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CBN Disburses N30b Revitalisation Fund to Varsities Next Week

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By Martin Paul, Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said will from next week, begin the disbursement of the N30 billion revitalisation fund set aside for universities across the country by the Federal Government.

Labour and Employment Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, who announced this in Abuja yesterday, said the Federal Government deposited the N30 billion with the CBN in January.

He explained why the fund was not immediately disbursed, saying that the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC)  committee needed to evaluate the audit reports of the universities

The revitalisation fund is one of the seven key issues evaluated yesterday at a Federal Government’s meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

According to a statement by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, the two parties   expressed satisfaction with the implementation stages of what Ngige called “work in progress”.

The minister said some of the items in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) were nearly done hundred per cent within the timeline.

He added that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was directed to expedite action on the integrity test on the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) which, if successful, would eliminate the challenges posed by the peculiarities of the university system to the current payment platform.

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“The report has been turned in, deliberated upon and the Education Ministry and the NUC have promised to write to the Accountant General of the Federation next week for the release of the money to the NEEDS Special Account for onward disbursement to universities shortly,” Ngige said.

He explained that apart from the N40 billion Earned Allowance, which the Federal Government has already paid, the Budget Office had shown evidence that N22 billion Earned Allowances for 2021 was already captured in the 2021 supplementary budget.

On the proliferation of state universities, the minister said: “A Bill has been sent to the National Assembly by the NUC to strengthen its arms in terms of delisting universities where funding and other parameters are inadequate.”

ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and promised that the union would reach out to its members.

Ngige expressed shock that the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD)  embarked on strike after holding a similar successful evaluation meeting with him last week.

Those at yesterday’s meeting were the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Peter Tarfa and the immediate past Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Rasheed Abubakar.

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Yobe Enrols 17,000 Destitute for Free Medical Programme

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Dr Babagana Tijjani, Executive Secretary, Yobe State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (YSCHMA) says the agency has so far enrolled over 17,000 poor people under its Social Equity Programme (SEP).

In a statement by the Agency’s Public Relations Officer, Alhaji Suleiman Bakoro, in Damaturu, on Friday, Tijjani  stated this at a workshop on utilization of Basic Healthcare Provision Funds (BHPF).

He said that Gov. Mai Mala Buni recently approved N200 million for the implementation of the programme, would fast track the attainment of Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC).

Tijjani noted that the SEP was one of the numerous programmes initiated by the governor to enhance access to free and qualitative healthcare services by the people.

On the BHCPF, the executive secretary said, the programme, jointly funded by the state and the Federal Government, also targeted the poor and vulnerable.

He said as at Aug. 25, the agency had paid capitations of 22,024 beneficiaries, adding that the figure represented “97.9% of BHCPF coverage target based on available funds disbursed through the NHIS gateway”.

Tijjani thanked the NHIS for organizing the workshop meant to build the capacity of the management and staff of the agency to perform their duties more effectively.

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In his remarks, the state NHIS Co-ordinator, Mr Abubakar Dabo, said that the objective of the workshop was to bring all stakeholders together to discuss implementation and utilization of the BHCPF.

He charged YSCHMA to ensure that operational guidelines were strictly adhered to in the utilisation of the funds.(NAN)

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ActionAid Secure £1.3m to Mobilise Youths, Women for Governance

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From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja

ActionAid Nigeria has secured a £1.3 million grant from the United Kingdom through the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to increase women and youths’ participation in politics and governance in 2023 general elections.

The Women-Youth Project (We-You) is aimed at campaigning for women and young people in governance across Rivers, Kaduna, and Kano states.

The project will, among others, mobilise a critical mass of young people and women leading issue-based campaigns towards translating citizens’ demands into policy action in the benefiting states.

While Nigeria currently ranked 146th out of 152 countries in the global gap index on political empowerment, in the legislature, only 4.5 per cent are women.

The ActionAid County Director, Ene Obi, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the British High Commission, noted that the overall goal of the project was to contribute to the all-inclusive democratic process and enhance citizen-led action towards the improvement of good governance in the country.

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We’ll Complete Sagbama-Ekeremor Road in First Tenure – Diri

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From Tayese Mike, Yenagoa

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has expressed satisfaction with work on the second phase of the Sagbama-Ekeremor road project in the Bayelsa West Senatorial District.

Governor Diri, who defied the rains on Wednesday to inspect the 42-kilometre road from Toru-Orua to Ekeremor, told newsmen at Aleibiri that the project would be completed in his first tenure.

The road, which was started by his predecessor, is one of several ongoing similar projects embarked upon by Governor Diri’s Prosperity Administration.

He said if the contractor kept to the terms of the contract, all sections of the road would be completed as scheduled.

Diri assured the people of Bayelsa West of his commitment to fulfill his promises to them.

“I can actually see value for money. I am satisfied and I believe that the terms of the contract would be kept. The contractor promised to deliver the project on time as scheduled.

“We also told Bayelsans that in this first tenure we shall hit Ekeremor. The terms of the contract are such that it is tailored towards the end of our first tenure. Hopefully and by God’s grace we expect that this road and this stretch would be completed in no distant time,” he said.

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Also speaking, the Project Manager for Sectraco Construction Company, Engr. I. Julian, said the road is divided into two sections – Toru-Orua to Aleibiri (28km) and Aleibiri to Ekeremor (14km).

The project manager said at the moment, more work was being done on section one while some level of progress had being achieved on section two.

Julian commended the governor for consistently inspecting project sites, which he said contributed to the progress recorded so far.

He promised that the company would give its best to the state by delivering quality projects and on time too.

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