​Drama, chaos in Senate over Armed Forces Commission bill

…as Lawan forces Abaribe to withdraw proposed legislation

Senators, on Wednesday, were locked in a heated debate over a bill seeking to establish a commission for the armed forces.

Senate Minority Leader and sponsor of the bill, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the commission had become imperative in order to entrench Federal character in the appointment of service chiefs and other heads of security agencies.

But some senators opposed the bill, saying the military would become politicised if the law is passed.

When it was put to a voice vote, the bill was rejected by a majority of the lawmakers.

But Abaribe, who apparently was angered by the development, challenged the rejection of the bill and blamed Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

But Lawan said it was a majority of the senators who rejected the bill and not him.

The Senate President then quickly called for a closed session which lasted for 15 minutes.

At end of the closed session, Abaribe withdrew his call for ”division” (a type of voting) and moved a motion for the proposed law to be considered on another legislative day.

Abaribe, while leading the debate on the bill earlier, said the enactment of the legislation would strengthen Nigeria’s unity and integration.

According to him, “Provided that in making such recommendations the commission shall observe the federal character principle and adopt an equitable template to spread the offices of the service chiefs, and others corps and other ranks of the armed forces of the federation among the six geo-political zones of the country.

“The enactment of this bill will help strengthen our national unity and integration where the overall interest of all sections of the country is protected in line with order 77 (3) of our standing rules, the financial compendium is hereby attached.”

​Comrade Silas Adamu Was An Exemplary Leader, Pillar Of Community – el-Rufai

Comrade Adamu was an exemplary leader and a pillar of his community, who lived as a champion of peace.

Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai expressed this in a condolence letter, addressed to the family of late Comrade Silas Adamu who died alongside his wife and daughter last week Monday in a ghastly car accident along Kaduna-Abuja Highway.

According to the letter signed by Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs Kaduna State, Honourable Samuel Aruwan, dated  March 16, 2021, the Governor said he received the  news of his death with shock.

“The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, on behalf of the Government and people of Kaduna State, received with the deepest shock, news of the death of Comrade Silas Adamu alongside his wife Mrs Silas Adamu, and daughter, Joyce Kubai Adamu, in a

tragic accident on the 8th of March 2021,” it said.
 el-Rufai said that Comrade Silas Adamu’s peaceful and examplary nature made him earn the trust of many.
“It is no wonder that he earned the trust of his peers across various

spheres of endeavor, as Secretary General of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, President of the Atyap Community Development Association and President General of the Tsaunin Kura GRA Residents Association.
“He was exceptionally gracious, receptive and gave extensive cooperation to the Kaduna

State Government in the peace efforts initiated in various communities, to extraordinary

effect,” el-Rufai said. 
He added that his loss will be felt acutely. 

“Our highest tribute now, is to ensure that his outstanding work of peace is carried on to ultimate success.
“The Government of Kaduna State mourns with you on this painful, multiple loss, and prays for the Almighty God’s comfort on your entire family. 
“May God grant his soul, and

the souls of his dear wife and daughter, eternal rest.

“Please accept the heartfelt condolences of the Governor of Kaduna State, as well as the entire Kaduna State Government,” it added.

$1bn Missing Arms Fund: Group Advises Monguno To Resign

By Victor Habila, Kaduna

The Northern Nigerian Professionals Forum (NONIP) has advised NSA Babagana Monguno to Seek Nigerians forgiveness or resign from his post.

This was part of the resolution of its members during the just concluded emergency national executive session No: 26 held in Kaduna.

The meeting which was held on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, aimed at addressing the issues of National Security as it affects the survival of Northern Nigeria especially, North-west.

According to a statement by the Zonal Publicity Secretary, Dr. Adamu Aliyu Babba, NONIP said “Our stand on the utterances of National Security Adviser to President on the alleged misplacement and controversial supply of $1billion scandal of arms by the past Service Chiefs is totally condemnable and unfortunate.

