By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State Government has paid N1.51 billion to 292 pensioners, restating its commitments to the welfare of pensioners, pledging to pay all pension entitlements.
In a statement by the Public Affairs Officer, Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC), Mrs Mariam Adetokunbo Eko, it was stated that this disclosure was made at the 82nd Bond Presentation Ceremony was held on Tuesday, February 16.
She explained that 292 pensioners’ Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) were credited with the amount so as to make the beneficiaries enjoy their out-of-service life.
Speaking at the event, the Director-General of LASPEC, Mr Babalola Obilana, assured retirees of the state government’s dedication to the well-being of its workforce even in retirement.
At the ceremony, which took place at the LASPEC Hall, NECA House, Alausa in full compliance with COVID-19 protocols, Mr Obilana disclosed that previously bond certificates were released to Pension Fund Administrators.
However, in order to ensure excellent and efficient service to retirees, the agency embarked on and satisfactorily issued certificates to pensioners personally.
In his words, “LASPEC has gone beyond the excuses of retirees waiting endlessly before they can gain access to their funds, the world is moving forward and so are we. We are dedicated to our retirees because they have painstakingly contributed their quota towards making a Greater Lagos.”
Mr Obilana further charged the retirees to ensure that they have proper documentation to avoid delay in payment due to wrong or missing documents.
He also told the retirees to be wary and not become victims of fraudsters.
“LASPEC is devoted to ensuring that all entitlements are paid into the right sources after departure from the Civil Service. There are many people devising means of defrauding retirees of their dividends from long service.
“That is why we operate an open-door policy to all on pension matters. LASPEC will not call or send you messages to charge you to get your entitlements,” he noted.
Mr Obilana thanked Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for making the welfare of the employees a priority and for not withholding funds for retired staff amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the EndSARS protest.
He assured retirees that Governor is working assiduously to ensure that they do not have to wait for years before they receive their pensions from the State.
He urged the staff to uphold a good service relationship with retirees mainly because it is the core culture, norm and belief of LASPEC, stressing that the agency’s goal for 2021 is to take an instant stand on openness and accountability.
Earlier, the Principal Legal Officer, LASPEC, Ms Abimbola Akintayo gave an overview of options available to retirees, stating that the two options available are Programmed Withdrawal and Annuity. She urged the retirees to choose an option based on personal circumstances and not follow the crowd.
No Free Land for Ranching in Oyo—Governor
By Ahmed Rahma
The Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, has stressed that the state will not provide land for free for ranching as it believes it is a private business.
Mr Makinde said this to clarify a tweet in which he revealed that Oyo State will adopt the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which is already being implemented in Kwara State.
The Governor, after a meeting with his Kwara State counterpart, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, said on Twitter, “We also agreed that the National Livestock Transformation Plan which is already being implemented in Kwara State would be implemented in Oyo State leading to further collaborations between both states on economy and security.”
But his tweet was interpreted by many to mean an implementation of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements, which many Nigerians had in the past kicked against.
Reacting, one of the app users, @olufunkeajibul1, said, “I hope the National Livestock Transformation Plan is not the same RUGA. If yes, Mr Governor please tread with caution. But no, please fire on all salvos.”
Another @Itee_esq said, “Your Excellency Sir, hope you are not bringing RUGA to Oyo State through the back door.”
@Carol-Ukoha said, “They changed RUGA to National Livestock Transformation Plan, can’t you read between the lines? I hope you have a rethink. You cannot afford to fail your people. This decision is unintelligent please.”
The Governor, who reacted to the concerns raised, clarified that the state will not implement the whole of the National Livestock Transformation Plan, only the aspects it finds beneficial.
Mr Makinde said, “My attention has been drawn to this tweet regarding the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan during the joint security meeting, yesterday. For the avoidance of doubt, when I said we would implement the plan, I didn’t mean a wholesale implementation.
“We will be taking aspects which are beneficial for our state. As I have stated on several occasions, our position in Oyo State is that ranching is a private business and should be carried out as such. Our admin won’t be providing land for free to private investors for ranching.”
Former Chairman of Defunct Diamond Bank Oluseyi Bickersteth Dies
By Dipo Olowookere
The former Chairman of the defunct Diamond Bank Plc, Mr Oluseyi Bickersteth, has died.
Mr Bickersteth was one of those who opposed the merger between the financial institution and Access Bank Plc. The transaction later went through and the marriage consummated in March 2019.
In 2018, the defunct Diamond Bank announced him as the new chairman of its board of directors, taking over from Prof. Chris Ogbechie, who retired after completion of his tenure.
It was gathered that Mr Bickersteth died peacefully in his sleep.
Before his demise, the financial expert of over 40 years of experience was the Regional Managing Partner and Chairman of Andersen Tax Africa.
Mr Bickersteth was also a member of the Global Board, Andersen Global. He oversaw all Andersen Tax member and collaborating firms in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The deceased, who started his career in Arthur Andersen and served clients in various industries in Nigeria, Africa and globally, attended the University of Ibadan for his first degree in Economics.
Facebook Launches LeadHERs Book to Celebrate African Women
By Adedapo Adesanya
As part of its celebration around International Women’s Month, Facebook has announced the launch of a material titled lLeadHERs: Life Lessons From African Women.
It is a collection of beautifully inspired stories & life advice from 19 women who are breaking boundaries in fields such as media, entertainment, politics, education and business.
Available for free in digital and physical formats, the book provides inspirational real-life stories for future generations and young leaders.
Each chapter focuses on a personal experience and life lesson around how these women have navigated their path to success, alongside the challenges they have had to overcome along the way.
