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Nigeria pledges commitment to eradicating discrimination against women

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Nigeria has assured the international community of its unalloyed commitment to the advancement of women’s rights and the eradication of violence and all forms of discrimination against women.

The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS, Babatunde Nurudeen, stated this while making Nigeria’s presentation on ‘Advancement of Women’ to the UN General Assembly in New York.

Mr Nurudeen said: “The advancement of women remains a critical issue for continuous engagement and calls for action-related measures for the achievement of national and international policies capable of promoting and enhancing their fundamental rights.

“Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is unequivocally committed to the advancement of women rights, gender equality, empowerment of women through eradication of poverty, prohibition of trafficking in women and girls, elimination of violence and discrimination against women.”

He also said Nigeria had developed a National Gender Policy aimed at eliminating gender discrimination, and promoting political, economic and social opportunities in the public and private sector for women.

The Nigerian envoy said in furtherance of the objectives of the UN Security Council Resolution 1235, Nigeria has launched its Second National Action Plan of the Council’s resolution.

He said: “To reinforce government’s commitment to the eradication of all forms of violence against women, Nigeria has adopted a programme on Stop-Violence Against Women in Election (VAWIE).

“The adoption is with the objective of mitigating violence against women and demonstrating the link between gender-based electoral violence vis-à-vis the reduced participation of women in the political landscape.

“To facilitate its full implementation, a special contingent of VAWIE monitors are deployed to man designated situation room at various election centres for the purposes of collating and reporting cases of electoral violence against women during any election in the country.”

In the area of women empowerment, Mr Nurudeen said the Nigerian government had introduced an empowerment programme to disburse $1.66 million micro-credit lending to businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid.

This has created an array of women entrepreneurs in the country, especially given the soft conditions of zero collateral, zero interest and only five per cent administrative fee attached to the loans, he said.

In combating gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies, he said the government recently unveiled a ‘Road Map on Call to Action on Protection from Gender Based Violence in Emergencies’.

The Road Map, he said, provided a model and standard operating procedures aimed at ensuring that women and girls are protected from violation in conflict situation.

He said the plan had been further externalised with its subsequent launch, during the Oslo II/Berlin Conference on the Lake Chad, held in Berlin in September.

The Nigerian envoy said the launch had given further impetus for the international recognition of the roadmap as a model for preventing gender based violence during humanitarian and emergency situation.

According to him, Nigeria acknowledges the pivotal role of its women in achieving accelerated national economic growth and development.

He added that the country attached importance to realising demographic dividend and gender equality in all spheres of our national development plans.

Mr Nurudeen announced that Nigeria had been selected as one of the three pilot countries for the ‘Demographic Dividend with a Gender Dimension for 2018-2022’.

The project is being implemented by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as entry points for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

He emphasised that Nigeria believed the advancement of women must be approached in a concerted and collective manner.

“Nigeria reaffirms the importance of the effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and other International Agreements for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“We must work together to ensure the upliftment of womanhood in the realization of objectives of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063,” he stressed.

(NAN)

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EFCC prosecution closes case in N702m fraud suit against Okupe

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Wednesday June 26th closed its case in a 59-count charge, bordering on money laundering, criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N702,000,000 (Seven Hundred and Two Million Naira) against former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Media, Doyin Okupe.

Okupe is facing prosecution by EFCC before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

A statement from the anti-graft agency released today June 26th, says at the proceedings which continued today, prosecution counsel, Ibrahim Audu, presented his last and sixth witness, Shuaibu Salisu, former Director Administration and Finance in the Office of National Security Adviser ONSA, who presently works with the National Intelligence Agency, NIA.

Salisu told the court that “Sometime in 2012, Chief Okupe came to the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, and after their discussion, I was directed to make a payment of N50 million (Fifty Million Naira) to him.”

According to him, “Okupe provided his account details, where I paid the amount into the bank account of Value Trust Investment.”

He added that he was further directed by the ONSA to be paying N10 million monthly (Ten Million Naira) to Okupe for a period of over two years, which he said was reduced to a monthly N5million (Five Million Naira) towards the end of 2014 due to paucity of funds.

He said he made other payments to Okupe as directed, saying that at a point he was instructed to pay the defendant N6, 000, 000 (Six Million Naira).

