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1999 Constitution won’t guarantee emergence of credible leaders – Afe Babalola

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Chief Afe Babalola, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) says the 1999 Constitution will not guarantee the emergence of credible leaders at the February general elections.

“Unless a new Constitution similar to those of 1960 and 1963 Constitutions, with necessary amendments, is put in place, none of the aspirants, and indeed no angel can save Nigeria from total collapse,’’ he said.

The proprietor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, made the declaration on Wednesday at the Ekiti capital at a news conference.

He was reacting to the adoption of Mr Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“On April 18, 2022, I urged the Federal Government to suspend the 2023 general elections and to raise an interim government of six months that will fashion out a new Constitution for the country.

“I still stand by my suggestion that any election conducted under the 1999 Constitution cannot, and will not produce new leaders with new ideas.

“Any election conducted under the 1999 Constitution will merely result in recycling the same people who brought Nigeria to grinding poverty, mass unemployment, underfunded education, insecurity and huge external debts,’’ Babalola said.

The elder statesman noted that only a moneybag; and not the best-qualified candidates could win the February presidential election under the present constitutional arrangement.

He explained that the LP presidential candidate’s adoption by former President Obasanjo was his right of expression, and might be a result of the contestant’s acclaimed untainted records of character and sound education.

He stressed that the 1999 Constitution was too lopsided and faulty to produce the type of change agent and developmental leader Obasanjo had in mind.

He added that the 1999 Constitution was not what Nigeria needed at a time like this.

“I am an elder statesman, a SAN, the highest taxpayer in old Ondo State, the highest taxpayer in present Ekiti, owner of the best private university in Nigeria and many more.

“If I contest for political office today, I will fail, not because I am not qualified, but because the system will make me not to win.

“I have no sympathy for any Nigerian aspiring to rule Nigeria in any form, whether as a legislator, governor or president.

“The fact remains that the 1999 Constitution on a large scale is the root cause of economic, social, political and religious problems in the country today.

“Our experience since 1999 has taught us that we are in urgent need of a new Constitution.

“The new Constitution should provide for stringent conditions in respect of age, academic qualifications, character and personality, as well as family background of candidates, especially for the presidency and the National Assembly,’’ Babalola said.

He noted also that Nigeria’s external debt had risen to N42.84 trillion as of June 30, 2022, while domestic debt servicing rose to N5.24 trillion in the same period.

He said that any Nigerian aspiring to lead the country ought to be worried about the country’s debt profile and advocated for urgent measures to defray the huge foreign debts.

“In addition, government should emulate Obasanjo’s example by approaching the country’s creditors, either for total debt forgiveness or for substantial reduction of the debts,’’ the legal luminary stressed.

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Lagos to unveil transport policy in May – Sanwo-Olu

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The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says the Lagos State Transport Policy will be unveiled in May.
Sanwo-Olu said this at the unveiling of the Global Transport Policy Annual Transport Roundtable/Bilingual Magazine on Wednesday in Lagos.

The theme of the event was: “Transport Infrastructure and Strategic Policy Intervention: Building Blocks for economic Growth.”

Sanwo-Olu was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Oluwaseun Osiyemi.

The governor noted that the policy was put together to ensure a sustainable, efficient, and reliable transportation system that would attract investors and encourage public private partnership.

According to Sanwo-Olu, the policy document when fully operational will serve a number of functions.

“First, as a set of transport goals, objectives and strategies for the government and people of Lagos State. Second; as the basis for emerging regulations and legislations on transport and traffic development of the state.

“The Lagos State Transport Policy will address issues such as integration of all modes, inclusion of people with disability in the provision of transport infrastructure.

“Others are the encouragement of private participation in the provision of infrastructure and services, encouragement and inclusion of non-motorised transport infrastructure in on going road projects,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu, however, called for insightful discussions and exchange of ideas at the roundtable for economic growth and development.

“Everyone should seize this opportunity to harness collective wisdom, innovation, and collaboration to chart a course toward a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive transport ecosystem.

“Together, let us strive to unlock the full potential of transport infrastructure and strategic policy intervention as the building blocks for economic growth, prosperity, and shared prosperity for all,” he said.

Also, Mr Segun Obayendo, President, Chartered Institute of Transport Administration (CIOTA), enjoined stakeholders in the sector to embrace professionalism.

“If the transport sector is professionalised, it will see to a new beacon and shape the future of the industry.

“We do not have a National Transport Policy and we can achieve this if we professionalise this sector and CIOTA is solidly behind the convener with their support,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Oluwasegun Musa, Chairman/Chief Consultant, GTP, said that development of robust transportation networks was not merely about connecting cities and regions.

Musa said that transportation networks must be built on sustainable economic growth, societal advancement, and global competitiveness.

He stressed the need for strategic policies designed to optimise transportation networks to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and inclusivity.

“Connectivity goes beyond geographical boundaries integrating different regions into cohesive economic units.
“Whether it be roads, pipeline, railways, airways, or maritime routes, the seamless interconnectivity of transport networks fosters trade, spurs investment, and promotes the exchange of knowledge and expertise.

“By investing in last-mile connectivity, we can ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared by all segments of society.

