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As Anambra Prepares For Election…

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On November 6, 2021, the people and residents of Anambra State in South Eastern Nigeria will file out to cast their votes in an off-season election expected to bring about the next governor of the state upon the cessation of the incumbent governor’s tenure, Willie Obiano. Hence, it is a national imperative for the poll to be effectively safeguarded.
Preparations for this election have attained a fever pitch. Essentially, politicians including the contestants for the coveted position, are in brilliant political manoeuvres, transcending one another in their endeavour to sway the electorate to their respective sides. Obviously, the people seem to be excited about this.
But the inhabitants of the state, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians and even the Nigerian government have a disconcerting problem of insecurity. Among many citizens of this buzzing state, adjudged to be the commercial nerve centre of the South-East, the apprehension is not much about who wins the election, it is about who will be alive to do the voting.
The prevailing situation is that the tension preceded by the November 6 governorship election now perseverates across the state. The questions are: will the election hold out? If it is finally conducted, will it repercuss what the public and others choose?
These are pertinent questions currently disrupting politics and politicking in the state. The Anambra electorate need an answer to assure them that the election will indeed be held seamlessly. This is because what should normally pass as a peaceful exercise is rapidly weakening the state, severely exposing the underbelly of state security. Anambra has become a hunting ground with gratuitous destruction of state institutions and assets.
The state has grasped a glimpse of insecurity in its purest form, as many well-known citizens have been kidnapped or assassinated by unidentified armed men, inseminating fear in all and sundry. The abduction of the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, ObioraAgbasimalo, and the murder of the deceased husband of late Dora Akunyili, ChikeAkunyili, are two illustrations. Other imprudent killings have raised doubts about the November 6 poll.
Last April, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof Charles Soludo, escaped death by the whiskers when gunmen charged at him during a political meeting he convened at the Civic Centre in his hometown of Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. But while he escaped unhurt, three police officers attached to him were killed.
There have been several other killings in recent weeks. Specifically, the Nnewi office of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) building were demolished. Unidentified gunmen persist in striking terror into the political class with gun attacks, and numerous innocent passers-by are also obliterated. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been spasmodically named in connection with the sprouting violence, particularly because of its professed undertaking to make certain that November 6, 2021 Anambra election does not hold.
IPOB’s sempiternal and economically enervating “sit-at-home” directives, which are brought to bear in a cataclysmic manner, fudge together a perdurable part of the pang in this area of the country. It has overwrought the people’s economic, educational, and political rights. This is certainly not acceptable.
INEC had expressed concerns over the November 6 governorship election in Anambra and warned against constitutional crisis that might engulf the state if the situation persisted. Its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, conveyed the fears during an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja recently. Recall that in May 2021, the INEC office in Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials and vehicles assembled for the governorship election destroyed.
Despite the anxieties, this state of affairs is allowed to advance to a certain amplitude, and the South-East, which was predominantly one of the most non-belligerent areas of the country, is now a locality to circumvent due to insecurity. The run-of-the-mill inhabitants are flustered and solicitous over their future, owing to the ventures of some gunmen, who slink the nooks and crannies of the state, looking for targets.
According to sources, these armed men not only execute relentless onslaughts against politicians, but equally against chaste, irreproachable and defenceless citizens as well as policemen, and set fire to assets. In all those intrusions which today discommode the entire state and jeopardise the 2021 governorship election, no breakthrough has been chronicled by way of arrests.
Anambra people and Nigerians deserve peace and a sanctioning environment that will make the forthcoming gubernatorial election not only feasible but a huge success. We urge the federal and the state governments to ensure that the people are safe and ensconced and that the November 6 election comes about as scheduled.
If the proposed security workouts of the Nigerian Army will cover the three Southern regions and parts of the North Central as earlier presumed, it should be organised in a way to gain the full underpinning of the law-abiding citizens in the affected regions. The people must feel that the armed forces are there to protect them, not to exacerbate their situation.
Agitators in the South-East should commit themselves to the peaceful pursuit of their lawful aspirations. Recourse to violence will only result in superfluous death and destruction, notably for law-abiding citizens. IPOB should discontinue the threat of undermining the Anambra election. It is against the interests of the people to forcefully prevent them from freely electing their leaders. Any group that tinkers with the people’s educational, economic, and political rights cannot claim to be their emancipator.

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We Won’t Politicise Education In Rivers, Says Fubara …Inaugurates Senior Secondary Schools, UBE Boards  

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that great care has been taken to choose seasoned educationalists to administer two strategic schools’ boards without compromising the process with political considerations.

 

The Governor insisted that if a better Rivers State that is educationally prosperous is to be achieved, then things must be done rightly at the foundation levels of education.

 

Governor Fubara made the remark while inaugurating chairmen and members of the Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools Board and the State Universal Basic Education Board at the Executive Chambers of Government House in Port Harcourt on Friday.

 

The Governor stated that it is important to him to constitute the boards because of his passion to change the trajectory of education in the State and provide a system that will effectively groom Rivers children.

