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Sustainable Youth Engagement: Rivers Dep Gov’s Example

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, DSSRS is a humane and God-fearing leader and mentor who has a burning desire to lift young people out of poverty and misery.
 With a rare combination of beauty and brains, her milk of human kindness which is non-discriminatory has given succour to lots of people across the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State, in the form of mentorship, scholarships to indigent students, funding of Start-ups for young people in ICT, mentoring of girls in Science, Mathematics and Technology, the list is endless.
However, in consonance with the adage that says charity begins at home, the Deputy Governor, has written her name in gold, in the three Kalabari speaking Local Government Areas, of Asari Toru, Akuku Toru and the mother Local Government Area, Degema, through the establishment of  a Cottage Industry at the Degema Consulate.
 It would be recalled that Dr. Banigo had earlier brought back Banking Operations in Degema which a lot of people thought was impossible in the past. This singular feat greatly improved commercial activities in the area to the delight of the citizenry.
She also facilitated the establishment of an Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force which has helped to improve the protection of lives and property in the Kalabari and the Emohua axis of the State.
This Jewel of the Niger Delta who says she adopted Skills Acquisition Programme as a deliberate strategy to keep the youths gainfully engaged and reduce social vices in the society, fully funded a one month special skills acquisition programme in January, 2020 where over three thousand five hundred youths (3,500) drawn from the old Degema Local Government Area benefitted in collaboration with Redemption Ministries who added a Christian religious component to the training. At the end of the programme youths did not only acquire skills but were led to Christ .
 According to Dr. Banigo, beneficiaries of the programme are expected to be self-reliant with intent to contribute meaningfully to the micro- economy of their respective Local Government Areas and the State at large.
As a follow up, another set of trainees made up of one thousand one hundred and sixty youths (1, 160) also benefitted in collaboration with Region 5 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
She empowered beneficiaries with starter packs to enable them set up their businesses, she also encouraged them to set up co-operative societies to enable them access loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Industry, etc, to boost their businesses which she facilitated and signed as their guarantor.   A good number of them have succeeded in carving a niche for themselves in their chosen skills set.
Mr Adokiye Omuaru a Master’s Degree holder who hitherto had no job was a beneficiary of the Deputy Governor’s free skills acquisition programme. He acquired shoe making skills and has since set up his own factory and is now an employer of labour.
Encouraged by Mr. Omuaru’s enthusiasm and commitment to expand his business, the Deputy Governor provided the funds to procure a generator set, various industrial machines, original leather and other shoe making accessories  to enable him operate on a commercial scale.
 Mr. Eze Abinami Sunday is a diligent and hardworking young man, who is determined to carve a nitche for himself in ICT but did not have the resources to fund his training. However, the Free Skills Acquisition Programme of Dr. (Mrs.) Banigo provided the rare privilege for him to get trained at no cost to him, and today, he has started earning a living from the skills and is also a trainer of other young people like him.
Miss Rasidu Tamunotomba Fakorede, hails from Bille in Degema Local Government Area. Prior to her admission into the Skills Acquisition Programme she had no skills and was jobless. However, she had a life line and succour when she enrolled into Her Excellency’s Skills Acquisition Programme. She ventured into tailoring and things have now turned around for good in her life.
As part of deliberate efforts to ensure that the youths continue to acquire skills to be self-reliant, the Harvard trained Public Health Physician, (Dr.  Mrs.) Harry Banigo has set up a cottage industry in boat building and shoe making in Degema.
For continuity and sustainability, the Deputy Governor has committed huge financial resources to completely rehabilitate and upgrade facilities in the Degema Local Government Council to accommodate the Cottage Industry.
The complete makeover of the structures by the Deputy Governor with her personal resources underscores the importance she attaches to the project which is now a legacy project for posterity.
This human capital development project would no doubt lift thousands of people out of poverty that would ultimately outlive the tenure of Her Excellency, Dr. (Mrs.) Ipalibo Harry Banigo.
The Cottage Industry commenced operations on the 3rd of June, 2021. So far, a total of one hundred and twenty trainees have registered and are undergoing training. Seventy five of these trainees are for shoe making while forty five registered for boat building in the intensive programme which holds from 9am to 4 pm each day with theoretical and practical sessions.
The Deputy Governor is indeed a trail blazer when it comes to helping young people to succeed in life; she had always said her passion is to lift up young people from poverty. This she has continued to do whenever the need arises.
At a meeting with the Acting Regional Manager of the Bank of Industry (BOI) Mr. Pacqueens Irabor in Port Harcourt, on Friday 23rd October, 2020  Dr. Banigo said “we must lift up our young people and young adults out of poverty, financial, physical, spiritual and mental poverty. We want to give them the mind-set that they can do it”.
Dr. Banigo who is the Chairman of the Ease of Doing Business Council opined that a country that is not able to manufacture what they are using can never really develop which, according to her, is the bane of the nation.
She vowed to continue to encourage youths to be creative, using what the Almighty God has deposited in them, adding that the setting up of the Cottage Industry would engender the spirit of self-reliance in our youths.
“ It is not all about Government work and politics, they have so much that God has put in them that they can use for themselves and others, to be a blessing to their community and to be a blessing to others.” Dr. Banigo quipped.
Just like the Chinese proverb which says “teach a man how to eat fish he will eat but once, you teach a man how to catch a fish, he will eat for ever”, Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor, has taught the youths how to catch a fish, through the setting up of the cottage industry in boat building and shoe making in Degema. Of course this is apt because the people in the area are predominantly fisher men who also harvest sea food like periwinkles, oysters, clam, crabs etc, which makes the boats in very high demand as a critical asset.  
The shoe making industry is also viable with a ready market as the people of the area are very fashionable with a rich cultural heritage which makes a high demand for quality shoes.
Dr. Banigo has done her part, it behoves on the youths to take advantage of this unique opportunity to better their lives. The ball is in their court.      
Benebo is the Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor of Rivers State.

