A New Low By U.K. Umar 

It has become trite to read or hear folks still very loyal to the person of President Muhammadu Buhari say ‘The President means well for the country. He is a good man. The only problem is the people around him’. I’m well aware we said the same nonsense in addition to others about the husband of Patience Jonathan. Since I can’t come out boldly to say ‘President Muhammadu Buhari is failing on an inexcusable level – fight against corruption’ the low, easy way out is to come blazing on a so-called “cabal”. Well, this so-called cabal didn’t form itself. 
You see,  one has tried really hard not be dragged into sundry issues concerning the actions and or inactions of the APC-led FG but there are times that silence is not golden. One can’t afford to do the ‘siddon look’ approach all the time.
In assessing the progress of President Muhammadu Buhari, I’ve made it a point to always make recourse to his inaugural speech. For me, that’s a very pivotal yardstick to measure the President’s performance with. The reason is simple; I was told General Muhammadu Buhari is a man of his words. So you could imagine how excited I was when the words “I belong to nobody, I belong everybody” came straight from the then newly sworn in president.
President Buhari
For obvious reasons, one of the few promises of President Muhammadu Buhari that got the attention of many is the determination to reduce corruption, particularly in government, to near zero. I have the understanding that our problem as a country isn’t in lack of resources of any kind per se but in the gross mismanagement of our endowments by the very few with access to them with such type of impunity that makes stealing public fund not just fun but norm. Hence, any leader who could sincerely and blindly fight this monster to a stand still would naturally win the love of the masses who have been at the receiving, biting end for decades now. Suffice to say this was one promise that got President Muhammadu Buhari the mammoth support he got and still relatively enjoys from the downtrodden.
Two years down the first four-year line of President Buhari’s APC-led FG, in view of what has been done so far with respect to halting corruption in government, one doesn’t know what’s the right thing to do; whether to clap for the Administration or slap self back to reality and listen to Tupac’s “Changes” because truly, “nothing changes”.
Due to certain financial control measures enforced by the administration, it is difficult not to notice a prevalent sense of frugality in government spending across ministries, departments and agencies. We see civil servants who apparently before now were living beyond their means reduced to size. It’s not fashionable anymore to flaunt ill-gotten government wealth as used to be the case. Highly placed government officials have been ruffled,  their homes combed, monies found in funniest of places.  All these, we’ve heard and seen but we have also seen and heard other discouraging things. We have seen and heard of perpetuation of nepotism and favouritism in ‘juicy’ government appointments. We are also seeing a government speedily drifting away from the reach of the common people who sacrificed all they could to bring it to power. The President hardly finds time to speak directly to the people on key, trending issues to clear the air at least. This is Democracy man! The President’s media team isn’t helping; from one misfire to another, leaving their paid jobs to be done by people who are just supporters of the President.
PMB
Perhaps, the most damning of all is the use of different strokes to cane different folks found to have enriched themselves illegally from public funds. This particular one is becoming one too many. It’s stench and darkness is so strong that it is threatening to dim whatever glow is left of the President Buhari’s stellar personality perception in the eyes of the very people who trust him.
This, indeed, is a new low that the President, in his own interest, must do something drastic to salvage himself from. There’s no doubt, not everyone around the President shares his vision for the country. Monitoring such characters and putting them in places they can’t harm his person is a task the President must take seriously and urgently too.
I remember in one of the very few media interviews granted by the President he said “in our fight against corruption, we are going to be methodical and thorough…”. Good as it is to take your time in implementing your strategies, one luxury this administration doesn’t have anymore is time. One would expect that for a man who belongs to nobody and belongs to everybody, once you have a comprehensive report of any case, names and crimes would be named and what to be done shouldn’t take forever.
U.K Umar writes from Abuja.

I Don’t Allow My Disability (Blindness) To Hinder My Life’s Goals– Abdulrahman Awal

Abdulrahman Awal wears many caps as the Chairman Nigerian Association of the Blind, Niger state chapter, National PRO of NAB, SSA to the Niger State Government on Physically Challenged Persons, a teacher and the C.E.O of Mashura Investment Company. He talks about living with blindness, how he has forged ahead and all the wonderful things he is doing inspite of his disability.

Destiny…

It seems that Abdurrahman’s destiny was to create awareness that being disabled was not an excuse to become destitute, nor did it mean the end of the world for him or many others with the same challenge. Since he entered the world, his future had already been set – to make something of himself even though he was blind.

Born on 29th July, 1983 to the family of Barrister Muhammad Awal Bida and Hajiya Larai Awal, Abdulrahman Awal, the fourth out of fifteen children, was the only one in the family who is blind.

Abdulrahman Awal And Siblings

“My biography cannot be told without the history of my blindness. Going by what my parents told me, when I was four weeks old, my dad observed a sandy-creamy coloured discharge around my left eyeball and asked my mother if she had also noticed it. She had but thought that, since I wasn’t crying from discomfort, I must be all right. My dad wanted to be sure so they took me to the hospital for confirmation and that they can have peace of mind. We were residing in Bida, my home town then.”
The Head of the Eye Clinic at the time, Doctor Rasheed, who was an Indian, suspected something but was reluctant to tell Abdullahi’s parents. He prescribed an ointment to be applied for a week and to bring the baby back after a week.

