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Politics

CSOs advocate electoral reforms ahead of 2023 polls

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Reforms Yenagoa, June 28, 2020 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)on Sunday, said a review of the Electoral Act and early sensitisation of voters are the panaceas for free and fair future elections in the country.

They also advocated for adequate security and protection of women in politics among others to deepen democracy in the country.

The CSOs made the submission during the virtual workshop organised by Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN) an NGO, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies, political parties and the academia, who participated, concluded that proper preparation and holistic change in the electoral acts would bring needed changes.

Mr Joseph Ekong, the Project Officer of SDN, said the event was packaged to avail participants the opportunity to assess the successes recorded and gaps that must be covered in future elections.

Ekong said that the virtual workshop identified gaps and recommended better ways of implementing future elections.

He said that their reactions and recommendations would afford INEC and other stakeholders to organise a freer and violence free election.

In her remark, Mrs Rosemary Oweifari, the Bayelsa Coordinator of Girl-Child Empowerment Reproductive Health Initiative (GREP) said that INEC should review the gender policies for women participation in election.

She said that the issue of violence against women during election should be aggressively addressed.

“I think the electoral act should be amended and the issues affecting women participation, especially the violence against women, should be well articulated in the new act,’’ Oweifari said.

Chairman, Bayelsa NGO Forum (BANGOF), Robinson Kuro said that many people have agreed that elections are products of the entire system.

Kuro said that the system has sub-system and INEC was just a sub-system in the electoral process.

“We have political parties and voters; we have independent bodies like the CSOs, security agencies and many others.

“All of these groups have specific roles to make the system operational and functional.

“Now, if you look at the way these systems operates, you will discover when one system is operating optimally and others are not, it affects the performance of the entire system.

“That is what is happening to our electoral process,’’ Kuro said.

Kuro, who also represented INEC, Bayelsa, said election umpire would look at recommendations and issues raised from the post-election reviews with a view to improving the process.

He, however, said that INEC, as a sub-system in the entire electoral process, would need other sub-systems to perform optimally for the process of electioneering to be successful.

NN/
Edited By:

Bola Akingbehin/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

Nathan Nwakamma: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

General news

CSOs recommend sanitary pads use to boost girl-child enrolment in Gombe 

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The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)in Gombe State, has recommended the provision of sanitary pads as a strategy to boost girl-child enrolment in schools across the state.

The Coordinator of the Coalition, Hajiya Zariyatu Abubakar, made the recommendation during an advocacy visit to the Gombe State Co-ordinator of Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA), on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the advocacy visit was sponsored by Save the Children International, with support from the Government of Netherlands.

Abubakar said there were issues that needed to be addressed in schools across the state to encourage girl-child education and boost their enrolment into schools across the state.

According to her, the girl-child is unique and needs special attention, especially when they are growing up and maturity begins to set in.

She stated that issues relating to sanitary pads, wash and toilet facilities in schools, could discourage the girl-child from getting the education she deserved.

“If contraceptives can be provided for people to use when they choose to have sex, there should be no reason why sanitary pads cannot be provided for girls, who cannot make a choice about menstruation.

“The state government will do well to provide female students/pupils sanitary pads to encourage them to stay in schools. There are girls who miss school because of menstruation, to avoid embarrassment.

“We appeal and recommend that sanitary pads, good wash and toilet facilities be provided in schools. It has been confirmed that these issues actually keep some girls away from schools; so government should step in in this regard,” Abubakar said.

The co-ordinator also urged the state government to engage more female tutors in schools, who would be role models.

She also appealed to the state government to pay the counterpart funds for the training scheme for female facilitators, sponsored by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

According to her, UNICEF has fulfilled its pledge of paying 50 per cent of the fund, while the state government is yet to pay and “there seems to be no plan to enrol more after this batch.”

Also speaking, the Chairman, Gombe State Working Group on Family Planning, and Executive Director of Saif Advocacy Foundation, Alhassan Yaya, said provision of sanitary pads would help address some health issues relating to girls.

Yaya urged the state government to pay more attention to rural communities when making and implementing policies relating to education, adding that the state of the girl-child in communities was pathetic.

Responding, Dr Abdullahi Ahmad, co-ordinator of BESDA in the state, appreciated the team and pledged his agency’s readiness to contribute to improving quality education in the state and also welcome new ideas.

