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Northeast: $848m Required For Humanitarian Projects, Says UN

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More than 7.1 million of the 13.4 million people Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are facing the brunt of terrorists’ attacks, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), has said.

The UN agency also said $848 million would be required for 183 projects to address the humanitarian crisis by insurgency in the Northeast this year.

These were contained in the details of presentations by UN-OCHA) at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in Abuja .

In the document, UN-OCHA officials, led by United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, expressed grave concerns that the ongoing crisis in the Northeast had sacked thousands from their homes.

Besides, the Director-General of European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO Nigeria), Mr. Thomas Conan and representatives of other donor agencies reaffirmed commitment to help Nigeria resolve some outstanding challenges.

A director in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Dr. Sanjo Faniran, emphasized the ministry’s appeal that all Nigerians should do their best by contributing in whatever way they can.

“There is crisis in the North East today, but while no one prays for it, challenges could happen in other any other place in future,” Faniran stated in his appeal.

Acknowleding only a marginal reduction in last year’s number of victims in the Northeast, OCHA officials noted that many returnees in various parts of the Northeast still find it very difficult to go their respective homes while significant numbers of children are sleeping under trees in spite of the chilly harmattan breeze.

According to OCHA officials, numerous facilities and projects, including the UN camp for thousands of internally-displaced persons in Rann, Borno State, have either suffered devastations or reverses after terrorists overran various areas.

They said: “The number of people estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance has dropped by eight per cent compared to 2018, from 7.7 million to 7.1 million; the reduced number of people in need is attributed to improved provision of humanitarian assistance, in particular with regard to food security.

“The number of people who will be targeted for assistance has increased from last year, from 6.1 million to 6.2 million.

“Although the Food Security, Nutrition and Education sectors significantly reduced their targets, the Early Recovery and Protection sectors have increased.

“Financial requirements have decreased 19 per cent , from $1.05 billion to $848 million, reflecting a sharper and more focused approach to the humanitarian response by sectors, and taking into account additional funds for Northeast Nigeria outside of the humanitarian sphere, such as those pledged at the High Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region in September 2018 and international financial institution monies that have been or are due to be disbursed,” the OCHA stated in its 75-page draft “Humanitarian Response Strategy”.

An estimated total of 6.2 million people being targeted for humanitarian assistance, including food, health and water, include one million persons from Yobe state, 1.3 million from Adamawa and 3.9 million from Borno while others in dangerous localities are categorised as ‘hard to reach people’.

“I’m honoured to present the 2019-2021 Humanitarian Response Strategy, with a one-year response plan targeting 6.2 million of the most vulnerable people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states for humanitarian assistance; the financial appeal this year has reduced from $1 billion in 2018 to $848 million, reflecting a sharpened focus in the response and an increase in funding for development activities.

“Despite a significant scale-up of the humanitarian response by the United Nations and partners since 2016, in support of the Government of Nigeria, the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria continues. Civilians still hear the brunt of a conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement, abuse, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

“New and protracted displacement, triggered by the conflict, continues to affect access to basic services and disrupts the livelihoods of millions of people. Acute malnutrition among children under the age of five is above emergency thresholds in many parts of the Northeast.

“In line with a strong commitment to principled humanitarian action, humanitarian partners will seek to address humanitarian needs wherever they may be located in north-east Nigeria; strong partnerships between national and international actors are critical to ensuring people receive the life-saving assistance they need.

“In 2018, donors funded the appeal very generously. The $1 billion appeal was 67 per cent funded, representing over $698 million; other large-scale crises also require donor support, however it is essential to continue this positive momentum and build on the results achieved last year.

“Should we fail to meet our targets, it could undermine the progress made to date. This 2019-2021 Humanitarian Response Strategy provides a way forward to tackle the challenges inherent in planning and responding to large-scale needs in a complex setting.”

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Inflation Rate Drops to 11.37 Per Cent in January, Says NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics on Friday released the Consumer Price Index which measures inflation. The index dropped to 11.37 per cent in January 2019.

The bureau in the report said the 11.37 per cent inflation rate for January is 0.07 percentage points lower than the 11.44 per cent which the country recorded in December.

The report reads in part, “The consumer price index, which measures inflation increased by 11.37 per cent year-on-year in January 2019.

“This is 0.07 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in December 2018 (11.44 per cent).”

The report stated that on a month-on-month basis, the index increased by 0.74 per cent in January 2019, the same rate as was recorded in December 2018.

The report stated that urban inflation rate increased by 11.66 per cent year-on-year in January 2019 from 11.73 per cent recorded in December 2018.

It added that the rural inflation rate increased by 11.11 per cent in January 2019 from 11.18 per cent in December 2018.

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Buhari Hails Osinbajo For Role In Economic Recovery

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday commended the qualities and competence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Buhari, specifically praise him for the role played on the ‘CHANGE AGENDA’ and his capacity as the head of the National Economic Council (NEC) in the past three and half years.

He gave the commendation during a meeting with Ogun State traditional rulers, led by Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.