Salisu further revealed that sometime in 2014, the then National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki directed that he paid the sum of N35million (Thirty-five Million Naira) to an account provided by Okupe and that he can also recall paying N50million (Fifty Million Naira) in cash to Okupe on Dasuki’s directive.

He told the court that he only obeyed directives in all the payments he made to Okupe and didn’t know what the monies were meant for.

When asked if there were evidences of the payments, the witness told the court that he usually provided Okupe with the payment vouchers, which he usually signed.

When also asked if all the payments were captured in payment vouchers, Salisu replied in the negative.

Speaking under cross-examination by Okupe’s counsel, Akinlabi Akinbade, the witness disclosed that Okupe was not the only person that received payments from ONSA. “Anybody that the NSA directs that payment be made to, we make payment,” he said.

Under same cross-examination, the witness said he had no reason to believe that the payments he made were from an illegal source. “Why would I assume it was illegal? I was only directed to make payments,” disclosing further that some of the payment instructions he carried out while working in the ONSA came verbally while some others came written, but that in the case of the payments to Okupe, all the instructions, he said were verbal.

The matter was adjourned to June 26, 2019 for the defence to open its case.

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The rage against Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari

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By Comr. Solomon Adodo

On the 24th June 2019, an unusual political activity took place in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. A public demonstration staged by an obscure political group that gave its name as APC Concerned Nation Stakeholders led by an even more obscure figure called Dr. Symeon Chilagorom proclaimed that they were protesting against internal forces pulling down the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In his public speech, the Convener of the group, Symeon Chilagorom specifically identified ALH Mamman Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Mall Abba Kyari as members of the group that is pulling down the administration. In his words, “the people of this country elected Muhammadu Buhari as their President, not Mamman Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Mall Abba Kyari.”

Of the three people mentioned in that speech, only Abba Kyari holds an office in the Buhari government. He is Chief of Staff in the Presidency. The other two accused persons hold no office in the government whatsoever. The agitators protesting their role in government have a responsibility to prove to Nigerians how the President has abdicated his executive responsibilities to them or how they have hijacked those duties and responsibilities.

The office of Chief of Staff is not of Cabinet rank, the holder of the office wields no executive powers, controls no ministry and or department of government. He is an extension of the office of the president, playing managerial and advisory roles such as selection and coordination of key staff, control of people who come to see the President and protecting the interest of the President or any other responsibilities that are entrusted to him by his principal. To demonstrate that he is subordinate to the president, the Constitution does not require that he is screened and confirmed by the Senate.

To accuse him of usurping the powers of the President is to accuse the President of gross incompetence and dereliction of duty. Even as Symeon Chaligorom and his group make great pretense of “love for the President” and vouching for his “personal integrity and capabilities”, the implication of their public pronouncement and outburst on Monday is that the President is incompetent and has lost control of his office.

It is indeed sad that people who profess love for their President and trust in his competence will in the same breath accuse him of abdicating his office to a subordinate he employed and has the powers to fire. This accusation is even more grave and an open insult on the President when a few individuals who have no office in government are accused of rendering the president impotent in exercising the powers invested in him by the constitution he swore to uphold and defend. The target for destruction by Symeon and his confederates in the APC Concerned Nation Stakeholders is not Mamman Daura, not Ismaila Funtua and certainly not Abba Kyari. The target is the President himself.

With ‘friends’ like Symeon Chulagorom and his group, President Buhari does not need to worry about who is his enemies.

Since his appointment as Chief of Staff to President Buhari in 2015, Abba Kyari has been faced with a cocktail of spurious allegations against his person. None of these allegations have been proven and remain in the realm of speculation and fiction by those who are envious of his enhanced status. The public is yet to be presented with any evidence that the man is corrupt and or incompetent for the job.  The demonstration on Monday carried the unsubstantiated allegations a notch higher. If anything, a glance at the resume of Abba Kyari gives one conclusive prove that President Buhari couldn’t have made a better choice for the office of Chief of Staff.

Trained at University of Warwick in England where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, he also possesses a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge. He was called to the Nigerian Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School in 1983. In 1984, he obtained a master’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge. He later attended the International Institute for Management at Lausanne, Switzerland and participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994. These are the best universities one could attend anywhere in the world.