However, within three days of using the ointment, the left eye had protruded to an almost mango-sized growth which eventually ruptured on their way back to the hospital. At the hospital, we were referred to the National Eye Centre in Kaduna.
There, the Doctors confirmed that the left eye was already damaged by cancer and the eye was immediately removed. The doctors revealed from their findings that the remaining eye was also affected so they advised that the baby be rushed to Lagos for a radiotherapist’s attention.

“We had hopes that my remaining eye could be restored, so we left for Lagos for salvation which, unknown to us, would turn my life and world around entirely. In Lagos, after reading the report from National eye Centre Kaduna, the Doctor told us the equipment to be used to
kill the cancer will kill my eyesight too, and “this handsome boy is not supposed to lose both eyes”, he added. So he quickly wrote a report and referred me to a hospital in London. The Doctor stressed that “between now and two weeks if this boy is not attended to, he will die.”

Abdurahman continues, “My parents who didn’t have money nor any idea of what it takes to go to London, were confused. That was the first challenge and predicament we faced. My dad approached his uncle, Major Alhaji Bello Ndayako, the late Makun Nupe, and informed him about the Doctor’s statement. Major Ndayako said “I actually have no such money but let me consult a friend in person of Chief Michael Ibru.”
Chief Ibru was a blessing as he said  he will try his best to rescue the remaining eye because, in his words, “he is too handsome to live without sight”. This great personality immediately called his wife in London, Dr Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank, to get ready to receive visitors and do anything possible to assist them. He took the responsibility of all finances and logistics to get the baby and his parents to London.
“I owe them my humble gratitude till the end of my life,” Abdul said.

In London, after following all due processes, he was taken to More-field Hospital, London, which was the best eye hospital in the world then. Chemotherapy treatment was commenced and after the treatment he was discharged from the hospital.
“However, after a few days, it was observed that the cancer cells still existed in my body which was directly affecting my eyesight. After series of diagnosis and chemotherapy for a month in London, we came back to Nigeria again till the next appointment. Unfortunately, the next appointment with the London hospital fell into the period of 1983 Nigeria coup d’être. This led to all airports being closed and there was no access to foreign exchange. But immediately the airports resumed, my parents flew with me back to London, but they had already lost their appointment at More-field hospital so we had to go to another hospital in London where another chemotherapy was done on my right eye also so as to save the remaining eye.”

By this time, the family’s economic situation became strained as a result of financial implications, challenges in travelling out to London, and probably the missed appointment in London. So when further symptoms were observed again, he was taken back to the National Eye Centre in Kaduna where it was discovered that the cancer cells were already showing potentials of affecting his brain. Unfortunately, the remaining eye had to be detached from its socket in order to save the brain.

“My Aunt, popularly known as Hajiya Gogo Mairiga (late) went to Kano and successfully got traditional medicine that pushed the cancer to its grave. After a year of using the traditional medicine, I was taken back to National Eye Centre for a recheck and the result was fascinating as the cancer cells were found dead and disappeared for long. We were grateful to all that assisted and to Almighty Allah.

Educational background…

As the Nupe Muslim’s tradition of sending their children to early Islamic or Quranic school where Quran is learnt by heart, I was enrolled at Madarasatul Hayatul Islam of Okada Road under the supervision of Mallam Gimba Ahmad Evuti. I was introduced to courses like recitation of the glorious Quran, Hadith, Tauheed, Fiqhu and many more. After that, I began my formal western education at the Niger State School for the Handicapped, now known as Niger State School for Special Education in 1989, and graduated in 1996. I proceeded to Government Secondary School Minna (now Fr O’Connell Secondary School) between 1997 and 2002 for my secondary education. Thereafter I proceeded to an Islamic school called Markazus-sakafil Islam for Qur’an memorization between year 2003-2005. I then proceeded for higher education at College of Education Minna where I studied Islamic studies/Social studies between year 2006-2009. Out of my desire and my parents encouragement and other great helpers who collectively gave me very worthy encouragement, I began the degree program at National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) where I am presently studying Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution.

Career Background…

After the completion of NCE in 2009, as a person with physical disability coupled with a saturated labour market, I searched for a job everywhere unsuccessfully. My friends and I teamed up to create a job by establishing a paint company known as Asgadamas Nigeria Limited. I happened to be the marketing Co-ordinator of the company. But I was later offered appointment as Assistant Education Officer II by the Niger state government in 2011. My potentials as a good speaker and activeness were recognized and I was became the elected PRO Nigeria Association for the Blind, Niger state branch in the same year. As hardwork is part of my character, another company was formed and I was made the CEO of Mahshurah Investment Company, a company that specializes in the production of paint and application; importation of cars and gadgets; interior decorations and in totality, a general Contractor in 2012. In 2015, at the Annual convention of blind people held in Lagos State, I was elected the National PRO of Nigeria Association of the Blind. In the same year, I was elected the
Chairman, Nigeria Association of the Blind Niger State Chapter. Consequently, I was elected the Assistant Secretary General, Joint Association of Persons Living With Disabilities, Niger State Branch in 2013. At an interactive engagement, the Governor of Niger State appointed me as his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on physically challenged persons. Currently, I am a training consultant for people with disabilities.

