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UNICEF, NOA record successes in FGM/C abandonment, sensitisation in Imo

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The NOA Director in Imo, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, said this at a programme organised by the agency with support from UNICEF held at Oguta and Ikeduru LGAs of Imo  on Thursday.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the programme held in collaboration with UNICEF Enugu Field Office had its theme as “Advocacy Dialogue with Traditional Leaders for FGM Abandonment.”

Ekeocha said that so far, the team had achieved 100 per cent compliance in Ngor-Okpala LGA with the traditional rulers and other stakeholders unanimously agreeing to abandon the practice.

He said advocacy meeting with over 100 traditional rulers in Oguta and Ikeduru LGAs was to further sensitise the leaders to the need for them to unanimously abandon FGM in their communities as witnessed in Ngor-Okpala.

He said that the agency,  in collaboration with partner agencies, had held series of advocacy meetings, trainings and established technical committees since 2017 in the LGAs all geared against FGM.

“FGM is harmful and against the right of a girl-child biologically and health-wise.

“The female genital plays a very important role which is destroyed when it is cut. We came to get a consensus from the traditional rulers; we want to have their agreement and how they intend to abandon the practice.

“The Imo state FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017 encourages Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender Affairs, Ministry of Information and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to educate people about the harmful effects of FGM and what the law stipulates for offenders’’, he said.

He defined FGM as all “procedures that involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of the woman or girl-child with consequences such as pain, loss of blood leading to anemia, difficulty in child delivery, infection (HIV, Hepatitis) and keloid formation’’.

Mbakwem, however, said the prevalent rate of FGM practice in Nigeria and Imo in particular had reduced due to the awareness creation by NOA in the various communities regarding the inherent dangers since 2015.

Earlier, Dr Oby Azubuike of the Ministry of Gender Affairs, Imo State, said the meeting was to provide a space for traditional rulers to agree to abandon the practice and sensitise their communities toward the same goal.

She said it was also to ascertain the communities’ readiness for public declaration to end FGM and to discourage and convince those that might want to continue with the practice.

Responding, the traditional rulers commended NOA and UNICEF for the awareness creation on the dangers of FGM.

They said that it was their duty as traditional rulers and as custodians of culture to legislate on and discourage FGM.

His Royal Highness, Eze Fatai Emetumah, Offor the 9th of Umuofor Ancient Kingdom in Oguta LGA, described FGM as an archaic practice that should be prohibited because of the negative tendencies associated with it.

He said both Quran and Bible never recommended circumcision for female child and promised to engage in serious sensitisation to his subjects on the dangers of female circumcision and to report any offender to the appropriate quarters.

The traditional ruler of Obudu Agwa Autonomous Community asked for more advocacy visits against FGM, especially during the Women August Meeting in various communities in the state.

He thanked UNICEF and NOA for their efforts so far in reducing the prevalent rate of the practice in the main vocal areas.

Also His Royal Highness, Eze Emmanuel Nwaigwe, the traditional ruler of Uguri Autonomous Community in Ikeduru LGA, said that traditional rulers had come to the understanding that FGM was bad and had resolved to enforce its end.

He said that it was the responsibility of the traditional rulers to discourage the practice and legislate on it.

NAN reports that over 150 traditional rulers and their cabinet chiefs attended the programmes in the two LGAs.

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Amaechi explains slow pace of work on Lagos-Ibadan Standard Guage rail line project

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The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaech, says the need for new approvals is responsible for the slow pace of work on the new LagosIbadan standard gauge railway line.

Amaechi said this on Friday evening while briefing journalists after the inspection of the project.

He inspected the project in company of  the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria and Chairman, Board of Directors, NRC, Malam Ibrahim Al-Hassan-Musa.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the inspection was coming barely 48 hours after the inauguration of the new Federal Executive Council by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Amaechi commenced the inspection at 8:50 am by visiting Costain area where a bridge is being constructed and later moved to inspect the over pass at Asade level crossing at Agege.

