President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday in Lagos said his administration’s economic policies are making the desired impact, evidenced by steady growth in the economy in the last three years.
Speaking at a town hall meeting with the Business community in Lagos, President Buhari said he had kept his promise to boost the economy, through blocking leakages in government finances, increasing capital expenditure and inflows, and implementing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), among others.
‘‘I firmly believe that our economic policies are beginning to make the desired impact. Economic growth has resumed and is continuing to improve.
‘‘Growth was higher in 2017 than in 2016, data even from external sources show that it will be higher in 2018 than in 2017. I am confident that as we stay the course, it will be better still at the end of 2019.
‘‘Inflation is coming down steadily, there is stability in the exchange rate and foreign exchange is readily available for genuine business. Foreign reserves are adequate and growing; capital inflows have increased and the trade balance is positive.
‘‘We are paying off debts that were not even publicly acknowledged before now, including those owed to States, the electricity sector, oil marketers, exporters, backlog of salaries of workers and pensioners, amongst others,’’ he said.
The president who met with representatives of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises shortly before attending the APC presidential campaign rally in Lagos, said he is a strong believer in the importance of investing in infrastructure to promote development.
‘‘I am happy that the results of the priority we have placed on this sector are beginning to show.
‘‘Our commitment is reflected in the resources that we are providing for infrastructure. In 2016 and 2017, capital expenditure was up to N2.7 trillion while over N800 billion has been released under the current budget.
‘‘This has been complemented by the inception of the $650 million Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund which will focus initially on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano expressway and the Mambilla hydropower plant,’’ he said.
The president also highlighted completed and ongoing projects in the transport and aviation sector, expressing delight that the rail projects are generating excitement across the country because it would help local businesses to grow.
‘‘The Abuja-Kaduna railway is up and running. The Itakpe-Warri line is being test-run before going commercial. The completed portion of the Abuja light rail project is facilitating movement to the airport.
‘‘The Lagos-Ibadan railway is nearing completion with people already taking test rides on the completed portions. We are determined to work at the same pace on the Coastal Railway Line and the line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
‘We completed the repairs to the runway in Abuja in record time, and just a few weeks ago, I commissioned the Baro Inland Port. All these achievements will help Nigerian businesses to grow,’’ he said.
On future plans to sustain the positive economic outlook, the President said the Federal Government would raise more revenue to boost the economic fundamentals and increase the level and quality of government services in support of the private sector.
‘‘I recently inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee to identify new sources of revenue in this regard. This is also to ensure that Government at all levels have the resources to pay the new national wage, which we are indeed committed to paying.
‘‘Our economic fundamentals are strong and, in the next four years by the grace of God, we are determined to stay the course in terms of partnerships with the private sector; support to the real sector; helping small businesses, providing infrastructure and an enabling business environment,’’ he said.
The President told members of the private sector that his administration has also stimulated growth in the economy by adopting and implementing new strategies to deal with the security situation in the country and tackle rampant corruption.
‘‘When this Government came into office, our three priorities were to increase the level of security across the country, tackle rampant corruption and improve the economy. These three factors are interconnected.
‘‘Without peace and stability, there will never be economic growth and development.”
The administration’s view on improving the economy, the President said, focused on a bottom to top approach.
‘‘These young and misguided youths did not benefit from the various statistics and indicators of prosperity we were celebrating in the past decade. No wonder they were recruited to cause violence and mayhem in their localities.
‘‘These three priorities, if addressed, will completely transform Nigeria to a diversified, inclusive and competitive economy. But this is not an overnight transition. We are not only transforming systems and processes, but we are also changing hearts and minds.
‘‘We have recaptured and held lost territories. Yes, we still have pockets of insurgency, but our sovereign integrity is intact,’’ he said.
Why we re-arrested ex-judge Ofili-Ajumogobia in court premises – EFCC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has explained why it re-arrested a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
A statement on Tuesday by its acting Head of Media and Publicity, Tony Orilade, revealed that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arrested to enable the anti-graft agency to prefer a fresh criminal charge against her.
