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FG Releases N24bn Conditional GrantsTo 23 States, FCT

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The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, has disclosed that 23 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have received N24,450,000,000.00 from the Conditional Grant Schemes.

The SSA on SDGs, who was the guest of the Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, explained that the funds are incentive to states to invest more of their resources into areas of national development priorities and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)/Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She explained that the fund, which has been disbursed since 2015, was established in 2007 with a 50per cent matching grant from the Federal Government and a 50per cent matching grant from the participating states.

She added that the grants were targeted at education, health, water and sanitation projects “and aimed at executing pro-poor projects in a consultative manner with the beneficiaries.”

Orelope-Adefulire stressed that the money was spent on the implementation of 732 water and sanitation facilities; 494 health facilities (new facilities and renovation/rehabilitation); 616 education facilities (new construction, renovation/rehabilitation of block of classrooms; 1,150 women and men were empowered/trained in vocational skills, such as sewing, knitting, detergent & pomade making etc).

The SDGs chief stated that special intervention projects were being implemented across the geopolitical zones, an initiative she stated was aimed at strategic investment to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria.

She explained that: “Between 2016 and 2021, a record number of projects have been implemented, aimed at providing essential services to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, by ensuring no Nigerian is left behind.

“In the education sector, 8,008 classrooms were constructed and 305 renovated with furnishing to strengthen basic education across the country.

“A total of 4,845 Desktop and Laptop Computers have also been supplied to schools across the country for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training.

“In the health sector, 195 Health Centres, comprising Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) and Mother and Child Centres (MCC) were constructed, complemented with the supply of 199 Intensive Care and Rural ambulances. About 257 incubators and 7,464 regular and automated hospital beds were supplied across tour health facilities.

“In other cross-cutting sectors, OSSAP-SDGs constructed 66 Vocational and Skills Acquisition Centres; supplied 1,294 transformers; provision of 19,266 solar-powered streetlights; 300 Housing units for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Borno State; and 925 Solar Boreholes, in addition to several other interventions.”

Orelope-Adefulire also discussed some findings from Nigeria’s 2nd Voluntary National Review (VNR) 2020 on SDG-3, indicating that while the country faces challenges in health outcomes, such as high rates of maternal mortality, there has been a significant reduction in under-five mortality rates (from 157 to 132).

According to her, the review highlighted the need for more investment in public health and to ensure the most vulnerable are reached through universal access to basic healthcare services.

The SDGs boss also explains that: “On SDG-4, a key challenge confronting the country has to do with Out-of- School-Children, a demographic challenge that relates to an interplay between employment (SDG-8), education (SDG-4), poverty (SDG-1) and the digital economy (SDG-17). With a population of approximately 200million people, regional disparities are significant.

“On SDG-8, Nigeria’s informal economy is one of the largest on the continent – estimated at 53percent of the labour force and accounting for 65percent of GDP. It is estimated that 75percent of all new jobs are informal. Ensuring youth are well-trained and able to transition to productive employment through the digital economy can help reduce poverty and help diversify growth away from oil and gas.

“In addition, the Nigerian government can dramatically shift to digitization and strengthen its transition to e-government to facilitate its social protection to the poor and vulnerable population.”

In response to SDG 1: Ending Poverty in All Its Forms, Reducing Poverty, and Sharing Prosperity, she stated that the federal government maintained consistent investment in health, education, and other social services between 2015 and 2018, saying “because investments in these areas are essential and integral to addressing poverty.

“With about 10.8million out-of-school children and more people drifting into poverty, Nigeria’s expenditure on education just about 8.6per cent in 2015 and witnessed a steady decline to 8.2, 8.5 and 8.2per cent in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“This was largely due to the 2016 economic recession and the decline in global oil prices and COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

On Goal 2 of Zero Hunger, the Orelope-Adefulire stated: “Findings from the baseline showed that the prevalence of undernourishment in 2016 for stunting, moderate stunting and severe stunting were 32.9per cent, 20.4per cent and 12.5per cent, respectively, while in 2019 the report indicated 32per cent stunting, and 21.2 and 10.8per cent for moderate and severe stunting, respectively.

“Thus, we had a modest decrease in severe stunting.”

On Goal 3, which is Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for all at all ages, she said the summary of the baseline indicated that the rate of under-five mortality rate (meaning that for any child born in a specified year to survive before reaching the age of 5) per 1,000 live births in 2016 was 128/1,000 live births but had reduced significantly to 100 in both 2018 and 2019.

“However, the population of Nigerians covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for a better quality of life via the removal of financial barriers increased from 634,154 for males and 266, 618 for females in 2016 to about 781,057 for males and 332,742 for females – an increase of about 26per cent national coverage,” she stated.

