Lawmakers Entitled to N70m Cash for Elections—Doguwa
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A member of the House of Representatives, Mr Ado Doguwa, has disclosed that lawmakers, irrespective of their political affiliation, may not be able to prosecute the 2023 general elections if efforts are not made to allocate cash to them.
Speaking after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja, Mr Doguwa, who is the Majority Leader of the lower chamber of the National Assembly, said lawmakers were entitled to N70 million each to pay polling agents and for other election running costs.
He stressed that denying them access to “hard cash: would amount to planning to ensure their failure at the polls, which start on Saturday, February 25, for presidential and National Assembly elections.
The federal legislator informed journalists that the lower parliament mandated his ad-hoc committee on Policy, Naira Redesign and Currency Swap to interface with Mr Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the implementation of the policy.
President Buhari addressed the nation on Thursday morning. He directed the central bank to recirculate the old N200 notes till April 10, 2023, maintaining that those with the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes to deposit them with the CBN as they ceased to be legal tender in Nigeria.
Mr Buhari explained that the policy was designed to stop vote-buying, which is threatening democracy as voters are induced with cash for votes, making elections not free and fair.
“Now that the President has issued the directive, how do we ensure that the president’s directive is being carried out on the ground?
“This is what we came to iron out today. No matter how professional a policy is, it is counterproductive if it induces suffering in Nigerians,” Mr Doguwa told newsmen after the meeting today.
Present at the meeting with the President were the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Alkali Baba; among others.
Ayu Steps Down as PDP Chairman, Damagum Takes Over
By Dipo Olowookere
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Iyorchia Ayu, has stepped down from the position and has been replaced by the Deputy National Chairman of the party for the northern region of the country, Mr Umar Iliya Damagum.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Hon. Debo Ologunagba, confirmed this development.
It was disclosed that Mr Damagum would be the acting chairman of the country’s main opposition party, pending the determination of a case in court.
Recall that on Sunday, the executive of the PDP in Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State suspended Mr Ayu for alleged anti-party activities.
He was accused of working against the success of the party in Igyorov Council Ward, and failed to “pay his Annual Subscription Fees as provided under Section 8 (9) of the constitution of the PDP 2017 (As Amended).”
“Further investigation also revealed that he did not vote during the Governorship and State Assembly Elections held on March 18, 2023.
“It was also discovered that most of his closest allies worked for the opposition party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, and hence, the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby pass a Vote of No Confidence on Dr Iyorchia Ayu and suspend him as a member of our party with immediate effect. The suspension takes effect from March 24, 2023,” the Ward Chairman of the PDP, Mr Kachi Philip, and the secretary, Mr Vangeryina Dooyum, announced while addressing journalists.
Today, the national spokesman of the party said Mr Ayu stepped aside from the position during the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP on Tuesday in Abuja, after the NWC acknowledged “the order of the Benue State High Court dated March 27, 2023 with regards to the chairmanship position of our great party.”
“After a careful consideration of the court order and in line with Section 45 (2) of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017), the NWC resolved that the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Ililya Damagum, assumes the national chairmanship of our party in acting capacity with effect from today, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
“The NWC charges all leaders, critical stakeholders, teeming members and supporters of our great party to remain calm and united at this critical time,” the statement said.
Rise of Skin Bleaching Creams in Nigeria Worries NAFDAC
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has raised the alarm over a proliferation of “dangerous” and “unregulated” skin bleaching creams in the market, which it likened to a pandemic.
The agency made this known on Tuesday during its Media Sensitization Workshop on the Dangers of Bleaching Creams and Regulatory Controls event held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 77 per cent of women in Nigeria use skin-lightening products. This number is even higher in other countries like Togo (88 per cent), South Africa (80 per cent), and Senegal (59 per cent).
Although Nigeria does not have legislation against skin bleaching yet, other countries like Rwanda and Ghana have issued bans on skin-lightening products.
The Director General of the agency, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, further lamented the health threats accompanying long term use of dangerous agents and urged Nigerian women to be proud of their skin colour.
She declared that, “There’s no need to bleach.”
Mrs Adeyeye, who was represented by the agency’s Director of Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr Patrick Leonard Omokpariola, stated that the products are now marketed under different names for sales purposes.
NAFDAC Deputy Director, Mr Ebele Anto, also canvassed the support of the media to sensitise Nigerians to the notion that there is nothing wrong with being dark-skinned.
The event was also attended by security agencies and other stakeholders in the cosmetic industry.
Lagos Laments Return of Commercial Motorcycles in Eti-Osa, Others
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Lagos State Government has maintained operations of commercial motorcycles in 10 local government areas (LGAs), and 15 local council development areas (LCDAs) across the state remained prohibited.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa, made this disclosure over the weekend when he toured some of the restricted areas.
He lamented the return of Okadas in these areas, noting that law enforcement agencies have been given the directive to ensure the ban is adhered to.
The state government in 2022 prohibited commercial motorcycles in Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Somolu, Mushin, Apapa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Surulere and Eti-Osa LGAs and Ojodu, Onigbongbo, Lagos Island East, Yaba, Coker-Aguda. Itire-Ikate, Eti-Osa West, Iru Victoria Island, Ikoyi-Obalende, Ikosi-Isheri, Agboyi-Ketu, Isolo, Ejigbo, Bariga and Odi-Olowo LCDAs.
While urging both riders and passengers to desist from contravening the ban, the Special Adviser implored the general public to comply as both the riders and passengers are liable to three years in prison if apprehended and prosecuted.
He added that motorcycles impounded will be crushed in line with the provision of Section 46, sub-section 1, 2 & 3 of the Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018.
Mr Giwa, therefore, solicited the support of residents towards ensuring full compliance with all government policies, noting that despite the available existing interventions and viable alternatives provided for okada operators, which were expected to cushion the effect of the ban on their livelihood, the recalcitrant riders have refused to take advantage of them.
He revealed that some of the viable alternatives had been made available for the operators by the State Government through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Ministry of Wealth Creations and Employment, Office of Civic Engagement, Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme (LEAP) and the Ministry of Agriculture (Agric YES), among others.
He also said the state government’s First and Last Mile Bus Transport Scheme, the BRT Scheme, the Lagos e-hailing taxi Scheme (LAGRIDE), and other sustainable modes of transportation were also part of interventions provided to minimise the inconveniences of the motoring public in executing their daily activities.
The Governor’s aide averred that the position of the state government on okada is very clear, stressing that there is no going back in order to consolidate on the achievements made so far in the decrease in the accident and crime rates as well as the return of sanity to the communities within the state.
The Special Adviser averred that the security agencies who have been partnering with the state government, including the Nigeria Police Force, the Army, Navy and Air Force, are still prepared to sustain enforcement on all the banned corridors; this is in addition to the operations of the State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Anti-Okada Squad.
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