NPF: EFCC docks Deputy Director for N145.3m fraud

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos office, on Friday, November 30, 2018, arraigned one Bello Na’ Allah Yabo, a Deputy Director, Accounts, Ministry of Police Affairs,fig0_ before Justice A.I. Ogunmoye of the State High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. He was arraigned on a 13-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent diversion of funds and money laundering to the tune of N145,342,063(One Hundred and Forty-Five Million, Three Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Sixty-Three Kobo). The offence is contrary to Sections 383(1) and 390(5) of the Criminal Code Law, Cap. C16, Laws of Ekiti State, 2009. Yabo is facing trial alongside his company, Imrana Ventures, for allegedly using his position as a former Pay Officer, Nigeria Police Force, Ekiti State, in 2015 to divert to his personal use, money meant as the emoluments of police officers in the state. The defendant allegedly concealed the proceeds of crime through his company account domiciled in Unity Bank. One of the counts reads: “That you, Bello Na'Allah Yabo, a.k.a. Imrana Ventures, between February 3 and 5, 2015, in Ado-Ekiti, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, fraudulently converted to your use the sum of N21,899,600.00 (Twenty- One Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Nine Thousand, Six Hundred Naira), property of the Nigeria Police Force.” The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him. In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, George Chia-Yakua, asked for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the defendant in prison custody. The defence counsel, Y.C, Maikyau, prayed the court to move an application for bail dated November 14, 2018 on behalf of his client. However, the prosecution counsel opposed the bail application on the grounds that the defendant had not placed any material before the court to warrant being granted the bail. He, therefore, prayed the court to reject the defendant’s application for bail in totality. Justice Ogunmoye, after listening to both counsels, adjourned the matter to December 6, 2018 for ruling on the bail application and January 22 and 23, 2019 for commencement of trial. The defendant was remanded in Federal Prison, Ado- Ekiti .

N3.6bn Fraud: Former NDDC Director, Omatsuli, Gets N100m Bail

Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, November 16, 2018 granted bail to a former Executive Director on Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Tuoyo Omatsuli and one Francis Momoh in the sum of N100m each. The defendants are facing trial on a 45-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N3,645,000,000.00 (Three Billion, Six Hundred and Forty- Five Million Naira) only. Omatsuli and Momoh, who were charged alongside their companies, Don Parker Properties Limited and Building Associates Limited respectively, were said to have shown personal interests in the consultancy contract awarded to Starline Consultancy Services Limited by the NDDC, thereby enriching themselves unlawfully. The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them. Counsels to the defendants had, at the last sitting on November 8, 2018, applied for bail on behalf of their clients. Consequently, the Judge had adjourned to November 16, 2018 (today) for hearing of the bail applications. In his ruling on the applications today, Justice Seidu granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N100m (One Hundred Million Naira) each with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be residents in Lagos. One of the sureties must be a civil servant and a blood relation of the defendants, who must have a landed property in Lagos with the Certificate of Occupancy, C of O. The other surety must be a Deputy Director in any Ministry in Lagos. The defendants were ordered to submit their international passports to the court's registrar. The Judge also held that the court's registrar and the prosecutor must be satisfied with the sureties. The Judge ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of their bail conditions. The matter was adjourned to January 8, 2019 for commencement of trial.