“Therefore, our first building block is the establishment of a comprehensive, multimodal transport system that enhances connectivity within and beyond our borders, stretching to neighbouring countries to further amplify the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.

Musa called for the development of policies that reinforces the success of intermodal transport.
“The revitalisation of Nigeria’s transport infrastructure requires bold vision, decisive action, and unwavering commitment.

“By prioritising strategic policy intervention, we can lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth, job creation, and improved quality of life for all Nigerians,” he said.

He commended government’s commitment to infrastructure development, with the instituting of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, and the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund for execution of critical infrastructure projects.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the Global Transport Policy magazine, a bilingual magazine, produced quarterly with authoritative trend-spotting and compelling cross-cutting analysis.

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Anambra Assembly passes bill to prohibit cult activities, killings

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The Anambra State House of Assembly has passed a bill to prohibit secret cult activities and killings in the state.

The Bill, entitled: Anambra State Secret Cult and Similar Activities Prohibition Bill 2024, was passed after the third reading on Wednesday.

The lawmakers, at the Committee of the Whole House, took turns to scrutinise the executive Bill before its passage.

The Speaker, Dr Somtochukwu Udeze, conducted a voice vote on each of the clauses of the bill before it was passed.

Udeze said the passage followed the consideration of the report presented by the joint committee on Education, Judiciary and Justice.

Subsequently, Udeze directed the acting Clerk, Mr Okechukwu Nwobi, to transmit a clean copy of the bill to Gov. Chukwuma Soludo for assent.

The bill states that any person who participates in a meeting or activity of a secret cult shall be presumed to be a member of the secret cult.

It says that any person who has in his possession or custody or under his control any of the insignia, documents or other properties belonging to a secret cult or wears such insignia shall be presumed to be a member of the secret cult.

“The law also empowers the police or any security agent to arrest a person who is in possession of an offensive weapon being kept in any house or building.

“Any person, who is a member of a secret cult, commits an offense whether or not in possession of offensive weapon and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life or a minimum of 21 years imprisonment without an option of fine.

“Any member of a secret cult who voluntarily renounces his membership of the cult and submits any offensive weapon in his possession to the Police, shall be free from prosecution.

“A rehabilitation agency shall be created where persons who renounce their membership of secret cult or any proscribed society shall receive counseling,” it said.

Speaking to newsman at the end of plenary, Mr Ikenna Ofodeme, Majority Leader and member representing Ekwusigo Constituency, said the bill would go a long way in assisting government to curb crime and criminality in the state.

He said it would help save lives of residents and empower authorities to take decisive actions against perpetrators.

The House adjourned plenary till Thursday.

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FG to prioritise application of technology in education – Minister

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The Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu has said that the ministry would continue to prioritise the application of technology in education for informed decisions.
Sununu said this in Abuja on Wednesday, at the 2024 Information Technology Professionals’ Assembly.
The assembly withthe theme: ‘Artificial Intelligence: An Enabler for Economic Transformation and Sustainable Development’, was organised by the Computer Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).
The Minister emphasised the importance of technology in providing students with access to online resources as well as encouraging researches.
“In the last few days, President Bola Tinubu has approved the project of the education which encapsulated the generation of overall data of all school in Nigeria right from kindergarten to our tertiary institutions.
“This will enable us to have the actual data and number of students, their performances, the number of schools and their current status, so that where we need to intervene and otherwise we can,” he said.
Sununu said the ministry is collaborating with other governmental agencies to ensure a comprehensive data of out-of-school children.
He recalled that one of the campaign promises of the Tinubu’s administration was
to move out-of-school children from street back to school.
“It is worrisome that Nigeria has first position in the number of out-of-school children globally.
“Over 20 million out-of-school children is unacceptable and that’s why we must find solution to it,” he said.
The Minister commended the efforts of the council at eliminating quackery in the profession, urging them to redouble their strategies at ridding quackery out of the system.
“Your efforts at eliminating quackery in the profession through the registration of individuals and corporate organisations that are practicing Information Technology have not been unnoticed.
“The Federal Ministry of Education is conscious of your efforts at enforcing the Act that established CPN by making it mandatory for all individuals and corporate organisations that are practicing IT in Nigeria to be duly registered with CPN.
“The global practice is for professionals to regulate their profession properly in order to exterminate quacks and undesirable elements from making incursions into the profession.
“Therefore, all individuals and corporate organisations that are into Information Technology practice should register with CPN to allow for effective regulation of computer education and practice in Nigeria,” he said.
The minister, therefore, urged the council to align with the vision of the administration in their programmes and activities so that it would not be a mirage.
The President and Chairman of CPN, Mr Kole Jagun, said the IT Professionals’ Assembly had continued to set the tenor and directions for IT policies for successive governments.
He said this was part of the various initiatives of the Council to ensure that Nigeria is positioned to take maximum advantage of the knowledged-based economy globally.
He noted that 400 new members would be inducted into the profession on Thursday.
“There is no doubt that our profession is a critical sector to the development of any nation in this modern world.
“In fact, no meaningful development can take place if the Information Technology sector is prostrate.
“That is why we have to be alive to our responsibility of moving with the dynamics and realities in the world.
The profession has evolved and should take the centre stage of national development,” he said.
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