For Goal 4, she affirmed that the participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months increased from 4.97per cent in 2016 to 5.38 in both 2017 and 2018 while for Goal 8, Nigeria faced economic challenges, which was a fall out of global oil price crash and insufficient foreign exchange earnings to achieve balance of trade.

Notwithstanding, Orelope-Adefulire, said, this was increased from -1.6per cent in 2016 to 0.82per cent in 2017 with an annual per capita at -17.31per cent and was subsequently increased to 1.91per cent in 2018 and 2.27per cent in 2019 with its per capita GDP growth of 1.22per cent in 2019.

On reducing inequality within and among countries under Goal 10, she pointed out that in 2016, the labour share of GDP was 25.17per cent, and witnessed a steady increase to 26.06per cent and 26.61per cent in 2017 & 2019.

“With the successful realignment of the National Statistical System (NSS) with the indicators of the SDGs in December 2021, going forward, we will be able to track and report on the SDGs on annual basis – every December through the National Bureau of Statistics. Nigeria is now the first country in Africa to have successfully re-aligned its National Statistical System,” she declared.

According to the SDGs boss, “The Nigerian government has demonstrated strong commitment towards the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the SDGs. Institutional Frameworks have been established at the national and sub-national levels to support the effective implementation of the SDGs. Thus, Nigeria is leading in the institutionalisation of the SDGs.

“The SDGs cannot be achieved with stand-alone programmes and projects. They must be carefully integrated into national and sub-national policies and development plans. Currently, we have integrated the SDGs into Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021-2025) and we presently supporting 16 states to develop SDG-Based Development Plans.

“It is our hope that all 36 states and the FCT will eventually develop SDG-Compliant-Development Plans. This is our approach to Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS).

“Robust Monitoring and Tracking Systems have been designed to ensure effective tracking of interventions using computer-assisted software. We are committed to conducting Voluntary National Reviews every two years for presentation to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).

“To ‘Leave no one behind’, we need the expertise and resources of all – public and private sectors; UN Development System; donor community; academia and the wider Civil Society and concerned citizens.”

 

 

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Cost Of Living: Lagos Civil Servants To Work Three Days A Week …As Sanwo-Olu Announces 25% Discount On Public Transportation 

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, announced a reduction of working days for State public servants as part of plans to cushion the cost of living crisis in the country.

Sanwo-Olu made the announcement in Lagos during the ongoing media parley on economic hardship in the country

“We want to start with our public servants, immediately from next week, Civil servants from the lower level will be working like three times a week and level 15-17 can work four times in a week,” he said.

On the rising cost of food, he said that his administration would open more markets where Lagosians can buy food items at discounted rates.

“We will open Sunday markets in at least 42 identified markets across Lagos State. You will be able to buy food items at a discounted price. You will only be able to buy items worth up to N25,000,” the governor said.

He said his administration was also constructing four food hubs to ensure food distribution in tackling rising food prices.

“Coupled with the one at Idi-Oro in Mushin, four more food hubs are under construction and seven other locations in other local governments have also been identified for more food hubs to be developed,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has said that the state will resume a 25% reduction on public transportation in the state.

“Almost immediately from this weekend, we’re throwing back a 25% reduction on all public transportation.

“We’re working with the various unions to ensure that we also can support them. But on our BRT, our trains, our ferry services, we’re going to begin to enjoy that almost immediately from this weekend.

“I’ve given an instruction, so they are working on the logistics for that.”

Recall that the Lagos State Government, in a bid to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal, slashed the costs of transportation of all state-owned transport systems by 50 per cent in August 2023. It was, however stopped in November, 2023.

Furthermore, Sanwo-Olu announced a free delivery for pregnant residents across all government-owned hospitals in Lagos.

“There is an arrangement for free delivery including cesarean session at government hospitals,” he said.

On rising cost of drugs and other pharmaceutical products, the governor promised that his administration “will also give rebate on some particular drugs at our state government hospitals”.

The governor noted that his administration was also in discussions with various transport unions to reduce their fares.

“First is to express empathy with our citizens, We are not unmindful of the situation, as leaders, we must be able to solve socioeconomic problems,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He also challenged the private sector to look into what they can do for the citizens by replicating their role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

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Police To Lift Ban On Tinted Glass Permits

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The Nigeria Police Force said it has conducted a comprehensive review of the issuance of tinted glass permits and is set to lift the ban on it for vehicles.

Previously banned in June 2022, the NPF said the ban then was a proactive move to bolster national security and tackle criminal activities linked to the misuse of tinted glasses.

The Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, disclosed this in a statement yesterday.

He said that ICT analysts and Eenforcement officers nationwide would undergo a comprehensive training scheduled for the 29th of February, 2024, as a prequel to the reopening of tinted glass permit issuance.