LeadHERs: Life Lessons from African Women is aimed at encouraging, inspiring and guiding the reader – no matter the background, age or ambition.
This launch follows the successful 2020 launch of Inspiring #Changemakers: Lessons from Life and Business in South Africa.
This 2021 book is further brought to life through a series of beautifully illustrated artwork specially commissioned from four female artists from across the continent – Massira Keita from Côte d’Ivoire, Lulu Kitololo from Kenya, Karabo Poppy from South Africa, and Awele Emili from Nigeria.
With over 5,000 copies printed, the book will be provided for free to a number of Facebook’s local training partners including She Leads Africa, Fate Foundation, DigifyAfrica, Siyafunda, Smart Ecosystems for Women and cCHub.
These will be distributed across 15 countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Senegal and Kenya – in schools and to beneficiaries of training(s) offered by Facebook partners.
Speaking on this, the Regional Director, Facebook Africa, Ms Nunu Ntshingila, said: “At Facebook, we know that African women are at the helm of shaping the future of our promising continent – they are changemakers, mothers and CEOs.
“This book is a celebration of just some of the exceptional African women who in their own right are trail-blazers, motivating and inspiring people and advocating for good across Africa, and the world.
“We’re excited about their individual stories, inspired by challenges they’ve endured and how they’ve risen above these, and importantly how they’ve turned these into important life lessons to help inspire others.”
The women featured in LeadHERs: Life Lessons From African Women include Tara Fela-Durotoye from Nigeria, Elizabeth Akua Ohene from Ghana, Hawa Sally Samai from Sierra Leone, Saran Kaba Jones from Liberia, Temi Giwa-Tubosun from Nigeria, Baratang Miya from South Africa and Dr Judy Dlamini from South Africa.
Others are Yvonne Okwara from Kenya, Tecla Chemabwai from Kenya, Alice Nkom from Cameroon, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from Chad, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu from Ethiopia, Lelemba Phiri from Zambia, Vanessa Hau Mdee from Tanzania, Monica Musonda from Zambia, from Kalista Sy from Senegal, Noella Coursaris Musunka from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Samantha ‘MisRed’ Musa from Zimbabwe and Djamila Ferdjani from the Niger Republic.
Senate Prohibits Sexual Offenders From Working With Children
By Ahmed Rahma
To protect children from being sexually abused, the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill prohibiting persons convicted of sexual offences from working with children, either as a teacher in schools or under any other job description likely to expose children to any form of abuse such as rape.
The passage of the Child Rights Act, 2003 (Amendment) Bill, 2020, followed a clause-by-clause consideration of a report by the Committee on Women Affairs chaired by Mrs Betty Apiafi.
The Senate in an amendment to Section 195 of the Principal Act, inserted a new clause 195A which provides that, “In criminal proceedings, a person will be found unsuitable to work with children – (a) on conviction of murder, attempted murder, rape, indecent assault or assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm with regards to a child; or
“(b) Persons whom the court have deemed incapable of understanding proceedings or entering a proper Defence due to mental illness as ruled by the court especially in matters which constitute murder, attempted rape, indecent or other sexual Offences with intent to do grievous bodily harm where the court would have convicted such persons but for the Defence of mental illness.”
The Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, in a brief remark after the bill was passed, said “there was a prevalence of rape, especially of young children and in our institutions as well.”
“So, this amendment is going to cure those kinds of societal ills that will keep away those rapists from our children,” he added.
AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive Nigeria
By Ahmed Rahma
The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines produced by AstraZeneca in conjunction with the Oxford University, the United Kingdom, has arrived in Nigeria, one of the presidential aides, Mr Bashir Ahmad, has announced.
Nigeria had been expecting to receive almost 4 million doses of the vaccine on Tuesday for free, according to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a tweet this morning via his official Twitter handle, Mr Ahmad disclosed that the drugs came into the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on an Emirates flight. He said the doses touched down at the airport at about 11:46am.
“The first batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines has arrived Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,” Mr Ahmad said in the post.
Also recall that it was reported that the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, had said that the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in Nigeria in batches.
According to him, the country has been allocated 16 million doses and from late February 2021, the jabs will begin to enter the country for the use of Nigerians.
At the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Monday, the health expert said Nigeria will also stick with the vaccine despite South Africa rejecting it based on its epidemiological and equity assessment done by WHO.
“As earlier communicated, Nigeria is no longer expecting the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BIONtech vaccine through the COVAX facility but has been allocated about 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“This was based on epidemiological and equity assessment done by WHO,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria was considered one of the countries ready to receive the Pfizer vaccine but because the distribution intended to achieve public health value, it was not practical to provide every capable country with the vaccine due to its limited quantity.
Yesterday, Business Post reported that an online portal for the registration for the COVID-19 vaccination was launched.
Nigeria intends to first inoculate frontline health workers, security officials and others.
Zamfara Governor Confirms Release of Abducted Schoolgirls
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Bello Matawalle, has confirmed the release of the students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara, abducted by some terrorists last Friday.
Mr Matawalle said the girls were released by their abductors in the early hours of Tuesday after five days in the den of their kidnappers.
Last Friday, nearly 300 students of the institution were taken away in their dormitory by the insurgents. The incident happened just over a week after some students were abducted in Niger State.
“Alhamdulillah! It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity.
“This follows the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts.
“I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe,” Governor Matawalle announced this morning.
Business Post gathered that the girls were taken to the Government House in Gusau, the state capital before being taken to an undisclosed location for proper care.
The release of the schoolgirls has elicited excitement in the country.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari promised that there would not be any kidnapping of students again in the country. He has also warned that the government would not condone such act any longer.
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