In spite of the public outcry trailing the impending passage of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) regulation bill by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber has said it is determined to pass the bill because some of the NGOs are used to fund terrorism and insurgency in the country.
The deputy majority leader of the House, Hon. Umar Buba Jibril (APC, Kogi), who made the position of the House known in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday said the intendment of the new NGO bill was to forestall alleged illegal activities of some NGOs that disappeared after collecting funds from people.
“The NGOs bill, therefore, is primarily to set up a commission to regulate their activities and provide a platform for robust relationships between them and the government for the interests of Nigerians.
He disclosed that “recent developments have shown that; some people registered NGOs, solicited for funds and disappeared. That happened recently in the North-east. Some NGOs are used to fund the activities of terrorist and insurgents”.
According to him, the bill “is to ensure transparency and accountability in the ways and manners the NGOs collect money and use them for Nigerians”.
Explaining further, Jibril noted that “the NGOs bill is not new or peculiar to Nigeria. It exists in many countries particularly in the ECOWAS sub-region and all over Africa and other continents. In Europe, Israel passed theirs last year! Kenya has a similar law since 1990.
He warned that “Nigeria is and should not be a banana republic where anything goes”.
Jibril stressed that religious bodies and organisations are not NGOs adding that “our quasi-financial institutions at local levels are not NGOs! These organisations have existed for centuries to serve businesses and commerce of our market women and traders.
“Now NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) are voluntary organisations that are registered to partner government at all levels to fill gaps wherever they exist. They are supposed to be partners in progress with the government; therefore the need for a commission to serve this purpose arises.
“Secondly and naturally for them to carry out their activities, the NGOs and CSOs solicit for funds from all over the world and collect billions of naira on behalf of Nigerians!
“Thirdly they recruit expatriates to help them run their activities in the country with lots of abuses”
Recall that the bill has received bashing from a cross-section of individuals and civil society organisations prominent among which are SERAP and a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who described the proposed legislation as unnecessary.
But Hon. Jibril dismissed such criticisms saying “the way the NGOs are reacting to this wonderful and well-packaged bill particularly SERAP is not only shameful but condemnable”.
Adding, he said “The Nigerian parliament is an institution governed by rules and traditions. When a bill is for public hearing you go there and present your views like other interested Nigerians and invited cooperate bodies and government agencies for the standing committee to do justice to the bill. Period!
“Going on cheap propaganda and blackmail and even calling on World bodies including the United Nations to help you withdraw a bill from our National Assembly will not help you”
Aisha Buhari attacked me in Aso Rock –Daura’s daughter
- First Lady: You lied, ignored President’s directive on apartment
An amateur video leaked to the social media may have exposed the fierce battle between the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari and the much dreaded cabal for the control of Aso Rock, the seat of government in Nigeria.
In the video which went viral at the weekend, the First Lady, apparently in an angry mood, is heard shouting on top of her voice, complaining about being denied access into one of the apartments within the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Aisha queried why those in the apartment chose to shut the doors against her and ordered them to vacate it immediately.
The video trended on the heels of the rumour about the alleged wedding between her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari and his Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umaru Farouq, in Abuja.
The release of the video had elicited a lot of debates about what may have transpired in the encounter as no faces were shown. But, Fatima Daura, daughter of Mamman Daura, President Buhari’s nephew, has accused the First Lady (Aisha) of attacking her and her siblings inside the Presidential Villa.
Daura is believed to be a leading member of the alleged cabal in the presidency which wields so much powers in the current political dispensation.
Fatima, who gave an account of the incident in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, said she recorded the incident on video for confirmation and proof that the President’s wife violently confronted her inside Aso Rock.
According to her, the incident took place in 2017.
However, a senior aide in the office of the First Lady, who pleaded anonymity, told New Telegraph yesterday that Daura’s daughter lied in her interview with the BBC, adding that she kept several other things away from the public on what actually happened during that encounter.
In the interview translated by The Cable, Fatima insisted that she least expected Buhari’s wife to act in a violent manner.
The interview ran thus: “My name is Fatima. I am a daughter to Malam Mamman Daura… if one reasons well, he or she will understand that it is not possible to say that the wife of the president is denied access to her apartment, but let me give a context.
“The apartment in question is called the Glass House. You know that there are several houses and apartments in the Villa. When the president got into office, he gave the Glass House to our father, Mamman Daura.
