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Gov of Anambra State ,His Excellency Willie Obiano Presents 2018 Budget : Full Speech

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Full Speech of The 2018 Budget Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, to the Honourable Members of the Anambra State House of Assembly on Thursday, November 30, 2017.

Protocol

Your Excellency, the Deputy Governor,
The Right Honourable Speaker, Honourable Deputy Speaker,
Principal Officers of the House and other Honourable
Members of the Anambra State House of Assembly,
The Chief Judge of Anambra State,
The Secretary to the State Government,
The Chief of Staff,
The Head of Service,
Honourable Commissioners,
Special Advisers to the Governor,
The Clerk of the House,
Permanent Secretaries,
Traditional Rulers,
Members of the Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning.

1. With a heart full of gratitude, I stand before you today to present my administration’s Draft Estimate and Roadmap for the next fiscal year.

2. Madam Speaker and Honourable Members of this great citadel of democracy, the outgoing year has been a phenomenal year for Ndi Anambra for so many reasons.

3. It is a year in which our great state took its rightful place as Light of the Nation by establishing itself as the shining light of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

4. Yes, We set new records in enthroning popular democracy and yet another enviable record in managing the grievances and rancour that often lead to costly legal battles after each election in Nigeria.

5. Ndi Anambra, we have done great honour to our dear state and ourselves with the degree of enlightenment, decency and decorum that we brought to bear on the last gubernatorial election and in the commendable display of brotherly love and great team spirit by my fellow contestants who did not waste time to call and congratulate me on my re-election.

6. That was an epic moment for Anambra State and a historic milestone for Nigeria. It is a watershed in our political evolution as a people bound together by history, culture and blood! That moment will remain evergreen in my memory and I am grateful to you all for bringing it to pass. Dalunu rinne!

7. I have said it before but it is important that I say it again here – Anambra State belongs to all of us.

8. So, we are all winners. Therefore, we must come together and build a proud and prosperous state!

9. A Review of the 2017 Fiscal Year

10. Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, the outgoing year stands out in my reckoning as the year in which Anambra State showed a remarkable capacity to take charge of its own affairs. Like the year before it, the nation’s economy groaned under the crushing weight of recession.

11. The parlous state of the economy showed its unpleasant face on all sectors as recession ravaged households and businesses leading to more hardship for the citizens. All over Nigeria, families devised new survival strategies to save their loved ones from the after effects of shrinking incomes and dying dreams.

12. But Madam Speaker and honourable lawmakers, our story is different in Anambra State. We had made adequate preparation to keep the levers of governance grinding, delivering on our basic promises to Ndi Anambra.

13. That is why in a year that Nigeria recorded a slip in her GDP, our beloved state grew her GDP by 1% from N3.7trn to N3.8trn. This is a clear demonstration of our capacity to fight back from the bottom with swift decision making, clear-headed thinking and masterful policy implementation.

14. Indeed, my Team and I took decisive steps to cushion the effects of recession when we launched a comprehensive Economic Stimulus Package to reflate our sub-national economy and put more money in the hands of our people.

15. We suspended taxes and pumped more money into SMEs and other growth areas of the economy. We launched the N20m Choose-your-Projects initiative to bring financial relief to many households and restore the confidence of the people in the government. All these measures prepared the path for the eventual growth we recorded in our GDP.

16. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, My Team and I have kept an eye on the prize. We are focused on the realization of my administration’s Vision and Mission Statements through a faithful implementation of my Economic Blueprint, made up of the 5 Pillars and 14 Enablers.

17. We did not allow the despair in the economic environment to distract us for one moment. We ensured that Anambra retained its status as Nigeria’s safest state. We made sure that not a single successful kidnap operation took place within the borders of Anambra State.

18. Our success in providing security has led to a sharp rise in the number of investors that are coming into Anambra State and an increase of about 70% in the hospitality industry as more hotels open up in Awka leading to the creation of jobs and more jobs!

19. In the period under review, we sustained our giant strides in Agriculture with the bold entry of JOSAN Integrated Rice Farms and Mills Limited in Ufuma. This ultramodern integrated farm has helped our dear state to increase our annual rice production capacity from 244,235.25 metric tonnes to 322,000 metric tonnes per annum.

20. Thus in four years, we have grown our rice production from 80,000 metric tonnes per annum to 322,000 metric tonnes, thereby surpassing our annual rice consumption rate of 320,000 metric tonnes. Madam Speaker, this is no mean achievement.

21. We also continued the export of our farm produce with more consignments airlifted in October this year to the United Kingdom. But perhaps more importantly, Madam Speaker, we eventually succeeded in creating a synergy between Delfarms Limited in Igbariam with SABMiller Breweries in Onitsha for the supply of sorghum to SABMiller’s 2.7 hectolitres brewery. This will lead to jobs, jobs jobs!

22. Similarly, our special attention to Agriculture has continued to attract more people into farming. We have grown our farmers’ data base from 97,487 in 2016 to 106,000 famersthis year, spread across the agricultural belt. This is a very positive development.

23. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, I am delighted to report here that my administration maintained a fairly competitive edge in Education during the period.

24. Contrary to the wild claims by some people, Anambra has made steady progress in Education in the past four years; rising from a 65.07% success rate among students with 5 credits including English and Maths in NECO Exams in 2015 to 75.31% this year.