The minister also inspected construction works at the 10 stations along the 156-kilometre rail line corridor which included Apapa, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta and Omi Adio, among others.

Amaechi, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the level of work done in most of the sites visited and advised the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), to speed up work on the project before his next visit on Sept. 23.

The minister said that the slow down of work was too visible at the Lagos end of the project, saying it was due to lack of approval of extra works that were needed to be done.

“They (contractors) cannot commence work until they get those approvals. We will go to the cabinet quickly and get those approvals so that they can continue with their construction,” he said.

He also cited delays in payment as another reason for the slow down, saying that the contractors were waiting for a minister to approve their payments.

“Our appeal is that they should please hurry up and get into the sea ports so that we can evacuate the goods at the sea ports, we should at least be able to reduce what people refer to as Apapa gridlock.”

The minister denied giving December as the deadline to deliver the project, saying that he only wished that  the project would be completed by December this year.

“If the contractors have been given money earlier and secure those approvals, the pace of work would have increased and my wish would have been a reality.

“What we are saying is that they (contractors) need approvals from the cabinet and luckily that cabinet is in place now for the President to approve.

“We will request for those approvals for the extra work they need to put in place. Once we get those approvals, the speed will increase,” he added.

The minister assured Nigerians that very soon, train services would begin to run from Lagos to Ibadan, stressing that the project was nearing completion.

“We also agreed with them (contractors) to have between September and October, two major ground breaking ceremonies, one is the University at Duara, the University of Transportation which we think it is going to be in September and then a ground breaking ceremony at Kajola.

“We are insisting that they (contractors) cannot continue to manufacture coaches, locomotive and wagons in China and be giving to us.

“So, as party of one of the benefits we get out of the contract we have given them, they will build a factory in Kajola by October where they will begin to manufacture wagons for now.

“From then, they will progress from wagons to locomotive and coaches and Nigerians will understudy them.”

On the loan for the Ibadan-Kano rail project, Amaechi said that the Federal Government was ready and only waiting for the Chinesee to approve the loan.

“If the loan is approved, we will commence construction. Certainly it is desirable, the President is eager for the project. We need to construct that of Ibadan to Kano,” he said.

 

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Nigeria, US partnership will continue to produce mutually desirable results–Osinbajo

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Nigeria, US partnership will continue to produce mutually desirable results–Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday said  that the partnership between Nigeria and the US was one that would continue to produce mutually desirable results for both countries.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande,  said that the vice president spoke when he received the administrator of the US Agency on International Development (USAID), Mr Mark Green, at the Presidential Villa,  Abuja.

According to Osinbajo,  the US is one of Nigeria’s most dependable development partner.

 The vice president said the Nigerian government was grateful for the  US interventions in the areas of health, humanitarian issues and education.

He reiterated the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to improve the country’s education sector, and his  resolve to enforce free and compulsory basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

Osinbajo said  that a lot more could be done with cooperation between both countries.

“This is an area where the president particularly has a personal commitment.

“On June 20, in a meeting with state governors, he made the point that we are going to enforce a nine-year free and compulsory basic education for children.

“He felt that this was not just a moral obligation, but, of course, to educate and develop future generations, especially female children.

” There could be more cooperation in the areas of teachers’ training, skills development, child education, especially girl-child education, among other interventions in the education sector.”

Osinbajo also highlighted the need for more development partnerships in the areas of improving the country’s power sector and security.

He said that the Federal Government had been putting a significant amount of work in developing renewable energy and providing solar power in rural areas and other parts of the country.

 “In the power sector, we find that renewable energy is an area we want to do more.

“And in many parts of the country, we find that solar power would be advantageous for us, and we’re trying to do a lot in that area.

“The power grid itself has had various challenges.

“We think the fastest growth, especially in rural areas is solar power; in that respect, we have done a fair amount of work,” he said.

