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REPORT: Nigeria@59: States’ debt profiles as impediments to democratic values, dividends



Nigeria@59: States’ debt profiles as impediments to democratic values, dividends

A report by Nigeria News Agency

Nigeria News Agency makes an in-depth report on debt profiles of some states and analyses how the debt has affected the delivery of dividends of democracy as the country marks the 59th year of independence.

The Debt Management Office states that the debt stock of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stood at about N6.8 trillion as at March 31.

According to it, the figure includes both the domestic and external debts and it bases the findings on the collations done December 2018.

Economists express worry about this and observe that critical debt burden can be a threat to the country’s economy, governance and the expected dividends of democracy, especially when the loans are not tied to viable development programmes.

For instance, an overview of debt profiles indicates that Lagos State has a domestic debt stock of N542.2 billion and external debt of 1.426 billion dollars (N513.5 billion) while Kano State has a domestic debt stock N117 billion and 63.4 million dollars as at March 31.

Similarly, Rivers owes N225.6 billion domestic loan burden and 78 million dollars external loan, FCT gets N164.2 billion (domestic) and 31.8 million dollars as external debt.

Anambra has N33.5 billion (domestic) and 107 million dollars (external) while Akwa Ibom has N197 billion as domestic debt and 46 million dollars and Ebonyi; N55.6 billion (domestic) and 66.3 million dollars (external), to mention few of the states.

The DMO also expresses concern about the debt profile across the states which economists admit that can retard the provision of capital projects.

However, analysts observe that the debts are accumulation of debts owed by successive governments of every state in the federation for which no governor has been held accountable.

Alhaji Aliyu Numan, Chairman, Adamawa Transition Committee, says that it is disheartening that previous administrations had accumulated debts without anything to show for it.

He announces that the total debt burden of the state during the period stands at N115 billion and that N22.3 billion is used to settle claims to contractors whereas the reasons for the loan is to pay salary arrears, staff claims as well as gratuity, among others.

“Government at that time failed to create businesses for the state and even resorted to the sales of state-owned assets to service personal interest of few.

“Monies and allocations which should have been used to address basic services such as potable water, education, health and housing, were simply not available,’’ Numan says.

Similarly, Gombe State Government says it inherits a debt burden of N119 billion, according to Malam Ismaila Misilli, the Senior Special Assistance, Media and Publicity to Gov.  Inuwa Yahaya of the state.

Misilli observes that in spite of the huge debt, nobody could pin-point a single project which is people-oriented executed with the loans.

recalls that the Kaduna State government in 2016 sought a 350 million-dollar World Bank loan — about N107 billion — for infrastructural development.

But the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, led by Sen. Shehu Sani, former Senator Representing Kaduna Central advised the Senate then against approving the loan.

According to the committee, if the loan is granted, it can bring the state’s total external debt stock to 582 million dollars, a development which the committee argued will translate to huge financial burden on the state.

The Anambra government would not comment of the state’s profile. Mr C-Don Adinuba, the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment and Mr Mark Okoye in the Budget and Economic Planning office of the state, decline comments.

Although the Enugu State government also declines comments on the states’ debt profile, Gov. Emeka Ihedioha of Imo notes, that the state is with N106.11 billion debt without anything to show for it by the past administrations.

“Instances of suspicious withdrawing of cash from government accounts in commercial banks without due processes as well as illegal recruitment and promotion of civil servants were a common practice by past administrations.

“Unsustainable debts were incurred on behalf of the state running to more than a N100 billion without anything to show for it and consequently saddling the state with a myriad of lawsuits’’, Ihedioha says.

Mr Adelani Baderinwa, the Supervisor for the Ministry of Information and Strategy in Osun, admits that the debt profile of the state as released by NBS stands at N148 billion but a bulk of the debt has been paid in July.

Baderinwa gives an assurance that the rest of the debt will be paid by 2020 and that the loans are taken to execute developmental projects in the state.

He claims that the loans are used to revamp the education, health sectors, the rehabilitation and construction of new roads across the state.

The debt profile in Ogun is put at N90 billion (internal) and 102million dollars (external) announced by former Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of the state at the twilight of his administration in May.

Analysis of how the loan is used indicates that most of it is for the construction of Ogun Judicial Complex; the 10,000-seater capacity Amphitheatre at Oke-Ilewo, the Kampala/Adire Mall at Itoku, the Ogun Television Digital Studio and the 250-bed ultra-modern hospital at Oke-Mosan.

The incumbent Gov. Dapo Abiodun has kept sealed lips over the amount of debt he inherits from the Ibikunle Amosun-led administration.

He, nonetheless, said in June at a meeting with leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state that he met “an almost empty treasury’’.

He noted that he had to quickly approach some banks where he got N7 billion loan to pay May salaries of workers.

“We have by far too many things to do than to begin to be bugged down by what someone did or what he did not do or what he left behind.

