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Cost of governance: Tinubu orders VP, MDAs to reduce travel expenses

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In a move to cut down on the cost of governance, President Bola Tinubu has ordered the Office of the Vice President and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to cut down on all official travel, domestic and international trips expenses.

Recall that there had been a series of public outcry in 2023 regarding the huge number of delegates sponsored by the Government to attend the COP28 conference.

This move however signals that the Federal Government is willing to hearken to the voice of Nigerians to cut down on costs especially when the nation is grappled with a plethora of challenges such as huge debts.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who briefed State House Correspondents of the latest development, revealed that President Tinubu has, by his most recent directive, approved a massive cost-cutting exercise that will touch across the entire federal government of Nigeria and the offices of the president himself, the Vice President and the office of the First Lady.

According to the presidential media aide, official trips within the country, involving the President or the Vice President, will experience significant cost reductions. This is a result of the president’s directive to slash the substantial bills associated with allowances and estacode for security details traveling from Abuja to those states.

He said the security outfits within states, whether it be police DSS, or branches of the military, will frontline his protective detail when he travels to those states, a major cost-cutting initiative that will affect the Office of the Vice President as well as the office of the First Lady.

Ngelale also added that when any international travel is being approved, the following limits have been placed on all ministers of the Federation. Four members of their staff, appointees and the like will be allowed to travel with a minister on an official trip.

“For heads of agency, that will be limited to two members of staff allowed to travel on an official trip. Furthermore, the numbers that the President has now approved for official travel with him that will apply to his principal staff are as follows: on international trips the president has directed that no more than 20 individuals be allowed to travel with him.

“That number will be cut down to five in the case of the First Lady. Additionally, the number in the entourage on official international trips for the Vice President will be cut to five, the number that will be placed as a limit on the wife of the Vice President is also five.”

He explained that in terms of local trips, the President has approved a new limit of 25 members of staff to accompany him on domestic trips within the country.

He confirmed that the Office of the First Lady is now limited to 10 staff members to accompany her on official trips within the country. The Vice President will be limited to 15 members of staff on official trips within the country, while his wife will be limited to 10 members of staff on official trips within the country, the same as the first lady.

His words, “It is pertinent to note that there is a difference between the number of members of staff allowed to travel with the presiding officials to international trips and those that are allowed for domestic. You will find that the numbers on international trips are less than those allowed on domestic trips. This is because international trips are far more expensive across the board and the President is determined to bring total sanity and prudence to the management of the Commonwealth of our people.

“As a result of this, the President has directed that every federal MDA also including the office of the president itself and the Office of the Vice President as well as the offices of the first and Second Ladies, are affected and bound by this directive of the president.

“Henceforth, the President is insistent that the notion of government wastage, the notion of recurrent expenditure being in excess, the notion that government officials will be allowed to conduct their affairs in a way that is different from what we are asking of Nigerian citizens with respect to prudence and cost management, those days are over.

“The President is insistent that the prudence of government officials must reflect the prudence and efficiency of Nigerian citizens and this is the directive of the President. Thank you very much.”

When questioned if the new directive on restrictions will come in the form of an executive order, Ajuri simply replied, “With respect to the adherence to this most recent directive of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I believe we do not need to convince the officers of the federal government of Nigeria of the seriousness of the president with respect to how he will implement his directives.

“If there is anybody who feels that the directive of the President is not binding on them and who feels that the President will not uphold this directive in implementation and seeks to test it, they will do so at their own peril.”

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Tinubu, UNFPA launch 2024 SWOP report in Abuja

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President Bola Tinubu, alongside the Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on Wednesday, launched the 2024 regional State of World Population (SWOP) Report.

During the report launch, which has “Interwoven Lives, Threads of Hope: Ending Inequalities in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” as theme, Tinubu was represented by Prof. Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare.

Tinubu said “the theme comes with a narrative that reminds us that, globally we are composed of eight billion threads of hope, eight billion people interwoven with each of the threads being very unique.

“It is of note that Nigeria is among the eight identified countries to account for more than half of the projected increase in the world population up to 2050.

“The other countries are Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.”

He, however, said that meeting the aspirations and hopes of the unique members of these interwoven threads, who are mostly women, girls and young people, places a great demand and a sense of duty on government to keep that hope alive.

“In addition, for each of the threads to be recognised and be relevant, there is need to sustainably invest in generating quality, well-disaggregated data that will help in ensuring none of the threads is un-woven.

“The regional inauguration of the 2024 SWOP report in Nigeria and the presence of the UNFPA Executive Director is a reminder that Nigeria should prioritise data generation to provide the baseline and showcase progress toward the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“One of such data generation exercise is the conduct of the National Population and Housing Census within the 2020 round of Population and Housing census (2015-2024).

“We are consulting and working closely with the National Population Commission (NPC) to get this exercise right. We count on the support of UNFPA and other partners to get it right.”

In her address, Kanem said that the report presents important data that shows that in many countries, inequalities in such key measures as access to healthcare have been reduced.

She added that in other places, however, disparities are actually widening, and inequalities still persist everywhere.

“The report indicates that since global measurements have been kept, two countries – India and Nigeria – have recorded the highest number of maternal deaths.

“The remarkable reduction in the number of women worldwide dying in childbirth, 34 per cent since 2000 is largely attributable to progress in those two countries.

“Nigeria’s achievement in reducing maternal death rate by more than 11 per cent between 2013 and 2018 must be applauded.”

