- Osinbajo Meets Northern Leaders, Cautions Against Hate Speech
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo Tuesday met with some Northern leaders in the Presidential Villa, Abuja and strongly warned against making hate and divisive speeches capable of snowballing into a conflagration.
The acting president, who said the federal government was committed to the course of unity and peace of Nigeria, said anyone caught in the web of offensive and divisive speech would be made to feel the full weight of the law.
The meeting, which was a follow-up to his earlier meeting at the weekend with service chiefs when he instructed them to ensure adequate protection of lives and property of Nigerians, was attended by Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
Also present at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olanishakin; Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Comassie; a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi; and a former Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Wamako.
Others were a former deputy governor of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen; Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Ndah-Isaiah; a Northern elder, Paul Unongo; Air Vice Marshall Muktar Ahmad; Chairman, Liberty Radio/Television, Tijani Ramalan; and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust Newspaper, Dan Ali, among others.
The meeting marked the beginning of the acting president’s scheduled separate meetings with Northern and South-eastern leaders over the recent ultimatum issued by a coalition of Northern youths to the people of South-east to vacate the North by October 1 or face dire consequences, and the equally divisive response by groups in the South-east region, including pro-Biafra agitators.
Osinbajo will meet with South-east leaders Wednesday and Northern emirs over the matter on Friday.
The acting president, who said he knew that misunderstandings and frustrations might arise among the people, was swift to add that such situations must be carefully managed to ensure they don’t degenerate into a monumental crisis.
He said those who had witnessed war in the past would dread the same experience, even for their worst enemies, insisting that this was not the time for anyone to play the ethnic card.
Noting that hate and divisive statements could lead to violence and destruction of human lives and property, the acting president vowed that anyone who resorts to making volatile speeches capable of plunging the nation into sedition or violence would be adequately dealt with.
“Every form of violence, every form of hate speech, any stone that is thrown in the market place will hit targets that are going to be deadly.
“So I need us to be fully conscious of that and the Nigerian people must be made to be fully conscious of that so that we do not create a crisis that is not intended.
“As part of living together, I know that misunderstandings and frustrations will always arise and people will always want to get the best part of the deal, but we must be careful to recognise that we can only begin to talk about any part of anything if we are together in peace.
“These days, wars do not end and I am sure that those who have seen or experienced war in any shape or form will not wish it for their worst enemies.
“This is not a time to retreat behind ethnic lines, moments like these are not for isolating ourselves. I want to urge all of us here and for the entire Nigerian populace to come together and work together.
“As a government we are determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our constitution and I want to say that hate and divisive speech or divisive behaviour, where it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law.
“And I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence, especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncements and do things that can cause violence or lead to the destruction of lives and property, we are no longer in control. Those who make those speeches are no longer in control.
“So I want to emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country. And that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins,” he warned.
Osinbajo had at the weekend ordered the security agencies to ensure adequate protection of lives and property of Nigerians in different parts of the country.
According to a tweet by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, earlier Tuesday, Osinbajo gave the order when he met with security chiefs at the weekend.
He also said the acting president Tuesday began a series of separate meetings with Northern and Eastern leaders with a view to nipping the matter in the bud.
“The acting president will start a series of consultations with leaders of thought from Northern and Eastern regions of this country this afternoon.
“The acting president met over the weekend with security chiefs and gave firm instructions on the need to protect lives and property of all Nigerians always, everywhere.
“Acting President@ProfOsinbajo will first meet each group separately on different days this week and then meet them together,” Akande tweeted.
Also Tuesday, Osinbajo stressed that the National Assembly’s habit of introducing new projects into the nation’s annual budgets was untidy, insisting that the federal legislature only has the power to adjust funds allocated for projects by the executive.
The acting president made this remark in the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, at the launch of the 2018 budget preparation process as well as the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Implementation Plan Development Process by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Osinbajo also expressed the executive’s disappointment over the delay in the passage of the 2017 budget by the National Assembly.
“This last budget, the president presented it last December. Despite the assurances by the National Assembly that it would be passed in February, it was not passed until May.
“As it turned out, we were quite disappointed that it spent a bit of time before it was approved. And thereafter, we had to go into negotiations with the National Assembly in order to get it right.
“There are two broad issues about who can do what. When you present budget to the National Assembly, it is presented as a bill, an Appropriation Bill.
“Secondly, do not introduce entirely new projects and all of that or modify projects. This is something that we experienced last year and again this year.
“So it now this leaves the question about who is supposed to do what,” he observed.
Addressing ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies who participated at the event, Osinbajo advised them to pay attention to the budget details, pointing out that “we must understand not just how to do it right but to get it done in good time”.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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