**As 44% of Nigerians Have Access to Basic Sanitation Services
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A report released on Tuesday by the federal government has revealed that 44 per cent of the population in Nigeria now have access to basic sanitation services in 2019.
The survey, conducted in conjunction with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), UNICEF and the African Development Bank (AfDB), showed that this was an improvement from the 42 per cent recorded in 2018.
However, UNICEF has advised Nigeria to make urgent investments in basic sanitation and this should include a partnership with the private sector, communities and young people.
UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said that “the results from this survey underline the urgent need to increase investments in sustaining and expanding access to hygiene, water and sanitation if Nigeria is to contain the spread of the coronavirus and other deadly diseases,” noting that the results also provide policymakers with a critical roadmap on exactly where to put the nation’s resources.
At an event held in Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, unveiled the 2019 WASH NORM II Report, which was borne out of the need for comprehensive data on water supply, sanitation and hygiene for effective monitoring the progress the country is making towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets 6.1 and 6.2.
It was discovered that access to basic water supply services has steadily increased from 68 per cent in 2018 to 70 per cent in 2019, while about a third of all schools (33 per cent) have basic water supply services, with only 26 per cent of schools provide access to basic sanitation services, amongst others.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister said that gaps in handwashing should immediately be seen as a major public health issue. To this end, stronger high-level commitments with policy initiatives based on evidence-informed interventions to close the gaps in access to WASH services are needed.
Some key policy initiatives have already been enacted at the national level, including the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme, Open Defecation Free (ODF) roadmap with Clean Nigeria, Use Toilet Campaign and National Action Plan for Revitalization of the WASH sector.
He, therefore, called on state and local governments to beef up efforts in domesticating national programmes with strong commitments backed by adequate budgets for rapid turnaround in the sector.
The Minister, thereafter, said Nigeria is clearly in the right direction due to the opportunity presented by the NORM survey in tracking WASH critical indicators.
In order to ensure real-time and seamless flow of WASH data, the innovative NORM dashboard and NORM Intervention Profiling Tool are now available at www.washims.gov.ng with associated factsheet that clearly captures the WASH situation at subnational levels.
He expressed his optimism that this is a legacy that he hoped would be bequeathed to the new generation of WASH Implementers at all levels and tiers of government.
EFCC Goes After Car Dealers, Real Estate Agents, Others
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdularasheed Bawa, has hinted that a searchlight will be beamed on car dealers, jewellery sellers, real estate agents and others.
The anti-money laundering agency, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, disclosed that evidence has shown that these set of people use proceeds of corruption for their business transactions.
He said the EFCC was working on a number of proactive strategies including a special control unit against money laundering, established particularly to address non-designated financial institutions including car dealers, real estate, jewellery dealers, among others.
Mr Bawa said that he was confident that when the unit is fully established, corruption will significantly decline in the country.
He added that the agency was equally working towards the development of a biometric ownership database to address money laundering.
According to him, most proceeds of crime are laundered through real estate and have become a huge challenge, giving examples of property acquired especially in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt where billions of naira were laundered through this means.
He, however, declined to disclose actual perpetrators or the properties involved but revealed that since his assumption, a number of recoveries have been made including N6 billion, $161 million, £13,000, €1,730, among others.
He further said internet fraudsters numbering 1,502 have also been apprehended between January and June 2021, noting that efforts were underway to file about 800 of them.
Mr Bawa was at the Presidential Villa yesterday to clarify the specific Minister involved in the laundering of about $37 million into real estate to which he referred in his earlier statement.
He said the matter was an old case involving a former Minister of Petroleum, Ms Allison Diezani Madueke.
KedCo Warns Customers Against Meter Bypass
By Adedapo Adesanya
The management of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) has cautioned customers in its franchise areas against meter bypass as it intensifies efforts in meter installation.
According to a statement by KEDCO’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Ibrahim Sani Shawai, “the warning had become necessary as a way of ensuring that renewed efforts at speeding up metering are not sabotaged.
“Anyone caught bypassing our meters would not be spared as we will go all out within the provisions of the law of the land to ensure that violators are made to pay penalty after prosecution.
“We are speeding up processes to ensure that 87,747 meters are installed by the end of the month under the zero phase.
“We have met with all vendors and mandated them to increase manpower to ensure speedy deployment and installation of meters to customers.
“We appeal to our numerous customers to give vendors the necessary cooperation to ensure that estimated billing system is brought to an end in KEDCO franchise within the shortest time possible.”
The distribution company had recently warned customers against meter apathy as it observed that some customers were deliberately refusing to get metered, which it considers unacceptable.
KEDCO is one of the major Nigerian electricity distribution companies. KEDCO operates in the northwestern geopolitical zone of Nigeria and generates, distributes and markets electricity in three states. It covers the franchise states of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa.
Navy Seizes 251 Bags of Smuggled Rice in Akwa Ibom
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom has impounded 251 bags of rice smuggled through the waterways.
The Commanding Officer of FOB, Navy Captain Suleiman Abdullahi, disclosed this in Ibaka on Thursday when he handed over the bags of contrabands to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He said that the 251 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on June 15 during routine patrol operations by the unit, explaining that the suspects abandoned the rice and the boat and fled on sighting the naval patrol team, emphasising that the Base would not relent in putting an end to illegalities on the Akwa Ibom waterways.
“What you are witnessing here today is the handover of 251 bags of rice suspected to be smuggled into the Nigerian maritime border.
“By the directive of the Flag Officer, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sanusi Ibrahim, we have zero tolerance for smuggling.
“By the directive, we have carried out intensive patrol and on June 15, 2021, we seized one wooden boat and 251 bags of smuggled rice.
“On sighting the patrol team, the smugglers abandoned the rice inside the boat and flee to escape arrest.
This is an indication of their awareness of the crime perpetrated by these suspects for them to have abandoned their boat and flee,” Mr Abdullahi said.
The commanding officer warned smugglers to relocate out of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that it would not be business as usual for them.
He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses, but they should engage in legitimate endeavours.
“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual.
“That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine business, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up on them,” he said.
Receiving the 251 bags of rice on behalf of the customs, the Comptroller of Sector 1, Port Harcourt, Mr Shehu Abubakar, said the agency would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
Mr Abubakar, who was represented by the Superintendent of Customs, Border Drill Patrol Team, Oron Axis, Mr Mustapha Ahmed, warned smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the organisation would continue to checkmate all economic sabotage in the country.
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