By Adedapo Adesanya
The Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) has backed the ongoing war on drugs abuse in Nigeria, promising to join the crusade against the scourge.
The actors gave this assurance on Monday during a meeting with the Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr Mohamed Buba Marwa, at the national headquarters of the agency in Abuja.
While commending the Nollywood actors and the entertainment industry for projecting the image of Nigeria, Mr Marwa expressed confidence that the campaign against drug abuse in the country will go far with the offer of partnership and support from the leadership of AGN.
“We want the Guild to set a good example by leading the war within its circle. Your movies must promote messages against the use of illicit drugs because the minds of millions are shaped by what they watch in movies,” he said.
“We need you to set up War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, committees within your industry,” the NDLEA chief added.
He said with drug use prevalence in the country three times the global average, the agency needs committed partners like the guild to mobilise the citizenry against the menace.
According to him, a number of artists don’t only use them, they also encourage others to abuse drugs through their work and activities on social media.
Speaking earlier, the National President of AGN, Mr Emeka Rollas said, “We are here today to affirm our complete support to your efforts in combating the menace of drugs in our society as we strongly believe will help reduce drug crime to the barest minimum.
“As a guild of major influencers and in line with our set objectives to educate, inform and entertain as well as our avowed commitment to national development, we seek a mutually beneficial partnership with the NDLEA to leverage on the star-power of our members in promoting some of your transformation programs especially on drug trafficking and abuses”.
Listing the areas where he wants the guild to collaborate with the NDLEA, he said “the majority of our members are youths and appeal to a generation of youths who are influenced heavily by internet content and social media.
“We have therefore outlined some advocacy programs to enlighten Nigerian youths on the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking; they include but are not limited to: production of skits majorly for social media campaigns; drama series on negative effects of drug abuses, rehabilitations, eradicating the fear of stigmatization and advantages of total abstinence; engage some of our A-list actors as NDLEA Ambassadors to help use their star power to discourage the youths from doing drugs, among others.
“We share in the dream of a better Nigeria where success will be the reward for hard work and not through drug trafficking and other drug-related offences.
“The era of glorifying drug barons and criminals is far gone and the Actors Guild of Nigeria, as ambassadors of Nigeria’s image, is readily available for advocacy campaigns, talk-shops, production of skits, playlets, feature films, etc. on the menace of drug abuse and trafficking,” he stated.
Apart from the National President, Emeka Rollas Ejezie, other members of the delegation include Mohammed Kareem, Vice President North Central; veteran actor, Zulu Adigwe; Steve Eboh; Onwurah Agility Ifeanyi; Waash Waziri, Vice President North West; Nazareth Jesse Bako, Mayor AGN Abuja; Pamela Abah; Veteran actor, Lisa Onu, and Hajiya Salma Ibrahim, Chairman AGN Kaduna.
Pensioners Only Experience Few Payment Issues—PTAD
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has claimed that pensioners only witness a few payment issues, which it said should become a thing of the past very soon.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Ms Chioma Ejikeme, while speaking at a Sensitization and Collaboration Forum, which had critical stakeholders in attendance, said efforts are being made to make the process seamless.
She explained that the event was put together to carry stakeholders along, especially security officials, so as to weed out fraud from the system.
Ms Ejikeme said PTAD was ready to collaborate with other agencies to curb pension fraud and resolve issues regarding pension payments to the pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS).
“The Directorate has deemed it fit and important to engage these group of stakeholders in order to continually re-strategize and come to terms with the realities of pension payments and its attendant challenges.
“The pension industry had been swamped with complaints of extortion by fraudsters and phone calls demanding for money in order to quicken computation and payment of outstanding liabilities,” she said.
“It is important for agencies that like ICPC, and EFCC to really understand what we do, because of the perception of pension admiration out there as many people think PTAD keeps pensioners’ funds, which is not true.
“As such, we want to make sure that our processes and the way we conduct our payments is very well known to these agencies not just them, but also the general public,” she disclosed.
“Certainly, there are challenges in payment arising from the Government Integrated Financial Management Systems (GIFMIS), but the magnitude is really not significant.
“Consequently, we are here today to look at some of the minor challenges while we sit with the relevant stakeholders and look at how to address them and also get input from the financial managers of the government,” Ms Ejikeme stated.
On his part, the President of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Mr Godwin Abumisi, lauded the efforts of PTAD in managing their pension and stated that they had never had it so good.
“Indeed the union and its teeming members will be eternally grateful to the federal government and the National Assembly for the establishment of PTAD via the Pension Reform Act of 2014 (as amended). The establishment and operations of PTAD is far better than where we are coming from,” he said.
EU Provides €70,000 to Tackle Floods in Ondo, Four Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The European Union (EU) has announced the provision of €70,000 to reduce the impact of floods in Nigeria as the country anticipates the high flooding period.
The EU funding supports the Nigerian Red Cross Society to increase capacity and preparedness to reduce the impact of likely floods in Ondo, Kogi, Kebbi, Anambra and Cross River States.
This will be done through increased community awareness, prepositioning of stocks, mapping of evacuation centres and hygiene promotion.
It is expected that this support directly benefits 10,000 people and, indirectly, around 25,000 more.
