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2019 Elections: Group Warns Against Further Delay in INEC Funding

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The Movement for Transparent Elections (MTE), a Civil Society Organisation(CSO) has warned that further delay in release of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) portends great danger to Nigeria’s democracy.

Delayed INEC funding might mar 2019 general elections
Nigerian voting in an election
MTE’s Convener, Abiodun Ajijola, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, regretted that less than 100 days to the 2019 Nigerian General Elections, INEC had yet to be funded for the elections.

He recalled that the National Assembly received a letter dated July 11 for virement and supplementary budget to fund the 2019 General Elections.

Ajijola said that an initial approval to that was made after three months on Oct. 12 for INEC component while the security component was approved on the Oct. 16.

He said that the National Assembly however approved that the funds should be vired from the funds allocated to the Social Investment Programme(SIP) of the Federal Government which had been budgeted in the 2018 Appropriation Act.

“On Nov. 6, four months after the original request for virement and supplementary budget was made, the National Assembly rescinded its decision on funding the elections entirely from the SIP of the Federal Government but rather sourcing 50 per cent from existing MDAs budgets and the other 50 per cent from the SIP while also opening an investigation into the social intervention scheme of the Federal Government.

“ It should also be remembered that the National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

“The current step by the National Assembly to share the funding for the elections between 30 MDAs and the SIP without making any cut on the increased funding of constituency projects is likely to create an impasse which could have ordinarily been avoided if greater effort was made to balance the source of the funding.

“Nigerians need to remember that the National Assembly has already cut the budget of Federal Government projects by N347 billion and cutting the already scarce allocation to MDAs by another N121,122,525,050 would clearly create performance problems for these MDAs especially since they have already budgeted for these activities.

“The National Assembly needs to make some concessions in the funding sources proposed to include part of its own 587 billion added to the 2018 budget proposal. The NASS should meet the federal government at least half way at a minimum if it truly is committed to supporting free, fair and credible elections in 2019.’’

The convener said that the National Assembly sent a version of the Electoral Act amendment Bill 2018 to the President for accent (3rd version) which had only 15 clauses in it devoid particularly of the section that related to smart card readers.

Ajijola said that the much talked about 4th version of the Electoral Act had yet to be transmitted to the president as of Nov. 12, adding that there were reports that there were still differences between the House and Senate versions- just three months to the general elections.

He called on well meaning Nigerians to let their voices be heard because it was clear that there was an attempt to frustrate Nigeria’s 2019 general elections which would be a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.

“Nigerians will not allow this to happen and it is expected that the National Assembly source the funding for the 2019 general elections urgently from mutually agreeable sources with the executive to ensure smooth conduct of the elections next year.

“The National Assembly members should remember that they are representatives of the Nigerian people and that the represented and not the representatives will have the final say.

“MTE expects that the entire budget for the 2019 General Elections should be released to INEC on or before Friday Nov. 16 -exactly 3 months to the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections.

“ MTE calls on the National Assembly lead by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara as well as the Presidency lead by President Muhammadu Buhari to work assiduously concertedly to ensure that INEC was funded on time for the task ahead,’’ he said.

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Coping With Disaster Attracts Ecobank, IFRC

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Ecobank and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have signed an agreement to work together to empower local communities to cope with disasters more efficiently.

Natural Disaster
Natural Disaster
“Many innocent lives continue to be lost in Africa simply as a result of insufficient investment in disaster preparedness.

“Many of the natural hazards that take place do not need to become major disasters when a population is prepared and able to respond adequately.

“We need to address the underlying causes of this vulnerability, including lack of funding to equip communities with required systems and skills,” said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa.

The growing gap between funds needed by humanitarian groups and funds available to them is a major cause of communities’ vulnerability to disasters.

It is on this account that Ecobank is partnering with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Africa to secure resources for their local first aid volunteers.

“Ecobank will leverage its innovative technology to fundraise across Africa in an effort to mobilise capital to help narrow the funding gap.

Through our Ecobank Mobile App, we will be able to support the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s domestic fundraising efforts,” said Sam Adjei, Regional Executive, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa (CESA) and Ecobank Kenya’s Managing Director.

A first project is already being rolled out in Ghana where Ecobank is launching a digital public fundraising campaign. A unique QR code (a type of bar code used to access information through your mobile phone) has been created and displayed in branches, making donating easy and immediate.

“Transforming Africa is the principle on which Ecobank has built its business,” added Sam Adjei. “Today, we are present in 33 countries across the continent.

That scale is what creates impact and determines how well we take our continent to the next level in a sustainable way.”

Training will be another key pillar of the partnership, as IFRC will work with the Ecobank Academy, a pan-African corporate university based in Lomé, Togo.

IFRC’s staff members will participate in a number of customised programmes to enhance their management skills.

As part of the agreement Ecobank employees will also be given the opportunity to attend First Aid training sessions, enabling them to save lives during every day emergencies and disasters. Ecobank Tanzania will be the first Ecobank affiliate to roll out a first aid training course for its staff.

“Supporting Africa’s most vulnerable by investing in local humanitarian organisations is not only cost-effective but it also ensures long-term and sustainable results.

Local humanitarian actors make a difference every day in their own communities. They respond to crises quickly, providing assistance that is culturally appropriate,” said Dr Nafo-Traoré.
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Police, Service Provider Probe Fake Social Media Posts

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The Police Command in Enugu State and relevant service providers have started investigating fake social media posts to track mischief-makers.