“We see his comment as unprofessional, it lacks clear leadership openness, responsibility and decorum.

“The NSA must accept his failure and lack of openness to other stakeholders in bringing result out of the constant challenges of insecurity that is bedeviling every section of our country, with northern Nigeria suffering must.

“As a professional body, we see such BBC Hausa interview in the first place as uncalled for, very harming on the success of the operation against terror, banditry and insecurity across the country; the interview has exposed the weakness of our country’s intelligence gathering and sharing under his office. We observed that, the interview has not only damaged our spirit of encouragement but made to understand, there were reported escalation of attacks and kidnapping across the North which may be translated as to ardently affect motivational and encouragement of many of our soldiers in the field of battle.

“However, we urged the NSA to urgently come out and seek forgiveness and apologized to Nigerians; then open a corridor of synergy by seeking authentic intelligence from other stakeholders that include affected governors of such troubled states; traditional and community leaders who have a clear first hand background information than all those feeding him with different views on the continued challenges facing the North, it is better than proportioning blames or accusations against particular individuals seen as adversaries. Such action will surely, by now, douse the hitherto tension generated as result of alleged views aired that are so harmful and capable of creating misunderstanding, disrepute against the personality of the past Service Chiefs, their families and dangerous to the success of other security operations across our nation.

“We read with surprise that he was misquoted out of context which to us, is weak and unreasonable because at first, nobody forced him to grant such interviews, without clarification or taking into cognizance of his position as a keeper of Nigerian security apparatus and coordinating head.

“We are pleased and appreciative of the continue efforts, sacrifices and commitment of governors of Zamfara and Sokoto states by their concern and engaging a corridor of contacts, atmosphere of ensuring peaceful coexistence, understanding and synergy with security heads and other stakeholders toward ensuring that lives and properties of their people are secured and given necessary attention than resorting in going to funerals or sympathy visits on the victim families as hitherto experienced in the past.
“Their commitment for bringing relative peace atmosphere, provision of logistics support and synergy with security in their states despite harsh reactions and attacks by some hired unscrupulous individuals is commendable. We are in support of their initiative by encouraging dialogue and amnesty with those bandits that are genuinely committed to surrender or lay their weapons; we also encouraged them to continue with their effort of support and sustaining community policing to reduce the menace of such banditry, kidnapping and other crimes activities in the region.

“We resolved to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare that our nation is in total war with Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers in order to put all the necessary apparatus of our security and attention to such challenges; we need to remind Mr President that, securing lives and properties of people is much more important than commiserating or sympathy visits to victims of the families.

“Every region of the country has a major peculiar challenge of insecurity bedeviling its people, nowhere is safe and our stand to unite with the Federal government, security agencies is the only solution to bring an end to such challenges.

“We appreciate the role of the new Service Chiefs by initiating a visit to some of the trouble areas aimed at ascertaining the level of challenges and complaints from the officers at battle grounds in order to boost their morale and ensure protection of lives and properties of Nigerians.

“We also commended the President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision of the extension tenure given to Inspector General of Police so as to give him all the necessary impetus of laying a lasting foundation for the successful security network in policing our affairs in the country.

“Our people in the North should stop playing politics on the issue of security or showing partisan as indicated on handling of security issues in Zamfara and Katsina. Whatever affects any of the states in particular about challenges of insecurity will surely overlap to all other neighbouring states.

“Therefore, those castigating or attacking governors of Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna of negligence should understand that, issue of security is a responsibility of every citizen. We must stand together and support them to win this battle by enemies of our common good.

​Hijab: Christian, Muslim parents clash as Kwara reopens mission schools

Christian and Muslim parents of students in mission schools in Kwara State clashed on Wednesday after the government directed for the reopening of 10 mission schools previously shut down over the hijab controversy.

The clash happened after the government late Tuesday night directed that the schools be reopened for academic activities this Wednesday.

