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2023 Presidency: ‘Nigeria Needs President To Unite Country’

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To start the process of re-steering the ship of the Nigerian state to the right path, businessman, rights activist, and 2019 Presidential Candidate, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has urged Nigerians to elect the best candidate, irrespective of ethnic and religious colouration in 2023.

Olawepo-Hashim, who regretted that the country’s value system has regressed exponentially, said side-stepping and sacrificing competence and ability to deliver on the altar of zoning in producing President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023 would be counter-productive to the polity.

According to him, zoning or rotation may not foster national unity and development, adding that the country needs a good president from any region who was prepared and capable of mid-wifing socio-economic development of the country.

In a chat with journalists in Lagos, yesterday, the former presidential candidate said those who want power must construct a national platform and build a national consensus behind their programme.

He said that Nigeria needs a president that will unite the country, secure it, and transform her economy from an under-developed one to a modern productive economy.

In 2023, he said Nigeria’s president “should not be based on tribe, religion or region but on an ability to support the all-round social and economic development and provide sustainable employment for Nigeria’s massively unemployed hands.”

Olawepo-Hashim stressed that “Nigerians from every corner are always ready to vote for a good president when they see one,” arguing that without zoning in 1993, the late Chief Moshood Abiola got votes from Kano against Alhaji Bashir Tofa, his main opponent, who hails from Kano.

He said, that in 1999, “despite the fact that President Olusegun Obasanjo’s home base, the South-West, did not vote for him, he still became president based on votes from the other five zones”.

His words: “The talk of zoning of the Presidency is, therefore, a false narrative, divisive and inimical to national development. It is our turn president makes leaders escape accountability because when he is questioned, the so-called ethnic-based supporters and constituents would gather to say ‘you cannot touch our man because it is our turn.’

“This phenomenon is dangerous for national unity, cohesion, and national development. More importantly, rotating the president is a pedestrian diversion from the current subject of devolution and decentralization of power from the over centralized centre to the federating states in Nigeria.

“Nigeria would not just become a just and equitable federation, simply because a southerner is exercising the over blotted power at the centre.

“It will be more equitable and efficient when the powers are devolved more to the states, regardless of who occupies the office of the President.

“Most of the people talking of how Obasanjo, a southerner became president in 1999, were not in the PDP. They are oversimplifying issues. I was one of the conveners of the PDP in 1998. I know the proper context for what was done. It was not as if other people from other zones did not contest against Obasanjo. Alhaji Abubakar Rimi from Kano and Dr. Alex Ekwueme from Anambra contested against Obasanjo in 1999.

“In 2003, Chief Barnabas Gemade from the North contested against President Obasanjo. Ditto for Buhari in 2015. Chief Rochas Okorocha from the South-East contested against him.

“The emergence of any particular leader or presidential candidate at any time is usually a product of intense horse-trading, negotiations, and bargaining, not outright zoning to any particular region.”

 

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Reps Urge FG To Revisit School Feeding Programme

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The House of Representatives, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to revisit the school feeding programme, suspended over sundry controversies.
The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme was a pilot programme launched in 2004 targeting 12 states to provide a nutritious midday meal to public primary school pupils in the country:
In 2016, the programme was relaunched nationally, targeting public primary school children using locally sourced ingredients to improve health, stimulate agricultural production, and boost smallholder farmers’ income.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu, on January 12, 2024, suspended all programmes of the National Social Investment Programme Agency for six weeks.
The four programmes administered by NSIPA are N- the Power Programme, Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, and Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
Following the adoption of the motion, the House mandated its Committees on Special Duties and Finance to invite the Ministers of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Education, and Finance to revisit the program and propose solutions for its future success.”
The House, while adopting a motion on “Urgent call to revisit school feeding policy” moved by the member representing Tarauni Federal Constituency, Kano State, Mr Muktar Zakari, noted that the philosophy behind the NHGSFP is to encourage enrollment into the public primary schools, address childhood hunger pangs, and improve their ability to concentrate, learn, and increase school attendance.
The lawmaker, a member of the New Nigeria People’s Party, lamented that “The suspension of the NHGSFP by the current administration is unsettling for several reasons, namely reduced school enrollment and attendance, compromised health and cognitive development of the children, and disruption of the income of smallholder farmers.”
He also said “Addressing the programme’s challenges is crucial, but a complete suspension may cause more harm,” noting that “It is important to find alternative solutions or efficient implementation of the NHGSFP to ensure Nigerian children continue to benefit from this important initiative.”
In his words, “The cancellation of the programme is causing an upsurge in the number of out-of-school children, posing a threat to the country’s future and leading to a high rate of crimes, insecurity, and unemployment.”

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Kogi Lauds Appeal Court’s Verdict On Ododo’s Victory

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The Kogi State Government has hailed the verdict of the Appeal Court, Abuja that yesterday uAtiku hails Supreme Court judgment on LG autonomypheld the victory of the state governor, Usman Ododo.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, made the government’s position known in an interview with journalists shortly after the judgment was delivered in Abuja.
Fanwo described the judgment as “sound,” adding that the it represents “echoes of the indisputable victory” of the governor at the poll.
He said the governor remains unwavering in his faith in the judiciary.
The conmissioner said, “Today’s judgment represents echoes of our victory on November 11, 2023. We campaigned round the state and worked hard to reassure the people that our party is the most reliable to take the state forward.
“November 11 will continue to be remembered in Kogi as the day that Kogites across the senatorial districts united to speak with one voice, birthing a resounding victory for the incumbent governor.
“Today’s verdict has offered another great opportunity for those who lost at the poll and in the courts to join the governor in moving the state forward.”
Fanwo said the court case did not in any way slow governance down as the governor has continued to “roll up his sleeves and deliver democracy dividends to the great people of the state.
“The jubilation that greeted the verdict affirming the victory of the Chief Servant of Kogi is a demonstration of the triumph of the people’s will.”
He urged the people of the state to continue to support the governor to make the state the Confluence of Excellence.

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Insecurity: Reps Want Modern Technology Deployed In Nation’s Borders

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The House of Representatives has called on the Nigeria Customs Service to deploy modern technology to secure the nation’s borders with neighbouring countries.
The directive followed the adoption of a motion on “Need to employ the use of modern technology to secure the nation’s borders,” sponsored by the member representing Awka North/Awka South Federal Constituency, Anambra State, Obiageli Orogbu at Thursday’s plenary.
Consequently, the Reps mandated “The Nigeria Customs Service to beef up the nation’s border security with modern technological gadgets.”
It also directed its Committees on National Security and Intelligence and Customs and Excise to “Interface with the relevant agencies of the executive arm to ensure implementation and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.”
Leading the debate, Orogbu said that there are over 320 illegal routes into Nigeria “That serves as horrendous channels for the influx of inadmissible aliens and goods.
“Nigeria at the moment lacks sufficient security personnel to safeguard the existing illegal routes across the borders. These unmanned routes provide avenues for insecurity, proliferation of arms, and dumping of unwholesome goods into the country;
“The porous borders have provided an impetus to the thriving drug and human trafficking routes all over the country.”
Justifying the significance of the motion, the Labour Party chieftain noted that, “Border policing has since shifted from the mundane use of only human beings to the deployment of sophisticated electronic based equipment for potency.
“The deployment of technologies like electronic sensors, video monitors, and night vision scopes to detect illegal entries has proved more effective in western countries than human security.
“Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, (drones) and dark fighter cameras are available to further enhance border controls,” she added.

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