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Taxes, levies too heavy for ordinary Nigerians — ACF laments

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By Austine Emmanuel, Kaduna

Arewa Consultative Forum, (ACF) has decried the addition of new taxes and levies on essential goods and services, saying it has become increasingly burdensome and too heavy for ordinary Nigerians to bear.

This is as the Forum with concerns called on government at all levels to confront the decline in the living condition of citizens by giving adequate attention to the plights and yearnings of the Nigeria populace.

In a communique issued to journalists in Kaduna on Tuesday after an intense meeting of the ACF National Working Committee, (NWC) the National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Prof. Tukur Muhammad-Baba stated that the need for a roll out of public policy programmes and projects aimed at addressing low purchasing power challenges can never be overemphasised.

ACF in a meeting presided over by the National President, Mike Mamman Osman, SAN called on citizens to rally around the government and seek God’s interventions. They identified justice, equity, love, righteousness, amongst other virtues as factors capable of the rebirth of a prosperous Nigeria in the place of current despair and hopelessness.

The Northern sociocultural umbrella further called on public officials to shun and recklessness in spending of public funds, while noting that such an act will inspire the spirit of needed sacrifices by citizens.

“On the national front, and specifically applicable to the Northern states, NEC notes that the times continue to be tough and challenging for the average citizen who is daily confronted with runaway inflation, unemployment, rapid deterioration in standards of living, all in the face of incidents of insurgency, terrorism and banditry, etc. These problems that have remained dire, acute (or even chronic in some places) in the North in particular.

“The immediate causes of the problems have been policies put in place by government over the past months, including but not confined to removal of subsidies from the prices of petroleum products, floating of the Naira, and astronomical hike in the cost of poorly supplied electricity, increasing tariffs and taxes against the seemingly insensitive profligacy in spendings by public officials, to list a few.

“NEC acknowledges the efforts of the Federal, state and, to a little extent, local governments have been making efforts to tackle the problems identified above. However, overall, it is undeniable, perhaps due to the quantum and widening dimension of the problems, that public policy response to the problems remains weak and ineffective at best.

“NEC noted with grave concern, regrets and decries the continuing, the deterioration or escalation in the spate of insecurity-related incidents in all three (3) geo-political zones under which the northern states are grouped. These problems reflect on the region’s cascading political, social, economic challenges. NEC reiterates ACFs earlier expressed position that the emergent protracted dimension of these problems, if untamed, are harbingers of citizens discontent, social chaos.

“Equally worrisome to NEC is the widening regional disparities in social demographic factors, such as access to education, health public, infrastructure, economic inclusion, political participation, living conditions, etc.

“Governments must move to curb such disparities so as to ensure that Nigeria does not become two-states-in-one. Factors that unify, rather than divide citizens along any lines, should attract the attention of all concerned, government and citizens alike,” the communique read in part

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IOM donates domestic materials to over two million IDPs in Benue

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has donated essential household relief  materials to over two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Benue State.

The Chief of Mission of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Nigeria, Laurent De Boeck, performed the ceremony on Wednesday at Ichuwa IDPs camp in North Bank Makurdi,

The items donated include: mattresses, gallons, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, buckets, among others.

Mr De Boeck explained that the non-food items were to support the IDPs  still in  camps while the State  Government and development partners executed the durable solutions.

He further said  the delegation also included members of the North -East Ambassadors Group, UN Delegation all headed by the IOM Chief of Mission, Mr De Boeck.

He called for much collaboration and cooperation between the State Government and the development partners for effective and efficient handling of the humanitarian crises in the State.

He commended the State Government for the work done so far and urged them to redouble their efforts to actualise the identified durable solutions.

The United Nations (UN) donated 2,000 prepared sets of dignity kits to preserve the dignity of women and girls while in the camps.

Humanitarian/SRH Analyst UNFPA, Dr. Matthew Onoja, while making the UN presentation said all women irrespective of wherever they may be should have their dignity intact.

Earlier, the Governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Dr.  Hyacient Alia received the team lead by Chief of Mission Laurent De Boeck of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Nigeria.

He also said the State Government would today launch the Rapid Response Fund, an initiative made possible through the collaboration of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA).

