National Assembly to Focus on Nigeria’s Economy in 2017

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Friday said the National Assembly would focus on the nation’s economy in 2017.

He said since the economy has remained a major issue for the country and the federal lawmakers would ensure that some of the pending economic bills are passed in the New Year.

Saraki spoke with State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari and joining him to observe the Jumat prayers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said, “As we have started in 2016, in 2017 our attention will be on the economy because that is really a major issue for us as a country.

“We want to see some of the economic bills put forward passed, to see that there is greater improvement in the process of the budget process in 2017 and to see that the government implements the budget early.

“Also, one of our pet projects is ‘Made in Nigeria’ products. We want to see that the government continues to support Nigerians in this area so that we can begin to see the cushioning of the difficult times Nigerians are going through.

“So next year is very important to us and I think on the part of the National Assembly, we wilbilltinue to give our support to ensure that the right things are done.”

Speaking about the recent series of victories over Boko Haram, Saraki said
“That was a great progress from where we are before. If you look at where we were a year and half ago, the challenges we had in that area for us to recapture the place, I think is a great feat. It shows what we can do as a country when we have the commitment, purpose and the leadership required to do that.

“As we have done that in the North-East, I believe the other issue before us is the fight against corruption, the economy, providing jobs, peace in the Niger Delta.”

“For us in the Senate for example, in the last session just this last three months, we did much more than what we did in the entire year. The National Assembly is settling down and as such you will see much more bills passed for the President to sign.”

Defend Yourselves, Dokubo-Asari tells Southern Kaduna Victims

Leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, called on all minorities to support the people of Southern Kaduna.

In a statement released on Friday by Rex Anighoro, his spokesman, Dokubo condemned the killing of Christians by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna and called on the people to defend themselves and “balance the terror foisted on them”.

He said, “The Muhammadu Buhari and El Rufai-enabled ongoing genocide in Southern Kaduna is a supremacist and neo-colonialist conquest on the minorities of Northern Nigeria and by extension on all minorities in Nigeria.

“Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and the Niger Delta People Salvation Front cum Niger Delta People Volunteer Force call all people of Southern Kaduna to defend themselves and balance the terror foisted on them by Buhari and El Rufai’s agents.

“We call on all minorities in the North and across the Nigerian union to mobilise support for the people of Southern Kaduna earmarked for extermination by the Gambari and Futa Jallon expansionists.

“Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and the Niger Delta People Salvation Front cum Niger Delta People Volunteer Force stand with the people of Southern Kaduna.”

NMA Leadership Team Visits Gov. Aregbesola

The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has charged medical practitioners on the need to always prioritise the safety of lives above other considerations while discharging their duties. He said healthcare givers must, as a matter of necessity, see the need for them to constantly establish personal/professional sacrifices, standard and quality healthcare delivery in all they do.

Aregbesola gave the charge while receiving the management team of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), led by its President, Dr. Mike Ogirima, at the Governor’s office, Osogbo.

Describing medical doctors as the best trained individuals in the world with longest university training and experience, said safety of lives remains unnegotiable to healthcare givers, Aregbesola, who lamented on the indiscriminate industrial action usually embarked upon by the health practitioners in the country, called on the leadership of NMA to do the needful in reducing the rate of strikes of its members.

Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (left); exchanging greetings with the National President Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima and Secretary General, Dr. Tanko Sununu (right), during the courtesy visit to the Governor by the leadership of Nigerian Medical Association, at the Governor's office, Abere, Osogbo on Thursday 29-12-2016.

From left- Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, National President Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima (middle), Secretary General, Dr. Tanko Sununu, and Chairman, Osun State Chapter of the Association, Dr. Tokunbo Olagumoke, during the courtesy visit to the Governor by the leadership of Nigerian Medical Association, at the Governor's office, Abere, Osogbo on Thursday 29-12-2016.

Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (4th left), National President Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima (4th right), Secretary General, Dr. Tanko Sununu (3rd right), Chiarman Osun State Chapter of the Association, Dr. Tokunbo Olagumoke (left), former Special Assistant to the Governo on Health Matter, Dr. Rafiu Kusamatu (2nd left), former Secretary General  Chiarman Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Kayode Akinlade (3rd left), and others, during the courtesy visit to the Governor by the leadership of Nigerian Medical Association, at the Governor's office, Abere, Osogbo on Thursday 29-12-2016.

Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (3rd lef), National President Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima (3rd right), Secretary General, Dr. Tanko Sununu (2nd right), Chiarman Osun State Chapter of the Association, Dr. Tokunbo Olagumoke (right), former Special Assistant to the Governo on Health Matter, Dr. Rafiu Kusamatu (left), former Secretary General  Chiarman Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Kayode Akinlade (2nd left), during the courtesy visit to the Governor by the leadership of Nigerian Medical Association, at the Governor's office, Abere, Osogbo on Thursday 29-12-2016.

Aregbesola is Governor of the Year 2016

Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola recently received an award for the best governor in Nigeria (education). The award was presented by the African Education Monitor Magazine.
This is a testament to the governor’s spirited effort and commitment to revamping the sector. It would be recalled that the State of Osun recorded huge gains in the recently results of the West Africa Senior Secondary Examinations.

Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, receiving an Award of the Nigerian Governor of the year in Education (2016) from the Publisher, Chief Executive Official, African Education Monitor Magazine, Oludaisi Adetarami (right), during his Investiture as Nigerian Governor of the year in Education (2016) by African Education Monitor Magazine at the State Secretariat Abere on Thursday 29-12-2016.

Governor State of Osun Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (left) presenting a gift to the Publisher, Chief Executive Official, African Education Monitor Magazine, Oludaisi Adetarami, after his during his Investiture as Nigerian Governor of the year in Education (2016) by African Education Monitor Magazine, at the State Secretariat Abere, Osogbo on Thursday 29-12-2016.

Governor State of Osun Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (left) presenting a gift to the Publisher, Chief Executive Official, African Education Monitor Magazine, Oludaisi Adetarami, after his during his Investiture as Nigerian Governor of the year in Education (2016) by African Education Monitor Magazine, at the State Secretariat Abere, Osogbo on Thursday 29-12-2016.

Aregbesola Tasks Health Practitioners on Professionalism, Sacrifice and Quality Delivery

The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has charged medical practitioners on the need to always prioritise the safety of lives above other considerations while discharging their duties.

He said healthcare givers must, as a matter of necessity, see the need for them to constantly establish personal/professional sacrifices, standard and quality healthcare delivery in all they do.

Aregbesola gave the charge while receiving the management team of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), led by its President, Dr. Mike Ogirima, at the Governor’s office, Osogbo.

Describing medical doctors as the best trained individuals in the world with longest university training and experience, said safety of lives remains unnegotiable to healthcare givers.
Aregbesola, who lamented on the indiscriminate industrial action usually embarked upon by the health practitioners in the country, called on the leadership of NMA to do the needful in reducing the rate of strikes of its members.

According to him, as much as medical practitioners press home their welfares, so they are expected to prioritise the good health of the people in the society.

He appealed to the management of NMA to let their interests in medical practice be inclusive of the physical infrastructure for healthcare delivery.

Aregbesola added, “It is unfortunate that our society has deteriorated. We have lost values in virtually everything especially on the need to prioritise our well-being.

“Doctors and other healthcare professionals are expected to be at the vanguards of lives safety. They are not expected to withdraw their services to the people not to talk of embarking on strikes.

“They are expected to be more concerned about the people’s health than they pursue the welfare of their members.

“Not until this is championed by all medical practitioners, our society remains unsafe.

Commending the Local Government health practitioners in the state, Aregbesola said “if not for them, our society would have collapsed as they have showed extreme understanding to our circumstances”.

“I must commend the local government doctors for being supportive to our administration and for always exhibiting understanding to circumstances. They never shy of saving lives”, he added.

He expressed displeasure over the state of the nation’s economy, saying “for us to appreciate that our economy has declined so badly beyond imagination, Nigeria that has been sharing N1.4trillion monthly between 2011 to June 2013 recently struggled to share N376billion for November.

He said for Osun to clearly operate as government, the state needs N10billion revenue monthly to survive.

Aregbesola said the state has adopted one of the best management strategies to meet with the salary obligations of the state’s workforce.

He said, “The current economic challenges had foisted huge difficulty on us and this has affected government to the extent that we have been receiving deficit allocations, but in spite of this, our government has been struggling to pay workers’ salaries.

“We are literally getting water from stone because I didn’t come to Osun by accident. Nobody has ever done what we have done in Osun. No one has ever attempted what we attempted in all sectors.

