By Adedapo Adesanya
The number of hungry people in the Sahel and West Africa has quadrupled over the last three years, currently reaching 41 million, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has said.
This is among the multiple humanitarian crises affecting the region as it calls for $777 million in aid to help avert a food crisis within the next six months.
Issuing the alert, WFP said that the figure rose to 43 million when the Central African Republic was included in the food insecurity estimate.
It also highlighted that the problem is not limited to rural areas as 16 million people living in urban spaces are also at risk of acute food insecurity warning that some six million children are undernourished in the Sahel.
The Sahel is made up of west to east parts of northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, the extreme south of Algeria, Niger, the extreme north of Nigeria, the extreme north of Cameroon and the Central African Republic, central Chad, central and southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Eritrea and the extreme north of Ethiopia.
According to WFP, since Russia invaded Ukraine, food prices have surged between 30 and 50 per cent in many places – and even doubled in some markets.
After droughts caused poor returns last year, farmers have already become deeply concerned about the next harvest.
WFP warned that they lack enough food to cover their needs and amidst escalating conflicts, more than six million people have had to leave their homes in the Sahel.
At the same time, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned that the worst drought in decades is threatening an estimated 15 million people in the Horn of Africa.
Parching landscapes, heightening food insecurity and increasingly widespread displacement have prompted IOM to call for “an urgent and efficient humanitarian response” to avoid large-scale deterioration throughout the region.
Approximately three, five and seven million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, respectively, risk a humanitarian crisis from the unprecedented impacts of multiple failed rainy seasons.
The battered region has already been impacted by cumulative shocks, including conflict, extreme weather conditions, climate change, desert locusts and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Horn of Africa has experienced climate-induced crises for decades, the current drought on the arid and semi-arid lands has been especially severe.
“There is a high risk of famine and malnutrition as the food security situation is deteriorating rapidly,” according to IOM.
This heightens pressure on already-limited natural resources, increasing the risk of inter-communal conflict, as farming communities and pastoralist communities compete for dwindling supplies of water.
To prevent a humanitarian disaster, IOM is working closely with governments, UN agencies and other partners in each country to address the acute water needs of the internally displaced, migrants and vulnerable groups.
Immediate needs require large-scale emergency humanitarian assistance, including food, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); non-food items; and conflict management interventions.
In the longer term, the global climate crisis has underscored the need to increase disaster preparedness and climate adaptation collectively.
Senate Threatens to Withhold 2023 Capital Budget of State House, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate has threatened to withhold the 2023 capital budget of 100 federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) until they answer the queries raised against them by the Auditor General for the Federation.
Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, issued this threat on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday while ruling on a point of order.
The threat followed a point of order raised by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Matthew Urhoghide, who informed his colleagues that some agencies refused to appear before the team despite invitations sent to them.
Some of the MDAs include the State House, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Transportation, Mines and Solid Mineral Development, Information, Communication, Petroleum, Defence, Police Affairs, and Sports.
Others are Works and Housing, Women Affairs, the State House, Presidential Fleet, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Independent National Electoral Commission, North East Development Commission, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, and the Nigerian Air Force, among others.
The queries covered in the auditor general’s report are from 2015-2018.
Speaking, Mr Lawan upheld Mr Urhoghide’s point of order and insisted that the public officers who utilised funds appropriated to their MDAs must give account.
He said, “Your point of order is sustained fully and completely, totally sustained; you are right on the dot to bring to the plenary your grievances.
“Secondly, I once served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for eight years. My only problem is when you write agencies, and they refuse to honour the invite, you’d many times be forced to bring them through a warrant of arrest.
“Reading this list at plenary gives the agencies the opportunity to know now if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance.”
The Senate then gave the agencies a one-week deadline to communicate with the committee and set a date to appear before them or have their capital budgets withheld.
“I am taking the opportunity here to advise that in the next one week, if the name of any agency is here, that agency should reach the Committee on Public Accounts of the Senate to sort out when the agency would appear before the committee.
“If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reason are given, we will slash the agencies’ budget.”
EFCC Auctions 435 Cars in Lagos [Photos]
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
About 435 cars will be auctioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos between Wednesday, December 7 and Thursday, December 8, 2022.
A statement issued by the commission said this is in line with the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004, Public Procurement Act 2007, and the Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act 2022.
The vehicles are among those forfeited by corrupt persons, and the courts have given the agency the authority to seize them.
The cars, which pictures were conspicuously displayed with allocated lot numbers for public inspection, were allocated to auctioneers based on assessed values and an open ballot system.
The display was to provide an opportunity for interested bidders to view and indicate interest in any car of their choice.
In the statement released today, the EFCC said Nigerians would be able to acquire the cars through auction at 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 14 Cameroon Road, Ikoyi Lagos and CVU Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The nine auctioneers who were allocated to the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC to dispose of the 435 cars at the designated Centre on 14 Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, are Rihanna Auction Limited; Kamyus Consult Limited; Areogun Resources Limited; BIS N JEG; Integrated Services Nigeria Ltd; Mau & Sons Ltd; Langar Aghaji & Co; Fagobe Company Ltd and Musa Kira and Co.
At the inspection of the items for sale on Tuesday in Lagos, the Secretary to the Commission and Chairman of EFCC Asset Disposal Committee (ADC), Mr George Ekpungu, said, “the exercise, which is the first of the planned auction of forfeited properties across EFCC Zonal Commands and EFCC headquarters, is being carried out in accordance with the (Establishment) Act, 2004, Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022.
“It is being conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Procurement to ensure compliance with all extant laws.”
While welcoming the auctioneers to the centre, he expressed his gratitude to sister agencies, including the Nigerian Army, who were invited to provide adequate security and ensure orderliness.
Mr Ekpungu also appealed to the members of the public present at the auction to listen carefully to the auctioneers and comply with all stipulated guidelines.
ICPC Confirms Arrest of D’Banj Over N-Power Funds Fraud
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has confirmed the arrest and detention of Mr Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, otherwise known by his stage name D’Banj, over an alleged diversion of funds for the N-Power programme.
On Wednesday, it was reported by Premium Times that the entertainer was in the custody of the agency over his link with the inclusion of ghost beneficiaries in the scheme designed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 to reduce the unemployment rate in Nigeria.
In a statement issued today, ICPC said it began to investigate the musician after receiving “numerous petitions” from concerned persons, alleging D’Banj and some compromised government officials of embezzling “N-Power funds running into billions of naira following the approval and release of such funds to the beneficiaries by the federal government.”
“Many N-Power beneficiaries had complained over the non-receipt of the monthly funds in spite of payment by the government,” another part of the statement released this afternoon said.
According to the commission, it swung into action in line with its mandate of looking into matters of corruption in government initiatives.
“About 10 persons have been invited by the ICPC over the last few months in connection with the N-Power fraud and have been granted administrative bail after their detention.
“Several invitations to Mr Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo to appear before a team of investigators (over the alleged N-Power funds fraud) were ignored and not honoured,” it further said.
Recall that the N-Power scheme was established by Mr Buhari on June 8, 2016, to address the issues of youth unemployment and empowerment and help increase social development.
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