25. We have continued to invest in education in three key areas – Students Welfare, Infrastructural Development and Teachers Welfare.

26. It is obviously for this reason that our own Clement Nwoye Okodo won the Overall Best Primary School Teacher in Nigeria this year. Again, this is something to be proud of.

27. Our story is no less fascinating in the Health Sector where we have flagged off the Universal Health Insurance Scheme to ensure that Ndi Anambra have access to quality healthcare, regardless of whether one is rich or poor.

28. We have earmarked the sum of N200m and 10 Million Euros obtained as a grant from the European Union for the full activation of this scheme.

29. At the same time, the Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has come into existence. The Agency has a mandate to restructure, coordinate and manage healthcare activities in Anambra State under one umbrella.

30. We figure that running our Healthcare Sector through institutions like this Agency will enhance our effectiveness and efficiency in delivering good health to our people.

31. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, I am proud to report to Ndi Anambra once again that my administration did not drop the ball in the construction of roads and bridges in the outgoing fiscal year. Madam Speaker, I make bold to say that we actually surpassed the modest expectation imposed on us by the painful pangs of recession in the country.

32. It is important to note here that at the onset of this administration, I made it very clear that I was interested in building roads that would have economic importance.

33. Madam Speaker, I have kept my promise with the construction of key bridges and roads leading to our oilfields, the agricultural belt and the industrial clusters.

34. In more specific terms, Madam Speaker, we inherited 101 roads from my predecessor and completed 51 of them. We inherited 6 bridges and completed 3 of them. We awarded 94 new roads and completed 20 of them. We also awarded 12 new bridges and completed 5 of them.

35. So, at a most difficult period when Nigeria has witnessed the worst economic recession, my administration has completed 71 roads and 8 bridges in four years. More roads are being added to this list as I speak.

36. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, I am also delighted to report here that the first round of our highly acclaimed N20m Community Choose-Your-Project Initiative has almost been concluded with various communities already putting their chosen projects to use.

37. Consequently, the second round of the initiative has commenced in earnest bringing it to N40m per community. The beauty of this idea remains its capacity to touch each community in a way that is special to it and deliver the democratic promise of my administration.

38. In all, the implementation of the first round of the projects has created over 2000 direct jobs. I think we should all be proud of this initiative too.

39. Madam Speaker and Honourable lawmakers, another source of pride to my Team and I is the Light-up Anambra Campaign and the glamour it has brought to our cities and towns at night. Indeed, any visitor to Anambra State who arrives at night will not have any second thoughts about the greatness of our dear state.

40. The dazzling streetlights that splash endless rays of light across our streets and highways announce the readiness of our people to engage the world on our own terms. In the meantime, we have taken delivery of over 400 units of new transformers and I have no doubt that they will boost our capacity in this regard.

41. So, this Christmas, Madam Speaker, Anambra will transform into one megacity of light at night. With a water-tight security and a well-lit and smooth network of roads, the time has come to explore the wonders of Anambra night.

42. The Anambra Airport City Project is one big idea that finally took a definite shape in the outgoing fiscal year, Madam Speaker.

43. The Project is my administration’s biggest leap of the imagination and our strongest link to the future. It has all the potentials to unlock the economic growth of the South East region and position Anambra State as the leading hub in the aviation industry in Africa.

44. Already, the Chinese investors behind this project have secured a $600m guarantee from HSBC to ensure that the project is executed to the letter. The good news is that work has since commenced on the project location in Umueri. And as we all know, the state is not putting a kobo into the project. Madam Speaker, Anambra State is truly on the rise!

45. I also think that it is important to remember that my Team and I have kept our promise to Anambra workers. In the midst of extremities, we have continued to pay salaries and pensions as and when due.

46. We even took a step further when we cleared the arrears of pensions and gratuity that were owed the former staff of ABS and National Light since the creation of this state.

47. Indeed, we have continued to remind Ndi Anambra in more ways than one that this administration is all about the people. That is why we have committed to increasing the salary of workers in the coming year. And by the grace of God, we shall keep that promise.

THE 2018 BUDGET

Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, over the last four years, working closely with you all in this hallowed chamber, we have been able to jointly address key socio-economic challenges impacting our dear state.

Under my watch, our State has experienced sustained growth and development in spite of a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Our performance was further re-emphasized during the recently concluded election when Ndi Anambra reaffirmed their confidence in my administration by voting landslide in favour of our Great Party, APGA.

Madam Speaker, this massive endorsement by Ndi Anambra conveys an underlying message to our government; which is…

“We Have Done Well but WE EXPECT MORE”.

This message is also synonymous with our campaign slogan, which states “Better today. Greater tomorrow”.

Therefore, in line with my promise to build a greater tomorrow, I present to this great Assembly the Draft 2018 budget estimate titled “the Budget for Value-for-Money, Economic Diversification and Job Creation”. The proposed budget size is N166.9bn, representing a 43% increase on the current year’s budget. Madam Speaker, this expansionary budget illustrates my administration’s resolve to continue to deliver the dividends of good governance to the people of Anambra.