“Osun is one of the few states in Nigeria that have been meeting with salary obligations to workforce.”

Recounting his administration’s interventions on quality healthcare services to the people, Aregbesola said, outside Lagos, Osun remains the only state in Nigeria running all round 24/7 ambulance services.

He said Osun outside Lagos also remains the state in the southwestern Nigeria that has been so committed to workers’ welfare.

“We have over 1000 primary healthcare centres in the state. We have a good number of healthcare givers in all our centres as our state-of-the-art healthcare facilities remain superb.
“What we have done in the last 6 years equivalent to what was done in 19 years preceding our administration”, Aregbesola added.
Earlier, the NMA President, Dr. Mike Ozovehe Ogirima, commended Governor Aregbesola’s humility and high sense of commitment to human and capital developments.

He assured the state of the association’s supports just as he called on the state not to relent in its effort in prioritising the welfare of the association.

Also present at the event was the former Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu.

200 Youths In Osun Get ICT Training

Osun State Deputy Governor, Titi Laoye-Tomori, wants politicians and other well to do Nigerians to engage in youth empowerment programmes as a way of giving back to the society.

Mrs Laoye-Tomori is of the opinion that the gesture would go a long way in reducing the level of unemployment and crime rate among Nigerian youths.

The Deputy Governor was speaking at the graduation ceremony of about 200 youths trained in Information Communication Technology (ICT) under a scheme sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honourable Akinwale Adegboye, in Osogbo, the state’s capital.

While lauding the gesture, she stressed that the government alone could not do everything and called on the well meaning Nigerians to rise up and lend the government a hand towards making life better for all and sundry.

“It is a way of giving back and I believe it is worthy of emulation by other members of the Assembly and those who are well to do in the community. The government cannot do everything.

“We have quite a lot of our youths roaming about the streets without anything to do. A lot of them are intelligent but they do not have the opportunity to be gainfully employed.

“By empowering them you get the best out of them and this is the way we can keep them from being miscreants within the society. So, I am highly impressed by this programme,” the deputy Governor stressed.
Honourable Adegboye, said the empowerment scheme was his way of giving his constituents their own dividends of democracy.

“We have promised them during the electioneering campaign that they will enjoy dividends of democracy and we have come back today to fulfil our promises despite the dwindling economy,” he said.

“Widows from across the 15 wards in Osogbo Local Government State Constituency were given rice, drugs to keep them healthy and we also gave monetary help to 73 communities”‎ Honourable Adegboye added.

No Plastic Rice in Nigeria- NAFDAC

The NCS CG, represented by its Deputy Comptroller-General, Mr. Umar Ilya, held on Thursday in Abuja, a joint press briefing with the acting Director-General of National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, on the outcome of laboratory tests conducted on the confiscated plastic rice allegedly imported into the country.

At the event, Oni explained that no plastic rice was imported into the country.
She, however, said the seized rice was “contaminated with microorganisms above permissible limit.”

“Based on the above laboratory result, the product is not plastic but rice contaminated with micro-organisms above permissible limit, hence the seized rice consignment is unsatisfactory and therefore unwholesome for human consumption. The consignment upon handover by the Nigeria Customs Service shall be destroyed”, she said

While explaining the circumstances surrounding the alleged plastic rice, Ilya explained that said the Customs Services responded to a security alert issued by the Office of the National Security Adviser on the importation of plastic rice into the country.

He said, “We have seized over 40,000 bags of rice so far since the ban on importation of rice through the land borders. Those are the bags of rice that are being shared to the IDPs camps. But that is after we have tested and certified them suitable for consumption.

“We enjoin transporters to reject moving such products, as under the law, both smuggled products and the means of conveyance are liable to seizure. We will rely on the synergy with NAFDAC, and other agencies of government to ensure that smuggled  and unhygienic products  are not allowed in Nigeria”.

Aregbesola Grants Amnesty To Four Death-Row Inmates

Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola yesterday granted amnesty to four death-row prison inmates in three Southwest prisons.

Director of Public Prosecutions and Secretary to the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy Pomade Adeniji announced this in a statement in Osogbo.

He said the governor’s gesture was in commemoration of the New Year celebration.

“Pursuant to the advice and recommendations of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, Aregbesola, in exercise of his powers, has granted amnesty to the prison inmates,’’ the statement said.

