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Underage marriage in the North fuels insecurity, says senator Odebiyi

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***Senate asks FG to declare all known leaders of terrorists wanted

The senator representing Ogun West Tolu Odebiyi has warned that unless under aged marriage that gives room for children that are already in poverty to procreate is outlawed in the North, insecurity will continue to linger

The senator spoke while contributing to a motion entitled “Urgent need to surmount all kinds of kidnappings, banditry and related security challenges in Wasagu-Danko, Sakaba and Yauri Local Government Areas of Kebbi”.

Continuing Odebiyi said,
“We seem to be very reactive and very adhoc on how we solve problems such as security in this country but I think we need to go a bit deeper, if you look at from 2013 we had about 4million children out of school, today you have 14m children out of school add that to about 100 million people in poverty especially if you look at the northeast and the northwest.

“It is a fertile ground for recruiting bandits especially when you put that in conjunction with the break down of countries around Nigeria in the Sahel and all those areas it will provide a fertile environment.

“If you add that to under age marriage, children that are already in poverty giving birth and those children will grow up and land in poverty again

Military cannot do so much it is a holistic approach. 

“If we sit down here by 2025 we will have 20million children out of school, the security issue in this country will continue to get worse. 

“So all these adhoc reaction of calling on Army, the police, we must have a compressive approach and declare a marshal law against out of school children. 
“As long as we have poverty and more children out of school, as long as we have under age children giving birth, to more poverty, it is a fertile ground.” He said Nigeria is bordered by countries where terrorist groups aggregate to recruit. The children are vulnerable for recruitment 

He said adhoc reaction and buying of Tucano jets and bombing will not solve the problem because the variables are not there for these issues

“This thing must be looked at holistically. You have been talking about these out of school children, in 2013 we had 4million, now 2022 we have 14million and by 2025 we will have 20million out if school children.

These are the issues that are creating banditry, terrorism .”

The Senate in it’s resolution on the motion which was moved by Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi) and co-sponsored by 12 other senators  during plenary  urged the Federal Government to declare all known leaders of terrorists wanted. 
The upper chamber equally called for the establishment of an operational base within Danko/Wasagu and Sakaba Local Government Areas of Kebbi affected by “the current rise in security challenges”.
The upper chamber also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy massively, the military and other law enforcement agencies to conduct a rigorous operation that will bring to an end the banditry and cattle rustling in the affected LGAs.

It equally urged the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to as a matter of urgency provide relief materials to the affected areas.

The Senate also urged all relevant agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and private philanthropist to come to the assistance of the victims of violence and humanitarian disaster.

Moving the motion, Na’Allah said that “it is no longer news that the bandits are moving in hundreds from village to village, house to house in search of cattle to rustle and people to abduct.

“The bandits have been reportedly laying siege around Yar-kuka, Morai, Dankade to Wadako and recently in Bena where 20 people were abducted.”

He further said that if urgent steps to tackle the security challenges were not taken, the peace-loving communities may be forced to resort to self-defence by acquiring arms and ammunition.
Contributing Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi) said “recently we purchased Tucano Aircrafts which can be used to move out the bandits. 
“It has the ability to trace the movement of these bandits. If they are rustling cows, I wonder how they move them without being detected.
“I urge security forces to intensify efforts to stop banditry in the state.”
Also, Sen. Sani Musa (APC-Niger) said that “the security situation is becoming alarming not only in Kebbi but in surrounding states like Niger.
“Human beings are lost every day; and we enjoy to stand and do one minute silence. 
“Apart from calling on security agencies to intensify efforts in the fight against insecurity, leaders should fear God,” he said. 
In his remarks, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said “let us never be discouraged because sometimes we fill why are we doing this when nothing is happening.
“There is a limit to what we can do but we must do what we are supposed to do well.
“We can only do oversight to put pressure but we can’t execute. We can’t command anyone to go anywhere but what we do here is very significant. 
“We should continue to debate it and follow on with some actions. We have approved significant resources, funds recently in both the Supplementary Budget of 2021 and the Appropriation Act of 2022 for armed forces and other security agencies
“The time has come for all security and defence-related committees to oversight on the releases of funds to these agencies” Lawan said.

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Legislature

Kogi Assembly, CSO partner on HIV/AIDS anti-stigma legislation

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By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja

Kogi State House of Assembly has assured that the bill for a Law to provide for the prevention of HIV and AIDS Based Discrimination and stigmatization will be accorded smooth and accelerated passage for full implementation in the state.

Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Rt Hon. Comfort Nwuchiola Egwaba, disclosed this at a One-day Capacity Building And Media Round Table on the Proposed Anti-stigma Bill For HIV With Kogi State Assembly members.

