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Lost assets: Cardoso leads Lagos eight-man rebuild team

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  • Sanwo-Olu signs executive order

 Fola Raheem

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday signed an Executive Order for the formation of an eight-man board to coordinate efforts to restore assets lost or damaged in the recent attacks by hoodlums on public and private facilities in the state.

Citibank Nigeria Chairman, Mr. Yemi Cardoso, will head the Board of the Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund. The board members were unveiled at a press conference at the Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja.

A statement by the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, reported Sanwo-Olu said the government decided to put the destruction behind it and face the huge and necessary task of rebuilding the state.

The government, he said, would be embracing new standards of governance and building stronger partnerships, which would enable the state to bequeath stronger institutions and cohesion among residents.

He spoke of how many friends and admirers of the state had been calling to lend a hand in the rebuilding of the razed assets.

He said, “In the last few weeks, we have been inundated with local and global offers of assistance to rebuild our state and recover all we lost to arson and violence in October. It is obvious that we can no longer wait to begin the onerous task of reconstructing Lagos. In the next few days, our government will be sending a bill to the House of Assembly for the establishment of a Trust Fund to Rebuild Lagos.

“Today, I am signing an Executive Order to set up an eight-man Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund Committee, which will begin to oversee our recovery process. To ensure the highest standards of probity, transparency and accountability, FBN Trustees headed by Mr Kunle Awojobi will oversee the Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund Committee. The Committee will comprise five members from the private sector, two members from the public sector and one member from the International Donor Aid Community.

“We will embrace new standards of governance and build stronger partnerships, stronger people, stronger institutions, and stronger Lagos. Our strength lies in our uncanny ability to overcome the most complicated challenges because we have people who genuinely love Lagos State and will assiduously do all they can to preserve its peace and unity.”

Sanwo-Olu said the trust fund would be responsible for getting detailed cost of restructuring and rebuilding of destroyed assets.

The Funds, he added, will also advise the state government on the most critical assets to prioritise and identify emergency response service critically needed.

The rebuilding plan, the governor said, would be all-inclusive, stressing that the government would welcome support and contributions from well-meaning individuals and corporate organisations who believe in the Lagos dream.

His words: “I believe this is the starting point of a new socio-economic process. I am hopeful that this initiative will help us to seamlessly make the transition to a rebuilt Lagos with upgraded public structures, facilities and amenities. I know that the ashes that presently dot our landscape will birth modern and globally acceptable infrastructure.

“At the centre of this decisive action to rebuild Lagos is the need to closely work with the people and organisations who call Lagos home; those who believe in the Lagos dream, and those who share our collective vision of a mega-city that thrives on peace and unity among all ethnic groups.”

Other members of the Trust Fund’s Board are the Managing Partner, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN; Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman; Co-Founder and CEO, Flutterwave; Mr. Gbenga Agboola; Vice Chairman, Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Bola Adesola – all representing the private sector – and a representative of an International Donor Agency.

The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Sam Egube, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Jimi Hotonou, are members of the Board representing the public sector.

As part of the government’s objectives to fully heal the wounds of the crisis, the governor also announced six other committees. They are: Business Continuity Committee; Assessment Committee; Execution, Measurement and Evaluation Committee; Communication and Engagement Committee; Trust Fund Implementation Committee; and Security and Enforcement Committee.

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Support hijab to suppress urge for nudity, crime – Muslim groups 

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Muslim groups have called for maximum support for hijab to ensure decent dressing in the society and address the urge for appearing almost nude in the public.

They made the call in their different messages delivered in Lagos on Wednesday at a press conference to commemorate the World Hijab Day.

Secretary of NASFAT Women Affairs, Lagos Zone 2, Alhaja Aishat Busari, asked people to stop bullying those wearing hijab, stressing that there must be religious tolerance for peaceful coexistence of people in the society.

She said “This is a simple call to movers and shakers of the world to live by their sayings and preaching of peaceful coexistence, a significant part of the SDGs.”

