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163,878 Nigerians enjoyed FG’s transportation rebate – Alake

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The Committee on Implementation of the End of Year Transportation Subsidy Programme of President Bola Tinubu, said over 160,000 passengers so far, benefitted from the programme.

The Chairman of the committee and Minister of Solid Minerals Resources, Dr Dele Alake made this known in a progress report on Monday in Lagos.

Recall that  President  Tinubu on Dec. 19, approved the provision of free transportation on the routes of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

The President also approved a 50 percent subsidy on transport fares for passengers travelling on 30 routes serviced by bus operators,  under the aegis of Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON).

On the overall assessment of the scheme so far, Alake enthused that it had been a huge success, emphasizing that the transportation rebate was a demonstration of the level of love the President has for Nigerians.

He said the programme recorded impressive results,  from Dec. 21  to  Dec. 31, 2023, the NRC conveyed 71,000 passengers, while buses operating under the auspices of ALBON carried 77,122 passengers.

The Minister also revealed that 652 “bus trips originating travels” from Oshodi Interchange in Lagos, carried 15,766 passengers.

“Between Dec. 21 and Dec. 31, 2023, figures available show that the NRC conveyed 71,000 passengers, while buses operating under the auspices of ALBON carried 77, 122 passengers.

“Also, 652 bus trips originating travels from Oshodi Interchange in Lagos carried 15,766 passengers.This means no fewer than 163, 878 passengers benefitted from the Presidential Yuletide Transportation Subsidy in the first 10 days of the programme.

“Secondly, while train bound passengers enjoyed total free service, road travelers paid only 50 per cent of the fares.

“The subsidies depended on the fares ranging from a saving of N21,500 on a Lagos-Abuja road trip fare of N43,000 and N15,000 on a Lagos –Onisha bus fare of N30,000,” he said.

Alake said the programme was a demonstration of the President’s empathy and love for the Nigerian people, who were culturally and emotionally committed to travelling to their home towns at the end of the year.

He said the programme was also aimed at easing the financial burden of  citizens, who were facing some economic challenges due to the global pandemic and other internal factors.

The minister said the committee took some remedial measures to address some identified gaps in the execution of the programme, such as adding two more routes, and engaging other bus-owning stakeholders.

Alake added that the committee also  engaged the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the State-owned Transport Companies, and the Private Transport Operators Association (PTONA) and collaborating and sensitising Nigerians through  media platforms.

He appealed for cooperation from the passengers and  bus companies, to manage the return of passengers from their respective locations back to their bases till Thursday, as the programme was still ongoing.

The Minister said the yuletide transportation programme sought to meet the mass of Nigerians at their points of need.

On the arrangement for the return leg of the trip by travellers,  Alake also urged them to initiate their return journey as early as possible to secure seats on the coaches and buses.

He also appealed to all the bus companies involved to demonstrate faith, integrity and patriotism by applying the 50 per cent subsidy and making enough vehicles available.

The Minister added that the committee would continue to monitor compliance and intervene whenever and wherever necessary.

Alake, thereafter, assured that the appropriate government security agencies had been properly briefed to ensure free embarkation and disembarkation of passengers at the parks.

 

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Tinubu to declare open African Counter-Terrorism Summit in Abuja

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President Bola Tinubu will on Monday, April 22, open the African Counter-Terrorism Summit in Abuja.

Nigeria, with the support of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), is organising a high-level African counter-terrorism summit under the theme, ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Institution Building to Address the Evolving Threat of Terrorism,’ in Abuja, from April 22 to April 23.

The objective of the summit is to enhance multilateral counter-terrorism cooperation and reshape the international community’s collective response to terrorism in Africa, while emphasising the importance of African-led and African-owned solutions.

The summit will provide a platform to review the nature and severity of the threat of terrorism on the continent, with a view to agreeing on concrete strategic priorities and measures to address this scourge. It will also foster deeper regional collaboration, enhancing the institutional capacity of member states and facilitating the exchange of best practices and knowledge to combat the multifaceted threat of terrorism in Africa.

Heads of state and government and high-level government officials across Africa, representatives of international organisations and multilateral institutions, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of civil society groups are expected to attend the summit.

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, will attend the event.

National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and the Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, UNOCT, Mr. Vladimir Voronkov will deliver the concluding remarks at the end of the summit.