“You all know that they are friends and are related, more so, they grew up together like twins. When he became president, he gave the Glass House to our dad and said he should stay there. Our dad stayed there for three years now until when the president’s son, Yusuf, had an accident and went to Germany for treatment.
“When he returned, the president told our dad to move out of that apartment to an even bigger one in the Villa, that Yusuf is going to stay and be treated in the Glass House,” she said.
New Telegraph gathered that the Glass House is closer to the main presidential apartment and the idea of evicting the Dauras from there was to make it easier for the First Lady to have access to her son.
Daura’s daughter further narrates what led to the incident that was captured in the video. Fatima said: “(On that day) my mom and dad were not around. So, my dad instructed me and my elder sister, both of us are working and we go to work every morning, that we should come on a Saturday and move our belongings to the new apartment the president instructed.
“We planned to pack out then and have even concluded moving all the things. All of a sudden, in the afternoon as we were busy on that errand of packing our belongings when we heard noise from outside. I was in an inner room in the house while my sister was in an outer one close to the main gate of the apartment. So my sister went out before I could come out.
“On getting there, it was the wife of the president. When she came, the door was locked and she picked a metal chair and broke the door. I have sent the picture to you. My sister that went out was almost hit by the chair. She threw the chair which broke through the door and almost hit my sister.
“I was so shocked and afraid of getting there because she was shouting and reigning abuses and saying we should move out of that apartment. That she has never seen this kind of thing before. I then went back and picked my phone because if one is to say that she acted that way, no one would believe it without a proof. She has already been saying a lot of things depicting that she is being suppressed.
“So I recorded it to show our parents and the security, so that they will know the truth should anything happen. Because the way she was raging and shouting, I was thinking that she would pick something and hit us with it or something like that. That was why we recorded it. Had it been we wanted to release the video, we would have done it earlier. But you know if a video clip enters one or two hands, you can’t control where it will get to.
“There are even other clips that have not been released, I will send them to you to see how she was insulting the security and how she drove them away saying who are they protecting and calling them bloody idiots. It’s all on the video clip. That was what happened.”
The aide in the First Lady’s office confirmed that the incident happened over a year ago when the wife of the president, on the instructions of the President, asked the Dauras to vacate their living quarters inside the Villa for a sick Yusuf Buhari who was recuperating after an accident.
“For this reason, the quarters were needed and the Dauras were asked to move to another part of the Villa. Long before the accident, Yusuf’s mother had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the place because the building is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president,” he said.
The source noted further that: “The IG of police, DG DSS, NSA and the Vice President, who was the acting President, were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies. Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, did not say this in her interview.
“What really was the intent for the video being released now if not for mischief? Fatima didn’t showcase her part in the drama where the door was locked against the First Lady to deny her access to some areas of the Villa, neither did she acknowledge the abuse she first vented before the First Lady reacted under the instruction of DG Lawal Daura who was brought into government by Mamman Daura.”
Shareholders endorse N120bn acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills by Olam
Shareholders of Dangote Flour Mills Plc. (DFM), yesterday unanimously approved the acquisition of the company by Crown Flour Mills Limited, the Nigerian subsidiary of global food and agri-business conglomerate, Olam International Limited after a whopping payment of N120 billion to the shareholders.
Olam International has made an offer for the acquisition of 100 per cent equity in Dangote Flour Mills Plc. for a consideration of N24.00 per share. The acquisition was carried out through a Scheme of Arrangement.
Most of the shareholders who spoke at the meeting lauded the company’s management for the noble decision.
Nona Awoh, a notable financial analyst and one of the shareholders of the company, thanked the management on the offer of N24 per share and reminded other shareholders that the last time the share price of the company increased significantly to N20 per share was in the year 2010.
Another leader of the shareholders group, Mr. Boniface Solomon, described the deal as a very good one for the shareholders.
He said the stock has really been struggling in view of the current realities in the nation’s economy, stating that the N24 per share is indeed a good price for his members.
Managing Director of Crown Flour Mills Limited, Anurag Shukia, said his company intends to maintain and expand DFM’s business as well as provide enhanced manufacturing capacity and create synergies to deliver improved products to customers across the country.