Announcing the reopening of the schools in a statement issued by Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, the government said it “is convinced that its policy to allow willing Muslim schoolgirls to wear their hijab in public schools will lead to sustainable peace and communal harmony anchored on mutual respect and understanding.”

However, some students and teachers, who resumed classes on Wednesday following the governor’s order, were reportedly denied entrance into the school premises.

It was gathered that the fight started after Christian officials of Baptist school, Surulere denied girls wearing hijab into the school premises entrance. This act did not go well with Muslim parents resulting in arguments and eventual clash.

The situation, it was learnt, grew worse when Christians parents of the students supported that Muslim students wearing hijab should not be allowed entrance into the school.

It was gathered that the situation later snowballed into Christians and Muslims throwing various objects at each other.

Peace later returned to the area after security operatives around the school called for reinforcement to control the situation.

Some Christian teachers and management staff were seen displaying placards in protest to express their displeasure over the government’s decision.

​Kogi Projector For Good Governance Trains Over 2000 Youths, Women

Kogi Projector for Good, Governance, (KPGG), a Non-governmental Organization said that it has voluntarily trained and graduated well over 2,000 youths in various field under its skill acquisition programme across Kogi State.

Speaking with our correpondent, the chairman of the organization, David Isah Ohinoyi, said their main focus and objective is to encourage the youths to be engaged in Small Scale Businesses in order to be self reliance.

He noted that in doing so, it would help to reduce the unemployment rate in the society, which he said will further boost the economy of the state and Nigeria at large.

The free training programme according to him started in June 22, 2020, adding that as at January 14 year 2021, several youths and women have been trained in various fields across the three Senatorial districts of kogi state.

He said the organization has also scheduled an award ceremony to hold on 28th March, 2021, during the graduation of another batch of the trainees.

​Women rights activists seek end to gender inequality

Women and girls’ rights advocates have called for a total end to gender inequality in the country, tasking authorities to put in place stringent measures that will facilitate the eradication of gender-based violence.

The activists who also decried poor women representation in appointed and elected offices urged the National Assembly to enact a law that will compel the percentage of women representation in such offices at both federal, state and local levels.

They spoke at a two-day capacity strengthening workshop for networks and coalitions to monitor and demand accountability on gender-based violence, organised by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC in collaboration with European Union, EU and United Nations Spotlight Initiative, held in Abuja.

The Executive Director of WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, speaking at the occasion regretted that the issues of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Harmful Practices (HP) and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) have become very prevalent in the country, noting that ” lack of access to SRHR by women is a major issue in this clime.”

“Research has shown that one in three women have experienced one form of SGBV or the other hence the need to push for reforms that would eliminate all forms of discrimination against women,” she said.

Explaining that, “The activity is implemented under the spotlight initiative, a global multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030”, she said: “The interventions focus on mutually reinforcing pillars.”

” WARDC is implementing pillar six in Lagos and FCT which focuses on promoting an empowered civil society and autonomous women’s movement,” she said.

According to her, “The Capacity Strengthening For Networks/Coalitions To Monitor And Demand Accountability is designed to support the capacity of existing networks/coalitions of women’s organizations that have been identified as key game-changers to monitor and demand accountability of Ministries Departments Agencies (MDAs) to ensure sustainable prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Harmful Practices (HP) and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).”

Besides, she said it was aimed at strengthening “collaboration among networks/coalitions of women’s organizations to build strong and sustainable movements that will monitor and demand accountability of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.”

“You have been identified as key change-makers, we therefore in your capacity to mobilize other women to demand and institute transformational change in your communities,” she told participants, adding: “We, therefore, urge you all to leverage on the knowledge that you will acquire from this training to sustainably push for prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Harmful Practices (HP) and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).”

Also speaking at the occasion, Evelyn Terundu Ugbe, Head of Program, WARDC, explained that the capacity sees strengthening workshop was aimed at looking into sexual and gender-based violence and gender inequality.

