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World Bank Disburses N35.3bn to 36 States for NG-CARES

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NG-CARES

By Adedapo Adesanya

The World Bank said it has disbursed the sum of N35.3 billion to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as an advance payment for the implementation of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme (NG-CARES).

This disclosure was made by the Lead Specialist, World Bank Country Office, Abuja, Mr Foluso Okunmadewa at the 1st Implementation Support Mission for NG-CARES on Tuesday in Ikeja, Lagos.

He said that the programme was organised for the World Bank, the federal government and state delegates who would be participating in the implementation of the programme with Lagos as the host state.

Mr Okunmadewa, also the Task Team Leader, NG-CARES, World Bank, Abuja, said that all the 36 states were running the programme and had become effective in every state.

He added that the World Bank’s teams were in Lagos, Enugu, Yola, Birnin-Kebbi, adding that all the 36 states are participating in the implementation mission this week.

He added that the team had started going round all the 36 states for this particular mission to help them as they start the implementation process.

NG-CARES is a $750 million intervention programme that started running in 2021 and would end in 2023.

It is a collaboration between the World Bank, the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.

According to him, the total allocation to each state of the federation is the equivalent of $20 million but it is result-based financing, so the money is not given to the state upfront.

“But because most states do not have enough resources to start the intervention, advance money was given to the states.

“Advance were given to the states at a different amount ranging from $500 million to $1.3 billion in some cases.

“A total of N35.3 billion has been disbursed as of yesterday (Monday) to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as advance.

“It is hoped that by the next six months when the World Bank must have verified the results from the states, the second disbursement will take place and the advance will be recovered.

“Lagos state is among the best, It got N900 million,” he said.

Mr Okunmadewa said that NG-CARES was set up to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on livelihood, welfare, food supply system, the informal sector and the local economy.

He noted that due to the pandemic, many people became poor while others became poorer.

“It’s true that when COVID-19 pandemic was rampant, people recognised its immediate impact on their lives and also recognised that it was affecting livelihood.

“Even now that the effects on lives, sickness and all other things may have subsided, the impacts it had to have on livelihood, on the level of welfare of people, on food and supply system, impact on the informal sector, local economy, are still there.

“Those impacts need to be alleviated in a way.

“People who were poor before COVID-19 became poorer, people who were not poor before the pandemic became poor. Now there is no doubt that they needed to be supported,” he noted.

The team leader said that the World Bank had adopted a performance-based-financing approach that would ensure that the support gets to the average Nigerians who are really in need of the intervention.

He noted that unless and until the government itself works with the people that really need this assistance and provides them with the assistance upfront; the outcome and the output are verified, the refinancing from the World Bank would not come.

“The finances follow the results, it does not follow the activities, it does not follow training and capacity building.

“It actually follows the number of farmers that have been assisted, the number of poor households that have been given social transfers, the number of local enterprises, micro and small scales that have been facilitated and recovered.

“Based on that, the government is now giving the resources, it is result-based financing and on that bases, the monitoring is implicit and I must say that all the 36 state governments of Nigeria, including the FCT, have bought into this approach.

He said that it was left for the states to actually decide the beneficiaries of the intervention, adding that it is not decided by the World Bank or any federal institutions.

“Each state looks at the poor amongst their people, the people who actually need the assistance and they are the ones they give it to.

“There is no way to circumvent it more so that independent verification agents are then going to go out, third party monitoring is going to talk to the beneficiaries who received it.

“The state government knows that if they give it out to those that do not need it, and verification and monitoring agents say so, the state will not receive the resources for it,” he said.

On the part of the host state, the Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Physical Planning, Mr Sam Egube, said that the state was participating in all interventions that suit it and that would alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its citizenry.

He noted that the total budget is about 20 million dollars per state and the FCT and a total of 750 million dollars nationwide.

He said the introduction of the NG-CARES by the Federal Government and an initiative that had been supported by the World Bank to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was a welcome development.

He added that the state government had put in place the necessary machinery that would ensure smooth implementation of the intervention in accordance with the dictate of the operational manual.

“As a demonstration of our commitment, Mr Governor has approved the deployment of existing platforms and MDAs with good track records to deliver on the programmes’ result areas and the disbursement link indicators.

“They are: the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, the Ministry of Wealth Creation, Office of the Sustainable Development Goals and they are to handle cash transfer, basic services and livelihood supports.

“FADAMA project in the Ministry of Agriculture will work on food security and safe functioning of food supply chain while the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund will be facilitating, recovering and enhancing the capabilities of MSMEs.

Mr Egube said that the Lagos State Government had received N900 million as an advance payment for the implementation of NG-CARES as of March 7.

“Lagos will be intervening in the agricultural programme, training people in farming skills and in the management of farm business, cash transfers that will be happening and several interventions that are humanitarian in nature that will be happening.”

Also, the State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Rabiu Olowo, said that Lagos was ready for the implementation of the NG-CARES.

Mr Olowo noted that the implementation of the project was solely the responsibility of the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.

He added that the Ministry of Finance would facilitate the disbursements of funds for the smooth implementation of the project.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Buhari Urges Leaders to Tackle Slow AfCFTA Integration

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China Africa AfCFTA

By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would succeed if African governments demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation, and tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

He made this disclosure while addressing the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference on Friday in Abuja, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the President decried the low-level trade among African countries.

He said, “As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.

”We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

”I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.

”Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people,” the President said, urging the Conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills.

The conference, he said, should also seek and advance innovative solutions to support our common quest for the expansion of intra-Africa trade opportunities for our people.