Ahmad said: “We have a budget of 300 female facilitators, and we are trying to see the areas where they are needed for intervention.”

He added that the agency would include provision of sanitary pads in its work plan to encourage girl-child education in the state.

Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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Agriculture

CSOs seek quick action on agriculture masterplan in Kwara

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A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)has called on the Kwara Government to expedite action on its proposed agriculture masterplan for the state.

The coalition made the call on Tuesday in Ilorin at a press briefing by its Budget Committee on Public Financing of Agriculture Project constituted to analyse the proposed 2020 revised agriculture budget in the state.

This project is being financed by Actionaid Nigeria and implemented by the Center for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE).

Briefing newsmen, Hajia Bosede Anifowose, the Coordinator of the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON),  urged the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to itemise clearly the activities to be taken care of under the masterplan.

She noted that the sum of N28 million was allocated to the masterplan in the 2020 revised budget.

Anifowose said that the itemised activities would enable citizens and farmers to ascertain government’s plan for the agriculture sector and how soon the benefits would start accruing to them.

“More so, it should be very clear on how it promotes smallholder farmers productivity and growth through direct budget line items that target specific investments such as farm inputs, agriculture credit andb extension services.

” Others are labour saving technologies, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, small scale agricultural machineries and cottage processing facilities.

“We thus also implore the State House of Assembly, especially the Committee on Agriculture, to effectively engage the ministry toward this end,” she said.

She expressed regrets that women farmers were never given priority in the state inspite of the several engagements in the past.

“This trend unfortunately still subsists in the reviewed 2020 budget with the complete removal of the provision of paltry N1 million that was made for the purchase of 100 units of Knapsack sprayers for women farmers in the initial budget.

“While we urge the ministry to reinstate this budgetary provision in the reviewed budget, we equally observe that the allocation/provision is grossly inadequate at just 100 units of Knapsacks for the women in the entire 16 local government areas of the state,” she said.

The SWOFON leader, however, commended the state for the increased budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector from 1.88 per cent in the initial 2020 budget to 4.5 per cent in the reviewed budget.

This, she said, would effectively help the state to meet up with the 10 per cent Maputo/Malabo Declaration commitment.

She, however, said that more concrete steps needed to be taken to support small scale farmers, especially women farmers who produce the bulk of the food in the market.

Anifowose also urged the state Ministry of Agriculture and the House of Assembly to review government support to smallholder women farmers in the state to reflect their enormous contributions to the agriculture sector.

She also called for more support for extension agents in the state in order to build their capacity to assist farmers in line with the current trends and innovation in the sector.

Other participating organisations were the Welfare for Children and Teenagers Initiative, Community Need Care Development Initiative, Save the Future of Children Initiative and Fulfilling Dreams Foundation.

The rest were Organisation for the Sustainance of Nigerian Environment, FEMCOM as well as the Meadows Community and Development Outreach and WorthyLife Education and Health Foundation.

(
Edited By: JaneFrances Oraka/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)

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Environment

COVID-19: CSOs train 165 vulnerable women, youths on face mask, sanitiser production

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Voluntary Oversea Service (VSO), in partnership with Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet)has trained 162 vulnerable women, persons living with​ disabilities and youths on production​ of face masks and hand sanitisers.

Mr Pius Oko, the Project Officer, CSDevNet, who ​disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, said other partners on the project include SDGs and the Nigeria Youth Engagement Network (NYEN).

Oko said the aim of the training that included the use and distribution of the sanitisers and facemasks was to help end communal spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

He said the training, which took place in Abuja and Kano state had 132 women and girls, four persons living with disabilities and 26 boys as beneficiaries.

COVID-19 has affected over 216 countries, areas or territories, with an average case fatality ratio of over four per cent from January to June 2020.​

“As the number of cases climbs, countries as well as Nigeria and its​ citizens need to enhance effort to try to curb the spread, discontinue community transmission and ‘flatten the curve’ to prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed,” Oko said.

Oko said masks could be used either for protection of healthy persons (worn to protect oneself when in contact with an infected individual) or for source control (worn by an infected individual to prevent onward transmission).​

He, however, said the use of a mask alone was insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection or source control.