“I cannot begin to describe it to you. I will not because I have made up my mind that publicly and privately, I will not discuss anything about the past administration,’’ he said.

The DMO record shows that the Ondo State government has a debt of N56.9 billion as at March 2019.

A government source, who pleads anonymity, says that Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has not borrowed any sum since he came on board in 2017.

He, however, says that the governor recently sent a request to the state House of Assembly for approval to borrow N30 billion which has not been approved.

In Kano State, DMO records N117 billion (internal and 63.4 million (external) as the state’s debt profile.

An official of the state’s treasury department says the state is has more than N​200 billion ​​vouchers to pay to individuals and companies.

“The bulk of the debt are liabilities that are abandoned projects scattered across the state, including 92 abandoned road projects in the municipal area​.

“Top in the list of abandoned project are the two kilometre Sabon Gari flyover, Wuju Wuju Jakara road projects, Gadon Kaya Under-pass road projects and five kilometre road construction in each of the 44 local government areas,’’ he notes.

Others states with worrisome debt burdens are Bauchi State N92.3 billion as domestic and 133million dollars (about N48.2 billion) as external debt, Bayelsa N130 billion as domestic debt and 56.6 million dollars as external, Benue N97.3 billion as domestic and $39.6 million (external), Borno N68.4 billion (domestic) and 21.6 million dollars (external), Cross River N168 billion (domestic) and 188.8 million dollars (external) and Delta 228.2 billion (domestic) and 63 million dollars as external.

Katsina State has N30.8 billion and 62 million dollars domestic and external respectively, Kebbi N67.4 billion and 45.6 million dollars, Kogi N85 billion and 31.5 million dollars, Kwara N59 billion and 48.6 million dollars, Nasarawa N85.5 billion and 59.1 million dollars and Niger N41.8 billion and 61.3 million dollars.

Rivers has a debt profile of N225.6 billion and 78 million dollars, Sokoto; N38.6 billion and 39.2million dollars, Taraba N61.5 billion and 21.6 million dollars, Yobe N28 billion and 27.5 million dollars and Zamfara N60 billion and 33.5million dollars.

In all these states, the complaints have been that the loans have not been utilised for the purposes they are borrowed.

Dr Uche Olowu, President and Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, however, observes that although states are bound to obtain loans, but such loan shoulds be used for development projects.



Returning Nigeria’s textile sector to good old days?



Returning Nigeria’s textile sector to good old days?

, Nigeria News Agency

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills.

The Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) sub-sector, employed close to 450,000 people that translated to more than 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.

But today, only 25 textile factories are operating, and they function at below 20 per cent installed capacity and engaged less than 20,000 people.

The fortunes of CTG sub-sector started dwindling in the 1990s, as a result of  some challenges faced by cotton farmers, ginneries and textile firms.

Farmers and processors were confronted with low quality seeds, high  cost of production, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile materials into the country.

Statistics recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), showed that textiles worth four billion dollars were smuggled into the country annually.

But there is renewed vigour by the present administration, to revive the CTG through CBN’s intervention.

In order to boost the CTG sector, the Federal Government had given directive to some agencies and uniformed organisations to patronise local textile industries.

The present administration through the CBN is targeting engaging 300,000 farmers to achieve 450,000 metric tonnes of cotton in 26 states in the next three years.

The bank is to achieve this through its Anchor Borrowers Programme, which had already commenced with the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton seeds to be distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states.

Part of the strategy is also to import 6,000 metric tonnes of improved cotton seeds, while additional 2,000 metric tonnes of cotton seeds had been sourced locally.

The data released by the bank indicates that “total expected yield at the end of the current season is 302,440 metric tonnes. The distribution of inputs to cotton farmers was launched in Katsina on May 6.

Twenty ginneries in seven states- Borno, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Zamfara were selected to participate in the CBN’s financed cotton project.

According to CBN, ginners are to sell their lint to textile factories with the ultimate objective of producing textiles to meet the needs of the members of the uniformed services.

The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the funds to operationalise the ginneries, had

been approved and to be disbursed through the Bank of Industry.

Emefiele said about N19.18 billion had been approved by the bank to fund nine ginneries across the country.

The approval is to enable them retool their processing plants, while they are to

access the funds at single digit interest rate.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, lamented the closure of textile factories especially in the North, and

assured that his administration would revive the sector.

“We promoted policies that will support local industries such as import restrictions.

“We introduced programmes that provided affordable and accessible capital for both large and cottage industries.

“We also introduced Executive Orders that encouraged the procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services.”

According to him, his administration will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items,  which can be produced locally.

He said: “We will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items which can be produced locally. We owe this to the over 200 million Nigerians.”

According to the President, the textile and garment sector has the potential to create millions of jobs, and will therefore, remain one of the priority sectors for the administration.