N600m ONSA Fraud: Court Dismisses Usman, Dasuki’s Ally Objection

Justice John Tsoho, of a Federal High Court Abuja has dismissed a preliminary objection filed by Aliyu Usman, an associate to a former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd), objecting to the N600 million four-count charge on money laundering offence brought against him by the EFCC. Usman was initially arraigned along with Nuru Yahaya and two companies – Leaderettehe Nigeria Limited and Nordeen Global Resources, on October 5, 2017 for a six-count charge of money laundering contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended. Prosecuting counsel, Offem Uket, had on March 19, 2018 brought before the court two motions – to amend the charge and to prosecute Usman alone, while dropping the names of Yahaya and the two companies. The trial judge had granted the application for Usman to be arraigned on the amended charges, as the defence raised no objections. Usman pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. Counsel for Usman, Mohammed Monguno, on March 28, 2018, however, filed a preliminary objection to the amended four-count charge challenging its justification on the grounds that there was “no evidence linking the defendant to the alleged money laundering charges”. He raised three issues: “Breach of due process due to amended charges; Incompetence of the investigations of the EFCC and no evidence to form a nexus between the accused and the transactions on the alleged United Bank for Africa, UBA plc to make a case for money laundering”. After listening to his submissions, the trial judge held that: “The proof of evidence clearly shows that the defendant is linked to a crime taking note of the details of the bank transactions as contained in the evidence and also stated in the statements obtained by EFCC during investigations.” “The respondent has provided substantial evidence in support of the case and has fully furnished the court with the proof of evidence obligatory for a court of law in order to embark on the trial in references to the statements of Usman Aliyu alongside his cousin, NuruYahaya whilst in custody of the respondent,” the trial judge added. Justice Tsoho, thereafter, dismissed the application “as the authenticity of this case has been established”. Consequently, Monguno prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him explain the ruling to his client and prepare to come back for commencement of trial. While adjourning to February 12, 2019 for “continuation of trial”, Justice Tsoho ordered the EFCC should release the defendant’s international passport within a fortnight’s time. He also reduced the terms of the previous bond from N150million to N50million.

Atiku will serve four years and hand over to a young person - Spokesperson

The spokesman of Atiku Campaign Organisation, Segun Sowunmi, has said the Peoples Demoratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will only use four years in office if elected as president in 2019. Sowunmi said like Nelson Mandela did in South Africa, Atiku is ready to use one term in office and hand over to a younger person. Sowunmi made this statement while speaking with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, The Cable reports. He said: “On the one-term thing, I am being extremely honest with you. His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar was the one who said it himself, nobody forced him to say, nobody asked him to say, nobody pushed him to say it. “I think he said, if the foundations are laid well, one term is more than enough to get the country ready. And he is also probably reacting to the fact that he is hearing that young people are also eager to take charge of their own country. “He is asking them, ‘okay guys, I hear you, you want to take charge of your country, you have the right to take charge of your country, but it is too divided now, and its a mess. “Let me stabilise it for you, let me bring about 40 percent of you, men and women, so you can learn exactly the nuances; what it looks like from outside and what it looks like from inside are two different things. “Come and learn, and after four years, I can do a Mandela. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, came out, he did four years, he did one term, and left power to a younger person, Thambo Mbeki, and the country is making progress. “What he is saying is: ‘give me a legal document and I would sign it’. If you are too cynical to believe, if you bring that document, he would sign it.” Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that director-general of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, does not have all that it takes to contend with his candidate in 2019 election. Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state, who made this known on Thursday, November 15, said the PDP doesn’t offer any alternative.

OVER 1.5M CITIZENS BENEFIT FROM OYO FREE HEALTH PROGRAMMES – AJIMOBI

…2500 more set to benefit as UK-based health mission arrives the state

Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has disclosed that over 1.5million people have so far benefited from the administration’s free health programmes across the state from 2012 till date. The governor disclosed this during a visit by a delegation from UK-based Jesus House Mission; officials of the Access to Basic Medical Care Foundation (ABC), led by the Founder and wife of the governor, Chief Florence Ajimobi; and state health ministry officials. The team had visited the governor preparatory to the commencement of a five-day free health services, starting from Monday and targeted at 2500 beneficiaries across the state for the period. With the support of ABC, Ajimobi said that many people suffering from minor to major ailments, including surgeries have been attended to under the free health mission in the last six years. The governor said, "This is the first time since 2012 when started the free health mission that we are having a team of Nigerians in the Diaspora giving us support. This is very commendable. "It is pertinent to inform you that our free health programmes, which berthed in 2012, have covered 1.5million people in the state, including the local communities. The coverage spanned various ailments from minor to major, as well as surgeries. "The support Jesus House Mission is giving us today will go down in history of healthcare in Oyo State, just as the ABC has done in the area of preventing deaths through cervical cancer through collaboration with the state government.” The leader of the delegation from the Mission, Dr Agu Irukwu, said that the programme was billed to complement the efforts by the state government in combating health conditions. He said that the JHM was inspired to support the government in acknowledgment of what he called its noteworthy efforts to bring healthcare to the doorstep of the ordinary citizen. Apart from free medical examinations, distribution of drugs and free eye glasses, he said that the team came to the state with over 1000 birth kits for pregnant women. Irukwu said, "We are here because it gives us an opportunity to support the great work the state government is doing in the health sector. “We must also commend another partner in the health sector which is ABC, among others, for taking care of our people especially on prostate cancer, which is the second common cause of death in the world today. "We will be giving birth kits to over 1000 pregnant women within the five days of this programme like we did in other African countries and some states in Nigeria."