Oko said that other recommended health protocols and safety measures should be adhered to by individual and at community level adopted to suppress transmission of respiratory viruses and current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Lucky Abeng, Team Lead, SDGs Thursday and VSO NYEN Abuja,​was quoted as saying:

“Whether or not face masks are used, compliance with hand washing hygiene, physical distancing and other infection prevention and control measures is critical to prevent human-to-human transmission of COVID-19.

Abeng said the purpose of the lead capacity building programme, face mask and hand sanitiser training, distribution and use in vulnerable communities in FCT, Kano and Adamawa state was to support efforts, tackle and prevent person-to-person transmission against the infection.

Ms Paschaline Eze, VSO Return Volunteer and NYEN member, said the initiative was pioneered by the VSO COVID-19 Response Small Grant Project.

​Eze said all materials for the production of the fabric facemask were sourced locally, with NYEN volunteers mostly contributing immensely to train and boost the output in capacity building and production.

Mr Jamila Musa, representative from VSO NYEN Kano, was quoted as saying: “Soft loan and grant for fashion designers to produce at a subsidised rate are also major challenges confronting the further engagement, face mask use and up scaling this initiative to other communities.”

Goodness Oluchi Obijuru, VSO Return Volunteer and NYEN member, said the face masks should only be used by one person, adding that it should be washed frequently with hot water and were not available, wash with soap/detergent at room temperature water and handled carefully.

“So as not to contaminate other items, if the layers of fabrics look noticeably worn out, discard the mask properly into a waste bin,” he said.

A beneficiary in Abuja, Miss Shawulu Faith said the training was a motivation and eye opener to contribute her little quota to curbing the spread of the COVID- 19 virus in her community.

“I will try to seek funding in order to keep up the production and distribution minding the importance of face-mask now,” she added.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

 

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General news

COVID-19: CSOs call for community testing in Enugu

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COVID-19

Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Enugu have appealed to the state government to start community testing for COVID-19 in the state.

The CSOs made the call on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria against the backdrop of the spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.

The groups, which include the Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation, Global Society for Anticorruption (GSAC) and Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, said that the call had become necessary in order to nip the pandemic in the bud.

NAN reports that the state COVID-19 Expert Medical Advisory Committee on De-escalation of the outbreak had raised concern over mysterious deaths linked to coronavirus in the state.

The chairman of the committee, Prof. Emmanuel Ejim, had said that the rate of infection in the state had continued to increase, in spite of government’s efforts to curb it.

However, the Country Programme Director, GSAC, Mrs Amaka Nweke, said that the situation in the state called for urgent intervention by the government.

Nweke appealed to government to embark on community testing in order to arrest the situation.

The country programme director said that it was an aberration that there were no laboratories for COVID-19 testing in the state.

According to her, the state needs to have such facilities in three locations.

On the speculated resumption of schools, Nweke said that the state government should not contemplate reopening of schools, if the necessary safety facilities had not been put in place.

Also, the Country Representative, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, Mr Temple Oraeki, said that hand washing facilities were key components for schools’ resumption.

Oraike, however, said that the provision of sustainable sources of potable water would be a tall dream, as virtually all public primary and secondary schools in the state had no borehole.

“There is no need to talk about reopening of schools, if there are no plans to provide hand washing facilities,” Oraike said.

The Executive Director, Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation, Mr Daniel Ukwu, stressed the need for an aggressive awareness on COVID-19, as most residents had yet to believe that the virus was real.

Ukwu, however, said that it was necessary for schools to reopen, but in batches.

He said that government could allow the students in examination classes such as SS III, JS III and Primary Six to resume.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu and (NAN)

‘Wale Sadeeq

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General news

Govt, CSOs, media, partner on delivery of social protection services in Kaduna

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Social protection line Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs)in Kaduna State, have partnered with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)and media, to strengthen the delivery of social protection services in the state.

This is contained in a communique issued at the end of a stakeholders’ virtual town hall meeting with the theme, “COVID-19: Social Protection and Palliative Interventions in Kaduna State”.

The town hall meeting was organised by Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) with support from Save the Children International.