Referring to his recent directive to all government uniformed institutions to use locally produced garments, President Buhari said unbelievable number of jobs will be created when the military, police, para-military organisations, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), fully patronise local industries.

He, therefore, urged state governments to key into this policy for their schools, hospitals and other institutions.

In the same vein, Mr Isa Aremu,

the General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), lamented the closure of hundreds of textile factories, which used to employ “millions of workers, more than the workforce of the Federal Government in the 70s and 80s.”

He, however, commended the textile-friendly policies of the Buhari-led administration, such as the interventions by the CBN and the Executive Order on the use of local garments by uniformed organisations, among others.

Aremu stressed the need to tackle the high incidence of smuggling of textiles, in order to protect the sector as well as boost job creation.

The activist said the recent signing of MoU between the CBN and some major stakeholders was a gradual effort of lifting the sector from the state of hopelessness to hope.

Aremu noted that the effort made by the CBN was commendable and would be supported by his union, and appealed to other relevant groups and indeed all Nigerians to do the same.

Alhaji Salman Abdullahi, the President,  Cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria, commended the CBN for its commitment to  revive CTG sub-sector.

Abdullahi said when the stakeholders’ meeting was convened sometimes to work out ways to revive the sector, he thought it would be like similar gatherings in the past, that did not yield any positive result.

He pledged that members of his association would live up to expectation, by ensuring quality production.

Dr Arome Salifu, an economist, said the step taken by Federal Government was a welcome development.

According to him, for any economy to thrive, a critical component like manufacturing sector must be given priority.

“The CTG is a critical component in manufacturing sector, therefore, the apex bank has taken the right step in the right direction by choosing this component to support.’’

Salifu said that this kind of investment was needed at this time because of its jobs creation potential.

He called for involvement of critical stakeholders, like civil society organisations, in the monitoring and evaluation of the project to ensure judicious use of funds.(NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency

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FEATURE: Governorship election: Checking violence, disruption in Kogi



NANFeatures/Vol.13/2019 (Nov. 14)

Governorship election: Checking violence, disruption in Kogi

No fewer than 1.6 million eligible voters in Kogi state will file at the various polling booths on Nov.16 to elect one of the 24 candidates vying for the governorship position in the state.

Public analysts caution that campaigns and intrigues preceding elections by political actors usually result in the disruption of peace.

According to them, there ought to be standby security measures to nip in the bud any security fallouts from the activities of members of political parties and their followers.

Analysts observe further that few days to the election, news platforms are awash with somewhat reports of activities that are threats to peace and security of lives in some areas of Kogi.

As politicians begin campaigns to the 21 local government areas of the state canvassing for votes, observers say it is fundamental for security stakeholders to check utterances that can result in crisis.

The people contend that the political trend in the state has brought palpable fear among the generality of the people and may contribute to political apathy, if not checked on time.

Few says into the election, residents of Lokoja, the state capital, woke up to the news of the burning of the secretariat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), allegedly by some political thugs.

The SDP in neighbouring Ondo State says the attack by some thugs on the party’s secretariat in Kogi is a threat to the nation’s democracy.

Mr Dele Ogunbameru, Chairman, SDP Reconciliation and Development Committee in Ondo State, describes the attack as barbaric and a setback to the nation’s political development.

“The burning of the Kogi State SDP Secretariat by some political thugs is a threat to our nascent democracy which should be condemned by all no matter the political bias,” he says.

The secretariat, located in the heart of the town, now exists in its shadow as all its facilities have been either destroyed or burnt, leaving it in ruins.

The SDP candidate in the planned election, Natasha Akpoti, during her visit to the office, expressed outrage over the damaged that visited the secretariat and traced the development to political intolerance, among others.

There are also instances of political crises involving bloodletting and death giving the notion in some quarters that the election may not be as peaceful as peace-loving people of the state envisage.

Members of the traditional institution in the state are not less concern over the frightening political atmosphere in Kogi as they have also expressed disgust with warning to stem the ugly tide.

The Olumagongo of Magongoland, Obin Sam Bola Ojo, in apparent move to ward off the gale of crisis-ridden campaign has said that whoever brings violence to his kingdom during the poll will be dealt with.

Concerned citizens see political peace in Kogi as a collective responsibility, starting from the political actors, their followers, the electorate and other stakeholders.

The Olumagongo calls on youths not to use their hands to destroy their tomorrow but think of a green tomorrow than the peanuts given them by people who will give them guns to harm their fellow brothers and sisters.

The FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, sees peace in the forthcoming poll in political actors in Kogi, stressing that the unity and peaceful coexistence of the state are not negotiable.

The minister made the call when a delegation of Kogi Political Triangle, led by Adamu Shuiabu, paid her a visit in her office in Abuja.

She emphasised the need to build bridges among the different ethnic groups in the state, noting that peace was a daunting task but achievable.

“There is nothing we can achieve without peace. Kogi is blessed with ingenious and competent men and women.