By: Owupele Benebo

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Delta Poll: PDP Sweeps All 25 LGs

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The Peoples Democratic Party has won all seats in Saturday’s Local Government election conducted across 500 wards in the 25 Local Government Areas of Delta State.
The election was contested by ten political parties, who fielded candidates for chairmanship and councillorship positions.
Declaring the results, the Chief Electoral Officer and Chairman of Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr Raphael Agbaike, said the PDP contested and won in 24 LGs in the July 13 2024 election.
‘’However, the chairmanship candidate of the PDP in Udu Local Government Area was returned unopposed.
“The PDP candidates for councillorship positions contested and won 499 electoral wards while the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) won one electoral ward in Oshimili North Local Government Area” he declared.
Certificates of return were presented to 25 council chairmen.
Meanwhile, TAF Africa has commended the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission for their exceptional efforts in ensuring a more inclusive and secure election environment, particularly for those with disabilities.
The Founder of TAF Africa, Mr Jake Epelle, made the commendation on Sunday while giving the foundation report in Asaba after the 2024 Local Government election.
“Our observations from the field highlight both the positive strides made and the areas needing improvement to promote a truly inclusive democratic process,” he said.
Epelle listed some key observations including adequate security and peaceful conduct, low voter turnout due to apathy, disfranchisement due to new polling units, inclusive voting practices, and non-conduct of elections in specific areas.
He highlighted the need for SIEC to consider relocating these voters to polling units closer to their homes for better convenience and mobility.
On his part, the Programme Officer of TAF Africa, Mr. Adeolu Kilanko explained that voter apathy posed a significant threat to the democratic system, adding that the impact was more pronounced in people with disabilities.
“Voter apathy can lead to their voices being further marginalized. It is essential to ensure that the electoral process is not only inclusive but also perceived as trustworthy and transparent.
“We can encourage greater participation from all segments of society including persons with disabilities, by rebuilding confidence in our elections”, Kilanko stressed.
Also speaking, TAF Senior Communication Manager, Lynn Agwuocha called on all electoral management bodies to prioritize rebuilding public confidence and to make necessary adjustments to facilitate easier access to voting for all citizens particularly those with disabilities.

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Nigeria Lacks People Who Speak Truth To Power – Obi

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The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has regretted the dearth of courageous people who can speak truth to power.
Obi who spoke last Saturday, during the 10th anniversary of Alaigbo Development Foundation in Umuahia, Abia State, regretted that the country had abundance of praise singers who tell leaders what they what to hear.
The former Anambra State Governor who recalled how he judiciously managed public funds while in office, also charged public leaders to use public funds for the people.
He further charged them to make people-centred policies, and pursue programmes that promote public peace.
Mr Obi blamed the woes of Nigeria on avarice and insatiable quest for wealth among public office holders.
He, therefore, challenged Nigerians to speak truth to power and stop hero worshipping.
Mr Obi said: “What we lack in Nigeria is people who can tell you you are wrong when you are. Leaders are bound to listen to the people because the people put them in the office.
“ Leaders must use public money for public purpose”.
Continuing, he said: “When I was in public office, I used public money for public purpose. I made sure I used the peoples money for them.
“ I did not spend any Kobo for personal gain. I didn’t take it owing pensions, gratuities. I did not owe any contractor. Now in private life I can do whatever I like with my money.”
The former Anambra State Governor who said he left office without owing workers including pensioners and contractors, disclosed that he also left behind $150m for the state.
Mr Obi solicited continued prayers for leaders so they would serve the people with the fear of God.
The former Anambra Governor who advocated role for traditional institution, advised Government to partner socio-cultural organisations for the development of society.
He further encouraged ADF to continue its advocacy and sensitisation of Ndigbo for advancing the cause of the Igbo nation.
Obi also preached unity among Ndigbo.
In his remark, the pioneer President of ADF, Professor Uzodinma Nwala, said the objective of ADF had been to galvanise Igbo stakeholders for the development of Alaigbo.
The new national President of ADF, Nze Coleman Emeka Chukudelunzu, called for unity among Ndigbo to rebuild Igbo land.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the event, Maj General Chris Eze (retd.), commended the doggedness of Ndigbo to overcome the challenges of the civil war.