The communique was jointly signed by Ms Jessica Bartholomew, Chairperson, KADSPAC; Mrs Saude Atoyebi, Focal Person, Social Investment Programme, Kaduna State; and Ms Tamar Nandul, Secretary, Relief Distribution and Monitoring Committee.

Others were Mrs Nina Dawong, Coordinator, State Operations Coordinating Unit; Mr Shindong Bala, Federal Radio Corporation, Kaduna; and Mrs Risikat Mohammed, Executive Director, Women with Disability Self Reliance Foundation.

According to the communique, the partnership is to strengthen collaboration and synergy between CSOs, media and relevant government agencies driving social protection programmes in the state.

“The partnership will be strengthened in the areas of policy implementation, expansion of social register, timely information sharing, tracking interventions and ensuring transparency and accountability.

“CSOs and media will cross-check any information on social protection interventions with relevant government offices before dissemination to check misinformation.”

It added that the Relief Distribution and Monitoring Committee would make public its activities and financial report for transparency and accountability in line with the principles of Open Government Partnership.

It further said that the committee would involve CSOs, media and other relevant stakeholders in the planning and distribution of palliatives.

“The CSOs and the media will provide technical support, create awareness, ensure proper targeting of vulnerable groups and strengthen accountability.

“This is very crucial for the success of social protection interventions in Kaduna State,” the communique said.

Edited By: Cecilia Odey/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Politics

CSOs urge media to catalyse electoral reforms for sustainable democracy

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YIAGA Africa in collaboration with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) have urged the media to serve as catalyst for electoral reforms to achieve sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

The call was made at  a Media Roundtable on Electoral Reforms organised by YIAGA Africa and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) under the EU,SDGN Project on Friday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the aim of the roundtable was to prompt media interest in facilitating greater coverage and reportage of the electoral reform process.

This was to ensure that the needed reforms were passed by legislators.

Mr Samson Itodo, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, also said that Nigeria needed a national dialogue on a new electoral framework that responded to prevailing socio-political and economic realities.

According to Itodo, the call has become imperative against the backdrop of the irregularities that trails Nigeria’s electoral process in spite of the huge fund earmarked for elections every four years.

INEC must improve its capacity to deliver credible elections and political parties must play according to the rules as failure to do so could imperil Nigeria’s 20 years democracy.

“While the legal framework broadly provides for democratic elections with some improvements made to the Constitution, various legal shortcomings remained, including in relation to the use of smart card readers and harassment of media and observers.

“These systemic failings show the need for fundamental reform so that elections will better serve the interests of the Nigerian people.’’

Itodo  said that previous  elections highlighted for many Nigerians the need for a national dialogue hinged on the vulnerabilities that should be overcome to make electoral processes more credible and democracy more resilient.

He said that electoral reform was a democratic project that promoted common good, social stability and national development, thus it was an important element of political reform.

Itodo said that the dilemmas of electoral reforms remained the political will to undertake it, timing of the reforms and the perception that electoral amendment could limit chances of future electoral victory .

He listed key priorities for electoral reforms to include legal recognition for electronic accreditation of voters, e-voting, e-collation and electronic transmission of results.

He added that addressing the duality of jurisdiction between Election Petition Tribunals and regular courts, and reviewing and harmonising timelines for the determination of pre-election matters to ensure pre-election disputes were resolved before the date of elections was part of it.

Itodo said that subjecting declarations and returns made by Returning Officers under duress or controversial circumstances to further review by the Commission was a priority for electoral reforms.

He further listed the establishment of an electoral offences commission, Political inclusion of women, youth and persons with disabilities and the need to build national consensus on priority issues for electoral reforms through an inclusive and collaborative process as key.

Itodo said there was also the need to hold the executive and legislature to account for their commitment on electoral reform and to set a definite time frame for concluding electoral reforms to December 2020 among other things.

In his remarks, Mr Manji Wilson, the Coordination Advisor/Electoral Administration Expert, ECES Nigeria, said that ECES was not for profit Foundation delivering electoral assistance to Nigeria and other African countries with funds from the EU and other EU  member states.

Wilson said that though a lot had been done in Nigeria’s electoral system, however, a lot more still needed to be done with all hands on deck to ensure Nigeria got the legal regime it truly deserved.

He said that the legal framework needed to be comprehensive, transparent and inclusive.