After such a brilliant academic career, Abba Kyari worked in a couple of blue chip firms where he acquired management skills and gained a lot of corporate experience. He worked for the law firm, Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria. From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna. In 1990 he served as Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in BornoState. From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was Secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited.

At the United Bank for Africa, he was Executive Director, Management Services and was later appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank. He was appointed a Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc. in 2002 and is a Director of Exxon Mobil Nigeria. He is a recipient of the Nigerian Honor Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N).

There is no doubt that Kyari must have made enemies among some prominent people in the country who see him as an obstacle to their inordinate political ambition and rapacious desire for material resources. All the noise against Kyari must be coming from this group of people who see the country as a cow to be milked.

The other two gentlemen who are being maligned with spurious and unsubstantiated allegations are private citizens who have made their marks in their chosen careers but have no office in government. Why Symeon Chulagorom and group should embark on a campaign of gratuitous calumny against these two patriots is difficult for all sane Nigerians to understand.

The constitution under which President Buhari was elected into office does not bar him from having blood relations nor does it require of him to cut communication with his blood relations or friends. There is nothing in the laws of the land or morality that bars him from having blood and or personal relations with other Nigerians.

Since President Buhari’s election in 2015, the two gentlemen have been subjected to spurious allegations from some aggrieved politicians and their collaborators in the media. The public demonstrations last Monday is perhaps the most bizarre demonstration of hatred and political illiteracy since the 4thRepublic began. This one too shall come to pass.-      Comr. Solomon Adodo is the National Convener, Guardians of Democracy and Development. He wrote from Abuja, Nigeria.

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Why oil, electricity subsidy must end, by Emir Sanusi

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The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, made a case for a total but gradual removal of subsidy on oil products and electricity tariff. The emir, who was speaking at the 3rd National Treasury Workshop in Kano, said government must take a bold, but difficult decision of addressing the problem of these two sectors for the country’s economy to flourish.

“100 per cent of what we earned in the petroleum sector went out to import petrol. You are treasurers, is this sustainable? The country will be bankrupted and we are heading to bankruptcy,” the traditional ruler said. The emir asked what was so crucial about petroleum products that the nation had to sacrifice education, healthcare and infrastructure just to have “cheap petrol” and risk the financial stability of the country.

“It is a difficult decision but if the president wants to deal with poverty, he has to deal with this. And you have to tell Nigerians that they have to be ready, if the international price of oil goes up, people must be ready to pay more and if it goes down people will benefit. We have to be responsive to what happens everywhere,” he added.

“Now we have this situation where people need to be told the truth because people don’t understand that N1.5 trillion into fuel subsidy is N1.5tr out of education, healthcare and infrastructure and that is why we have so many children out of school and that is why we have problem of malnutrition. And where are you going to get the money to solve these problems if all the money is going into petroleum sector?” the emir queried.

The emir said the consumption of power and petroleum products are private individual decisions and government could not fight poverty by subsidizing these products. “As treasurers, you are not just accounting money and keeping it, you are managing it and your duty is to tell the president, Sir look at these numbers, we cannot afford this, and if we continue spending billions on fuel subsidy, spending hundreds of billions on power subsidy this country will go bankrupt.

“And I am hoping that, again what I have said is simple honest contribution to you, so that you can begin to push through, even though it is difficult.” The emir also said, “Nigeria is the only country whose balance sheet does not benefit from an increase in the price of oil, and this does not start with this government, it has been on for 20, 30 years.

Today you have tension between America and Iran the price is going up, every oil producing country is going to be happy because it is going to earn more. But in Nigeria, we are going to earn more and we turn round and spend what we earned on importing petroleum products.” Earlier in his opening remarks, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, said the objective of the workshop was to promote accountability and transparency in all facets of the nation’s finance and management architecture.

“It is expected that participants should appreciate that accountability and transparency remain major watchwords for prudent financial management practices and are therefore, major prerequisites for economic growth and development,” he said.

In his goodwill message, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, said the best strategy for fighting corruption was to mobilize everybody to take part, as no one had the monopoly of knowledge.

He charged the participants of the workshop to take lead in the fight against corruption being critical stakeholders in the financial sector.

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