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THE STATES

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Action Congress (AC) has accused Bauchi State Government of colluding with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police to truncate the state constituency bye-election for Gamanwa.
The party also accused the state government of obtaining a spurious court injunction restraining INEC from conducting the poll scheduled for October 17, 2009. According to a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party noted that government was engaging in politics of desperation, as it decided to push for postponement of the bye election because it was afraid of losing to AC.
The party wondered why such an injunction would be obtained less them 24 hours to the election, when electoral materials were already midway to the venue of the election.
AC also said the party was yet to be served with the court injunction, two days after the election was supposed to have been held.
As part of its strategy, the party said government has also embarked on a massive harassment of AC supporters across the state, arresting as many as 400 innocent party members on the allegation that they are party thugs brought in from neighbouring states.
The party said most of its detained supporters were arrested in their farms and homes, and wondered where the opposition that is not in power have the resources to import thugs.
AC called for immediate release of the arrested party members, whose only offence is that they belong to an opposition party.
A source close to state government, however said all the allegations by AC were false.

Sokoto
Sokoto State government is to establish a school of Nursing and Mid-wifery, aside the existing one in Tambuwal Local Government Area of the state, as part of its determined effort to curb maternal mortality to its barest minimum in the state.
The state government said the move will no doubt address the shortage of manpower especially the dearth of mid-wives in the state.
Speaking to newsmen in Sokoto yesterday, State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mohammed Kilgori said the initiative was aimed at enhancing qualified manpower that will handle issues of maternal mortality especially in the rural areas.
According to him, the school would increase the number of intakes that can pursue mid-wifery courses that will produce qualified manpower in supporting the maternal health programmes and other child birth services in the state.
“At any stage, there would be a mid-wife that would be ready to take care of any emergency delivery and any thing in terms of both child and women health care”, he said.
The commissioner identified the shortage of qualified child birth manpower in the northern part of the country due to few health institutions in the region, saying “that is why we want to see how this manpower can be provided and available at the door step of the rural dwellers”.
Kilgori noted that the shortage of manpower is more critical in the Northern region because most of the northern states have only one nursing and mid-wifery school with only 100 intakes by the council while in the South, some states have four schools.

Gombe
The Deputy Speaker of t he Gombe State House of Asembly, Inuwa Garba claimed that some foreign powers, companies and organisations were set to hijack the on-going constitutional review in Nigeria.
Garba, who is also the chairman of the House Committee on the 1999 constitution told newsmen at the weekend that a lot of foreign countries, companies, organisations, investors and others were at present using some non-governmental bodies in Nigeria to ensure that their interests were incorporated into the proposed constitution.
The plot, he said is to give the foreigners an edge in the country’s policies, which will certainly affect the security, socio-economic and political lives of our people.
Garba warned that if Nigerians, particularly the lawmakers allowed such foreign influence to be inserted in the constitution, it could have devastating effects on the country’s development and survival.
He also explained that the members of the state legislature and national assembly from the North East geo-political zone were aware of the machinations of such foreign interests and would do every thing possible to ensure that no selfish agenda were allowed into the national document.
The lawmaker pointed out that Gombe Assembly was expected to host and coordinate the forthcoming constitutional review meeting of all state assemblies in the North East zone, which comprises, Adamawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Taraba and Gombe. Garba said that already, a secretariate had been set up to coordinate representation from all the state assemblies and other segments of the society.

Ekiti
After 10 days break, the Election Petition tribunal hearing the Ekiti State governship petition will next Monday resume sitting.
The resumption of sitting will enable Governor Segun Oni to open his defence in the petition filed by the Action Congress (AC) and its governorship candidate, Dr Kayodo Fayemi, against the outcome of the rerun governship election in the state.
AC and Fayemi had filed the petitions following the declaration of Oni of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the polls. The petitioners are challenging the outcome of the elections in six wards of the state.
The wards are USI, Ifaki I and II and Orin/Ora in Ido/Osi council area and Ipoti A and B in Ijero council area. The petitioners want the result of the six wards cancelled on the ground that the election did not comply substantially with the election manual adding that the polls in the affected wards was marred by violence.

