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Workable policies necessary for quality houses in Nigerian – NGO

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Mr Danjuma Abalaka, Coordinator, Construction, Skills Training and Empowerment Project (C-STEMP), an NGO, has said that providing quality and enduring housing for Nigerians required private sector participation and workable government policies.

Abalaka told the Nigeria News Agency , on Thursday in Abuja that shelter was “too crucial” to be left to government alone.

“Next to fresh air in the hierarchy of human needs is shelter; with the growing population, all stakeholders must put heads together if we are to provide adequate shelter.

“Our population grows rapidly; not long ago, we were just about 70 million. Recent projections indicate that we are 200 million or even more, but the development of houses is not commensurate with the growth of the population.

“Real estate practitioners, and even religious bodies, can help produce houses because building of houses cannot he government responsibility alone.

“For us at C-STEMP, it is not just about having houses; we need quality houses to minimise incidences of building collapse.

“At C-STEMP, we teach people skills on housing construction because we feel that the incessant collapse of buildings has called to question the quality of our workmanship.

“We are trying to look at the issue from the quality workmanship in masonry, tiling, and the other skills on the line. Once these key areas are taken care of, the problem will lessened.’’

Abalaka said that government should drive the sector by putting quality policies in place and ensure that they were implemented.

He said that government must also put up punitive measures to forestall building collapse.

“If people are punished for using inferior materials for building, they will desist from doing so.

“Government agencies like Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and other regulatory bodies must be empowered to punish offenders, and put preventive policies in place.

“Construction cannot be an all comers affair; only qualified professionals should be allowed near any building project.

“We have gone to places in the process of trying to establish network and saw people that had no training at all engaged in building.

“So, regulatory bodies must sit up, government agencies have to sit up and professionals in the built industry will also have to sit up.

“I cannot be a doctor because I am not trained to be a doctor. So, a doctor or any other persons should not be found doing what doesn’t concern them; the right professionals must be put in place,’’ Abalaka said.

With more buildings giving way, President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 22, assented to the Engineers Registration Amendment Act 2018, with Mr Ali Rabiu, President, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), saying that the amended laws would help COREN to address incidences of building collapse.

He said that the incidences were becoming embarrassing to the council and the nation, adding that the amendment had broadened the powers of the council with far reaching powers to sanction quacks and punish anyone committing infractions on engineering projects.

According to him, the amended law also empowers the council to ensure capacity building and monitoring of local content in the Nigerian engineering sector.

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Non-teaching university workers begin 5-day warning strike Monday

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Non Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) will begin a five-day warning strike from Monday, August 19, following alleged delay of the Federal Government in addressing their grievances.

Among the contentious areas included,  Earned Allowances which the non teaching staff unions claimed that they were shortchanged in the sharing formula.

They said that out of the N23 billion released to the four unions in the university, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) allegedly took over about eighty per cent of the money, leaving only twenty per cent for the three unions.

They also lamented the inability of  government to obey court judgment, especially the judgment of the Industrial Court in 2016 that directed government to reinstate sacked workers of Staff Schools, which had not been complied with and the re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement.

The National Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Mr Salaam Abdussobur in a statement on Friday, said the one week strike would commence on Monday.

He said: “Based on  poor response from the federal government, it is inevitable that a one week strike action shall be held as from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August. This is following the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum given to the Federal Government.

“We met with  officials of the Federal Ministry of Education led by the Permanent Secretary last week. While the meeting appeared successful on its face value, the resolutions are yet to be backed up by any correspondence or digest as agreed at the meeting

“This is not the first time that meetings would  be held and we will take them by their words only to be disappointed by their actions.

“Our members, being our principals, have contended that for all decisions reached with Government, there must be a level of corresponding actions that show their sincerity and commitment to those decisions. If the actions do not correspond, we must continue with our agitations.

“So, a five day warning, being part of the activities lined up in our agitations, have been resolved to proceed between 19th to  23rd.

“After the warning strike, another review shall be made which will determine the way forward,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency recalls that the Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising NASU and SSANU had issued a 14-Day Ultimatum to the federal government last week to either address their grievances or they would  embark on total and indefinite strike.

It would be recalled that the two unions in a circular to all the branches after the JAC meeting in Abuja, said that at the expiration of the 14-days ultimatum, if the federal government failed to address all their grievances, they would be left with no other option than withdrawing their services.

In the circular to all their branches with the title “Notice of Industrial Action”, which was signed by the Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU,  Mr Samson Ugwoke and the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi, the two unions lamented the delay in obeying court judgment.

“After extensive deliberations, JAC further observed that: No date has been rescheduled by the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ahmed Lawan for the meeting with the national leadership of JAC.

“The meeting earlier scheduled by the Federal Ministry of Education with the leadership of JAC national has been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 7, 2019 with no reason(s) stated.

