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Amnesty Programme Targets Employment For 350 Youths

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) says it is set to facilitate the employment of 350 graduates from the Niger Delta area.
Interim Administrator of PAP,  Gen. Barry Tariye Ndiomu, made this known at a news conference in Abuja.
He said when he assumed office over three months ago, he observed the number of ex-agitators and impacted communities that had benefitted from either scholarship scheme or the vocational training programmes.
“We realise that less than one per cent are gainfully employed. And that is totally at cross purposes with whatever was intended of the amnesty programme.
“I visited the Head of the Federal Civil Service of the Federation because we have about 350 beneficiaries. They are not necessarily ex agitators.
“But the important thing is that they may be classified as those who benefitted on the basis of the impacted community concept.
“However, these 350 individuals from Niger Delta are very brilliant with first class and second class upper degrees.
“The Federal Government at the time, decided that they should be employed in various Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies. And this was supposed to happen in 2017,” he said.
The PAP boss explained that till now, none of them had been employed, in spite of the presidential directive to that effect.
He said he had audience with the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, adding that as a follow up, he was trying to make contact with the office of the Vice President, because it was also very much involved in trying to ensure that these 350 youths from Niger delta were gainfully employed.
“As a matter of fact, they had actually been distributed to various federal ministries. The numbers were stated in correspondences. So I realised that I needed to give it that particular push which I can show you some progress.
“The Head of Civil Service of the Federation is very kind and magnanimous. She is looking into it.
“I believe that by the time the vice president gets involved, I am positive that before long, we will have these 350 individuals gainfully employed in various ministries of the federal civil service”, he said.
Ndiomu noted that on assumption of duty, he had a clear mandate from the Office of the National Security Adviser on what was expected of him to do.
According to him, there is a clear directive to put an end to our contract awards.
“And of course, that also meant that we had to discontinue the award of scholarships and other programmes other than the ongoing programmes that we have.
“Now, the idea behind that directive was to enable me, in the new dispensation, to take stock of the activities of the PAP and to see how we could bring the programme back to actualising its original magnets at the time.
“The programme was supposed to terminate in 2015, but some things happened; the numbers of ex-agitators kept increasing until eventually the concept of impacted communities was introduced.

“And that further expanded the number of ex-agitators that was initially captured and I believe personally, it was from that point that the programme started to deviate from its original vision.

“This is because, the figures of ex-agitators kept increasing from about over 19,000 until it got up to 30,000. There were other reasons given for that initiation exclusion of others,” he said.

The PAP boss further explained that on the scholarship schemes, the beneficiaries were not even the agitators; it became more or less like a social welfare programme that cut across the entire Niger Delta.

He added that one of the directives in the mandate given him was to carry out an audit and education audit to ascertain the number of Niger Delta ex-agitators that had been trained in the educational institutions across the country and overseas.

He added that the audit programme was still ongoing.

“However, we have just received the report of the education audit. We are studying it at the moment, but I think, snippets of it, I can give for now is that three quarters of the beneficiaries are not the actual agitators that the programme was intended to get,” he said.

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95% Of Small Businesses Should Be Off Tax – Oyedele

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The Federal Government is working on a system that will provide tax relief to 95 per cent of the informal sector of the economy in the country.
Mr Taiwo Oyedele, Chairman of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, said this at the closing session of the committee on Sunday in Abuja.
He said this would be achieved through the exemption of businesses earning N25 million a year or less from the various taxes hindering their progress over time.
‘’So, we think that 95 per cent of the informal sector should be legally exempted from all taxes; withholding tax, company income tax, even payee on their staff.
‘’We’re using data to inform our decisions. Currently, if you earn N25 million a year or less, you don’t have to pay company income tax, you don’t have to worry about VAT.
‘’We think that the informal sector are people who are trying to earn legitimate living, we should allow them be and support them to grow to a point where they can then have the ability to pay taxes,” he said.
Oyedele said the new reforms being proposed would focus on the top 5 per cent of that sector, the middle class and the elite for taxes.
He said the committee was drafting the laws to effect the necessary changes in the fiscal policy and tax reform ecosystem of the country.
According to the chairman, the new laws will ensure that reviews become sustained by all governments coming in, adding that: “we don’t want this whole effort to go down the drain, after one or two years.”
On compliance, he urged all stakeholders to fully cooperate with the government in implementing a new fiscal and tax policy that would be used for the general good of the citizens.
‘’We think that the days of being above the law in paying taxes are over. The same thing we’re saying to our leaders, whether they are elected or appointed.
‘’We think they have to lead by example by showing that they have paid the taxes, not only on time, but correctly to the lawful authorities as contained in the various laws,” he said.
He said explained that some of the taxes complained about by Nigerians were those already in the constitution, which the committee had looked at and called for their review.
Oyedele said the committee report would be made to pass through the normal process of legislation in order to give it the full legal backing.
‘’So, our expectation is, as we progress now from ideation, proposal to implementation, you’ll see less and less of those issues and then you’ll see harmony in the direction of the fiscal system.
‘’Not only in the number of taxes we collect, you will also see an improvement in how those monies are being spent.
‘’In terms of priority of spending, in terms of the efficiency of spending and in terms of focusing on what impacts on the lives of majority of our population that live in multi-dimensional poverty,” he said.
Oyedele added that the committee had been working with the sub-nationals and the local government councils in its task of harmonising the taxes into a single digit in the country.
‘’So, we’re convinced, and that’s what the data tells us, that the right path we need to follow, is the path where we repeal many of these taxes, harmonise whatever is left.
‘’We think we can keep that within single digit across local government, state and federal government combined, and then improve the efficiency of collecting those taxes.
‘’We are also very convinced that we need to increase the threshold of exemption for small businesses, for low income earners because if you can’t make ends meet, the last thing you want is someone asking you to pay tax.
‘’We think in fact, when our nation gets to the level we need to be, we should be able to even add money to those who have very little or nothing,” said Oyedele.
At the ceremony, Vice-President Kashim Shettima restated President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to revitalise revenue generation in the country.
“Our aim remains the revitalisation of revenue generation in Nigeria, while sustaining an investment-friendly and globally competitive business environment.
“Contrary to speculations in some quarters, we are not here to frustrate any sector of our economy but to create an administrative system that ensures the benefits of a thriving tax system for all our citizens,” he said.
He said the dynamics of the nation’s fiscal landscape prompted the Tinubu administration to pause and reconsider the direction it was going.
“I am confident that both the Federal and State Governments stand ready to ensure the effective implementation of your reform proposals.
“We shall provide the institutional framework to guarantee the adoption of the consensus of this committee, aligning them with our economic agenda,”said Shettima.

