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Muhammed: SIP a fraud, conduit pipe for handlers

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Muhammed: SIP a fraud, conduit pipe for handlers

Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, in this interview with JOHN AKUBO, decried the modus operandi adopted for the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPSs) saying it was fraught with irregularities. He also carpeted the National Assembly for meddling in an affair that is exclusively that of the executive branch to implement.


Given the controversy that the National Social Investment Programme has attracted lately, don’t you think the scheme is beginning to look like another failed project?


STRAIGHT away, what I will say is that I am not surprised that the latest adventure into the so-called social investment programme is failing. It is failing not because people do not know what made the previous ones to fail; it is failing because the ones that failed were deliberately compromised, and far from being transparent, and just a conduit for corruption.
When it was operated directly from the Office of the Vice President, people like I raised issues on the way and manner that it was being run; the benchmarks that were being used to dish out the money; the elitists creations involving computers and other stuff. So, most of the people qualified to benefit from the programme did not, and the whole thing was just dark, and lies were coming out of it because there were quite a number of people with media background in the Vice President team.
Second, the lady who was supposed to be running the programme knows nothing about the programme because she never ran one. So, anytime there is a criticism, somebody would be asked to draft a statement, and of course she could not deny because she knows nothing about it.

As a former policy adviser on poverty alleviation to President Olusegun Obasanjo, I am in a position to comment on the SIP and no one can accuse me of not knowing what I am talking about because I helped to design an anti-poverty initiative with the help of Ford Foundation, the UNDP and the World Bank.
I recall that as an adviser, the President asked me to get in touch with some ministers regarding what we were putting in place, but all the ministers that I was asked to reach never bothered to reply me till today. But in spite of that, it was when I left the Presidency that I decided to speak about some of those issues. However, I have noticed that this time around, an anti-poverty initiative is being run with so much fanfare and so much lying beyond anything that President Obasanjo could have imagined, and of course, nobody cares to respond, and now we are going through it all over again.
For instance, in my reaction to TraderMoni and others such schemes, I pointed out that the beneficiaries of the system were highly skewed. On what basis were the number of beneficiaries from Rivers and Lagos states (one of the wealthiest states in the country) picked, or were entitled to benefit from TraderMoni in comparison with poor states like Zamfara, or Jigawa or Bauchi, or so many other poor states in the North Central?
So, for me, the whole SIP thing is opaque, and is being run in a manner that is not accountable and transparent. I have no doubt in my mind that if it is still left in the hands of those that managed it in the Office of the Vice President, it would surely fail despite being taken away to the new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

So, whatever happens, we must first of all find out what happened to the previous money allocated and how they were disbursed for us to arrive at where we are today. But I must also warn that the managers have to be careful because they cannot cheat all the people, all the time.
Before the 2019 election, TraderMoni was being used as campaign tool, and many saw it as a variant of corruption. Could it have been administered the way it was without transparency concerns?
First and foremost, the idea, and the principle behind interventions like TraderMoni are not indigenous to Nigeria as they are also carried out in other parts of the world. However, in those climes, they are carefully designed, manned and implemented by honest people, who also make use of reliable statistics to evaluate income level, and come to the conclusion of how each person should have his/her income augmented. You can see clearly that nothing of this sort is being done here. The entire thing is fraud from top to bottom. What was done in the past was fraudulent, and what is being done now is equally fraudulent. Of cause, if we are determined, we can track those who are manipulating the system and benefitting from it, as well as using their media connections to abuse those that dare to pick holes in their activities.
Having said that, let me add that it is shocking for the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, to say that everything is okay. From the start, this woman had nothing to do with Buhari. In fact her husband was abusive of Buhari even in court when he was the Chief Justice of the Federation. For her to now land this kind of plum job shows that there is something fishy. Even in the All Progressives Congress (APC), some stakeholders were shouting that they have not been fairly treated, when an opponent, who openly abused the President when he contested election in the past is now one of the major beneficiaries of the government. This clearly shows that it was not party loyalty that gave her the job, neither was it rational consideration.
But you know that at a point, crisis engulfed this programme when it was still in the VP’s office, could that have led to its being unable to deliver on its objectives
Those who ran this programme before failed. And after the programme was transferred out of the Office of the Vice President, they nearly created another crisis that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was being sidelined; that it was only his people that were somehow being hounded. But I ask, what did those surrounding Osinbajo do when they were in charge of the SIP? Mind you, we have not all forgotten what happened before. However, what has happened shows you that they have no regard for accountability, and no respect for transparency. They believe that they can blackmail the government of Buhari, or anybody else to continue running things as they like.


