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School Feeding: Kogi Sacks 111 Cooks over Alleged Fraudulent Activities

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From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja

The Kogi State Government has sacked 111 cooks in 2022 for allegedly engaging in fraudulent activities during the Federal Government’s school feeding program in the State.

The Kogi State Focal Person of National Social Investment Program (NSIP), Abdukareem Onyekehi Suleiman disclosed this in Lokoja at a public hearing held at the Kogi State House of Assembly on A Bill for a Law for the Establishment of the State Social Investment Programme Agency.

It was gathered that, the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) was introduced during former President Muhammadu Buhari regime with the aims of improving the health status, enrolment and educational outcomes of public primary school pupils.

Onyekehi averred that the Kogi State Government had engaged 3,000 cooks in Kogi  for the school feeding program, adding that some cooks keep engaging in sharp practices after receiving payment from the Federal Government to prepare meals for School pupils.

He said, “whatever you do in a public office, it is important you ensure accountability and ensure sanctions in case of fraud. We are coordinated. We have Local Government coordinators monitoring the programs and we are also working with anti-graft agencies and secret service that are part of this program.

“We have had cases where some cooks that are supposed to be preparing meals for School pupils received money and they will not prepare the meals. We have about 3000 cooks and we have disciplined 111 of them in recent times.

“We recommend them for removal from the scheme and we have reported them to the appropriate authority for discipline and punishment. We found out that they received money and they will not prepare meals for our school pupils.

“Some of them are also not doing it in line with the guidelines. All these things, we have our report and we have given appropriate punishment. We have also arrested some people who commit fraud in the various local governments concerning other interventions from the government to cushion the hardship in our Country.

“We are not taking it likely from anybody. Immediately the agency gets its report, we always swing into action and sanction whoever violates the program or defrauds the people of Kogi State.

Onyekehi, who disclosed that not all schools have been captured in the program, said the government before now, has been feeding 177,000 pupils in the state and their target was to capture all the public primary schools in the state to accommodate all pupils in primary 1-3.

While noting that the State Government last recruited over 800 cooks in 2021, the Kogi State Focal Person of NSIP gave reasons why the program has not continued for some time.

“The Federal Government is carrying out enumeration and revalidation exercises to continue the process. They could not approve the additional cooks yet to capture more schools that will accommodate more pupils that have not benefited from the program. That is one challenge. Another challenge is that, for over a year, we have not done a school feeding program. “Why, because of electioneering, change of government and stabilization of the ministry to continue the program.

“In 2020, there was no school feeding program at all because of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2021 began towards the end of the year. As a result we have been relatively inconsistent in the program.

“We hope that in the renewed Hope mantra of President Tinubu, we are hoping to hit the ground running and make the program more consistent and frequent in a bid to meet the objective of the Government. On our own, we are going to initiate our own state policy that will complement the policy of the federal government by doing it differently in line with the peculiarity of our State to ensure we alleviate poverty in Kogi State” he stated.

Onyekehi argued that, the National Social Investment Program (NSIP), in Kogi State has achieved more under his leadership, stressing that, the State was recently adjudged the best in Nigeria which was made possible with the maximum support of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

On the positive move by the Kogi State Government to create the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, the

NSIP focal person in the State described it as a welcome development adding that, its operation will be backed by law and help to address the challenges of vulnerable people in Kogi State.

Continuing, Onyekehi said, “as a matter of fact, Kogi State was rated as the best NSIP in Nigeria in all ramifications. We have a good record in terms of office complex, coordination, effective implementations, responsiveness, transparency and reporting mechanism at the federal ministry of humanitarian affairs under my supervision.

“All programs are housed under one roof which makes it easier for effective coordination. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello.

“What we are doing is simple. We are the first state in Nigeria to establish a ministry for the Program and also establish the corresponding agency for the program at the same time. We are doing this to institutionalize and sustain the programs because we know the importance of these programs in the lives of the vulnerable group of people in our society.

“We know the impact it has created because it has benefited over 350,000 directly and indirectly. Because the program is not directly under the law in the State, we are limited to certain things we can do on our own. We operate some of this program on federal government and World Bank guidelines and such procedures must not be violated.

“Because of the peculiarity of our state, we are facing some challenges based on the way and structure some of these things are created. That is why it is important that in Kogi State, we establish our own agency to be backed by law so that we still rely and implement Federal Government programs in line with their set standards, we should also have our own version of social intervention Initiatives that will address the needs of our people.”

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Kidnaping: Police in Adamawa Nab 3 Suspects, Rescue 16-yr-old Female Victim

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The Police Command in Adamawa, says its operatives, in collaboration with Hunters in Gombi Local Government Area (LGA), have arrested three suspected kidnappers, and rescued a 16 year-old female victim.