The FY2018 Budget Policy Thrusts

Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, the 2018 draft budget estimate was created in line with the following policy thrusts:

a. Value-for-Money: To succeed during the 2018 fiscal year, we must carefully assess all activities and make difficult trade-offs to ensure we focus solely on implementing projects and programs that provide commensurate value to Ndi Anambra. The underlying principle going forward shall be… “Doing Even More with Less”. There will be a ZERO tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices as any government official found to be engaged in such will face the brunt of the law.

b. Economic Diversification: Secondly, the objective is to ensure that Anambra attains fiscal independence over the next four years i.e. our internally generated revenues should be able cover our recurrent expenditure with the balance to support capital interventions. We hope to aggressively embark on public finance reforms to optimize and strengthen our tax administration processes.

c. Job Creation: Thirdly, the primary outcome of all our interventions will be to create as many jobs as possible to ensure that we tackle unemployment, underemployment and more importantly, provide a means of livelihood for the poor and vulnerable in our dear state.

d. Strategic Collaborations: Fourthly, we hope to develop stronger ties with the Federal Government MDAs and key Development Partners (such as the World Bank, European Union, United Nations System, etc.) to jointly intervene in Social Investments, Works & Infrastructure, Education, Healthcare and Environment sectors of our economy. To achieve this, we have aligned this budget to the National Economic Recovery & Growth Plan and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

e. Public-Private-Partnerships: And finally,our fifth target outcome will be to strengthen and refocus our Public-Private-Partnership Strategy. Significant resources will be channelled towards targeted promotional processes to attract large scale export-driven investments across our key economic pillars in the State.

Basis and Assumptions for the Draft FY2018 Budget Estimate:
As we plan for the FY2018, our budget estimates are predicated on the following assumptions:

1. We projected a Crude oil price benchmark of US$43/bbl and an average daily production of 2.1m barrels, this implies a projected monthly FAAC of N2.52bn/month compared with 2017 YTD average of N2.15bn. This is slightly conservative compared to Federal Government’s crude oil benchmark price of US$45/bbl and 2.3m bbl/d;

2. Value Added Tax revenues is projected at N1.0bn monthly, representing a ~9% growth on 2017 YTD average of N920m;

3. Internally Generated Revenues are projected at N2.5bn monthly compared with the current run rate of N1.35bn monthly. To achieve this, we expect to aggressively focus on growing our tax database, optimizing our IGR windows while eliminating leakages through the deployment of technology. Madam Speaker, it is important to note that there will be no increases in taxes & levies.

4. Grants and Counterpart funds are estimated at N20bn;

5. Other Capital Receipts comprising of concessionary debt financing for our social sectors is estimated at N18.4bn;

6. We also expect to receive Reimbursements and Refunds from Federal Government for works done on Federal roads and Paris Club payments, this figure is estimated at N28bn of the 43.8bn owed to the State;

7. While, we have provided N15bn fordomestic debt financing comprising of single digit concessionary program lending for interventions in Agriculture, Youth Empowerment and the MSME space;

8. Personnel costs are estimated at N21.6bn vs. 2017E of N20.4bn. This figure will accommodate new hires into the civil service, replacement of retired teachers, promotions and appointments.

9. Social Benefits and Contributions including (Pensions, Gratuities and group life insurance) are projected at N13.2bn.

10. While total Overheads are estimated at N21.2bn to accommodate increased subventions to Chukwuemeka OdumegwuOjukwu University, its teaching hospital and the newly accredited Polytechnic in Mbakwu, Awka North, among others.

FY2018 Budget Envelope

Once more, Madam Speaker and Honourable members, we are proposing a budget size of N166.9bn, of which the state expects to spend N63.9bn on Recurrent Expenditure and N103.1bn on Capital Expenditure to drive our policy thrusts of “Value-for-Money, Economic Diversification and Job Creation”.

It also highlights the significant infrastructural development expected in 2018, leveraging on the successful stability in our domestic economy during the challenging periods in 2016/2017.

This budget is the first meaningful step towards consolidation of our previous performance to transform Anambra into a hub for business and investments as well as the poster-boy for inclusiveness and sustainable development in Nigeria.

Here are a few highlights of our Sectoral Capital Plans:

Roads & Infrastructure

.​Our continued intervention in Roads and Bridges, which will always be a key strategic focus of my administration, is estimated at N27.93bn of which Road construction and rehabilitation will gulp N25.7bn, completing approximately 150km of roads across the State. We have also budgeted N1.2bn for Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency (ARMA) to procure earthmoving equipment and support on-going reconstruction and rehabilitation of rural/community roads. We have also taken the unique step of constructing our own Asphalt Plant which, once operational, would significantly reduce the cost of road construction in the State by at least 20%. Consequently, we have made provision for the installation of Traffic Lights on strategic roads to reduce traffic congestion significantly in the State.

Agriculture and related Sectors

.​In agriculture, we are aiming to sustain the current successes achieved in the last four (4) years by implementing a two (2) pronged strategy of (i) facilitating private sector and export-driven large scale agro-allied investments; and (ii) empowerment of small scale farmers in the State, consequently alleviating poverty as well as creating jobs. To achieve this, we have developed the Community Agriculture Land Development Project where we expect to develop over 1,500 hectares of land across the three (3) senatorial zones of the State. We shall augment this by allocating over N700m to the procurement of agro inputs, including seedlings and fertilizers, to support our farmers.