Contributions to the blind community…

My main aim is to get the society informed about who a blind man is and how to get the best out of him.
I use most of my time enlightening the world of the abilities in our disability and I partner with people and organizations in agitating for rights of people with disability.
I train the blind on various skills in order to attain self-reliance skills such as IT assisting technologies which will give them privacy of information.

Challenges…

1. Government’s attitude towards the blind; government has not taken time to understand the blind man and his needs, that is resulting to lack of adequate funding provision for the blind peoples’ needs.
2. Societal attitude toward the blind- the society is still finding it difficult to believe that a blind man is useful to the society in any other way rather than being a street beggar.

Achievements as the SSA to the Governor…

At least for the first time in Niger State, somebody has been appointed to serve as the voice of the people with disabilities and I have issued a lot of advice to the government on how to get the best out of people with disability in Niger state knowing quite well that the best approach to the eradication of street begging is taking care of the needs of the people with disabilities in the state.

Challenges as the SSA to the governor…

1. I have never received any response for any of the correspondence I have sent to the government, that is to say I have been appointed to be a voice of people with disabilities but I have not been given a microphone.

2. There is no desk allocated to me to carry out my responsibilities not to talk of an office which is essential, going by the sensitivity of the issues of the people I represent.

3. The Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development that I am supposed to report to has not granted me an audience despite my several requests.

Special trainings people with disabilities need to be self reliant…

Special people can be trained in virtually all areas but they require special trainers that can effectively impact the trainings on them.

The government should establish a commission for people with disabilities which will ensure the protection of all their rights, sensitize the general public about the needs of people with disabilities, have a comprehensive data of people with disabilities and structure a good education system for them to make them self-reliant and relevant in the society.

How government can encourage people with disabilities not to beg or go into street begging…

Government should give them a sense of belonging and make all nessecary provisions for them and also give them good orientation on the disadvantage of street begging.

Advice for others not to depend on government…

I will encourage them to look beyond their disability and look for something to do. They should not allow disability hinder them from achieving their life goals.

What makes you happy and relaxed…

I like making friends and I’m very happy counseling people about life in general. I like reading books and also like praying in order to relax.

BROADCAST BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, AUGUST 21, 2017

 

My dear citizens,

I am very grateful to God and to all Nigerians for their prayers. I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters.

 

In the course of my stay in the United Kingdom, I have been kept in daily touch with events at home. Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially on social media, have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.

 

In 2003 after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown Daura. Over two days we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analyzed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.

 

Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood.

 

Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance.

 

I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.

 

This is not to deny that there are legitimate concerns. Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence.

 

The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.

 

The national consensus is that, it is better to live together than to live apart.

 

Furthermore, I am charging the Security Agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax.

 

Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of us can live in peace and safety.

 

Therefore we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight not only against;

 

·       elements of Boko Haram which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets

 

·       kidnappings, farmers versus herdsmen clashes,

 

·       in addition to ethnic violence fuelled by political mischief makers. We shall tackle them all.

 

Finally, dear Nigerians, our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of;

 

·       economic security,

 

·       political evolution and integration

 

·       as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians.

 

I remain resolutely committed to ensuring that these goals are achieved and maintained. I am so glad to be home.

 

Thank you and may God bless our dear Nation.

 

A Tribute To Ahmed Sardauna Ahman Patigi

Twenty-six years ago, I met a remarkable man who was knowledgeable, intelligent, gentle, caring and charming. That young man was Ahmadu Sardauna Ahman. Fondly called Ahmed, Sardauna or Na Ahmadu by friends, addressed as ‘YaSardauna’ or Uncle Sardauna by family, there was something about him that commanded respect and love by most who came around him.

Ahman Sardauna Ahman

He was unassuming, polite, always had an encouraging or kind word for you. He became the love of my life and one of the best gifts God gave me. It was Allah who brought us together and He preserved our union till the end.

He was witty and humorous and he was always looking on and for the bright side of life. He never spoke harshly to anyone, and was considerate of others’ feelings while expressing his thoughts. His habits in talk, actions set an example for all of us to emulate. He was morally clean in mind and body. He was honest and respectful to everyone especially to the needy, the aged and children. He loved children and he had so much patience with everyone and with life. He was a goal-getter but believed that what is meant to be yours will surely be yours through hard work and diligence. He was a good civic worker promoting good for the welfare of the general public.

Ahman Sardauna Ahman Family

He was a good son, a doting father, reliable friend, my loving husband and rock.