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138.9m Nigerians Need Interventions Against Tropical Diseases -WHO

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Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 138.9 million Nigerians require interventions against Neglected Tropical Diseases.
This is according to the latest epidemiological and programmatic data for 2022, which were gathered, compiled, and analysed in 2023, and obtained from the WHO on Saturday.
The body also said NTDs are endemic in Nigeria as it ranks first in the African region and second globally after India.
WHO defined NTDs as a diverse group of conditions of parasitic, bacterial, viral, fungal, and non-communicable origin, noting that there are more than 15 NTDs in Nigeria.
The report stated, “They prevent children from going to school and adults from going to work, trapping communities in cycles of poverty and inequity. People affected by disabilities and impairments caused by NTDs often experience stigma within their communities, hindering their access to needed care and leading to social isolation.
“Nigeria is endemic for several NTDs. The only disease eliminated was dracunculiasis (Guinea-worm disease) in 2013. The population requiring interventions against NTDs was approximately 138.9 million in 2022, ranking first in the African region and second globally after India.
“This includes 138.9 million requiring treatment for lymphatic filariasis through mass drug administration; 48.7 million requiring treatment for soil-transmitted helminthiases through mass drug administration; and 43.5 million requiring treatment for onchocerciasis through mass drug administration.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government had in 2023 said it would eradicate NTDs in the country by 2027.
The Director of the WHO Global Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme, Dr Ibrahima Fall, said, “With a renewed focus on strategic priorities addressing advocacy for action, partnership, costing and accelerated implementation, technical gaps including research and development and leadership.
“We must intensify our collective action to address the deep-rooted inequalities that fuel the transmission of NTDs in the populations where they persist.”

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NDLEA Intercepts Three Trailer Loads Of Opioids, Others, Arrests Suspects

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Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted three trailer loads of opioids, comprising 3,450,000 pills and 344,000 bottles of codeine syrup.
The agency said the illegal drugs at Abule Ado in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, last Thursday.
The NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, adding that three suspects were also arrested in connection with the seizure.
The statement partly read, “The multi-billion naira consignments were loaded into two 40-ft container trucks and another 20-ft truck at the AML bonded terminal, Abule-Osun, near the International Trade Fair complex before heading to a large warehouse at Abule-Ado, where NDLEA officers eventually arrested the suspects and recovered the opioid consignments on Thursday, May 9, 2024.
“Those arrested include the warehouse agent, Cosmas Obiajulu, 51; Ridwan Balogun, 25, and Banjo Tayo, 30, both drivers of two of the trucks, while the third driver jumped off to escape arrest.”
The statement also revealed that in Ekiti State, a 75-year-old grandpa, Jibril Audu, was arrested on Friday with 7.5 kilogrammes of cannabis at Oke-asa village, Ijero-Ekiti, during a raid operation, while a 70-year-old grandma, Tikwase Nytor, was nabbed with 15.6 kilogrammes of the same substance on Thursday during a raid operation at Achusa and International Market Road, Makurdi, Benue State.
“It also stated that in a separate operation on Tuesday, NDLEA operatives arrested a suspect, Nwankwo Ejike, in the Coker area of Lagos, where 100 litres of codeine syrup were recovered from him, while 60 litres of the same substance were seized from one Clinton Akinye in the same area on the same day.
The statement added, “Not less than 37.5kg of cannabis sativa loaded in a Toyota Camry car was recovered from another suspect, Adegbola Segun, 47, when the car was intercepted at Mile 12 area of Lagos on Monday, May 6th.
“Another consignment of opioids consisting of 59,106 pills of tramadol and different quantities of codeine syrup and Rohypnol being taken across the border to Garua, Cameroon, was intercepted by NDLEA officers on Monday, May 6th, along Mubi-Yola Road, Adamawa State.
“Two suspects linked to the drugs: Abubakar Auwal, 39, and Adamu Abubakar, 25, (a.k.a. Bamanga), a trans-border trafficker who was to take the consignment from Mubi across to Cameroon, were promptly arrested.”
Similarly, NDLEA officers in Edo State were reported to have raided the Iguiye forest in Ovia North East LGA on Saturday, “where a total of 11, 636.185 kg of cannabis was destroyed on three farms measuring 4.654474 hectares, while an additional 188kg of the same psychoactive substance was recovered, and a suspect, Itah Nyong, was arrested during the overnight operation.”
In the statement, the NDLEA Chairman, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Marwa commended the officers for their efforts and pledged continued collaboration with local and international partners to combat drug trade in Nigeria.

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