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Nigerian govt disburses $49 million to Yobe, Osun under ‘save one million lives’ fund

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Impressed by the outstanding performance of some states under the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Result (SOML-PforR), the federal government has disbursed more funds.

Yobe State was awarded the highest amount of the newly disbursed funds as it got $29 million (appox. N10.5 billion) being the highest performing state under SOML- PforR in 2018.

This was followed by Osun State which got $20 million (N7.3 billion).

The official event to mark the disbursement was supervised by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa were he also launched the National Stategic Health Development Plan II (NSHDP) 2018 – 2022 and rolled out the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).

SOML- PforR is a flagship of the federal government conceived in 2012 but repackaged in 2015 following a $ 500 million credit from the World Bank.

The programme is a paradigm shift from traditional ‘input based’ to ‘result based’ financing of healthcare.

It is intended to save the lives of mothers and children by increasing access to utilisation of evidence based, cost-effective and high impact maternal, child and nutrition interventions in Nigeria and change the federal-state relationship to a result based partnership.

The programme was initiated by the World Bank and federal government and has six intervention areas: immunisation coverage (Pentavalent-3), bed net used by children under five, vitamin A supplementation, family planning, Hiv testing during pregnancy and skilled birth attendance in terms of quantity and quality of cure.

Other Benefitting States

Other benefiting states include Borno which got $13 million, FCT $9 million, Kano $8 million, Nasarawa $7.5 million, Adamawa $7 million, Niger $ 6 million, Jigawa N5.6 million.

Other states which also benefitted are Ondo, Edo, Anambra, Bauchi, Ekiti, Benue, among others.

The 36 states and FCT last year were given $1 million each for the implementation of the SOML-PforR programme as intervention in the six selected areas of healthcare delivery.

After the implementation of the programme by all states in 2018, a survey was conducted and all were ranked by performance.

Speaking on the disbursement of the funds, the president, who was represented by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma reiterated the efforts of the government to revitalise the healthcare system.
“For the implementation of the BHCPF, we shall focus more on people living in the rural areas and the vulnerable population in our society, such as women, children under five years of age and the elderly.”

In his remark, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole said the NSHDP II was designed to enable federal and state governments implement health policies in the country according to laid down procedure.

He added that the document which was approved by the Federal Executive Council had the overall goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of Nigeria populace.

He also assured that implementation of the plan would in next five years greatly improve the Nigeria health system and also drastically reduce maternal mortality rate.

Mr Adewole also added that the fund for the SOML-PforR was provided by the National Health Act (2014) as a special intervention to improve healthcare delivery system at all levels.

The minister therefore advised state governors to key into the National Strategic Health Development Plan II for effective synergy between the federal and the state governments.

Meanwhile, speaking on the newly disbursed fund and performance of SOML- PforR in Osun State, the state commisioner of health, Rafiu Isamotu in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES said the state got the funds because of its achievements in the implementation in six areas of interest of the programne.

Osun State had previously gotten funds from the SOML- PforR and this was adjudged to have been utilised effectively, thus earning them second position among states with high performance in the programme.

Mr Isamotu said the newly disbursed funds is a reward for performance in the previous exercise.

According to him, “the state wants a paradigm shift from what they had where a lot of development partners bring money into developing the health sector and results are not being seen”.

He said with the new fund, the state would endeavour to do more “so as to get to the first position”.

Mr Isamotu however admitted it is not going to be an easy feat.

“The more you spend positively, the more money you win. Basically because we have moved from where we were in 2016, that is what won us the money.

“We hope to do better and move first but if care is not taken there is a tendency of moving to zero. We hope we do not. We are also one of the six states to benefit from the initial rollout of the BHCPF, we are prepared for it. We already have our health Insurance scheme in place as well as the Primary Health Care Development Board,” he added.

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Three Lebanese kidnapped in Rivers regain freedom

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Three Lebanese nationals abducted in Rivers State on June 8,  have regained their freedom.

The expatriates of Raffoul Nigeria Limited were kidnapped by gunmen at construction site of the Andoni-Opobo-Unity road in the Andoni Local Governmnent Area of the State.

Spokesperson for the Rivers Police Command, who confirmed the development in a statement identified the rescued kidnap victims as as Engr. Tony Stephan, Chandy Lahoud and Emile Skaff.

“The victims were rescued as a result of the intense pressure mounted on them by the Police, complemented by the strategic role played by the Chairman of Andoni LGA, Hon. Lawrence Paul,” the Police spokesperson said.

He added that the victims have been debriefed and are currently receiving medical attention in an undisclosed hospital, while efforts have been intensified to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice.

However, the police didn’t state if ransom was paid before the abducted road workers were set free.

Recall that Governor Nyesom Wike had given Andoni Council of Chiefs a 72-Hour ultimatum  to ensure the immediate release of three kidnapped expatriates. 

Wike said failure to secure the release of the three expatriates kidnapped by Andoni youths at the expiration of the ultimatum,  he will formally withdraw the recognition of all Government  Chiefs in the Local Government Area and cancel the Andoni aspect of the Unity Road project. 

Governor Wike further stated that other communities across the State must take measures to protect contractors and workers executing projects for them. 

He said the same sanctions  will be meted out to other communities where Chiefs and leaders allow project contractors to be kidnapped by community  youths.

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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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