By Adedapo Adesanya
The World Bank Board of Directors on Friday, August 7 approved a $114.28 million financing to help Nigeria prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with a specific focus on state level responses.
This was made known by the Bretton Wood institution Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, who explained that the intervention includes $100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14.28 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
Mr Chaudhuri said: “Nigeria has ramped up its efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, but more needs to done at the state level, which are at the frontline of the response.
“The project will provide the states with much needed direct technical and fiscal support to strengthen their position in combating the pandemic.”
The World Bank explained that through the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP), the federal government will provide grants to 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as immediate support to break the chain of COVID-19 local transmission and limit the spread of coronavirus through containment and mitigation strategies.
However, grants to states will be conditional on states adopting COVID-19 response strategies which are in line with the Federal Government guidelines and strategies.
CoPREP will enhance the institutional and operational capacity for disease detection through provision of technical expertise, coordination support, detection, diagnosis and case management efforts in all states and the FCT as per the WHO guidelines in the Strategic Response Plan.
The support will also help the government mobilise surge response capacity through trained and well-equipped frontline healthcare workers and strengthen the public health care network for future health emergencies.
According to latest data in Nigeria: 44,890 cases had been confirmed, 32,165 cases discharged and 927 deaths recorded in 36 states and the FCT.
NSCDC Denies Operating Illegal Oil Bunkering Site
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked the rumour that its marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro jetty, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was an illegal oil bunkering site.
This was made known by the Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Aliyu Bature, who explained that the Ogbogoro jetty has remained its marine exhibits yard for over 10 years.
He added that every marine exhibit like boats, vessels, barges drums, arrested by or handed over to the Corps by sister agencies for oil theft are usually detained at the yard, pending investigation and court prosecution.
This follows claims made by Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman, Mr George Ariolu, that the NSCDC marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro was being used for illegal bunkering activities.
In the reaction to the allegation, Mr Bature disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant General, Mr Abubakar Audi, in December 2021 visited the said yard, maintaining that it was a known fact that the yard has been the Corps’ marine exhibits yard.
The agency said some of the exhibits, including 220 drums of AGO and eight Cotonou boats in the yard were seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the NSCDC last week, while other vessels were taken by operatives of the Corps.
He disclosed that the agency has got an intelligence report that hoodlums were planning to attack the yard, by setting it ablaze in order to destroy the exhibits, assuring that such plans will be strongly resisted.
“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. Most of the exhibits here were arrested by the Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests too were made by us.
“The commandant general was here in December and he’s aware that this place is our exhibits yard.
“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen.
“We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that,” the statement said.
The NSCDC also urged members of the public to report any personnel of the organisation who is involved in the business of aiding and abetting oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism, warning that the agency will not hesitate to show such person the way out.
“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.
“The NSCDC leadership does not in any way condone acts of indiscipline. We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved, we will not take it likely.
“That is why those who were in charge of the anti-vandal unit have been disbanded, and are being investigated currently by the committee set up by the Commandant General,” the statement said.
Senate Re-amends Electoral Bill, Okays Direct, Indirect, Consensus Primaries
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which passed by the National Assembly on November 18, 2021, and sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent but was rejected, has been re-amended.
The President declined assent to the bill because the parliament inserted a clause that makes it mandatory for political parties to elect candidates for elections only through direct primaries.
On Wednesday, the Senate adjusted this clause and approved direct, indirect primaries or consensus as to the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions.
The upper chamber of the legislative arm of government, in a statement signed by Mr Ezrel Tabiowo, the Special Assistant on Press to Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, said the recommended Clause 84(3) was also approved.
The section stated that “a political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party.”
Clause 84(4) further provides that “a political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below; (a) In the case of nominations to the position of Presidential candidate, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 states of the federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centres in each State Capital on specified dates.”
The clause provides that a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes.
The amendment followed a motion for its re-commital to the Committee of the Whole, which was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Mr Yahaya Abdullahi.
In his presentation, the lawmaker noted that the rationale for Mr Buhari withholding assent bordered on his observation in Clause 84.
President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, and addressed to Mr Lawan had explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.
According to the President, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.
He added that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.
Mr Abdullahi, however, explained that the motion for re-commital of the bill to the Committee on the Whole was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr President C-in-C and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended).”
Accordingly, the chamber rescinded its decision on the affected clause of the bill as passed and recommitted same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.
House of Reps to Reintroduce Electoral Bill Amendment Wednesday
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday said the controversial electoral bill would be reintroduced this week for amendment.
The bill was passed last year and forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, but he declined to sign it because of the inclusion of direct primary as the only mode of electing candidates to vie for office by political parties.
In an interview with a national television, which was monitored by Business Post, the President said if the part is removed from the bill, he will not hesitate to sign it into law as political parties should be given options to choose how they want to run their affairs.
The National Assembly, which received the rejected electoral bill before going for a recess last month, have the option of passing the bill into law by voting a two-third majority in each chamber or removing the controversial section of the bill and resend to the President for assent.
At the resumption of plenary at the lower arm of the parliament today, Mr Gbajabiamila said the bill will be reintroduced on Wednesday and forwarded to Mr Buhari after passage.
However, he maintained that the inclusion of the direct primary was to deepen democracy in the country as it would allow political parties to have an updated register of members.
“I remain convinced that the proposal for direct primary elections is valuable for building accountability in our political system. But we must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
“Therefore, the House will reintroduce the amendment this week and we will work quickly to address the mitigating concerns, pass the Bill and send it back to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent,” the Speaker said in his welcome message to his colleagues.
However, he lamented that, “It is disappointing that the failure of political parties to adequately document their membership is being used to not give the Nigerian people the power to fully participate in our nation’s politics.
“If nothing else, including a direct primary mandate in the law, would have forced political parties to properly register their members within the shortest possible time. This would have been the singular most significant reform of our political party system in a generation.”
“Now let it be clear to all that our only objective in introducing that provision was to strengthen the foundations of our democracy so that it works for all of our nation’s people,” he explained.
According to the lawmaker, “The process by which political parties nominate candidates for election is essential, perhaps even just as important as the general election itself.”
“A primary nomination process that deprives the majority of party members of the opportunity to choose who represents them in the general elections is susceptible to bad outcomes and ought to be fixed,” he submitted.
“Some argued that political parties do not have proper registers of their members, which was a reason to reject the direct primary option. This is an appalling admission that political parties in the country do not have credible and up to date registers of their members.
“We are left to question how those parties have thus far managed their affairs, including conducting congresses and primary elections, whether by direct or indirect means.
“Besides, it can be inferred that the failure to maintain a proper register of members violates the spirit of the constitution, as it makes it impossible for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enforce the constitutional requirement for political parties to ensure that their membership reflects the federal character of Nigeria,” he stated.
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