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Reps walk out Niger Delta Minister from budget defence



The House of Representatives yesterday refused to allow the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, to defend the 2018 budget estimates for the ministry. Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Essien Ekpenyong, who carried out the act, accused the minister of contempt for the legislature and asked him to appear unfailingly next Tuesday with all supporting documents.

Ekpeyong explained that the decision of the committee not to grant audience to the minister was caused by his consistent refusal to furnish them with details of the contracts awarded by the ministry in the 2016 and 2017 appropriation acts. He said it was curious that the minister was not able to submit even documents relating to its 2018 budget estimates to the committee until yesterday morning.

“The Niger Delta Ministry was set up to see to the development of the Niger Delta, while the committee was equally put in place to facilitate the development of the region through ap-propriate legislative instrument,” he stated. According to the chairman, the ministry has not been cooperating with the committee and, by extension, the National Assembly, noting that, “this committee seriously frowns at the attitude of the Honourable Minister.”

The lawmaker recalled that: “On February 22, 2017, a letter ref: NASS/8HR/ CT.069/183 was sent to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs requesting for the number of houses built in each state of the Niger Delta indicating unit cost, location, and stages of completion. If they have been completed and allocated, he should state the beneficiaries and qualification of the beneficiaries.

The ministry refused to provide the needed information.” The lawmaker added that a reminder on the subject matter, sent to the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry on May 17, was equally ignored. Speaking further, the lawmaker said: “This committee seriously frowns at the attitude of the minister towards it.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2017, the House of Representatives passed a resolution mandating all standing committees to request all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) under their supervision to supply information on all moveable assets in their ministries for the purpose of verification.

“The committee wrote to the ministry dated July 26, 2017 ref: NASS/ 8HR/ CT.069/190. This letter was ignored by the minister and up till now, we have not gotten the reply to the letter, not to talk of supplying the needed information.

“Lastly, on November 13, 2017, a letter was sent to the minister, attention Director of Procurement requesting for the lists of contracts awarded from the 2016 appropriation act and the location of such projects in the Niger Delta region, this was equally ignored.”

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Ambode’s wife presents quintuplets with cash gift, others




Wife of the governor of, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, has volunteered a monthly allowance of N500, 000 for the next twelve months, for the care of quintuplets born to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Augustine Obiefuna of Orile Iganmu, a suburb of the state.

This is contained in a statement from the Assistant Director, Public Affairs at the Office of the Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Folashade Kadiri. Quintuplets are five babies born from one pregnancy.

Other welfare arrangements by Mrs Ambode for the newborns include the supply of diapers for one year and the supply of baby milk and other essentials for one year.

All these in addition to two bus-loads of baby essentials like beds, mattresses, diapers, boxes of clothes, socks, pants, caps, etc, that accompanied her on a visit to the infants at the Lagos Island Maternity.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode also gave an undisclosed sum of money, for the care of the babies; three boys and two girls, who weighed between 1.5kg and 2kg respectively.

Speaking at the maternity ward, the governor’s wife who was visibly elated and beemming with smiles, thanked God for the safe delivery of the infants and commended their mother, for regularly attending her ante-natal sessions in  the government hospital.

She urged expectant mothers in the state to shun quacks and self-medication, but to register early and diligently attend ante-natal clinics in government hospitals, for standard medical care.

According to her, ‘”You can all see why it is good to register in a government hospital where standard medical care is guaranteed. This woman registered early and regularly attended her ante-natal clinics. The result is that all five babies were safely delivered to the glory of God.”

She commended the entire medical team, especially the consultant, Dr. Ogungbemile Babalola, for their professional service, stressing that the government would always prioritize health care service for expectant mothers, to eradicate maternal and infant mortality in the state.

Mrs. Ambode who later inspected the maternity ward, promised further donations to the hospital, to strengthen maternal and infant service delivery in the hospital.

