Coalition Tasks Nigerians to Vote En Masse in 2023 General Elections
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21ST), and Campaign for Dignity in Governance have jointly tasked Nigerians to go out and vote peacefully and orderly in the 2023 general elections on Saturday, February 25.
In a statement made available to Business Post on Wednesday, the coalition urged Nigerians to vote for candidates of their choice to consolidate democracy for the continued progress and prosperity of Nigeria.
Signed by Mr Nelson Ekujumi for CPPM, MrsTitilope Akosa for C21ST, and Mr Razaq Olokoba for Campaign for Dignity in Governance, the message tasked that amid the current hardships experienced in the country, Nigerians must remain brave and carry out their civic responsibilities.
The message read, “As Nigerians and the global community await the conduct and outcomes of the 2023 Presidential/National Assembly and Governorship/State Houses of Assembly Elections scheduled for Saturday 25th of February 2023 and Saturday 11th March 2023 respectively, the aforementioned civil society organizations urge eligible Nigerians to participate fully in the exercise in a peaceful and orderly manner.”
“Our appeal to Nigerians is predicated on our responsibility as societal watchdogs and democrats desirous of deepening democracy through advocacy for the active participation of citizens in the electoral process.
“We are not unaware of the excruciating pains and discomfort occasioned by the implementation of the Naira redesign policy, but call on Nigerians not to despair or be weary but to remain calm and peaceful with abiding faith in democracy. We encourage Nigerians to be hopeful that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.
“We urge Nigerians to continue to persevere and not pander to the antics of undemocratic elements whose motive is to take advantage of the prevailing situation to lure citizens to violence which could truncate the democratic process. We earnestly admonish Nigerians to be committed to sustaining the momentum of democratic participation for the collective good of the society, no matter the provocation.
“We are hereby using this medium to appeal to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ameliorate the sufferings of the people in line with Mr President’s directive by making the various denominations of the new naira notes adequate and available at the commercial banks and other cash dispensing outlets to ease the untold pains and anguish which individuals and businesses have been subjected in the last couple of weeks.
“We must warn that the hardship occasioned by the prevailing cash crunch should not be allowed to undermine the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“Notwithstanding, considering that Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy which makes the Rule of Law Supreme, we fully align with the February 8, 2023, and February 15, 2023 rulings of the Supreme Court, which extended the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes as legal tender till the next adjourned date of 22nd February 2023.
“We demand that the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) immediately comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court in the interest of peace and observance of the Rule of Law, which is sacrosanct in a democracy.
We commend the Federal Government and the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) for the gradual restoration of normalcy in the distribution chain of petroleum products, which has manifested in the reduction of queues at petrol stations across the country.
“While we recognize the huge gaps in compliance on the sale of petrol at official pump prices across the country, we call on NNPCL to ensure strict compliance with official pump prices and to put an end to the queues at filling stations ahead of the polls and beyond.”
It also tasked the electoral body to ensure that it does all that was necessary and continue its track record that was witnessed last year in Ekiti and Osun states.
“We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remain resolute, focused and committed to conducting free, fair, and credible polls in line with the capacity already demonstrated in the conduct of recent off-season elections in Ekiti and Osun states.
“We recognize that anti-democratic elements are not relenting in their campaign of blackmail and calumny against the Electoral Body. But we are confident that the 2023 General Election will be credible and successful.
“We also wish to encourage security agencies to be professional and unbiased in the discharge of their functions as critical stakeholders in the electoral process. We admonish security agencies to raise the bar of professionalism and dedication to duty to arrest any threat to the peaceful and successful conduct of the 2023 general elections.”
“However, we must warn that anti-democratic elements hell-bent on undermining the successful conduct of the elections and public peace through fake news incitement of violence before, during and after the election are on the prowl and must be met with the full weight of the law. It has therefore become imperative to bring to the attention of security agencies’ plots to incite violence on Election Day, as witnessed during the 2020 EndSARS protests.
“We appeal to the media as partners in progress to be professional and objective in their coverage and reportage for a successful and credible 2023 general elections.
“We call on the observers, both local and international, to maintain a high degree of neutrality and professionalism in the exercise of their functions in line with their oath and global best practices.
“We, once again, call on all eligible voters to come out en masse to vote and remain calm, orderly and peaceful before, during, and after the elections.”
Enrol in Micro Pension to Escape Old Age Poverty—PenCom Tells Traders, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has urged artisans, traders, and other self-employed people to enrol in the Micro Pension Plan of the commission to guarantee themselves a functional retirement plan and avoid old age poverty.
This was the crux of the points made by the Head of Corporate Communications of PenCom, Mr Abdulqadir Dahiru, in Enugu on Thursday.
He stressed the importance of the Micro Pension Plan to Nigerians in the informal sector and those working in organizations with less than three employees.
Mr Dahiru noted that about 90 per cent of workers in Nigeria were in the informal sector, adding that this category of workers had no pension protection for old age and with the increase in people living long, there is a risk of old age poverty.
According to him, the Micro Pension Plan provides workers in the sector the opportunity to easily register and contribute in a flexible manner and in a safe and secure environment for their pension at retirement.
“The Micro Pension Plan is a flexible plan, where the artisans, traders and even a woman that sells fried beans cake (akara) can register with and agree on a periodic amount she/he would be contributing according to her/his earnings.