The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Barr. Sam Ode, mni, said their presence in the State  representing Ambassadors, High Commissioners, heads of international financing institutions, the United Nations, and other international bodies, underscores their unwavering commitment to the security, stabilisation, and development of Benue State.

He further commended them for their dedication to providing life saving humanitarian assistance to the distressed Benue people.

“The Rapid Response Fund is not just a project; it is a lifeline for many in our community. It is designed to provide immediate relief and to uphold the dignity of our displaced populations by addressing urgent protection and gender-based violence (GBV) issues, improving hygiene conditions within the camps, and facilitating the closure of IDP camps on economic sites to allow business activities to resume.

“This initiative aligns with our Durable Solutions Plan, ensuring that while we provide temporary relief, our long-term commitment to sustainable solutions for IDPs remains steadfast. Your support in this endeavour is invaluable, and I am confident that together, we can create meaningful and lasting change,” the Governor maintained.

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We are committed to economic revival of North East — Shettima

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…Flags off 2nd phase of Jere-Bowl road construction, agric inputs distribution

Vice President Kashim Shettima has reaffirmed the federal government’s unwavering commitment to driving economic revival and development in the NorthEast region of the country.

Senator Shettima stressed that the only way to reclaim and shape the narrative of the North-East region is if everyone stands together.

The Vice President stated this on Wednesday while laying the foundation for the new headquarters building of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) in Maiduguri.

According to him, the event was a demonstration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s promise, an assurance of his commitment, and a reminder of the importance of the North-East region to the nation.

VP Shettima noted that it was a deep honour to be present to witness the commencement of a legacy of service that would outlast all those in attendance.

Addressing the gathering, he said, “NEDC is a product of the people, and it shall serve the interests of the nation. It is this foundational principle that guides the NEDC. This institution, therefore, embodies our collective resolve to transform the narrative of this region—from one marred by despair and devastation to one defined by renewal and triumph.”

“Today is a demonstration of our promise, an assurance of our commitment, and a reminder of what this sub-region means to the nation.”

The VP explained that the foundation-laying ceremony was a step towards fulfilling President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s promise to prioritise initiatives that safeguard the interests of the North East region.

“This promise is not merely a political commitment but a moral obligation to the people who have endured so much and deserve nothing less than a future defined by peace, stability, and prosperity,” he said.

The Vice President stressed that the new head office surpasses mere infrastructure, embodying the strength of the nation’s collective will to rebuild, restore, and overcome the challenges that have hindered the region’s progress.

“This head office shall symbolise the strength of our shared aspirations as a people with shared objectives. As we lay this foundation, we do so with a vision of a North-East that is vibrant, resilient, and forward-looking.

“We do so by imagining our contributions to building a nation where every child has access to quality education, where healthcare is accessible to all, where infrastructure supports thriving economies, and where peace and security are the bedrock of daily life,” he added.

The Vice President also inspected progress on the first phase of construction on the  27km Jere Bowl Road Network in Mafa/Jere local government area, just as he also performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the second phase of the project.

The projects, Senator Shettima noted, reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to the development and prosperity of Borno State.

“This project symbolises our dedication to improving the lives of our people, enhancing security, and fostering economic growth. It is a testament to our unwavering resolve to build a Nigeria where every citizen, regardless of their location, has the opportunity to thrive,” he emphasised.

On the significance of the project, Senator Shettima stated, “A robust road network accelerates the process of urbanisation. As rural areas become more accessible, we will witness the development of new urban centres, leading to better access to education, healthcare, and other essential services.

“Each road we construct supports security, commerce, and agriculture. They enhance the standard of living for our people. Without a reliable network of roads, we cannot fulfil our promises to the people, nor can we sustain our democracy. The full participation of remote communities in our nation’s development depends on a dependable road network.”

Underscoring the socio-economic importance of Borno State to the North East region, the Vice President further stated that the “economic agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is rooted in supporting each state of the federation in achieving its objectives and fulfilling our promises to the nation.

“Borno State holds a pivotal role in our nation’s economy and will always remain a top priority in our efforts to stabilise and promote unity and peace across the nation,” he added

“We are very proud of what you are doing as our leader in the North East by ensuring the smooth take-off of this project as well as enhancing the operations of the NEDC,” Governor Yahaya stated.

