By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Furniture Dealers Association of Nigeria has commended the federal government over the inclusion of the members of the association in a scheme tailored for small enterprises.
President of the association, Mr Emeka Egwuekwe, has, however, asked that members of his group be included in the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) N50 billion COVID-19 stimulus package for households and small businesses in the country.
Business Post had reported that the federal government recently released the guidelines to access the N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund and Support Initiatives, which took effect from September 21, 2020.
The scheme, which is the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, includes the N60 billion MSMEs Survival Fund and the N15 billion Guaranteed Offtake Schemes.
The leader of the furniture dealers stated that the industry lost over N600 million during the COVID-19 lockdown, noting that if care is not taken, a lot of companies will shut down after the pandemic.
According to Mr Egwuekwe, who is also the Apakata Onyii Of Enugwu-Agidi l, “the government should look into our sector, the furniture industry. If care is not taken, a lot of furniture dealers would go out of business after this COVID-19 pandemic.”
“As the President of the United Furniture Association Of Nigeria, I want the government to look at ways of including members in the CBN N50 billion COVID-19 intervention loan. Our members need this bailout loan as the furniture industry provides over 6,000 jobs. If you go to Kugbo furniture market, you will discover over 6,000 Nigerians making their living from the market.
“I tell you that after this COVID-19, a lot of companies will go extinct as most of our raw materials are imported from China, and since we have not been able to import for some time, the companies are not working.
“So, I am pleading with the federal government to include us in the bailout funds. We have lost over N600 million not only in revenue, but this sector has also lost over N600 million because of the pandemic.
“The business aspect is closed, people are crying and this is happening when the year was just picking. Many people imported goods but cannot clear them and others cannot replace their stock. As I speak, many are still losing so much money as they cannot get their goods or bill of lading to clear the goods, we are in a quagmire and calling for government intervention to save our businesses” he declared.
COVID-19: Jesus Christ Would Have Supported Vaccination—APC Group
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A group known as the APC Mandate Defenders has slammed Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Mr Paul Enenche, for criticising the federal government for directing federal civil servants to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by December 2021.
The cleric had described this directive as one from the pit of hell, while the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Mr Monday Ubani, threatened to sue the federal government if this was enforced.
But in a statement issued on Saturday, the APC group said the central idea behind the vaccination was to save lives, stressing that Jesus Christ would have done the same if he were to be alive in this generation, saying compulsory vaccination is not from the pit of hell.
In the statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the organisation, Mr Ifeanyi Emeka, it said it was very proud of Mr Enenche for leading the Christian folks back to God especially the several charitable works and donations made during the lockdowns but then, the pastor ought to have known that COVID-19 was still constantly looking for who to kill on daily basis.
“However, we are praying that God will further open the spiritual eyes of pastor Enenche and other men of God opposed to compulsory vaccination so that they can see how deadly the virus is and probably recommit themselves to the ongoing battle against the virus,” it stated.
APC Mandate Defenders used the opportunity to condemn Mr Ubani for threatening to sue the FG, noting that the virus is a biological war waged against humanity that requires the deployment of all weapons to win the battle, emphasising that the lawyer ought to have known that in war all is fair.
“Since the law is made for man and not man for the law, compulsory vaccination for civil servants is one of the fundamental ways of flattening the curve,” it said.
“Accordingly, Dr Ubani and others opposed to compulsory vaccination should note that civil servants do travel to other countries for training and other essential assignments on behalf of the country and it will not be right if Nigerians are denied access to such countries as a result of their vaccination status or vaccine Passport which is the new normal in the world today.
“As a learned gentleman, Dr Ubani ought to have also known that sometimes, what is right may not be legal and what is legal may not be right.
“Therefore, it is in Nigeria’s national interest that civil servants be forced to take the vaccines for the safety of Nigerians and for the preservation of our corporate existence as members of the inter-connected world.
“We, therefore, advise Nigerians to take the vaccines and join the battle to flatten the curve in the country,” the statement noted.
UN to Cut Food Rations in North-East Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
*Internally Displaced Persons Hit 2 million in September
The United Nations through its World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that it may soon be forced to cut food rations to more than half a million women, men and children in north-eastern Nigeria.
This was disclosed by WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, Mr Chris Nikoi, in a statement over the weekend, explaining that there was a need for urgent funding to continue life-saving operations in crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
The WFP director stated that the cuts would come just as severe hunger reached a five-year high in the country, in the wake of years of conflict and insecurity, noting that the situation had been worsened by the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply.
“Cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry. We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe,” the director stated.
Mr Nikoi warned that if at least $55 million was not received in a matter of weeks, WFP would have no choice but to cut food rations and reduce the number of people it serves, where assistance is already prioritised for the most vulnerable as early as November.
“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. “We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Mr Nikoi added.
He said that the number of Internally Displaced People (IDP) forced to flee their homes in search of safety in northeast Nigeria had been rising steadily, reaching a new all-time high of over 2 million in September 2021.
The WFP director said that current food security analyses showed that 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria did not know where their next meal would come from, and over 1 million children are already malnourished.
He cited continued attacks on communities by non-state armed groups, harsh lean season conditions amid an economy dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19, as portending great danger for the people.
Mr Nikoi added that high food prices and a severe reduction in household purchasing power had also contributed to a bleak outlook for the most vulnerable people in northeast Nigeria, warning that despite increasing needs, WFP may soon be unable to sustain life-saving operations in the conflict-riddled north-east.
Land Grabbing: Group Tells Lagos to Obey Supreme Court Judgement
By Mohammed Kerimu
Members of the Shangisha/Magodo Landlord Association of Nigeria have advised the Lagos State Government to obey and execute the judgement of the supreme court ordering the allocation of 549 plots of land them.
This call was made on Friday at a press conference organised by the group, where the Chairman of the association, Mr Adebayo Adeyiga, addressed newsmen in Lagos.
The group appealed to the state government to complement the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari by executing the court order and not to continue to show attitudes suggesting that the state is operating a different constitution other than the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which President Buhari and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swore to defend.
The body emphasised that as long as Lagos State was still part of the Nigerian federation, it must operate within the context of the law because the state itself is a creation of the Nigerian Constitution.
The group wondered why Lagos State Government that is among the states clamouring for the implementation of a court decision on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) even when the matter is still in the court could turn a blind eye to the execution of the supreme court judgement ordering the allocation of 549 plots of land to members of the group.
It will be recalled that about 37 years ago, the Lagos State Government collected Shangisha/Magodo land belonging to members of the association under the guise that it will use it for the construction of an international standard hospital; relying on the over-riding public interest classification of the Land Use Act of Nigeria.
Accordingly, the state evicted the landlords and pulled down their houses and other immovable properties in the area but to the surprise of everyone, the then administration, instead of using the land for its intended purpose, allegedly converted the land to personal properties; allocating plots to their family members, friends and cronies despite the excruciating pains the original owners were subjected to.
Angered by such development, members of the association initiated several court actions up to the apex court before the supreme court finally ruled that the land should be returned to its original owners since the intended objective was not achieved.
However, the state government paid deaf ears to the judgement behaving as if Lagos State was above the law of Nigeria.
The group, therefore, called on President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami to prevail on Lagos State government to execute the judgement of the apex court, saying justice is distorted when the victim pays for the conducts of the accused.
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