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Independent Verification Agent Storms Benue for Assessment of NG-CARES

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From Attah Ede Makurdi

A team of Independent Verification Agent (IVA) on Tuesday, arrived Benue State to undertake assessment of the Nigerian COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG CARES) Program Christened BENUE CARES in the State.

Speaking during a meeting with the team in Makurdi, Commissioner for Finance, Mr Micheal Oglegba said the visit was apt.

He expressed government’s commitment to the success of the NG-CARES Program in the State.

He assured that Benue State would do everything necessary to achieve the goals of the program.

 Mr Oglegba, who is also the Chairman of the Benue State CARES Steering Committee, highlighted Governor Hyacinth Alia’s dedication to improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the State.

Earlier, the Director General, Benue State Budget and Economic Planning, Prof. Jerome Andohol, assured state government’s support and cooperation.

The Team Leader of IVA, Dr. Olotu Ayopo, said the aim of their visit was not to witch-hunt anyone, but to partner with Benue State in fulfilling her mandate to the people.

He disclosed that the aim of the visit was to verify the results achieved in the third and fourth quarters of 2023 on the program whose objective is to expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms.

Dr Ayopo explained that the IVA Team is in the State to meticulously review all program documents presented before the team with regards to CARES.

He stated that the team would also conduct field inspections to complete their comprehensive assessment and engage program officers and beneficiaries in a transparent and collaborative process to obtain accurate data.

In her remark, State coordinator, COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES), Mrs. Jacyntha Tor-Wombo said the visit was a significant step.

According to her, the visit would Strengthening the State government ongoing efforts to monitor and assess the Nigerian COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus program in the State.

She assured the IVA of Governor Alia total support and commitment towards the successful and impactful implementation of the program in the Benue state.

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1 Dead, 15 Rescued as Lagos Boat Hits Submerged Shoreline Concrete

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The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) has confirmed that one person died  on Wednesday when a passenger ferry  collided with a submerged shoreline concrete.

Mrs Wuraola Alake of the Public Affairs Unit of LASWA, made the disclosure  in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.

Alake said that the accident occurred around Power Line Corridor on the Lekki- Ikoyi Link Bridge.

She said that the mishap took place at 6.

50 p.m. when an Ibeshe-bound passenger ferry named T-Ben, which departed Addax Jetty,  had a collusion with the submerged shoreline concrete.

“Fifteen out of the 17 passengers said to be on board this boat have been rescued, with one casualty confirmed.

“Rescue effort is ongoing as at the time of issuing this statement.

“Officers from the Search and Rescue Unit of the Lagos State Waterways Authority and other volunteers are still at the location carrying out further rescue operations,” she said.

She said that officers from the Marine Unit of the Nigeria Police Force and  Lagos State Emergency Management Agency  were at  LASWA office to hand over the recovered female corpse to Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit.(NAN)

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Gowon Urges ECOWAS Leaders to Lift Sanctions on Mali, B’Faso, Others

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Former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has called on ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, to lift sanctions on Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic.

Gowon, who is one of the founding fathers of ECOWAS, made the call in an open letter to the Heads of State and the ECOWAS member states in Abuja on Wednesday evening.

The three countries, which were slammed with sanctions by the sub-regional politico-economic bloc following military takeovers in their respective countries, recently declared their decision to withdraw from the bloc.

Addressing a press conference at the ECOWAS Commission’s headquarters, Gowon, expressed concern that the decision by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger Republic to exit ECOWAS threatened the unity of the bloc with far-reaching implications for ordinary citizens.

He said: “It saddens me to learn that ECOWAS is threatened with disunity following the announcement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – three important Member States, of their intention to leave the Community.

“The impact of such a decision will have far-reaching implications for the ordinary citizens who have been the major beneficiaries of regional integration.

“The ECOWAS authorities should immediately consider the implementation of the lifting of all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger.”

Gen. Gowon also urged the West African leaders, including leaders of the three exiting countries, to re-unite for peace and stability in the region.

“Therefore, on behalf of all the founding fathers of the Community and myself, I urge the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to put aside their differences and reunite for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region,” he added.

Reports says that the former Nigerian leader also presented the open letter to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray. (NAN)

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Senate to Investigate Cement Coys on Hike in Price

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The Senate has resolved to investigate the sudden hike in the price of cement by its producers in Nigeria.
The followed the adoption of a point of order by the Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Lola Ashiru on the “Need to Urgently Address the Increase in Cement Price and other Building Materials in Nigeria,” at plenary on Wednesday.

Presenting the order, Ashiru urged the Senate to mandate its Committee on Industries to conduct an investigation into the activities of cement manufacturing industries operating in Nigeria.

This, he said was with a view to ascertain the reasons behind the price hike.

He also urged the Senate to mandate the Committee on Industries to ensure that cement manufacturing companies adhered strictly to fair market practice and desist from anti-competitive practice.

Ashiru said that the construction industry was vital to infrastructure development adding that the building industry heavily depended on cement and other building materials for its sustenance.

He said that the trend of a daily increase in the price of the product had hampered progress in various developmental endeavours across the country.

”This is because key building materials particularly cement and iron rod prices are now sold at prohibitive rates with cement and iron rod recently rising from N5, 500 per bag in Jan. 2024 to about N14, 000 and N8,500 to N17, 000 respectively,” he said.

He also said that the sudden price increase has had a detrimental impact on critical infrastructure, and housing in the country.
Ashiru said that the raw materials for cement were being sourced 100 per cent locally and not imported making the sudden surge in price suspicious and perplexing.

“Cognisant that affordable cement and other building materials are indispensable to national development, addressing the issue in time will be advantageous to the construction industry.

“This is because it will ensure the progress of constituency projects and strengthen national security by providing jobs and stability and improve the livelihood of Nigerians generally,” he said. (NAN)

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