“We are doing well in building the nation, and nation building is a collective responsibility,’’ she said.

Members of the entertainment industry are not left out in the collective effort to ensure peaceful Kogi poll as veteran Nigerian music star, Innocent Ujah Idibia (2Face), has also shown concern for a peaceful governorship in the state.

He went to Lokoja to preach peace and ensure a violence-free governorship election on Nov. 16.

The music icon, who is championing “Vote not fight, election no be war’’ campaign, said that he was in Lokoja to preach peace and to see that youths were not used by fraudulent politicians for their selfish interest.

In all, political analysts believe that there is need for politicians to think Kogi first, eschew political differences and ensure unity of the state.

According to them, the fear of God remains fundamental in finding lasting solution to the political problem of Kogi before the election and after.(NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency  

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Jigawa’s huge budgetary allocations to health sector and harvest of dilapidated infrastructure



Jigawa’s huge budgetary allocations to health sector and harvest of dilapidated infrastructure

Primary Healthcare Centre, Tsirme village in Kiyawa Local Government, Jigawa State

Jigawa’s huge budgetary allocations to health sector and harvest of dilapidated infrastructure

By Femi Ogunshola, Nigeria News Agency

In spite yearly budgetary allocation to the health sector in Jigawa, especially for the upgrade of primary healthcare centres, many of the health facilities are in terrible state of decay.

Statistics made available to the Nigeria News Agency , by Mr Bayoro Kyamba, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Jigawa Ministry of Health, showed steady release of funds to the Ministry.

The statistics released by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, covered 2015 to 2019.

The state’s budget in 2015 was N99. 550 billion, out of this, N11.965billion was appropriated to health sector, while N11. 960 billion was released.

In 2016, the size of the state’s budget was N137.230 billion, while N15. 741 billion was appropriated to health sector and N11. 971 billion released to the ministry of health.

For 2017, the budget was N127.870 billion, while N16. 450billion was appropriated to health sector and N12. 386 billion released to the ministry of health.

The 2018 appropriation was N138.67 billion, while N6.7 billion was earmarked for capital investments in the health sector.

In 2019, the state’s budget was N157.54 billion, 13 per cent of the total proposed budget was earmarked for the health sector.

This consisted of N10.6 billion for recurrent expenditure and N9.4 billion for capital investments, while N2.8 billion was allocated to primary healthcare and maternal programmes.

However, checks from some of the local government areas, showed that in spite the yearly allocations, healthcare facilities, were in state of disrepair.

Mr Shapiu Saidu, the Officer in Charge (OIC) of primary healthcare centre, Tsirme village, in Kiyawa Local Government Area, told NAN that the centre was built over 30 years ago.

NAN reports that Jigawa was carved out from Kano State by the then Military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1991.

Saidu said that the village primary healthcare centre needed a befitting structure, adding that “even if we don’t have new one, this one should be reconstructed to serve the people.”

The OIC said that about 834 general patients visited the centre in October, while 454 were male and 380 female.

According to him, in September, 782 visited the centre and out of this, 230 were male and 552 female.
Saidu said that the centre has only three workers, adding that this has put a huge burden on him and the other two.

“We need laboratory equipment and health personnel, this will improve our work, we only have three staff, we don’t even have Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW) and Junior Community Health Extension Worker (JCHEW).

“We also need laboratory technician, the government should supply us medical facilities, you can see that the roofs have been blown off, we need equipment to safeguard our vaccines,” he stated.

However, when NAN correspondent visited Jaudi primary healthcare centre, no worker was around as at   8:30 a.m.

Most of the workers were said to have gone to Dutse, the state capital for the weekend.

Efforts by the security man at the centre to call one of the staff who lived around the area were abortive, as she was said to have also gone to Dutse, the state capital.

Some of the services the centre claimed to render are: Out Patients Diagnosis (OPD), Immunisation, Antenatal care, Referral System/Out Reach.

It also includes: Drug Revolving Fund (DRF), Minor Surgery, Health Education, Growth Monitoring and Nutrition Promotion,Family Planning, among others.

The building inaugurated  on March 23, 2017 by  then Gov. Muhammad Badaru, was in bad shape due to poor maintenance.

When NAN called Mr Abubakar Bello, the Officer in Charge (OIC), he said he was in Dutse.

Also at Garkon village healthcare centre in Andaza Local Government Area, it was under lock when NAN correspondent visited.

The windows were left opened, and a view from outside showed that the inside was replete with ramshackle facilities.

A man who identified himself simply as Suleiman was approached for comment on the status of the centre; he stated that the people manning it hardly come on weekends.

Asked if in case of emergency what the villagers would do.

Suleiman said they would call any of the staff on phone to attend to the patients.

He stressed the need to deploy more manpower to the area as well as encourage the already existing workers.

However, at Aujara, in Jahun Local Government Area, there was large turnout of patients, while medical personnel were around to attend to them.