“This will go a long way in ensuring successful, inclusive, free and fair elections and by extension engineering good governance.

“There’s no doubt the media constituency has an important role to play in achieving this.

“In spite of the barrage of issues plaguing the media landscape, you have shown tremendous resilience and commitment towards the growth, development and sustenance of democratic tenets in Nigeria.

“In this regard, we expect more commitment to high ethical standards and professionalism in your reportage of electoral and political proceedings.

“This will go a long way in entrenching development of the process, beginning with critical issues of electoral reforms. ‘’he urged

Wilson appealed to the media to give more attention to the rising spate of fake news and disinformation threatening Nigeria’s democracy.

Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Ese E. Ekama (NAN)

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Environment

CSOs advocate end to fossil fuels to combat adverse impacts of climate change

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)on environment in Nigerian and other countries have called for an end to the use of fossil fuels to combat the adverse impacts of climate change.

Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, the Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), joined other CSOs to make the call in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Yenagoa on Friday.

Bassey said that CSOs from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria and Kenya HOMEF in a two-day virtual dialogue/school of Ecology on Climate and Power Alternatives on June 22 and 23.

The event, which also had students, community representatives and the academia participating interrogated the impacts of climate change as it relates to energy and power alternatives in Africa and across the world.

According to the statement, speakers at the event included Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria)Ken Henshaw (Nigeria), Fatima Diallo (Senegal)Marcelo Calazans (Brazil), Ikal Angelei (Kenya)Philip Jakpor (Nigeria)p>

Others are Chibezie Ezekiel (Ghana), Babawale Obayanju (Nigeria)Hamza Hamouchene (Algeria)Enteng Bautista (Philippines) Emem Okon (Nigeria)and Kwami Kpondzo (Togo)p>

The dialogue highlighted alternatives to fossil fuels, while challenging peoples and communities to see themselves as climate actors to demand an end to dirty energy dependency and the accompanying environmental degradation.

The participants agreed that oil dependency has spelt a big challenge for African governments which has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They observed that series of climate change impacts such as extreme floods, cyclones, droughts and locust invasions on reliance on fossil fuels to drive economies as wrought were discussed.

It was noted that Africa certainly needed better energy access as over 640 million Africans, according to the African Development Bank have no access to energy.

They disclosed that the shortage was corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries standing at just over 40 per cent and as the lowest in the world.

It was however stated that Africa needed to ensure better energy access based on a climate justice mindset which drives the political will to draw an immediate and long-term plan to power Africa.

The power should be from Africa’s abundant renewable resources, while ensuring that these do not come with green land grabs and diverse dispossessions of poor communities and peoples.

“We need a new mindset to build alternative power structures that will birth continent-wide distributed renewable energy micro-grids managed by communities and associations and not by shylock private companies.

“The failure to deliver power to the majority of Africans increases and lacks in energy inequalities. 

“For a sustainable energy transition, there must be full understanding of what energy and power is needed for, autonomous determination of what constitutes development, progress and wellbeing

“It is fundamentally necessary to develop the right analysis of Africa’s political economy in order to draw up medium and long-term plans for energy transition. Communities are largely sidelined, ignored or left out in decision making in the energy sector.

“It is regrettable that government and policy makers are more interested in markets rather than energy democracy which embraces people at the grassroots. The fossil fuels industry promotes the false narrative that fossil fuels are infinite.

“Women are at the receiving end when it comes to the impacts of fossil fuels extraction and are not given a seat on the table when decisions relating to the sector are being formulated by government/policy makers.

“Communities and environmental defenders across the world are being suppressed and denied opportunities to assert their rights to choose energy forms that are useful to them.

“The alliance between African governments and extractive companies has led to the thinking that the continent can only produce power and develop by use of fossil fuels.

“The struggles of communities in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia for energy democracy and to free their territories of polluting fossil fuel activities provide key learning opportunities,” the statement said.

The CSOs noted that earnings from other regions important for the development of holistic responses to energy challenges taking into account, the colonisation of natural and mental territories and environments by the fossil fuel industry.

The participants recommended that the people should be given the opportunity and space to decide on the kind of energy system they need and how they get it.

The environmentalists said peoples’ rights to live in harmony with nature and have their knowledge respected should be taken into account in national, regional and international negotiations on climate change and energy issues.

