Raise standard of emergency response, Sanwo-Olu charges LASEMA

#TrackNigeria–Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday said there’s need to rejig the operation of the State’s emergency response team for better performance and service delivery in disaster management.  

The Governor who spoke during his visit to the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) operational headquarters at Cappa, Oshodi, praised the emergency response personnel for the quality of service the agency rendered, while saying that there was need to raise the standards of its operation in line with best practice. He pledged that his administration would support the agency to deliver on its mandate. 

He said: “On behalf of the people of Lagos, I commend LASEMA and its emergency workers’ performance in disaster management. But, we know there is still a lot that we can do to raise the standard and there is still a lot that is expected of us but I can assure you that we will support LASEMA for quality service. 

“This is why we are here to assess the level of response mechanism and take stock of the challenges the agency might be facing. We do not want to give excuses to the taxpayers. We pledge our continued support to encourage the agency to live up to expectations, because its efficiency in service delivery would be the parameter citizens would use to assess and write the agency scorecards.”

The Governor emphasised the need for maintaining professionalism and empathy in the discharge of the agency’s duty, noting that disaster management required promptness and competency to minimise losses.

Sanwo-Olu tasked the emergency workers to work towards reducing their response time by half. He said the government would address the resource gap hindering the agency from taking its service to optimal level.

He said: “LASEMA needs to raise its escalation level in managing emergencies. If it gets to the level where we need additional support from other agencies, such police, fire fighters, or any arm of government, we must be able to quickly be able to analyse the situation and be able to escalate it to another level, so that we can reduce losses to lives and property. Lagos is a centre of excellence and we must live up to billing by putting forward the best rescue operation.”

LASEMA Director General, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, led Governor Sanwo-Olu on an inspection of the equipment used by the agency in its emergency operations. The Governor also inspected the state of facilities in LASEMA Response Unit (LRU) in Alausa. 

In the Governor’s entourage were the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji; Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola; Chief of Staff, Mr. Tayo Ayinde and Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Gboyega Soyannwo.

Corruption fuelling insecurity in Nigeria—Forum

Citizens, civil society leaders and other stakeholders have raised “serious concerns about the escalating series of kidnappings, killings and insecurity across the country, which are clearly fuelled by years of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators,” and stated that, “only ambitious and robust anti-corruption fight can end the insecurity in the country.”

This was stated Wednesday at a townhall meeting held at the Barcelona Hotel in Abuja and organized by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with UKaid.

Professor Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, in his paper titled Practical Strategies to Mobilise Citizens to Participate in the Fight against Corruption, said: “Corruption is the greatest obstacle to security, development and equality in the Nigerian society. Corruption affects all aspects of human endeavour and permeates all strata of the Nigerian society, starting from the government down to the average citizen. This threatens the existence of the country as one entity by weakening institutions, rendering obsolete the rule of law, undermining good governance and impoverishing the citizenry through a diminishing economy.”

According to Akinseye-George: “The most visible impact of corruption in the Nigerian society today can be viewed through the lens of the myriad of security challenges the country has to face, which extends from the activities of bandits on almost all major road networks to insurgency in the North. Despite millions allocated to the defence sector, the average Nigerian can hardly travel inter-state without fear for one’s safety.”

He said: “One wonders what the various governors do with the security votes allocated to them every month. The fact that security votes are generally not accounted for should be no excuse to divert such funds for purposes unrelated to security.”

Hassan Hafiz Mohammed, who represented the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said: Official oath of secrecy cannot and should never be used as a pretext by public officials not to disclose information on corruption matters within their ministries, departments and agencies.”

According to Mr Saminu Amadin, representative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC): “The fight against corruption cannot be left for government alone as the citizens have a critical role to play in preventing and combating corruption in Nigeria. We should deploy all means to fight corruption.”

Mrs R Hassan Ahmed, who represented the National Judicial Council (NJC) on her part stated that: “The Administration of Criminal Justice Act should be fully implemented by all the states, as it will help to fight corruption including in the judiciary and help to address the chronic delay in judicial processes.”

Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP deputy director, said before the group discussions: “Good governance, respect for human rights and total commitment to obey court orders are critically important to the stability and growth of Nigeria, and to preventing and combating the security challenges in many parts of the country. Federal and state governments should focus their attention on the human rights dimension of insecurity in the country, as an honest government is a basic right of all citizens.”

According to him, “Citizens bring a missing component to the anti-corruption struggle. They bring extra-institutional pressure to push for change when power holders are corrupt and are unaccountable, and when institutional channels are blocked or ineffective. Nigerians should therefore exert their collective power to get involved in the fight against corruption including cases of corruption that directly affect them.”

