In spite of the public outcry trailing the impending passage of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) regulation bill by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber has said it is determined to pass the bill because some of the NGOs are used to fund terrorism and insurgency in the country.
The deputy majority leader of the House, Hon. Umar Buba Jibril (APC, Kogi), who made the position of the House known in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday said the intendment of the new NGO bill was to forestall alleged illegal activities of some NGOs that disappeared after collecting funds from people.
“The NGOs bill, therefore, is primarily to set up a commission to regulate their activities and provide a platform for robust relationships between them and the government for the interests of Nigerians.
He disclosed that “recent developments have shown that; some people registered NGOs, solicited for funds and disappeared. That happened recently in the North-east. Some NGOs are used to fund the activities of terrorist and insurgents”.
According to him, the bill “is to ensure transparency and accountability in the ways and manners the NGOs collect money and use them for Nigerians”.
Explaining further, Jibril noted that “the NGOs bill is not new or peculiar to Nigeria. It exists in many countries particularly in the ECOWAS sub-region and all over Africa and other continents. In Europe, Israel passed theirs last year! Kenya has a similar law since 1990.
He warned that “Nigeria is and should not be a banana republic where anything goes”.
Jibril stressed that religious bodies and organisations are not NGOs adding that “our quasi-financial institutions at local levels are not NGOs! These organisations have existed for centuries to serve businesses and commerce of our market women and traders.
“Now NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) are voluntary organisations that are registered to partner government at all levels to fill gaps wherever they exist. They are supposed to be partners in progress with the government; therefore the need for a commission to serve this purpose arises.
“Secondly and naturally for them to carry out their activities, the NGOs and CSOs solicit for funds from all over the world and collect billions of naira on behalf of Nigerians!
“Thirdly they recruit expatriates to help them run their activities in the country with lots of abuses”
Recall that the bill has received bashing from a cross-section of individuals and civil society organisations prominent among which are SERAP and a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who described the proposed legislation as unnecessary.
But Hon. Jibril dismissed such criticisms saying “the way the NGOs are reacting to this wonderful and well-packaged bill particularly SERAP is not only shameful but condemnable”.
Adding, he said “The Nigerian parliament is an institution governed by rules and traditions. When a bill is for public hearing you go there and present your views like other interested Nigerians and invited cooperate bodies and government agencies for the standing committee to do justice to the bill. Period!
“Going on cheap propaganda and blackmail and even calling on World bodies including the United Nations to help you withdraw a bill from our National Assembly will not help you”
Bed sharing raises risk of baby deaths
Scientists have raised the alarm over the number of babies dying of suffocation, occasioned by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants.
According to the findings of a report published in ‘Paediatrics,’ babies are safest sleeping on their backs in their own cribs without any pillows, toys, blankets or other loose bedding. From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than one year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 United States (US) infants.
Similarly, the study shows that in 2015 alone, this translated into 1,100 infant deaths that were entirely preventable.
The majority of these suffocation fatalities occurred while babies were in bed. Although, there is lack of data to show the trend of these activities in Nigeria where bed sharing between mothers and newborn is very common among low income and the poor, it is believed that this practice might also be impacting negatively in the country.
However, going by the guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), if babies do sleep in parents’ beds, parents should have a firm mattress, remove soft objects such as pillows, and move the bed away from the wall, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the babies.
Similarly, the AAP said parents should also be aware that bed sharing is most dangerous for newborns, less than four months old, premature babies and underweight infants, or if babies were exposed to tobacco during or after pregnancy.
Study co-author, David Schwebel, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: “It may be that parents are not following `safe sleep’ recommendations to place infants in beds without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, and other items that could cause suffocation.
Suffocation and strangulation deaths increased across the board for boys and girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or whether they lived in urban or rural communities, the study found. At least some of the increase in suffocation deaths might be due to a change in how these fatalities are categorised, researchers note.
Some fatalities that were attributed to sleep-related causes like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the start of the study might have been categorised as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.-
El-Rufai orders demolition of APC parallel secretariat
…turns factional office to recreation park
Party heads for court
Senator: Governor personally drove bulldozer to my house
Two days after the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State suspended Governor Nasir el-Rufai for six months, the state government yesterday ordered the demolition of the party’s factional secretariat in Kaduna.
The el-Rufai’s government said it was forced to demolish the parallel APC office situated at 11B, Sambo Close, Kaduna GRA for “flagrant violations of land use”. It has since turned the piece of land into a park for recreation. The demolition was executed by the State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA) in the early hours of Tuesday. This came as the faction called for the immediate removal of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Nigerian Army, for allegedly meddling in the politics of the state. The party also said it would go to court to challenge the demolition.
