By Dipo Olowookere
A group known as the Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Terrorism in Nigeria has expressed concern over the largely negative impression being promoted by a section of Nigerians, particularly on social media, which it said was aimed at criminalizing the Fulani ethnic group in the country with the ‘Fulani herdsmen’ tag.
In a statement issued on Saturday in Lagos, the group described those criminalizing an entire ethnic group as opponents of human rights and advocates of genocide in a peaceful country like Nigeria.
“While commiserating with the immediate families of the victims of the condemnable killings of the past few days in Benue State and the entire citizens of the state, we cannot but condemn the actions of some of our states’ chief executives, including Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, whose actions, abuse of state power and the prevailing insecurity situation in their states, have led to the loss of the innocent lives of some citizens of the state,” the statement signed by the group’s convener, Mr Odeyemi Oladimeji, said.
The group accused Governor Ortom of acting autocratically in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic, which guarantees the right of every Nigerians to live and work in any place of their choice by forcefully evicting thousands of pastoralists, who are engaged in their legitimate businesses, under the guise of implementing the controversial anti-grazing law in the state.
“While as patriots and stakeholders in the Nigerian polity, we can no longer subscribe to Governor Ortom futile argument or his grandstanding on the perennial farmers/pastoralists conflict, which the Governor has clandestinely exploited in Benue State for political reasons.
“It was obvious that the Government of Benue state deliberately nurtured the crisis and promoted bloodbath,” Mr Oladimeji stated.
“We want Nigerians to be aware of the ongoing attempt by some Governors, particularly Governors of Ekiti, Taraba and Benue State to raise illegal armies being presently recruited and armed with sophisticated weapons under the guise of protecting their states against some unknown attackers when in the true sense of it.
“These Governors are merely exploiting the situation in Benue for obvious political reasons, which is aimed at recruiting political thugs as the 2019 general election approaches.
“We have thoroughly considered the dangerous dimension that the crisis has assumed and we cannot but call on every patriotic Nigerians, particularly elders of Benue, Ekiti and Taraba to rise and call these Governors to order.
“We cannot continue to fold our arms and watch these individuals frantically making political gains out of a dangerous situation, which has continued to claim the lives of the innocent people of the state as well as pastoralists, who are engaged in their lawful businesses,” he said further.
The group also advised that rather than creating laws and promoting actions, which seek to divide and threaten the existing peace in these states of the country, these Governors should focus their energy on issues, which have direct positive impact on the living standards of their people and can guarantee the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the ordinary Nigerians.
The statement also described as unfair, the attempt by section of the country to continually push every blames over the crisis on President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Rather than blaming President Buhari and the security agencies alone for the crisis being witnessed is parts of the country, our people should know that President Buhari is a leader who has attested in words and deeds that the security of lives and properties of Nigerians anywhere they reside in the country is paramount and not negotiable.
“Nigerians should also hold these Governors, particularly Governors of Benue, Ekiti and Taraba accountable for the crisis of today, they should ask why these Governors are raising private armies and arming same against the laws of the land.
“While we believe and have it on good authority that the arming of Benue State Civilian JTF and others has resulted into the current crisis, by this statement, we call for an immediate end to all forms of political gimmicks in handling sensitive security issues, particularly in Benue State,” the statement concluded.
Group Laments Absence of Sign Language Interpreters at TV Stations, Hospitals
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A former leader of the women’s wing of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Mrs Monsurat Abdulwasiu, has raised the issue of exclusion of hearing-impaired individuals, especially in major TV broadcasts.
The counsellor made the complaint to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, on Thursday during the 2021 annual lecture organized by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).
Speaking through an interpreter on behalf of the disadvantaged, Mrs Abdulwasiu said that because many TV stations across the country do not feature sign language interpretations in their major broadcast, persons with disabilities only look at images during news hours without understanding the message.
In her words, “Only the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours. In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters. Even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals.
“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news, and when they are sick and go to the hospital. Does it mean that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this.”