She also said, “It is disheartening to know how much the society applauds immorality and frowns on right choices. How women empowerment is preached, yet the empowerment and choice of Muslim women is opposed. In this World, where the urge to go naked is prevalent, let’s join hands together, schoolteachers/administrators, leaders of faith, and every one to encourage modesty, the use of hijab.”

She maintained that anyone discriminating against the Hijab would not only be violating the law and peaceful co-existence but also encouraging violence.

“Let’s rise against all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Let’s rise against all forms of discrimination against the Hijab,” Busari stated.

Executive Director, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, said the Hijab for Muslim women apart from being a fulfilment of a divine commandment is also guaranteed by section 38 of the 1999 constitution.

She stated, “Though the Hijab was legislated and enjoined on Muslim women over 1400 years ago as described in Chapter 24 (Surah An-Noor,Verse 31) of the Qur’an, we keep seeing how it is even more relevant today. Nakedness marked a distinctive feature of pre-civilization , hence to adopt modesty in dressing is progression.”

Even as she acknowledged the recent Supreme Court judgement was a landmark achievement for hijab, there were still issues casting shadow on progress made so far.

Senior Admin Officer, Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Fatimah Sanni, asserted that discrimination against women in hijab is Islamophobia

She said, “At MPAC, we challenge Islamophobia, discrimination,  and the ideologies that drive them. At the same time we promote empowerment and freedom to practice hijab in safety. We believe that the female Muslims should be free to express their religious beliefs free of discrimination and prejudice. “This is why we have continued to support initiatives like the World Hijab Day campaign.”

She called the attention of government agencies to the plight of Muslim women when seeking government services particularly the taking of biometrics.

According to her, despite the law recognising the use of the Hijab and does not require the ears to be brought out of the hijab, “et we get numerous verified reports of Hijabis being compelled to either take off their hijabs completely or bare their ears when they require their biometrics taken even for a sim card registration!”

Assistant Welfare Secretary, The Criterion, Lagos District, Modinat Braimah, declared that the wearing of hijab was of immense benefit to the society.

She said, “The hijab marks the wearer as honorable, respectable, chaste and modest with expected high level of morals.

“The Muslim woman dressing does not oppress Muslim women or any other woman for that matter as the media wants to portray it. It is not a political tool or a fashion statement. It is the dignity of the human person of a Muslim woman as guaranteed by the constitution of our dear country Nigeria.”

She also cautioned against harassment of innocent female Muslims wearing hijab, adding, “Our strength as a community and indeed a nation lies not in how we treat the high and mighty, but how we care for the weak and vulnerable.”

Similarly, Ameerah FOMWAN Lagos State, Alhaja Sherifat Ajagbe, stated that all women deserve to be protected from gender-based violence.

She recalled the recent report of a young lady in Niqob raped in a mosque in Ibadan, Oyo State, describing it as heinous crime against humanity and desecration of the mosque.

“It is sad indeed that Muslim women who are known to be modest have become targets of these criminal elements.  Indeed, the hijabi is almost becoming ‘endangered species’ as she is being discriminated against by her fellow citizens and she’s also not safe from the attacks of criminals,” Ajagbe said.

She added, “We at FOMWAN Lagos as well as the other 17 participating Organisations hereby call on the relevant authorities to prosecute as a matter of urgency the perpetuator of this heinous crime named as Idris A.K.A Kesari as well as his father  popularly called Al-Majiri who not only helped the perpetrator to escape, before arrest but also seeks to intimidate the victim as well as concerned Nigerians.”

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FG dismisses Transparency International (TI) verdict on Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

Federal Government, yesterday, dismissed the recent verdict on Nigeria by Transparency International (TI), which said the country dropped five places in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The government said it is not bothered by the verdict, as TI is oblivious of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption successes.

It boasted that some of the government’s legacy projects have been facilitated with funds known as Abacha loot, hitherto stolen and stashed abroad by a former Nigerian leader but returned to the country.

