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NG-CARES: 35 States, FCT Get N210bn Reimbursement

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Thirty-five states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been reimbursed a total sum of $420.48 million (equivalent to N210 billion) for their participation in the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) programme.

NG-CARES was designed to address broader challenges beyond the immediate impact of the pandemic.

Its interventions cover shocks such as flooding, natural disasters, and the effects of economic policies that could trigger social unrest and exacerbate poverty.

The reimbursement was made following two independent assessments.

The amount represents 56 percent of the program’s total credit of $750 million as of Dec.
31, 2023.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Federal CARES Steering Committee (FCSC) by the Minister of Budget and Economic Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu in Abuja, National Coordinator of the Federal Cares Support Unit (FCSU), Abdulkarim Obaje, highlighted the programme’s state-led design, which focuses on three key areas: social transfer and livelihood, agriculture, and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

To ensure transparency and accountability, independent verification exercises were conducted by Steiglers Services, revealing the positive impact of the programme across all states and the FCT.

With the exception of Imo state, which faced challenges in providing verifiable results, all states have received reimbursements based on their performance.

Recognizing the effectiveness of the programme, the World Bank has granted a no-objection for additional advances to interested states and the FCT. This demonstrates confidence in NG-CARES’ ability to help communities recover from economic shocks and improve livelihoods.

To accommodate delays in programme initiation in some states, the closing date has been extended by 12 months to June 30th, 2024. This extension allows states extra time to achieve their goals and maximize the programme’s benefits.

To encourage knowledge sharing and the adoption of best practices, NG-CARES promotes peer learning and experience sharing among states. The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Secretariat facilitates this exchange of ideas to ensure that all states benefit from each other’s successes.

The programme incorporates a multi-layered monitoring and evaluation system to safeguard its integrity. This includes third-party monitors from civil society organizations and NGOs, routine oversight by the Federal CARES Steering Committee and Technical Committee, and continuous support from the FCSU and the World Bank.

To ensure the lasting impact of NG-CARES beyond its lifespan, the programme is exploring several initiatives. These include enhancing the sustainability of state shock response mechanisms through continuous training and funding, renaming the program to “Nigeria Community Action for Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES)” to reflect its focus on community resilience, and reactivating the Federal CARES Steering Committee to adapt to changes in government personnel and align with the programme’s evolution.

Additionally, in-depth impact assessments will be conducted to document results, learn valuable lessons, and inform future interventions.

Study tours, capacity building programmes, and welfare initiatives for key stakeholders will be organized, while advocacy efforts will be intensified to educate state officials about the programme’s framework and its benefits for vulnerable populations.

Peer learning and experience sharing across states will also be revitalized through the NGF, and the support and commitment of current state governors will be mobilized to fund NG-CARES activities under the appropriate mechanism.

In his address, World Bank representative, Lire Ersado emphasized the programme’s state-owned nature and the World Bank’s role as an incentive provider. He praised NG-CARES’ adaptability in catering to the diverse needs of each state and its ability to address challenges such as natural disasters and policy effects.

Moving forward, Mr. Ersado reiterated the World Bank’s commitment to providing additional support and technical assistance to build upon NG-CARES’ achievements and expand its reach in the future.

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Fire Guts Minister’s Private Residence

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

The private residence of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister of State, Dr Mariya Mahmoud was completely razed down by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Reports suggest that nothing was salvaged from 9 Justice Roseline Ukeji Close, Asokoro, Abuja as fighters were said to have arrived late.

Media Aide to the minister Mr.

Austine Elemue said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

The Ag. Director, FCT Fire Service, Mr Amiola Adebayo confirmed the fire outbreak.

The Acting Director in a text message to our correspondent said the fire started around 10:40am on 7 Roseline Ukeji close, Mark Okoye Street, Asokoro, involving a 7-bedroom duplex.

He said household items on the upper floor including: beds, clothes, documents, credentials, jewelries and others like air-conditioners, roof were consumed.

 The fire service boss suspected electrical fault in the children room as the cause of the fire.

The fire was brought under control around 2:51pm. No life was lost.

This is the major fire incident in Abuja this year.

On Nov. 7, 2023, a section of the Canadian High Commission caught fire.

The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said a diesel tank explosion was responsible for the incident.

Two persons died in the incident while one other person was critically injured.

At the same time, one of the Samsung electronic retail stores in Abuja was gutted by fire.

The fire was said to have been caused by careless welding activities near a pile of empty combustible cartons.