Mr Shehu Muhammed, the Officer in Charge (OIC) said that the centre has 19 workers, plus a corps member, who is a medical doctor.

He said that the centre has high patronage, adding that the centre needed equipment and other facilities to cope with the surge.

According to him, there is high number of attendees, so we need infrastructure, equipment, drugs as our drug are not enough.

“Our maternity side is very small, we need a bigger one to accommodate patients because as at now we only have four beds at the maternity ward and two in labour room,” he stated.

Muhammed said that the centre usually had between 150 to 160 deliveries monthly, adding that the large number made it imperative to have more beds and a bigger delivery room.

According to him,  the state government gives N10, 000 monthly overhead to the centre.

On the record of patients that visited the centre for the month of August and September, the OIC stated that 5,638 was the general figure for August while 6,339 was recorded in September.

“For the month of August, the number of male that visited the centre is 2,658, while female is 2,980, for September, male, 2,973 and female 3,766,” he said.

Dr Abba Umar, Jigawa Commissioner for Health, who commented on the state of primary healthcare centres across the state and other sundry issues, said government was aware that it has a number of dilapidated facilities at some primary healthcare centres.

He said that some of them were included in the budget for upgrade.

According to him, before the end of the year, most of these facilities will be fixed.

The commissioner stated that the policy thrust of the state government on health was to ensure that every ward in the state has functional primary healthcare centre.

“We met some primary healthcare and clinics centres on ground, they were many that were dilapidated when we came in, and so we started the process of improving the facilities, renovating them to ensure that they are habitable.

“We have done so many of them, and then we also said that every ward that does not have one functional primary healthcare centre, we construct one, so we constructed additional 87.

“And that the last batch was 25 which were constructed this year and we are just about to open up those 25.’’
He acknowledged that there was shortage of manpower at the primary healthcare centres, stating that the government would address the issue.

According to him,  there are challenges on our human resources, but we are doing all we can to ensure we solve that particular problem.

“We recruited 600 additional primary healthcare workers and posted them to various facilities to ensure that we bridge the manpower gap at that particular level.’’

He said that there was increase in the number of women that access facilities for antenatal care, and women who delivered on the facilities.

He said that this was as a result of favourable government policy,  of releasing N75million monthly to the Ministry of Health for free maternal and child health.

“So every woman that gets pregnant should have free facilities until delivery, and any child that is under five have free services.

“This has helped in increasing access to the facilities and has also helped in maternal and child mortality.’’
Umar said that the state got $1.6 million World Bank Save One Million Lives grant, adding that part of the money had already been received.

According to him, the state government will use the money to continue to improve the health sector.

Mr Yakubu Auyo, Director, Primary Healthcare Development Agency (PHDA), said that from 2020, the local government councils would exclusively run the primary healthcare centres.

He said that the budget for the primary healthcare centres would be decided by the local governments without the state’s input, adding that the state would only assume a supervisory role.

With close monitoring and supervision, the allocations to the health sector will translate to improved services.

Garkon village, Primary Healthcare Centre in Andaza Local Government, Jigawa State


**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency .

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Feature: Nigerian Navy and the Quest for Proficiency




Feature: Nigerian Navy and the Quest for Proficiency

By Modupe Oremule, Nigeria News Agency

“The battlefield is an unforgiving classroom. It is a theater where success and survival in real combat is dependent on hard work during exercise of all nature.’’

The above saying is by Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) at the opening of “ Small Arms Firing Exercise (SAFEX)’’, organised by the Western Naval Command, Lagos in October 2019.

The quest for proficiency has in recent times seen the Nigerian Navy engaging in trainings and even bilateral relationships with the Navies of other countries.

Constitutionally, the Nigerian Navy personnel are used to handling big weaponry mounted on warships, but due to the numerous security challenges, there has been an increase in their involvement in internal operations.

The Navy has big guns onboard warships like the 127MM and the 40MN but to tackle internal security issues, arms like FN Rifle, AK47 and Shooter `n’ Gear (SnG) are needed.

Due to their increased involvement in internal security, the Navy has continued to train and retrain its personnel through SAFEX to enhance their proficiency as well as enhance operational efficiency.

To become proficient in small arms handling, the Western Naval Command, from Oct. 17 to Oct. 19, organised SAFEX for its personnel at Owode, Nigeria’s border community with the Republic of Benin.

No fewer than 400 officers participated in the exercise which entailed shooting weapons such as FN Riffle, AK47 and SnG from 100m and 200m radius respectively.

However, speaking at the opening ceremony, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, said the exercise had given them opportunity of identifying marksmanship for inter-command and inter-service competitions.

“I enjoin everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity to enhance their weapon handling proficiency and knowledge.

“I implore you all to remember the marksmanship principle as you approach the firing point, this will help in ensuring that you hit the bull,’’ he said.

He also thanked the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) for making the exercise a reality.