He called on Governors and other stakeholders from the North East states to work towards achieving the goals of the NEDC.

The Governor however lamented the devastating effect of the Boko Haram insurgency, which he said took the North East zone 50 years backwards.

“We therefore need to work hard to recover the lost grounds, and with Vice President Shettima’s motivation and support, we can achieve that,” he added.

Acting Governor of Borno State, Usman Kadafur on his part, applauded the good work so far done by the North East Development Commission (NEDC) in the six states of the region.

“The effort of the NEDC is adjudged a quite successful story and it is the pride of the various state governments across the North East region,” he said, regretting that the Boko Haram insurgency had a pervasive impact on the region, with Borno State as the worst hit.

He however noted that the Borno State government took a decisive step by unfolding comprehensive strategies that have since contributed a lot in addressing the menace.

For his part, Chairman of the Governing Board of NEDC, Major General Paul Tarfa (rtd), said the laying of the foundation for the construction of a befitting headquarters has opened a new chapter in the history of the Commission, symbolising growth.

Earlier while welcoming guests, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Engr. Mohammed Goni Alkali said the event was a milestone in the history of NEDC and the entire North East region.

He noted that the master plan for the North East is in tandem with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Tinubu.

He further sought for cooperation and synergy among stakeholders in order to realise its objectives.

Engr. Alkali listed the facilities of the proposed NEDC headquarters to include offices, conference rooms, a sick bay, and a humanitarian centre, among others.

There were goodwill messages from the Chairmen of both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Special Duties, whose committees supervise the activities of the NEDC, even as they pledged more support for the Commission.

In a related event, the Vice President also flagged off the distribution of farming equipment and inputs.

Other dignitaries that attended the occasion, were Yobe State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Barde Gubana; Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Uba Maigari; the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn Garbai, and Emir of Fika, Dr Muhammadu Idrissa, among others.

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Kano quit notice: Over 5,000 traders to lose means of living — Association Chairman

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By Aminu Garko, Kano

The Chairman of the Kano Traders Association around Masallacin Idi in Kano metropolis, Yakubu Muhammad, has stated that no fewer than 5,000 traders operating will be sent out of business following the quit notice issued to them by the Kano State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KNUPDA).

Recall that KNUPDA had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the traders, selling goods around Masallacin Idi by IBB Way in the Kano metropolis to vacate the area or face the wrath of the law.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, the Chairman of the traders, Yakubu Muhammad said the quit notice sent to the traders last week, will displace more than 5,000 traders at the place and send them out of their businesses.

According to him, the place was allocated to them over 18 years ago by the late Galadima of Kano, Alhaji Tijjani Hashim through the Emirate Council.

“The place was allocated to our members to check the various criminal activities such as phone snatching and other immortal activities being perpetrated at the places.

“The previous administrations later allocated the place to us (traders) in order to continue to use the place as a business premises.

“We are many here, mostly youths, how could you attempt to separate these guys with their businesses, you know this will portend danger for the state if chased out of the state,” he said.

The traders who questioned the rationale behind chasing them out of the place where they run their lawful businesses for years and contribute to the revenue drive of the state, called on the state government to have a rethink over the issue.

“We are still trying to come to terms with the exact offense we committed that prompted KNUPDA to chase us from where we run out lawful businesses to fend for our family.

“We supported this government. We voted for it during the 2023 election. These traders categorically told the governor that their empowerment is to allow them to continue running their businesses at the Masallacin Idi,” he said.

He, however, called on Governor Yusuf to intervene in order to enable them continue with their business

Responding to the protesters, the Managing Director, Kantin Kwari Market, Sa’adu Hamisu Dogonnama, assured to intervene and ensure justice to the traders.

When contacted, a source at the KNUPDA, who pleaded for anonymity confirmed that the agency has ordered the traders to vacate the place because they are illegally occupying the area.

“KNUPDA feels that the traders did not seek permission from it before starting business there, “that is why the Authority issued the quit notice as they are illegally operating at the place,” said the source.

The quit notice came at the time when the hundreds of traders affected by the demolition of shops in the Masallacin Idi at the beginning of the present administration are yet to recover from trauma and devastation.

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