Nigerian Policemen
Nigerian Policemen
The police warned residents of the state against using social media to spread fake news about kidnapping in the state.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the Command, SP Ebere Amaraizu, said in Enugu on Tuesday that, “the attention of the command has been drawn to some online tweets and postings in the new media (social media), undermining efforts of security operatives “.

According to the police image maker, such tweets and postings have created wrong impression of non-existing and unconfirmed kidnapping activities in some parts of the state.

“Such online report/tweet is false and misleading and it is viewed as a calculated attempt by mischief makers to create in the mind of law abiding and good people of the state.’’

Amaraizu restated the commitment of the command toward ensuring sustenance of peace, security and safety through partnership with relevant stakeholders and other sister security agencies.

“The command, through support of the government and good people of the state, will stop at nothing at ensuring that the existing peace, security and safety is sustained, to keep maintaining the state as the safest in the country.’’

The command, in partnership with sister security agencies, has intensified crime prevention activities such as joint patrols and intelligence sharing according to Amaraizu. (NAN)
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Nigeria Needs 155,000 More Doctors

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No fewer than 155,000 additional doctors at the ratio of one doctor to 1000 people would be needed in Nigeria to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Nigerian doctors separate conjoined twins
Nigerian doctors
Prof. Usman Ahmed, Provost, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Federal University Dutse has said this is to make more people have access to healthcare.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Universal Health Coverage aims to ensure that all people have access to the needed services of sufficient quality without exposing persons (recipients) to financial hardship.

Ahmed, who is also a professor of health sciences, University of Manchester, UK told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja that data from the Federal Ministry of Health shows that there were 45,000 doctors registered and practicing in Nigeria, which is a ratio of one doctor to 4008 people.

“Even if we take it as one doctor to 4000 people and we want to have UHC, meaning a minimum of one doctor to 1000 people, we will need to have at least 200,000 doctors in Nigeria today.

“ It also means that we will need nearly a million nurses because for each doctor we need several other nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, audiologist etc. and we don’t have them complete in Nigeria,’’ he said.

He said Nigeria should realise that WHO recommended one doctor to 600 people, adding that “if we use WHO’s recommendation, we may need more than 155,000 doctors today.’’

The don recommended one doctor to 1000 people to replicate a model used in India, adding that India had 840,000 doctors in a ratio of one doctor to 1800 people.

He said the Indian Universal Health Care Commission recommended that the country should migrate from one doctor to 1800 people to one doctor to 1000 people to UHC .

“They call it Modicare. Therefore to achieve that they need additional 200, 000 new doctors to add to the existing 840,000 doctors; they also plan to achieve the required doctors in 10 years by opening more medical schools,’’ he said.

Ahmed said: “If we want to look after ourselves, we need to be serious about UHC through remodelling the National Health Insurance Scheme Act and the National Health Act 2014.’’

He said the transformation of the two Acts and establishment of pilot universities of health sciences would provide a good framework for UHC in Nigeria.

NAN reports that on Sep 21, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, during 38th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) at Ibadan, Oyo state, said there was “no serious shortage” of doctors in Nigeria.

“The data obtained from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria shows that as of May 30, only 45,000 are currently practicing and that gives us a ratio one doctor to 4,088 persons,” he said.

Adewole noted that what was perceived as a shortage of doctors was actually the uneven distribution of practicing doctors within the country.

According to him, the ratio of one doctor to 4,088 patients in Nigeria is better compared to other African countries.

“Compared to many other African countries the ratio is not bad, for example, in South African it is one (doctor) to 4,000; in Egypt it is one to 1235;

“in Tanzania it is 1: 14,000; in Ethiopia, it is one to 1 to 118,000, in Kenya, it is one to 16,000 and in Cameroon it is one to 40,000,” he said. (NAN)
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Ethiopia Arrests 63 Military Officers For Corruption, Abuse

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No fewer than 63 Ethiopian senior military and intelligence officers have been arrested for alleged corruption and human-rights abuses.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
The Attorney General, Mr. Berhanu Tsegaye, said: “Twenty-seven officials have been arrested for alleged corrupt practices, while 36 have been detained for alleged human rights abuses, with a manhunt underway for remaining suspects.”

Tsegaye did not name any of the suspects but said some had already been taken to court.

The arrests are a rare move against the country’s powerful security apparatus.

They represent a further flexing of power by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is seeking to break with Ethiopia’s authoritarian past, analysts said.

He said the suspected corruption occurred at the military-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC).

“METEC officials were involved in purchases of $2 billion worth of goods without any bidding process,” Berhanu said.

He pointed out that the company had been involved in the construction of Ethiopia’s immense, signature Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Abiy made an unusual public admission earlier this year that security officials had engaged in abuses and torture with impunity.

On Monday, Berhanu outlined some of the allegations of abuse committed at secret prisons in the capital Addis Ababa and elsewhere.

“Detainees were subjected to various abuses including gang rapes, sodomy, prolonged exposure to extreme heat and cold, waterboarding and deprivation of sunlight,” he said.

Berhanu also provided a brief update on the case of a grenade explosion at a June rally addressed by Abiy that left two people dead, saying that an unnamed intelligence officer was suspected of involvement.
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