The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
In the past decade, especially during the last three years, there has been an observed pattern of flooding in Nigeria, with floods becoming the second most recurrent hazard affecting the country, after the epidemics.
The high flooding period generally recorded from August to October is usually characterised by the collapse of major dams, overflow of riverbanks and heavy occupation of residential areas or the environment by large masses of water due to heavy flow of run-off rainwater, uprooting and washing away of residential buildings, and blowing away roofs of buildings.
The rainy season also brings with it landslides in which hills and high lands collapse, burying people’s buildings and farmlands. The menace of erosion also comes in to contribute to further deterioration of the condition of the people and environment.
These trends are showing the necessity to anticipate the forecasted hazard and contribute much earlier to the preparedness in the areas at risk.
As such, the Nigeria Red Cross Society will take preventive measures to prepare for the anticipated impact that these events could have on the humanitarian situation before the flood season hits the country.
The EU is a signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).
Business Post understands that funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to small-scale disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF which was established in 1985.
LIRS Partners Deloitte to Deepen Transparency, Accountability
By Adedapo Adesanya
The desire to deepen transparency, and accountability and uphold a high standard in the administration of the tax system has made the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) collaborate with a globally recognised accounting and audit firm, Delloite Nigeria.
The partnership between both firms is majorly on the Whistle-Blower Initiative of the tax collecting organisation, according to a statement, which quoted its Executive Chairman, Mr Ayodele Subair.
Last Friday, LIRS launched the initiative to encourage the reporting of illegal actions or financial crimes through the appropriate channel, with a view to correcting the violations and optimally boosting the tax administration in the state.
He said the scheme, an initiative of the state government, will be driven by Delloite Anonymous and the Confidential Whistle-Blowing facility, adding that the whistle-blowing facility will promote the reporting of acts of commission or omission that borders on unethical conduct of the LIRS employees, management, and other stakeholders through the designated channels to the authorities.
“The facility is designed to ensure that concerns about wrongdoings or malpractice observed in the LIRS administrative and operational activities can be raised by any stakeholder without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination, disadvantage, or dismissal.
“This facility does not only provide the avenue to report but ensures the credibility of reports through investigation, feedback to the whistle-blower and ensures protection for such whistle-blower from possible reprisals or victimisation for all disclosures made in good faith.
“The whistle-blowing initiative is a two-way affair; even though it is aimed at exposing the LIRS staff involved with misconduct, employees of entities who want to report employers who circumvent tax laws or even members of the public who wants to raise the alarm on persons or entities who willfully commit financial crimes leading to revenue loss for the state can make use of the whistle-blowing platform,” he said.
Mr Subair said Deloitte’s engagement as an independent assessor was to ensure an objective and unbiased review of issues raised.
Also speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Rabiu Onaolapo Olowo said the Whistle-Blower Initiative of the LIRS is a pilot scheme of the Lagos State Speak-Up programme aimed at encouraging feedback mechanism from the general public, boosting their confidence and trust in the operational activities of government.
Mr Olowo said it was logical to choose the LIRS as the pilot scheme for the initiative because it is responsible for more than half of the revenue generated by the state and due to its multifaceted interactions with the members of the public, the Lagos government could use the channel to boost its message of openness and transparency.
He said: “In our pursuit to make transparency, accountability, and openness count in governance in the last three and half years, this is one step to help us to wrap up some of the things we have been doing to take government down to the people. We have to appreciate Governor Babajide Sanwoolu for approving this Speak-Up initiative. It will further help us to effectively discharge the policy thrust of this government and we believe it will promote and engender trust and citizen engagement.
“The reason we have chosen the LIRS as the pilot MDA for this scheme is quite obvious because it is the major revenue-generating agency for the state. Today, LIRS accounts for almost 75 per cent of Lagos’s revenue and it engages with the public at multi-faceted levels. Thousands of people across the world see infractions every day but they decided to remain silent because they feel there is nothing they can do to change the situation, but today, we are launching a channel that will encourage and remind people of their civic responsibilities to speak up when they observe unethical behaviour, especially in the process of conducting their businesses with the government.”
Joining the conversation, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Samuel Egube, believes citizen participation in governance invariably stimulates public trust which consequently enables the government to make the right investment decision on behalf of the people.
He stated that the channel will further open the Lagos State government to scrutiny and the openness and transparency that the initiative generates will lead to more development.
“We believe this channel will enable citizen participation in governance which will surely stimulate the trust of the people in what we do with their investment. You cannot talk about development in South Korea, Singapore, or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates without working out how that is connected to the United Nations Citizen Participation Index which states the line of relationship between the citizens and government and this is what this channel has addressed. Since we have launched the 30-year development plan this is another attempt at making the people of Lagos State work together with the government to make the plan works,” he said.
On his part, Mr Beulah Adeoye, Partner, Deloitte Nigeria, said the whistle-blowing service provides multilingual, multiple reporting channels including a 24-Hour toll-free hotline (0800TIPOFFS and 0800 847 6337).
Users can also use Delloite’s web portal (https://tip-offs.deloitte.com.ng); Email (email@example.com) or download the app (Deloitte Tip-offs, and Anonymous App) on the mobile app store.
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