Being the largest creator of jobs, we intend to harness this by implementing a number of youth orientated empowerment schemes such as the Youth Empowerment Scheme for fish farming, animal husbandry and crop production as well as the development of a world-class Fingerling Production Facility, enabling the State to leverage on its competitive advantage in fish production. Finally, we shall continue to implement a number of developmental programs in conjunction with our development partners (Central Bank of Nigeria, FADAMA and IFAD) to ensure our programs and policies in Agriculture are implemented. To achieve this we have allocated the sum of N3.8bn to the Agricultural Sector.

Education
.​To ensure that we continue to deliver on credible and globally competitive education, we must ensure that this sector is properly funded and catered for. Hence, we are projecting a total capital expenditure spend of N9.5bn in Education spread across some of the following areas:
• N1.1bn counterpart fund for UBEC,
• creation of a N1bn Education Development Fund; and
• N1.2 World Bank Assisted State Education Program & Intervention Project (SEPIP); among a few others.
There shall also be significant funds expended on the improvement of infrastructure and institutionalization of accreditation program in strategic universities/colleges and polytechnics in the State.

Youth Empowerment & Development
.​Considering that the current labour market nationally is currently in a dire state, my administration shall ensure that Youth Empowerment is a Key Covenant between us and the people we govern in the 2018 Fiscal Year. Providing meaningful employment opportunities to our teeming youths is vital toensuring the continued socio-economic growth of the State as well as sustaining the current security narrative in the State. The main driver in achieving this would be through the Youth Entrepreneurship & Empowerment Program where we have allocated N5bn to empower up to 10,000 youths through vocational, agricultural and artisan training programs as well as the provision of interest-free start-up capital to commence their businesses.

Health
.​In the health sector, my administration will continue to embark on numerous strategic developmental initiatives aimed at improving the quality of healthcare services for NdiAnambra. Will shall boost the Anambra State Universal Health Insurance Scheme with an additional N2bn, to ensure adequate implementation of the program state-wide, specifically providing cover for the downtrodden and most vulnerable. We shall also utilize over N1bn in Constructing & Equippingthe Anambra State University Teaching Hospital and the Specialist Diagnostic Centerrespectively. To achieve this and other strategic interventions in Health, we have budgeted N7.8bn.

Small & Medium Enterprises Development
.​Considering that MSMEs are the engine room of any economy, we have allotted over N1bn for Micro Small & Medium Enterprise Funding Programs to be implemented through the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) for 2018, consolidating on the funding success of 2017 where over 50,000 jobs were created through this funding program. We shall also commence the development of a modern all-inclusive SME Industrial Park in the State.

Water Resources and Public Utilities
.​In the area of Water resources and Public utilities, we will complete the Onitsha Water Scheme, ensuring that over 5,000 households have access to pipe-borne water. We shall also invest heavily in the development of the greater Awka Water Development Scheme as well as the Nnewi Water Development Scheme. Nonetheless, we shall continue to invest heavily in Rural Water Rehabilitation Scheme across the State. We shall also sustain our considerable achievements in our “Light-Up AnambraProgram” and other Rural Electrification Schemes, which has been effective in tackling insecurity as well as creating a “Night-Life Economy” hitherto not seen in the State. To achieve this and more we are allocating N5.1bn.

Community Social Development Program
.​The far reaching benefits of the “N20 Million Community-Choose-Your-Own-Project” initiative cannot be over emphasised. Through the novel project, my administration has been able to give Ndi Anambra a sense of belonging as it has positively impacted all 181 communities in the State, increasing economic activity across the nooks and crannies in the State as well as creating jobs for the youth and unemployed. This unique program has had such a tremendous effect within the State that other States have begun to replicate it. We shall take this Program to the next level in the coming year. We have budgeted N7.5bn for the second phase of this initiative.

Conclusion
Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, if you cast your minds back a little, you may recall that our 2017 Budget was titled – “Budget for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth.” This year, we have tabled before you a budget titled – “Value-for-Money, Economic Diversification and Job Creation.” Madam Speaker, with the tremendous achievement we recorded in our GDP in the outgoing year, it is only logical that this budget should focus on “Economic diversification and Job Creation.” Therefore, this is a budget of hope. It looks beyond the overcast of recession in the horizon at the moment to a brighter future which we can all collectively bring about with our creativity, quickness of thought and audacity to surmount challenges.

Madam Speaker, this budget is in every sense, a-call-to-arms. It places our future in our own hands. It urges us to stand tall and take charge of our lives. It encourages us to look behind the present clouds of economic difficulties to see the silver lining in the skies.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this budget will serve as an important instrument, guiding the activities of the government and steering conversations in the areas that will lead to growth and productivity in our sub-national economy.
I therefore appeal for accelerated consideration and eventual passage of the budget to ensure a timely take off of implementation.

God Bless Anambra State
God Bless Nigeria
Willie Obiano
Governor

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Osodieme Commends Nnewi North and South Support for Obiano

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By Emeka Ozumba
The wife of governor of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) has commended the commitment and support of the people of Nnewi North and Nnewi South Local Government Areas for the governor, Chief Willie Obiano and progress of the state as demonstrated by their massive support during the last elections.

(L-R): Representative of Osodieme and Member Representing Orumba South Constituency at Anambra State House of Assembly, and Chairman House Committee on Women Affairs, Princess Nikky Ugochukwu receiving a Portrait presented by Transition Committee Chairman of Nnewi South Hon Felix Odimegwu at Ukpor during the Empowerment tour of Nnewi South Local Government Area.

