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Nigeria politics

Breaking News This Morning, September 25, 2020

1. FG warns applicants not to pay facilitation fee for MSMEs grant

The Federal Government says applicants will not pay any ‘facilitation fee’ to access its intervention grant for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and cautions unsuspecting applicants against fraudsters.

Mrs Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, stated this at a news conference on the implementation process of the Survival Fund in Abuja.

Katagum, who is also the Chairperson, Programme Steering Committee, said the Project Delivering Office (PDO) for the scheme was receiving feedbacks from Nigerians since its registration portal opened for applicants.

According to her, the Federal Government, through the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), has commenced nationwide implementation of the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes.

Minister said: “Applicants are to access the fund at no cost since the initiative is borne out of the Federal Government’s continued commitment to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

“The Survival Fund will not at any time or for any reason request payment or facilitation fees to access the grants.

“We will, however, like to draw the attention of the public to attempts by scammers and other undesirable elements to swindle innocent Nigerians with promises of assured disbursements for a fee.

“The public is encouraged to report any such nefarious activities to the nearest security agents and follow up with a report to the PDO via the mediums provided on the website.

“The PDO has received reports of some attempted cyber-attacks on the application website.

“We will like to assure the public that the application system is secured with multiple levels of encryption and any information loaded on the official application page is saved from cyber-attacks of any kind,” she said.

Katagum lauded MSMEs’ performances across the country and urged them to take full advantage of the scheme by applying for any category that suits their needs.

According to her, although many Nigerians have applied for the grant but there is need for improved awareness creation for MSMEs, especially those in the grassroots to key into it.

The minister, therefore, lauded the Federal Government for its efforts at supporting MSMEs to strive amidst the COVI9-19 pandemic period.

“Total successful registrations stood at 174,574 with Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Katsina and the FCT having the highest applications.

“Some states and local governments that have low access to network connectivity and internet services are experiencing delays with registration.

“However, we also have feedback that state governments and trade associations are putting in place innovative strategies to deal with the situation.

“On behalf of all MSMEs across the country, I want to thank His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for this critical intervention at this time of economic hardship coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I also want to place on record our continued appreciation to His Excellency, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for his steadfast leadership and guidance since the conception of this scheme,” she said.

Mr Tola Johnson, the Special Assistant to the President on MSMEs and Project Coordinator for the Survival Fund, said that scheme established 37 Help Desks to assist applicants across the country.

Johnson said that focal persons were also spread across the states for continued sensitisation and assistance for applicants to ensure that all states of the federation benefited from the scheme.

Johnson urged trade associations and unions to mobilise their members to apply for the grant to enable them ameliorate the challenges facing their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

2. Ondo disburses N3b to 527 health centres

ONDO State Government has disbursed over N3billion to 527 health facilities across the state.

Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) said the move was to strengthen the health sector for effective qualitative service delivery.

He spoke while distributing additional N246million as performance subsidy to the 18 local governments, at the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Ondo Complex.

Akeredolu said his administration has embarked on developmental projects, which have put smiles on people’s faces.

Acting Commissioner for Health and Special Adviser to the Governor on Health Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye said the fund would be used to further strengthen facilities across the state.

3. PDP urges INEC not to compromise use of Z-pad in Ondo election

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to compromise the credibility of Ondo Governorship election with the contemplation of using the Z-pad technology in voter accreditation process.

The Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee, PDP National Campaign Council for Ondo Governorship election, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, gave the advice in a statement issued in Abuja.

Ologbondiyan said the campaign recalls that the Z-pad technology had failed during a test-run deployment for voter accreditation in Nasarawa by-election.

The situation, according to him, informed its rejection by INEC for voter accreditation in the, Edo state governorship election, where it was only used to assist in direct uploading of results to INEC’s virtual portal.

“We, therefore, urge INEC to limit the Z-pad technology to the purpose for which it has helped the commission to attain integrity as witnessed in the Edo governorship election.”

Ologbondiyan also urged INEC to discountenance the blackmail against the replacement of the over 5,000 card readers that were burnt by alleged agents of a party to frustrate the conduct of a credible governorship election in Ondo state.

“The PDP campaign, standing with the people of Ondo state, demands that the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, personally oversights the processes of recruitment of state polling officers.

“Our demand is predicated on information available to us that INEC officials detailed to handle the process are about being compromised to engage a party’s members as INEC ad hoc staff with a view to using them to rig the election.

“For us in the PDP campaign, the irreducible minimum standard of the integrity for the Ondo election is to adapt the achievement attained by the commission in the, Edo state governorship election.

“We want to inform INEC and all stakeholders that we will follow every process in the Ondo election to ensure that the Ondo people are not robbed of their legitimate votes at any level of the electoral process.”

He called on INEC and security agencies to invite and caution those planning acts of violence and cited the incidence in Oba-Akoko, where PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, was almost assassinated, but for the intervention of the people.

Ologbondiyan appreciated the overwhelming support accorded to Jegede, across the length and breadth of Ondo state.