She added that the event was aimed at strengthening government and institutions to ensure that policymakers were better informed to ensure that ministries become more gender-responsive in their approaches.

“We need to educate the communities through you. You are closer to the communities, so with the knowledge, you will acquire from here, you can educate members of the communities-women, men, boys and girls on how to end gender-based violence,” she told participants.

On her part, Dr Hauwa Shekarau, President and Founder, Women Law and Development Africa, called for an end to women marginalisation in both appointed and elected offices just as she said obnoxious laws that tend to inhibit women rights to compete with their male counterparts be abolished through constitutional processes.

Dr Shekarau, who is also the Chairman of, Nigeria Bar Association, Abuja Branch, said her organisation has given women “training that they shouldn’t allow anybody to marginalize them during the election because they don’t know that it’s their right.”

“We told them that they should make sure that they come out and vote whom they want when it comes to election and voting. We sensitized their husbands to allow them to come out to vote when it comes to election time.

She, however, hailed the National Assembly for considering gender party a priority in the ongoing constitutional amendment.

” I am excited that the National Assembly is today talking about the need for gender parity. Even as they are working towards constitutional amendment, gender parity is one issue that is topmost on their agenda”, she said.

Bank Customers To Pay N6.98 For USSD Transaction – CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, have introduced new charges on customers for the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD, services, effective March 16.

This is contained in a joint statement issued on Tuesday by the CBN and the NCC on pricing of USSD services posted on the apex bank website.

The joint statement was signed by the CBN’s acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, and NCC Director, Public Affairs, Mr Ikechukwu Adinde. 

It said effective March 16, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and all CBN-licenced institutions would be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transactions.

“This replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion.

“This approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.

“To promote transparency in its administration, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) directly from customers’ bank accounts.

“Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel,” it said.

The statement said the new charges was part of the agreement reached when banks and telecommunication operators met on Monday to discuss the N42 billion debt owed mobile operators by banks.

It added that plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs, was being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter was fully resolved.

“MNOs and DMBs shall discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing Application Programmes Interface.
“DMBs and MNOs are committed to engaging further non-strategies to lower cost and enhance access to financial services.

“With the above resolutions, the impending suspension of DMBs from the USSD channel is hereby vacated.
“Therefore, DMBs shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel,” it said.

The statement reminded the general public that the USSD channel was optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions.

“The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services foe all Nigerians,” it stated.

Water Sanitation Hygiene: NGO trains Kaduna Community

By Habila Victor, Kaduna

As part of efforts to promote SDGs, the Transfer of Appropriate Sustainable Technology and Expertise (TASTE) an NGO headquartered in Plateau State has commenced a 3 day Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training for members of Gwagwada community, Chikun LGA in Kaduna state.

Declaring the program open, the executive Chairman Chikun LG, HON. Samaila Leeman encouraged participants to take the training seriously as the growth and development of Gwagwada community largely depends on it.

He further called on the organizers to extend their hands of charity to other communities who suffer similar water related issues.

The Program Officer, TASTE NG, Jonathan Makan, said the project through the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is aimed at helping communities combat the many effects of water borne diseases and to promote healthier societies.

“Government cannot do everything, so there are organizations that help communities like yours to compliment what government is doing, that is why USAID saw it for to support local government and state to reach out to your community with the provision of water to see how they can curtail water related diseases and infections.

According to Makan, the participants will be trained as health promoters who will also train other members of their community about the importance of hygiene and the hazards of poor sanitation, like indiscriminate dumping of watse and open defecation which have boomerang effects on the environment and general health of society.

“It is your responsibility to take care of the water project and ensure that it is maintained so that members of the community can benefit from it for a long time to come”.

He further stated that the training is a pre-requisite activity towards the establishment of bore hole in a beneficiary community, and for every borehole drilled, four toilets are built along side.

Gwagwada community will be the first community to benefit from this USAID sponsored project with a total of three boreholes to be constructed.