CANADIAN GOVERNOR-GENERAL, PAYETTE, AMBODE UNVEIL LAGOS BIOBANK LAB

  • …Facility To Help Prevent, Manage Outbreak Of Diseases
  • …Our Public Healthcare Now Elevated, Says Lagos Gov
The Governor-General of Canada, Rt. Hon. Julie Payette and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode h unveiled a Biobank Laboratory in Lagos designed to ensure effective management of outbreak of infectious diseases with special focus on containment and strengthening of capacity to prevent, detect and respond to all manner of threats. The Biobank, which is located within the premises of Mainland Hospital, Yaba, was delivered through a partnership between Lagos State Government and the Canadian government which contributed a total of $4.5million to the project. Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Payette said the partnership was underscored by the West Africa Ebola outbreak which brought the need for countries to intensify cooperation and coordination to prevent the spread of diseases and to effectively counter epidemics to the fore. She specifically commended the State Government and those who worked hard to contain the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Lagos, saying the facility would better equip the State to mitigate post-Ebola threats, among other threats of diseases. According to Payette: “I must say I had a thought knowing that we were coming here to open such an important facility; a facility to prevent, detect and respond to about the worst calamities possible outcomes that could happen. “The incidence of infectious disease if not contained could do so much damage and could ravage so many lives. It is not important, it is absolutely essential to have a facility like this to make sure that it never happens. “As serious as the outbreak was here in Nigeria and elsewhere in West Africa, it could have been much more or worse and so, Canada is very glad to have filled that gap with you with this laboratory and Bio-bank,” she said. Speaking further, Payette assured that her country would continue to partner with the Nigerian government to contain infectious diseases and other treatments, noting that Ebola was still a deadly disease worldwide. “We will continue to collaborate with you in this important effort; we also work in Canada in our microbiology laboratories to contain other infectious disease and still working on Ebola and other treatments. The disease is very deadly still, we have experimental treatments that are now coming up so that the possibility that we can cure or treat diseases better is in front of us and we have to continue toward that goal so that diseases like Ebola does not anymore mean a death sentence,” the Governor General said. On his part, Governor Ambode said delivery of the project was a perfect example of a forward-looking and community-development collaboration undertaken by Lagos State Government and the Canadian government, adding that with the facility, the public healthcare delivery in the State had moved to higher level. “With this Biolab, I want to publicly admit that public healthcare in our State has been raised to another level and it is to the benefit of our people. “This project was initiated in 2016 because of a joint focus and commitment in improving the management of infectious diseases not only in Lagos but in Nigeria as a whole and we are very clear in our mind that this facility will help our public health practitioners to promptly diagnose diseases of public health importance and boost the clinical management of such outbreaks,” Governor Ambode said. Giving details of funding of the project, the Governor said the Canadian government, through its Global Partnership Program (GPP), funded the design and the construction of the laboratory, while the Lagos State Government covered the cost of training of personnel, maintenance of the laboratory as well as the community engagement and the environmental impact assessment, among other ancillary activities. “This is a partnership that works and we are very excited that this is the first of its kind in Nigeria and we are very proud that the Canadian government has actually deemed it fit to lead in this particular course. “This Biolab will boost effective clinical management of public health outbreaks and launch the State into a new frontier in research and development in various areas of need especially diagnostic kits and production of vaccines for effective prevention and containment strategy against highly infectious diseases. “Biological and environmental samples for life science and medical research will be stored in this Biobank. The facility will also create an enabling framework for local and international collaboration to fast-track research and discovery that will accelerate solutions to global public health concerns,” Governor Ambode said, just as he revealed that the State Government had approved the engagement of a consultant and technical personnel to facilitate the smooth implementation of the project. While urging other institutions and multi-lateral agencies to emulate the Canadian government by adopting a socially-motivated and community-beneficial partnership, the Governor also said Lagos was open for further collaborations and investments. “We want to call on other responsible and committed multi-lateral agencies to help and also contribute immensely to the growth and development of Lagos State and the welfare of its people. “We are willing to partner with Canadian government and Canadian businessmen. What we have tried as much as possible to do as a government is to lay more emphasis on judicial and security sector reforms ensuring that all foreign citizens and corporate interests that come into this country actually have comfortable security and have enabling environment to be able to do all that they consent to do in terms of investment. “Beyond what it is that you have done for us today, I just want to extend that hand of fellowship that we can partner to extend investment opportunities to Canadian companies to Lagos, and by so doing, we grow the GDP of Lagos and Nigeria,” the Governor said. The Lagos State Biobank has two Biosafety Level Laboratories known as BSL 2 and 3 with capacity to process and rapidly identify samples suspected for Ebola, Lassa fever and other infectious diseases with epidemic potential‎ ‎ Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has awarded N10million seed fund to the best three graduating students of the Ready.Set.Work (RSW) Initiative, saying that he was fulfilled that his administration was nurturing graduates that would contribute immensely to the development of the State and Nigeria in general. 