With the acquisition, the entire 4,994,886,771 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each in DFM held by the shareholders of the company will be transferred to Crown Flour. The N24 per share that will be given to the shareholders for 50 kobo shares held represents a 124 per cent premium on the share price of DFM as at the close of April 18, 2019 being the last business day prior to the date the proposal was received and announced on the floor of the Exchange; and a 145 per cent premium on the three-month weighted average share price of the company as at 18 April, 2019.
Benefits to the shareholders include, but not limited to: opportunities for shareholders of DFM, other than Crown Flour, to enhance the value of their investment in the company and exit at an attractive pricing; in addition, the scheme is expected to create valuable synergies between the operations of Crown Flour and DFM, to ensure improved revenue generation capacity, reduced operational costs, and enhance profit.
It will also enable Olam focus on the flour business, to provide the necessary financial and technical support required to maintain and expand the business.
2020 Budget: Govt earmarks N450bn to fund fuel subsidy
…targets N237bn looted funds, N252bn privatisation proceeds
Oil subsidy regime, also known as under recovery for local consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), is to be sustained in 2020 fiscal year with government earmarking N450 billion for it in the 2020 budget.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, confirmed yesterday, stating that the ‘under-recovery’ was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the Budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” the minister said.
This was as government, yesterday, itemized sources for its revenue estimate of N8.155 trillion laid out in the 2020 budget.
These include privatization proceeds in which government intends to harvest N252,083,688, multi-lateral/bilateral loans of N328,128,150,000; new borrowings in the sum of N1,594,986,007,544 comprising local (N744,986.007.544) and foreign borrowing (N850,000,000) and sale of government property.
Also lined up for funding next year budget, is N237 billion of recovered looted funds.
The N8.155 trillion revenue projections represents seven per cent or N561.2 billion more than 2019 budget revenue figure of N7.59 trillion.
Ahmed confirmed the figures yesterday in Abuja at the budget 2020 breakdown.
The central government has pegged her spending in 2020 (inclusive of GOEs/PT loans) at N10.33 trillion. Of the figure, recurrent (non-debt) spending is projected at N4.88 trillion (reflecting increases in salaries and pensions including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage).
Capital expenditure (inclusive of transfers, GOEs capital & Project-tied loans) is estimated at 24%, provision of N296 billion is to cater for settling of matured bonds to local contractors, representing an increase by 169.09 % from 2019 figure of N110 billion.
Twelve Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government collectively will spend N1,99.85 trillion in 2020 fiscal budget.
The top twelve priority ministries with highest allocation include, Ministry of Works & Housing N259.2 billion; Ministry of Education (including UBEC) N162.74 billion; Ministry of Power (includes PSRP transfer to NBET) N127.67 billion; Ministry of Defence N99.87 billion and Ministry of Health (including BHCPF) N90.98 billion.
Other MDAs on top priority capital allocation in 2020 budget include, Ministry of Transportation N123.07 billion; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development N79.79 billion; Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development N45.45 billion; Ministry of Water Resources N78.34 billion; Ministry of Aviation N53.85 billion; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N41.34 billion and Ministry of Science and Technology N37.55 billion.
Present at the session were Director-General, Budget Office of Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other top government officials and representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSO).
Other funds earmarked for key projects include N110 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of roads in every geo-political zone of the country.
The roads listed to be covered include, construction of Kaduna eastern bypass, Abuja–Kano Dual carriageway, dualization of Odukpani–Itu–Ikot Ekpene Road; construction of Kano western bye pass and Abuja–Abaji road, amongst others.
Other key projects lined up for financing in the 2020 budget included N1 billion for construction of terminal building at Enugu Airport, N10 billion for construction of second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and asphalt overlay in Lagos.
On transport, government earmarked N67.17 billion for counterpart funding for railway projects. The amount covers, Lagos-Kano (ongoing), Calabar-Lagos (Ongoing), Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Aladja (Warri) (ongoing); Port Harcourt- Maiduguri, Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic (new), Abuja-Itakpe and Aladja (Warri)-Warri Port and Refinery including Warri New Harbour, and Bonny Deep Sea Port & Port Harcourt and other rail projects.
In 2020, government is committing N2 billion for funding of Mambilla hydro power project, N200 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/ Gas Power station in Kaduna, another N150 million for Afam fast power programme accelerated gas and solar power generation.
For housing sector, the sum of N17.5 billion was earmarked for National Housing Programme, N30 billion for Social Housing Scheme (Family Homes Fund).
