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NIMASA, Navy Bicker Over Hydrographic Survey Bill

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, on Monday, expressed opposition to the Hydrographic Survey bill.
The agency opposed the bill over what it called “apparent militarisation” of the yet to be created agency.
The position of the agency was presented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Magdalene Ajayi, at the public hearing on the bill organised by the House Committee on Navy.
NIMASA, at the hearing, adopted the position of the ministry of transportation.
The bill, sponsored by Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau), who is also the chairman of the committee on Navy, seeks to create the agency, under the Nigerian Navy, with the mandate to be in charge of survey and charting of waterways.
The bill was introduced on 23 July, 2020 and passed for second reading on 8 December, 2020.
Mrs Ajayi said: “Hydrography is important to both military and civil authority, but the bill seeks to make hydrography the primary responsibility of the Navy”.
“There seems to be an apparent militarisation of the proposed agency. Hydrography as a discipline is subject to both military and civil authorities worldwide. Hydrographic services are relevant to naval authority, to commercial shipping entities.
“The present bill appears to situate the subject as of primary interest only to the Navy, leading to an error, in our view, in establishing a national agency as an arm to the Nigerian Navy. The emphasis is National.
“Appointment of the hydrographer of the nation under section 5 ‘shall be subject to the provision of the armed forces Act’. The implication of this, and other related provisions in our laws, is that a non-military person cannot be appointed as the hydrographer of the nation, no matter how eminently qualified that person is. It is, therefore, in the opinion of the ministry of transportation that it will have negative consequences on a national agency.
“The agency should be set up as an open institution in collaboration between the military and civil authorities, in order to attract the best professionals, wherever they may be.”
She added that the bill conflicts with some functions of NIMASA.
Responding to the position of the Ministry of Transportation, the Hydrographer of the Navy, Chukwuemeka Okafor, a rear admiral, said “hydrography is too vital to the national security of the country, hence, the agency cannot be domiciled with any civilian agency”.
He noted that the data that are collected mostly have implications on defence.
He added that the country is losing out due to lack of proper charting of waterways.
“Hydrography has national security implications, during a hydrographic survey on a particular body of water, a huge volume of information is acquired from that area, only a small percentage of this is released as civil hydrography, other information that facilitates military operations in that area are kept in a restricted area, and released to the appropriate arms of the military for national defence.
“Saying this without prejudice that there is nothing like civil and military hydrography, once you deploy a sensor in the water, the sensor will capture every information about that body of water, and when that information comes to the shore, the office where it is processed will analyse, the civil and defence information. It will be a huge National Security mistake to domicile this agency in the arms of a purely civil institution.”
The office of the Surveyor-General also made a case that the agency should be under its control.
The Surveyor-General of the Federation, Adeniran Taiwo, while speaking at the hearing, welcomed the bill but noted that his office should superintend over the proposed agency.
“The Office of the surveyor General of the Federation should superintend over this proposed Agency. This is in line with the provision of the Survey Coordination Act CAP. S17 LFN 2004,” he said.
The chairman of the committee said the recommendation of all the agencies will be attached to the bill when it is transmitted to the president if passed by the lawmakers.

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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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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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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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