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THE NATION

RMAFC declares lawmakers’ jumbo pay Illegal

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Earnings of lawmakers or any other political office holder that is outside the prescription of the Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders 2008 Act are illegal, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission has said.

Newly inaugurated Chairman of RMAFC, Mr Elias Mbam, made the declaration while answering questions from newsmen at the inaugural meeting of the commission in Abuja on Monday.

Mbam said, “The remuneration that is operating now is the same for all political office holders, whether you are in the National Assembly or you are in the executive or in the judiciary. It is the same Act. So, we are not using a different Act for the judiciary.

“It is that same Act that provided for them in 2008 that is still being used to determine the appropriate salaries and entitlements of the minister, the president, the members of the legislature and all other public office holders.

“We are not favouring anyone and anything outside that Act is not known to the commission. We are going to look at every aspect of our mandate.”

The salary and allowances of a senator is N1, 063,860 a month while the monthly salary and allowances of a member of the House of Representatives is N794, 086.83 as prescribed by RMAFC.

However, as disclosed by a member of the 9th National Assembly, a senator gets as much as N13.5m a month for overhead while a member of the House of Representatives is said to get as much as N10m a month for overhead.

These earnings which are outside the prescription of RMAFC have remained controversial.

Mbam pledged that RMAFC would review the emoluments of lawmakers to ensure that it is in line with current realities. He, however, declined to say whether the review would be upwards or downwards as many Nigerians had advocated.

He also pledged to establish a committee to be charged with diversification of the country’s revenue sources as well as a committee that will give the nation a new revenue sharing formula.

The RMAFC said, “We shall establish an effective standing committee on diversification. Our efforts shall be directed more towards increasing the size of the cake for allocation to the three tiers of government rather than dissipate energy on sharing of a shrinking cake.”

Speaking to the new members of the commission that were inaugurated last Thursday by President Muhammadu Buhari, Mbam said, “I want to assure you that the commission as a family shall provide you the opportunity to develop and contribute your quota to the socioeconomic development of our country.

“Our mandate as a commission is to uphold and promote national interest far above primordial interests. To this end, I implore all members to approach all issues pertaining to the mandate of the commission with open mind and nationalistic fervour for the development of our country.”

Mbam said that RMAFC under him would collaborate with the three tiers of government and sister agencies to achieve its desired objectives without compromising its core mandate.

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THE NATION

Dantata, Omoluwa, others bag United Nations Peace award

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Sir Lucky Omoluwa

In its bid to ensure that peace continues to reign and the need for sustainable development globally, the United Nations in collaboration with POLAC has appointed some notable Nigerians as its peace ambassadors. The event, which took place in Abuja, was one of the activities lined up by the United Nations to celebrate the 2019 Human Rights Day.

Notable among the recipients were vice-chairman, SIDIL, Alhaji Alhassan Dantata; chairman, Pinnacle Communications Ltd, Sir Lucky Omoluwa; director-general, Institute of Peace and Conflict, Imo State, Mr. Peter Ohagwa, among others

Director-General of POLAC, Prof Halo Eton, said the recipients were appointed on merit as they were recommended based on integrity and untainted antecedents.

Much more honour, like tassel, was added to the bejeweled cap of Sir Lucky Omoluwa who had been honoured with so many local and international awards. He thanked the UN for the honour and stressed that peace in every home would culminate into peace in the society.

“I shall project peace and preach peace, and let them understand that that we are better off living together in peace than living apart,” Omoluwa said.

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THE NATION

Presidency to PUNCH: No big deal calling Buhari Major-General, he worked hard for it

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According to President Buhari’s media adviser, Femi Adesina, there is no big deal about the decision and rather, it further reinforces the existence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the country.

“Nothing untoward in it. It is a rank the President attained by dint of hard work before he retired from the Nigerian Army. And today, constitutionally, he is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces”, he said.

“All over the world, just as in our country, a large number of retired military officers are now democrats. It does not make those who did not pass through military service better than them.

“Rather than being pejorative, addressing President Buhari by his military rank is another testimony to free speech and freedom of the press, which this administration (or regime, if anyone prefers: it is a matter of semantics) has pledged to uphold and preserve”.

PUNCH announced its decision today in a strong editorial, in which it deplored the administration’s human rights abuses, invasion of the court of law by DSS goons, in order to re-arrest Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Saharareporters and convener of #RevolutionNow movement

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THE NATION

Digital Economy: NITDA launches ‘Smart Agric Platform’ to create jobs

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NITDA DG, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has launched a platform Smart Agro Business to connect Nigerians who are interested in investing in agro business.

The Director General of the Agency, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE said that Smart Agro Platform comprises of farmers, government agencies, agric experts, banks and micro-lenders, extension services, hardware solution providers, software developers, customers, marketplace, among others across the agric value chain.

He said, “This project was conceived in order to support Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami’s focus especially in making his dream reality towards turning the country into digital-driving economy and ensure the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is end hunger and achieve good security by 2030.

The DG further noted that Smart Agro is the beginning of a transformation in the agriculture sector to enable farmers contribute effectively to the digital economy of Nigeria and create jobs for the teeming youths.

“What we did is to rethink agriculture differently, by creating a digital platform that will connect the Agric ecosystem and enable the possibility of new business models by the private sector which will, in turn, generate new products and services and create value across the Agric value chain,” he said.

He added that, “NITDA Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) is a project conceived to create about 6 million jobs in the next 5 to 10 years through our technology platform.

According to NITDA desk officer department of e-Government development and regulation Lukman Lamid the idea is to support 25 graduates in each of the 774 LGAs on modern agric methods, give them the resources and the right technology to enable them to manage their farms from planting to harvesting and marketing.

“This pilot phase is a proof of concept which had witnessed selection, training and support of 15 graduates in Gombe state on modern farming methods in collaboration with National Agriculture Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS).

“We have developed a digital platform in which its mobile app components will continue to serve NITDA supported farmers, any other farmer and all the ecosystem members when it is fully ready.

Lamid noted that ability to get information to monitor farms in real-time and connect with resources to manage farm effectively will improve crop yield, quality of farm produce per block of land and profit for these farmers.

“In the future, we would deploy and integrate smart technologies such as IoT on the platform to improve the accuracy and the processes of getting information in real-time, integrate with GIS technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Big data analytics among other emerging technologies to add more value to the platform.

Lamid stated that the innovation is a product of research paper “Towards Diversification of Nigeria Economy through Smart Agriculture” published by the Minister in June 2017 in International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology Research.

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