He did not seek for material things of life but was ambitious to earn through honest means in order to meet his financial responsibilities, welfare and happiness of his family and loved ones.
August 15th 2002 was a day I and many others will not forget. The shocking news of his death came as a big blow to us. The day before that, we had had a lengthy discussion over the phone on various issues. He was going to come to Abuja from Ilorin and we were going to return to Patigi in Kwara state to take our new born son Ahmed Baba whom was named after his late father to see the family. That journey was cut short by the cold hands of death. An ambush would end his and his police Orderly’s lives horrifically by a rain of bullets. Till this day we do not know those who ordered your assassination nor why. Only Allah knows, although we are all sad that it could have been politically motivated because of the series if events happening then. It was strange because there you were trying your best to make things right by people but evil-minded ones had their own nasty plans.

Ahman Sardauna Ahman

He was a planner. He had such great plans and hopes for everyone and took his time to implement them. Plans for the children, family and myself, some that have come to fruition already, others that will not see the light of day but Allah knows best!
Ahmadu Sardauna Ahman Patigi, you’re gone but never forgotten. All that’s left is nothing but memories; memories that lead me to silence and tears but also those that leave me comforted in knowing that, in your short time on this earth, you touched many lives with your goodness. Today, 15 years after your passing, people still remember you with fondness. It is a bittersweet feeling that in death, they still talk of your good nature  and how, if you were still alive, their lives would have turned out today. Surely it was the will of Allah that you should return to him when the applause was loudest. Allahu Akbar. May your sweet and gentle soul rest in peace and may your good legacies continue to live on in your children.

Your Wife,  Amina Alhassan-Ahman 

“A letter To My Younger Self”

Hey man, how are you? It’s been a while. I hope you are good.

I was told your WAEC result is excellent. Congratulations man. I wish you same luck with your UTME (JAMB) and post UTME.

UK Umar

As you gear up to go to the university, I have reasons to believe that academically, you would do well so,  no problem. On other matters, I have some tips for you.

You see,  at the university, it’s a world of its own. You’d meet all types of people. I wouldn’t tell you to be careful in choosing your circle of friends. Instead, I’d tell you to be smart about it. Just like you, others would have their own reasons for choosing who to be close to. But whatever it is,  just be smart. The friends you make at that stage of life are likely going to make or mar your next phase of life. So, again, be smart.

The freedom to be away from the watchful eyes of your parents is sweet but it also comes with responsibilities and consequences. Although, you wouldn’t be expressly told so by mom and dad but they understand that you can now have and keep female friends. Yeah….exciting, right?  Not so fast.

Female classmates and friends would come. Again, remember that people have their reasons for choosing to be close to you. Don’t forget, be smart. If you keep your grades up there, wear clean clothes and smell nice always, smile and joke with as many people as possible all the time, respect everyone and never talk down on people, I tell you,  you are on your way to easy life in school and even after school.

I know you were excited about the prospect of having fine females as classmates and friends so let me tell you a bit about them. Forget that tired line of “be careful with girls” just be smart with everyone. Women(and this applies to all people too) are generally good.  Their loyalty and friendship would come to you based on how you present yourself to them.  If for instance, you go about letting everyone know that you or your parents are rich and you can spend a lot of money, your friends would naturally profile you as the money bag they can come to when in need and that would be all.  In the same vein,  if you present yourself as the guy who cares less about his studies and has time to kill on social activities, you’d easily  become the go-to guy for fun and hang outs.

I’d advise that, in as many ways as possible, let your friends know that much as you want to have fun too,  your education is your number one priority. This way, you’d attract like minds who would help you grow in your academics and still have the appropriate dose of fun. With your female friends, form the habit of studying together. Organise tutorials and always make sure you are fully prepared to contribute. From such circles, you’d form impressions that would outlive your school days into the real world.  You never know who might, based on their knowledge of your capability, recommend you to anyone for anything tomorrow.

Do I have to tell you of the need to take your lectures seriously?  I’m sure you already know that but I have a thing or two to tell you about lecturers and our system of education.

Most of your lecturers are going to be Nigerians who received their education donkey years  from the same type of system you would meet. So,  don’t be surprised if you meet a senior lecturer who would use the same material he’s been using to teach for the past two decades to teach you.

Also, I know, from your interactions via social media with other students from other parts of the world, you have this idea that university classroom should be more of interaction and exchange of ideas between lecturers and their students. You were equally told by your friends in abroad that there is democracy in classrooms which makes it normal for you to respectfully challenge your lecturer if you have a superior point or when he’s outrightly wrong about anything. You were told to be critical and cultivate the habit of questioning whatever you are handed by your lecturers.  I know also, that you are excited at the prospect of experiencing a friendly learning atmosphere where students debate with lecturers on topics and issues which would deepen understanding across board.

Do you still hold the belief that your lecturers would take you seriously and engage you to explore the various aspects of the topics and courses instead of dumping handouts on you to cram ?  Oh, you are still luxuriating in the fantasy that your university education as taught you by your lecturers would be sufficient for you to know the world and become a better citizen. What a pity!

