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INEC: No Nigerian was disenfranchised- Festus Okoye

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By Konyinsola Dawodu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied playing any adverse roles in the failure of about seven million potential voters to complete their registration to vote in next year’s election.

Its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, refuted the claim in Abuja on Monday.

Okoye said that INEC’s attention was drawn to media reports that about seven million Nigerians who applied for the PVC online during the last Continuous Voter Registration were denied the opportunity.

“To set the records straight, INEC introduced the online pre-registration on June 28, 2021.

“By doing so, citizens were given the opportunity to start the registration online and then book appointments at their convenience to complete the physical biometric registration at designated centres.

“It was a novel idea leveraging on technology to ease the registration process,’’ he said.

Okoye explained that this was in addition to the walk-in option at physical registration centres, where registrants could begin and complete their registration without going through the online pre-registration procedure.

“For the online pre-registration, 10,487,972 began the process.

“By the deadline of the exercise, 3,444,378 registrants completed their pre-registration physically at the designated centres in line with laid-down procedure.

“Some 7,043,594 applicants did not complete the registration and INEC made the information public.

“This is what some people are now holding on to, to claim that they were denied the opportunity.

“In reality, they failed to either complete the online enrolment or failed to appear physically at the designated centres to complete the process,’’ he said.

Okoye added that out of the 7,043,594 who did not complete their registration, 4,161,775 attempted but either did not complete online pre-registration or abandoned it and went for the physical registration.

“The remaining 2,881,819 registrants completed the online pre-registration but did not show up to complete the physical biometric registration at designated centres before the expiration of the deadline.

“Therefore, it is clear that no Nigerian was denied the opportunity to complete the online pre-registration,’’ he stressed.

Okoye appealed to Nigerians to always adhere to timelines as against the endless agitation for eleventh hour extension of set deadlines.

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Tinubu unveils Single Trade Window Policy to check import-export bottlenecks

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The Federal Government has launched an ambitious policy to check infractions in the nation’s import and export value chain, aiming to bridge over $4 billion in losses owing to bureaucratic bottlenecks.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the Committee at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Tuesday, incorporating egg-heads drawn from representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance, representatives of the Marine and Blue Economy, those of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The Committee also comprised representatives of the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, the Standards Organization of Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration on Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC.

The policy is encapsulated under the National Single Window Steering Committee which will explore real-time digital trade compliance.

The National Single Window project will facilitate a paperless trade volume of $ 2.7 billion to the country.

According to the Nigerian President, the country cannot afford to lose an estimated $4 billion annually to bureaucracy, delays and corruption.

He noted that it was time for Nigeria to join the ranks of countries like Singapore, Korea, Kenya and Saudi Arabia that have experienced significant improvement in trade efficiency after implementing a single window system.

Tinubu said he was optimistic that through the newly launched project, Nigeria will expedite cargo movement and optimize inter-African trade.

He added that the initiative is a testament to his administration’s commitment to regional integration and collaboration.

His words, “Today, marks the beginning of a new era of unyielding commitment to prosperity, efficiency and endless possibilities. The National Single Window is not just a project. This initiative is not just a policy but a bold statement of our commitment to progress, prosperity, and the well-being of every Nigerian.

“It is a symbol of our determination to build a better future for ourselves and generations to come.

“The benefit of this initiative is immense paperless trade alone, which is estimated to bring an annual economic benefit of around 2.7 billion US dollars.

“Countries like Singapore, Korea, Kenya and Saudi Arabia have already seen significant improvements in trade efficiency. After implementing a single window system. It is time for Nigeria to join the ranks and reap the reward of a streamlined, digitized trade process. We cannot afford to lose an estimated $4 billion annually to red tape, bureaucracy, delays and corruption at our ports.

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Kaduna Assembly probes El-Rufai’s loans, directs committee to summon ex-gov

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The Kaduna State House of Assembly on Tuesday commenced probing controversial foreign and domestic loans and grants secured by the immediate past administration of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

The Assembly set up a committee to conduct the probe at Tuesday’s plenary presided by the Speaker, Yusuf Liman Dahiru.

The Committee was tasked to embark “on fact-finding of financial dealings, loans and grants and other projects implementation from 2015-2023”.

The probe panel was mandated to invite El-Rufai and other notable personalities, including the former Speaker of the 8th and 9th Assembly.

Others to be invited are former commissioners of Finance and ex-commissioners of Budget and Planning.

Governor of Kaduna State Uba Sani had lamented the huge debt burden left by the past administration which he claimed was incapacitating his government.

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FG commences disbursement for presidential conditional grant scheme

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The Federal Government has initiated the disbursement process for the Presidential Conditional Grant scheme.

The scheme, which targets nanobusinesses—enterprises with one or two workers and an annual turnover of less than N3 million aims to provide each beneficiary with N50,000.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment declared: “We are pleased to inform you that the disbursement process for the Presidential Conditional Grant Programme has officially commenced. A number of beneficiaries have already received their grants, marking the beginning of our phased disbursement strategy.”

The ministry further explained: “In collaboration with telecommunications providers, we have successfully resolved the initial delays in sending out shortcodes for NIN verification and application continuation.

“By Friday, 19th April 2024, a significant disbursement will be made to a substantial number of verified applicants. It is essential to understand that disbursements are ongoing, and not all applicants will receive their grants on this initial date.”

The Presidential Conditional Grant Programme was launched last year to alleviate economic hardship following the removal of fuel subsidies in the country.

It is expected to reach one million small businesses across the 774 local government areas and the six council areas in the Federal Capital Territory.

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