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FG approves establishment of N15trn Infraco Plc to boost infrastructure dev. – Buhari

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By Gistflash

June 12, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of Infraco Plc, a world-class infrastructure development vehicle wholly focused on Nigeria with a capital structure of N15 trillion.

The president revealed this on Saturday in a broadcast to mark this year’s Democracy Day.

He expressed optimism that the company, when fully functional, would address the nation’s infrastructural deficits and subsequently transform the economy.

He also disclosed that his administration had succeeded in accelerating infrastructure development through sensible and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow, improving and increasing revenue through capturing more tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

According to him, the rail system is not left out as the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail was completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began.

He stated that the Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line, which he inaugurated on June 10, 2021, had commenced operations.

“We are focused on ensuring that our infrastructure drive is key to economic growth and one that can be felt by every Nigerian. Building critical infrastructure in our ports is also opening up opportunities for the Nigerian economy.

“My approval for four new seaports using a Public-Private-Partnership approach is hinged on growing the Nigerian economy.

“These four sea ports; Lekki Deep Sea Port, Bonny Deep Sea Port, Ibom Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea port, will create massive job opportunities and foreign investment inflows.

“We have worked at deepening our Eastern ports leading to success like having three container ships berth at Calabar port, a first in 11 years.

“Similarly, on October 30, 2019, an LPG tanker operated by NLNG berthed in Port Harcourt, the first time an LPG ship is berthing at any of the Eastern Ports.

“As we invest in these new assets, we have also made strides in ensuring that they are secured and protected.

“In this regard, I am also pleased to note the launch of the NIMASA Deep Blue project – which is an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure that I recently commissioned.

“This initiative is designed to add to the layer of security we have to safeguard our maritime sector,’’ he added.

The president also listed the achievements of his administration in the agricultural sector to include the Anchor Borrowers Programme which resulted in sharp decline in the nation’s major food import bill from 2.23 billion dollars in 2014 to 0.59 billion dollars by the end of 2018.

According to him, rice import bill alone also dropped from one billion dollars to 18.5 million dollars annually.

He observed that Anchor Borrowers initiative had supported local production of rice, maize, cotton and cassava.

He revealed that government financed 2.5 million small-holder farmers cultivating about 3.2 million hectares of farmland all over the country and created 10 million direct and indirect jobs.

“Several other initiatives, namely AgriBusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Non-oil Export stimulation Facility, the Targeted Credit Facilities operated across the 774 Local Governments.

“In the manufacturing sector the CBN – BOI N200 billion facility financed the establishment and operations of 60 new industrial hubs across the country, creating an estimated 890,000 direct and indirect jobs,’’ he added.

The president noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N50 billion Textile Sector intervention Facility increased capacity utilisation of ginneries from 30 per cent to nearly 90 per cent.

According to him, the Economic Sustainability Plan – the nation rebound plan for the COVID-19 pandemic developed in 2020, is currently being executed.

He said the plan was primarily focused on the non-oil sector, which had recorded phenomenal growth contributing over 90 per cent to the GDP growth in Q1 2021.

“Though marginal we have recorded GDP growth over two quarters; Q2 2020 and Q1 2021. This is evidence of a successful execution of the ESP by the Federal Government.”

Buhari stated that his administration’s vision of pulling 100 million poor Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years had been put into action and could be seen in the National Social Investment Programme; “a first in Africa and one of the largest in the world where over 32.6 million beneficiaries are taking part.

“We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT’’.

He further maintained that the administration’s conditional cash transfer programme had benefited over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households comprising more than eight million individuals, saying “this provides a monthly stipend of N10,000 per household’’.

The president revealed that he recently approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Plan that augments existing plans to further reduce poverty in the country.

He said: “As at the end of 2020, the Development Bank of Nigeria had disbursed N324 billion in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 participating Financial Institutions.

“I am to note that 57 per cent of these beneficiaries are women while 27 per cent are the youth,’’ he said.

NAN

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Youth group offers N600, 000 to vulnerable female students in Nasarawa

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By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

Youth Assembly of Nigeria (YAN) has donated N600, 000 to 10 vulnerable female secondary school students in Nasarawa State to ameliorate their academic burdens and promote Girl-Child education.

Habiba Iliyasu, Minority Leader of the Assembly, made the disclosure on Wednesday in Lafia at the final stage of the maiden inter-Secondary Schools debate for girl-child education organised by the group.

According to the minority leader, the group carefully selected 10 vulnerable female students from secondary schools across the three senatorial zones of the state to benefit from the N600,000.

“Each selected child will get N60,000 that would be spread across three months from the education support funds by us.

“For the debate, four secondary schools participated and the first position got N40,000; second position N30,000; third position N20, 000 while fourth position got N10,000,” the minority leader added.

Iliyasu, an Assembly woman, said the group came up with the laudable educational programmes to promote sound, accessible and qualitative education for girl-child.

Similarly, Mr Shuaibu Sani, National Speaker of YAN said the group had deliberately designed the educational programme to give a platform for the girl-child to excel educationally.