But Uwais recently accused some members of the National Assembly of attempting to compromise the SIP register. What do you make of that allegation?


What ever is said about the current National Assembly is not my cup of tea; I can’t stand them. Nobody has conclusively and comprehensively put up any defense on how the National Assembly was trying to involve itself with the implementation of the SIP. It is an executive prerogative. Yes, they can ask questions; they can make observations, but they have no right to query the national social register, or the names, which they give for money to be shared to most of which are fake. But whatever embarrassment that the National Assembly earns for itself is deserving because this thing is not the job of the National Assembly, but that of the executive, whom it assigns it to is another matter.

When similar observations were made about the SIP earlier, some members of the national Assembly were summoned by the VP and were given sheets of paper to go and make announcements and abuse those, who criticised the SIP. If this time around they are the ones that are criticising SIP, it shows that something has happened. However, let me state here that some of the people either in the House of Representatives, or in the senate don’t know what they are talking about; they are only prepared to acknowledge good or bad based on their interests. I also need to stress that the current SIP is a failure, and that the issue of members of the National Assembly being accommodated is another matter completely.


In all of these what is the way forward?


I wish I knew. If I knew, perhaps, I would not be lying down in my house in Kano. May be I would be the President, but because I am not, I can only pass comments, and the comment is by and large what has been commented upon by other well-meaning Nigerians; not members of the National Assembly. Those ones have no moral right because when it happened before they kept their mouths shut.


The Wife of the President also condemned the programme. What would you say to that?


Well, if the first lady passes comment the way I am passing, it is well and good, but I will certainly be more concerned if people that are recognised by the constitution come out and make some of these statements because it is within their rights to do so. The position of the First Lady is still a controversial one until it is properly recognised by the constitution… if a comment is right, it must be deemed to be right, if it is wrong it is deemed to be wrong. On the current issue, I believe the first lady has every right to pass a comment like any other Nigerian. I don’t know if the minister or members of the National Assembly, or the former implementers, who were guilty of working with Prof. Osinbajo admit, or refuse to admit or respect the comments of the first lady.

Culled from The Guardian

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Interview

IDPs will get Resettlement Cities in 4 States, says refugee commission

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IDPs will get Resettlement Cities in 4 States, says refugee commission

In this interview with the honorable Federal Commissioner overseeing the National Commission For  Refugees Migrant and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) commission senator Bashir Garba Mohammed, he spoke on varied issues including getting resettlement for IDPs in four States.


Excerpts,

COVID-19 was a difficult period for Persons of Concerns, what was done to ameliorate their suffering?

As the agency mandated by the government of Nigeria for the care and maintenance of Persons of Concerns PoCs, the Refugee Commission ensured that national food drives held around the country to ease the burden of accessing food during the lockdown, PoCs in Abuja, Benue, Kwara, Borno,
Zamfara, Katsina and Cross River States benefited from food palliatives. Other assistance provided to PoCs during thelockdown also included medicines, hygiene items and surgical face masks all within the framework of best practices of migration management in Nigeria. In the mid to long term plans post Covid Era, we have recently come up with a plan towards the restoration of livelihoods of all Displaced Persons in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who has tremendously done well in reducing poverty through development finance in Nigeria, we designed a project – PROJECT RELIANCE – the project is meant to ensure that POCs go beyond living on aids but also learning how to fend for themselves.
The Commission also decided to take the bull by the horns and embark on the project of resettling the millions of internally displaced persons through the NCFRMI Resettlement City Reintegration and Rehabilitation Programme.
We have designed these resettlement cities with the help of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, where we intend to have 600 housing units of two-bedrooms in each city in over 6 states, which include Borno, Katsina, Zamfara, Edo to mention a few as well as primary health care and education centres,
security outposts, worship houses, skill acquisition centres, markets and adjoining farmlands for use by indigenes. All these we believe will go a long way in reducing the suffering ofdisplaced persons.