It added that the arrest was in line with the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, in a case involving Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, where the court held that a judge could not be prosecuted until he or she had either been dismissed or compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The EFCC noted that consequent upon the fact that it had presented Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia before the NJC for disciplinary action and that the council had taken a position, it would approach the court to prefer fresh charges against her.
Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Godwin Obla, were first arraigned on a 30-count on November 28, 2016, on offences bordering on alleged perversion of the course of justice, graft, unlawful enrichment, providing false information and forgery.
They were later re-arraigned on an amended 31-count bordering on an alleged perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery.
According to the anti-graft agency, the judge and the lawyer had pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them, thereby setting the stage for the trial.
It revealed that it presented 12 witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court in the course of the trial.
The EFCC said counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia who was the first defendant, Robert Clarke, in an application dated November 27, 2018, said the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and urged the court to discharge and acquit his client.
But counsel for the second defendant, Obla, Ifedayo Adedipe, told the court on January 25, 2019, that the charges preferred against his client could be entertained.
He, therefore, urged the court to separate the charges so that his client could continue with his trial.
After listening to both parties, the EFCC quoted Justice Hakeem Oshodi in his ruling as saying, “The issue of substantive jurisdiction must be cleared before the issue of no-case submission could be heard.”
The judge had further directed both parties to make their submissions based on the application on the jurisdiction of the court.
In his ruling at Tuesday’s sitting, Justice Oshodi stated that based on the judicial precedent set by the case of Justice Nganjiwa V. FRN, the High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit as the EFCC “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge.
“As at Monday, December 11, 2017, the EFCC was aware of the decision reached by the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa vs FRN. As at that date, the amended information was yet to be filed and the 12 prosecution witness was still giving evidence,” he was quoted as saying by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency stressed that in view of Tuesday’s ruling by Justice Oshodi and having complied with the NJC procedure, it would prefer fresh criminal charges against Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Amnesty Programme: My vision has paid off, says Dokubo
*As 20 graduate beneficiaries get NAEC Training
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo said on Tuesday, that his vision of creating a Job Placement and International Partners Engagement Unit (JP-IDPE) last year has started yielding results.
He stated this in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, at the opening ceremony of a Train the Trainer (ToT) training on Nigeria Agricultural Enterprise Curriculum for 20 graduate beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.
The training programme is fully funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) Nigeria, and organized in partnership with the Presidential Amnesty Programme by Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE), a non-profit project sponsored by UK-DFID.
Dokubo who noted that the partnership project was the first of its kind in the Amnesty Programme described it has historic, and expressed optimism that it will create pathways for other international agencies to partner the Amnesty Office.
“On my appointment and assumption of duty as Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in 2018, I studied the existing implementation strategies and realized that little effort had been made to extend a hand of partnership to relevant international organizations.
In order to rectify this omission, I created the Job Placement and International Development Partners Engagement Unit on May 2, 2018. I am glad that my vision has paid off today. The JP-IDPE unit network produced this MADE project that we see today and we look forward to having more of it”.
He disclosed that in a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Amnesty Office, MADE agreed among others, to facilitate linkage between the Presidential Amnesty Programme and service providers working within its fisheries and poultry sector; provide a Train the Trainer (ToT) training for 20 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, and select the best five beneficiaries from the NAEC ToT programme for further training for them to become master trainers.
To ensure that the project is sustained, Dokubo said beneficiaries of the training programme would be certified as Amnesty Programme training consultants in all vocational and empowerment refresher programmes of Agric-based contracts, and future agric training programmes will as a matter of criteria utilize trained MADE beneficiaries as a requisite for their contract liabilities and payments.
“The JP-IPDE unit shall ensure that beneficiaries of this post-training scheme receive their full engagement package and are listed as engaged/placed in the database. This includes provision of office space and training room with the necessary office and training room setups through the already contracted job placement consultants.