 

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S’Court Verdict On LG Autonomy, Sheer Judicial Conspiracy – Afenifere

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The Pan Yoruba Socio-Political Group, Afenifere, has faulted the Supreme Court verdict that granted fiscal autonomy to local government areas.
It lamented that the apex court’s verdict has “done incalculable injury” to the Nigerian state.
This was contained in a statement signed by the leader of the group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Justice Faloye, and made available to newsmen in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Entitled “Tinubu and the Grand Conspiracy Against Democracy and True Federalism in Nigeria”, the statement declared that “Afenifere views the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case filed by the Federal Government on the so-called Local Government autonomy as sheer judicial conspiracy in cahoots with the Tinubu administration against the Nigerian state and its foundational principles of federalism.
“Rather than interpret the constitution to uphold its elementary but overriding federal principle which recognises only a two-tier federal structure of the central government and federating states, the Supreme Court played to the gallery and wittingly allowed itself a most retrogressive declaration that the power of the government is portioned into three arms of government, the federal, the state and the local government.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, Afenifere makes bold to say that in line with its negotiated basis of existence, Nigeria is a ‘Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory’ as affirmed by Section 2 (2) of the 1999 constitution.
“While Afenifere frowns at corruption and misuse of public funds at levels of government, it condemns in most unmistaken terms  the subjugation of the states and its constitutional roles including the Local Government system to the whims and caprices of the federal government by any means including obvious manipulation of the federation account as in the present case.
“The 1999 constitution, which in spite of its flaws, gives life and power to the Supreme Court provides in Section 162 and particularly subsection (6) that “each state shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state”.
“Against this unambiguous provision the Supreme Court held that “demands of justice requires a progressive interpretation of the law.
“ It is the position of this court that the federation can pay Local Government allocations to the Local Government directly or pay them through the states.
“ In this case, since paying them through states has not worked, justice of this case demands that Local Government allocations from the federation account should henceforth be paid directly to the Local Governments .
“Contrary to this invented alternative routes, Section 162 of the Constitution is not ambivalent about the process and route through which “all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state” shall become payable to the Councils.
“In other words, the interpretation does not require a voyage into jurisprudential  sophistry leading to the absurdity of deliberate judicial amendment of the grundnorm.
“By wittingly or inadvertently equating the Nigerian Federation with the Federal Government in the erroneous belief that both expressions are used interchangeably, such that the President may withhold funds to the credit of the Local Governments from the Federation Account, under the guise of having no democratically elected officials, which is obviously subject to the interpretation by the Federal Government.
“ The apex court has not only done incalculable injury to the Nigerian state, it has  lent itself to setting aside its precedent in the  hallowed judgment against the President Obasanjo administration withholding funds to the credit of Local Governments in Lagos State even when the Supreme Court agreed that the Local Council Development Authorities (LCDA) created by then Governor Tinubu were inchoate and fell short of constitutional requirements.
“ It is becoming stridently eloquent that with just over a year of its inauguration, the Tinubu government,  more than even the military administrations, is uncannily determined to unitarise the Nigerian Federation.
‘Part of the unitary package is the creation of the Ministry of Livestock Development which is the audacious euphemism for the re-introduction of Cattle Colony, RUGA and those other policies by which the Buhari administration sought to appropriate lands in the states contrary to the provisions of the Land Use Act and the Constitution which vest land in the state in the Governor in trust for the people.
“Afenifere insists that the way forward for Nigeria is not the confusing rudderless tinkering but holistic restructuring of the polity to re-enact the fundamental principles of true federalism as agreed by the founding fathers.
‘ This includes the fact that the Local Government system is an exclusive preserve of the states, either by direct constitutional provisions or residual powers in a federation.”

 

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