What is the implication of this year’s theme of the National Migration Dialogue to PoCs in Nigeria?

The theme for 2020 was coined against the backdrop of the Global Pandemic that has affected the entire world, it is aptly captured as Providing protection and assistance to migrants during and post pandemic: strategies and actions. As you are aware COVID-19 has affected the entire world, it has impacted on global health of citizens across the world, impacted on the economy and on social interactions occasioned by the lockdown . The most impacted people have been our Persons of Concerns of which Migrants make up a huge number, so it is only appropriate that going forward we discuss and come up with strategies on how to address issues concerning migrants in Nigeria.

Has the Commission been able to repatriate returnees in the face of the Covid-19 Pandemic?


The answer is yes. Earlier in the year in July to be precise, amid movement restrictions in the country at that time and through the support of the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force in conjunction with the IoM and other partners we were able tobring back 109 returnees through the establishment of
humanitarian corridor which is essential for our Persons of Concern to cross international borders in a timely and dignified manner, with their rights respected and public health issuesaddressed.
We also further collaborated with IOM on a mandatory 14-day quarantine protocol for the returnees after which we provided them with food, clothing, shelter, psycho-social and health services, in order not to put strain on the livelihoods of their communities. I personally went to welcome them at their
holding center to welcome them back and brief them about the government’s plans for them.


What are some of the Challenges facing Migration Management in a time of COVID-19?

In 2015, governments around the World didn’t envisage a global pandemic could arise and affect the way migration was managed, as such only the individual health management of PoCs was captured in the National Migration Policy, I am happy to inform you that it is due for review. One of the first tasks before us next year is reviewing the Policy under the Technical Working Group on migration and development in Nigeria, so that in the future there will be a clearly mapped out plan of handling migrants in a pandemic situation.

Does the Commission receive support in the management of Migrants?
In the area of repatriation, we receive full support from IoM, they have been very helpful with the flight repatriation and subsequent reintegration, capacity building for returnees, developing business plans and skills, and identifying areas of interest. We have also received support from the Swiss Government through the Swiss Embassy in Nigeria.

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Interview

Girl-child education key to nation building – Kikelomo Akande

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Girl-child education key to nation building – Kikelomo Akande

Kikelomo Akande is a woman of many parts. Besides being a hardworking woman of substance, she is a businesswoman and philanthropist. Armed with a degree in Anatomy, today her focus is on girl-child education, bridging the gender gap as regards access to educational opportunities in the state. In this interview with Aisha Audu, she gives more insight into her NGO, challenges and her campaign on girl child education to
enable them contribute their quota to nation building.

By Aisha Audu

Excerpts:

Can we meet you ma?

I am Kikelomo Akande, a graduate of University of Ilorin; with a BSC in Anatomy and an MBA, both from the University of Ilorin. I am married to Dr. Femi Akande and we are blessed with 3 children. I am the General Manager of Treasures Bakery and confectionaries in Lokoja, Kogi State.

What inspired you to venture into charity work?
I got the inspiration when I looked around me and identified several needs that I can proffer solution to. I got motivated to make a difference when I see children that can be great having no vision and direction. I get inspired when I see intelligent women with great talents wasting away.
The feeling of every action you take making a difference to another person’s life is truly incredible. There is no other feeling like it. The memories and feelings resulting from working for charity last a life time. When you come to the realization that a little here and a little there can make a great change then you become resolute in making positive impacts in people’s life.
You can choose between paying school fees of 2,000 for a child in public school rather than spending the money on something worthless. Like Barack Obama said change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek. It is wonderful to know that, nobody needs to wait for a single moment before starting to improve the world.