Osodieme who was represented by the Member Representing Orumba South at the State House of Assembly, and Chairman House Committee on Women Affairs, Princess Nikky Ugochukwu expressed the appreciations Friday at Nnewi North and Nnewi South Local Government Areas headquarters respectively in the course of her on-going Empowerment tour of the twenty-one Local Government Areas of Anambra State.
Osodieme assured people of the Council areas that the governor is committed to fulfilling the promises he made to them and the entire ndi Anambra.

(L-R): Transition Committee Chairman of Nnewi North, Prince Chukwudi Orizu, Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and Export, Hon Afam Mbanefo receive the Representative of Osodieme and Member Representing Orumba South Constituency at Anambra State House of Assembly, and Chairman House Committee on Women Affairs, Princess Nikky Ugochukwu on arrival at Nnewi during the Empowerment tour of Nnewi North Local Government Area.

She explained that the empowerment tour is to reach out to the less privileged, stressing that she apart the usual humanitarian gestures, her NGO, Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) is ever ready to train indigent women, widows on new skills that would help them to be self-reliant and ultimately able to provide for their families.
Also speaking, Commissioner for Social Welfare, Women and Children Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, said that the collaboration between CAFÉ and her Ministry has ensured that the governor Obiano’s policy of carrying everyone along is sustained. She thanked Osodieme for embarking on the Local Government tour to touch base with ndi Anambra even at a time of lean resources.

(L-R): Representative of Osodieme and Member Representing Orumba South Constituency at Anambra State House of Assembly, and Chairman House Committee on Women Affairs, Princess Nikky Ugochukwu, Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Barrister Rita Maduagwu, former Commissioner for Information, Chief Maja Umeh, Mrs. Igbanoi and former Commissioner for Information, Chief Maja Umeh at Ukpor during the Empowerment tour of Nnewi South Local Government Area.

In their remarks her counterparts who are indigenes of the two Council arrears; Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and Export, Hon Afam Mbanefo, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Chief Greg Obi, praised Governor Obiano and his wife, Osodieme for their dedication to charity and continuous effort to improve fortunes of the citizens of the state.
The Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Barrister Rita Maduagwu, thanked Osodieme for once more remembering her constituency in her empowerment programmes. The Speaker prayed for the governor’s wife, stressing that “those who remember the needy obtain abundant heavenly enrichment.”

Empowerment items for the less privileged

Also in their Vote of thanks Members Representing Nnewi North at the State House of Assembly, Hon. Amala Anazodo, and that of Nnewi South Constituency one, Barrister Kingsley Iruba, eulogized Osodieme for her passion for mankind and charitable programmes which they observed has touched the nooks and crannies of Anambra state and helped re-energize many of the downtrodden.
Earlier in their welcome remarks at Nnewi and Ukpor respectively, the Transition Committee Chairman of Nnewi North, Prince Chukwudi Orizu, and his Nnewi South counterpart, Honourable Felix Odimegwu, affirmed that Osodieme has touched every aspect of the human society by giving succour to the underprivileged in the society and called on ndi Anambra emulative her exemplary work.
The Empowerment programmes at Nnewi and Ukpor Council headquarters was witnessed by government functionaries and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) including former Commissioner for Information, Chief Maja Umeh and other community based associations.

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Meet the Teacher Who Dares to Speak With Boko Haram

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Few people talk openly about Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. Even fewer talk to them. But in her motherly way, the simple-looking Hamsatu Allamin is fearless and unapologetic. “I talk with Boko Haram even today, and they are open to [a] peace deal,” says Allamin, 60, sitting cross-legged on the floor of a yellowed bungalow, her veil circling her face and spilling down to the gray-green rug.
This educator-turned-mediator looks anything but imposing. But she cracks hard ground digging for peace in a nine-year civil war that has killed 20,000 people. So how can a woman speak to a sect that keeps women silent and slaughters them for not wearing veils?
In this war-ravaged part of the country, the answers are retold with a personal bent and remixed city to city. “If that woman is not a member of Boko Haram, they would have finished her,” a friend in the northern city of Maiduguri, Ahmed Abubakar, tells me. “But if she is not one of them, then she must be a powerful witch using a mysterious power to make them impotent.”
On a recent overcast morning, Allamin, who left public service in 2016 after more than 30 years as an educator, reveals how she might have charmed Boko Haram. Not with witchcraft, but with infectious smiles and a love for listening — all squeezed into a carefree courage that can be disarming even for the deadliest sect in the world.

After all, Allamin is a daughter of their soil, from an elite Kanuri family, the same tribe from which Boko Haram emerged. She knows the insurgents and their parents, who were her schoolmates, and she’s proven herself to the insurgents as a good and useful mediator. Working with her husband, a local chief in Konduga, she has resolved complex local disputes, including intervening to prevent the traditional practice of girls marrying under age 18.
Before the war escalated in 2013, Boko Haram insurgents lived in the communities — turning homes into hiding places after launching attacks on military units. “If you report them, you and your family would be the next target,” says Allamin. But the destructive cycle around her forced her to act. After hit-and-run attacks in Maiduguri, the military would invade the communities, searching for perpetrators and arresting every youth in sight, including the innocent. Houses often were razed.