On its part, the Senate condemned the demolition. The owner of the structures and Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District, Suleiman Hunkuyi, alleged that Governor el-Rufai personally drove the bulldozer which demolished his house. The El-Rufai administration had on April 6, 2017, ordered the demolition of the Kaduna residence of Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, the party’s North-West Vice Chairman. KASUPDA officials who demolished the Zonal Chairman’s house, located at No. 29 Yakubu Avenue, alleged that the structure was erected in violation of the state development plan.
The Director-General, Kaduna State Geographical Information Service (KADGIS), Ibrahim Husseini, in a statement, said the demolition of the APC secretariat became necessary because “KAPSUDA is currently undertaking operations across Kaduna metropolis in clearing illegal structures, tackling street hawking and restoring order across Kaduna.”
He said: “The land has now been allocated to KASUPDA for the purpose of developing and maintaining a public park that will provide a green area and a serene place for recreation in that residential neighbourhood.”
The demolished building was the secretariat of Kaduna APC faction which has Alhaji Danladi Wada as its acting chairman. The faction had, on Sunday, suspended el-Rufai from the party for six months for what it described as antipeople and anti-party activities and for also failing to reply to the query earlier issued to him.
But the demolition, which took many by surprise, occurred between 4a.m. and 5a.m. It was learnt that the officials of KASUPDA were led by heavily armed soldiers who came in about five Hilux vans and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to forestall any breach of the peace or resistance from those guiding the property.
The soldiers were said to have blocked both sides of the road leading to the building, and kept watch until the demolition was completed. But the state government exonerated the Nigerian Army in the demolition of the APC secretariat. According to the government, “Whenever KAPSUDA is carrying out its statutory functions, it receives the support of law enforcement agencies, and this does not involve the Army.”
Husseini said the demolition was not political. He said: “The building on 11B, Sambo Close, was removed for flagrant violations of land use and nonpayment of ground rent since 2010. This illegal violation of land use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.
“The KADGIS issued a revocation notice of statutory right of occupancy No KD. 16712, that covers 11B, Sambo Close, in the Ungwan Rimi area. The appropriate notice of revocation was delivered at 28, Inuwa Wada Road, the registered address of the company that held the title to the property.
The notice was also delivered to the building in question, and sent by post to the registered address of the previous title holder.” Speaking at the site of the demolition, a chieftain of the APC, Tom Maiyashi, said despite the demolition, el-Rufai’s six-month suspension remained. Maiyashi said the action showed that the governor could not withstand political pressure even within his own party. He said: “This is madness, embarrassing and this has shown that the governor has failed the people of Kaduna State. Despite all this madness, his suspension stands.
“I am disappointed with what I am seeing today. This is my saddest day as a politician. Since my career as a civil servant and as a politician, I have never seen this kind of political witchhunting.”
Meanwhile, the party’s Director of Administration, Yahaya Shinko, “urged the Chief of Army Staff to relieve the GOC 1 Division for meddling into partisan politics.” “The GOC allowed his men to give cover to the governor with trucks numbering over 20 fully loaded with military personnel and carried out the shameless act, thereby bringing the military to disrepute,” Shinko said.
He condemned the government’s action, and dismissed as untenable, reasons it advanced for the demolition. “The offence of Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, his teeming supporters and all other members of the APC with us in this secretariat is none but for aligning ourselves with the position of the national headquarters of the party. “This is to the effect that S.I. Danladi Wada is the recognized Deputy Chairman of the APC in Kaduna State and stands as the Acting Chairman until a substantive chairman emerges at the next state congress of the party,” the statement said. Meanwhile, the Senate has condemned the demolition.
The resolution was sequel to a Point of Oder raised by Senator Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) during yesterday’s plenary. Rising under order 43, Sani said that: “In the last two and half years, we have been faced with tyranny and open dictatorship in Kaduna State.
“My constituency office was attacked by violent thugs and it has also been clear that armed military personnel and policemen have been consistently used by the governor to intimidate and harass people who don’t agree with him.
“How can a governor, a democratically-elected governor, demolish a house without notice simply for the fact that we have set up an office different from the one he had personalised as a so-called party man? In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, condemned the act, saying democracy had no place for tyranny and this kind of impunity.
“If we decide to go on the path of democracy, we must accept some of the things that come with it, and one is the rule of law,” Ekweremadu said. Hunkuyi, while briefing newsmen in Abuja, described the act as “bizarre, rare and unimaginable decisions.
“My property, which doubles as the state APC office in Kaduna, is part of my contribution to the party, the structure of leadership of the party has been brought down. “Should I bear the consequences of bringing him to leadership? Is it too much price to pay? People like that have no business in executive position,” he said.