For Agriculture and Rural Development, government proposed over N11 billion for promotion and development of value chain across in more than 30 different commodities; another N3.97 billion for Veterinary and Pest Control Services; N8.20 billion for rural roads and water sanitation; N2.01 billion for National Grazing Reserve Development; N813 million for mechanization; N1.48 billion for Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise (Life) Programme; N2.86 billion for food and strategic reserves; N1.81 billion for agribusiness and market development and N1.96 billion for extension services.
The special intervention programme got N430 billion in 2020.
On how much of recovery looted fund earmarked for the budget, she said: “On the recovery of looted funds, if you look at the budget, we have a provision of N237 billion provided for as a financing item in the budget. This is our projection of how much would be recovered as looted funds. The funds will now be available to fund the budget” the minister explained.
Ahmed noted that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.
She said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.
She said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.
Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.
FG bans land importation of goods
- Security operatives seize N1.4bn items, arrest 317 smugglers
- Customs: We’ve saved 10m litres of PMS from being smuggled out
The Federal Government has banned all importation of goods, whether contraband or not, through land borders until further notice.
Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), at a joint news conference with his counterpart from Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, in Abuja yesterday, said for now, only goods passing through the controlled borders such as air and sea would gain entry into the country.
According to him, the partial land border closure affects all goods, adding that anyone who hitherto imported and exported legitimate goods can do same via seaports and other manned outlets for now.
He foreclosed any plans to reopen the borders anytime soon.
He said there is no time limit to end the partial closure of the nation’s borders.
Ali added that the exercise would be sustained until the neighbouring countries duly comply with the ECOWAS protocols on transit of goods.
The NCS boss said that diplomatic engagement was ongoing to ensure the cooperation of the neighbouring countries.
He said that following this development, Niger Republic had just announced the ban on all forms of exportation of rice into Nigeria.
The Customs boss stated that the ongoing border closure code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response’ by combined Nigeria’s security agents has led to seizure of goods worth N1.4 billion.
Aside the goods seized, Ali said the operation has also led to the deportation of some Pakistanis and South Koreans, while 146 illegal immigrants were arrested.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, the Customs boss explained that 317 smugglers have been arrested; adding that 21,071 bags of 50kg parboiled rice have been impounded.
Other items seized are; 190 vehicles, 891 drums of petrol, 2,665 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 66,000 litre tanker of vegetable oil, 133 motorcycles, 131 bags of NPK fertilizers used for making explosives, among others.
Ali said that the closure of the nation’s borders had saved 10.2 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), from being smuggled out.
Using the N145 per litre pump price, the value of the products saved by security operatives stood at N1.479 billion.
“From the record available to me, the consumption of PMS in the country has reduced by 10.2 million litres since the border operation began.
“This means that this amount of fuel was being smuggled to the neighbouring countries before the exercise began.
“We are deploying every technology available to secure our borders, and in line with this, the president has graciously approved e-customs for the service,” he said.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an e-customs project, which involves using drones and geo-spatial technology to further fortify the borders.
According to him, e-customs means all customs tools will be driven by technology to manage the borders.
“Our men will remain at the borders for as long as it will take the neighbouring countries to adhere to ECOWAS protocols on transit.”
On why the security agencies are not respecting free movement protocol of ECOWAS into consideration in the border closure issue, Ali said: “When we talk of security, human rights take the back seat. We want to secure our nation. Nigeria must survive before you talk of rights and doing business.”
He noted that all the agencies involved in ‘Exercise Swift Response’ as coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) have been duly briefed on the target of the operation, especially in the area of using minimum force.
Also speaking at the event, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigrations Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, said the border drill also involves human mobility.
“There are rules of this operation. ECOWAS protocol says you must arrive or depart via a recognized port with the right travel documents. You must travel where there is Customs and Immigrations.
“We will launch our e-border initiative next year. We also have forward operational bases and will patrol them round the clock. We have 12 of such.
“Mr. President approved amnesty for over-stayed migrants to register from now till 19th January, 2020. Foreigners have latched on this opening. Sixty per cent of those coming forward have irregular papers. After this window is closed, anyone caught with will be deported,” he explained.
The joint border security exercise, code-named “Exercise Swift Response”, began on August 20.