“There is urgent need to review our energy needs along the lines of renewable technology that are cheap, available, community-led and not imposed.

“Access to energy must be a fundamental right and not driven by markets or market- based solutions that present the same social and ecological problems that dirty energy sources generate.

“Governments must incentivise the use of renewables through eliminating taxes and tariffs on quality solar products and other renewable products.

“In planning energy projects, the free and prior informed consent of communities must be obtained while they retain their right to say no to such projects.

“Energy transition planning must be gender and socially inclusive at local, national, regional and international levels.

“Plans by the Nigerian government to build nuclear power plants in Akwa Ibom and Kogi States should be halted in line with the stand of the people.

The CSOs called on peoples all over the world to reject energy colonialism, predatory ‘extractivism’ and to build/connect movements from below for a truly just energy transition,” HOMEF stated.

Edited By: Benson Iziama/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

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Oil & Gas

CSOs decry exclusion in Marginal Oil fields’ bid rounds

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A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)has decried their exclusion from the proposed Marginal Oil fields’ bid rounds announced by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The group’s protest was contained in a letter to the DPR, jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, Peter Egbule; Executive Director Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), Faith Nwadishi.

Others include Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Rafsanjani Auwal Musaand, Chairman, Human and environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Olanrewaju Suraj.

Others are the National President Green Alliance Nigeria (GAN) Chima Williams, Chief Executive Connected Development (CODE) Hamzat Lawal; National Coordinator, Media Initiative on Transparency in Extractive Industry (MITEI) Bassey Udo and Programmes Manager, Selemati Foundation, Rita Kigbara.

Also, Executive Director, Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, Yemi Ademolokun; Principal Lead, BudgIT Foundation, Gabriel Okeowo, Director Civic Media Lab, Akinfolarin Oluwaseun, and Programmes Officer, West African NGO Network (WANGONeT)Sandra Dike.

The coalition said that the published bid guidelines by DPR did not involve CSOs among agencies that would monitor the exercise of the Federal Government’s planned award of 57 marginal oil fields’ licenses.

The CSOs said that the published guidelines for the auction were fraught with provisions that might hamper the interest of genuine bidders in the oil fields and deny the country the benefits of set objectives.

They emphasized strict adherence to globally accepted best-practices, while expressing doubts that the current exercise would bring a different result from the past, if government did not make the process more transparent.

They, therefore, advocated the immediate inclusion of about two civil society representatives in the bidders screening team as observers to build public trust and investors’ confidence in the bid process.

The group also sought strong legislative oversight by the National Assembly and involvement of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) before, during and after the exercise to avoid the experiences of the past.

“After reviewing the guidelines, and putting into perspective, past experiences and pitfalls of similar processes, we deem it important to draw your attention to some of the points that can hinder the success of the process, or limit Nigeria from deriving optimal financial and socio-economic benefits from the exercise.

“We are prepared to play our roles as civil society in support of this very important national exercise with the understanding that it is intended and designed to deliver the overriding interest of Nigeria and Nigerians,” it said.

The group identified licensing as one of the weakest links for value realisation from Nigeria’s petroleum industry, adding that previous exercises between 2000 and 2007 not only fell below global best practices, it failed to secure maximum value for the country’s assets.

To deliver the expected increase in revenue and proven crude oil reserves as well as increase in daily crude oil production, the group said the government must ensure the set goals conformed to the country’s long-term planning objectives in the sector.

According to the CSOs, previous licensing rounds in the country were not tied to any comprehensive asset development strategy or broader economic development plans.

They added that each licensing round of objectives must align with the country’s strategy for managing natural resource base for current and future generations.

The group also called on the government to strengthen the National Data Repository Geological system by making authenticated and certified data easily accessible to bidders to attract capable investors to the oil assets on auction.

On the bidding process, the group urged the DPR to adhere to the published guidelines and criteria on the bid to avoid confusion and ensure due process, noting that the de-politicised criteria must be developed to support local content without compromising the sector’s development potential or returns.

“Nigeria must resist the tendency to extend preferential treatment to companies solely because they are local and well-connected.

“The DPR should amend the guidelines to accommodate the disclosure by all bidders of ‘sworn declaration, complete, comprehensive and accurate information on their ultimate beneficial owner(s).

