same substance on Thursday during a raid operation at Achusa and International Market Road, Makurdi, Benue State.
“It also stated that in a separate operation on Tuesday, NDLEA operatives arrested a suspect, Nwankwo Ejike, in the Coker area of Lagos, where 100 litres of codeine syrup were recovered from him, while 60 litres of the same substance were seized from one Clinton Akinye in the same area on the same day.
The statement added, “Not less than 37.5kg of cannabis sativa loaded in a Toyota Camry car was recovered from another suspect, Adegbola Segun, 47, when the car was intercepted at Mile 12 area of Lagos on Monday, May 6th.
“Another consignment of opioids consisting of 59,106 pills of tramadol and different quantities of codeine syrup and Rohypnol being taken across the border to Garua, Cameroon, was intercepted by NDLEA officers on Monday, May 6th, along Mubi-Yola Road, Adamawa State.
“Two suspects linked to the drugs: Abubakar Auwal, 39, and Adamu Abubakar, 25, (a.k.a. Bamanga), a trans-border trafficker who was to take the consignment from Mubi across to Cameroon, were promptly arrested.”
Similarly, NDLEA officers in Edo State were reported to have raided the Iguiye forest in Ovia North East LGA on Saturday, “where a total of 11, 636.185 kg of cannabis was destroyed on three farms measuring 4.654474 hectares, while an additional 188kg of the same psychoactive substance was recovered, and a suspect, Itah Nyong, was arrested during the overnight operation.”
In the statement, the NDLEA Chairman, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Marwa commended the officers for their efforts and pledged continued collaboration with local and international partners to combat drug trade in Nigeria.

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