“From the foregoing, JAC national has resolved as follows:  that a 14-Day ultimatum of Industrial action be given to the federal government of Nigeria to address the pending issues with effect from Monday, 5th August, 2019.

“ During the period of the ultimatum, all branches are hereby directed to carry out peaceful protest on Tuesday, 6th August, 2019 and Thursday, 15th August,2019 respectively.

“At the expiration of the 14-days ultimatum, Sunday 18th August 2019, without any positive response from the Federal Government of Nigeria, members shall proceed on a 5-day warning strike in all branches from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August, 2019, inclusive.

“You are therefore directed to properly mobilise our members for this action. All defaulting branches shall be sanctioned accordingly,”  it said.

After the threat to proceed on strike, the senate president, organised a meeting with the unions to resolve the contentious issues, but the meeting could not hold.

The date scheduled coincided with the day members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria had embarked on a protest for the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Though, leaders of the union waited for the senate president for a rescheduled meeting in Abuja for many days, no information was given to them on that.

 

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El-zakzaky: FG explains repatriation from India

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The Federal Government on Friday explained circumstances that to to the “repatriation” of  the leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-zakzaky from India.

Mrs Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in a statement on Friday in Abuja said the acts of misconduct exhibited by El-zakzaky in India necessitated his repatriation.

“First of all, it was El-zakzaky himself that chose the Medanta Hospital  in India for his treatment; the Federal Government gave him the option to chose any hospital in the world and he chose Medanta.

“The public may note that El-zakzaky’s actions in India demonstrated malicious intents that were capable of embarrassing the governments of Nigeria and India.

“With total disrespect and complete loss of decorum for international procedures  while in India, he initiated contacts with a team of lawyers led by Ali Zia Kabir Chaudary and Gunjan Singh in that country.

“He also contacted some Non-Governmental Organisations such as the Islamic Human Rights Commission and other Shiite groups. His aim was to seek asylum and eventually relocate to another country.

“It is important to note that if an Indian court had granted El-zakzaky asylum, it would have violated the Nigerian court order that granted him permission to travel for medical treatment,” Gekpe said.

According to her, El-zakzaky used the opportunity of being in India to attempt to internationalise his cause by mobilising the right groups.

She added that the most unfortunate and embarrassing was his quest to be relocated to a five-star hotel to receive visitors instead of being admitted in the hospital as a sick person he claimed to be.

Gekpe explained further that in spite of his misconduct, El-zakzaky’s spouse went further to antagonise the Indian and Nigerian security agents and accused them of killing her children.

“These acts were aimed at winning international sympathy as well as disparaging the Nigerian Government.

“Having subordinated the quest for medical treatment to other ulterior motives, it became obvious that El-zakzaky was focused on realising some sinister motives thus the decision to return him to Nigeria,” Gekpe stressed.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Nigerian Government and its relevant agencies took step to comply with the court that granted El-zakzaky leave to travel to India via Dubai for medical treatment.

According to reports, on reaching Dubai El-zakzaky began to display ulterior motive against laid down procedures requesting for his passport to be handed over to him, but state officials would not budge to his pressure.

Authorities said the situation became worse in India when he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks.

Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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IMN confirms El-Zakzaky’s return, insists cleric did not refuse treatment in India

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The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), on Friday confirmed the return of its leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, to Nigeria, but rejected reports that he refused treatment in India.

In a statement by its Media Forum, IMN said that the religious leader arrived in Abuja at noon.

In the statement signed by the forum’s President, Malam Ibrahim Musa, and made available to the Nigeria News Agency in Zaria, Kaduna State, IMN claimed that the leader was not allowed to speak with “the multitude” of newsmen that had waited for hours to speak with him on arrival.

It alleged that contrary to the view of the Federal Government that El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, refused treatment, they were “forcibly wheeled to a hospital without their personal physician that accompanied them from Nigeria”.

It further claimed that medics subjected the couple to physical examination in the absence of the doctors that initially examined them, and that their request to have their doctors were rejected.

The group claimed that another physician that came from London was also denied access to them in spite his being familiar with the sheikh’s case from Nigeria.

“It was at this point that Sheikh El-Zakzaky lost confidence in the whole process and refused any further attempt to be treated,” the group claimed.

IMN said that the group would continue the struggle to ensure that its leader got the appropriate medical treatment as ordered by the Kaduna High court.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that El-Zakzaky, who is facing an 8-count charge in a case of homicide filed by the Kaduna State Government, was granted leave for medical treatment by a Kaduna High Court on Aug. 5.

El-Zakzaky and  his wife, Zeenat, subsequently traveled to India via Duba, for medical treatment after the Federal Government and relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order in spite of protestation by the Kaduna State Government.

However, the Federal Government in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the religious leader was frustrating the authorities of the Indian hospital where he was to be treated.