While acknowledging US military assistance, Osinbajo said that the Federal Government would also welcome more cooperation in tackling humanitarian challenges in the North-East of the country.

In his remarks, Green who was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, said that US and Nigeria had a deep friendship based on shared values and shared priorities.

He described as admirable, Buhari’s personal commitment to ensuring compulsory free education for Nigerian children.

Green said that  the US looked forward to working with the Nigerian government on developing its education sector, tackling security challenges and improving economic indices.

“We have particular interest in continuing our very strong partnership in providing humanitarian assistance, particularly in areas in the North.

“Working together on economic opportunities, particularly in rural areas; creating strong sustainable futures for farmers and herders; and looking for ways to tackle some of the challenges that we both see in building lives and communities,” he said.

Earlier, the vice president had received a delegation from the Andrew Young Foundation, led by civil rights activist and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew  Young.

Osinbajo described Young as one of the major icons in the US civil rights movement.

He  added  that Young had played a very important roles in Nigeria  and influenced positively many of its leaders.

In his remarks, Young commended the Buhari administration for being able to hold the country together in spite of the differences and ensuring that democracy thrive.

Young, who worked with the late Martin Luther King Jnr., was accompanied by Ambassador Howard Jeter, Nigerian Businessman, Sir Emeka Offor and Sen. Ken Nnamani.

Edited by Obike Ukoh

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UKAid disburses N5bn to 56,000 pregnant women in Zamfara

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The UK Department for International Development (DFID), says it has disbursed N5 billion to 56,000 pregnant women in Zamfara through its Child Development Grand Programme (CDGP).

Mr Nura Muhammad, Advocacy Officer, Save the Children International, an agency of DFID,  disclosed this in Gusau on Friday, at a meeting with members of the academia, media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), preparatory to Phase 2 of the programme.

The meeting was organised by the Save the Children International in collaboration with Zamfara Social Protection Platform (ZSPP).

Muhammadu said that the aid to the pregnant women was given between 2014 to 2019.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the CDGP project is implemented in Jigawa and Zamfara by the Save the Children and Action Against Hunger, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

It is aimed at supporting pregnant women with cash of N4,000 monthly each, to take care of their babies for a period of two years.

The main goal of the CDGP programme is to ensure effective child care, growth and development.

Muhammad, who is in charge of CDGP phase 2 in Zamfara, said that the programme was aimed at tackling the high level of malnutrition.

He added that the five-year programme, which was expected to close out in June 2019, was extended to July 2021 to build on the momentum and lessons learnt from the previous phase.

He said that the programme was aimed at tackling high level of malnutrition in Nigeria which had undermined the survival and development of children and fueled the inter-generational transfer of poverty.

According to him, the 56,000 beneficiaries are from all over the 500 communities from the two local government areas of Anka and Tsafe.

Earlier, Chairman, ZSPP, Alhaji Nasiru Biyabiki, had said that the meeting was to review various programmes and to discuss with stakeholders on ways of ensuring the sustainability of the aid programme.

Biyabiki said that the programme had been engaging NGOs and other major stakeholders to ensure that the state government signed and implemented the Social Protection Policy for the benefit of vulnerable groups.

He commended the support and commitments given to the programme by the members of the Media, Academia and CSOs in the state.

He added that social protection was a collective responsibility and stressed the need for all stakeholders to meet from time to time to review issues affecting it.

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C/River official commends Buhari for stand on Oyo-Ita

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The Deputy Speaker of Cross River House of Assembly, Mr Joseph Bassey, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for standing with the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita.

Bassey told Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Calabar, that the allegations of fraud against Oyo-Ita was false and baseless, stressing that she has exhibited good character and integrity in service.

It would be recalled that Oyo-Ita was drilled by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission for allegations of financial mismanagement of over N3billion.

According to the Deputy Speaker, Oyo-Ita cannot be associated with any financial impropriety and therefore should be given a chance to fair hearing by the Presidency.