“This exercise would not have been possible without the timely approval of the Chief of Naval Staff to our arms and logistics request. So, I enjoin everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

“Training all over the world is conducted to correct weaknesses and sustain strength. In achieving this objectives, training exercise will always be tough and physically challenging.

“This exercise therefore, will not be an exception considering the process you must have passed through right from the point of selection. I enjoin you all to apply yourselves during the exercise,’’ he said.

Major.-Gen. Olu Irefin, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division Nigerian Army, Bonny Camp, Lagos, at the opening said that there was no gainsaying the complexities and fluid nature of contemporary security challenges.

He said that it was imperative for security agencies to not only to synergise their efforts towards attaining national security objectives but also to sharpen their skills in weapons handling.

“It is against this backdrop that the Nigerian Navy and by extension the Western Naval Command deemed it fit to hold the exercise,’’ he said.

At the end of the exercise, the FOC, represented by the Chief Staff Officer, Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Muritala Bashir, implored personnel not to forget what they had learnt.

“I’ll like to urge us that whatever we have learnt from this exercise, please, let it register in our memories because these are the skills you will need to apply when the need arises.

“Apart from the skills that must have been sharpened, we should be able to go a step further at our individual time to see how we can strip and assemble these weapons.

“Because during operation, these weapons could disappoint. And it is not enough for you to drop the weapon and stop firing as a personnel, find out what the problem is, strip the weapon and assemble and continue,’’ he said.

On foreign relationships, the Nigerian Navy received six ships from other countries this year, exploring diplomatic ties for excellence with their foreign counterparts.

The ships include: the U.S. Naval Ship CARSON CITY, the French Navy Ship BOUAN, the Indian Navy Ship TARKASH and the Spanish CENTINELA and SERVIOLA.

The most recent one is the visit of Spanish Ship, ATALAYA, which berthed on the shores of Nigeria on Oct. 2 and departed on Oct. 5, for the strengthening of diplomatic ties between the Nigerian Navy and the Spanish Navy.

The Spanish Consular General, Mr Juan Anthony and the Commanding Officer of Spanish Naval Ship, Lt.-Commander Calvar, paid a visit to the Western Naval Command.

They were received by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, for an exchange programme in training and also to boost bilateral relationships between both Navies.

These visits were aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the countries to reinforce manpower capacity development through training and re-training of officers and men of the Navy.

While in Nigeria, series of training through naval exercises were conducted in line with the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas’ mission.

The mission is to deploy a naval force that is well trained, organised and highly motivated to discharge its constitutional roles professionally and efficiently for the defence of Nigeria in ensuring her economic prosperity.

While leaving on Oct. 5, the Nigerian Navy, as part of its culture, performed passage exercise for the Spanish Navy ship with series of exercises.

The Nigerian Navy ship (NNS) EKULU, NNS NGURU and some NNSSBS boats as well as Nigerian Navy helicopters sailed with the ship on Passage Exercise for some nautical miles off Lagos Farwell Buoy.

Both Navies carried out several naval drills, including Opposed Vessel, Search Boarding, Seizure (VBSS), Fleet Manoeuvers, Communications and Helicopters operations.

The combined exercise saw Nigerian Navy personnel board the Spanish Naval Ship ATALAYA with their Spanish counterparts doing the same.

It will be recalled that few months ago, Spanish Naval Ships CENTINELA and SERVIOLA visited Nigeria and conducted similar exercises. (NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as the Nigeria News Agency

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Mitigating effects of climate change via legislation




Mitigating effects of climate change via legislation

By Ikenna Uwadileke, Nigeria News Agency

Undoubtedly climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today. Environmental experts also say that Nigeria is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, because of the country’s low response capability.

They cautioned that climate change and global warming if left unchecked would cause more adverse effects on livelihoods of most Nigerians, who are already living in abject poverty.

According to an environmentalist, Oyeniyan Olagunju, Nigeria is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and must, therefore as a matter of urgency take steps to reduce vulnerability, build resilience and adaptive capacity.

Olagunju said that while climate change constitutes environmental threat of the 21st century, the current experience alongside its adversity, has left Nigeria with no better option than to seek immediate measures to adapt and mitigate impacts.

According to him, climate change has negatively affected Nigerian economy, with various observable impacts, ranging from significant reduction in agricultural productivity to increase in morbidity and mortality rate.

“The energy sector is not left out, because climate change has impacted the hydropower plants which are sources of electricity for the country.

“Others like the transportation, tourism and manufacturing sectors are affected which in turn pose threat to the overall economy,’’ Olagunju said.

He said that a study conducted by Department for International Development (DFID), confirmed that climate change would cost Nigeria between six and 30 per cent of its GDP by 2050, with estimated loss of between 100 billion dollars and 460 billion dollars.

“Currently, the erosion of low-lying coastal and non-coastal regions of Nigeria results in persistent buildings collapse, with attendant loss of lives.

