By Adedapo Adesanya
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in a partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved three FAO-led projects in Nigeria and four others countries, totalling $18 million in funding.
The three new projects in Nigeria, Venezuela and a regional initiative encompassing Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda will improve the management of protected areas, protect biodiversity in lowland forests, and build water security and resilience.
Mrs Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General said, “Resilient and productive land and aquatic ecosystems are the foundation of sustainable agri-food systems transformation.
“The approval of these three projects strengthens our ability to help countries move on a path of sustainability that leaves no one behind.”
The project in Nigeria will improve the conservation, sustainable use, and restoration of a lowland forest landscape to protect globally significant biodiversity and strengthen the sustainable livelihoods of local communities.
It will improve the management of a heavily threatened 1-million-hectare landscape encompassing 12 forest reserves and the Okomu national park. One of the aims is to replicate successes across the full Nigerian lowland forests eco-region.
The biodiversity conservation project in Venezuela will address key barriers to the sustainable use of biodiversity in order to support the effective management of five existing Protected Areas in the Caroni River Basin in the Guiana Massif, one of the most pristine and biodiverse areas on the planet.
The regional project across Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda will bring the sustainable management of groundwater to the forefront of water security for resilient livelihoods, ecosystems, and investments in Africa. It supports the African Ministers’ Council on Water through their Pan-African Groundwater Program.
The three projects approved on Tuesday, June 21 at the 62nd Council Meeting of the GEF, held in McLean, Virginia, United States of America, will improve management for conservation and the sustainable use of over 8.3 million hectares of protected areas, bring 10,000 hectares of land under improved management, and restore another 24,000 hectares of forest and natural grasslands.
They will also mitigate 4.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly support nearly 92,000 people, including indigenous peoples and local communities.
The approval of these three projects marks the end of the GEF’s 2018-2022 funding cycle, the most productive four-year period in the FAO-GEF partnership to date, with over $600 million in grant financing secured for member countries. These grants support 96 countries in tackling the most pressing issues at the intersection of agrifood systems and the environment.
The past four years of investments from the FAO-GEF partnership will support member countries to improve the management of 150 million hectares of landscapes and seascapes, restore nearly 4 million hectares of land, and change over 2 million tons of overly exploited fisheries to sustainable levels.
The investments will also mitigate over 570 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 13 million women, men and children will directly benefit from the investments.
The GEF is a partnership of 18 agencies, including FAO, and 184 countries that address the world’s most challenging environmental issues related to biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, chemicals, and international waters. It provides grants to countries to meet these challenges while contributing to key development goals, such as food security.
SERAP Drags Buhari to Court for Missing N11trn Electricity Funds
By Adedapo Adesanya
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari for his refusal to probe allegations that over N11 trillion earmarked for the provision of regular electricity supply since 1999 which it believes “may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.”
According to the body in a statement, Nigerian cities have repeatedly been plunged into darkness as the electricity grid has reportedly collapsed at least three times in 5 months, and 130 times in 7 years.
According to the World Bank, epileptic power supply costs businesses in Nigeria about $29 billion yearly.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1119/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing electricity fund, as appropriate, and to ensure the tracing and full recovery of any missing public funds.”
It is arguing that, “It is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the electricity sector, which has resulted in the failure of governments to solve Nigeria’s perennial power problem,” noting that “The staggering amounts of public funds alleged to have been stolen over the years in the sector have had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of Nigerians, akin to crimes against humanity against the Nigerian people.”
The group noted that, “The failure to trace, find and recover the missing electricity fund is antithetical to the public interest, the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and the country’s international obligations,” arguing that, “Nigerians have for far too long been denied justice and the opportunity to get to the bottom of why they continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “Investigating the allegations of missing N11 trillion electricity funds, prosecuting suspected perpetrators and recovering any missing public funds would end a culture of impunity. It would also address persistent collapse of the electricity grid, and improve access to and affordability of electricity in the country.”