He said that apart from equipping the girl-child with the necessary knowledge, the debate was also aimed at training the girl-child to be good public speaker.

The National Speaker added that the debate would be an annual event and promised that subsequent edition would be more robust and include more schools.

Sani, therefore, commended the Nasarawa State Government and other individuals and groups that made the event a success.

In his goodwill message, Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State expressed gratitude to YAN for organising a debate aimed at promoting education.

The governor represented by Hauwa Ogah, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, said developing education sector was the topmost priority of his administration.

The governor explained that education had the highest allocation in the state’s budget since he assumed office two years ago to demonstrate his determination to transform the sector.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Government Girls Secondary School, Garaku, took first position, Government Science School, Lafia emerged second while Government Science School. Nassarawa-Eggon, and Government Girls College Wamba, came third and fourth respectively.

NAN

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FCTA disburses N2.6b to area councils, stakeholders

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By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on Wednesday. disbursed N2.66 billion to the six Area Councils in the territory and other stakeholders.

The disbursed amount was the territory’s share of the statutory allocation for the month of June.

The FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, who presided over the 155th Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting, appealed to the council Chairmen and the stakeholders to make judicious use of the funds.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the figure shows a minimal drop of revenue from N2.72 billion disbursed in the month of May to N2.66 billion shared in the month of June.

The minister explained that the decline in the figure was as a result of the drop in the statutory revenue allocation from the Federation Account.

She said that N773, 574, 574.28 million was made available for distribution to the six area councils while N1,887, 166, 058.12 billion was released to other stakeholders.

Aliyu said that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) received N188,477,690.83 million, while Gwagwalada got N177,472,859.50 million and Kuje received N108, 501, 865.37 million.

“Also, Bwari Area Council received N84,657,261.97 million; Abaji got N117, 435, 546.65 million and Kwali received N97, 029, 349.96 million, bringing the total sum to N773,574,574.28 billion disbursed to the six area councils,” she said.

According to her, N1, 526,230, 256.60 billion was for primary school teachers, while 15 per cent Pension Funds took N226,478,989.57 million and One per cent Training Fund gulped N26, 607, 406.32 million.

“Ten per cent Employer Pension Contribution gulped N107,849, 405.63 million, bringing the total sum to N1,887, 166, 058.12 billion,” Aliyu said.

She said a tripartite meeting of FCT administration, area councils and the Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS) would be called, with a view to upscaling revenue generation in the territory.

The minister of state said that the FCT administration would not continue to work at cross purposes in the face of dwindling revenue generation in the nation’s capital.

Aliyu called on the FCT Primary Health Care Board and other stakeholders to intensify campaign on outbreak of cholera and other severe acute diarrhoea diseases in the FCT.

In attendance at the JAAC meeting were the FCTA Permanent Secretary, Mr Olusade Adesola; and the Acting Secretary, Area Council Services Secretariat, Mrs Omolola Olanipekun.

Others were the chairmen of AMAC, Abaji, Bwari and Kuje Area Councils and the Vice Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Council.

NAN

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Curbing menace of sex for grades

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By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

Grace Yussuf, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

For ages, sex has been used as a tool to influence outcomes, decisions or gain undue favour or advantage over others in high and low places.

Both men and women can use sex as a bait, to get what they desire or to achieve personal aggrandisement.

They may get away with it, depending on the value of the society.

Sex was used in the Bible by Delilah to seduce Samson to reveal the secret of his strength, while King David was lured by the beauty of Bathsheba and he committed the unthinkable.

However, in Nigeria’s higher institutions, the phenomenon of sex for grades, has been on for decades as part of the “usual’’ on campuses.

But in recent years, the menace assumed alarming dimension and a big dent on the image of the country in the international community.

The popular case at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) exposed the dastardly acts going on in the nation’s higher institutions perpetrated by randy lecturers.

The lecturer, Richard Akindele, who was at the centre of the first major scandal, served two years jail term for sexual harassment of a female student, Monica Osagie.

The case opened pandora box of the menace going on in the nation’s higher institutions.

However, stakeholders decried the menace, and stressed that higher institutions should not in any way tolerate sex for grades,

They also said that it has contributed in no small way to the falling standard of education in the country.

According to Dr Olaitan Alloh, an Agribusiness Consultant,   school authorities must show zero tolerance for ‘sex for marks’ relationship.

He suggested that students on entry into the school should also be made to understand that they should face their studies rather than looking for easy ways to pass their examinations.

“Don’t forget that many students are coming into the universities from the larger society. Many of them have been exposed to thinking that sexual relationship in whatever form is a normal way of life and a tool to progress in life.

“The females think it’s a compensation to offer, while the males think it’s a compensation to receive,’’ he said.

According to him, generally this menace is part of the fallouts of the decadence in our society at large.

Alloh stressed the need to amplify the consequences of violation and punish any lecturer found to be insisting on using sex for grades.

“There should be a way to monitor lecturer and student relationship.

“Violations must be well and severely punished when established and counselling for students is very important, particularly on entry into the school.