“Of important concern also are the drying lakes in Nigeria, especially the Lake Chad, which is at the junction of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, as a valid reference point,’’ Olagunju said.

A recent report by Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Management revealed that by 2020, Nigeria stands to lose 11 per cent of its GDP to climate change in absence of an aggressive climate policy to sustain the social and economic development in the country.

Rep. Sam Onuigbo, the lawmaker representing Ikwuano /Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency of Abia, in the House of Representatives, said that there was need to domesticate global instruments, in order to combat the effects climate change in Nigeria.

Onuigbo expressed worry over the absence of a legal framework on climate change, which he identified as critical for the conservation of nature and protection of the country’s natural resources and environment.

He also expressed dismay that the Climate Change Bill, which he sponsored while he was the Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change, during the 8th National Assembly, did not receive presidential assent after its passage.

“I have not given up on the Climate Change Bill because I have been able to rework it and represent it, and I am happy that the bill has gone through first reading in the House of Representatives,’’ the legislator said.

He expressed optimism that the reintroduced bill would receive presidential assent with a view to aid in mitigating the effects of climate change in the country.

“With the awareness that we all have shown in matters concerning climate change, ecology, and how we can work towards sustainable development, I am optimistic that this time there will be good advisers around Mr President.

“It is important to tell him why it is absolutely important to sign the bill,’’ Onuigbo said.

He emphasised that the bill still focuses on mainstreaming government actions and responses into policy formulation and implementation and the need to establish the national council on climate change.

The lawmaker said that besides proposing for a council, the bill also proposes an agency to drive efforts to checkmate the devastating effects of climate change in the country.

Onuigbo, who is also the Vice-President of GLOBE International (Africa), promised to work with other legislators to initiate policies and bills that would ensure reduction of ecosystem degradation and Green House Gas emissions.

Globe, is legislators’ organisation that supports parliamentarians to develop legislative response to the challenges posed by development.

Onuigbo, however, pledged to use his position to draw international and national attention to the strengthening of GLOBE in Nigeria, in order to provide added urgency to the country’s drive to protect the environment.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had made a commitment to the cause by signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Sept. 22, 2016, “and committing severally in many international discussions that Nigeria must address climate change issues.

“It is hoped that by the end of my tenure, natural capital governance would have been worked into government policies and financial permutations and projections.

“It is also hoped that more attention will be paid to renewable energy sources,’’ Onuigbo said.

He called for increased awareness to sensitise people to understand the need to do away with activities that impact negatively on the environment.

While pointing out the need to do away with non-degradable materials, Onuigbo canvassed for the adoption of improved agricultural systems for both crops and livestock.

Mr Abbani Yakubu, Lecturer, Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, stressed the need for government and relevant stakeholders to extensively fund researches in climate change.

According to him, it is very necessary because climate change affects all.

“It impacts on our daily lives and affects food security, which the government is trying to achieve in the country.

“Research is very integral to solving climate change problems.

“We need to understand the extent to which it is affecting human lives.

“Efficient database management system on climate change occurrence and related events should be developed, in order to ensure effective and timely respond to climate change incidents in Nigeria,’’ Yakubu said.

It would be recalled that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels.

In its 2019 seasonal rainfall prediction, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), said that it would be another hot year.

The mean annual variability and trend of rainfall over Nigeria in the last six decades, depicts several inter-annual fluctuations that have been responsible for dry and wet years or extreme climate events, such as droughts and floods in many parts of the country.

NiMet also predicted that as a result of these climatic conditions, incidences of malaria and other diseases will be higher in areas with temperatures ranging between 18 °C to 32 °C and with humidity above 60 per cent.

“More worrisome is the increasing knowledge that the country will be subject to consistent changes in rainfall and temperatures in the not-so-distant future.

“Hotter and drier conditions would likely exacerbate droughts and heat waves and hamper agricultural production, particularly rain-fed agriculture, which many Nigerians rely on for their livelihoods,’’ a farmer, Mr Ndifereke Akpan said.

While identifying that agriculture accounts for around 23 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, Akpan said that progress could be hampered if the trend was not checked.

“Unless we take action, these trends are likely to jeopardize hard-won progress.

“Already, climate-induced conflicts are exacerbating fragile security situations, with flashpoints mainly in the middle belt of the country.

“Climate change therefore, poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s development ambition of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and could stunt and even reverse the progress that has already been made,’’ Akpan said.

With enforceable legislation in place, Nigeria will effectively mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and global warming. (NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency .


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National Sports Festival: Edo getting ready to host the Nation



National Sports Festival: Edo getting ready to host the Nation

By Igbaugba Ehigimetor, Nigeria News Agency

On Dec. 16, 2018, at the closing ceremony of the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF),  “Abuja 2018,’’ Edo was announced as the  host  of the 20th edition of the biennial sports festival.

