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Buhari, Osinbajo not focused on 2019 – Presidency

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Presidency has said though President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have recorded successes in the last two and half years of the administration, they are, however, focused on improving the lives of the citizen rather than dwelling on 2019 election.

This is even as it has admitted that the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP) of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), cannot cater for the estimated 80 million Nigerians said to be poor according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

These were disclosed by Special Adviser to the president on National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) Mrs. Maryam Uwais, and Senior Special Assistant to the president on NSIP, Ismaeel Ahmed, while giving updates of the programming at a press briefing at the weekend.

According to Ahmed, if the president and the vice president had to campaign for a reelection, they had a lot of success stories to tell.
Asked what the administration would leverage on as one of the biggest successes of the SIP for 2019 election campaigns, he responded: “I think even though this is a political promise, it came from a manifesto of a political party. The implementation is far from being just political, the implementation is for all Nigerians. When we set out and were campaigning in 2015, we didn’t say what we’re going to do is going to be solely for political reasons.
“The president and vice president are more committed to the electorate rather than elections and are concerned about the future rather than just next one year. So, this is entirely about the country itself and not just for political reasons.

“But, if you are talking about what we can leverage on, there are a lot of successes in SIP. We are engaging 73,000 cooks that are growing rural economy. They are buying from local farmers.

“Therefore, this is growing the rural economy. They are feeding some sevepoint something million children and we’ve reduced the number of out-of-school children in the last one or two years we’ve been implementing the school feeding programme and engaging 200,000 young unemployed graduates that are receiving N30,000 a month.

“Those are successes in itself. So, if we’re looking for things to leverage on, stomp our chests and storm the political campaigns and say we should be voted again, we have a lot of success stories to tell, but that is not the entirety and essence of this programme. The essence of this programme is to reduce poverty and to distribute wealth as much as we can. The president and the vice president care less about the elections like I said, they care more about the citizens.”

Uwais affirmed that the estimated number of poor people in the country is 80 million with nearly 500,000 of the extremely poor among them now captured in the National Social Register.

She said the estimate is from World Poverty Clock, adding that 297,973 poor households in 20 states are now being paid stipends under the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP).

According to her, even though credible targeting has been a major concern, SIP has started to develop a Social Register in all the states that have met the criteria provided in the MoU signed with the NSIP Office.

She said: “It is important for us to get the targeting right so only the poorest of the poor will get paid. We have, according to statistics, up to 80 million people that are poor. And so, we had to device a strategy to ensure that we get the poorest and also insulate the process of getting to that poorest from any outside influence, whatever the influence maybe.

“So what we do is sign an MOU with the states. We have roles and responsibility for each side though we know is not enforceable but we want both sides to know what their responsibilities are.
“We select 30 percent because we had cash constrains. We couldn’t cover 80 million people that were poor. We now said we will start with 30 percent from each state. That comes to 30 percent of the poorest of the poor from each senatorial district.

“Working with NBS, we looked at local government that are the poorest in the senatorial districts for a balance and we shared the names of the local government with the states. They signed off.”
Uwais added: “So far, we have 455,857 poor and vulnerable households uploaded onto the National Social Register, from which 297,973 households have been mined and are being paid stipends in 20 states.

“These States are Jigawa Bauchi, Kogi, Osun, Cross River, Anambra, Katsina, Kano, Taraba, Gombe, Adamawa, Niger, Nassarawa, Benue, oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Borno (IDP), Kaduna and Plateau.
“We have trained 2,495 community facilitator whose responsibility it is to engage the caregivers in the households being paid, facilitate the forming of cooperatives, basic financial training, skills and support.

“We also have collated data on the and demographics on each community we engage coordinates relating to education, health, access, payment and connectivity.”

Uwais, who noted that NSIP’s mandate covered N-power, National Home Grown School Feeding (NHGSFP), Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) and the National Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP), recalled that the first payments were made in December 2016, signaling the commencement of the actual implementation of “what must be the most ambitious social protection programme conceived and being implemented for the country. “

She added that, “Almost two years into the implementation of the suite of programmmes, we are continuously learning lessons and building bridges that are designed to achieve our overarching goals of empowering the unemployed, giving opportunities to children who could not or did not have access to a meal a day, providing sustenance for the poor and the vulnerable and granting access to small and medium-sized enterprises who were hitherto unable to gain access to finance.

“The Social Investment Programmes have achieved profound successes, so far. One of the most important aspects of the Social Investment Programmes are the millions of Nigerians who have and would benefit directly and indirectly from each of the various schemes.
“All our beneficiaries are being paid directly, with the BVN being an integral part of our design
“Today, we have recorded 7.9 million direct beneficiaries since inception and have a presence in the 36 states of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory.”

Uwais disclosed that under N-power: 200,000 graduate beneficiaries are currently enrolled and working in various institutions around the country with the target being 500,000.
She said the selection of the next batch of 300,000 beneficiaries has been completed and those selected will be engaged in the next few months.

“20,000 more beneficiaries in the non-graduate category are set to commence training in 34 States around the country, while we continue to audit the skill centres we can utilize in the remaining States,” she said.According to her, under GEEP 259,541 beneficiaries of 4,784 cooperatives have been paid in the 36 States and FCT just as the next batch of 148,611 loans has been approved for disbursement.