Father of the babies, Mr. Augustine Obiefuna, copiously thanked the governor and his wife, for their rare benevolence and generosity, which according to him transcended ethnic and tribal considerations.

He said, ‘We are surprised that despite being non indigenes of the state, the governor and his wife could show us so much love and kindness. They are just wonderful. We never imagined that Her Excellency could personally come here to see our new babies. We cannot stop praying for them and their children, for God’s favour, protection and wisdom at all times. Babies Obiefunas are the first set of quintuplets delivered in Lagos State this year.

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UN allocates $2m to tackle cholera, seeks more funds



The United Nations (UN), through the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund, has allocated US$2 million to support the response to a deadly cholera outbreak in Yobe State.

Also, the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has disclosed that additional resources were needed to tackle the deadly cholera outbreak, which could affect thousands of people.

In a statement, OCHA said the additional funding being sought would ensure that the cholera outbreak would be contained, especially ahead of the rainy season when the risk of outbreaks and spreading of water-borne diseases is higher.

Since the beginning of the cholera outbreak, which was officially declared in four local government areas on March  28, a total of 404 cases and 15 deaths have been reported, representing a 3.7 per cent case fatality rate.

According to the statement, “The funds would enable humanitarian partners to provide safe water to over 1.6 million people, improve sanitation for thousands in the affected communities, and boost the technical and human resource capacity in hotspot areas so that cholera can be detected early and treated promptly.

“Raising awareness of how to identify, prevent and treat cholera is also a key part of the response to the outbreak.”

The UN and its partners activated an immediate emergency response in the affected communities in support of the State Ministries of Health.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Edward Kallon said,  “Acting swiftly is pivotal if we are to prevent high mortality rates.”

He added, “Cholera outbreaks can potentially impact and kill thousands of people, especially women, children and men who are living in overcrowded places such as camps for internally displaced persons. Surveillance and early detection are key to limiting the number of fatalities and the spread of the outbreak.”

Kallon said, “These funds will help the UN and partners strengthen the capacity of community health personnel and equip local health facilities with diagnostic and treatment equipment as the rainy season gets underway and access to some of the affected localities might be impacted by flooding.”

The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today, with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018 in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and 6.1 million targeted for humanitarian assistance.

The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF), managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs under the leadership of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, was created to provide funds in a prioritised, flexible and timely manner so those who are most in need of life-saving support.

The NHF is one of 18 country-based pooled funds and was launched during the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in February 2017.

To date, the NHF has raised $49.4 million in contributions and pledges, thanks to the generous support of Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Spain, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Arab Gulf Programme for Development, Malta, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka. Of those $49.4 million, $35 million – including this latest $2 million allocation — have now been allocated to various organisations in support of the humanitarian response in north-east Nigeria.

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National news

EFCC grills former Kaduna governor for 4 hours over N700m campaign fund



The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Friday interrogated Ramalan Yero, former governor of Kaduna state, for four hours at the commission’s office in Kaduna.

Yero was at the EFCC Kaduna office from around 9 am till around 1:30 pm, when he walked out smiling.

The former governor thanked his supporters who were outside the EFCC office, for their solidarity and asked them to go to the mosques for Juma’at prayer.

He, however, declined to make comment to the press.

His spokesman, Yakubu Lere, told NAN that the ex-governor was invited in connection with the N700 million campaign funds released to the state by the People Democratic Party headquarters in 2015.

Lere recalled that the former governor was at the EFCC office in Kano two years ago over the matter and was granted administrative bail.

“At that time, he explained during the interrogation that the N700 million was PDP money sent to him as the then governor of Kaduna state to finance 2015 general election with instructions, which he judiciously followed,” he said.

“What they are holding against him was that he kept the money in the office of the secretary to the state government instead of in a bank.

“Even last week he was here on the same issue, but as you can see, he came out smiling, meaning the commission has found nothing to hold against him for now.”

The spokesman urged Yero supporters to remain calm and be law abiding, adding that the struggle to “rescue the state from collapse” has started.

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