She said that the partnership between the House and Initiative for Grassroots Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA), a Civil Society Organization (CSO,) had yielded fruits with the resounding support of members for the bill.

The meeting aimed at building capacity of Kogi State Assembly members and Media personalities on the issue of HIV stigma and discrimination among others, was organized by INGRA with support from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Lokoja.

The Deputy Speaker said that the private member Bill before the House had had its first and second readings and was being primed for Public Hearing and Third Reading by the House Committees on Health and Judiciary.

Nwuchiola-Egwaba said, “We have done more than justice to the Bill. This bill will scale through and will see the light of day. We are not living any stone unturned. We are doing this for our people.”

Also speaking, sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Bin Ebaiya Shehu-Tijjani (APC-Lokoja I) thanked his colleagues for the fervour with which they rallied support round him for the Bill to scale through the legislative mills and urged them to sustain the tempo until it is finally assented to by the governor.

Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Ochidi Usman (APC-Idah) decried the spate of discrimination and stigmatization against people living with the virus saying that they did not bargain for it.

He described them as victims of circumstances as he thanked the sponsor of the Bill and pledged to stand by him to provide support for the Bill to have accelerated passage.

Speaking earlier, Mr Hamza Aliyu Executive Director of INGRA who described the bill as a “Policy Bill” said it was not just for HIV/AIDS alone but against every form of discrimination and stigmatization against affected persons in the state.

He hinted that available statistics showed that over 28,000 persons are living with the virus in the state adding that they could be more as many are not aware of their status and are quite unwilling to get tested for fear of discrimination and stigmatization.

Aliyu said the Bill had been passed in 16 states of the Federation and would only be fair for the Act to be domesticated in Kogi through the legislation to ensure that affected persons are not unnecessarily discriminated against.

Executive Secretary, Kogi State Agency for Control of AIDS (KOSACA), Dr Sheidu Yunusa, who explained some of the provisions of the law, the offences and punishment said stigmatization and discrimination had the potency to destroy all the efforts being made to end the HIV scourge.

Dr Yunusa gave examples of stigmatization and discrimination against Persons Living with HIV (PL-HIV) to include health care professionals refusing to provide care or services to an affected person, Refusing casual contact with someone living with HIV.

It also include among others, socially isolating a member of a community on account of HIV positive status, referring to people as HiVers or Positives, Unlawful disclosure of an affected person’s status.

Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Chairman, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET) said, “we should not see this law as draconian but an attempt to squelch discrimination against out affected brothers and sisters.”

Comrade Jimoh Audu, Kogi State Coordinator of Persons Living With HIV AIDS (PLWHA) commended INGRA and the House of Assembly for their determination to get the Bill passed.

“We appreciate the meeting of our leaders, we believe in you. All we are asking it to reduce to the barest minimum the issue of discrimination against us. The medical practitioners should be more professional in their conduct”, he said.

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Legislature

Senate moves to probe 11, 856 abandoned projects across Nigeria

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***sets up ad-hoc panel

The Senate has pun in place an ad-panel to investigate the number of viable projects abandoned across Nigeria in all sectors.

The committee is also to recommend appropriate actions to be taken to reduce project abandonment in Nigeria and how most of the projects can be recovered.

The member Ad-hoc committee comprised Senators Lola Shiru (chairman), Jimoh Ibrahim, Mpigi Barinada, Abdullahi Yahaya, Victor Umeh and Isah Jibrin, members.

This came following the adoption of a motion on “Urgent need to look into the 11, 856 mega projects abandoned by the Federal Government” sponsored by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (Ondo South).

The Senate noted that in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan set up a Presidential committee on federal government- abandoned projects in Nigeria and the committee visited the 36 states in Nigeria and identified 11,866 projects abandoned by the Federal Government since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
According to Senator Ibrahim, reports have it that about 63% of the entire projects since independence were abandoned, adding that the 63% of projects abandoned in Nigeria is worse than any country under comparison”.

“The abandonment of the project is of significant concern because of project costs which constitute a significant part of the GDP. While spending on a public project in the UK is now about one trillion British pounds Nigeria has no idea of the total amount spent on public projects either successful or unsuccessful since independence,

He observed, for instance that in the investigation carried out at the University of Cambridge doctorate in management science between 2018 and 2022, the value of the 38 projects investigated cost Nigeria over $40 billion”.

“What is now key to this investigation is the need to look inward at our infrastructural development as Foreign Direct investment declined from$8.8b in 2011 to $3.3 billion in 2019, and the current account balances in that year from $10.6 billion to 5-17 billion, while the population was growing around 5% about 86% of the citizen, were living under $2 between 2011 and 2019. Public debt increased from 17% of the GDP in 2011 to 29% in 2019.