20 year- old graduate of the Lagos State University (LASU), Miss Afolayan Vivian who emerged winner of the Pitch Competition got N5million, while Popoola Joshua and Miss Adeniyi Miriam finished in second and third position to take home N3million and N2million respectively, courtesy of the Governor. The Ready.Set.Work initiative, a brain child of the present administration is an employability and entrepreneurship program aimed at preparing final year students in Lagos State for immediate entry into the work force as employees and employers of labour. Speaking at the well attended 2018 Ready.Set.Work graduation ceremony held at the Landmark Event Centre, Governor Ambode who was visibly elated, said the enthusiasm of thousands of the graduants as well as testimonies of scores of facilitators and sponsors was a confirmation that his administration has placed a high premium on the future of Lagos and Nigeria in general. “When I was graduating, I was just 21, but I had no direction. So after almost about 30 something years and I see youths so energetic and excited, I am happy to say that yes, I think I have made a difference. This is not about bridges, flyovers and hospitals, but I feel so excited that yes, I got this right and the future of this country is blessed. The energy inside this hall tells me there is a different world here from what is happening out there,” he said. He expressed optimism that the 5,000 graduates of the initiative have been well equipped for the world of work and rearing to make a difference. “By investing in people, we will secure the future prosperity of Lagos State and Nigeria. With programmes like Ready-Set-Work, Code Lagos and the Employment Trust Fund we are providing platforms that will nurture a society of problem solvers, change-makers, and value adding citizens helping to improve our economy. These innovative programmes must therefore, not be allowed to die,” the Governor said. He said it was gratifying that the initiative which commenced three years ago with about 500 students, 52 volunteer facilitators, friends and partners has now reached over 37,000 students, over 700 volunteer facilitators and several sponsors who have keyed into the program. According to the Governor, the initiative has now emerged as a major platform for the government to prepare graduates from tertiary institutions for the life ahead by equipping them with requisite skills and mindset to give value to the labour market. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to inform you that over the past three years, we have stayed true to this vision and scaled up our impact. I invite you to take a look across the auditorium today to see how that small spark in 2016 has become a roaring fire. “From 500 Ready-Set-Work Scholars in 2016, we are celebrating today the impact of this program on the lives of over 37,000 students who have participated in the Ready-Set-Work program over the last three years, either through the RSW On-Campus Training or through the RSW Online Academy. “We have taken it a step further by supporting top performing students by providing paid internship opportunities, as well as seed funding and incubation for viable business ideas. To date, over 1,200 RSW Scholars have benefited from internship placements, and another 2,000 Scholars from the 2018 graduating class will also be placed in internships,” Governor Ambode said. He disclosed that the first place winners of the 2016 Ready-Set-Work Business Pitch Competition, who got seed funding and incubation support were already making impact in the society with the production of up to 10,000 liters of biogas daily within a community in Ikorodu, with zero carbon emission, while other graduates were adding value in top companies and countless small businesses across the State. The Governor seized the occasion to thank the network of about 1,000 employers, who, over the years, have contributed to preparing RSW Scholars for the world of work, by providing internship opportunities in their organizations, noting that some have taken on the cost of paying their interns, with the State Government supporting small and medium size businesses by paying the stipends for their interns over a period of 3 - 6 months. “In marking another successful edition of Ready-Set-Work, we cannot overemphasize the important role of our Volunteer Facilitators, the largest volunteer faculty in Nigeria. These selfless individuals gave up their Saturdays, traveled from far distances, committed to multiple hours of preparation, and made other sacrifices for 13 weeks to invest in our students. “I thank our corporate partners and sponsors again for their commitment, financial contributions, and technical support. We trust that we can count on you to continue investing in the future of Lagos State. Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh said the graduants had gone through 13-weeks of intensive engagement and were mentally prepared to deploy their skills and emotional intelligence to the corporate world, saying that the future of Lagos was in excellent hands. On his part, Vice Chancellor of LASU, Professor Lanre Fagbohun said the Ready.Set.Work program has bridged the gap between the quality of graduates being churned out from tertiary institutions and the requirement by employers of labour, urging the beneficiaries to utilise the opportunity and make a telling impact in the society. ‎‎