 

Governor Fubara explained: “I have been very patient on carrying out this assignment because I know the importance of these two boards, more especially the board of the Universal Basic Education. This is because it is the foundation of all the educational developments of everybody.

 

“You cannot get it right, if you make mistakes from the UBE. That is why I have been really patient in inaugurating these boards after the expiration of the tenure of the past board members.

 

“I believe that at this point in time, we shouldn’t play politics with everything. We should get some things right, build a foundation for a better Rivers State,” he emphasised.

 

Governor Fubara reiterated that the priority areas of his administration for 2025 remain education, health and agriculture, which, according to him, will be given the needed attention through policy implementation and budgetary allocation to achieve the desired targets.

 

He said: “So, the inauguration of these boards today is the beginning of our 2025 programme for the good people of Rivers State, and I believe strongly that we are going to achieve it together as one people who believe in a better Rivers State.”

 

Governor Fubara charged the board members not only to count themselves lucky to have been appointed but to be committed also to their assigned duties and bring about the needed transformation in the sub-sector.

 

He said, “So, I can proudly say that, I have no doubt in the capacity of these ones that are here, that are fortunate in the midst of over seven million people that are our supporters and wonderful people of Rivers State.

 

“I count you very lucky, and I believe strongly that this assignment that the Rivers State Government is giving to you, you are going to deliver on it with all amount of commitment. I believe that a lot of good things will happen in our educational sector.”

 

Governor Fubara, who urged the board members not to disappoint the confidence reposed in them, particularly enjoined the Chairman of the UBEB, Chief David Briggs, to ensure that he improved on the existing standard at the board.

 

The Governor said, “For the UBEB, I know that there is a standard that is already set. The immediate past chairman did his best. He might not be correct or right in everything, but I know that there is a level of discipline in that section of our educational system.

 

“I am saying this to you here because I will not tolerate anything that will bring down that standard. Rather, I will want that standard to be improved upon,” he said.

 

Governor Fubara also charged the State Senior Secondary Schools Board to commence the promotion exercise for teachers, which, he said, has been delayed because there was no board in place.

 

Speaking on behalf of his members, the Chairman of the Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools Board, Dr. Sam Emejuru, thanked the Governor for finding them worthy to serve in such capacity out of over seven million people in Rivers State.

 

He said: “What I want to assure you is that we are not going to disappoint you. We are going to carry out our duties efficiently, diligently and with fairness to everyone.

 

“We take cognizance of the fact that we know you are very passionate about education. So, we are not going to joke with this responsibility assigned to us.

 

“We are assuring you that we shall not be found wanting. We are going to deliver as you have trusted us to give us this assignment.”

 

In his speech, on behalf of his members, the Chairman of Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board, Chief David Briggs, expressed gratitude to God and to the Governor for reposing high level of confidence in them with such assignment.

 

He said: “Our commitment will be unalloyed. We are assuring you that we will not disappoint you, knowing how meticulous, detailed, passionate, and of course, how result-oriented you are.

 

“We will not disappoint you. We will not disappoint your government, and in totality, we will not disappoint the people of Rivers State. We will be at your side, as your foot soldiers to realize the educational heights you have as a vision for Rivers State.”

 

Those inaugurated for the Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools Board included: Dr. Sam Emejuru as chairman, with Mr. Francis Jacob, Dr. Grace Jaja, Mrs. Jemina Margaret Briggs, and Mrs. Love Aguma as members.

 

For the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. David Theophilus Briggs is the chairman with Nwuke Anucha, Dr Alom Anyanya Austin-Mba, Dr. Walson Ominini as members, while Mrs. Ibiere Pepple is secretary.

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N6.2trn Supplementary Budget For Minimum Wage, Infrastructure – Minister

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The Federal Government says the proposed N6.2 trillion supplementary budgetary will be used to pay the minimum wage.

Mr Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, gave the assurance while addressing the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriation in Abuja.

He said that the funds would be spent on stimulating the economy through the implementation of various infrastructural projects.

These projects include road, rail, water, irrigation, and dam projects in the 2024 fiscal year with prudent utilisation of the funds.

He said that the N3 trillion would cater for the newly proposed national minimum wage, for which President Bola Tinubu said the bill would soon be sent to the National Assembly.

He said that the proposed budget was also aimed at providing counterpart funding for rail projects that had literally stopped for a while, including the longest among them.

These, according to him, are the Port Harcourt Main Bridge, which would traverse the rivers Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, and other parts of the country.

The minister said the second project is Badagry-Tin Can Port, Lekki Port, while the third one is Lagos-IIbadan Standard Gauge, adding that the fourth one is Kano-Marada Standard Gauge.

He said that there would be funding for rolling stock that is required, adding that this would gulp the sum of N530 billion as requested for the five rail projects.

Bagudu said that the sum of N522 billion was also provided for water, irrigation, and dam projects, adding that the proposed N3.2 trillion renewed hope infrastructural fund was “intended to provide equity contributions.