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Northern Senators Jubilant as ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions on Niger Republic

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By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja

Northern Senators Forum has commended the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for lifting sanctions imposed on Niger Republic as a result of military takeover on July 26th, 2023.

Recall that the regional block had a fortnight ago, lifted the sanctions it imposed on the trio of Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso following military insurrections in their respective countries.

Reacting to the development, the northern senators forum yesterday in Abuja said that they were pleased to see that ECOWAS responded to the progressive requests “made by us individually and collectively on the subject matter and we commend their prudent and compassionate approach in addressing these critical issues”.

The spokesman of Northern Senators Forum, Senator Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (NNPP, Kano South) noted that the principled and empathetic decision made by ECOWAS to lift the sanctions on Niger Republic was a testament to the organization’s commitment to regional solidarity, cooperation, and respect for human rights, stressing that the action would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people of Niger Republic as well as ensuring the restoration of stability and economic prosperity in the region.

According to him, “We are particularly grateful that ECOWAS leaders have considered our pleas to restore electricity, open borders and lift the sanctions on Niger Republic.

“These measures will not only have crucial humanitarian implications but will also foster regional integration, trade, and cooperation.

“We firmly believe that this step taken by ECOWAS will positively impact the lives of the people of Niger Republic and Nigeria and facilitate the restoration of trust and harmony among all member states.

“As representatives of the people and advocates for justice and democracy, we commend ECOWAS for their responsiveness and understanding of the immense challenges faced by our fellow West African nation.

“The Northern Senators Forum stands in solidarity with ECOWAS in restoring democracy and rule of law in Niger Republic and other west African countries.

“And we are committed to working to promote stability, peace, and socio-economic development throughout the region.

“We urge the government of Niger Republic and its people to seize this opportunity to hasten the process of returning to democratic governance to build a stronger and more prosperous nation, harnessing their resilient spirit and unwavering determination.

“Furthermore, we urge all regional stakeholders to continue engaging in dialogue and pursuing peaceful solutions to address any remaining concern, fostering a harmonious environment for progress and development.

“Finally, we would like to reiterate our deep appreciation to ECOWAS leaders especially, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria for their proactive and benevolent intervention in lifting the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic.

“We are confident that this decision will leave an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of all West African nations and serve as a shining example for resolving differences through dialogue and diplomacy.”

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Edo 2024: Ighodalo Wins PDP Guber Ticket with 577 votes

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By Dasvid Torough, Abuja

All efforts to make the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in Edo State came to naught as two aspirants lay claim to victory on Thursday.

Dr Asue Ighodalo was announced the governorship candidate of the PDP for the Sept.

21 guber election.

The Chief Returning Officer and chairman of the Edo Governorship Primary election Committee, Gov.

Dada Lawal of Zamfara State, declared Ighodalo as winner after he garnered 577 votes to defeat six other aspirants.

The primary was co-chaired by Gov.

Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta

The governorship primary was held at the Lawn Tennis Court of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin.

The Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Anugbum Onuoha, led officials of INEC to monitor the process.

Ighodalo scored 577 votes to defeat other aspirants, including Deputy Gov. Philip Shaibu, who scored one vote.

In his acceptance speech, Ighodalo who thanked the delegates for the confidence reposed in him, promised prosperity for all Edo people.

He added that he would make deliberate efforts to tackle poverty and deliver good governance to the people.

Two former House of Representatives members, Mr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and Omosede Igbinedion, stepped down minutes before the primary.

The other aspirants Anslem Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Osaro Onaiwu and Arthur Esene, all scored zero vote.

Earlier, the State Chairman of PDP, Tony Aziegbemi who welcomed the Edo Governorship Primary Election Committee to the state, said the PDP was ready for the Sept. governorship election.

Aziegbemi said a total of 594 adhoc delegates were elected by party members.

Similarly,  the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu emerged factional candidate for the same election.

It was reported that Shaibu scored 3000 votes in a parallel primary election held at his residence on Commercial Avenue, Benin City.

The Returning Officer, Bartholomew Moses declared that Shaibu won with an overwhelming majority of votes.

It was said that some delegates who went to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium were denied entry.

These delegates returned to the deputy governor’s lodge for the primary election.

Shaibu reportedly addressed the delegates and advised them to remain peaceful, promising to speak with the primary electoral committee chairman.

It was later resolved that a parallel exercise should hold and Shaibu emerged candidate of the election.

Delegates from 12 local government areas reportedly elected Shaibu as the candidate.

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