Oluwadare also said: “While corruption brings out the worst in people, fighting corruption can bring out the best. Citizens don’t fight corruption in the abstract. They do so to overcome poor and unaccountable governance, poverty, displacement, organized crime and other forms of oppression and injustice.”

“SERAP encourages people to speak up against corruption at all levels of government—federal, state and local government as well as against corruption involving the private sector, and the impunity that has allowed corruption to flourish. Grand and petty corruption directly affect all of us as citizens, especially the socially and economically vulnerable among us. Nigerians can contact us at [email protected] if they wish to become a member of the Citizens United against Corruption”, Oluwadare said.

The event was attended by Engr. T.O. Dina, the Federal Ministry of Power; Mr Emmanuel Ochum, Ministry of Health; Mr Akpa Benjamin, Federal Ministry of Education; Mr Musa Matoma, Federal Ministry of Health; Mr Hanma Mohammed, Ministry of Interior; Shamm T. Kolo Director, Surveillance and Enforcement at the Federal Competitive and Consumer Protection Commission; and Mr Ogundumu, Ministry of Education.

Others at the event included the representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, civil society and the media.

Participants at the town hall meeting agreed to join ‘Citizens United against Corruption, to which everyone can become members and contribute to the fight against corruption in the country.

Akinseye-George’s paper read in part: “The citizens who are the greatest victims must mobilize efficiently to ensure transparency and accountability in government. This will necessitate making many difficult decisions which includes changing attitude and lifestyle patterns. The question however is, are Nigerians ready to make these changes and to respect the sanctity of the rule of law even when it is inconvenient?”

“Are we ready to face the sanctions for our wrongdoing when arrested by the police rather than offering a bribe? Are we ready to say ‘no’ when asked to pay a magistrate in order to win a case? Are the youths ready to work hard in order to secure good marks rather than taking the easy but corrupt route out by patronizing miracle exams centers? Are the citizens ready to pay the correct tariffs for electricity consumed rather than engaging unauthorized electricity officials or pay bribes to compromise electricity bills?”

“Are we ready as Nigerians to report doctors and nurses of public hospitals who spend most of the time pursing private practice to the detriment of poor patients who patronize public hospitals? When the citizens become conscious of the fact that power resides with the people and where purposes are aligned then significant progress will be made in the fight against corruption.”

Obaseki assigns portfolios to new commissioners, Special Advisers

#TrackNigeria–Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has assigned portfolios to the recently appointed commissioners, after their successful screening by the Edo State House of Assembly.

Obaseki at the weekly State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday in Benin City, also effected minor reshuffle of his cabinet to turbo-charge the Exco to deliver on key tasks.

The names and portfolios of the new commissioners are: Marie Edeko, Ministry of Social Development; Damian Lawani, Ministry of Youth; Joe Ikpea, Ministry of Minerals, Oil and Gas; and Momoh Oise Omorogbe, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.

Others are: Felix Akhabue, Ministry of Cooperatives and Wealth Creation; and Moses Agbakor, Ministry of Energy.

In the minor cabinet reshuffle, the former commissioner for Agricultural and Natural Resources, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo, was moved to the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, while the former Commissioner for Education, Hon. Emmanuel Agbale now heads the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Erstwhile Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Hon. Jimoh Ijegbai, now heads the Ministry of Education.

The five Special Advisers who were appointed alongside the commissioners in the first week of July, were also assigned portfolios.

Andrew Momodu is the Special Adviser, Public Order and Security, while Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha, former member of the Edo State House of Assembly, is now the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, in Edo South.

Hon. Magdalene Ohenhen, former Commissioner for Women Affairs is now Special Adviser Political Matters, Edo Central; the former Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kabiru Adjoto is the Special Adviser, Parliamentary Issues; while Ojo Asien, is now Special Adviser, Political Matters, Edo North.

NNPC not competing with Dangote Refinery, says Mele Kyari

#TrackNigeria–The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, on Wednesday declared that the national oil company was not in contest for market share with the forthcoming Dangote Refinery but rather providing support to the promoters of the project to boost in-country refining capacity.

Speaking while receiving the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, at the NNPC Towers, Kyari explained that as the chief enabler of the Nigerian economy, the NNPC had a duty to rally industry players like Dangote Group to achieve the long held target of making Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products.

The NNPC GMD assured that the same level of support would be provided to other promoters of refineries, noting that the ultimate goal was to enhance in-country production to the point of self-sufficiency and ultimately for export. 

Earlier in his presentation, Alhaji Dangote emphasized that the business approach of the Dangote Refinery was to see NNPC as a collaborator rather than a competitor, noting that the refinery would rely heavily on the Corporation’s invaluable knowledge of the refining business in Nigeria to achieve its central objective.