SOLDIERS DEPLOYED IN N.E. NOT BEGGING FOR FOOD OR MONEY - FG

The Federal Government has debunked an online publication alleging deplorable conditions of the troops fighting Boko Haram in the North East, saying the report is a classic example of fake news. Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said in view of the grave security implication of the allegations contained in the publication, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered an investigation to determine its veracity. “Gentlemen, the investigation has since been concluded and, in line with the transparent stance of this Administration, I have invited you here today to share with you the outcome. The summary of the findings is that there is no case of hunger, starvation or begging among the troops fighting in the North East, and in particular in the Armed Forces Special Forces Battalion that was referenced in the publication. ''There is also no irregular/short payment of allowances, while claims of poor equipment, inadequate kitting and accommodation are found to be ill conceived and unfounded,” he said. Alhaji Mohammed said contrary to the publication, the troops in question, deployed at Brig.-Gen. Maimalari Secondary School along Gubio Road, are being fed centrally three times a day, and are kitted immediately after their training before they are deployed in the theatre. “How then can soldiers who are fed centrally be starving or begging for food? Concerning the payment of allowances, the monthly allowances of troops of the AFSF Battalion are being paid directly into their various accounts from the Defence Headquarters, hence they cannot be shortchanged,” he said. On the allegation of poor equipment and inadequate kitting, the Minister said it was found that the inflow of logistics into the theatre in the past six months showed an enormous quantity of materiel was distributed to troops in the theatre. “If anything, the publication in question exhibited poor understanding of what obtains in the theatre of military operations. For example, the claim of poor accommodation in an operational environment. By their training, soldiers in theatres of war are usually in trenches, tents or other makeshift structures. Fighting insurgency is not a walk in the park and the gallant men and women in uniform who are engaged in counter-insurgency operation in the North East are not on a luxurious expedition. The battlefront is no playground,” he said. Alhaji Mohammed warned that engaging in fake publication about the troops is not only a great disservice to the nation, but a terrible downplay of the kind of sacrifices being made by the gallant troops in fighting the insurgency. He said such fake reports amount to collaborating with fifth columnists and enemies of the nation to weaken the fighting spirit of our forces, and represent a clear and present danger to the nation's security. While restating the administration's belief in the freedom of the press, the Minister appealed to the media to always commit to the highest standards of journalism by double checking with the government before publishing any information from the theatre of operation in the North East.‎  

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: BAYELSA CELEBRATES WORLD BANK RATING