It read, “In a bid to enhance national security and curb criminal activities facilitated by the misuse of tinted glass, the Nigeria Police Force has concluded its review of the issuance of tinted glass permits, previously banned in June 2022.

“The ban was initiated due to widespread concerns regarding the role of tinted glass in aiding heinous crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, the illegal transportation of firearms, human trafficking, etc.

“With the proposed lifting of the ban, stringent measures are being implemented to prevent abuse and ensure strict compliance with guidelines governing the issuance and use of tinted glass permits.

“ICT Analysts and Enforcement Officers nationwide will undergo a comprehensive training scheduled for the 29th of February, 2024, as a prequel to the reopening of tinted glass permit issuance.”

The statement also noted that the training will equip ICT analysts and enforcement officers with skills to regulate tinted glass permit registration, address public complaints, and enforce compliance.

It further stated, “The training will equip ICT Analysts and Enforcement Officers with the necessary skills and knowledge to regulate the registration process, guide registrants on the use of the portal where required, attend to complaints from members of the public, and enforce compliance effectively.

“It will focus on the intricacies of the new guidelines, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a delicate balance between public safety and individual freedoms while safeguarding national security.”

Highlighting the details in the to-be-newly issued permit, the statement explained, “The proposed tinted glass permit will incorporate distinctive features aimed at enhancing enforcement efficiency and security.

“These include a QR code linked to a central database for real-time verification, unique serial numbers correlated with vehicle and owner details, as well as a digital hologram ensuring authenticity and integrity, among other measures.

“It is crucial to highlight that the guidelines for the issuance of tinted permits and the use of tinted glass will strictly adhere to the provisions of the MOTOR VEHICLES (PROHIBITION OF TINTED GLASS) ACT 1991 and other relevant extant laws.”

Adejobi said this strategic approach underscores the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to prioritise public safety while upholding individual rights and national security interests.

Earlier in 2023, the police said they would soon reintroduce permits for vehicles with tinted glass across the country.

“The Nigeria Police Force remains committed to providing updates to the general public on the implementation of the reviewed process of tinted glass permit issuance, ensuring transparency and accountability in its efforts to maintain internal security,” the statement concluded.

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NOSL Launches “you are not Alone” initiative to promote mental health

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Maintaining optimal mental health is vital for thriving in society. To survive daily stress effectively, it is essential to cultivate positive coping mechanisms and embrace mindful living. Giving sufficient time to prioritise a healthy lifestyle becomes necessary in this quest.

To this end, On January 31, 2024, Natural Oilfield Services Limited (NOSL) organised a program ‘You Are Not Alone’ mental health awareness driven in partnership with Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) at the University of Lagos to create an awareness about the significance of mental well-being. This event was a proactive endeavour to initiate open dialogues and provide substantial resources for mental health care.

Mental health challenges have no boundaries. This mental health advocacy had a unique approach by inviting both mental health professionals and students from the University of Lagos to share their expertise and personal stories. This collaborative effort cultivated an environment of truthfulness that promotes acceptance and understanding.

Speaking during the event Dr. Mrs. Abolarin Abimbola expressed, ‘Navigating the landscape of mental health stigma requires collective effort and NOSL’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ is a positive initiative in mental health support. This will help to encourage dialogues and welcome different perspectives, which can reduce discrimination.’

“By unlearning misconceptions, fostering awareness, collaborating, and sharing insights, engaging in the community, every small step can contribute to a more caring world, and amplify its impact to bring a positive change. ”

Also speaking, Dr. G.A Akinbode said, ‘In a world where mental health challenges persist, NOSL’s initiative will act as a guiding force and illuminate the avenues towards a benevolent future. We appreciate NOSL for inviting the students who play an integral part in shaping societal attitudes towards mental health, where mental well-being is prioritised and identified.’

According to him Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) is Nigeria’s largest youth run and youth-focused mental health organization championing the fight against mental health related stigma and creating an environment that makes it possible for people to seek care for their mental health without fear of discrimination.

“NOSL believes that mental health conversation is fundamental. The company is poised to make an ever-lasting impression, an unwavering commitment to long-term sustainability to value psychological well-being and support mental health challenges.”

Dignitaries present at the event were Dr. Mrs. Abolarin Abimbola, Director Special Education and Guidance and Counselling, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Dr. Umar Adisa, Sub-Dean of Faculty of Social Science, University of Lagos, Dr. G.A Akinbode, Head of Department of Psychology, University of Lagos, Dr. U.N Israel, Staff Adviser, Department of Psychology, University of Lagos,
Mr. Abiodun Oguntola, Executive Director, Mental Awareness Nigeria Initiative and Ms. Oluwatomilayo Awodoyin, Clinical Psychologist, Mental Awareness Nigeria Initiative.

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