“First and foremost, if there is anyone I can vouch for that has character and integrity in service is Oyo-Ita because I have known her right from when I was growing up; I know her track record from her civil days in Cross River.

President Buhari is a man of integrity and the Head of Service has worked under him while he was incharge of Petroleum Task Fund and that was where Buhari built the confidence in her.

“Even when she was being screened for the position of the Head of Service, she was not found to be corrupt or involved in any financial scandal before. She is a civil servant who loves her career.

“Oyo-Ita is not a politician, she got to her present position by merit and God’s grace, so we should support her to continue to deliver service to Nigerian populace,’’ he said.

The Deputy Speaker, who said that Oyo-Ita’s name should not be dragged to the mud, added that she has distinguished herself as a civil servant and a professional with impeccable character and integrity.

The Presidency insisted on Thursday that it had no knowledge that Oyo-Ita tendered any resignation letter to the President.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, insisted that “Our position is still the same. We are not aware of any letter of resignation,”

Bassey, who described the allegations as blackmail and politics, said that Oyo-Ita should not be accused wrongly because she stood her grounds for the right things to be done in the civil service of the federation.

He maintained that the allegations before Oyo-Ita were not substantial, adding that it was on that premise that the Presidency rejected her resignation letter and ask her to resume work.

GNO/IS

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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Anambra assembly tasks Obiano on construction of rural road

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The Anambra State House of Assembly on Friday charged Gov. Willie Obiano to construct and rehabilitate roads in the rural communities to ease transportation and enhance socio-economic activities.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the house gave the charge in its resolution, following three motions moved under Matters of Urgent Public Importance during the plenary session in Awka.

The house listed some of the roads to include Amansea-Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma Road in Orumba North Local Government Area (LGA), Nkwo Oraifite-Nkwo Nnewi-Ndamani Ichi Roads in Ekwusigo LGA and Isuaniocha-Urum-Amanuke Achalla Road in Awka North LGA.

The lawmakers regretted that the condition of the roads was hampering commercial and business activities in the affected communities.

Mr Onyebuchi Offor (Ekwusigo ll) said that most of the roads had become impassable due to heavy flooding, resulting from the lack of drains.

“Road is an important key to social development and road maintenance is essential to preserve the roads from collapse.

“When you have good roads, safety, convenience and smooth journeys are guaranteed,” Offor said.

Contributing, Mr Chidi Udenmadu (Ihiala l) said that accidents on the roads remained high due to the dilapidation of the roads.

“The present condition of most of the roads in the hinterlands had made them death traps for motorists that ply them,” Udenmadu said.

Also, Mr John Nwokoye (Awka North) said that bandits were taking advantage of the poor condition of the roads to rob commuters of their valuables.

“The bad portions of the roads are also used as hideouts for miscreants and bandits, while cultists also conduct their nefarious activities along the road,” he said.

Nwokoye expressed sadness over the abandonment of the Isuaniocha Road which, according to him, was first awarded in 1979 by Jim Nwobodo’s administration.

“It was later re-awarded in 2006 by former Gov. Peter Obi but was abandoned,” he said.

Another lawmaker, Mr Emeka Aforka (Orumba North), said that the bad condition of rural roads was causing severe damage to vehicles plying them.

“Man hour is wasted, lives are lost, while trading and commercial activities are crippled due to the bad state of the roads in the hinterlands,” he said.

The Speaker of the House,  Mr Uche Okafor, said that it was incumbent on the government to provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure smooth transportation of goods and services.

“Good road network triggers off development and growth in any given economy.

“Therefore, we urge Gov. Obiano to direct the Commissioner for Road Construction, Road Furniture and Maintenance to construct and rehabilitate roads in the hinterlands.

“If these roads are fixed, it will increase mobility, access to markets, connect demand and supply, reduce transportation cost, accidents, crimes and enhance economic growth,” Okafor said.

 

 

 

 

 

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