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2021 Budget: SERAP Proposes Pay Cut for Govt. Officials

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Buhari 2021 budget

By Ahmed Rahma

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has tasked the government to cut salaries and allowances of its top officials for the funding of the 2021 budget.

The group, in a statement issued on Sunday, argued that this should be more ideal than the proposed sale of national assets for the purpose of financing the budget.

As a result, SERAP has called on the National Assembly under the leadership of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Ahmed Lawan and Mr Femi Gbajabiamila respectively, to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from going ahead with the planned sale.

According to the organisation, the sale of some public properties by the executive arm of government would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.

“The National Assembly has a constitutional and oversight responsibility to protect valuable public properties and to ensure a responsible budget spending.

“Disposing of valuable public properties to fund the budget was not in the public interest and would be counter-productive, as the action would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.

“This would undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off, and hurt the country in the long run,” SERAP said in the letter signed by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare.

In the statement, the group “called for a freeze on spending in certain areas of the budget such as hardship and furniture allowances, entertainment allowances, international travels, buying of vehicles and utilities for lawmakers’ members and the presidency.”

It further urged the legislative arm of government to work with the presidency to fix the current damaging budgeting process and address the systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

SERAP also appealed to the parliament “to stop approving loan requests by the federal government if it continues to fail to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained.”

Ahmed Rahma is a journalist with great interest in arts and craft. She is also a foodie who loves new ideas. She loves to travel and would love to visit other African countries someday. She is a sucker for historical movies and afrobeat.

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We’re Yet to Receive Formal Report of Sylvester Oromoni’s Death—Police

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Sylvester Oromoni

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Lagos State Police Command on Saturday night said it was yet to receive a formal report of the death of one Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos.

The death of Master Oromoni has been trending online for the past few days and the video of his painful death sparked reactions after it was reported that he was bullied in school and allegedly forced to swallow substances believed to have eventually killed.

The incident forced the Lagos State government to shut down the school indefinitely for investigation.

On Saturday night, the spokesman for the Lagos Police Command, Mr Adekunle Ajisebutu, a chief superintendent police (CSP), said though none of the parents or the school has formally filed a report on the matter, the command has swung into action to get to the root of the matter.

According to him, “the Commissioner of Police, upon hearing about it instantly, directed the Divisional Police Officer, Maroko Division under whose jurisdiction the place of incident is to immediately visit the school to carry out an initial investigation into the incident.”

“This directive has been carried out as an investigation into the case has since commenced. However, in view of the seriousness of the case, the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, has also been directed to take over the investigation of the case immediately,” he added.

“Members of the public, particularly the deceased’s bereaved parents, friends and relatives, are assured that the Lagos State Police Command has deployed all available human and material resources at its disposal to unravel the circumstances surrounding the sad and unfortunate incident,” the police image-maker for the command stated.

“While a diligent investigation is ongoing, members of the public are advised against taking the law into their own hands. They are also enjoined to refrain from comments that could jeopardize the investigation,” he appealed.

Concluding, Mr Ajisebutu said, “The Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, while commiserating with the bereaved family, has equally assured that the outcome of police investigation would be made public in due course.”

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Adisa Receives Media Friendly State Lawmaker Award

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Media Friendly State Lawmaker

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

For his contributions to the infrastructural development of his constituency and outstanding achievements as a lawmaker, the member representing Afijio constituency in the Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr Seyi Adisa, has been given the Media Friendly State Lawmaker Award.

The award was conferred on the state legislator by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council during its press week at the Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan.

Chairman of the NUJ Oyo chapter, Mr Demola Babalola, disclosed that the award was in recognition of Mr Adisa’s outstanding performance as a lawmaker, who has excelled in his calling as well contributed to the development of society.

He said his contributions to the development of his people, communities in his constituency and his senatorial district of Oyo North are laudable.

“You are given this special award of exemplary performance and also awarded as the Media-Friendly State Lawmaker of the Year in Oyo state because we believe you deserve it,” he said.

While receiving the award, Mr Adisa declared his appreciation of the gesture, saying “big thanks to the Oyo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for this special recognition and Award of Exemplary Performance that also doubled as an Award for the Media-Friendly State Lawmaker of the Year.

“I do not take this for granted.”

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We Will Defend Free Press in Nigeria—US Government Assures

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Free Press in Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

The United States government has promised to do everything possible to defend free press in Nigeria, which it said remains vital to democracy and good governance.

The American government expressed this with a partnership, through its Embassy, with the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) for the first of the six media-focused Town Halls and Workshops in Lagos on Thursday.

The event will also take place across the country in the next several months.

The capacity-building programme will provide a forum for over 200 participating Nigerian editors and leaders of the independent press to discuss and share best practices and to also hear from the United States government.

Experts on topics such as journalistic standards, identifying bias, and conducting fact-based investigative reporting to better inform the Nigerian public will be provided.

Delivering keynote remarks at the opening programme in Lagos, the US Ambassador, Mrs Mary Beth Leonard discussed the challenges faced by Nigeria and other democracies across the world and highlighted democracy’s greatest strength: the ability to improve upon and reinvent itself.

She quipped that when belief in democracy, good governance and elections are restored, Nigerians will want to be a part of that system and will defend it.

Ambassador Leonard noted, “Our hope is that in this forum today is that you will lead and serve as catalysts for further discussions on countering disinformation; increasing transparency; solution building; and encouraging media literacy and their contribution to a democracy that is accountable to its people.”

The US government is committed to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria, she added.

According to her, for years, the US Mission has funded partnerships that promote Nigeria’s democratic governance, unity and stability by improving government transparency and accountability, the rule of law, free and professional media, as well as civil society capacity and engagement.

On his part, the General Secretary of NGE, Mr Iyobosa Uwugiaren, said, “At the end of the project, we expect to see a pool of Nigerian editors, senior journalists and media managers, who will be galvanised and committed to the highest ethical standard and to take robust actions towards this.

“Editors who will be committed to the promotion and protection of the right to an independent press, freedom of expression and deepening democratic space; and constantly projecting issue-based governance in defence of the mass of the Nigerian people.”

The Town Halls and editor workshops are supported through a grant from the US Embassy’s Public Affairs Section in Abuja to the NGE.

In addition to Lagos, the programmes will take place in Kano in January 2022, then Yola, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu will follow in subsequent months.

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