Reacting to the demolition in a series of tweets yesterday, Hunkuyi said: “In the early hours of today (Tuesday), the @Gov- Kaduna Mallam @elrufai personally drove a bulldozer accompanied by armoured tanks to destroy my house at 11B, Sambo Road. This is a new low and fighting dirty, such low level of pettiness is indeed unprecedented in Kaduna State.
“It is on record that few months back, @GovKaduna Mallam @elrufai marked another property of mine in Hunkuyi town for demolition, but residents of the area prevented the officials from demolishing it.
Today, he came well prepared with military men to destroy my house at Sambo Road.” The Wada-led faction had on February 18 suspended El-Rufai from the party for a period of six months. El-Rufai was on February 15 queried by the Wadaled faction over allegations of anti-party activities among other related offences. The faction had equally suspended three of the governor’s aides, including his Adviser on Political Matters, Malam Uba Sani, and the State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Suleiman Kwaru, for similar offences.
Fuel crisis: NNPC imports $5.8bn worth of petrol
Marketers demand subsidy arrears
LCCI: Modular refineries won’t end scarcity
The Nigerian National Petroleum Cor p o r at i o n (NNPC) has imported 9.8 million metric tons of premium motor spirit (PMS) worth $5.8 billion to combat the fuel crisis that resurfaced since late last year.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, during a public hearing by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
Baru, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Abdulrazaq Isiaka, stated that NNPC carried out the massive importation in fulfilment of its statutory role of supplier of last resort to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer as a result of product unavailability.
According to him, the Corporation’s provision of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol so far has helped a great deal in ameliorating the suffering of Nigerians. He said the Corporation’s intervention became necessary following the inability of the major and independent marketers to import the product because of the high landing cost, which made cost recovery and profitability difficult owing to the regulated price regime.
Meanwhile, the Senate chided the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) for asking the Federal Government to pay for fuel subsidy claims between 2013 and 2015. The Senate committee poured its anger on the oil marketers following a presentation of the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, who appeared before its investigative hearing on the controversial secret and illegal fuel subsidy purportedly being paid by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
In his submission, Olawore asked the Federal Government to pay the arrears of subsidy claims owed its members between 2013 and 2015, including the interests accrued to enable them settle the loans owed banks, which he said had frustrated MOMAN members out of fuel importation. Olawore, who said that paying arrears of subsidy to the marketers would enable them resume importation of fuel into the country, did not, however, state the amount owed his members, saying that they would need more time to compute the figures and return to the committee.
“The banks are always adding their interests at the end of every month. We had a promise from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the aspect of interest will be stopped at a certain period of 2017, but that did not come to pass, so, the banks, at the end of every month, are charging us interest,” Olawore said. He said that two out of six major marketers imported fuel into the country in 2017 to “cover some specific customer needs.
“These are mainly those that have their foreign affiliates who could cover them in terms of dollar coverage,” he added. In his presentation, Razak told the Matthew Urhoghide-led committee that the oil marketers abandoned the importation of petrol due to losses. He expressed concerns that the task of importing fuel into the country was left in the hands of NNPC alone, noting that the Corporation was absorbing so much operational losses in the course of importing fuel to satisfy petrol needs of Nigerians. “For one year, marketers avoided importing fuel because they incurred losses. The private sector cannot bring in the product because it does not make economic sense for them.
They cannot land it at a price for which they are going to sell and make profit. That is the main reason they are not bringing in the product. “As a national oil company, NNPC is the supplier of last resort and we must take that responsibility where the private sector that is profit-driven runs away from a particular business. “The economics is that if you bring in the product into Nigeria, you will make a loss, if there was profit in this business, the private sector would have been the ones bringing in this product.
“NNPC was designed to bring in the product 100 per cent; they have stepped out, but we have a national responsibility that Nigeria does not suffer and that is the role the Corporation is playing by bringing in the product,” Razak said. However, not satisfied with the submissions by NNPC and the independent marketers, a member of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, accused the marketers of conniving with NNPC to defraud the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), in its submission to the committee, claimed that the agency was not in the true picture of details of payment of subsidy of premium motor spirit (PMS) by NNPC. The representative of the executive secretary of the agency, Joshua Peter said that the agency was not in position to give details of the subsidy because their officials only witnessed discharge and truck out of fuel.
He said: “We only witness discharge and truck out; things have changed; we don’t know much about subsidy payments. On the issue of amount paid so far on subsidy, PPRA does not have that information.” Angered by this disposition, a member of the committee, Senator Bayero Nafada, said that the PPRA was in the best position to give the committee information on pricing of petroleum products because that is its primary function.
Nafada said: “Your primary purpose is details of landing cost. That is your primary function; nobody is more competent to respond to the issue of landing cost than PPRA.” Urhoghide has, however, mandated PPRA to give the panel details of cost of fuel importation from January till December 2017 within 24 hours.
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