In the statement,  “The true story on El-Zakzaky in India”, the government said that the cleric, who particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India for the treatment, had begun to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.

The statement signed by Grace Isu Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, said that the cleric refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after State officials resisted his pressure to hand over his International Passport to him.

“He also demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, and also requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.

“That request was rejected on the ground that he came into the country for medicals, and not as a tourist, especially with the Visa issued on medical grounds and not for tourism.

“He also demanded that Police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities.

“Against medical ethics and standard practice, he requested to nominate Doctors of his choice to join the ones tasked by Medanta Hospital to perform medical treatment on him and his wife.

“That demand created a stalemate as the Hospital insisted that he would not dictate to it on the choice of medical personnel to carry the required medical treatment.”

The statement said that the Indian auth0rities, who were frustrated by his antics, had expressed willingness to return him to Nigeria with immediate effect on the account that they would not allow him to use their country to internationalise his group’s activities.

The Nigerian government commended the stand of the Indian Government and also apologise to her for the “unruly behaviour” of El-Zakzaky.

The statement affirmed government’s readiness to prosecute El-Zakzaky through due process, if and when he is returned to the country, urging Nigerians to ignore his claims that he was being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria.

NAN recalls that the Federal Government recently proscribed the group following incessant protests by its members.

 

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FCTA partners film, television directors on Nollywood

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is to partner with the Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) in improving the Nollywood.

Nollywood is the term used for the Nigerian film industry since the early 2000’s.

The FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr Chinyeaka Ohaa, gave the assurance when he hosted the Executive members of the DGN on Friday in Abuja.

Ohaa said the FCTA had all the necessary department that could collaborate with the DGN effectively towards adding value to the industry.

“We have different departments like the Abuja Films Village, Social Welfare Department, Centre for Arts and Culture and even the FCT Archives that can collaborate with the Nollywood effectively.

“The Directors Guild of Nigeria can come to the FCT Archives to get a lot of information that they will use to develop potential in what they are doing.

“We are going to key into whatever you think we can do. We will create an enabling environment for the Nollywood industry to thrive in the FCT and the country at large.

“We are also going to collaborate with you to discuss with some private individuals that have relationship with FCTA to help sponsor some of you to foreign exhibitions.

“You are making Nigeria proud in world entertainment space. Virtually most of you here are well known by both small and big men even the President used to watch your films to reduce the attention of governance.’’

Speaking earlier, DGN President, Chief Fred Amata, stressed the need for more interface between government and the Nollywood industry in order to move the industry to the desired level.

Amata, who appealed to the government to create favourable policies for the industry, solicited the support of FCTA in the area of capacity building for artistes.

“Government policies still needs to be better articulated to address challenges in the industry.

“We need grants for the film industry to make Nollywood capable of producing contents that can increase revenue for the country.’’

Amata said that piracy was still a major factor militating against development in the industry as well as lack of enough cinema screens.

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NGO rates Zaria LG high on projects execution

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An NGO, Initiative for Good Governance Advocacy (IGGA), on Friday commended the transparent system of execution of a N1.29 billion project by the Zaria Local Government Council across the area.

The NGO stated this at a press briefing held at the Youth Council of Nigeria (YCN) secretariat, Tudun Wada, Zaria, Kaduna State.

Speaking separately, the Team Leader, Malam Sani Ishaq and Secretary, Malam Yusuf Aliyu said the essence of establishing the NGO was to track and monitor government budgetary provision to all sectors.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the NGO came out with its findings in collaboration with other NGOs like; Zaria Follow the Money Champions, Youths Progressive Front and Hybrid for Positive Change.

Ishaq explained that the NGO was out to ensure execution of public projects in order to promote tranparency, good governance and accountability.

“In view of this, we follow the necessary channel by writing to Zaria Local Government and demanded for projects earmarked for 2018 budget and they honoured our request.

“The management of the council supplied us with all the necessary information, including amount of money earmarked for each project, location of the projects and name and address of contractors.

“We visited the project sites to see for ourselves; there are about 118 projects spread across the 13 wards of the local government.

“In our team, we have experts who specialised in different fields. So, we did a thorough investigation into the projects execution and we are satisfied that they are doing the job transparently,” he said.

Ishaq said the outcome was reached after three months of investigating the projects with a view to coming up with accurate results to promote prudent management of public funds.

On his part, the Secretary said the NGOs were not out to witch-hunt or to appease anybody, but to motivate those at the corridors of power to be transparent and active in service to the people.

According to him, the NGOs will continue to follow government at all levels to know what they are doing and bring everything to the notice of the public through the media.

“We are a collection of many NGOs who came together to ensure transparency, accountability and open governance in our system.

“Our main emphasis is to establish a ground that government open its doors to the public by ensuring transparent leadership,” he said.

KLM/IS

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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