INEC Chairman at the meeting with traditional rulers in Akure had said that the commission had dropped the use of Z-pad for accreditation in the election.

Yakubu said that the z-pad had two functions of uploading the results of polling units and to support the smart card readers for accreditation of voters.

Yakubu said that the commission had, however, yet to perfect the component for accreditation, “so we thought it was risky to introduce a new technology in a major governorship election.

“So, we have dropped the use for verification as we will improve on it,” Yakubu said.

4. Ondo election: INEC to ensure early opening of polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is working to ensure early opening of polls and declaration of results, especially in the riverine areas, in the Oct. 10 governorship election in Ondo State.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, stated this in Akure when he met with the traditional rulers in the state in preparation for the election.

Yakubu said that INEC would pay particular attention to places that have difficult terrains so that it could deploy materials early and get the results out of these places in a good time.

“We just discovered that between Ese-Odo and Ilaje, we have 270 polling units that are riverine areas.

“So, we have to quickly mobilise the boats and to get the results out early.

“The last time we have the support that we need because the boats that we use to move materials and to bring results back have no headlights, so, they are hardly used at night, but the Navy provided support because their boats have illumination.

“Fortunately, the law empowers the commission to seek the support of the military in moving materials to locations.

“So, I assure you that we are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that we deploy promptly and will also get results out to the state capital in good time.

“The longer it takes to make a declaration, people will begin to assume something fishy is about to happen with the result.

“So, we will ensure that results are promptly deployed and declared to restore people’s confidence on the electoral system,” Yakubu said.

He said that the commission was also working to curb the issue of vote-buying at polling units, through the reorganisation of its voting points and the ban on the use of the mobile phones at the voting points.

“We will continue to take steps to ensure that we do so, but it is happening in a number of ways.

“We can only handle or attempt to solve this problem, while it happens at the polling unit level.

“But when it happens outside the polling unit, it is difficult to track the perpetrators now that we are aware that vote-buying has gone digital.

“They now transfer money electronically ahead of the election, no longer during the election.

“So, we will continue to do whatever we can to ensure that people don’t buy votes at the polling units,” he added.

The INEC boss assured the people of the state of the free, fair, and credible election on Oct. 10.

“We are working towards addressing some of the challenges and we must make Ondo election better than that of Edo. We can only achieve that with your support,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the INEC chairman also met with the media and security agencies.

5. FG swears-in chairman, member of Investments and Securities Tribunal

The Federal Government has sworn-in Mr Azi Isaac as Chairman and Mr Nosa Osemwengie as member of the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST).

Mr Yunusa Abdullahi, Special Adviser, Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning made this known in a statement in Abuja.

Isaac was appointed for the first term of five years and Osemwengie was re-appointed for the second term of four years.

Speaking in at the event, the minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said that the tribunal now had a “full complement of 10 members in line with the enabling law, the Investments and Securities Act (ISA),” with their appointment.

“It is, therefore, my hope that all the members will justify the confidence reposed in them by President Muhammadu Buhari by diligently working together to discharge the responsibilities of the tribunal.

“Your appointments have come at a time when all hands are needed to build our economy.

“As you all may be aware, the IST was first inaugurated in December. It is a specialised fast-track court, established for the settlement of disputes in the capital market,” she said.

Ahmed said the investments tribunal became apparent because of the time-sensitive nature of capital market transactions, which the regular courts could not cope with.

According to her, the Tribunal is fashioned after world class tribunals like the Financial Services and Market Tribunal (FSMT) of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Market Misconduct Tribunal of Hong Kong.

“The core mandate of the tribunal is to conduct its proceedings speedily and to dispose of any matter brought before it within three months from the commencement of substantive hearing,” she said.

Ahmed further said that the tribunal had made some strides, particularly in its adjudicatory role, which had gone a long way to sanitise the capital market and build investors’ confidence.

The minister, however, said the tribunal had suffered many setbacks in the last five years, despite the progress recorded.

She said the setbacks were “due largely to poor administration”.

“These setbacks have blurred, if not completely wiped out, whatever modest achievements the tribunal might have recorded in its adjudicatory role.

“We may recall that the Tribunal was dissolved and the chairman and its members relieved of their jobs.

“A new panel of the tribunal, which includes many of the members here seated, was inaugurated.

“Again, barely two years into your their tenure, the chairman of the tribunal was removed. The problems with the tribunal had been infighting amongst members, lack of industrial harmony and a series of complaints bordering on mal-administration.

“These have been the bane of the tribunal and source of embarrassment, not only to the ministry but the federal government,” she recalled.

She further emphasised that the chairman’s responsibility was to provide good leadership that would “galvanise the human and material resources” at the tribunal’s disposal.

She added that his leadership was to achieve stability in line with the mandate of the tribunal, in a consistent manner.

“I call on all members of the IST to cooperate with the new chairman, so that the vision of the tribunal, which is ‘to be a world class capital market tribunal that is fair and transparent, dispensing justice without fear or favour, could be attained.”

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Abuja Federal Government MSMEs PDO Survival Fund

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