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USAID Mission Director, Dr Anne Patterson

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By Gistflash

June 3, 2021

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported Nigeria with 9.98 million dollars to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects.

This is contained in a statement issued by USAID Mission Director, Dr Anne Patterson in Kaduna.

Patterson said the support was to improve WASH services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states for the next three years.

She said the funds would provide lifesaving WASH services to more than 300,000 people in need of assistance.

According to her, the assistance will help to build community-centered approaches to deliver, operate and manage sustainable WASH services in rural areas and foster resilience in communities.

“It will also help rebuild dilapidated infrastructure and support community efforts to increase access to proper sanitation, adopt good hygiene practices and improve water quality.

“This new activity with UNICEF will help reduce waterborne diseases to keep more people, especially children, healthy.

“USAID is dedicated to ensuring clean water for more Nigerians.”

She pointed out that the 2019 National Outcome Routine Mapping of WASH services showed  that 30 per cent of Nigerians lacked  access to basic water services and less than 10 per cent had  access to safely managed water services.

She added that the mapping also showed that while 44 per cent of Nigerians had  access to basic sanitation services, 23 per cent, representing 46 million people that lack access to proper sanitation.

“Sokoto and Kebbi have the lowest levels of access to basic water services at 38 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.

“Similarly, access to basic sanitation is also low in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto state at 35 per cent, 38 per cent, and 41 per cent respectively.

“Only five per cent of people in Sokoto and one per cent in Kebbi have access to safely managed water services.

“This severe shortage of clean water supply, toilets and hand washing facilities in households across Nigeria presents a formidable challenge,” she said.

On his part, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said poor access to WASH services was the major cause of diarrhoea morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.

Hawkins added that poor access to WASH services was associated with at least 70,000 deaths in children under five each year.

He said that lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic had  also reinforced the importance of adequate and safe water, basic sanitation and proper hygiene practices to stem the spread of the disease in Nigeria.

“We are extremely grateful for the timely and much-needed WASH support from the U.S. Government.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with prevailing challenges and gaps in WASH services in North-West Nigeria is detrimental to the development of children and rural communities.

“This assistance is a testament to USAID’s commitment to the children and people of Nigeria,”Hawkins said.

NAN

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Terrorism: We’ll not rest until peace is fully restored, IDPs returned – Buhari

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By Gistflash

June 17, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured citizens of Federal Government’s presence in fighting terrorism to the end and ensuring that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are fully returned to continue normal life.

The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari gave the assurance during his official visit to Borno on Thursday.

Buhari, who was in Maiduguri to appraise the security situation and inaugurate some development projects, commended Gov. Babagana Zulum for resilience and relentless efforts in rebuilding the state.

”We will never rest until peace is fully restored and all displaced persons are resettled in their home communities.

”I will never forget in my life that during my career as a politician, Borno State is where I got the highest percentage of votes, more than 90 per cent!

”The least I can do for you is to continue the relentless effort to fully restore peace to this state, the North East region and the country as a whole,” he said.

The president attributed recent successes recorded by the military against insurgents and terrorists at Dikwa, Damboa and Gwoza to careful planning, infusion of new equipment and other war materials as well as quality military leadership.

“I am very happy to be here in Borno State once again. I consider Maiduguri and Borno State to be my home since this is the place where I cut my administrative and political teeth, when I first arrived here as Military Governor 46 years ago.

“While I am happy to return home, I am not happy that this visit is not a normal, peacetime home-coming.

”I am here today first and foremost to appraise the security situation in Borno State and the North East region in order to move full speed ahead and conclude the work of restoring permanent peace to the region.

“The attacks launched by cowardly terrorists against military and civilian targets last month and in previous months were a pointer to us that the work of defeating insurgency and terrorism and of restoring permanent peace to this region is not yet over.

“We will not rest until all the millions of Internally Displaced Persons are able to return and resettle in their homes and rebuild their shattered lives,” he said.

The president said all the Service Chiefs that were appointed this year either served as Theatre Commanders or were part of the command’s operations at one time or the other.

“All of them are therefore personally familiar with the challenge of insurgency.

”I fully expect them to bring this wealth of personal experience to bear as we move to end this scourge once and for all.

“No doubt, these successes owe a lot to the role played by volunteers of the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes.

”These good people include women, who are making huge sacrifices and patriotic contributions to our peace-restoration efforts,” he added.