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The Naira abuse palaver

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By Dakuku Peterside

There is no dispute that Naira abuse or more specifically the act of spraying money at social events has become an acceptable norm or cultural practice in Nigeria. Nigerians have a cultural affinity for lavish social gatherings. Many people regard these occasions as a means of displaying social status  and wealth. Spraying Naira notes, and other currency notes, at events progressively appear to be the ultimate way to flaunt your social standing. Even burials that are supposed to be sober moments have been turned into considerable fanfare. This has created a new industry of mint note trading and events management. All of these constitute the social infrastructure of Naira abuse. A new dimension of the social infrastructure of Naira abuse is the arrival to the scene of the nouveau rich. Society has labelled them with all sorts of nomenclature: Yahoo Boys, Yahoo Plus, and 419.

Nigeria has since recognised the dangers of Naira abuse but  that is not the focus of this piece. The government has made rules and laws to check it and provided enlightenment campaigns to educate people. The Central Bank of Nigeria( CBN) gave Naira abuse as one of the reasons why it is pushing for digital-based financial transactions. Naira abuse, like its ancestor-mother social epidemic of corruption, has remained stubborn and refused to go away.

There is ambiguity about what constitutes Naira abuse. The Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007 in Section 21 of the CBN Act 2007 clearly defines Naira abuse and prescribes various punishments to deter citizens from abusing the Naira. They include – spraying banknotes at events; writing on banknotes; stapling banknotes; tearing banknotes; dancing or stamping on Naira; defacing the bank notes with substances or ink, oil; selling currency banknotes; mutilation of the Naira note; money bouquets. However, law enforcement has been lax. It is commonly believed that the laws against Naira abuse are either symbolic or desuetude because no one is held accountable, everyone gets away with it, and things have normalised.

The social phenomena of Naira abuse, especially the spraying of money, have become an epidemic in Nigeria. Lately, it is of significant concern. We have exported this to many parts of the world, and social media is replete with evidence of this in weddings and other social events attended by Nigerians in different parts of the world.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” explores the idea that social phenomena, like trends and epidemics, often reach a tipping point where they suddenly become widespread. He identifies three key factors that contribute to this tipping point: the Law of the Few (the idea that a small number of people have a disproportionate influence), the Stickiness Factor (how messages or ideas stick in the minds of people), and the Power of Context (how the environment influences behaviour).

Through engaging anecdotes and research, Gladwell illustrates how understanding these factors can help individuals and organisations create or manipulate trends and epidemics. The book emphasises the importance of paying attention to small details and understanding the social dynamics behind spreading ideas and behaviours. The fundamental concepts of the book about Naira Abuse are twofold. First, the cultural context or external environment provides the soil for bad or good behaviour to grow and spread. Second, key people with remarkable personalities can cause or stop social epidemics because of their social profile or social network.

There is a link between the recommendation of Malcolm Gladwell and the arrest and prosecution of  Idris Okuneye better known as Bobrisky, a cross-dresser and social influencer, for Naira abuse, and the arrest and ongoing prosecution of Cubana Chief priest Pascal Okechukwu in connection with Naira abuse. Why selectively arrest the duo when everybody is involved in some form of Naira abuse either by trampling, spraying, mutilation or rumpling? Truth is that it is nearly impossible for any law enforcement organisation to find and apprehend every perpetrator. Resources exist in limited supply. It is simple wisdom to begin with people who have disproportionate influence. This is perhaps what EFCC has done.  First common ground is that both of them enjoy considerable social media influence whether for positive or negative reasons depending on your own value system. These two cases, though similar, are following different paths. Bobrisky, in court, pleaded guilty and has since been handed six months imprisonment. Cubana Chief Priest did not plead guilty, so his case will go to full trial, putting the law to the test. This court case will assist us in providing answers to some critical questions: what are the societal ramifications of Naira spraying, and how can Naira misuse be proven? Is there a need to amend the existing law and make it more relevant to the challenge? Will this fresh wave of enforcement stop the epidemic of Naira abuse ? Regardless of how the legal proceedings turn out, they have highlighted how important it is to take the triplet societal plague of poor social behaviour, Naira abuse, and their ancestor-mother corruption very seriously.

I have identified six pillars to control or stop Naira abuse: Fight corruption because it is an enabler for abuse of the Naira. The incestuous relationship  between corruption, illicit financial transactions and Naira abuse is well established . Second,the government should deepen knowledge and change people’s orientation by embarking on mass enlightenment, people must understand clearly what constitutes Naira abuse and what the punishment is for such offence. Third, address cultural issues relating to Naira abuse through community engagement. People gifting money to celebrants at occasions is no crime but the manner of gifting is the issue. Fourth, government should renew the push for digital transactions. Fifth, government must strengthen the structures of law enforcement. It is not just police and EFCC matter . The judiciary must upend its knowledge on the subject matter. Sixth, government must be impartial and objectively enforce the law to change cultural norms and public behaviour that defaces the Naira. This may entail revisiting and improving the law.