“This will show that Nigeria is fully compliant with her obligations under the EITI and Open Government Partnership (OGP) principles, transparency and a level-playing-field that will not allow ‘business as usual’ by vested interests,” they said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

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Environment

CSOs advocate green recovery out of COVID-19 in Nigeria

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A network of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)has called for a “Green Recovery Deal” out of COVID– 19 in the country.

The CSOs made the call in a statement issued by Mr Pius Oko, the Project Officer, Climate and Sustainable Development Network(CSDevNet) in Abuja on Tuesday.

The network is made up of CSOs under the aegis of CSDevNet, the Nigeria Civil Society Framework on Paris Agreement and the SDGs (NCSFPAS) and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

“CSDevNet, NCSFPAS and PACJA call for a just, green recovery deal that can tackle the crisis, particularly the health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“As the Economic Sustainable Committee (ESC) team, led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbanjo prepares to launch unprecedented stimulus and recovery package, it is our belief that this historic moment calls for a different, an equally unprecedented response.

Oko said climate-smart agriculture must be scaled up as enshrined in Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement.

He said there should be increase funding to the health and production of vaccines; energy, science, education and technology sector in the national, state and local government budgets.

Oko quoted Mr Barau Jawal, the Deputy Executive Director, Keep Bauchi Clean Initiative as saying “waste to wealth production should be part of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Green Recovery and Economic Sustainability target, this is in energy production (bio-energy).”

Jamal encouraged the government and individuals to reduce or eliminate the release of pollutants into the environment by proper waste deposal and providing proper waste sites at every ward.

Mr Nwan Emeka, the Project Director, Connecting Peace Initiative, Rivers, said that government’s efforts should be channeled to tree planting and should be monitored for transparency.

“There should be enforcement of the law on recycling which will involve every citizen; ban single-use plastics and taking responsibility for setting up plants for recycling to curtail waste and city pollution,” Emeka said.

Mr Jacob Ibrahim, Dengula Farms and Agro-Processing Firm, Adamawa, said that the government should provide Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise(SME) policy, soft loans and grants to serve as an important repository response in coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Essential products and services should be given special tags to ensure business continuity in this tumultuous time to guide law enforcement agencies and ensure manufacturing, supply or provision of essential goods or services,” Ibrahim said.

Also, Mrs Iyanu Oluwa, the Achievers Innovative Advocates International Foundation, Lagos, said the government should provide rapid response for sustainable food production by supporting farmers in the rural communities to plant food crops that would be subsistent for consumption.

“Government should support more youths and women as main drivers of rural economies and in its economic growth plan towards agriculture across the country with subsidies, mechanised equipment and grants,” Oluwa said.

Similarly, Dr Eris Ibi, the Executive Director, Working Fingers Int’l Initiative in Delta emphasised that post COVID-19 green recovery programmes should focus on poverty, health and unemployment.
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Ibi said that grassroots organisations should be engaged to drive the process because during the lockdown NGOs, faith-based and community-based organisations were closest to the people and attended to them.

Mr Toyin Oshaniwa, the Founder, Toyin Oshaniwa Foundation, Lagos state said the ESC policy action should focus towards full mainstreaming of environmental education and environmental management plans that cover Water Sanitation and Hygiene.

Oshaniwa said that the environmental education and management plan should be enshrined into both public and private space as one of the essential road map to Green Recovery Solution.

“COVID-19 pandemic experience has demonstrated that we need nature as nature can recover fully with or without the help of man. Thus, green recovery solution should be nature based solutions,” Oshinawa said.

Mr Uche Uchenna, the Executive Director, Foundation for Family Values and Health Orientation and Empowerment, FCT, said government had to support SMEs to reduce poverty, through provision of Cash Transfer(capital), training of youths and women on vocational skills.

Uchenna added that there should be increase allocation to health for the training of medical personnel, acquiring of equipment and supporting rural health centers with increased sensitisation on COVID-19

Ms Vickie Onyekuru, the Programme Director, Child Health Organisation, Lagos, said recovery plans must ensure people’s wellbeing were at the heart of the crisis response and protection of workers’ rights, through a “just transition for all” that leaves no one behind.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

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