This came against the backdrop of reports that Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points while ranking 150 among 180 countries on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index released by TI, a development which has continued to stoke concern by citizens.

Although the country maintained its previous year’s (2021) score of 24 out of 100 points, however, there was a change in rank from 154 to 150, as some other countries performed more poorly in 2022.

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Fielding questions, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, downplayed the rating, saying the Nigerian government’s fight against corruption is not at the whims and caprices of the global agency.

The minister spoke after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said: “We are not really worried or bothered about rating of the TI, because we know that everything we do is to ensure that we fight corruption the best way we know how to. If TI is not seeing this, then I think it has to change its template. But, again, we’re not fighting corruption to impress TI.

“We are not fighting corruption because we want to impress Transparency International or any organisation whatsoever. We’re fighting corruption because we believe if we do not fight corruption, there’ll be no growth, either in terms of the economy or even political.”

The minister added: “Therefore, what we do and what we’re putting in place to fight corruption is not because we want to be rated by anybody. I can assure you that we do not know what template TI is using. Whatever template it is using, it is clearly oblivious of what this administration is doing to fight corruption.

“Corruption fighting is not just by how many people have you arrested? How many people have you tried? How many people have you convicted? Of course, even in that respect, we have a very impressive record.”

Guardian

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East-West road, 43 others to be completed without delay – Fashola

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All 44 road projects in the approved phase two of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme including the East-West road will be completed without any delay or break.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), stated this, stressing that sustainability of funding for the critical infrastructure in Nigeria would be guaranteed.

Fashola, who spoke in Abuja, noted that unlike in the past, when there was inadequate funding of infrastructure, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had secured alternative sources of funding that could guarantee sustainability from the beginning of the projects to their completion.

He said the tax credit scheme remained a new model that encourages partnership with private companies where taxes are paid in advance to enable the government invest in notable projects that would be beneficial to its citizens.

The minister said the Federal Government had focused on nine major axes of Nigeria, adding that the A1 – A4 axis covered the Northern part of the country, while the A5-A9 axis covered the East and West of the country.

He said the successful completion of all the roads would lead to sustainable mobility for Nigerians.

“The roads like Akure – Ado –Ekiti and East-West which people have been complaining about would be adequately catered for with the approval of the second phase of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme,” he said.

On payment of compensation, Fashola noted that it would not be paid to anyone occupying the government’s Right of Way (RoW) and appealed to members of the communities occupying the areas to vacate.

Permanent Secretary of the ministry, represented by the Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Folorunsho Esan, said in line with the Executive Order 7 (2019), phase one was approved on October 27, 2021.

He stated that with the completion of phase one, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved phase II of the scheme to fund 44 critical road infrastructure to the tune of N1.96 trillion naira.

Esan said that as it was done with phase one, phase two would be governed by a set of guidelines to be issued to each contractor, adding that there would be a funding intervention agreement to be implemented in addition to the standard condition of the contract governing the execution of the projects.

He said that the availability of this new funding window will ensure steady cash flow and a timely completion of projects.

He also stated that the NNPC intervention which began in October 2021 with phase one has now occupied the top of the log with a portfolio well in excess of N2.6 trillion.

On the part of NNPC, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari, who was represented by the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Aliya, said that funding would not be an issue anymore as the company is committed to fully funding the next phase.
“We are committed to setting aside funds for phase II. Funding would not be a problem. What is important to us is that our consultant will need to validate the value for money and the quality of work. We will not compromise the quality and timely completion of work,“ he said.
“There is no need for excuses. As for us, on our part, we are committed and we implore the contractors to do quality work and do it on time so that the road projects can be open for use to Nigerians,” he added.
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Mohammed Nami, explained that most of the roads captured by Executive Order 7 to be executed by the NNPC were mostly road projects inherited by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
“So, we are appealing to Nigerians to trust Executive order 007 so that government will continue to provide the physical infrastructure that our people need,“he said.

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