It was set up to ensure a better security of the country’s territorial integrity, particularly the land and maritime borders, against trans-border security concerns.
The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in the four geo-political zones of North-West, North-Central, South-West and South-South.
Corps member convicted for $150 fraud
A serving member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Samuel Orie, has been convicted on one count of impersonation and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of $150.
Orie was arraigned before Justice I. N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Enugu State, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Enugu Zonal office, yesterday.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said Orie was arrested on August 23, 2019, based on intelligence gathering regarding his fraudulent activities.
The charge against him reads, “that you Samuel Orie, alias Scott Gibb, sometime in 2019, in Enugu within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, fraudulently presented yourself as Mr. Scott Gibb, an American contractor travelling around the world and using your email address to wit:firstname.lastname@example.org with the intent to obtain money from unsuspecting victims on the internet and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22(3) (b) and punishable under Section 22(4) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act 2015.”
When the charge was read to him, Orie pleaded guilty. The prosecution counsel, E. V. Dalyop, urged the court to convict him as charged.
But the defendant’s counsel, E. O. Isiwu, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as his client was a first time offender who was remorseful and willing to make restitution for all his actions.
Justice Buba convicted Orie and sentenced him to one month imprisonment starting from the date of his arrest. He is also to forfeit $150 and his Techno Camon M phone.
EFCC arrests 94 ‘yahoo’ boys at Osogbo party
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it had arrested 94 suspected internet fraudsters otherwise called Yahoo Boys at a party in Osogbo, Osun State.
It said the arrest followed a raid by operatives of its Osogbo zonal office yesterday.
Also, the anti-graft agency said 19 exotic cars, laptops and other items were recovered during the dawn operation.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujarem, who made the disclosure in a statement yesterday, said the suspects were undergoing interrogation and that those indicted would face prosecution.
He said: “Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan zonal office, on Monday, October 14, 2019, raided an Osogbo-based nightclub notorious for hosting parties for suspected internet fraudsters.
“The raid led to the arrest of 94 suspects and confiscation of 19 exotic cars, laptops, scores of sophisticated mobile phones and other items.
“Popularly known as ‘Club Secret Underground,’ the nightclub is located on the Ibadan-Iwo Expressway, Osun State capital.”
Uwujarem noted that the operation was a product of an intelligence report that suspected Yahoo Boys had concluded plans to hold a night party at the club.
He said: “The wee-hour operation was sequel to an intelligence report hinting that the suspected internet fraudsters were organising a night party for Sunday, October 13 during which some of them intended to celebrate their loots.
“A discreet operation on the club had earlier been carried out to ascertain the authenticity of the intelligence.
“The confirmation led to the mega raid effected on Monday.
“The suspects are currently undergoing further interrogation, and those indicted would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”
Court freezes companies’ 45 bank accounts over rice smuggling
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered a temporal freezing of 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies allegedly involved in smuggling of rice into Nigeria.
The order was premised on an ex-parte application filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Counsel to the applicant, Nosike Nicholas, in arguing the application, prayed for an order to freeze the accounts for 90 days.
He anchored the application on section 60, Paragraph (B) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991 as amended.
He submitted that there was an ongoing investigation against the defendants who are customers of the commercial banks.
According to him, transactions under the accounts can cause significant financial loss to the rice industries in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.
The trial judge, Justice A. R. Mohammed, while granting the application, instead of 90 days, ordered for a freezing for 45 days.
The companies whose accounts were domiciled with 10 commercial banks in Nigeria are Sun Sam A1 International Limited, Sun Sam International Limited and Sunchrist O. Trans Nigeria Limited.
The court directed the head offices of First Bank Nigeria Plc., Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank Plc., United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Polaris Bank and Eco Bank Nigeria to freeze forthwith all transactions from those accounts for 45 days.
The court held that the order of freezing will be pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.
It further held that the applicant can approach the court for extension at the expiry of the 45 days if investigation is not completed.
The court consequently adjourned to December 12 for further hearing.
Researchers raise hope of diabetes cure
A team of researchers said an alternative treatment that could cure diabetes was underway.
According to an article published in ‘The Jerusalem Post,’ the new treatment involves implanting a bio-artificial pancreas under the skin using local anesthesia during an outpatient procedure, which would help monitor blood sugar levels in the body, detect the amount of insulin that each patient needs and release it into the bloodstream.
