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Igbo lawyers task South-East govs on sit-at-home order

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• L-R; Treasurer of Otu Oka-Iwu, Mrs Anthonia Eke, the President, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, Mrs Nneka Chris-Asoluka,1st Vice President, at the maiden news conference on Tuesday in Lagos 
Otu Oka-Iwu Nigeria, a body of lawyers of Igbo extraction in Lagos, has urged the governors of the South-East to collaborate and tackle the ongoing sit-at-home conundrum on Mondays in the region.

The President of the group, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, made the call at its maiden news conference on Tuesday in Lagos.

Unegbu said the sit-at-home was affecting the economy of Igboland, noting that the governors must work together and come out with strategies to tackle the problem.

“The sit-at-home conundrum in Igboland on Mondays is now a norm and people believe that if you go out on Mondays you are on your own as there is no guarantee of your returning home safe.

“We appear to have been abandoned by the government that campaigned that we should elect them to protect us. We are using this medium to call on the government to come to our aid in Igboland,” he said.

He also decried the security challenge in the country, especially in Igboland which is affecting the economic growth and development of the South-East.

“Igboland has been turned into a killing field where no person old or young is safe. It is the responsibility of the government, both at the centre and the regions, to secure the lives and property of the inhabitants.

“We observe with pains in our hearts the wanton destruction of the Igboland economy. Igboland before now was bubbling with activities from the Onitsha-Nnewi axis through the Aba-Orlu axis.

“Today the story is in the past and this has given rise to a comatose economy without direction and no substance.

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“We must all do something to bring back those days of old where the young challenge nature to a wrestling contest for ideas where the young in our communities will surely come out victorious.

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“We should go back to the drawing board and discover where we got it wrong before it is too late.

“We are a group that believes in the unity of this great country Nigeria. We have no other country to call our own,” Unegbu said.

The president also decried the education deficit in the region noting that the Igboland was a known place for educational activities in the past.

“Today, the children in Igboland appear to have lost interest in education which is signalling a dangerous trend.

“There was a time it was like a competition as to which of the states will take the first position in the WAEC ranking of states after the examinations.

“Today, what we hear is that our children are showing negative trends to pursue education or they are interested in getting rich through fraudulent activities.

“We call on the governments in Igboland to take action to reverse this unwholesome method before things get worse,” Unegbu said.

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He, therefore, called for enhanced investment in education, especially in technical skills to boost employment generation.

Unegbu also called on the Igbo to embrace agriculture which had been neglected to boost food security.

“This is an area that has been neglected in Igboland. Before now, the Igbos were into various farms that yielded food for the people and more for sale.

“It appears we have abandoned the farms and as such hunger is staring us in the face. We should go back to our farms in order to feed our growing population,” he said.

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Also speaking, Mrs Nneka Chris-Asoluka, 1st Vice President of Otu Oka-Iwu, stressed the need for peace and unity in the country.

“What we want is peace in the country, we don’t have any other country.

“We are sad over the developments in the South-East; we only hope the governors will work in this political dispensation irrespective of their parties they belong to,” Chris-Asoluka said. (NAN)

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North Central Development Commission establishment bill passes 2nd reading in Senate

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JUST IN: Nigerian senators donate one month salaries to survivors of Kaduna bombing
The Nigerian senate

The bill seeking the establishment of North Central Development Commission (NCDC), being sponsored by the Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District and Senate Minority Leader, Comrade Abba Moro and co-sponsored by all the senators from North Central, on Wednesday, passed Second Reading on the floor of the senate.

The bill, which passed First Reading on the 5th of October, 2023, was first sponsored in the 9th Senate by Senator Moro where it passed First and Second Readings but could not get presidential assent before the expiration of the 9th Senate.

In his lead debate, the Senate Minority Leader said the Commission, when established would be saddled with the responsibility of receiving and managing funds from the federal government and donors for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of flood and farmers/herders clashes, communal clashes, construction of large format drainage systems, dredging of rivers Niger and Benue to control flood and incidental matters, as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy and other related environmental or developmental challenges facing the North Central Nigeria.

The Lead debate reads;

“Mr. President, Distinguished colleagues.

“May I humbly seek your leave to lead the debate on this very important Bill.

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, the North Central Zone of Nigeria, in no particular order, comprises the following geopolitical States of the Federation; Kogi, Niger, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“Over the past years, Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, the North Central Zone of Nigeria has been devastated and left in bollix by the noxious antics of terrorists, incidents of flood and erosion, insurgency, kidnapping, herder/farmer clashes, poverty, high rate of illiteracy, to mention but a few.

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“The Zone is blessed with several mineral resources that can boost the economy of Nigeria if properly harnessed. However, because of the breeding aforementioned, the North Central Zone is handicapped and cannot do much in this regard.

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“May I mention here, Mr. President, that the North Central Zone of Nigeria hosts two of West Africa’s great rivers;(a) The River Niger and (b) The River Benue, which flows into Nigeria from The Republic of Cameroon. The two rivers meet in North central Nigeria and flow as one river on to the Atlantic Ocean. However, the presence of these two rivers has made flood a perennial challenge in the region with increasing intensity every year, leaving not just the North Central Zone but the entire Country with great losses and trauma.

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, according to statistics from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, In 2012 and very recently, devastating flooding forced two million Nigerians from their homes and over 363 people died in Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

“Between 2016 and 2023, more than 92,000 people were displaced and over 578 died from incidents of flood in Benue, Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa States, and other parts of Nigeria.