Buhari noted that many servicemen and women as well as youthful volunteers had paid the supreme price in the fight to rid the communities and the country of terrorism and insurgency, appreciating their gallantry and their sacrifices.

He assured their loved ones that the sacrifices will not be in vain.

“I must also acknowledge the very important role and the sacrifices made by parents, guardians and other loved ones amongst the people of Borno, the North East region and the country as a whole, who support their sons, daughters, husbands, brothers and sisters in going to battlefields to defend Nigeria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its peace.

”I thank and commend them for their resilience and assure them success is in sight.

“It was a mark of our appreciation for this sacrifice made by Borno State’s volunteers that the Nigerian Army was authorised to enlist hundreds of volunteers from Borno into the Army.

”I urge the people of Borno, the North East region and Nigeria as a whole to sustain this cooperation with the military and the other security services.

“Both must see each other as being on one side in order for us to succeed,” he said.

The president said the late President Idris Deby of Chad played a major role in the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad region, urging his successors to work hard in restoring democracy to the country.

He also urged him to support the processes of bringing peace to the region.

Buhari said the recent appointment of Amb. Babagana Kingibe, an illustrious son of Borno, as Special Envoy to Chad and the Lake Chad Basin, was intended to accelerate the restoration of democratic stability in Chad Republic.

The president added that the appointment was also meant to enhance cooperation among all the countries of the Lake Chad Basin.

“Let me also assure the people of Borno and the North East that we have taken decisive measures to safeguard IDPs and refugees who recently returned from Cameroon and Niger Republic.

”They are engaged in the task of rebuilding their communities after more than a decade of war and terrorism.

“It was part of these measures that I gave approval for the Federal Government to build 10,000 resettlement homes in Borno State. 4,000 of these homes have already been completed.

”Furthermore, I approved for constant release of food intervention by Nigerian Customs Service and the North East Development Commission in order to support displaced persons.

“I have directed these agencies to sustain and deepen this support. I also wish to specially commend His Excellency,  Gov. Babagana Zulum for his tireless efforts in directly supervising the distribution of food and economic empowerment to IDPs in all local government areas,” he said.

The president noted that the effort at alleviating the suffering of displaced communities would hamper the evil attempts of terrorists and insurgents to recruit fighters and spies from IDPs and other vulnerable populations through the use of paltry material incentives.

On electricity supply, Buhari said the administration would continue to make concerted efforts towards guaranteeing energy security to all populace across the nation, saying Maiduguri cannot, and will not be left out.

The president said Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had been directed to expedite the delivery of 50MW power plant in order to ensure the prompt restoration of electricity to Maiduguri and its environs.

“Furthermore, in the light of the current improvement of security in the state, I have also issued directives for the immediate resumption of Oil and Gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad basin.

”This is part of our overall effort to restore the state back to normalcy.

“One episode we will never forget in our lives was last year’s cowardly attack on defenceless rice farmers in Zabarmari community.

”I have directed the Theatre Command of Operation HADIN KAI and other security agencies to work out modalities together with Borno State Government and associations of farmers, on ways to improve safe access by farmers to their farms, forests and fishing grounds.

“I have also directed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to accord special support by deploying more agro rangers, through collaboration with Borno State Government, to secure additional farmlands.

”I highly commend the Borno State Government for its initiative in deploying the agro rangers. We will extend to it our full support,” he added.

He observed that Zulum’s effort at providing facilities that directly impact the livelihood of people, particularly building educational and health institutions, and constructing roads deserved applause.

“I have gone round to commission some of the capital projects executed by Governor Zulum in two years.

”I am very happy with what I saw. The Vocational Training Institute at Muna, in particular, is a very dynamic answer to skills acquisition and job creation efforts.

”Such an effort will ensure that in future, there will be no store of unemployed young minds for terrorists and insurgents to recruit from.

“I was exceedingly happy to commission very laudable capital projects executed at the Borno State University.

”It is the best answer that the decade-long effort of insurgents to disrupt and destroy modern education in this region has come to naught,” he said.

The president further revealed that he had since directed the Federal Ministry of Health to liaise with Borno State Government and accord the needed support to the ongoing construction of Borno State University Teaching Hospital in the areas of equipment and personnel.

“Finally, let me, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria, commend His Royal Highness, the Shehu of Borno, as well as all the other Royal Highnesses and Bulamas at all levels for their very exemplary leadership, patience, determination and wisdom during this past decade when this land was ravaged by insurgency and terrorism,” he said.