The artificial pancreas works by connecting with the patient’s blood vessels and measuring the blood sugar levels in order to secrete the right amount of insulin needed to balance blood sugar.
However, the artificial pancreas, which may be replaced after some months could be priced up to $50,000. The product, which lasted 90 days in mice, could hit the market during the next few years.
The current method requires some patients to inject insulin into their body, but manages the disease without a cure.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), half a billion people have diabetes and about 160 million of them were insulin dependent.
Chief Executive Officer of Betalin Therapeutics, Dr. Nikolai Kunicher, who is one of the researchers that developed the therapy, said their invention was a new way to treat diabetes.
He said: “Today, you only have ways to manage the disease. This is a cure. The diabetic pancreas has lost the function of secreting insulin and we give it back. The patient should never have to inject insulin into his body again.”
Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into the cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it makes. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.
Kunicher and his team developed the first bio-artificial pancreas composed of pig’s lung tissue and insulin secreting cells.
The innovative pancreas has been successfully examined in animal clinical trials and the researchers hope that human trials will begin within the next year.
Betalin Therapeutics was founded in 2015 and has two famous Nobel laureates on its board, Professor Arieh Warshel and Professor Sidney Altman, who suffers from diabetes and his hope is that the new device could be utilised to help patients.
Executive, legislative romance on budget 2020
President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, presented the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly. The proposal, which is in the sum of N10.330 trillion, represents an 11 per cent increase when compared to the 2019 appropriation of N9.12 trillion. The proposal had a revenue projection of N8.155 trillion and a deficit of N2.18 trillion, which is 1.52 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The key assumptions are the benchmark price of $57 per barrel of crude oil; daily oil production of 2.18 million barrels per day (mbpd) and an exchange rate of N305 to $1. The real GDP is expected to grow at 2.93 per cent, while inflation rate is projected at 10.81 per cent during the period covered by the proposal.
The budget was presented in accordance with the provisions of Section 81 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. As prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the budget presentation was preceded by the passage of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) for 2020/2022 by the National Assembly.
This is the fifth budget of the Buhari administration and the first in his second tenure.
We appreciate the apparent zeal of the administration to kick-start the budget process early in order to return to the January-December budget cycle. We have also observed the convivial atmosphere surrounding the process, which signals a new dawn in the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of the Federal Government in Nigeria. What used to be a cat and mouse game has become a steamy romance of two hitherto strange bedfellows.
In previous years, it was an open secret that the executive and the legislature were often at daggers drawn and both parties usually looked forward to budget presentation days with trepidation. We recall that throughout the life of the Eighth National Assembly, there was no love lost between the executive and the legislature because of the cracks that existed in the fold of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party.
Today, both the executive and legislative have not only declared their willingness to work together, they have indeed displayed that spirit of collaboration given the speed at which the parliament commenced debates on the general principles of the money bill, preparatory to the defence of the specific allocations by the Heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the central government.
In order to avoid one of the pitfalls of the past where budget passage is delayed due to the absence of ministers, as well as heads of parastatals and agencies, President Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all cabinet members and heads of government agencies so as to enable them to personally lead the process of budget defence at the National Assembly.
The suspension of such travels will enable these officials of the executive arm to provide the required information on the budget and ensure the timely passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill. Furthermore, all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have been directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their schedules of budget defence.
For once in a long while, both the Presidency and the National Assembly are on the same page and vibrating at the same frequency.
However, we want to sound a note of warning to members of the National Assembly not to abdicate their constitutional responsibilities in the budget process. They must realise that by presenting the budget to them at a relatively early date, the ball is now in the court of the legislature. Already, economists, financial experts and even members of the National Assembly have expressed discomfort at some of the proposals for the various sectors. There is need for the parliament to deploy all the expertise available to it to ensure that the rough edges in the budget are smoothened.
Nigerians expect a speedy passage of the budget, but they also expect that the lawmakers would do due diligence on the document presented to them to avoid the lapses of the past years.
Successive budgets in Nigeria have been found to contain frivolous expenditure items, which some unknown bureaucrats usually insert into the document.
Some of these may include several durable items such as computers, photocopiers and other office furniture, which had been purchased the previous year. It might also come in the form of proposals for the purchase of kitchen utensils and cutleries or generators and cars, which were also purchased last year.