He commended the conference organisers for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, lauding the President of Afreximbank, Mr Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing $250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.

He acknowledged that the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimizing the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.

“This opportunity, if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up.

“This will undoubtedly complement broader programmes such as the AfCFTA which remains one of the most strategic pan-African agenda to deliver inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.

The President also recognised the support of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and the role of its Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, in organizing the conference in Abuja.

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P&ID: Abuja Court Orders Arrest of British National for Jumping Bail

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British national James Nolan

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Federal High Court In Abuja has ordered the arrest of a British national, Mr James Nolan, for jumping bail.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the order after Mr Nolan, a director in the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), failed to appear for trial.

Mr Nolan is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) along with Lurgi Consult Limited and others in a money laundering case to the tune of $9.6 billion.

In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said Briton had broken the terms of his bail conditions offered him by the court. He, therefore, revoked the bail and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

He also ordered Mr Nolan’s surety to appear in court on the next adjourned date to justify why the bail bond should not be forfeited to the court.

The prosecution counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, had earlier prepared to proceed with the cross-examination of prosecuting witness 1, Temitope Erinomo, when the court was informed that the second defendant was nowhere to be found and efforts to ascertain his whereabouts proved abortive.

Mr Sanga expressed dismay with the absence of Mr Nolan in court. He also said the first defendant, Lurgi Consult Limited, has never been represented in court as a corporate body since the matter started.

He told the court that investigations by the EFCC showed that the property given by the surety in Gwagwalada, Abuja, was not worth N100 million and prayed the court to restrain the defence team from further delaying the case.

Responding to the absence of Mr Nolan in court, the defence counsel, Mr Micheal Ajara, claimed that his sudden disappearance was strange.

“My Lord, the defendant in question, has always appeared in court, except for the last adjourned date that he was sick. His medical report shows that he has bipolar, a history of mental illness, and it is uncertain if the defendant is fine. We have notified the police, including the prosecution, and all efforts to ascertain his whereabouts have proven abortive,” he said.

He prayed the court to grant the defence time to ascertain his whereabouts.

However, Justice Mohammed said that the court of law does not act in uncertainty.

“What is clear to the court right now is that the second defendant is nowhere to be found, and there is no justification with a certainty of his whereabouts,” he said.

The judge then granted Sanga prayers for the court to revoke the bail of the second defendant, issue a bench warrant for his arrest and declare his bail bond forfeited.

Recall that P&ID, a firm based in the British Virgin Islands, won a $9.6 billion arbitration award against the Nigerian government after the collapse of a 2010 gas project.

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Meta, NAPTIP Launch Scheme to Help Find Missing Children in Nigeria

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AMBER Alert missing children

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A programme aimed at helping to find abducted children in Nigeria has been launched by Meta and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Through this initiative called AMBER Alert, security officials can use these social media platforms to inform people of missing children.

The scheme was unveiled on Wednesday and Meta disclosed that it was designed to increase the chances of finding missing children by putting more people on the lookout for them.

When an AMBER Alert is activated by law enforcement, it will appear on the Facebook and Instagram Feed of users within the designated search area, enabling them to share the information instantly with friends or contact the authorities if they have leads.

AMBER Alert is designed to include important information about the missing child such as a photo description, location of the abduction, and other relevant and available information to aid in immediately identifying the missing child.

How AMBER Alert Works

The decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by NAPTIP when investigating a suspected abduction case, they must first determine if the case meets their Amber Alert criteria, which include:

  • The abduction is of a child age 17 or younger
  • NAPTIP must have a reasonable belief that there has been an abduction.
  • NAPTIP believes the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or exploitation.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in recovering the child

Once these criteria have been met, NAPTIP will then notify Meta’s Global Security Operations Centre, which operates 24/7, that a verified AMBER Alert is active. Meta will then send the alert to the News Feeds of people located in targeted search areas in Nigeria.

“Already available across 28 countries globally, we are proud to partner with NAPTIP to make AMBER Alert available in Nigeria – the second African country to join this programme.

“When there is a reported case of a missing child, the most valuable thing one can do is share information as quickly as possible. By working with law enforcement in helping to share the right information with the right people, we hope that missing children will be safely reunited with their families faster,” Meta’s Director of Trust and Safety, Emily Vacher.

In emphasising the importance of this launch, Adaora Ikenze, Meta’s Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, said: “This partnership with NAPTIP is another important milestone in reinforcing our ongoing commitment to Nigeria. We know our apps can be used as a force for good, and the AMBER Alert launch across Instagram and Facebook highlights this.”

The Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, also said, “Today, we are partnering with Meta to launch the AMBER Alert Programme on Facebook and Instagram to help ensure faster response in finding missing children.

“With these alerts, more people can be on the lookout for kids reported missing in their vicinity and report all leads to relevant authorities. NAPTIP cherishes every aspect of the intending collaboration and we are indeed glad to be on board with Meta”.

AMBER Alert Programme launched on Facebook in 2015 and since then has assisted in hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the US and around the world.

One of such cases happened in 2020 when Amanda Disley and her husband helped rescue 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia of Springfield, Massachusetts, after seeing an AMBER Alert on Facebook. Before that, a four-year-old girl was recovered after Kaytlin Brown saw an AMBER Alert issued on Facebook on her lunch break and quickly took action.

In June 2022, Meta added Instagram to the AMBER Alerts Programme across the world by making it available in 28 additional countries, and now, in Nigeria. As part of the launch of AMBER Alerts in Nigeria, Meta and NAPTIP will be educating users in Nigeria on how to identify AMBER Alerts on their feeds and what to do when they see an alert.

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