According to United Nations data, some 7.7 million people — half of whom are children — in northeastern Nigeria need humanitarian assistance. Women wait in line with their children during a community outreach drive sponsored by the International Rescue Committee in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on Oct. 12, 2016.

So Allamin started reporting perpetrators to the military, talking to the insurgents about peace and sometimes confronting the insurgents who “brandish their cutlasses” in threat. “Gradually, even Boko Haram understood I was harmless, and they started opening up to me,” she says. As Nigeria-based analyst Justice Nwafor points out: “It is always important to spare a peacemaker in every violence.”
It’s not as if Allamin is taking the insurgents’ side. She helped organize the global “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign — garnering attention from then–first lady Michelle Obama — after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in 2014. And she’s led the fight to empower women who have escaped their reign of terror. Allamin now tends to more than 30 former so-called wives of Boko Haram from displaced persons camps. She creates a small social network for them, with plans to send the younger ones to school and train the older ones in a trade — though some are pregnant with the offspring of the insurgents.

Still, Nwafor says Boko Haram appears to value Allamin’s skills more than the government. Allamin organized a peace meeting between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram in 2015. The deal failed because of the government’s “lack of interest in peace,” she claims. The government, as is the case on many Boko Haram–related topics, doesn’t comment on Allamin’s efforts.
Peace talks have sputtered on in the years since, and the horrors continue. “Life under Boko Haram is bitter, and women were not allowed to talk or come out of their homes,” says Fatima Umaru, a refugee whose community, Bama, was under Boko Haram rule for eight months before the military recaptured the town in 2015. But military rule comes with its own set of problems. Amnesty International reports that military officers and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force in the northeast have raped and sexually exploited women and girls, often in exchange for food and other necessities.
Families across the region have been shattered by indefinite military detentions. Allamin brought together 1,600 women and girls in what she called the Knifar Movement to increase pressure on officials to release their husbands and fathers, while also pursuing justice against soldiers and others accused of rape.
She’s also staying active in her field of education. Boko Haram roughly translates to “Secular education is a sin.” Allamin wants to brand her initiative “Boko Halal,” or “Education is good.” With donations from philanthropists and international organizations, she’s schooling close to 100 former child soldiers — frequently used in Boko Haram suicide attacks — who escaped or were rescued by the military, teaching them vocational skills.
Short of brokering an unlikely peace, her diplomacy and good works can only make a small dent. According to United Nations data, some 7.7 million people — half of whom are children — in northeastern Nigeria need humanitarian assistance.
While Allamin, a grandmother of 16, has been lavished with international awards for peace, she has no plans to capitalize on her fame with a book. Instead, she keeps her reflections for posterity in The Maiduguri Diary, a grim recounting of the conflict that would fit in the horror section (as well as history) of any library. Many plagues are inscribed in the pages, from rape to starvation, all prefaced by resignation.
Her most tangible legacy could come in her Maiduguri community, where 74 families already have named their kids after her in appreciation. “We want to make her immortal,” says Mallam Musa Mohammed, who has worked for Allamin for several years. “She is an icon of peace.”

 


Orji Sunday, OZY Author

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President Buhari Returns From London Vacation

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President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to the country from his 10-day vacation in London.
The presidential aircraft touched down on Saturday evening at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Ahead of his arrival, a Guard of Honor was mounted at the airport to receive the President who departed Nigeria for the United Kingdom on August 3.
Prior to his trip, President Buhari had handed over power to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in acting capacity while he was away.
More to follow…

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‘Simply reality’: Public hits back at banning of ‘This is Nigeria’ music video

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‘This is Nigeria,’ a rap music video portraying the country’s problems, has been banned following accusations that it contains a “vulgar” line. The public has hit back, saying the video merely states the truth.
Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) fined a Nigerian radio station for airing rapper Falz’s adaptation of Children Gambino’s ‘This is America.’ The video has already racked up 13 million views on YouTube.
It gives a depressing portrayal of what life is like amid corruption and violence in the west African country. NBC banned the song from being aired, claiming the line “This is Nigeria, everybody be criminal” is too “vulgar” to be publicly broadcast.

The cover of Gambino’s hit piece went viral as it was picked up by hip-hop mogul Diddy.

Despite its popularity, NBC doubled down on its ban, saying the song is “unfit” to circulate.
It also received criticism from Nigeria’s Muslim Rights Concern, who in June threatened to sue Falz if he failed to issue an apology and redact the song.
The group said it “demonized Nigerian Muslims,” and raised concern about female dancers wearing hijabs, as well as a man from the Fulani tribe purportedly attacking another man with a machete.
The organization said Falz’s work was “thoughtless, insensitive and highly provocative,” and had “the potential of causing religious crisis of unprecedented dimension.”
Falz, whose real name is Folarin Falana, responded to the ban saying: “I’m not happy that the NBC is preventing the people from listening to such strong messages that need to be heard,” CNN reports.
“There is a lot going on that needs to be talked about, even though a lot of people may not want to hear the truth.”
The ban stirred outcry on social media, with people saying it does nothing more than portray the reality of the third-world country.