It stated that, “Corruption in the electricity sector and the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of public funds to support the operations of DISCOS have resulted in regular blackouts, electricity grid collapse, and unlawful hike in electricity tariffs.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to refer to the International Criminal Court all unimplemented reports of corruption in the electricity sector gathering dust on the shelves, and to arrest and surrender those named in the reports to the court for prosecution.”
Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, while the suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo.
SweepSouth to Battle Fichaya, Others for Market Share in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Johannesburg-based SweepSouth, the home cleaning service startup that was launched in 2014, is looking to hijack some customers from its competitors in Nigeria by offering quality services.
SweepSouth allows people to book home cleaning services at affordable prices and connects them with cleaners they call SweepStars, who are carefully vetted and are professionals with extensive experience in home cleaning.
Traditional domestic service agencies in Nigeria are mostly informal, and people who use these cleaners often have to find them by asking around their neighbourhood but the problem with this approach is that it is difficult to know if the cleaner is experienced.
Things are about to change as SweepSouth’s value proposition will help its customers find a cleaner in minutes and will deliver the best services.
The startup’s expansion in Nigeria is led by its new country manager, Ms Awazi Angbalaga, an operator who has worked across industries in the past eight years.
Ms Angbalaga noted that SweepSouth has been test-running its services in Nigeria for the last two months and that the uptake has been exciting.
“Although we’ve largely been testing out our service here, we have already had our first 300 bookings, and the feedback we’ve received backs our belief that our proposition is compelling to Nigerians. While we’re growing our bookings every week, our focus continues to be providing the best service to our customers,” she said.
At the moment, SweepSouth charges a base fee of N3,400 ($8) for cleaning a one-bedroom apartment and around N7,500 ($18) for cleaning a 3-bedroom apartment. The pricing is at par with what is obtainable with traditional domestic service agencies, which is important for a service which is aiming for mass-market adoption.
But SweepSouth will face competition from those traditional domestic service agencies and newer startups such as Fichaya which are now targeting Nigeria’s young working-class population.
Remote work and a growing class of young tech workers, who are willing to pay gig workers for services that make their lives easier, are powering the home services industry. Other startups in this space even offer home-cooked meals and laundry.
To break into the market, SweepSouth may also look to provide additional services such as its SweepSouth Connect, which links people with a wide range of professional artisans. SweepSouth Connect is already available in Kenya and South Africa.
The startup did not confirm if it will launch its Connect service in Nigeria but it stressed that for now, the focus is to reach mass adoption and provide exceptional service to customers.
At the moment, customers can only make bookings from the SweepSouth Nigeria website, but the startup shared that it will launch its app this month. The app will improve customer experience across the entire process from booking to leaving reviews for the SweepStars they’re matched with.
Buhari Loses Suit to Challenge Electoral Act at Supreme Court
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Supreme Court has struck out a suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, challenging Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act.
On Friday, the case was expunged on the grounds that it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it and is an abuse of the court process.
A notice for the judgment delivery was served on President Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for the judgment.
The President and the Minister of Justice had filed a suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.
In the suit filed on April 29, President Buhari and Mr Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.
There have been several debates regarding Section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act 2022 which was assented to in February.
Upon assenting to the act, President Buhari had asked the National Assembly to delete the contended clause, however, the parliament declined the president’s request.
Section 84 (12) of the legislation holds that “no political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
In their suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, President Buhari and Mr Malami sought an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, which they argue was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.
According to the court document, the plaintiffs contend that the Section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.
The plaintiffs further contended that the constitution already makes provisions for qualification and disqualification for the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor, Senate and House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Ministers, Commissioners, and Special Advisers.
They urged the Supreme Court to make: “A declaration that the joint and or combined reading of section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void”.
However, in its decision on Friday, the Supreme Court held that President Buhari, having assented to the bill on February 25 2022, cannot turn around to challenge the same act.
In a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the court said allowing the suit to have its way will amount to approbating and reprobating at the same time and no court of law shall allow that.
The apex court unanimously agreed that President Buhari lacked the jurisdiction to bring the suit before it because of the nature of the reliefs sought.
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