Abuja
In tandem with its statutory mandate, the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps (NCDC) said it had so far issued 1,000 licenses to private guards companies.
It has however charged them to join forces with government in its determination to eradicate the incidence of kidnapping in the country.
Issuing licences to six newly approved private guards security companies in Abuja, Commandant General of the Corps Dr Ade Aboderia, said with the issuance of the licences, the companies had joined government in the fight against crime.
He also charged the security firms to suggest to government ways of curbing the menace of kidnapping, which had assumed alarming proportions, by providing government with vital information based on their experiences.
“By this action, you have joined government in the fight against crime.
Crime has assumed different dimensions and you are to assist government in curbing it.”
“We expect you to submit report of sensitive information concerning your area of operation.
The corps will assist you if you play by the rule.
Kidnapping has gone haywire and we want you to look at it and assist the government”, he said.

Ogun
Three persons died and nine others were injured yesterday when an uncompleted building collapsed in Abeokuta the Ogun State capital.
The incident occurred on Oke Padre street, Ita Street Ita Igori, a suburb of Abeokuta.
A worker of the state owned broadcasting out fit, Gateway Television Station, lost his wife and mother.
His injured daughter is at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Idi-Aba.
Others at FMC include Awawu Erike, Rilwan, Iya Erike, Iya Alata, Rebecca, Abigail, Baba Ibeji and Baba Erike.
As at 12:22pm, the bodies had been removed from the rubble. They were taken away in wooden caskets.
The scene was besieged by sympathisers, who used diggers and bare hands to get those trapped out of the rubble.
An eyewitness told The Tide that the 28-year old building caved in a few minutes to midnight.
The witness, who lives in an adjacent building, said he came outside to ease himself and had barely finished when he heard a sound.
When he looked up, he said, he saw the building coming down with dust billowing in the air.
It could not be ascertained at press time, how many people were inside when the structure collapsed.
Some residents said the occupants could not be fewer man 18, but 65-year-old Ebunoluwa Oyedola, who lives opposite the building, said three were about 12 persons inside.
Three died and nine were injured, she said.
She said for over eight hours, residents groped in the dark, trying to rescue trapped victims. She expressed doubts if there could still be bodies buried in the debris.
Commissioner for Environment Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, the fire serve and police visited the scene but they could not do much because of the hilly and rocky terrain of the area, which made it impossible for heavy duty equipment to be deployed in the rescue effort.

Ondo
Citing insecurity of lives and property within its legislative chambers, the Ondo State House of Assembly at the weekend announced that it has adjourned sitting indefinitely as “legislators will not be able to guarantee the security of members”.
House spokesman and chairman of its committee on information, Kele Bolodeoku, who disclosed this at a media briefing said, the decision was taken as a result of last Thursday’s invasion of the Assembly by suspected political thugs.
The hoodlums were protesting the non-acceptance of the Labour Party (LP) winner of the September 19 by-election to fill the vacant seat of Akure North constituency, Adenyi Akindele, even after being issued with a certificate of returns by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Akindele’s inauguration had sharply divided the House along partisan lines as the majority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members took advantage of their numerical strength of 15 out of the 25 member assembly to work against it, claiming that the matter was already before a court of law.
The PDP candidate in the election, Akin Idowu, had dragged Akindele to the Federal High Court, Akure in a suit in which both the INEC and the House of Assembly were joined as defendants, alleging that he (Akindele) belonged to a secret cult in contravention of the laws of the land.
According to the PDP leadership, swearing in Akindele would amount to contradicting section 29(3) of the House standing Rule which states that “reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending in such a way as might, in Mr. Speaker’s opinion, prejudice the interests of parties there to”.
But the nine-member LP and the lone Alliance for Democracy (AD) member in the opposition accused their PDP colleagues of “taking politics too far” while stating that section 285 of the 1999 constitution has limited pre-election matters to the election petition tribunal.

Lagos
Lagos State Government has concluded plans to train teachers one-learning methods of instructing students.
The commissioner of science and Technology, dr Kadri Hamzat disclosed this to journalists in Alausa recently during a media interaction of the forth coming Science and Technology (NASTECH) week. Hamzat added that the government has trained 2,000 teachers on methods of instructing students with the motive of increasing their interest in science subjects.
These teachers, he said, were trained by professionals on how to deliver instructions with focus on chemistry, mathematics and other science related subjects.
He expressed the need to instruct students in indigenous languages saying that this has worked effectively for other developing countries like India and South Korea.
Continuing, he said if you take a look at Indians and South Koreans, they deliver instructions in their own languages and not in English. I think these are the issues we should look at as a nation.
He further explained that apart from the fact that many students develop phobia towards science subjects, the way they is taught he lamented the decay in the nation’s education sector, especially in the field of sciences especially in the field of sciences saying, “These are age-long challenges that we must take very seriously in the over-riding interest of the country.
He explained that this years event will take place from October 21 to 23 at Adeyemi Gbero Auditorium, Alausa.
He listed the events lined up for the week to include exhibition by stakeholders in science and technology, quiz competition, innovators investors and research forums.