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Nigeria’s State Owned Oil Company To Go Public

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation will float 40 percent of its stock on the local stock exchange once the President signs the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Nigerian media report. The PIGB is at the heart of an energy sector overhaul aimed at making the corruption-ridden state company profitable. To do this, NNPC group managing director Maikanti Baru said, the company needs to be more commercially driven. For this, it needs cash, which will be raised through the listing.
As part of the overhaul, the NNPC will be split into two: the Nigerian Petroleum Company, which will be an integrated oil company taking all assets of the NNPC with the exception of the production-sharing contracts, and the Nigerian Petroleum Assets Management Company.
NNPC’s existing stock will initially be split between the two state vehicles—Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated and Ministry of Finance Incorporated—with 40 percent going to each and another 20 percent held by the Bureau of Public Enterprises. In five to ten years, 10 percent of the initial stock plus a new batch of shares equal to 30 percent of this will be floated on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil exporter, has struggled to make its oil industry work in the last few years after the oil price plunge exposed the problems at the NNPC ranging from graft to mismanagement. Militant activity in the Niger Delta, pipeline vandalism, and the subsequent production outages did not help the company get back on its feet. The federal government, however, has thrown its weight behind the reform drive that should make the oil industry more efficient and more profitable.
Nigeria produced 1.67 million barrels of oil daily in July, below the 1.8-million-bpd quota it had agreed with OPEC after it joined the production cut effort that was reversed this June. The West African nation should only benefit from the reversal as it can now expand its production as fast as it wants, which should boost oil revenues that the industry overhaul will require.

 


Irina Slav
Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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INEC gives notice of 2019 elections

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday released the notice of activities for the 2019 general elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the notice was pasted at the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) office of INEC in Abuja.
Mrs Ndidi Okafor, Head of Voter Education and Publicity Gender and Civil Society Liaison of INEC , FCT told NAN that the notice was in accordance with section 30 of the Electoral Act 2010.
According to the notice, collection of nomination forms for national and state elections by political parties is fixed between Aug 17 and Aug. 24.
Collection of forms for FCT elections will take place between 3 Sept. and 10 Sept.
“The last date for submission of nomination forms by political parties has also been scheduled for Dec. 3 for presidential and National Assembly Elections and state elections Dec. 17.
“The collection of nomination forms for FCT Area Council elections would commence on Nov. 3 to Nov. 10, while the last date for the return of the nomination forms is Dec. 14.
“On Oct 25 INEC will publish the personal particulars of National election candidates on Oct. 25 and those of the state candidates on Nov. 9.”
Okafor said INEC has announced Nov. 17 as the last date for the withdrawal or replacement of candidates for president and National Assembly elections, and Dec. 1 for governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
INEC would on Jan. 2, 2019 publish notice of the polls, and on Jan. 7, 2019 publish official register of voters for the election, which will begin with the presidential and National Assembly elections on 16 February.

 

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Nigeria is home to 500+ kinds of graft. Here’s a new way to think about them.

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Corruption in Nigeria is complicated, far-reaching, and multi-faceted. A new taxonomy can help us make sense of it.

Corruption in Nigeria is complicated, far-reaching, and multi-faceted. A new taxonomy can help us make sense of it.

Corruption in Nigeria runs the gamut from the jaw-dropping, to the creative, to the mundane. It encompasses the oil minister who diverted billions of petrodollars in just a few years. It includes the local official who claimed a snake slithered into her office and gobbled up $100,000 in cash. And it involves the cop shaking down motorists for 25 cents apiece at makeshift checkpoints.
When former British Prime Minster David Cameron described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt” in 2016, Nigerians may have been rankled that the offhand comment failed to recognise the UK’s own key role in allowing multi-trillion-dollar global corruption networks to flourish, but few thought his assessment was wrong.
It is widely accepted that Nigeria suffers profoundly from corruption. However, the practice is much more complicated and far-reaching than the familiar headlines suggest.
Economically, corruption stymies Nigeria’s boundless potential, hamstringing the petroleum, trade, power and banking sectors and more. In the defence sector, it compounds security challenges in hotspots like the Lake Chad Basin, Middle Belt and Niger Delta. In the police, judiciary and anti-corruption agencies, it undermines the country’s already-anaemic accountability mechanisms, thereby fuelling further corruption across the spectrum.
It also rears its head in politics through electoral manipulation and the kleptocratic capture of party structures. “Brown envelope journalism” undermines democratic norms and the media’s ability to hold leaders accountable. Meanwhile, it is Nigeria’s most vulnerable that are worst affected when graft, fraud and extortion permeate the educational, health and humanitarian sectors.
Corruption in Nigeria, and elsewhere, is highly complex. It can take a variety of different but inter-related forms. Its effects can span across several disparate sectors. Yet most existing frameworks for studying corruption share a common shortcoming: they conflate how corruption occurs (i.e. tactics and behaviours) with where it occurs (i.e. which sector). This can muddle our understanding of an already complicated issue and prevent policymakers, practitioners and analysts from thinking about Nigeria’s greatest challenge in more sophisticated and nuanced ways.