As for the NHGSFP, 7,054,687 children in primary 1-3, she added. are currently being fed daily in 20 states with two more states to begin this month.
She noted that the programme has also hired and empowered 72,510 cooks in the five schools being serviced.

Uwais further stated: “What we have achieved thus far is a result of the dedication of an extraordinary indefatigable and focused team of staff and the strong support of our top leadership, in the persons of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We have created a level-playing field for all our beneficiaries and, with a selection process that is objective, transparent and efficient.

“The four social investment programmes are headed by unique individuals with the capacity, leadership qualities, attributes and competencies to execute and deliver upon their programme objectives. They are present with us today, to answer any questions that you may wish to ask

“As our programmes unfold around the country, we call on all Nigerians to join us in this effort as the ultimate beneficiaries of the impact of our activities, as we continue implementation with diligence, efficiency and transparency.”

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Missing Dapchi Schoolgirls: Federal delegation returns to Yobe

  • Meets victims’ families, security agencies 

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Members of a Federal Government delegation on Sunday returned to Yobe State in connection with the abduction of students of Government Science and Technical Girls College, Dapchi.

This was disclosed via verified Twitter handle of the Presidency, @AsoRock.

According to the Presidency, members of the delegation while in Yobe will meet with representatives of the victims’ families, security agencies and officials of the state government.

The message read, “Update: Federal Government delegation back in Yobe State today (Sunday), regarding the missing girls of Government Science and Technical Girls College, Dapchi.

“An earlier visit took place Thursday February 22, 2018.

“(Members of) delegation meeting with affected families, security agencies and @GovtYobeState.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had on Wednesday after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council informed State House correspondents of the delegation which included himself, the Minister of Defence, Dan Mansur-Ali, and the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim.

Mohammed had said their assignment was to embark on an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

He had said: “Mr. President has directed military and other security agencies to take immediate charge and control of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, after he was informed of the development.

“He has released a delegation led by the Minister of Defence to Dapchi, to get first hand information as to what is happening there tomorrow (Thursday) morning.”

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China’s president may serve indefinite term if new law passes

CNN

China’s Communist Party (CCP) has proposed amending the country’s constitution to allow President Xi Jinping to serve a third term in office.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the Party will remove the provision that the President and Vice President “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” from the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

The proposed amendment will have to be ratified by China’s rubber-stamp parliament — the National People’s Congress (NPC) — in March.

When it goes into effect, Xi will be free to serve indefinitely as China’s head of state, the strongest indication yet he is intending to maintain power at the top beyond the two 5-year terms served by his predecessors for the past 20 years. 

Break with tradition

Plans to change the country’s constitution for the first time since 2004 were announced in December, with most analysts predicting the Party would seek to modify the country’s top legal document to create a National Supervision Commission (NSC), a country-wide anti-corruption task force with sweeping new powers.

In January, the Party’s top body proposed also adding “Xi Jinping Thought” to the document, enshrining it alongside Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as a key guiding principle of the country.

Experts predicted last October that Xi may seek to stay on as leader after he failed to unveil an obvious successor at a major party congress, appearing to break with an unwritten rule of two five-year terms as head of the party.

However, some doubted whether this would require a constitutional change, saying Xi could simply retain power through his role as General Secretary of the CCP, which does not have term limits, rather than the ceremonial presidency.

Deng Xiaoping, the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong, gave up most of his official titles but retained a tight grip on the country until his death in 1997.

By contrast, Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao was pushed out of his political roles and stripped of influence once Xi came to power. Since then he has rarely taken part in public engagements and many of his allies have fallen to Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.

Thomas Kellogg, executive director of Georgetown Law Asia, wrote last year that were Xi to follow the traditional 10-year term limit, “no doubt (he) could find a way to include himself in future high-flying global confabs, just as he could insert himself into key national meetings usually chaired by the Chinese president.”

“But doing so would be made more difficult and create a potential rival in the form of the new president,” he said. “Authoritarian rulers must constantly worry about whether their top lieutenants will seek to gain political advantage by betraying their own political patron, and Xi would be no exception.”

Pregnant woman rescued from kidnappers by Road Safety, gives birth

  • Victim gives birth thereafter 

Uche Usim

Luck shone on a pregnant woman Sunday morning as officials of the Federal Road Safety Corporation (FRSC), Badagry Unit, rescued her from kidnappers at a filling station. 

According to a statement signed by Corps Commander, Corps Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, the operation was led by Assistant Route Commander P. Danboyi when the team accosted a vehicle with registration number KTU 356 CE at AP filling station before Aradagun Bus stop in Badagry, Lagos. 

“In the vehicle were two suspected kidnappers (male) and a pregnant woman who was their victim. The pregnant woman sustained body injuries and was rescued to Ola-Oki hospital Ibereko, where she immediately gave birth to a baby boy. The incident happened about 7:30am this morning (Sunday),” the statement said.
The statement added that the two kidnappers were just about been burned alive by an irate mob when soldiers arrived on the scene, arresting and handing them over to the Nigeria Police in Badagry.
“The Corps Marshal of FRSC, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, has expressed appreciation to the gallant officers and commended them for their bravery, while assuring the members of the public that his men are not only on the road to see to their traffic safety but also their security by cooperating with other law enforcement agencies to shield them from marauders and bandits,” the statement added.