These are grand seeds of corruption sown on a fertile ground. They would germinate and manifest as budget paddings as soon as the budget is passed and signed into law. The lawmakers must therefore endeavour to scrutinise the proposal before them thoroughly and with good conscience, knowing that they have a social contract with the people.
The budget is a serious document that points towards the direction the economy would take in the next one year. It is a fiscal compass that should guide us on reviving the economy, attracting investments, creating jobs and uplifting the standard of living of the average Nigeria. Unless this document achieves these basic goals, all the ceremonies surrounding it and the smooth relationship between the executive and the legislature would have been in vain and of no benefit to Nigerians.
Minimum wage: Prepare for strike, NLC tells workers
…directs state councils to mobilise ahead Oct 16 deadline
- TUC: We’re fully mobilised λFG warns organised labour
he Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has issued a directive to its state councils to begin mobilisation of its members to embark on a nationwide strike should labour and the Federal Government fail to reach a compromise on or before the October 16 deadline.
A circular by NLC’s General Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Ugboaja, yesterday, and dispatched to all the state councils, further directed members of NLC to meet and coordinate strike preparations with members of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Nation al Public Service Negotiating Committee (JNPSNC).
The circular, which was sighted by our correspondent, reads: “You will recall that a joint Communiqué was issued by NLC, TUC and JNPSNC, stating that two weeks from the date of the said communiqué, industrial harmony could not be guaranteed in the country should an agreement not be reached with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment of salaries as a result of the new national minimum wage of N30,000.
“You are hereby directed to coordinate preparations with TUC and JNPSNC in your states for necessary industrial action should the time expire without an agreement as contained in the circular.”
On its part, TUC said it has already mobilised its members across the country to down tools at the expiration of the October 16 deadline.
General Secretary of TUC, Comrade Musa Lawal, who disclosed this to our correspondent in Abuja, said Congress decided to mobilise its members internally since there was no serious movement by government to show it was ready to meet labour’s demands on or before the deadline.
His words: “A general circular was issued to government that come October 15, if nothing happens by 16th October, we shall down tools. We have done our internal mobilisation, we don’t need to send any circular again.
“The message is very clear. If by 16th nothing is done, then, of course, Nigerians will know that workers exist in Nigeria.
“We have already issued our ultimatum. What remains is for us to decide whether we will go ahead or we will not go ahead, but for now, there is nothing concrete to show that we will not go ahead,” Lawal said.
The Federal Government has warned the leadership of the NLC and TUC, to strictly adhere to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which restricts labour from embarking on strike while reconciliatory negotiations were still ongoing.
Reacting to the proposed strike should there be a breakdown in Tuesday’s negotiations, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, noted that in exercise of powers conferred on him as the chief councilliator, “he apprehended the trade dispute and conciliation was on-going.”
In a statement made available to newsmen by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Nwachukwu Obidiwe, the minister said: “The leadership of the NLC and TUC knows full well, the laws as well as the provisions of the ILO statutes on the current situation. I do not think they will wish to go against these elaborate provisions by taking to action while the conciliation is on.
“So, the minister will continue his efforts tomorrow being today with separate meetings with labour and government side and joint conclusive meetings for Tuesday.”
New Telegraph recalls that the Trade Union Side (TUS) of the JNPSNC had earlier warned the Federal Government that it will not issue any further warning before embarking on a nationwide strike.
The organised labour had demanded 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17.
However, the Federal Government presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers on grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers of grade level 15 to 17.
The implementation of the new wage has remained a problem, arising from the issue of relativity and consequential adjustments.
On May 14, the Federal Government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which in turn set up a technical sub-committee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees.
But, government and labour have failed to reach an agreement over relativity and consequential adjustments for the implementation of the new minimum wage over six months after it was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, 18th April, 2019.
In a communique signed by President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba; TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye and the Acting Chairman, JNPSNC (Trade Union Side), Comrade Simon Anchaver, the unionists lamented that workers in Nigeria were suffering due to huge inflation and astronomical hike in prices of essential goods and services since the last minimum wage of N18,000 was implemented years back.
It also resolved to cripple the economy should the Federal Government fail to meet its demands within the next 14 days.
“The leadership of organised labour in Nigeria wishes to categorically state that the leadership of labour cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if our demands are not met at the close of work on Wednesday, 16th October, 2019,” the unions had said.
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