​Bandits in Edo’ll be treated as criminals – Obaseki

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has assured that bandits who disguise as herders to perpetuate violence, kidnapping and robbery will be treated as criminals, as the state firms up its security architecture to flush out criminals from its domain.

The governor disclosed this during yesterday at a town hall meeting at Odighi community in Uhiere Ward of Ovia-North East Local Government Area of Edo State, as part of a fact-finding mission to address the clashes between herders and farmers.

He commended inhabitants of the community for their peaceful disposition and organising themselves to secure the community and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for all.

Obaseki said, “We must separate the issues of security and politics and never accept the issue of criminality. We have always lived with herders and those we know act responsibly.

“The ones we see today are different and act otherwise. These ones that cause violence, kidnapping, robbery are criminals and must be treated as such.

“I am glad you said you have always lived with the Fulani people for long in this community. This means that co-existence is not the problem but the criminal elements that cause us sleepless nights are the real problem.”

He assured the people of the community that his administration will collaborate with relevant security agencies and vigilante groups in the area to clear the criminal elements from the community, adding, “Your security is my priority and concern. I will ensure that this community is secured. I am here to appeal to you to continue to maintain peace as we would not leave you alone but work together to secure the community.”

The governor said his administration will give priority to the Independent Farmers Initiative and support farmers in the community, adding, “I will continue to protect all of you in this community and the state. We will pay special attention to our women.”

The Enogie of Odighi Community, His Royal Highness, Prince Osaretin Akenzua commended the governor for his prompt response as the Fulani herdsmen are ready to take farmlands, the source of livelihood for members of his community.

He said that the community has pledged to cooperate with any action that will be taken to get these criminals out of their forest.

Former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo, said: “We are wondering why the herders continue to stay in the bush. You directed that they should leave the brush last year and they left and our people were very happy. But to our surprise, they came back three months later.

“Just yesterday, a farmer who was going to harvest over 500 bunch of plantain lost them to cattle. The herders led their cows to eat them up.”

“The farmer has to run back home. We are happy to have you here with us, Your Excellency, as well as the Commissioner of Police and heads of other security agencies. We want to appeal to them to join our vigilantes to restore peace to our land. We don’t want to fight anybody. We want them to leave our forest.”

​FG planning to replace BVN with NIN – Minister

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy , Dr Isa Pantami, has said the Federal Government plans to replace Bank Verification Numbers with the National Identity Numbers.

The minister said this while briefing newsmen after a facility tour and inspection of the ongoing NIN enrolment exercise at NIMC and other designated centres in Abuja .

He said he had made a presentation to the National Economic Sustainability Committee and drew the attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria ’s Governor on the need to replace BVN with NIN .

According to him , the BVN is a regulator ’ s policy , while NIN is a law .

He said , “The strength of the law wherever you go is not the same with a policy of one institution .’’

The minister noted that BVN was only applicable to those who had a bank accounts while NIN was for every citizen and legal resident in the country .

“BVN is our secondary database, while NIN and the database is the primary one in the country that each and every institution should make reference to NIMC, ” he said .

Pantami boasted that Nigeria was at the forefront in Africa in regard to data protection regulations , claiming that the level of security in the entire database was 99 .9 per cent.

He said , “That is why we came up with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation that we always enforce and this is applicable to the database at our disposal.

“We take care of it and make sure that security is excellent and we don’t allow anybody to compromise the content because it is a trust from our citizens given to us .’’

Giving reasons the government engaged private agents for the NIN enrolment , the minister said the move was in line with the global standard .

He emphasised the need for NIMC to focus on regulatory work and set the standards for biometrics registration, measuring of heights , standard for data to be collected and general verification.

In another development, Pantami has called on the organised private sector to enhance collaboration with government , adding that the economy of Nigeria is dependent on how it faired .

Pantami said this in his address at National Directorate of Employment /Federal Government ’s Special Public works programme commissioning where 11 ,000 unemployed youth in Gombe State were engaged with work tools .

He said an enabling environment was key to harvesting the gains associated with private sector , stressing that the current dispensation had provided friendly atmosphere for businesses to thrive .