Let me school you real good.  You see,  much as there are good lecturers in the system who know their onions and want to do things rightly, they too become constrained by the many deficiencies of the system and before long,  they cave in. Sometimes, they would go for months without being paid their salaries. When they get tired of listening to excuses from politicians who they see living way beyond their means,  they embark on strikes which ultimately disrupts the academic  calendar. Without telling you, this is how you would end up spending 6 years for a 4 year course.

Amidst acute shortage of teaching and learning materials, the lecturers have to cope with overcrowded lecture rooms where students, most of who can barely construct an error-free sentence, overflow through the windows as even the stairs and the floors of the lecture theatres are filled up.

Consequently, when they give tests or even exams, the dedicated ones would rush through marking the tones of scripts to meet up with deadlines given by the examination officers.Those not so dedicated would outsource some of the scripts to senior students for marking.

Therefore, with all these on their minds and around them, you should understand why they come into the lecture room looking vexed and poised against any form of “challenge” from the students. It is this same reason that make them assume the roles of demigods towering high above their students dishing down lessons for them to just pick and shut up.

This system of teaching and learning is dysfunctional. More than anything else, it produces certificated graduates who barely understand anything and can’t ask questions. People who pass through this undemocratic learning system come out as zombies who don’t question and hate to be questioned. So,  there you have your merry go round;  garbage in garbage out.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t close your senses to opportunities. Open up your mind and start seeing yourself building your adult life right from your first day in the university. Build network of friends along the line of your future self. Seek every opportunity to gather both classroom knowledge and street sense. You would need both out here. Strive to start working for yourself as soon as you get out of school. Salary job whether with government or private sector is a dream killer!  In fact,  they don’t even exist anymore. Above all, study for good grades but learn to gain knowledge and understanding.

 

U. K.  Umar,

Abuja.

10th Aug.  2017.

 

Poor Health, Unemployment Limit Capacity Of Women And Youths To Realize Their Full Potential – Hon Suleiman A.B Umar

Speech by Hon Suleiman Umar; Sponsor of Medical Outreach and Skills Acquisition Programme for Women and Youths in Gbako, Katcha, and Bida Local Government Areas, at the flag-off of the programme, at Badeggi.

PROTOCOLS
Bismillahi Rahamin Rahim
Let me begin by thanking Almighty Allah who has made it possible for all of us here to be part of this history, that is, the flag off of my Medical Outreach and Skills Acquisition programme for Women and Youths. This programme covers the three local governments of Gbako, Katcha, and Bida, which collectively constitutes my home. As you are aware, these local governments used to belong together as a political unit, before the Federal Government conferred local government status on each one of them. In spite of this, our bonds have been strong, and we still remain brothers and sisters, over the years, no matter what. And that is why I am starting this large scale humanitarian intervention among you here in Baddegi. After all, charity, they say, begins at home.
 It will interest you to know that I have, in the past, given support to needy or less privileged individuals, who were critically ill and couldn’t pay their medical bills or need scholarship to get tertiary education, in the universities or polytechnics. The beneficiaries in the past also included enterprising women and youths who needed some funds to start their own business. However, I was doing all these alone, without any organization to manage the interventions, and that limits the impact of my efforts; which is why I have brought in partners, Hakima Empowerment Centre, to plan and manage the current intervention on a large scale for the benefit of the rural dwellers. By bringing in a formal organization to take charge of what began as a personal effort, I am seeking to institutionalize it, broaden its scope, and touch more lives.
Two things seriously affect the wellbeing of our communities, indeed any community at all, and they are ill health and unemployment. As we all know, our communities, in spite of government interventions, still carry heavy disease and unemployment burdens, which limit their capacity to realize their full potentials. While the good old problems of malaria and typhoid infestations still pose serious challenges to the people, they have been joined by new, even more dangerous threats such as diabetes and hypertension.  These health challenges not only put the people out of work, keeping them on sick bed for long periods, thus worsening the poverty crises in our communities, they also inflict painful mortalities. If you add to this the impact of unemployment, you can see that our rural areas are indeed in serious trauma. This is why all hands must be on deck to roll back these health and social challenges that frequently threaten the economic wellbeing of rural dwellers. Our current intervention is driven by the good old saying that health is wealth, and that a healthy people are a wealthy people.
The programme being launched today has two aspects; the first is a medical outreach intended to provide testing and counseling services or administration of drugs or other medicaments for the treatment or management of malaria, typhoid fever, high blood pressure, or diabetes.  The target beneficiaries are the less privileged people or rural dwellers, who cannot access health centres easily. About 200 people will benefit in each of the catchment local government areas, meaning that about 600 people will benefit.
Under the skills acquisition programme, about 50 people each from each of the three local government areas will receive training in the production of bar soap, liquid soap, disinfectants, shoe making, and interior decoration. The target beneficiaries are women and youths. The purpose of this is to empower beneficiaries through self-employment and create jobs in the rural areas. We expect that the beneficiaries will become master trainers themselves, who will proliferate similar opportunities in their areas and thus help to improve economic profiles of their communities. Youths are the leaders of tomorrow, and I believe that by equipping them with skills for livelihood today, we are building strong youths who will be in the vanguard of today and tomorrow’s economy. When youths have meaningful employment, they stay off crime and restiveness; otherwise they become lay-abouts and easy recruits for crime, political thuggery and violence.
On the other hand, empowering women is helping to build strong families. As it is commonly said families are the building blocks of the nation. Therefore, if we want a formidable nation, we must empower women to achieve financial independence, which helps the family to fight poverty and make progress.
In our efforts to develop our areas, we need to think more about the people and less about ourselves. The people should be at the centre of our governance and representation at whatever level. For those of whom Allah Subhana ta’alla has blessed, we should give back to our communities so that they can live a better life, devoid of want poverty and disease. An Hadith says, “He is not a good Muslim if you allow your neighbour to sleep with hunger.” If the people are fine, we are fine; but if they are not, then we cannot have a restful sleep.
This programme which launched today is just the first phase of its kind to be managed by Hakima Empowerment Centre. It is an experimental phase, from which we intend to learn and apply the knowledge and lessons to future interventions. We intend to expand this scheme so that more communities and women and youths will benefit. To those who will benefit from the medical outreach, I wish them better health as they get on with their lives. And to those who will benefit from the skills acquisition programme, my advice is: Use your knowledge and skills well for the betterment of your communities and the glory of God. 
Finally, I will like to express my profound gratitude to the Chief Host, Alhaji Bala Badegi, the frontline APC leader in Katcha, and Engr Mohammed Jibril Imam, the indefatigable APC juggernaut in Niger State. I want to thank both of you for finding the time to be with us and giving the event the aura of greatness.  A million thanks also go to our special guests, Alh Salihu Ndagi, Alh Idris Lukoro, and Hajiya Fatima Mustapha, the beacon of hope for our women folks. I remain proud of you all for your individual achievements in our communities. To all of you, who have come to witness this programme, which is my little contribution to community development, I thank you all.
I thank you all. 