Bagudu assured that the projects encapsulated in the amendment to the 2024 Appropriation Bill would not limit the revenue available for the implementation of the 2024 Appropriation Act.

Rep. Abubakar Bichi, the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, had earlier urged the Minister to give details on the Appropriation Bill, including the N3.2 trillion capital expenditure increase.

This also includes the N3 trillion recurrent expenditure for the newly proposed national minimum wage transmitted by Mr. President for accelerated consideration.

Bichi observed that there was a need for Nigerians to be adequately informed of the details of the proposed N6.2 trillion budget.

This, he says, was in addition to the N28.7 trillion appropriation Act approved for the 2024 fiscal year.

The Committee urged the Federal Government to address the infrastructural deficit and also address issues of security.

Responding, Bagudu said that various efforts were being made to address issues concerning the security of lives across the country.

The Tide source reports that some of the projects proposed in the supplementary budget include: Lagos-Calabar, a 1,000-kilometer road project for which a sum of N150 billion is required

Sokoto-Badagry road projects, as well as the rail project, for which the Chinese government has provided 85 percent funding while the Federal Government is yet to provide the 15 percent counterpart finance.

According to Bagudu, the Lagos-Calabar, which is expected to start in three different sections, has commenced in Lagos, the Calabar end, and one additional section, Sokoto-Calabar.

He added that the Lagos-Calabar also covered the five Southeast States as well as Port Harcourt and Maiduguri rail lines.

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AfDB Invests $10.9bn In Nigeria

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The Director-General of West Africa Region, African Development Bank (AfDB), Lamin Barrow, says the banks’s cumulative financing approvals in Nigeria stands at 10.9 billion dollars.

Barrow said this at the Second Interactive Session and Workshop on Developing Bankable Business Proposals/Business Plans for Youths in Agriculture on Monday in Abuja.

The Tide source reports that the event is being held as part of the activities to celebrate the Bank’s 60th Anniversary with stakeholders.

“Over the last 60 years, the Bank has grown into a trusted partner and the continent’s premier development financial institution.

“Our cooperation with Nigeria has expanded over the years, especially considering that Nigeria is the largest shareholder.

“Since it started operations in the country, cumulative financing approvals has reached 10.9 billion dollars and our portfolio currently stands at 4.9 billion dollars supporting projects in the public and private sectors,” he said.

Barrow said the AfDB’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, upon assumption of office eight years ago, prioritised the High 5–of Power, Feed, Industrialise, Integrate and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

He said these were the accelerators for achieving the SDGs and the targets in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

According to him, the projects and programmes supported during this period have impacted over 400 million people.

He said: “this Interactive Session provides an opportunity to discuss ways of addressing the many challenges faced by youths and women in Agro-business, including access to finance.

“We applaud the Federal Government of Nigeria in spearheading various initiatives and programmes to increase production and productivity in the sector.

“And its efforts to create job opportunities for the youths and women, and combat food insecurity in the wake of the high food inflation currently witnessed in Nigeria.”

According to him, the workshop will enhance the knowledge and skills of participants in preparing bankable proposals to unlock financial support for their enterprises.

Meanwhile, Mrs Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, AfDB’s Vice-President, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Complex, during her key note presentation, identified agriculture as a business.

“We are here to reimagine Africa’s future. A future powered by agriculture that backs the perception of agriculture as a low-income, low-status occupation that attracts only 21.5 per cent of youth.

“Where Women, comprising 50.8 per cent of Africa’s population, continue to face systemic challenges including gender-based discrimination, marginalisation, violence, and unequal access to education, land, resources, opportunity and a voice.

“Africa is home to 65 per cent of the world’s remaining arable land enough to feed 9.5 billion people in the world. Agriculture is a business,” she said.

According to the vice-president, growth in the agricultural sector is two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.

She said by 2030, Africa’s food and agriculture market is projected to be valued at 1 trillion dollars.

“These numbers alone demonstrate the central importance of agriculture as a cornerstone of Africa’s economy and a solution to the continent’s and the world’s food insecurity.

“The question, therefore, is not whether Africa can feed itself, it is how quickly we can make it happen,” she said.

While reiterating AfDB’s efforts towards food security, Akin-Olugbade said the bank was collaborating with partners to allow private agribusinesses to establish industries that processed and add value to agricultural commodities.

“So, to our policymakers, I say this: The time for bold action is now. Every policy should ask: Are we going beyond empowering to invest in our youths?

“How does this support our women farmers? How does this move us closer to food sovereignty?

“To the youths and women: You are not just the future of Africa’s agriculture. You are its present. Your innovation, resilience, determination are the seeds from which a new African agricultural revolution will grow,” she said.

The vice- president said that by working together and focusing on these transformative initiatives, we would unlock the full potential of Africa’s agriculture.

She then expressed AfDB’s commitment to nurture the growth, ensure that Africa’s future in agriculture is bright and prosperous for all.

The Tide source reports that the event was attended by government officials, partners, women and youths in agriculture and stakeholders in the agric value chain.

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