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FG Will Ensure Equity in Social Investment Programs – Uwais

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja


The National Social Investment Office (NSIO), will ensure a level playing field for all Nigerians in the execution of the Social intervention Programmes (SIPs) of the Federal Government, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Mrs Maryam Uwais has said.
Speaking in Kaduna while addressing Course 2 participants of the Kasshim Ibrahim Fellowship, a mentorship programme designed to groom future leaders in Nigeria, Mrs Uwais said structures have since been put in place to ensure that those who benefit from the various components of the social intervention programmes are captured based on merit.


She told the group of budding leaders drawn from various parts of the country that gone are the days when a privileged few in the society benefited from a government empowerment initiative designed to reach out to the poor.

“All applicants are encouraged to engage with the processes in place if they need a job. The programmes are open to everybody. You don’t need to know anybody to get enrolled into N-Power, for instance.
“Same procedure applies to the cash transfer program and other components. We have done similar programs in the past but such efforts were not as effective because the drivers at the time did not establish mechanisms and structures that aim at targeting the poorest of the poor”, she added. 

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In a statement by NSIO Communication Manager, Justice Bibiye in Abuja on Sunday, the presidential adviser revealed that the process of developing a reliable Social Register in each State of the federation (and the FCT) was ongoing, noting that well-trained people were being sent to the various communities to identify the socio-economic needs of the people based on their circumstances and peculiarities.
Recounting the huge impact the SIPs are making on the beneficiaries, Mrs Uwais noted that “for the first time in a long while, a government in Nigeria has consistently budgeted definite amounts of money for its poor and vulnerable citizens, irrespective of their party affiliations and ethno-religious differences”.
“Poverty doesn’t know culture, party affiliation; it doesn’t know ethnicity or religion. Majority of Nigerians who are poor don’t even have voters card or know what is happening in the political circles. But government has a responsibility to each and every one of them. 
“You need to see how beneficiaries appreciate what we are doing. A woman  came with a big bag to collect just ten thousand naira. When we asked why, she told us she hasn’t had such an amount of money before and needed to be sure she could carry her money home, after payment.
“The cash transfer programme goes beyond cash payments, as community facilitators, who are staff within the LGAs, are trained to visit them every week, to teach them how to form savings groups, life skills, sanitation, nutrition and hygiene. 
“Indeed, due to the fact that the mentoring and support is embedded within the communities, we have confirmed that these beneficiaries have so far saved over N500 million, and are investing their energy and monies in productive activities such as farming, animal husbandry, poultry farming and rehabilitating community infrastructure”
Uwais, however, bemoaned reported cases of extortion of a few cash transfer beneficiaries by people who take undue advantage of their vulnerabilities, limited knowledge of banking procedures and use of gadgets to dupe them.
She also said that because cash payments come with several hazards, steps are being taken to address this challenge as the NSIO has started the process of mapping, to identify money agents and financial institutions that would facilitate the transfer of cash directly to the beneficiaries.
Mrs Uwais, a 1981 Graduate of Law from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria had earlier shared her life experiences with the participants, urging them to always strive for excellence in all their endeavors.
She admonished them to rise above ethnic and religious sentiments and at all times put country first as they prepare to take up leadership responsibilities.
Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El Rufai thanked Mrs Uwais for honouring the invitation to speak to the young ones, describing her as a woman of great conscience and one of the few accomplished women in Northern Nigeria, who has made outstanding contributions towards humanitarian efforts and social justice in the country.
The Kasshim Ibrahim Fellowship, a brainchild of Governor el – Rufai, is a nonpartisan initiative with a mission to raise the next generation of leaders and prepare them for leadership through mentorship and a long period of exposure to the work environment.

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Labour

Group Gives FG 14-day Ultimatum to End ASUU Strike

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja

The Save-Education-Campaign, Nigeria, has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet up with the ASUU demands for campuses to re-open or risk mass protest.

The group issued the ultimatum yesterday at a conference, tagged: “save – public – education campaign”, held in Abuja.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Comrade Vivian Bello lamented that the continued strike was an organized crime against students’ career and educational pursuits.

She further lamented the meager allocation for education sector in the country, said only N1. 29tn (7.9%) is budgeted for education in the year 2022 which is a far-cry from UNESCO’s standard recommendation of 26% minimum.

“We make bold to say, that if government will recognize the futility in its so-called insecurity-fighting campaign, change strategy and invest a greater proportion of the resources it is expending in the insecurity campaign in providing robust, efficient and quality educational system and structure and qualitatively educate its teeming citizenry, within a calculated period of time, insecurity will gradually die a natural death in Nigeria and the society will take on its hitherto regular and peaceful equilibrium

“We submit boldly that, Education can be a veritable panacea to insecurity in Nigeria,” she added.

