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Reps Okay Federal Medical Centre, Bonny …Group Hails Moves To Reconsider Three Gender Bills

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The House of Representatives has passed a bill for the establishment of a Federal Medical Centre in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The bill, which was read for the third time and passed, at yesterday’s plenary, was sponsored by members representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Hon Farah Dagogo, and 12 others.
The proposed Federal Medical Centre was expected to cater for the people of Bonny and environs.
Dagogo, had in his lead debate, during the second reading of the bill, told the House that existing health facilities in the area are not capable to handle serious health challenges.
According to him, “currently, existing facilities look more like mere consulting clinics. Besides, Bonny is an island, that grapples with many security challenges on the waterway. So, no medical centre in the area can withstand an outbreak of serious epidemic or hazards caused by industrial or social-related activities.
“The absence of a good secondary health care facility is a concern to the residents, and this has led to vociferous calls and clamour for the provision of an improved health care system, hence, this bill, which seeks to establish a Federal Medical Centre in Bonny, Rivers State in order to assuage the health needs of the people, given its peculiar location, and the related industrial activities ongoing in the Island.”
Similarly, a political pressure group, The True Democrats (TTD), has commended the House of Representatives for living up to their calling by agreeing to reconsider three of the five gender bills that were rejected in the ongoing amendments to the 1999 Constitution by members of the National Assembly.
Convener of the group, Bob Ofunne said in a press statement that the TTD was utterly dismayed when the National Assembly threw out the gender bills especially as it’s obvious that women’s representation in governance in Nigeria was at its lowest level and the rights of women are daily trampled upon by some repressive traditional laws that must be changed.
Ofunne said “Though women have continued to play very leading political roles dating back to the days of Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Margaret Ekpo and Gambo Sawaba, they have constantly been marginalised in the political arrangements and permutations in the country.”
He added that “This is very unfair considering the fact that women constitute more than 50percent of the country’s population and should have a fair share at the table.
“If you can get their votes, then you should support them”.
The group while commending the House of Representatives members, especially the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, for spearheading the restoration of justice to the female folk, also urged the Senate to follow suit.
It argued that the country’s economic and developmental challenges can be traced to the non-inclusion and involvement of women in governance.
The group said that the passing of the bills by the two chambers of the National Assembly would be towing the path of not only justice for the women but the much-needed progress the country so desperately yearns for.
Going further, the group said, though the National Gender Policy encourages a 35percent affirmative action, the country should actually go for a 70percent affirmative action, arguing that the female gender deserves this because their social, economic and political rights have been deprived for so long.
He said cited examples of countries like New Zealand, Germany and Iceland which have female leaders and have made tremendous progress in major spheres of development.
The TTD convener noted that cases like the widow who was stripped naked in Anambra State would continue to happen if women are not placed in the forefront of governance, laws are not made to stop all these barbaric acts and women are not made to lead in the judicious use of the resources of Nigeria.
In his words, “Any political party that does not push for active women participation in governance should not be taken seriously in 2023.”
He said,”Not a few political parties have shown in their actions the need for active women participation. It has all been mouth and no action. 2023 must be a time to take action and women must show these political parties that their vote is their action.”
He hoped that the 9th National Assembly would do justice to not only three of the bills but all five bills before their lifespan expires.

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World Bank To Fund $30bn Projects In Nigeria, Others

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The World Bank has said it is set to disburse a total of $30billion to fund existing and new projects in Nigeria and other countries as part of a global response to combat the ongoing food security crisis.
According to the bank, it is working with countries on a $12billion new projects fund for the next 15 months.
It said the projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects.
It added that most of the funds would go to Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.
The global bank disclosed this when it announced how it plans to be part of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing food security crisis.
It stated that it intends to roll out this fund in existing and new projects in agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.
It said, “This financing will include efforts to encourage food and fertiliser production, enhance food systems, facilitate greater trade, and support vulnerable households and producers.”
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said, “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”
The bank added that its current existing portfolio includes balances of $18.7billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.
It stated, “Altogether, this would amount to over $30billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”

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FG Postpones FAAC Meeting Over AGF’s N80bn Probe

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The Federal Government has announced the postponement of May, 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The sudden postponement may not be unconnected with the ongoing investigation of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged fraud to the tune of N80billion.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly meeting where the federation allocates monthly revenue among the three tiers of government.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled to hold virtually between May 18 and 19, 2022.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said this in a letter signed by Director, Home Finance,Stephen Okon.
The ministry said the meeting was postponed due to “certain circumstances.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federation Account/Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings earlier scheduled to hold/virtually on the 18th and 19th May, 2022 have been postponed due to/certain circumstances,” the circular reads.
“In view of the foregoing, I am to further inform you that the new date for the meetings will be forwarded to you in due course.
“While we regret the inconveniences this change might cause you, please accept the assurances of the Minister’s warm regards,” the letter read in part.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Monday arrested and detained Idris over an alleged N80billion fraud.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced indefinite suspension of Idris, last Wednesday.
Ahmed said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

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Nigerian Out-Of-School Children Hit 18.5m

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Nigeria has 18.5million out-of-school children (OSC), the highest number in the world, and out of the figure, 10million are girls, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on ‘Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP 3’, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and implemented by UNICEF.
“For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country. Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), said 50per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture”Farah said.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamid Bobboyi, said this in Abuja at a one-day civil society organisations’ CSO-Legislative Roundtable Meeting where some National and State Houses of Assembly members were present.
According to him, emerging constraints in basic education delivery in the country may necessitate an increase in the consolidated revenue funds from the current two per cent to four per cent.
He buttressed his position for an increase in funding on the security challenges bedevilling the country, insisting that rising student population also poses urgent need for teaching facilities.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Basic Education, represented by Senator Frank Ibezim, decried the failure of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), to sustain some UBEC-initiated projects such as classrooms and libraries earlier introduced by the commission in all constituencies in the country.
While commending UBEC over the construction of classrooms in schools across the country, he lamented the poor maintenance culture, noting that there is no school in the country that does not have a dilapidated block.
A representative of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaoye, called on stakeholders to review the impact of the country’s annual budget on education, stressing that it was not enough that the country is increasing its budget to the sector.
“As we think about reforms, let us think beyond buildings that have been delivered, let us start thinking about how many children have been brought to school,” he said.
“If classrooms are dilapidated, and there are not enough furniture, what about teachers and the quality of the ones available? The Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said there are over 300,000 unqualified teachers in the system.
“Education is very important to be left in the hands of quacks and that is why at TRCN, we are stepping up efforts at ridding the system of unqualified hands. We implore teachers and their employers to take advantage of the various windows TRCN is providing to improve the quality of teachers in the country so as to get better results from our education system,” he said.
For the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Mike Ene, there is need for better funding of the education sector.
He noted that in many states, teachers are overwhelmed by the number of pupils and students they handle.
“In so many states, there is inadequacy of teachers. Some states have not recruited teachers in the last 10 years and yearly, teachers are leaving the system through retirement, resignation or even death. Worse hit by poor staffing are schools in the rural areas. Such schools are called hard-to-staff schools.”
It is in that regard that the welfare packages announced by the Federal Government are very much necessary,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some state governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.
“Some states are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.
“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.

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