Dangote aligned his company with the Federal Government’s aspiration to ensure adequate in-country refining capacity, stating that upon completion the refinery would dedicate 53 per cent of its projected 650,000 barrels per day refining capacity to the production of petrol.

“The most important thing for us is to see how we can partner with NNPC, it is not to see how we can compete with NNPC. We would like NNPC to be part of us and we also want to be part of NNPC.  I think that is the only way we can achieve a win-win situation,” he said.

FG to NBC: Don’t be cowed, enforce rules against hate speech

By Our Correspondent

#TrackNigeria– The Federal Government has urged the National Broadcasting  Commission, NBC not to allow itself to be cowed or blackmailed  by operators propagating hate speech  and other vices that deepen Nigeria’s fault lines.

Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess Grace Isu Gekpe made the call at the 2019 National Broadcast Summit, held at the Transcorp Hotels, Calabar, Cross River State  on Wednesday, 31st July, 2019

The Permanent Secretary who was  represented at the Summit by the Executive Director News, NTA, Mall. Muhammad Labbo, said  while assessing the state of the industry that, “The continuous projection of negative and bias(ed) reportage to create malaise in the society, will do no one any good.  Therefore, the NBC should enforce relevant provisions of the Broadcasting Act and refuse to be cowed by the blackmail of guilty industry operators who take refuge in constitutionalism to propagate hate speech and other acts that widen our fault lines.

Furthermore,the permanent secretary said,  “The theme of this year’s summit is apt as it seeks to examine the role of broadcasting in Nigeria’s democracy vis-à-vis emerging security imperatives.

“The 2019 general elections have come and gone, but the aftermath are issues of daily reports in the media, particularly the broadcast media.  These issues have led to lingering litigations and constitute a distraction to governance.

“This gathering is therefore important for broadcasters to rub (sic) minds and project the production of positive content which binds us as a nation rather than divide us.”

The National Broadcasting Summit this year has the theme: Broadcasting And Democracy: Emerging Security Imperatives. The keynote speaker is Malam Bello Sule, former Executive Director, Programs of the NTA.

In his speech Wednesday, NBC Director General,Is’haq Modibbo Kawu said “We are meeting within the context of the frightening security environment in our country today. This situation is reflected in the content of programming and news reportage, on radio and television, and in the media in general. That is how it should be. The media exists, to assist people to know,  as well as understand the issues in their society, in order to help make informed choices in their lives. That is the reason that media in general, must be conducted with the greatest sense of duty,  as well as the highest levels of professionalism. The context is also vital. In a democratic society, the media and their rights to freely operate are constitutionally-guaranteed. This is recognized by the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. In The Social Objectives Of Broadcasting, Section (B), The Code notes, even with the copious amounts of freedom available to the broadcaster, it nevertheless points out that: “Broadcasting organizations shall recognize that they exercise freedom of expression as agents of society, not for any personal or sectional rights,  privileges and needs of their own or of their proprietors, relatives, friends or supporters “.

Kawu added, “In the context of the democratic development of our country, and against the backdrop of the emergent security imperatives that we all confront today, Broadcasting faces real challenges. How do we develop program content, or design news coverage, which reflects the realities that face society, what The Code, in 0.2.4. (a) The Challenges To The Industry, describes as “a truthful, comprehensive an intelligent account of each day’s local, regional, national and international events that have significant impact on the Nigerian community”? Or in 0.2.4. (b), which The Code describes as “an impartial access to the nation’s intelligence made equally available to everyone”? And in 0.2.4. (c), The Code requests that broadcasting be “a forum for the exchange of comments and criticisms representing every stratum of the society, as required in a Federal state like Nigeria, in which the views and opinions of everyone are included in the national consensus”. But in truth, and if we give ourselves the pause as Nigerian broadcasters, we would not be able to say that we have completely, properly or professionally, lived up to these obligations.

Speaking on some recent events, the  NBC DG said “The manner that the media in general, and broadcasting in particular, have profiled, conditioned and deepened fear and prejudices, in the context of Nigeria’s emergent security challenges, has been frightening. We don’t have to go farther, than in the ongoing profiling of the Fulbe nomads in particular, and Fulbe people in general. Yet, The Code In The Character Of Broadcasting, 0.2.1. had admonished that: “no broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder, be repugnant to public feeling or contain an offensive reference to an person, alive or dead, or generally, be disrespectful to human dignity”.

“At the NBC, we keep very meticulous records of the breaches of The Nigeria Broadcasting Code, and on a quarterly basis, we release that record to the industry and the general public. This is in fact, one of the many reasons why we endeavor to organize forums like this in Calabar. We hope that at the end of today’s Summit, we would have deepened our perspectives on the relevant issues around Broadcasting And Democracy: Emerging Security Imperatives in Nigeria,” the DG said.