SERAP Reports: The N40b Double Payment Of Ex Governors, Deputies

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has nudged the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to institute legal action to recover over N40 billion dubiously earned in double payment, by former Nigerian state governors, who are now either senators or ministers.

SERAP made the appeal in an open letter to Malami released today, saying the former gorvenors and their deputies are drawing the dubious payments based on retirement and pension laws crafted by them while in office.

It alleged that Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki (Kwara); Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Kabiru Gaya (Kano); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Theodore Orji (Abia); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi); Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara), are among former governors receiving double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states.

Others mentioned are Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Ahmed Sani Yarima (Zamfara); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); George Akume (Benue); Ms Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti); Enyinaya Harcourt Abaribe (Abia); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Chris Ngige (Anambra); and Babatunde Fashola (Lagos).

SERAP urged Malami to use his “good offices as a defender of public interest” to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices.”

The organization also asked Mr Malami to “seek full recovery of over N40 billion of public funds that have so far been received from those involved; and to begin to take these steps within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments.”

In the letter dated 14 July 2017 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organisation said that, “Public interest is not well served when government officials such as former governors, deputies supplement their emoluments in their current positions with life pensions and emoluments drawn from their states’ meagre resources, and thereby prioritising their private or personal interests over and above the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”

“SERAP considers double emoluments for serving public officials unlawful, as the laws granting those benefits take governance away from the arena of public interest, and create the impression that former governors acted contrary to the best interests of the general public. Double emoluments and large severance benefits for former governors now serving public officials constitute a blatant betrayal of public trust.”

“SERAP is concerned that several serving senators and ministers are receiving salaries and life pensions running into billions of naira from states that are currently unwilling or unable to pay their workers’ salaries. Public office is a public trust, and as such, citizens depend upon their governors, senators and ministers to act in the public interest, not for their own or another’s profit or benefit.”

“Under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, it is forbidden for any public official to engage in self-dealing, and place him/herself in a position of conflicting interests, and to hold incompatible functions or illicitly engage in providing to him/herself emoluments deemed unacceptable under international law. This is a clear case of the former governors placing their private or personal interests over and above their entrusted public functions, and unduly influencing the level of benefits they receive.”

“SERAP argues that taking advantage of entrusted public offices and positions to enact laws to grant double emoluments and large severance benefits to serving public officials amounts to not only an abuse of office but also incorrect, dishonourable and improper performance of public functions, as per the provisions of paragraph 2 of article 8 of the convention.”

“By signing such double emoluments and large benefits laws which they knew or ought to know that they would be beneficiaries, these former governors have abused their entrusted public functions and positions, and thereby obtained an undue advantage, contrary to article 19 of the convention.”