The UNFPA boss also said there had been advances in combatting Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices in Nigeria, with a 10 per cent drop in number of adolescents subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the past decade.

She also said that politically, there had been progress as the proportion of women serving in parliaments more than doubled globally.

In spite of the gains, however, she said, progress was slowing, while by many measures it has stalled completely.

She noted that since 2016, the world made zero progress in saving women from preventable deaths during pregnancy and childbirth.

She explained that “one important reason, our report shows, is that we have not prioritised reaching those furthest behind.

“We see, for example, that barriers to healthcare fell fastest for women who are more affluent, educated and privileged.

“Many of these findings are the result of having better data than ever before. Thirty years ago, maternal mortality rates were only rough estimates.

“Today, data allows us to see clearly the unacceptable rates at which women are dying while giving life; data also shows the inequalities that are quite literally killing them.”

On Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in Nigeria, she said that in spite of the progress recorded, it still remained high at over 1,047 per 100,000 live births.

Kanem, however, pledged UNFPA’s support for the country to change that statistic.

The Chairman, National Population Commission, Alhaji Nasir Kwarra, said that the theme of the report aptly amplifies issues that matter most beyond the numbers, emphasising the people that make up the numbers.

He requested that the UNFPA should relentlessly advocate for the conduct of the next census; support in the implementation of ideas and interventions to address key issues raised in the 2024 SWOP.

He said the implementation of the National Population Policy captured the commitments made in Nairobi (2019).

They include sexual and reproductive health, particularly of adolescent girls including prioritising family planning and keeping girls in school.

He said that the implementation would in turn, enable Nigeria manage its population, achieve the required shift in population age-structure for a Demographic Dividend (DD) to occur, as well as in the implementation of the DD Roadmap.

In a goodwill message, Sen.  Mustapha Musa, Senate Committee Chairman on National Identity and  Population, said the legislature deems the issue of population and development important.

“Particularly as it relates to the well-being of women, young people and girls, which connects with addressing the existing inequalities and ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights receive the deserved attention.

“I reiterate that the committee I chair will ensure that issues arising from the report will be given due attention.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that SWOP is UNFPA’s annual flagship report that features trends in the world population and reports on emerging themes in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It brings them into the mainstream and explores the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.

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FG hails World Bank’s support to PWDs

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The Federal Government has commended the World Bank for providing technical and financial support to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), Dr James Lalu, said this on Wednesday in Abuja, during a virtual meeting with officials of World Bank.
The meeting was convened to strengthen implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 10 and 17 for disability inclusion in Nigeria.
Lalu draw the attention of stakeholders to the need to redesign policies and programmes of the commission to conform with the global standard.
”We need policies redesign in the area of social protection programmes because World Bank has the capacity to stimulate disability inclusion and development programme” he said.
The Executive Secretary expressed commitment to improve the welfare of Persons with Disabilities.
Also speaking, Cindy Ikeaka, a World Bank Social Development Specialist said, the bank will continue to provide technical support to the commission to ensure effective delivery of the needs of PWDs.
Ikeaka also said that the bank was working with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to ensure disability data collection.
”This will ensure proper data management of persons with disabilities ” she said.
On her part, Esther Bature, the Country Coordinator of Sightsavers in Nigeria said, her organisation will continue to strengthen national systems to deliver sustainable services.
”We supported NCPWD to develop a five-year national strategic plan and this plan requires different levels of intervention.
”We are happy to see that the World Bank has supported the commission to a kind of review to include monitoring and evaluation in the plan as well as developed several developments documents,” she said.Batur
Nature also thanked the World Bank for its assistance in building the capacity of the commission’s members of staff.
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IPMAN gives Soludo 1 month to address marketers’ grievances

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The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has given Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra one month within which to address the demands of marketers in the state or face total shutdown of operations without further notice.

Marketers in the state reached this decision at the end of the statewide meeting held in Awka on Tuesday.

Mr Chinedu Anyaso, Chairman of IPMAN Enugu Depot Community, in charge of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States, who addressed Journalists after the meeting, said the association had reported cases affecting its members to the governor without any response.

Anyaso said the grievances of marketers in Anambra included the issue of consolidated revenue payable and withdrawal of all litigations against members based on multiple taxation which was not in line with the understanding IPMAN had with the Anambra government.

He said IPMAN discussed the problem of non-payment of debt amounting to about N900 million owed contractors who supplied diesel for powering streetlight projects in the state.

Anyaso also said that among the demands of the association was the demolition of part of the property of Chris Tee Nigeria limited, a marketer at Trans-Nkissi phase 1 along Onitsha-Otuocha road which was destroyed by agents of government.

He said IPMAN would not issue further notice upon the expiration of the deadline before shutting their outlets.

Anyaso thanked Chief Ken Maduako, a patron of the association, Mr Golden Iloh, member of the Anambra State House of Assembly and representative of the Anambra Internal Revenue Service, for their intervention and hoped that the Soludo administration would act on their plea to prevent the looming industrial action.

He commended Gov. Soludo for his efforts to make Anambra a peaceful and liveable state while urging him to make the business environment conducive for investors, especially oil marketers.

He pledged positive disposition of the association to continue to support his administration to succeed.

The chairman commended marketers for complying fully with the partial shutdown and attendance to the meeting, saying it was a great show of comradeship.

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