“The contributors, within this flexible Micro Pension Plan for all Nigerians in the informal sector, can even draw out 40 per cent of what they have saved for emergency demand.
He said the remaining 60 per cent would remain and await the retirement plan proper.
“So, it is a means of savings also for those in the informal sector and where they could fall back to and get financial assistance to keep their daily engagements going,” he said.
He noted that PenCom was desirous to ensure Nigerians in the informal sector enrolled and registered in the plan, adding that it had started sensitisation of the plan to communities, marketplaces, public gatherings, associations, and trade fair grounds across the country.
Mr Dahiru also urged Nigerians to embrace PenCom’s acquisition of residential mortgages (residential houses) scheme for Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had approved 34 mortgage banks to work with the PenCom and Pension Fund Operators in providing mortgage financing to contributors to the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) with their RSA balance.
The PenCom spokesman said that the commission was determined to implement the scheme for the contributors to ensure that RSA holders have houses of their own at retirement.
Mr Dahiru noted that for contributors under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) to be eligible to use their RSA balance for the acquisition of residential mortgages, they must have contributed for five years (60 months) cumulative of employer and employee’s mandatory contributions.
“The same thing applies to the contributors under the Micro Pension Plan; even married couples, who individually met the eligibility criteria, were also eligible,” he said.
Explaining the limit for equity contribution that qualified a contributor, he said that the maximum allowed was at 25 per cent of the RSA balance.
He added that where 25 per cent of the RSA balance was more than the equity contribution, the RSA holder could only access the amount equivalent to the equity contribution required.
“Where 25 per cent was not sufficient for equity contribution, RSA holders may utilise Voluntary Contribution (VC) in line with the Voluntary Contribution guidelines,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the mortgage financing incentive would help to grow the number of contributors into the CPS scheme.
Google to Extend Financial Services Verification Program to More Countries
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Tech giant, Google, has promised to extend its financial services verification program to more countries after bringing 11 nations into the scheme as of 2022 as part of efforts to protect its users from fraud and scams, which it said increased in the year under review.
The financial services certification program requires advertisers to demonstrate that they are authorized by their local regulator to promote their products and services.
This measure adds a new layer of security against fraudsters and further safeguards people from financial scams.
According to Google, actions are quickly taken when coordinated threats are identified, with additional restrictions put in place to block the ability of fraudsters to harm consumers.
“Over a one-month period, we blocked and removed tens of thousands of malicious advertisements and took action against the accounts associated with the bad ads.
“Overall, in 2022, we blocked or removed 142 million advertisements for violating our misrepresentation policy and 198 million advertisements for violating our financial services policy,” a blog post from the reputable platform on its 2022 Ads Safety Report said.
As for the efforts to prioritise child safety, Google said it has always blocked harmful ads targeted at young kids, especially by filtering “mature ad categories such as sexually explicit content and ads for gambling, alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs.”
“When it comes to designing products and creating policies, one of our top priorities is to ensure the safety of kids and teens around the world.
“This includes blocking ad targeting based on age, gender or interests and preventing additional age-sensitive ad categories from serving to teens. We began rolling out these changes in Europe and completed that process globally last year.
“We also now prohibit ads promoting dating apps, contests and sweepstakes, as well as weight loss products to people under 18,” it further disclosed.
Commenting on how it has tackled misinformation, Google said the reliance on its platform for the hunt for credible information influenced the creation of “policies against harmful health claims and demonstrably false claims that could undermine trust and participation in elections.”
“In 2022, we blocked ads from running on over 300,000 publisher pages that violated these policies and blocked over 24 million policy-violating ads from serving.
“In addition, we blocked and removed over 51.2 million ads for inappropriate content including hate speech, violence and harmful health claims and 20.6 million ads for dangerous products or services such as weapons and explosives,” it stated.
Looking ahead to 2023, the search engine said it would continue to provide a safe and trustworthy ads experience for users.
“As 2023 continues, we will stay diligent in our efforts to combat abuse across our platforms while helping advertisers and publishers grow their businesses,” it assured.
Nigeria Seeks Ireland’s Help on Internal Security
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government, through the Ministry of Interior, has sought the cooperation of Ireland on internal security in Nigeria.
The Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, made the request when the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Peter Ryan, paid him a courtesy call in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mr Aregbesola, in a statement issued by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mr Afonja Ajibola, in Abuja, said that because of the ministry’s desire to strengthen internal security, he felt there was the need to establish the National Institute for Domestic Security in the country.
The Minister added that the proposed institute would be a training ground for training top-notch security officers.
He, therefore, solicited the support of the Irish Government in realising the project, which he said was very dear to him as a minister.
According to him, the project is conceived by his ministry as an institution for interaction and collaboration between all security agencies.
“The National Institute for Domestic Security is a project, an initiative of the Interior Ministry, which would be saddled with the responsibility of providing a forum for interaction between all top ranks of security personnel in managing internal security,” he stated.
The Minister commended Ireland for its legacy in education and moral instruction carried out through the Catholic Missionaries.
On his part, Mr Ryan thanked the minister for receiving him in spite of the short notice and assured him of his country’s assistance to help Nigeria when it comes to security challenges.
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