According to him, government has the responsibility to set up a professional system that will deliver the critical value from major infrastructure development for its citizens, adding that for 66% of projects to be abandoned since 1960 is “nothing less than a calamity that reduces our pride as a ‘Giant of Africa’ if we are still one”.

He said three abandoned projects out of the 11,886 projects such as Ajaokuta Steel Company, where billion of dollars was spent without any production, Second Niger Bridge, etc are over 30% of the national debt.

In his contribution, Senator Orji Kalu (Abia North) said Nigeria cannot industrialize without steel production.

The former Abia governor said “we should face steel production. If we don’t face it, we are wasting our time. If you check our debt repayment, it is coming on this project.

“Why would Nigeria be suffering on what ought to have been done? We supposed to convert that our money and build these industries for debt repayment on them and save the interest we pay?

“We should appeal to President Bola Tinubu, may be 2026, 2027 budget we dedicate all these industries. They are our own. If we do not do it we will not move forward”, he said.

Senator Isah Jibrin said the abandoned projects should be properly profiled and the viable ones be sold to bring return on investment.

In his remarks, the Senate President Godswill Akpabio said Nigeria cannot be using over 90% of its resources to pay interest on loans.

The committee was given one month to report back to the Senate.

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Convert Oloibiri Shell Airstrip to Airforce Base, Senate tells Aviation Ministry, Airforce

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Senate has urged Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria Airforce to take possession and convert the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri oil well in Bayelsa state to modern Airforce base.

This followed adoption of a motion on urgent need for transformation of the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri Oil Well 1 in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to an Air Force Base.
The senator representing Bayelsa East SundayAgadaga (PDP) who sponsored the motion said Shell airstrip was constructed in 1958 following the first discovery of crude oil in 1956 at Oloibiri Oil well one.
According to him the airstrip, sitting on over 25 hecters of land has long been abandoned.
Agadaga said that the airstrip, while in effective operation, was a very valuable asset in the company’s oil exploration and exploitation activities in airlifting of personnel and equipment.
He said during the years of its functionality, heavy duty equipment, company workers, captains of Industry, top government functionaries and diplomats resorted to the route for easy access to the Niger Delta region.

He expressed regret that since the gradual decline of Shell’s operations in the area and final departure from Oloibiri oil field, the airstrip and the land where it operated has been abandoned and left desolate.

“The land itself appears to have been sentenced to perpetual condemnation as no agricultural activity which is the economic mainstay of the local dwellers can be carried out anymore due to the concretized topography of the soil.”

According to him, the abandoned airstrip poses environmental challenges and serious ecological complications to the Host Community as Shell has left the people in deprivation, squalor and lamentation after decades of operation.

He observed that upgrading the abandoned airstrip to an airforce base would bring renewed hope to the people, restore life to the area and attract the following benefits to the country:

“It will strengthen the security architecture of Nigeria as the creeks of Bayelsa up to Brass Island and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the gulf of guinea where the oil export terminal is located will be easily monitored and protected.”
Agadaga
said its evental upgrade would reduce the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

This, he said would enhance surveillance activities in the numerous oil producing communities that constitute hub of oil industry activities in Nigeria.

He said the airstrip ,if converted to an airforce base would attract more business opportunities in the area thereby creating additional jobs to boost economic growth of Nigeriaa and ease the cost of living of the people.

Senator representing Kogi East Isah Jibrin (APC) said he was neither in support or against the motion pointing out that the cost implications of converting the airstrip to an airforce base would be huge, adding that government may not be dispose to consider the cost involved.

He said government may decide to confine the project on a long term basis, saying that he do not see the urgency in converting the airstrip to an airforce base at this period.

Sen. Adams Oshiomole (APC-Edo) said the conversion of the airstrip to an airforce base holds great benefits for Nigerians and people of the region especially on quick intervention on insecurity issues.

Sen. Maidoki Garuba (PDP-Kebbi) said the conversion would help strengthen security of the nation, check crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Sen.Victor Umeh (LP-Anambra) said there was need to preserve certain historical monuments like Oloibiri, adding that the conversion of the airstrip to an airforce base would make Oloibiri a national monument, given its contribution as the first oil well in Nigeria.

He said the conversion would also ensure further economic prosperity for the nation.

President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio said efforts should be made to preserve historical monuments, like the Oloibiri Shell airstrip via its conversion to an airforce base.

He also said the conversion to an airforce base would also ensure improved security in terms of emergency, given its closeness to the golf of guinea.

Akpabio expressed hope that the government would see the need for the reconstruction of the airstrip to an airforce base to forestall challenges in the event of any mishaps.

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