What informed the idea of your NGO and what is it all about?

Our NGO is named ‘’SEND A CHILD TO SCHOOL’’ with great emphasis on GIRL CHILD- our vision at ‘’SACTSO’’ is to see children enroll at school and to finish, that is not to drop out of school due to lack of finance. With the help of God we have been able to make a significant difference in this area.
The NGO came about when I discovered that children drop out of school because of an amount as low as N1, 500. The school fee in most of our public school is between N 1, 000 to N2, 000 for most school and you discover that some parents can still not afford to pay, thereby making the children to drop out of school. This is what we should not allow to be happening. This is why I always say N1, 000 can change and mould a destiny.
We not only pay school fees, we are also concerned about the emotional welfare of the child, and we also encourage children to start reading as from their young age. This we did by buying books which includes educational, motivational and fictions for schools so as to create a mini library. We donated books to Bishop Delisle College, Muslim Community Secondary School, UBE Lokongoma. We hope to be able to do more and extend to other schools. We gave talks on drug abuse, sexual behavior and how to choose a career.

What is the core vision of the NGO?

Our core vision is promoting educational opportunities for less privileged children in our community because with education we believe you can become anything you want to be. An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends the profound words of Benjamin Franklin.
We at ‘’ SEND A CHILD TO SCHOOL’’ organization strongly believe and embrace this astute ideology and we are committed to do our very best in promoting the right of every Nigerian Child to quality education, disbursing our limited resources to support the less privileged, ensuring they are not totally marginalized.
We are aware of the enormous challenges inherited in our immediate environment, but we believe in moving forward and resources as sacrificial investment into the education of the less privileged children.
Education opens up the mind to new doors and doing new things, it makes the mind becomes curious and curiosity leads us down new paths, New solutions that will drive the nation of our dreams. Ensuring our world becomes a better place by liberating the minds through access to quality education, this is our mission at ‘’SACTSO’’ and we are staunchly committed to its achievements’’.
Can you shed light on some major activities you have carried out since it was founded?
We have provided uniforms, socks, school bags, books etc, because we believe in the dignity of every child, we go public schools at the beginning of every school session to pay school fees for the complete year. Over 250 pupils are beneficiaries till date.
We provide 2 sewing machines at Bishop Delishe to enhance the idea of the students getting involved in one vocational Skills or the other. We organized summer school (lesson) for students from JSS 1 to JSS3. This was started in the years 2017 till date. We were unable to do for the years because of the covid-19. It will interest you to know that 5 of our students were given scholarship by effective group of schools due to our activities that was seen by the proprietor of the school on our face book handle. Our face book address is ‘’send a child to school organization’’. You can check some of our activities on the page.
Bishop Delishe is our Pilot project for the Skill acquisition. We hope to be able to extend ton other schools with time and make it an ‘’ after school program’’. In summary this is what we do school tour (a motivational talk series), operation say no to DRUG ABUSE, provision of uniforms, text books and school material support, school fees and examination fee payment support, free holiday coaching classes, mobile library, vocational training with emphasis on fashion designs for schools. SACTSO is not for words alone, we believe in doing the needful. We believe in taking ‘’STEPS’’.

How are you coping with the challenge of funding?

Funding is a lifetime of any programme. For now a larger percentage of what we do is funded by my husband, Dr. Femi Akande Treasures Bakery and my humble self. We get support from a few individuals as well.

How would you describe the condition of the Girl Child in Nigeria?

The condition of the Girl Child is pathetic. So much is expected from a girl child and it could be overwhelming sometimes. A girl is exposed to so many abuses more than a boy child, but I think it is getting better by the day due to so many organizations creating awareness about the plight of a girl and various steps being taken to bring about change.

How would you want issues of rape tackled?