SP Suleiman Nguroje, the command’s spokesperson, who disclosed this in a statement in Yola on Wednesday, said the operation was carried out by its Crack Squad.

Nguroje said that the operation was launched following a tip-off, and the operatives stormed a kidnapping den at Fotta village of Gombi.

“The suspects were all arrested at a certain house in a remote side of Fotta Village, where they camped their kidnapped female victim and demanded N8,000,000 ransom.

He said the victim, name withheld, was kidnapped three days ago, from Buma Village, Shani LGA of Borno State.

According to the statement, the victim is currently receiving medical attention at an undisclosed health facility.

Nguroje stated that the Commissioner of Police, CP Dankombo Morris, had assured the public that there would be no hiding place for criminals as they would be fished out from anywhere within the state.

He called on members of the public to give timely information to the Police, especially those with questionable character. (NAN)

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Average Price Per Litre of Kerosene Stood at N1,329.53 in January – NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the average price of a litre of kerosene dropped from N1,362.27
in December 2023 to N1,329.53 in January 2024.

This is contained in the Bureau’s “Kerosene Price Watch’’ for January 2024 released on Wednesday in Abuja.

The report said the January price represented a 2.

40 per cent decrease compared to what was obtained in December.

The NBS said the average price per litre of kerosene increased on a year-on-year basis by 15.

27 per cent from N1,153.40 recorded in January 2023 to N1,329.53 in January 2024.

On state profile analysis, the report showed that Kaduna recorded the highest average price of N1,833.

33 per litre of kerosene in January, followed by Benue at N1,766.67 and Niger at N1,703.70.

“On the other hand, the lowest price was recorded in Bayelsa at N969.70, followed by Rivers at N1,057.69 and Kwara atN1,066.67.”

The NBS said the analysis further showed that the North-Central recorded the highest average retail price per litre of Kerosene at N1,479.10, followed by the North-East at N1,381.94.

It said the South-South recorded the lowest average retail price per litre of kerosene at N1,225.83.

The report said the average retail price per gallon of Kerosene paid by consumers in January 2024 was N4, 870.83, indicating a 7.53 per cent increase from N4,529.92 recorded in December 2023.

“On a year-on-year basis, the average price per gallon of kerosene increased by 25.34 per cent from N3, 886.11 recorded in January 2023.

On state profile analysis, it showed that Adamawa recorded the highest average retail price at N6,083.33 per gallon of kerosene, followed by Bauchi at N5,800.00 and Kano at N5,777.78.

On the other hand, the report said Delta recorded the lowest price at N4,000.00, followed by Ondo and Enugu at N4,398.03 and N4,409.05, respectively.

Analysis by zone showed that the North-East recorded the highest average price per gallon of Kerosene at N5,526.39, followed by the North- West at N5,062.78.

“The South-East recorded the lowest average price per gallon of kerosene at N4,508.51,” the NBS said.(NAN)

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Protest: DSS Urges Labour to Embrace Dialogue

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has urged  the organised labour to embrace dialogue and negotiation against its planned protest slated for Feb. 27 and Feb. 28.

Dr Peter Afunanya, the Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications of the DSS,  made the call in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the service recognised protest as the legitimate right of the labour movement but call on the body to shelve the planned  action in the interest of peace and public order.

“The attention of the DSS has been drawn to plans by sections of the organised labour to stage protests between Feb.

27 and Feb.  28 in parts of the country over sundry economic issues.

“The DSS appeals to labour  to go after dialogue and negotiation rather than engaging in conducts that can heighten tensions.

“More so,  the service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence,” he said.

He said the protest, without doubt, would worsen the socio-economic situation across the country.

According to him, it is common knowledge that all levels of government are striving to ameliorate the prevailing economic condition and as such, should be given a benefit of the doubt.

He said appropriate authorities were working assiduously with a spectrum of stakeholders to fashion out modalities to address the current difficulties.

Afunanya urged citizens to recognise that what remained unsolved in peace time, would not be attained in war-time, adding that everyone would be casualty in time of trouble.

“Ongoing wars in the global scene is a stark reminder of their catastrophic repercussions on the affected countries’ domestic environments thus, the critical need to protect and maintain our internal stability and unity.

“Those exploiting the fault lines in the country need to have a rethink as resort to negativities will endanger our peaceful coexistence with dire consequences.

“Parents and guardians are implored to exert authority in guiding their children and wards from inimical acts capable of jeopardising public safety and harmony,” he added.

He called on all sectors, including political parties, opposition groups, religious and traditional institutions, civil society and non-governmental bodies to eschew violence and demonstrate leadership and statesmanship in the current challenging times.

According to him, making political capital out of the current situation or involving in divisive utterances at a time like this, will be of no benefit to any peace-loving Nigerian.

Afunanya enjoined citizens to be vigilant and not allow fifth columnists and hostile forces or agents to use them to destabilise the peace of the nation. (NAN)

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