The Government in Bayelsa State has said that it has laid a solid foundation that will encourage more investors to come into the state and invest. Director General of the Bayelsa State Investment Promotion Agency (BIPA), Patience Ranami-Abah gave this indication in Yenagoa on Tuesday. She said it is no longer secret that Bayelsa is the most attractive investment destination in the South-South region of the country, an effort she attributed to the kind of leardership Governor Seriake Dickson has displayed over the last six years. She explained that the government has demonstrated its commitment to providing a business friendly environment to investors, through BIPA which provides one-stop services to investors. According to her, the commitment of the government to the ease of doing business has earned excellent dividends, as evidenced by recent and significant indices ranking Bayelsa very highly, not just in the South-South, but in the entire country. Ranami-Abah stated that most recently, Bayelsa has been ranked 1st amongst South-South States in the World Banks’s 2018 Sub-National Doing Business in Nigeria report released on October 21, 2018, and 2nd amongst all States in Southern Nigeria as a whole. She said : "Other key indices include figures released by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) showing that there is high Investor Commitment towards projects in Bayelsa State. "The NIPC figures place Bayelsa State as the 2nd highest beneficiary (with 26% commitment in favour of the state) out of $45.74 bil worth of investment commitments made for 42 projects in nine states and the FCT, within the first 6 months of 2018. "In the same vein, Bayelsa is placed 3rd on the fiscal sustainability index ranking for Nigeria, as indicated in the BudgIT ‘State of States Report 2018’, which looked at the ability of states to meet their recurrent expenditure obligations and their ability to sustainably manage their debt profiles. "All of these, in addition to Bayelsa’s low crime rate, make us the most attractive investment destination in the South -South today. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics ranks Bayelsa as one of the safest states in the entire country, as it accounts for only 1.23% of total reported crime cases". The DG of BIPA who expressed satisfaction with the ratings also said over the last few years under the present administration, more businesses has opened up which has further stimulated the local economy, created jobs and increased the revenue profile of the state. She pointed out that big brands like Golden Tulip now operates an international standard restaurant with local and international cuisines at the Creek Haven resort in Onopa. "It is exciting to know that we have two functional cinemas that provides families the opportunity to go and see movies in a relaxed environment. This was never there. More hotels, eateries have all surfaced and you can say that the good times are here. "The revolution we are seeing in our economic space is just a tip of the iceberg. Once our airport kicks off, you will see a new Bayelsa with its full economic potential. More businesses will come up, big ticket investments that will attract more global attention to our state. "We thank and commend His Excellency, for given us the opportunity to do what we are doing. For us, we are not relenting, we will continue to work hard to achieve the vision and dream of Gov. Dickson. This is our sacred commitment" she said.

DICKSON HAS SET VERY HIGH MARKS, SAYS OKOWA

…as Bayelsa commences Safe Motherhood Scheme, payment to pregnant women
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Wednesday was full of commendation for his Bayelsa counterpart, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, whom he said has set very high marks in governance worthy of emulation by their colleagues. He spoke as the special guest of honour at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall in Yenagoa during the formal launch of the Bayelsa Safe Motherhood Scheme and commencement of payment of monthly stipends to over 1000 pregnant women in line with the state government’s determination to reduce the incidence of maternal and infant mortality. A press release by the Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted Governor Dickson as urging pregnant women in the state to register at the nearest healthcare provider and regularly attend antenatal services to enable them benefit from the scheme. The governor said the scheme would outlive his administration as appropriate measures such as the Health Insurance Scheme and medical health facilities have been provided across the 105 wards in the state to cater to the needs of people in the hinterlands. In their separate remarks, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and a former Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Taminu Turaki (SAN), described Governor Dickson as a trail blazer in the health sector as he was the first to initiate and implement the Safe Motherhood Scheme in the country. Flagging off the programme, Dr. Okowa applauded his Bayelsa counterpart for recognising the place of mothers in society, stressing that paying special attention to women would go a long way to building a healthy family and nation. While encouraging mothers to take advantage of the initiative, he however cautioned them on the need to imbibe the practice of birth spacing for the sake of their health and general wellbeing of the family. On his part, Alhaji Turaki, who is a former presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, noted that besides building institutions and physical infrastructure, Dickson had also demonstrated passion for people-oriented programmes such as the Safe Motherhood Scheme. Also speaking, wife of the governor, Dr. Rachel Dickson, congratulated her husband for carrying women along in his administration as evident in the unprecedented number of political appointments for women, promotion of the girl-child education and special care for mothers and children. In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, commended the governor for taking the bold step in introducing various health programmes in the struggle to promote healthy living.