Issues of rape can be tackled when we as parents are deliberate about having honest conversation with our children both male and female, educating them about the consequences of their actions. Government should also prosecute rapists; this will go along to send warning to other rapists out there.
Also an idle hand is the devils workshop; our children must be kept busy positively at all times. We must engage them mentally, spiritually and physically and to teach them on how to work hard and be smart.

How do you spend your leisure time ma?

I read a lot. I can not over emphasise the importance of reading. I travel when there is an opportunity for me. There is really no time to relax, I am always doing one thing or the other but in the midst of it all, I try to put my legs up once in a while and pamper myself with good food.

Any last words for mothers and parents in general?

Engage your children positively. Let them learn a thing or two. It does not mean that is what they will become e.g taking bribe etc but the knowledge acquired can be useful in their chosen field later in the future. Ben Curson learnt how to play a musical instrument while in school which helped him in the mastering PRECISION which was later useful for him in neuro surgery.
Expose your children to books. It enlarges their vision. The popular saying that ‘’Readers are leaders is very true.

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Interview

Bill for good life for Bokoharam repentants is weakness to tackle insecurity -senator Alex Kadiri

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Bill for good life for Bokoharam repentants is weakness to tackle insecurity -senator Alex Kadiri

Senator Alex Usman Kadiri an APC stalwart, was a senator who represented Kogi East from 1999 to 2003, he expressed sadness over the level of insecurity, blaming security agencies for their failure.

Excerpts

What is your view of the bill seeking for repentant Bokoharam to be rehabilitated, sponsored for further studies abroad, after the destruction they have caused?

Well there are two ways of looking at this subject. I feel sad that my country cannot control the activities of this insurgency, whether Bokoharam, pure straightforward, terrorists, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, thugs and so on. It shows the weakness of Government. Giving them amnesty and scholarship to travel abroad for studies is bribery. It shows that the Government methods have failed they are looking for scapegoats but who tells you that after they return and there is no job waiting for them, they will not resume their act of terrorism? We went into amnesty in the south south because 95% of our income was coming from oil and these fellows were busy blowing up pipelines. Why is it impossible for the Nigerian Army, Nigerian police and the Nigerian Airforce to control insecurity. Every State is now affected, you cannot drive from Lokoja to Ayangba now before 10am or After 4pm, you can not go from here to Kaduna at any hour of the day. Most of the incidences are unreported.

Can we say the FG is overwhelmed?

The security situation has overpowered the Nigerian Government, we cannot pretend. That is why they are talking about amnesty, promoting a bill in the national assembly to make sure you give them blanket amnesty, send them for studies. All these things will not work on the long run. Let me ask this question, the people they sent for studies in Europe, how many of them completed the programs. A good number of them refused to come back and they did not enroll for any study and they are stranded there causing havoc. Those that returned did they come back to meet any work. Has insurgency or banditry ceased in Niger Delta because of the amnesty? No. We just need a good Government with good policies that will affect the majority of Nigerians. If the chaps in Bokoharam which we don’t even know whether they are Al-Qaeda, or ISIS or whatever, nobody knows who they are, we don’t even know who we are fighting, we don’t know who and who enter this country every hour from our northern borders or from the or from the West through Cotonou, we don’t know how many we are in this country our borders are porous, they are not guarded, not manned and those that are there manning them close the other eye collect bribe and allow them in. They come in with their arms and ammunitions, nobody is checking anybody.

What would say about Dr. Obadaih Mailafia’s disclosure?

When I listened to Dr. Obadaih Mailafia former deputy Governor of Tue CBN yesterday I shed tears for my country because he is a man who has a stake in this country, he was deputy Governor of CBN so he is a stakeholder in the Nigerian project and for him to say some of the things he said I feel sad for my country
How comes our service chiefs, Inspector general of police, director of DSS, director NIA, director Military intelligence, all of them are from the Northern part of the country where this problem is high, some of them are don’t have any idea as to his the problem can be solved. May be the president has more information than you and I have, that if he removes these persons the people he is likely to appear will not even measure up to the present people but at least it is better to try somebody else. It is a shame what we are passing through

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