Solomon Dalung, the then Minister of Youth and Sports Development, said the state was chosen after careful assessment of its bid.

The minister said Edo beat Delta, Imo and Cross River states to win the hosting right.

Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo, who was present at the occasion, assured that the state would live up to expectation.

“We accept this challenge and will be ready to host the whole of Nigeria as expected in Benin in 2020,” Obaseki said.

Obaseki went down the memory lane to explain that the then Bendel, now Edo and Delta states, won the NSF hosting right in 1981, while Edo played host to the rest of Nigeria in 2002.

The Ministry was careful in granting Edo the hosting right to avoid the circumstances that led to not holding the festival for six years.

At the closing ceremony of the 18th NSF in Lagos in 2012, Cross River was announced the host of the 19th NSF.

The state could not put the necessary infrastructure in place for the festival to hold in 2014.

As a result of failure from the Cross River Government the hosting right was withdrawn, while the 19th NSF eventually held in Abuja in 2018.

To avoid delay, the Edo Government hit the ground running immediately the state won the hosting right.

The main venue, Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, has been undergoing reconstruction in the past one year, and is almost 95 per cent completed.

Femi James, the site engineer of Peculiar Ultimate Consult, said the stadium would be one of the best in the county when completed.

According to James, the main bowl of the stadium will boast of required FIFA facilities such as surveillance monitor and standard studio that will make it easy to relay live matches.

“As you can see, a lot have been achieved; while various fittings are currently being installed with others completed, installation of seats is also being completed.

“This stadium which is about the best in the country will be fitted with surveillance monitor 5km radius and also studio facilities.

“It will be about the only stadium in the country with these facilities, the stadium will only be compared to that in Uyo and Abuja when completed.

“As for the tracks, we are done with the ground work and only awaits the arrival of the facility from Germany which payments have been made,” he declared.

James said that besides the tracks, payments have been made for the flood lights and the score board.

“We have already installed lights inside all the covered stands and also installed the shadow casting lights for the turf; we are only awaiting the arrival of the flood lights and the score board for installation.”

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who recently undertook a tour of the stadium, commended the governor on his administration’s commitment to deepen sports development by investing in the reconstruction of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and other sporting facilities in the state.

He said that based on what is on ground; the state was prepared to host the 2020 NSF.

Obaseki, on his part, said the state was ready to host the NSF.

“I am impressed with the total rebuilding of the stadium to a 21st century model edifice.  We have built the pitch; the tracks are to be replaced. The swimming pool, long tennis, and indoor courts are all wearing new looks.”

Mr Philip Shaibu, Edo Deputy Governor and Chairman, 2020 NSF Local Organising Committee (LOC), assured that all sporting venues and facilities will be ready by Dec. 31, 2019.

Shaibu reinstated that in accordance with rules of such big sporting tournaments; the mascot and theme song for the games have already been unveiled with 100 per cent local content.

The mascot was named “Etin,” which in Benin dialect means, strength and designed by Anthony Ifemeje.

He restated that the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the main venue of the festival and other complementary venues were almost completed.

Shaibu said that apart from the National Stadium, Abuja, Edo will be the first state to have a double game event for squash, while the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, now has an Assisted Video Recorder (AVR) facility ready for use.

He said that all the 12 sub-committees were working round the clock to ensure hitch-free festival.

He said that the Main Organising Committee (MOC), would soon commence training of desk officers that would handle the accreditation of athletes and officials.

The deputy governor said the services of between 2,000 to 3,000 volunteers would be needed to ensure smooth management of the games.

He said the volunteers would be recruited through advertisement to be placed on the games portal to make for the smooth running of the games tagged, `Return of the Native.’

Edo was on recess for 11-12 years, which made Nigeria to lose its potential. “

“We are ready to host other 35 states and Abuja in the Return of the Native.

Edo is ready to take its pride of place in sports,” Shaibu said.

Mr Mike Itemuagbon, the Chairman, Marketing Sub-Committee, said no fewer than 8, 500 athletes are expected to participate in the 20th edition of the NSF, which will hold from March 22 to April 1, 2020.

The athletes will compete for 3,000 medals from 33 sports in 22 venues.

Itemuagbon called for synergy between the publicity and the marketing committees, and urged the publicity committee to use various platforms to sell the festival to the world.

“Nothing will be left to chance in a bid to ensure the best organised NSF in the country, but then, we must be up and doing in our various assigned responsibilities.

“We must understand that the media and marketing drive sport, so we must use our various platforms to propagate the Edo2020 event,” Itemuagbon said.

In order to ensure free movement of athletes and officials to competition venues, Gov. Obaseki said that plans had been concluded to purchase over 100 new buses, which will be added to the Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) fleet.

According to the governor, the state is already finalising talks with relevant stakeholders to supply the vehicles.

All hands should be on deck to enable Edo deliver on its promise of organising a world-class National Sports Festival. (NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency .


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