In a communique jointly signed by the Co-Convener of the group, Comrade Dimeji Macaulay, the group damands that “the negotiation process of the strike action, including as led by the Prof Nimi Briggs committee, be immediately concluded and SIGNED.(We demand an end to the lingering foot-dragging).

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“The IPPIS has been specifically described and pointed out with evidence, by the striking academic unions as problematic, inconsistent and fraudulent. The Platform should therefore be set aside while the proposed more credible alternatives; UTAS, U3PS deployed accordingly.

“We call for immediate payment of ALL withheld salaries of the striking academic unions. Having become aware of a proposed bill by the Senate to establish financial Aid Scheme for students; we demand that such proposed Scheme be clearly explained to Nigerians.

“We want to see a properly public funded education at all levels in Nigeria and not creating another looting avenue or portfolio for some unscrupulous mindless public officials.

 “That in view of the gravity of the situation, we make a clarion call for unity and coming together of staff unions, students, workers and communities across the Country, to mobilize and get ready for civic mass actions to compel the government to take the necessary steps to end the strike and have the millions of our children and students, return to school to end the jeopardy of their Education and future.

“Therefore, we wish to state unequivocally that, If the strike action lingers, we will be forced to commence another round of mass protests Nationwide to bring an end to the unjust denial of innocent Nigerians their Right to Education”.

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Business News

Bakers Threaten Strike over Rising Cost of Flour, Sugar

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By Joseph Amah, Abuja

The Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) has threatened to withdraw their services nationwide, citing a hike in the price of bakery materials, neglect of by federal government and fleecing by regulatory agencies. 
The association said this on Friday in a communiqué issued after a meeting of its national executive council in Abuja.


In the communiqué, signed by the association’s executives, led by Mansur Umar, its national president, the bakers said they would commence an initial two-week strike from July 13, 2022.


They said the cost of flour, sugar and other materials used in the bakery business had soared beyond the reach of many bakers.


The group also said efforts to get the government’s intervention in the matter had been unsuccessful, as there had been no positive response from the concerned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.


“Increase in prices of bakery materials, especially flour and sugar having reached unprecedented levels, for example, flour is now between N25,000 and N27,500, so also other ingredients,” it reads.


“The National Wheat Cultivation Committee already constituted is yet to be inaugurated after over one year. NAFDAC, SON, and NESREA have turned the bakers into money-making machines by charging our members outrageous levies even at this very challenging moment.

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“Consequently, the NEC in session resolved that all zones, state, Local Governments and units of our association should commence full mobilisation of our members nationwide to embark on withdrawal of services starting from Wednesday, July 13, 2022, for an initial period of two weeks.”


The association, however, told its members to await further directives.
In March, bakers complained that the hike in diesel price and exchange rate volatility caused many of its members across the country to shut down their business operations. 



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Business News

Fuel Crisis: IPMAN Warns Members Against Sale of Fuel Above N165/litre

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The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has warned members of the association not to dispense Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, above the approved N165/litre pump price.


IPMAN in conjunction with the Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products gave the warning in Abuja following reports that many retail outlets had adjusted the price in their various pumps upwards above the government-regulated rate.


The factional National President, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, admitted that members of the association had called for a hike in petrol price, but noted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had released enough petrol.


He said, “Our members in Lagos were getting the fuel at N170 – N173/litre, that’s why they wanted price increased. It is only the NNPC that is importing the product.

The cost of doing business has changed, so it becomes difficult to sell at N165/litre.


“That is why we are thanking the NNPC for bringing the product to N143/litre. So, our members must sell the product at N165 which is the government-approved price.”
Okoronkwo further revealed that IPMAN and its partner had engaged the services of Benham Group to recover money owed them for the supply of petroleum products.

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“Our business requires technology, that is why we brought a seasoned financial expert and we’ve been able to recover a lot of funds in other countries and Nigeria,” he said.
The IPMAN official added, “The incessant mishaps and destruction of trucks on the road, banditry and kidnapping is the reason we are bringing the insurance company to help us. Leaving the risk for the owner of the truck to bear will affect our businesses.”


On his part, the National President, Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products in Nigeria, Mohammed Danzaki, said the NNPC had done a lot to import the product, “but the main issue is the transportation.”


He added, “We have not been getting our payments. That is why we engaged a financial expert, Benham Group, to recoup our money for Nigerians to get regular supplies in the fuel stations.”
The Chairman, Benham Group, Maurice Ibe, said the collaboration was to ensure stabilisation of fuel supply at the filling stations.

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