“We need new orientation for people to think right and be upright in all dispositions. We all must be involved in fighting the menace with sincerity,’’ Alloh said.

Some educationists have put the blame on weak students, who will always throw themselves on lecturers with the hope of passing their examinations.

For others, it is the lecturers that should take the blame as they are expected to be disciplined and with high moral ethics.

Prof. Peter Okebukola, the former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, recently caused controversy by asserting that academically weak students are to blame for the sex-for-grades incidents in Nigerian universities.

However, some experts faulted Okebukola’s  assertion, saying that  lecturers should not take advantage of weak students and indulge in unethical and immoral conducts.

Dr Kabiru Danladi, of the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, said the menace of sex for grade “is not different from the general societal decay we see everywhere.’’

According to him, over the years, recruitment process in the universities and other tertiary institutions has been bastardised and all kinds of people are employed and entrusted with the responsibility of teaching in tertiary institutions.

“That’s the root of the problem. So you have people who have nothing to do with teaching in higher institutions being employed to teach; people who are morally weak and professionally poor and the result is what we see today.’’

Danladi agreed that academically weak students were likely to fall victims of sexual harassment.

“Mind you, I didn’t say they lure lecturers, but they are vulnerable. They go for free marks, promising `to do anything’ to get their carry overs cleared.

“Anyone doing this is putting himself or herself in a very disadvantaged position.

“I am aware of the problem; in fact, I was shocked by media reports recently on what is happening, especially regarding relationship between lecturers and their students.

“The problem of this sex for grade, you only read it in social media or conventional media. University authorities cannot act based on hearsay or claim, unless a formal complaint is lodged.

“Those affected should be courageous enough to lodge complaint with evidence, ‘’ Danladi said.

In spite of punishments meted out to perpetrators of sex for grades, the menace continued to be on the increase, an indication that enough measures are not put in place to curb it.

Mr Louis Eriomala, the former Acting Executive Secretary, Nigerian Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), echoed that higher institutions are not doing enough to tackle the problem.

“No, they are not doing enough. They can and should do more than they are doing.

“ And it’s a matter of  demand and supply. The randy lecturer and the willing lazy female student; both are guilty.

“However, there are situations where the lazy female student lures an unwilling lecturer.

“There are also cases where a randy lecturer lures an unwilling lazy female student. In these cases, the person making the offer is guilty,’’ he said.

Eriomala said the issue of sex for marks could be attributed to randy lecturers and lazy female students, both willing to trade sex for marks.

According to him, this has become prevalent because Nigeria places more emphasis on certificates rather than what you know!

“When employment is based on individual’s ability, all these will stop!’’

He agrees that weak female students lure lecturers because they are weak academically, saying “it’s true in some cases, but there are cases where lecturers demand for sex directly or indirectly from students as condition for passing them.’’

The International Federation of Women Lawyers, Kaduna State chapter, on its part, urged female victims of sexual abuse in tertiary institutions to speak out in order to put a stop to the ugly trend.

The association assured that it would give legal cover to victims and ensure that lecturers’ sexually exploiting and molesting students were prosecuted.

“It’s time for victims to name such lecturers and others in the system,” Mrs Zainab Atoba, Chairperson of FIDA in the state said.

“Our call is for all students who have this kind of problem to speak out. If they don’t speak out, we won’t be able to know what is happening for us to even come in to intervene on their behalf.

“We as FIDA, our primary responsibility are protection, preservation and promotions of rights of women and children where issue of sexual harassment occurs.

“If it is not brought to our notice, there is no way we will know, to enable us to come out and carry out our function,”  Atoba said.

According to Atoba, the issue of sex for marks in higher institutions of learning is very disturbing and has been going on for a long time.

“We are vehemently in opposition to this kind of issue happening in all the higher institutions.

“Even in secondary schools, we have incidences of teachers trying to sexually abuse students, to sleep with them so as to pass them in their exams.

“It has been happening for a very long time, we are happy that students are now coming out to mention it to the hearing of everybody.

“Before now, students are afraid to voice out what was happening to them. We have a case of a professor that is in prison now for rape of a student in his office.”

Are there solutions in sight to reduce the menace that has become a cankerworm in the nation’s ivory tower to the barest minimum?

According to Alloh, addressing sex for grade is difficult because of human nature, but the first thing to do is to strengthen disciplinary institutions in our universities, where both students and lecturers will feel protected.

“Also recruitment process has to be reviewed to employ competent and highly morally upright people. This will encourage professional conduct in discharging their duties,’’ Alloh said.

For Danladi, he says ABU does not tolerate indiscipline of whatever kind.

“And the university has a system in place from the departmental level up to central administration to address issues of professional misconduct.

“Whoever is accused of misconduct will definitely face disciplinary committee and if found guilty, appropriate disciplinary measures are taken against him.

Stakeholders suggest that to effectively tackle the scourge, strong monitoring team should be put in place in the country’s higher institutions for continuous monitoring of the activities of both students and lecturers.

They also said that very close lecturers/ students relationships, should be discouraged to curb the menace of sex for grades cases in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.

NANFeatures

 

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