It will interest you to note that since the creation of the Amnesty Programme, we’ve not had our own beneficiaries as training consultants, neither have we setup office/training rooms for anyone. This is an entirely new model that we have formed with the help of MADE and that is why I am here today. Each of these beneficiaries will be registered with the CAC as a consulting firm; provided with an office and training room, NAEC aquaculture and poultry kits, among others. We are hereby creating a business model with multiplier effects. I commend MADE, DFID and DAI for this project”.
In his remarks, MADE Team Leader, Mr. Tunde Oderinde, said the partnership with the Amnesty Programme is about the youth of the Niger Delta and the future of Nigeria. He gave assurance that MADE will back up beneficiaries of the NAEC training with mentorship.
“This initiative is not just another capacity building; it is handing over a business to our participants, just like the Coordinator emphasized in his speech, and you are actually our future consultants. The most important thing to learn about NAEC is that it is a tool that will help enterprises understand the problems around their business. It is not just one of those training curriculums; it is actually a tool to diagnose any problem in any enterprise. We are charging you not just to take this lightly but to see it as the future that is yet to come.
Within your engagement in the community and the sector you eventually settle in, some of us that will become the master trainers can begin to adapt this into other sectors. I want to tell you that it is not just garbage in, garbage out; it is about you internalizing what you are receiving here and turning it into business. It is not just going to be a training that you have PAP with time supplying you with people to train; you need to go all the way out into the market. In all you do, wherever you go, you must become the ambassador of NAEC”.
Also speaking at the event, a traditional ruler, Sir Edidiong Eyoh Nsuquo Essien, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for developing the Niger Delta region through the instrumentality of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. Essien, who is the Village Head of Nsukara Ufot- Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, expressed hope that beneficiaries of the training programme will live up to expectation.
UNIBEN scores another first, kicks off PGD programme in Forensic and DNA Analysis
One of Nigeria’s most respected higher educational institutions, University of Benin, UNIBEN, Benin City, Edo State, has scored another first in the tertiary educational sector in Nigeria as it recently commenced a post-graduate diploma programme in forensic and DNA analysis.
The development is another landmark achievement recorded by the institution under the leadership of the vice-chancellor, Prof. Osasere Orumwense FNSE.
The Centre for Forensic Programmes and DNA studies of the university provides high quality instruction and advanced hands-on training in forensic science techniques and crime laboratory methodologies.
Speaking at the orientation programme for the pioneer postgraduate students for the 2018/2019 academic session, the vice-chancellor, Prof. Osasere Orumwense FNSE, urged the students to be committed and focused so as achieve their desire of being forensic experts.
He noted that they are very fortunate to be the pioneer set while enumerating the effort made so far by his administration to ensure they get a world class standard of training.
Prof. Orumwense informed the students that he and other principal officers of the university recently traveled to the United States of America and Canada to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Centre for Forensic Research and Education, Philadephia, U.S.A, Paleo DNA Centre and Lakehead University, Ontario, Canada.
In his welcome address, the programme coordinator, Centre for Forensic Programme and DNA Studies, University of Benin, Prof Edeaghe Ehikhamenor while congratulating the students added that the centre undertakes postgraduate diploma in forensic and DNA analysis (PGD Forensic) as well as other training such specialized short certificate courses in areas of DNA analysis and forensic science .He also added that the centre shall also provide services in DNA technology and forensic specialties for other departments within the university and other service/research institutions of higher learning in the country.
The dean, School of Dentistry, University of Benin, Prof. M. Sede gave a brief lecture on career in forensics alongside lectures by sub-unit heads on DNA Analysis, Forensic Law, toxicology, Digital Forensics, Forensic Accounting, Forensic Document Examination, Forensic Social Work and Forensic Nursing.
Some of the students expressed readiness to acquire all the necessary skills and assured the vice-chancellor that they will do the university proud.
Present at the event were principal officers of the university as well as staff of the centre.
A total number of 45 students were admitted for the programme which will run for nine months.