The statement said the inmates were serving jail terms at federal prisons in Ilesha, Ibara and Abeokuta as well as Maximum Security Prison, Kirikiri in Lagos.

It listed the inmates as Kolawole Adediji and Madelon Adediji, both on the death row.

The statement added that Ekanade Muyiwa and Adewole Olusoji, also on the death row, had their sentences commuted to 20 years imprisonment each.

Meanwhile, in Edo State, an human rights group has condemned the execution of four prison inmates whose cases are still pending at the Appeal Courts.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor made a similar gesture last September, when he pardoned six inmates.

The governor was reported then to have granted the amnesty to mark Nigeria’s 56th Independence anniversary.

Victims of Ondo Market Fire Beg Mimiko for Help

A midnight fire which started around 2:00am has razed down stalls at the Odopetu Market in Akure, the Ondo State capita, destroying foodstuff and other goods estimated at millions of naira. There were no human casualties.

Some of the affected traders at the burnt market disclosed that they dealt in various

Traders present at the site said their goods, mostly  grains, beans, bags of rice, tubers of yam, household equipment and baby clothes have turned into ashes due to the fire.  According to them, more than fifty traders have been displaced by the fire.

A representative of the Oba of Akure had asked affected traders to take stock of the extent of damage in the market and forward their estimates to the relevant institutions of government. 

The fire had already destroyed all the goods before fire service agents arrived at the scene, and five hours after the fore started, they were still trying to put it out.

There were also reports of thieves and hoodlums who looted goods before the arrival of emergency services, under the guise of helping salvage them.

“We are particularly begging Governor Olusegun Mimiko to assist us to cushion the effects of this disaster,” one of the traders said. Another added, “We depend solely on this business, and this is where we see money to cater for our children in school,” another trader said.

The immediate cause of the fire was not ascertained, but two traders said they suspected the fire started from careless handling of cigarette butts.

Rethinking Nigeria’s Health, Safety And Emergency Preparedness, By Akanimo Asuquo Sunday

The recent fire outbreaks at the Yaba College of Technology, the Hallmark shopping mall, in Benin City, Edo State, and the Nigerian Breweries factory in Lagos, have, for the umpteenth time, brought to the fore the need to re-calibrate our workplace safety programs, fire prevention and control strategies and general emergency responsiveness. The claim by the fire personnel, in the case of the Benin mall fire, that the Fire Department did not have the required wherewithal, such as fuel and serviceable trucks to respond timeously to the emergency is a further attestation of the unconscionable negligence that safety issues are subjected to in our clime. It is an eloquent testimony to the fact that what requires common sense in other climes is perceived as rocket science in our quarters.

It is common knowledge that most public places and institutions in Nigeria do not place a premium on basic, irreducible safety standards. Safety issues are handled with levity in Nigeria. Memories of the carnage witnessed in the Ikorodu plastic factory fire in 2002, where scores of workers were charred to death, are still etched in our hearts.

In Nigeria, safety issues are relegated to the background. Little wonder why individuals, organisations and government would invest billions of naira in magnificent edifices, sophisticated equipment and a well-trained workforce, without according health and safety management its pride of place. A cursory glance at most public places would immediately reveal prevailing hazards and unsafe conditions and the complete absence of safety consciousness.

To most facility owners, their idea of safety revolves around hanging a few canisters of fire extinguishers along the doorway. Churches, mosques, malls, markets and hotels are operated without making reasonably practicable arrangements for fire prevention, fire fighting, escape routes and evacuation plans. The cost of putting in place an effective safety plan pales into insignificance when juxtaposed with the collateral losses occasioned by fire incidents.

This parlous state of affairs in our safety management system cuts across all facets of our endeavours. A trip to manufacturing plants and industries, especially steel smelting plants and plastic factories, would trigger reminiscences of the 19th century sweatshops where workers toiled under the most appalling, inhuman and harsh working conditions, without suitable, personal protective and respiratory equipment. Workers are subjected to hazardous conditions and unsafe work practices, with many exposed to highly corrosive and toxic substances.

