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FG, Parties Tinker On Credible Polls

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The Federal Government says it plans to collaborate with all the political parties to achieve credible elections in the country come 2011.

Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, disclosed this during a Stakeholders’ Conference organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at Abuja on Tuesday, March 16.Represented by the immediate past Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Adetokunbo Kayode SAN, at the conference, attended by the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, represented by his Deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru, Dr. Jonathan reiterated the need to avoid ethnic and religious sentiments in determining the nation’s political leadership during elections.

Regretting that elections in the country have become breeding grounds for godfatherism and other vices, the Acting President urged Nigerians to have a change of attitude and support the electoral reforms agenda, stressing that the present government believes on electoral justice.

Speaking, INEC Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, said Nigeria’s democracy would become stable over time, insisting that the nation’s electoral progress was on course, advising politicians to imbibe the correct political orientation for democratic elections.

Professor Iwu charged Nigerians to develop the necessary political will to fully integrate themselves in the electoral processes, disclosing that the voters’ register would be displayed twice for voters to cross-check their names before the elections, adding that the use of customised ballot boxes and voting materials as was the case in the recent governorship elections in Anambra State would be sustained.

Also speaking, Senate President, David Mark, represented by the Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, called on all stakeholders to review the problems associated with the electoral process and proffer solutions to them and advised INEC to embark on electoral education while dealing with all parties transparently.

In his speech, the Chief Electoral Commissioner of India and UNDP representative, Mr. Navin Chawla, charged Nigerians to maintain electoral integrity and ensure they are properly registered, urging INEC to embark on capacity building, assuring of UNDP support in ensuring credible elections in the country.

Governors Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State in their separate speeches said electoral reforms should rather start with reforming the mindset of Nigerians and warned “political proprietors” to give way for credible elections, noting that the appointment of the INEC Chairman need not be by the President but by Judicial Service Commission.

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Enugu To Resume Coal Mining Operations December

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In a bid to restore its prominence as the leading coal mining state in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria, the Enugu State Government has issued December as deadline for the commencement of mining operations.
The decision came after the meeting of the government representatives and other mining stakeholders in the state, over the weekend.
In a communique issued at the end of a meeting between the state’s Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) and mineral title holders in the state, the parties resolved to initiate further stakeholders engagement to identify additional challenges in the sector and recommend solutions which would help foster more inclusive and effective mining in the state.
The Chairman of MIREMCO and Special Adviser to the Enugu State Governor on Solid Minerals, Engr. Samuel Okoro, said the communique  emphasised the need to sensitise host communities on the objectives of MIREMCO and how they could assist in ensuring smooth business operations through cooperation between them and the miners, thereby reducing disruptions.
“To uphold transparency and  accountability and also ensure that all mineral title holders in the state comply with the regulatory requirements, it was agreed that the committee would make a demand through the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) for the directories of all mineral titles in Enugu State.
“In its efforts to eradicate mineral titles in activeness and stimulate economic growth in the sector, the committee reiterated its commitment to ensuring that all the titles became operational before the end of 2024.
“The tilte holders are urged to commence operations promptly, with MIREMCO pledging to providing support and addressing any challenges that may arise to facilitate this process.
“The tilte holders are urged to commence operations promptly, with MIREMCO pledging to providing support and addressing any challenges that may arise to facilitate this process”, Okoro said.
He  thanked the Governor of the state, Dr.  Peter Mbah, and the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, for giving them the opportunity to make their impact in the sector, promising to ensure full compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.
“We are grateful to the Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, and the leadership of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, headed by the Honourable Minister, Dr. Dele Alake.
“We commend his visionary leadership and dedication to the ministry, and we pledge our commitment to ensuring that his leadership leaves an excellent legacy for the sector”, Okoro said.
He also urged the mineral title holders to do their best and make a difference, stressing that the committee stands ready to collaborate closely with them to achieve maximum results.
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Africa To Empower Marginalised Communities Through Natural Resources

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The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, says the African is determined to empower its marginalised communities through its natural resources.
Alake described Africa as endowed with natural resources, capable of driving its sustainable economic growth, particularly with the critical minerals needed for the global energy transition.
He stated this yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing against the backdrop of the forthcoming 2024 African Natural Resources & Energy Investment Summit (AFNIS).
He said equitable distribution of resources and targeted investments in local communities were key to empowering those historically underserved.
Alake said the move would reduce inequality, promote social stability, and ensure inclusive growth across the continent.
“By channeling investments into rural areas and marginalised communities, we can create opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, improve access to essential services, and foster an environment, where every individual has the chance to thrive”, he stated.
According to him, the three-day summit,  being hosted by Nigeria from July 16th would be ending on Thursday, July 18th and is aimed at exploring strategies for utilising fossil fuel revenues to fund Africa’s transition to a greener future.
“AFNIS 2024 is not merely a gathering of minds, but a convergence of visionaries committed to transforming Africa’s natural resource landscape.
“Our discussions and decisions will resonate across the continent, influencing policies, shaping industries, and setting the course for a sustainable future”,  he said.
The Minister said the summit was also aimed at bolstering the continent’s efforts toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while fostering the development of cleaner, more accessible, and reliable energy sources.
He stated that the summit will provide a platform for government officials, the private sector and industry experts from across the continent to chart ways for the sustainable development of its natural resources.
He further said the 2024 theme, “Natural Resources for Economic Development”, underscored the significant role that Africa’s natural resources play in driving economic prosperity.
Alake continued that the economic growth of the region would have multiplier effects, including alleviating poverty and creating job opportunities for its people.
“By fostering economic growth, we can alleviate poverty, create job opportunities and ensure prosperity for small businesses and all .
“The responsible exploitation of our resources will generate revenues that can be reinvested into our economies, enhancing infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
“This cycle of growth will elevate the living standards of our people and position Africa as a formidable player in the global economy”, he said.
The Minister also said the summit would deliberate on leveraging Africa’s natural resources to address crucial issues such as quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation.
He added that other issues to tackle also include provision of affordable and clean energy, and proactive climate action.
Alake explained that the summit would be the third edition and would be hosted in partnership with Core International Mining Company.
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SMEs, Major Player In Most Economies – Traditional Ruler 

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The Eze Oha Evo III of Evo Kingdom, HM King Leslie N. Eke, has said Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are major players in most economies, particularly in developing countries.
King Eke, who is the Eze Gbakagbaka of Evo Kingdom, said this while chatting  with newsmen at his palace in Woji in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Eke recalled that SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development.
According to him, SMEs represent about 90 percent of businesses and more than 50 percent of employment worldwide, which, he said, should form part of the reasons government at all levels are meant to give it the required attention.
“SMEs contribute up to 40 percent of national income in emerging economies. These numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included”, he said.
He noted that access to finance has been a key constraint to SMEs growth,  hence the need by concerned authorities to up their games.
In his words, “access to finance should rank  the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs growth .
“SMEs are less likely to be able to obtain bank loans than large firms. They rely on internal funds, or cash from friends and family, to launch and initially run their enterprises”, he said.
He also revealed that SMEs growth will go a long way in reviving the ailing economic sector, if all players play in accordance with the rule, doing the needful to support the enterprises.
King Onunwor
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