The President was responding to the Vice President’s presentation at the meeting on the economic outlook in the country in the last three and half years and how the APC-led administration has done more with fewer resources.

The President said: “Him (Osinbajo) being the Chairman of NEC is in a very strong position to know what we are earning and what we are doing with the earnings.

‘‘I am very pleased with his vast experience and intellect. He has captured effectively what the administration has done and I commend him for playing a very great part in that. Thank you, Mr Vice President.’’

The President told the traditional rulers that in all the States he had visited so far for his re-election bid, he had taken time to explain to Nigerians the achievements, programmes and future plans of his government in the three key areas of economy, security and anti-corruption.

‘‘On the promises on security, I have mentioned repeatedly that the people of the North East appreciate our undertakings because you cannot manage a country unless it is secure. We have succeeded in that and we thank God,’’ he said.

The President noted that Nigeria has attained food security under his watch, adding that many farmers have testified that fertilisers are now available and affordable.

‘‘Fighting corruption is the most difficult under our system but still, we have not given up. We are steadfast in our determination to ensure that those who abuse trust are brought before the law and punished,’’ he said.

President Buhari appealed to the traditional rulers to prevail on their subjects to be law abiding and show respect to constituted authority during and after the elections.

‘‘I am happy for what you have done on voter education so that your people can choose whoever they like from whatever party,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Oba Gbadebo assured the President that Ogun people will give him more than 60 percent of the votes in the State to guarantee his re-election and that of their son, the Vice President, on February 16.

He hinged Ogun people’s support for President Buhari on his commitment to the welfare of the masses, reflected in the array of well-conceived, executed and various ongoing projects that abound all over the country.

The Oba announced that Ogun State has been a major beneficiary of Federal Government projects, listing the Lagos-Ibadan expressway that passes through 80 percent of the State, Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge fast train, the latest technology in train movement the world over, among others.

‘‘It was my privilege to have been part of the passengers on the trial run on the Lagos-Abeokuta stretch of the rail on Friday, February 8, 2019. Generations unborn will continue to thank your Administration for taking the bull by the horns,’’ Oba Gbadebo said.

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SERAP Asks Court to Compel Fashola to Name Contractors Who Disappeared With Project Money

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN over “failure to disclose specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Mr Fashola to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information request dated 4 January, 2019 giving Mr Fashola 14 days to publish “the names of all contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country.”

The organization said: “publishing the names will make it hard for contractors and companies to get away with complicity in grand corruption. The citizens have the right to see that the Freedom of Information Act is enforced where there is an infraction of the right to information or a threat of its being violated, in matters of public interests.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Adelanke Aremo read in part:“by compelling Mr Fashola to name the contractors and their registration details, if any, Nigerians will be better able to hold them to account for allegedly absconding with public funds meant for electricity projects, thereby throwing the country into perpetual darkness and socio-economic stagnation as well as denying people their human rights.”

“Granting the order as prayed would ensure that allegations of complicity in grand corruption by contractors and companies in the power sector do not go unpunished. Unless the names of the contractors and companies are disclosed and widely published, alleged corrupt contractors and companies executing electricity projects will not be deterred and the victims of corruption that they committed will continue to be denied justice and effective remedies.”

“To date no contractors or companies who allegedly collected money for electricity projects not executed or poorly executed have been investigated for corruption let alone prosecuted and fined. Senior public officials who apparently served as intermediaries for these contractors and companies continue to escape justice.”

“The allegations of corruption involving many contractors and companies in the power sector have continued to impair, obstruct and undermine the ability of successive governments to provide Nigerians with access to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. Contractors and companies that allegedly disappeared with public funds meant for electricity projects may also be liable for aiding and abetting the commission of acts of grand corruption.”

The suit is seeking the following reliefs:

  1. AN ORDER directing and/or compelling the Respondent to compile and make available to the Applicant documents containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details, of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contracts and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information
  2. AN ORDER directing and/or compelling the Respondent to compile and make available to the Applicant documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018 and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information
  3. AN ORDER directing and/or compelling the Respondent to disclose if there is any ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector
  4. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to provide the Applicant with information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details, of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any such information amounts to a fundamental breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011
  5. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to provide the Applicant with specific documents and information containing the names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any of such projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018 and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information amounts to a breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011
  6. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to disclose if there is any ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupts contractors and companies in the electricity sector amounts to a breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011
  7. AND for such further order or orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

“Publishing the names of contractors will contribute to ending a pattern of corruption in the power sector and improve access of Nigerians to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. It will also allow citizens to track the level of execution of electricity projects by contractors and companies and reduce impunity for corrupt acts in the sector.”

“Granting the reliefs sought will ensure that punitive and dissuasive measures are taken against corrupt contractors and companies, shareholders and others that might have any ownership interests in companies responsible for failed execution of power projects in the country.”

“Former Nigeria’s Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar blew the whistle on Channels TV when he said, “We collected money from local, state and federal governments and others. Contractors were given some contracts and were paid hundred percent upfront. Up till now, we are not holding the contractors responsible. People have collected money upfront one hundred percent and have disappeared; and have not even done any work.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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