The president noted that the fact that traditional rulers now operate from their domains was evidence that peace was being restored to the communities, despite the challenges that remain to be overcome.

“The elders, statesmen, Muslim and Christian community leaders all over this state and region also deserve our thanks and warm appreciation for their resilience, moral leadership and support for the Federal and State Governments during these trying times.

“I wish to reassure Your Highness the Shehu, all the Royal Highnesses, elders, the Government and people of Borno State and the North East region, of Federal Government’s relentless determination in the search for peace in Borno, the Northeast and the rest of Nigeria, ” Buhari said.

In his remarks, Zulum thanked the President for the relative peace enjoyed in the State, buoyed by the heavy presence of military and security men who have been engaging the terrorists.

“We have witnessed gradual return of peace to Borno State and it is our sincere hope that insurgency will soon be brought to an end,” he said.

The governor said he had already spent 750 days in office, appreciating the president for various developmental interventions, which included infrastructure, particularly the approval of 10,000 units of housing for IDPs of which 4,000 had been completed.

He also thanked Buhari for approval of a Federal Polytechnic in Mongonu after 40 years of creation (1976), urging more security presence so that farmers can return to their major occupation.

NAN

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Ikpeazu tasks traditional rulers on security, unity

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By Gistflash

June 17, 2021

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has urged traditional rulers in the state to evolve ideas that would enhance security and unity.

Ikpeazu said this on Thursday during the presentation of Staff of Office to 23 newly installed traditional rulers at the Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia.

The governor described traditional rulers as the chief security officers of the various communities in Abia.

He noted that the traditional rulers had an important role to play in building the state.

Ikpeazu said the strategic role of the traditional rulers as leaders of their communities required them to take note of activities taking place in their localities.

Ikpeazu said this would enable them to provide the government with intelligence on any venture that would pose as a security threat to the safety of the people in their communities.

“The greatest challenge of our state is the challenge of security, whether we speak of criminal herdsmen or people that have made themselves enemies of the state.

“It is your duty as the chief security officers to be vigilant, wary and careful of the activities that take place in your various communities.

“We will leverage on the intelligence which we expect to get from you and the pieces of advice from your wealth of experience to tackle any security challenge in various communities,” he said.

Ikpeazu urged the newly installed traditional rulers to set up machinery for the effective administration of their various communities and the promotion of the interest of their subjects.

He charged the newly installed traditional rulers to sow seeds of unity, remain law abiding and discourage any venture that would make them factional leaders in their localities.

Responding on behalf of the newly installed traditional rulers, Eze Chibuzo Ngwakwe of Mgboko Itungwa Community, thanked the state government for supporting their quest to serve.

“We have accepted the responsibility bestowed on us by the state government and we promise to live up to expectations,” Ngwakwe added.

NAN

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NPC to evolve alternative dispute resolution mechanism for complaints against media

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By Gistflash

June 17, 2021

The Nigerian Press Council (NCP) says it plans to evolve an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism towards resolving complaints against media practitioners in the country.

Mr Francis Nwosu, NCP Executive Secretary, said this at a public hearing on a bill seeking amendment to the NCP Act on Thursday in Abuja.

Nwosu said that the planned amendment was aimed at removing bottleneck in the operations of the council.

“The expansion of the council’s function as being proposed is highly commendable, this is a giant stride that will allow the council to venture into other areas in its task of regulation and also to impact positively on the print media,” he said.

He said the regulation of print media in the country should be extended to online publishers, suggesting also that the name Executive Secretary of NCP be changed to Director General of NPC.

Nwosu said that power should be given to the Executive Secretary to issue summon against erring media practitioners, saying that this would aid NCP’s effectiveness and efficiency.

He said that what constituted fake news should be defined for easy interpretation, adding that provisions against hate speech should be included in the proposed amendment as well as requisite penalties against offenders.

Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene, President, Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO), said there was a pending case at the Supreme Court against the proposed amendment.

He urged the National Assembly to suspend the amendment pending the determination of the case.

However, Chairman of the committee, Rep. Odebunmi Segun, said no court could restrain the committee from doing its job.

“We have the constitutional mandate to do our job and we will pursue it by getting the views of Nigerians,” he said.

Mr Chris Isiguzo, National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), urged the committee to grant the union three weeks to capture its views in a document for submission to the committee.

He said there was need to consult widely among stakeholders on the issue, adding that the union got a short notice to the public hearing.

NAN

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