CBN, Police and the EFCC should study different models of changing public behaviour in the past and draw up a model and strategy to deal with the issue of Naira abuse, especially since it has become embedded in some cultures. Good examples abound abroad and in Nigeria. The British government employed various strategies to change public behaviour regarding spitting and other personal vices. Spitting in public places was prohibited by local bylaws or municipal regulations but it is social persuasion that gave the result. These laws serve as deterrents and can result in fines or other penalties for offenders. They launched public awareness campaigns, collaborated with community stakeholders, and monitored and enforced the law. However, most of all, they leveraged social norms and peer pressure to influence behaviour and encourage individuals to conform to accepted standards of behaviour by highlighting the societal consensus against spitting and certain destructive behaviours and showcasing positive role models who embody desirable conduct. Today, the practice of spitting publicly, urinating on the road corners, and other public nuisances are controlled to the barest minimum.

In Nigeria, good examples of efforts to change public behaviour can be seen around us. Most were successful to a greater degree. The government should revisit some of these campaigns and learn from them.

A model that seems to be working in Akwa Ibom State is the State Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation initiative. Before 1999, the Akwa Ibom people experienced a severe social epidemic, “The Pervasive and prevalent Househelp Syndrome,” which gained widespread notoriety and led to the dubbed moniker “Ekaette” for nearly every female domestic helper. The administration of Obong Attah took up the task of reorienting the Akwa Ibom people’s mindset. He established the Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission (EARCOM) in Akwa Ibom and gave them the responsibility of raising public awareness about the importance of “minoring” vices and “majoring” in moral principles.

The struggle has persisted throughout the regimes, and Pastor Umo Eno’s present administration appears to be taking it to newer, more profound heights by hiring assistants for each ward and unit and charging them to carry out the Commission’s work of value reorientation in remote areas. As bait, he is using the incentivisation  and social support model, drawing on the country’s current food and hunger crisis to reach out with the message of value reorientation. Today, a negligible number of Akwa Ibom daughters are house helps , and the majority are highflyers in the professions and business.

The success story of Akwa Ibom is a model that the federal government can replicate. Changing public behaviour requires a multifaceted approach that combines legislation, education, community engagement, social support  and enforcement efforts. By addressing the underlying factors contributing to undesirable behaviours and promoting positive alternatives, governments can effectively shape public attitudes and foster a more socially responsible society.

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NIPOST apprehends 33 illegal operators during clampdown in Lagos, set to visit more states

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By Omolola Adeyanju

The courier and logistics regulatory department (CLRD) NIPOST has held its clampdown for the first quarter of the year in Lagos with thirty three unlicensed/ illegal courier and logistics operators apprehended during the exercise carried out in Ikeja LGA and Falomo, Lagos State on Thursday last week.

According to the General manager, Courier and Logistics and Regulatory Department (CLRD), NIPOST, Shonde G. Dotun, “the clampdown has been carried out in 11 States already which include Abia, Rivers, Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Katsina, Ondo, Kwara and Delta states respectively and the regulatory department are in the process of visiting more states to ensure adherence to the statutory provisions.”

In an official statement, the organisation said: “The postal, express, Courier and logistics industry in Nigeria has been proliferated and infiltrated with so many unlicensed and illegal courier and logistic operators with reckless abandonment for ethical standard and professional conduct.

“There exist unethical sharp practices such as price undercutting, pilfering, broaching, damages, loss and dumping of customers’ items, poaching and subletting of operating licenses with mountain of public complaints about customers being duped or obtaining money from them under false pretense, no traceable office address nor registered brand name. As well as overloading and carriage of items above the stipulated 50 kg.”

The statement further stated that provision has been made for a flexible payment plan for those who cannot afford to pay for the operating license at a stretch.

He said that a special consideration has been given to the Independent/Soldiers Scheme now.

He added that over eight regional operating licenses have been granted, over two hundred national operating licenses approved and over ten international operating licenses have also been granted as well.

However, the GM advised, “Every interested private investor in the Courier and Logistics business should follow the due process by obtaining a grant of operating licenses from the federal government. (NIPOST).”

Meanwhile, one of the alleged culprits Monday Ajobiewe, speaking to Newsdirect explained that he got his motorcycle through a hire-purchase hence wasn’t aware of the cycle being unregistered.

He confessed to being helpless knowing that NIPOST officials are only doing their job as he cannot fight the government

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