Making better sense of corruption
In a paper recently published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, I propose a new framework – or taxonomy – for looking at corruption in Nigeria. Like the Periodic Table of Elements or the system used to classify animals and plants, this taxonomy aims to help make complicated and expansive topics more digestible.
The framework works by detailing twenty sectors that are especially vulnerable to corruption (such as media, infrastructure, and police). It also identifies eight categories of corrupt behaviour that cut across these sectors (such as bribery, subsidy abuse, and favouritism). These eight categories are further divided into 28 tactics, meaning that overall, the framework covers over 500 distinct kinds of corruption.
Among the forms of corrupt behaviour, the taxonomy includes “legalised corruption” and “deliberate waste”. These categories are not generally recognised as forms of corruption, but they make sense to include in the Nigerian context. These tactics include legislators’ exorbitant salaries (roughly $540,000 annually), vanity projects (such as one governor’s decision to erect multi-million-dollar bronze statues of South Africa and Liberia’s former presidents), and Nigeria’s three (yes, three!) expensive and unnecessary space agencies.
Using the framework to visualise different forms of graft is fairly straightforward. Take the dubious practice of the president or ministers waiving import duties for select companies. These tax breaks are typically granted to firms controlled by ruling party financiers and can be extremely costly. Between 2011 and 2015, Nigeria lost $2.8 billion in revenues to such import waivers.
Looked at through the lens of this taxonomy, we can see that this relatively intricate form of corruption is trade-related and takes the form of subsidy abuse as well as tactics such as favouritism and bribery. Unlike some simpler systems, this framework is flexible enough to recognise that corruption is not always clear-cut and limited in focus, but interconnected, involving a range of behaviours that cut across sectors.

How this new taxonomy can help
As an analytical tool, this new taxonomy is useful to researchers looking to compare the situation in Nigeria with conditions in other countries. Though Nigeria-specific, it is adaptable and could be applied to other countries too. Doing so could help answer a question much-debated among Nigerians: is corruption in their country somehow unique?
This framework could also help policymakers, diplomats, development professionals and private investors to more effectively navigate Nigeria’s complex and interconnected corruption landscape. Tailored to Nigerian realities, it supports the World Bank’s push to “do development differently” by forging more context-specific approaches to addressing development challenges.
It also offers international partners and Nigerian civil society groups engaged in anti-corruption work a better basis for conducting programmatic assessments and analysing the prevalence, impact, and multiplier effects of different forms of the practice.
Developing more sophisticated policies could yield advances against a problem that drains billions of dollars a year from Africa’s largest economy, weakens the social contract between government and the people, and impoverishes Nigeria’s resilient but long-suffering people. But it must begin from a nuanced and accurate understanding of the problem.

 


Matthew T. Page is a consultant and co-author of ‘Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know’ (Oxford University Press, 2018). He is a nonresident scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an associate fellow with the Africa Programme at Chatham House, and nonresident fellow with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja. 

African Arguments

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In Photos/Videos : Happening Now – Presentation of Certificates of Registration to the newly registered 23 Political Parties by the Hon. Chairman INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday presented Certificates of Registration to 23 new political parties in Abuja.
Photos and videos from the ceremony were shared on the Twitter handle of the electoral body, @inecnigeria.

The Commission has decided to extend the CVR to 31st August 2018. The exercise will continue in all the designated registration centres every day, including weekends, but excluding public holidays, between 9am and 5pm.

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Saraki yet to declare for 2019 Presidency – Aide

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The Special Assistant to the President of the Senate on New Media, Olu Onemola, has played down rumours that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, will contest in the 2019 Presidential election.
In an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday, Saraki disclosed that he is “consulting and actively considering” running for President, leading many to believe that he will vie for the country’s top job.
However, in a series of tweets today, Onemola asserted that the President of the Senate’s comments should not be assumed as a declaration to contest for the Presidency next year.
“Considering’ is not a declaration. At the appropriate time, the President of Senate will be specific about his aspiration for 2019. Moreover, the Bloomberg interview was 90% on the economy, and not politics.
“The President of the Senate has been clear that at the right time, Nigerian’s will know what his plans are,” he said.

Additional – OrderPaper

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Senate Asks INEC To Scrap “Smaller” Political Parties

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Nigerian lawmakers in the upper legislative chamber have asked the independent national electoral commission to “scrap smaller political parties to reduce the cost of 2019 general elections.

The lawmakers gave the advice as INEC chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu appeared before them on Wednesday to defend 2019 general election budget of 189 billion naira.
Nigerian lawmakers cut short their annual recess on Wednesday to attend to President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget – request for 2019 general elections.
Their return may have ended weeks of anxieties that the 2019 elections could suffer a setback unless the lawmakers reconvene.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu was around to defend the election budget which the INEC chairman put at189 billion naira.
The figure represents an increase of n69 billion from that of 2015 general elections.
Yakubu said the budget had to be increased because of the number of political parties.
The INEC chairman said his commission had registered a total of 91 political parties and that this number has affected the cost of the elections.
The lawmakers asked INEC to consider trimming down on the number of political parties even though what the president requested was the same in terms of figures with what INEC presented, there was a bit of difference in the manner the monies were to be released.
While INEC wants the sum of n189 billion approved in one trench, the president had requested the national assembly to give approval in two separate components in the 2018 and 2019 budgets.
Unable to reach a compromise on how the money should be approved, the meeting was adjourned till Thursday.

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Odenjiji Ndi Igbo

Minister Mary of Carnaby London delivering a bag to Biola Okoya, daughter of Razaq Okoya – the renowned Nigerian industrialist, owner of Eleganza Group of Companies and Aare of Lagos

Minister Mary of Carnaby London delivering a bag to Biola Okoya, daughter of Razaq Okoya - the renowned Nigerian industrialist, owner of Eleganza Group of Companies and Aare of Lagos

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