“Annually, Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmlands are damaged in the North Central Zone of Nigeria where the people are largely agrarian as a result of flood, and this happens, Mr. President, whenever there is a heavy precipitation upstream on the Benue and Niger Rivers. On the Benue River, the main problem is Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, which usually causes the river to swell when water is released. Flood has caused a lot of damage to the North Central Zone. In Agatu, Benue state, farmers continue to lose their crops and farmland to flood and erosion. This is applicable to states like Niger, Nasarawa and Plateau, which have suffered loses and trauma because of flood and erosion.

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, it is no longer news that over the years, herder/farmer clashes in North Central Nigeria, especially in Benue State, have continuously made headlines. Consequently, infrastructure ranging from places of worship, roads, hospitals, schools, houses, recreational centres, etc, have been left tattered, shattered and pierced by bullets. Women, children, pregnant women and in fact the entire population is a victim of the atrocities perpetrated by suspected herders and bandits in the North Central Zone of Nigeria. Even animals and the environment are not spared the chaos and conundrum imparted on the Zone by the perpetrators of these unwholesome acts.

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“Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, between February 24, 2016 and January 2024, rural dwellers in 45 villages of Agatu LGA were awakened by sound of gunshots and flicks of matchets as suspected militias swept into the area unleashing an orgy of violence. The unfortunate incident left, in its wake, more than 800 persons dead, among which were children and women, with more than 59,000 persons displaced from their ancestral homes. The displaced communities have been scattered with many seeking refuge in various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps scattered across Benue and Nasarawa states.

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, this Bill seeks, therefore, to; establish the North Central Development Commission (NCDC) saddled with the responsibility of receiving and managing funds allocated by the Federal Government and Donors (International and Local Donors) for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses, farmlands and business premises affected by flood, erosion and farmer/herder clashes, terrorist activities, construction of large format drainage systems, dredging of rivers Benue and Niger to control flood, erosion and other incidental matters, as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy and other related environmental and developmental challenges in the North Central Nigeria.

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“Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, we all know the bond and attachment a man has with his ancestral home, and the psychological effects of being displaced from same. The funds allocated by the Federal Government and Donors (Local and International) will be used to rehabilitate displaced persons, and to indeminify them to their former economic status.

“Recent advocacy has centered on the need to make Nigeria’s geopolitical zones centers of development, as intervening centers of development between the states and the Federal government. It is our hope that the aggregate of developments via the instrument of Zonal Development commissions will make Nigeria stronger and greater again. Mr President, unbundling the federal government now has become an imperative need given the development inertia of most states and the near emasculation of local government councils in Nigeria.

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“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, may I mention that this Bill was actually initiated by my humble self in the 9th Senate , passed all necessary legislative processes and got a resounding support from every quarter of the nation. However, the Bill was unable to get to the presidency for further necessary action before the end of the 9th Senate.

“Today, Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, in the 10th Senate this Bill is co-sponsored by all senators from North Central Zone across party lines.

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, I humbly urge you all to support this Bill for the Establishment of the North Central Development Commission (NCDC) and pass it appropriately for a second reading for equity, fairness and the development of our country.

“Thank you all for your kind audience.”

In his remarks,the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio thanked Sen Abba Moro and all the co-sponsors of the bill for sponsoring the all-important bill. He said development in any part of the country was development for all Nigerians.

He agreed with the sponsors of the bill that North Central deserved a development commission to address the myriads of challenges confronting the region.

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The bill was refered to the committee on Special Duties to report back to the Senate within four weeks.

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Cement price hike: FG threatens to open borders

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Cement price hike: FG threatens to open borders

The Federal Government says it might open the borders for cement importation, if manufacturers of the product fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

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“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper.

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

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He expressed his displeasure at the position of Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James , Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

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He, however, identified some areas of concerns and appealed to the government to look into them in order to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

NAN reports that at the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

NAN also reports that the three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

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NAN

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Goods worth millions lost  as fire razes shops in Anambra

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Goods worth millions lost  as fire razes shops in Anambra

Goods worth millions were destroyed when an early morning fire razed four shops in Anambra market.

The incident occurred on Wednesday morning at Nkwo Market, Umunze in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The inferno, which occurred around 1.20am, was reportedly caused by power surge.

Two days ago, Anambra Commissioner for Spécial Duties, Hon Beverly Ikpeazu -Nkemdiche, had raised the alarm over incessant fire outbreaks in the State in récent time.

She lamented that 24 of such incidents occurred within one month, advising the public to take proactive measures on how to prevent them

Nkemdiche said nine of such incidents happened in January, while eight took place in February already.

According to eyewitnesses, goods worth millions, including household items and plastic materials were destroyed by the fire.

State Fire Chief, Dr. Martin Agbili, who confirmed the incident, said no life was lost in the inferno,

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He said his men who arrived the scene shortly after they were alerted controlled the fire from spreading the entire market.

According to Agbili: “At about 0120hrs (1.20am) of Wednesday 21-02-2024, Anambra State Fire Service, received a distress call of fire outbreak at Nkwo Market, Umunze.

“Immediately, we deployed our fire truck and gallant firefighters to the fire scene. We fought, controlled and extinguished with the assistance of some traders and the public who came out at that incident time.

“The cause of the fire was unknown but suspected power surge. There was no casualty or lost of life during the fire incident but about four (4) shops were affected, mainly provision shops, plastic shop and attachments shop.

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“Always remember to switch off your electrical and electronics appliances when they are not in use to avoid power surge.”

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