EMPOWERMENT OF ALL GROUPS, KEY TO ENDING EXTREME POVERTY- AMBODE

  • …Says Lagos Already Implementing Key Policies To Ensure Inclusion, Prosperity
  • …Delivers 75th Anniversary Lecture At Island Club
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday said if Nigeria must get out of the woods, it must begin now to take concrete steps towards empowering every group in the society and give ears to their views and aspirations, saying it is only in such situation that the country can truly end extreme poverty. Governor Ambode, who said this while delivering a paper to commemorate the 75th Anniversary Business Lecture of the Island Club, said Nigeria must aggressively pursue strong social inclusion policies in order to build a virile nation where every member of the society, regardless of their status or creed is catered for. Speaking on the topic ‘Nation Building: Communities, Inclusion and Prosperity’, the Governor said presently there were various indices that present a worrying picture, stressing that the country must address it by taking actions that would change the narrative and engender prosperity. “A sustainable path towards ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity also involves creating an inclusive society, not only in terms of economic welfare but also in terms of the voice and empowerment of all groups. “We must begin to realise that every strata of the society counts, we must listen and accommodate all views, whether they are poor, whether they are Igbos, Hausas, whether they are Muslims or Christians. An inclusive society must have the institutions, structures and processes that empower local communities, professional associations, artisans, CDAs so they can hold government accountable. “It also requires the participation of all groups in society, including traditionally marginalised groups such as ethnic minorities and indigenous populations in decision making processes,” he said. Highlighting the Lagos example of inclusion and prosperity, Governor Ambode said his administration in the last three years, despite the population and migration challenges vis-a-vis pressure on physical and social infrastructure, has continued to carry out massive upgrade of its infrastructure, which according to him would have improve the lives of all residents and ultimately the economy. “We believe that every Lagosian must have the opportunity to grow, develop their own skills and contribute to their families and communities in a meaningful way. “If they are healthy, well educated and trained to enter the workforce and are able to make a decent wage, they are better equipped to meet their basic needs and be successful. Their families will also do well and the whole society will benefit. The aggregate sum of family well-being is the meat for nation building,” he said. The Governor said that his administration has concentrated on creating an environment for investments to thrive, saying that deliberate steps were also taken to encourage the private sector to take the front seat and grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State. He listed development of Tourism, Hospitality, Arts, Sports and Entertainment sectors, development of an integrated and modern inter-modal transportation system, Employment Trust Fund, CodeLagos and Ready-Set-Work as some of the strategies evolved over the last three years that has recorded huge impact in the State’s economy. “Our Employment Trust Fund has disbursed N5.84billion to 7, 880 Lagosians out of which 1,123 have fully repaid their loans. This is a revolving fund that targets inclusion and prosperity. “Over 25,000 jobs were created through the loans and employability programmes and to ensure inclusion, 3,613 women recievedN2.29billion while N1.44billion was disbursed to individuals less than 35 years and at least N100million in each local government of the State,” Governor Ambode said. “In terms of inclusion and prosperity, our vision to make Lagos safer and more prosperous is driven by the need to foster and build an inclusive society, a Lagos that works for all of us. This has been our primary focus in the last three and half years. “This vision of making Lagos Africa’s model mega city and global economic and financial hub is reflected in everything that we have been doing, bringing our communities together to ensure the future prosperity of Lagos State is non negotiable. I am convinced that we are on the right trajectory and that’s the way to go if Lagos is going to show a very good example to the rest of the country,” he said. Recommending the way forward, Governor Ambode said to ensure inclusion and evolve prosperous communities; social policy needs to move beyond conventional social service approaches towards development’s goals of equitable opportunity and social justice. Expressing optimism that the Nigeria economy was showing positive indices of recovery and encouraging outlook for the future, the Governor, however, said economists had posited that for Nigeria to attain its potential, the economy needs to move at a growth rate of six to seven per cent per year as the population growth was above three per cent. “To meet our growth ambition, we need jobs and we need to increase productivity too. Nigeria has the advantage of a large population, but the majority are under-skilled. It is imperative to equip workers with the skills needed to keep pace with an economy in transition like Nigeria,” he said. “We need to close that in economic and political gap between women and men in this country. Providing both girls and boys with education is going to be our first step. Quality education is the basis for job and income, a modern competitive economy needs the best heads and hands regardless of gender. This is just sound economics and simple common sense. “Government needs to implement structural reforms to enhance efficiency, making valued long term investment in technology and science to support research and development. In addition, government also needs to support the economy to provide jobs for their fast growing job population,” Governor Ambode said. Earlier, Chairman of Island Club in his welcome address thanked Governor Ambode for his support to the Club since he assumed office, saying that he had not only followed the footsteps of his predecessors as Patron of the Club, but had on some occasions, moved a notch further than they did. Also speaking, a former chairman of the Club, Chief Olumuyiwa Falomo lauded the Governor for his developmental strides in the last three and half years, assuring him that history would be kind to him. “Only God knows the future, just carry on regardless, the reward of being very conscientious with what you do will come sooner than later and my prayer for you is that God will guide you and the sky will be your limit,” Falomo said. Highlight of the lecture was the launch of the anniversary brochure and the commissioning of the car park project initiated by the club.
updated 12 minutes ago