Plauteau
After four months of strike, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in Plateau State will resume work today following the suspension of the action.
The strike which began on June 1, 2009 was called off following an agreement reached between the state government and the officials of the NUT in a meeting brokered by the Gbong Gwom Jos Da Jacob Gyang Buba.
The state’s NUT chairman, Goshe Yalis, who announced the suspension said the union took the decision because the state government had agreed to pay the outstanding arrears to the teachers.

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Increasing SSBs Tax ‘ll Encourage Healthy Lifestyle -Experts

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The Executive Secretary, Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme, Dr Vetty Agala, has said that an increase in Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) tax will encourage heathy lifestyle, thereby reducing the 30 percent death rates associated with the consumption of SSBs.

 

Agala stated this at a two-day training programme organised to create awareness on the negative effect of excessive consumption of SSBs, organised by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) in Port Harcourt.

 

She said it was necessary for the people to prioritize their health.

 

“Increase in SSBs tax will reduce the intake of SSBs consumption that is currently the cause of 30 per cent of deaths.

 

“The desire of the Rivers State Government is to protect her citizens by bringing up policies and various interventions and programmes such as innovative financing that help protect the health of communities,’ she added.

 

Also speaking, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Oreh, noted that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases have become a public health concern globally and across the nation.

 

Dr Oreh, who was represented by the State Epidemiologist, Rivers State Ministry of Health, Dr Ifeoma Nwadiutor, revealed that the staggering rate of 41 million people are lost to NCDs annually, and that NCDs in Nigeria account for 30% of deaths.

 

“With this data, it is, therefore, paramount to address the root causes of these preventable illnesses”, she said.

 

The commissioner maintained that NCDs are known to result from long-term effects of unhealthy lifestyle and diets, leading to disability adjusted lifestyle years (DALYs).

 

“Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) or carbonated drinks also known as soft drinks, are non-alcoholic beverages that contain excessive amount of sugar.

 

“The sugar in these drinks is absorbed by the blood stream, thereby causing a spike in the blood sugar level, which is a risk factor for numerous health problems including obesity and other NCDs.

 

“Obesity is a predisposing factor for diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. It often results from taking in more calories than are burned by exercise and normal daily activities,” Dr Oreh added.

 

On his part, a public health scientist, Dr Francis Fagbule, advised parents to give their children balanced diet, adding that excessive intake of SSBs add no value to the health of their children.

 

Fagbule stressed that parents who can not avoid to give their children SSBs can give, but not in excess, adding that excessive consumption of SSBs makes children obsessed and fatigued.

 

“You are not adding anything useful to your children when you give them SSBs. You can only help your children to have balance diet. Give SSBs if you cannot avoid it completely, but don’t let it be in excess because excessive consumption of them makes children obsessed and fatigued”, he said.

 

Earlier, the Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, had stated that the training programme was aimed at equipping journalists with the necessary information to create awareness and drive the campaign against excessive consumption of SSBs.

 

Oluwafemi noted that the training would provide a comprehensive overview of SSB consumption patterns, their profound health implications, fiscal considerations and policy recommendations to address the growing health and economic challenges stemming from SSB consumption in the country.

 

He expressed worry that sugar sweetened beverages have gained prominence in Nigeria and have become a significant public health concern in the country, stressing that excessive consumption of SSBs leads to obesity, diabetes and other health challenges.

 

“The high rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases highlight a health crisis in Nigeria, with over 11 million Nigerians currently living with diabetes.

 

“Nigeria’s status as the fourth-largest of soft drinks globally is concerning and is a looming health epidemic if not addressed promptly. The adverse effects of these preventable diseases on productivity, revenue loss, and human lives underscore the urgency for effective policy solutions,” Oluwafemi said.

 

The Tide reports that CAPPA is a pan-African non-governmental organisation that works to advance human rights, challenges corporate abuse of natural resources and builds community power for inclusive development and participatory governance.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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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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