Construction workers appear to be the most endangered in this regard. Works at great heights are carried out without necessary protective measures and contingencies, especially in the informal sector. Workers cling precariously to rickety bamboo scaffolds without fall arrest devices and harnesses. Most of these workers are completely oblivious of the hazardous nature of building materials such as cement and asbestos.  Asbestos fibres, for instance, readily become airborne when disturbed and may enter the lungs, where they cause fibrosis (scarring and thickening) of the lung tissue. This leads to a condition known as asbestosis or mesothelioma (thickening of the pleural lining). Research suggests that 50 per cent of asbestos sufferers will also develop cancer of the lungs or bronchus.

Welfare provisions for workers, as stipulated in the country’s Factory Act and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention are routinely breached with impunity by employers in Nigeria. The employer has a duty of care to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with, or occurring in the course of work, by minimising, so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of hazards inherent in the environment.

The use of incompetent persons in constructing public facilities also militates against safety. The avalanche of cases of collapsed buildings is an indication that specifications and standards are compromised. Private property developers are notorious for converting bungalows into skyscrapers while the regulatory bodies look the other way. A lot of public buildings are structurally compromised and are not fit for human habitation.

Many lives have been cut in their prime by our lackadaisical approach to safety. In Lagos, intra-city water transportation is not for the faint hearted.  Tens of thousands of Lagos residents dwell along the creeks. They commute daily on decrepit, wobbly, wooden passenger boats. The only semblance of safety precaution taken is the substandard life vests that are handed out to commuters. Little wonder why most boat mishaps record high casualty figures. Similarly, beach resorts and swimming pool operators open their facilities to the public without competent life-guards and adequate safety warnings. They operate with reckless impunity and their activities are largely unregulated, leading to needless loss of lives.

A complete re-appraisal of our health and safety architecture is required. Organisations must entrench a safety culture and consciously promote awareness among its workforce. For safety matters to be taken seriously by the workforce there must be commitment at the top management level. Organisations need to acquire functional fire-fighting capabilities and trained in-house fire wardens, smoke detectors, heat detectors, sprinklers, self-closing fire doors, fire blankets, suitable fire extinguishers and other modern fire equipment that mitigate the spread of fire. At present, top management of most organisations are only concerned with production issues and profit making, with the exception of a few multinational corporations. Legislation must be put in place to compel organisations to have safety policies and adhere to same. Defaulting organisations must be sanctioned.

The Inspectorate Division of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity must step up its proactive monitoring by carrying out inspections, safety tours and surveys in order to punish infractions and contraventions. Prohibition notices, improvement notices and shutdowns of gross violators would serve as a deterrent to others. Governments at the state level should set up safety commissions to enhance health and safety of its populace.

Akanimo Asuquo Sunday, a Health and Safety professional, writes from Lagos. You can reach him at [email protected]

Sambisa: PDP Hails Buhari, Says Goodluck Jonathan Laid Foundation for Victory

National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated President Buhari, the Nigerian military and all Nigerians on the recapture of Boko Haram stronghold, Sambisa Forest, stating that the success resulted from the strong foundation laid by the past Goodluck Jonathan administration.

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, the party, noted that while cleaning out Sambisa is a critical milestone, it is not the end of the war against insurgency in the country and so, the military needs not rest on its oars.

The statement read “We congratulate Nigerians for this important milestone in the long and bitter struggle against the forces of evil that have wreaked (sic) so much suffering and hardship on our people in the last few years.

“We also congratulate the President for his dogged pursuit of the war against the insurgency. We are happy that he has built on the efforts of his predecessors. Whatever we are witnessing now is as a result of all the efforts and sacrifices of the past and present.

“Nigerians and the international community will recall that the war effort received a major boost in the weeks leading up to the 2015 general elections. The insurgents were virtually annihilated – a feat that made it possible for elections to hold peacefully in almost all the Local Government Areas of all the states in the North East last year. We are therefore very much delighted with the continuation of this great effort by the President.”

It continued: “We salute the men and women of our beloved armed forces. Their courage, determination and sacrifice made this achievement possible. The men and women of the Nigerian armed forces have served and continue to serve with distinction in many peacekeeping operations all over the world. We salute them for fighting with great courage to keep the peace in their own Country.

“We also thank the international community for their support and encouragement particularly, those countries that have helped in the procurement of critical military hardware.

“Beyond Sambisa all the other forests which criminals used as hideouts and bases must equally be cleared by the military. Forests such as Birnin Gwari, Zamfara, Southern Kaduna, Enugu and Benue have become killing fields. They must all be cleared of criminal elements.” the statement added.