The minister said , “The economy of Nigeria relies more on the private sector than the public sector .

“If you look at our GDP collectively, it is approximately around $ 450 bn which is the highest in Africa . If you compute , you will discover that the entire stage of government particularly the federal level is approximately around 8 .5 per cent, while that of the private sector is more than 91 . 5 per cent. Government cannot do without collaborating with the private sector .

“What government must do is to provide enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and this is what we have been doing every day to come up with policies for the private sector to thrive .

“This is what brought about tax holiday , visa on arrival in Nigeria , online registration of companies by CAC .”

While hailing the public works initiative , the minister said it would reignite social service .

​School feeding programme generates 14,000 jobs in Niger — Official

Mr Umar Ndashacba, the Programme Manager of National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) in Niger, has said that no fewer than 14,000 jobs were created within two years of its existence in the state.

Ndashacba made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

“Even though the programme was inaugurated in the state in 2018, it has created over 14,000 jobs for women and opportunity for farmers to boost agricultural production,” he said.

He said that the state had over 560,000 pupils registered under the programme which according to him, seems to optimise their enrolment into primary school.

“The programme has created jobs, boost agriculture activities and giving the farmers the needed attention.

“The farmers grow beans, rice, soya beans, etc and those are what we use in our menu for the children.

“The programmes has created over 14, 000 jobs and more jobs will come as we progress; we have cooks, local suppliers, desk officers and multi-sectoral team,’’ Ndashaba said.

Niger NHGSFP Manager, however, called for a review of cost of a meal per child to reflect current market forces and the dwindling economy due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Federal Government introduced the N70 per day, per child NHGSFP in 2016, to boost enrolment into primary schools across the country. It covers pupils in primary one to three in public schools.

He said that the N70 a meal per child was not realistic as the amount was fixed when the programme began in 2016.

He, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to review upward the N70 per meal, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation had overshadowed the amount that was fixed when the programme started.

“However, we are hopeful that the Federal Government will increase the price of the meal per child,’’ he said.

​Give INEC exclusive power to declare winners not courts, Osunbor tells NASS

Former governor of Edo State, Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, has advised the National Assembly to ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was adequately empowered to solely declare winners of elections and not the courts.

Osunbor in a memo he sent to both legislative chambers of the constitution review committees, advocated that to truly make the electoral body independent, courts should not award victory to a winner except INEC.

He said: “The 1999 Constitution in its Third Schedule Part I Item F 15 sets out the powers of INEC. Section 158 guarantees the independence of INEC with some other federal bodies to ensure that they exercise their respective functions free from external influence, control or interference.

“The need for the commission to carry out its functions free from any external control is very crucial considering the fact that credible elections form the basis of citizens’ participation in the choice of their elected representatives into public office which is the essence of democracy.

“The constitution could not have envisaged that INEC will share this power with any other authority or organ of government but sadly that has become the reality as election tribunals and courts have repeatedly declared as winner of an election a candidate different from that declared as winner by INEC – the body that organised, undertook and supervised the election in the first place.

“It is a serious anomaly, incongruity and an aberration for INEC to conduct an election and declare a winner and for other persons who took no part in the conduct of the election to declare a different person as winner. This renders the word independent in the name of the commission worthless and meaningless.”

It does not make sense and is inherently wrong. This is more so where the person declared by the court to have won the election did not originally have the majority of the votes cast in the election. This usually happens after the votes (sometimes running into hundreds of thousands) of the candidate declared winner are annulled by the courts and tribunals or are declared “wasted votes” for reasons due to no fault of the voters.

“This has given rise to the emergence of elected officials who were rejected at the polls by the voters but emerged through the courts as winners in total disregard of the will of the majority of the people that heeded the call to perform their civic duty.

“The essence of democracy is thus defeated. Elections to that extent, have ceased to reflect the will of the people but the will of the judges sometimes by a split decision of 2:1, 3:2, etc, as the case may be. “Elections should be won at the polls, not in a court of law. They should be a reflection of the will of the voters, not the brilliance of election petition lawyers or the will of courts of law or other extraneous consideration. Every vote must count because this goes to the very foundation of democracy.”