“The double emoluments and large severance benefits laws also violate the conflicts of interest provisions of the convention. The fact that these laws are signed by former governors in the exercise of their functions as public officials and now benefiting from the entitlements under such laws while serving as senators and ministers raises serious conflict of interest issue under paragraph 5 of article 8 of the convention.”

“We believe that the current Code of Conduct for Public Officials Act is outdated and entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the object and purpose of the UN Convention against Corruption, which requires Nigeria to adopt a comprehensive code of conduct for the performance of public functions and implicitly to prohibit double emoluments and large severance benefits for public officials such as former governors.”

“SERAP notes the resolution of the UN General Assembly to the effect that every state has the duty to carry out in good faith its obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and it may not invoke provisions in its constitutions or its laws as an excuse for failure to perform this duty.”

“As such, your government is mandated to challenge the legality of double and large emoluments states’ laws and bring them in line with Nigeria’s international obligations including under the convention. This position is buttressed by article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties, which provides that no state can justify the noncompliance with an international treaty with reference to internal law, including even the constitution.”

“SERAP notes that under the Lagos Pension Law a former governor will enjoy the following benefits for life: Two houses, one in Lagos and another in Abuja estimated to cost between N500m and N700m. Others are six brand new cars replaceable every three years; furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual salary to be paid every two years, and a close to N2.5m as pension (about N30m pension annually); free medicals including for his immediate families; 10 percent house maintenance; 30 percent car maintenance; 10 percent entertainment; 20 percent utility; and several domestic staff.”

“In Rivers, state law provides 100 percent of annual basic salaries for ex-governor and deputy, one residential house for former governor anywhere of his choice in Nigeria; one residential house anywhere in Rivers for the deputy, three cars for the ex-governor every four years; two cars for the deputy every four years; 300 percent of annual basic salary every four years for furniture; 10 percent of annual basic salary for house maintenance.”

“In Akwa Ibom, state law provides for N200m annual pay to ex governors, deputies; pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor/deputy governor respectively; a new official car and utility-vehicle every four years; one personal aide and provision of adequate security; a cook, chauffeurs and security guards for the governor at a sum not exceeding N5m per month and N2.5m for the deputy governor. Others are: free medical services for governor and spouse at an amount not exceeding N100m for the governor per annum and N50m for the deputy governor; a five-bedroom mansion in Abuja and Akwa Ibom and allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor; 300 percent of annual basic salary every four years and severance gratuity.”

“Similarly, the Kano State Pension Rights of Governor and Deputy Governor Law 2007 provides for 100 percent of annual basic salaries for former governor and deputy; furnished and equipped office; a 6-bedroom house; well-furnished 4-bedroom for deputy, plus an office; free medical treatment along with immediate families within and outside Nigeria where necessary; two drivers; and a provision for a 30- day vacation within and outside Nigeria.”

“In Gombe State, there is N300 million executive pension benefits for the ex-governors. In Kwara State, the 2010 law gives a former governor two cars and a security car replaceable every three years; a well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex; 300 per cent of his salary as furniture allowance; five personal staff; three State Security Services; free medical care for the governor and the deputy; 30 percent of salary for car maintenance; 20 per cent for utility; 10 percent for entertainment; 10 per cent for house maintenance.”

“In Zamfara State, former governors receive pension for life; two personal staff; two vehicles replaceable every four years; two drivers, free medical for the former governors and deputies and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad; a 4-bedroom house in Zamfara and an office; free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria. In Sokoto State, former governors and deputy governors are to receive N200m and N180m respectively being monetization for other entitlements which include domestic aides, residence and vehicles that could be renewed after every four years.”

NAN….

AU Summit: African Leaders, Buhari On Anti-corruption

African Leaders on Tuesday unanimously endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari to champion the fight against corruption in the African Union.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the endorsement came at the end of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of AU in Addis Ababa.

President Buhari is expected to champion the theme of the AU summit scheduled for 2018 entitled: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’’.

Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama who gave a synopsis of the summit told NAN that the endorsement was in recognition of Buhari administration’s demonstrable commitment and glowing success in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and globally.

“The endorsement is very significant because it is the recognition of the negative role corruption and bad governance has played.

“I think it is also significant that President Buhari was also asked to champion this because he has been a major inspiration to Africa in frontally combating corruption and bringing positive change towards building a sustainable and prosperous continent.”

He said the president would therefore be expected to provide exemplary and resourceful leadership by working closely with the other African Leaders.

Others are, the AU Commission and development partners to collectively fashion out common programmes for Continent-wide application of the anti-corruption theme in all Member States of the Union.

“The championship role by Buhari will also involve a number of diplomatic initiatives to sensitise and raise awareness of the International Community on the dire consequences of corruption and the collective strategies to defeat it.

On the need to set up the African Security Fund (ASF), Onyeama said the time had come for the continent to be independent and break free from foreign support.

“Up until now, a lot of our security activities were funded by non African partners and what we have seen is that they have suddenly decided to cut back on what they were providing.