Responding to this, the Minister confirmed this and said he was touched by the point raised, adding that there was a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts.
Mr Mohammed then assured that he would direct all TV stations in the country, both public and private, to feature sign language interpretation in their major broadcast.
“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign [language] interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.
“This will not apply to only the Nigerian Television Authority. Whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.
“This directive will work both ways. It means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programs and policies of the government,” he said.
CBN to Inject Fresh N15bn into Lagos Blue Line Railway Project
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that another tranche of N15 billion is due for disbursement to Lagos State for the completion of the ongoing Blue Line Railway project.
This is part of the N60 billion the apex bank has earmarked for the project of which the sum of N45 billion has been disbursed to the state already.
The provision of the funding by the central bank, through select banks, is under the Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (DCRR) intervention to ensure Lagos State had the financial capacity for the project.
Speaking after a tour at the Marina site on Thursday, October 14, to monitor the progress of the infrastructure operated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the Director of CBN Development Finance, Mr Yusuf Philip Yila, remarked that the “progress of the job matches the funding so far.”
“The total amount we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion. There’s another tranche of N15 billion.
“We are confident, based on what has been shown, that progress has been made. Disbursement of the funding is being done in tranches. So, another tranche is due.
“As the central bank, we felt it is important to come and see what is on the ground and the quality of work is quite impressive,” Mr Yila disclosed.
Evaluating the work done on the site so far, he noted the job opportunities that have been opened to young Nigerians in the state through the avenue which includes welding, fabricating and others.
He said, “There are over 500 jobs on-site here, which is a good takeaway. I am happy, having met some of the people on-site and across other stations.”
FG Approves N2.5bn for Senior Citizens to Curb Poverty
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has approved N2.5 billion as a take-off grant for the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ms Sadiya Farouq, has disclosed.
The Minister said this at a one-day Southern Zone Stakeholders Consultation on Development of NSCC Strategic Plan on Thursday in Lagos, where she was represented by the ministry’s acting Director, Social Services, Mr Mansur Kuliya.
According to her, the money is presently being processed for disbursement to the centre and would be used to identify the strategic priorities, processes and approaches that would provide an impetus for the centre to achieve its mandate of integrating senior citizens.
The Minister said that the centre was collaborating with relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and produce ideas for the development of a 10-year strategic plan.
“This consultation indicates the commitment of the ministry, board and management of the centre to ensure full implementation of Mr President’s agenda toward the establishment of the centre.
“The ministry and the centre will ensure that the country benefits from the wisdom and wealth of experiences of the senior citizens,” she said.
The Director-General of NSCC, Mr Emem Omokaro, in his presentation, said the consultation was to inform stakeholders about the National Senior Citizens Act and its mandate.
Mr Omokaro said the Act aligns with the National Policy on Ageing and the SDGs Agenda 2030, which was the guiding document for the operations of the NSCC and the parameters of the stakeholders’ deliberation.
Corroborating this, the Minister noted that, “This consultation is also to engage stakeholders on critical issues affecting older persons; to listen to your views, context, evidence and even myths.
“It is to bring innovative solutions that will constitute actions that NSCC should consider and the means to achieve them.
“By this consultative forum, NSCC is creating and fostering an environment of collaboration in the key decision-making process.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu, in his remarks, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was committed to reducing the sufferings of older citizens in alignment with the theme policy agenda of the state.
Mr Dawodu, who was represented by Ms Caroline Inegbedion, the ministry’s Deputy Director, Correctional and Elderly Care Services, noted that the commitment was geared toward reducing the vulnerability of elders to poverty.
He said it was also to make them economically independent and improve their general well-being.
The Commissioner said plans were underway for the construction of Day Care Centre in each of the three senatorial districts, adding that the facility was at 85 per cent completion in Epe.
He noted that the state government had a functional and well-funded Old Peoples Home to take care of its vulnerable aged people with social workers, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists attached.
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