“This is impacting seriously on some of the AU missions like Somalia and South Sudan where AU is not being able to meet up financially; there should be a fund set aside and part of the funding of the organisation should go to us funding peace and security on the continent.’’

The minister who spoke also on the role of Nigeria in ECOWAS, said the time had come for the country to take its leadership role in the organisation.

He said further that in order to have an organisation that works, it is also important that Nigeria does not act like a tyrant and that there are mechanism for consensus.

“Nigeria can assert leadership and can also do it in a non-conflicted, inclusive and positive way, and that is what we are trying to do.

“There are currently 17 (political) positions allocated to certain countries.

“We (Nigeria) are looking for the position of internal services considering that we are largest contributors to the body.

“This is a portfolio that will give us the best oversight regarding our interest.

“The other is the position of a Judge at the ECOWAS court Justice,’’

He said though there are challenges in filling the positions and explained: “It is a work in progress and will not damage the EC0WAS too much.’’

Onyeama said that there was no agreement on the issue of position sharing in the ECOWAS but just a question of buying into a process.

He said that a technical committee has been set up to negotiate on what will be inclusive for all countries.

He said there was also the challenge of electing the President and the Vice of the ECOWAS Commission after the two years of setting up a reform committee.

On women and youth empowerment, the minister said Nigeria was already addressing the issue by make it top priority.

Onyeama said the AU’s theme this year, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth” could not have come at a better time.

He said Nigeria was taking advantage of the issue of demographic situation in Africa with the large youth bulge with the introduction of the Federal Government’s N-power programme.

He said it was absolutely important that women and youth are empowered to enable them play more significant roles so that they become an assent going forward and not a problem.

“The N-Power programme and the social intervention of government are geared towards women in addition to the programmes for the youth.

“Especially the vocational programmes, there is also a large part for women including entrepreneurs and helping those in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with loans.

“So, on the economic front, the empowerment of women is very much on and government is investing very much in it.”

He, however, expressed concerns over lack of adequate representative of women in political and elective positions.

“In terms of elective positions, we are still not there yet, maybe it is something we should consider constitutional provisions in providing quotas on gender basis.

“Whether it will be a good thing or not, it is something that can be done; Rwanda has that and South Africa too.

“That is probably where we are going too but some will still argue that quota systems are not always the best because it gives the impression that beneficiaries do not usually have the capacity.

“But the reality is of course women are just as good if not better than men in many areas academically and so on.

The minister said that what was required was a level playing field in recruitment of women adding that it was the trend globally and in the continent. (NAN)

Osinbajo Plans More Talks On Nigeria’s Unity

The consultations by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo with various segments of the Nigerian society will continue, his spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, said.

He stated this in a release while emphasizing the import of the dialogue the Acting President had with leaders from the North, Southeast and the media over the last two weeks.

“While this set of consultations was concluded last week, the presidency will continue to actively engage with different segments of the Nigerian population at different stages and formats in the near future.

“The meetings were convened to provide a platform for frank and open discussions between the concerned stakeholders and by extension the Nigerian public on issues relating to the unity, peace and security of the country,’’ the release said.

In the course of the interaction from June 13, to June 22, the Acting President gave the assurance that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was not deaf to grievances in parts of the country and would address them.

He, however, urged that such grievances should be expressed with grace.

According to Akande interactions began following the recent spate of agitations pitting some groups in the North against others in the Southeast while Osinbajo used it to douse inter-ethnic tension using political, religious, traditional and media leaders.

He said the meetings established some common ground on a number of issues such as the condemnation of all the hate and divisive rhetoric by the concerned groups of Northern and Southeastern youths.

“They affirmed the need for all leaders and elders, regardless of political or ideological persuasion, to speak out more forcefully to counter divisive and hate speeches and any form of warmongering.

“They also affirmed the primacy of the country’s constitution, the ultimate basis for the unity of Nigeria.”

Also during the meetings it was agreed that the constitution guarantees freedom of residence and of movement for all Nigerians anywhere in the country, without fear of discrimination or prejudice.

They also affirmed the need to draw a line between the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution and the degeneration of such expression into hate rhetoric and prejudice.

The interactions similarly affirmed the necessity of confronting all grievances and frustrations head-on, however uncomfortable they might seem instead of ignoring issues and allowing them to fester.

The Acting President expressed appreciation to all the leaders for their time and commitment to the unity, peace and progress of the nation.

He also assured Nigerians of the determination and resolve of the Buhari administration to ensure their well-being and security at all times.

 

NAN ……

Eid El Fitri Gtreetings From TakeMyGist Group

*Happy Eid Mubark to everyone. May you all have a very happy and blessed Eid. Enjoy these amazing days and remember those who need our help.

IMG_20170625_071503

*I hope you enjoy each and every moment of it. May God accept our fasts and prayers.

*Eid Mubarak. May Allah blessings be with you today, tomorrow and always.

*May this special day brings peace, happiness and prosperity to everyone. Eid Mubarak!

Thank You All For Your Patronage.  We Are Happy To Be Part Of You ….