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Osinbajo seeks state police, devolution of powers

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Nigeria can become a stronger and more prosperous nation if states have more powers, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Osinbajo stated this while speaking at the 59th Independence Anniversary Lecture at the Island Club, Lagos, on Friday.

The vice president, who titled his lecture “the whole is only as great as the sum of its parts,” said Nigeria’s population and diverse ethnic groups has necessitated that states in the country be strengthened to enable them contribute more to national productivity and development.

Osinbajo stated that this can be achieved with “stronger, more autonomous States that are able to generate and control more of their resources”.

According to the vice president, the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is ensuring that states collaborate more with the Federal Government on different initiatives to improve visionary governance in the country.

“The most important transformative change we can make in Nigeria is to lift the majority of our people out of deprivation by speedily creating wealth and opportunity leading to the eradication of poverty,” he said.

He further said that “The nation cannot be wealthy when its component parts – the states – are poor. The standard of living of the federation depends on the standard of living of people who live in the states. In other words, the federation can only be as rich as its richest state and as strong as its strongest state. Our national indices merely aggregate the realities of our weaknesses and strengths as present in all our constituent units. Consequently, we can only build a stronger and more prosperous nation by building stronger and more prosperous states.”

He said, “Building stronger states means ensuring the devolution of more power to the states, enabling them to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as the creation of Local Governments, the establishment of state and community police forces as well as state correctional facilities; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts. The point I am making is that states must have more powers and more rights.”

The Vice President stated that, “The challenges confronting us now are about strengthening internal coherence and cohesion. It is about moving from affirmations of unity to the achievement of synergy in which the sum of our strengths exceeds the totality of our constituent parts.”

He noted that, “Opportunities for smart and visionary governance abound. So, for example, while states may not be able to right now establish their police forces, they can collaborate with the federal government on initiatives such as community policing which also revolves around the idea of localized law enforcement. Our administration is currently pursuing this option. When we set our minds to solving problems, we will find that what is truly possible is not as distant from the ideal that we seek.”

The vice president further noted that Nigerians, despite differences, must draw inspiration from its history of a common shared belief, in order to attain the quest for collective progress and continued unity.

He said, “In order to do so, we must draw inspiration from the deep wells of our history. The founding fathers of our republic – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello. These three differed on many things but shared a clear belief in the Nigeria’s boundless capacity as a united country. Regardless of their keen rivalry, they agreed on the crucial necessity of Nigeria staying united despite the many centrifugal pressures that buffeted the young nation. On this matter of unity, their differences were those of degree rather than category.

“Each of them occupied different niches on the spectrum of national integration but they all shared the view that the ideal situation was one in which a united and prosperous Nigeria took its rightful place in the world as the most populous black nation on Earth and as the foremost black power.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the founding fathers were of one mind as far as Nigeria’s world historic significance was concerned. They also recognized that her ability to fulfil her destiny was dependent on her continued unity.”

The vice president added that, “The point of this excursion into history is to show that strong sub nationals led by visionary leadership is what it takes to develop the Nation. What we require today is stronger, more autonomous States able to generate and control more of their resources and visionary leadership.”

Speaking during a Q&A session, Osinbajo added that the Buhari administration will continue its fight against corruption.

“Two governors have been convicted for corruption, and they are in jail today. It took almost 10 years because our legal system is extremely slow, but we achieved it,” he said.

“The other thing I think we have to take note of is the fact that corruption fights back, and we also as citizens have to much more up and doing, because corruption fights back. They throw mud at everybody, give the impression that, “everybody is corrupt.”

“If we don’t control corruption, it’s the worst possible cancer that any nation can have, and as we can see from anything else, it just destroys a country by installments.”

Osinbajo stated that he will continue to give his best in service to the country under the Buhari administration.

“I intend to do everything that is necessary, everything that I can to ensure that we achieve the promises that we made and to ensure that we achieve the kind of country that we want to achieve. And I will do that every day, every minute, for as long and God gives me life and opportunity”.

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Yellow Fever kills 22 in Bauchi

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Following the recent outbreak of yellow fever in Bauchi State, which led to the death of over 15 people, another six new deaths have been recorded, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths so far to 22.

This is just as immunisation of workers in the oil exploration sites in the state has began.

This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care
Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, while giving situation report on the outbreak on the deadly disease, on Monday.

Mohammed, who disclosed that no fewer than 143 suspected cases of Yellow Fever were recorded out of which 24 cases were confirmed and 22 died, said all the cases were from Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state.

He also disclosed that 10 out of the 22 people that died of Yellow Fever were rangers working with the Yankari Games Reserve, adding that only 79 per cent coverage was recorded in the on going immunisation campaign against the vector that carries the disease.

The BSPHCDA Executive Chairman lamented that some people were still declining to take the vaccine, hence the deaths were still being recorded.

He disclosed that besides the 500,000 doses of vaccine provided by the federal government, the state has received another batch of 600,000 vaccines.

He explained that the immunisation would now be extended to Kirfi local government in the state, oil exploration sites, and parts of villages in Gombe and Gombe State.

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Oyo partners with NAFDAC to combat use of illicit drugs

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Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde on Monday expressed the state readineas to partner with the National Agency for Foods and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to rid the state of illicit drugs.

Makinde said this while receiving in audience the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Makinde, Taiwo Adisa disclosed that the state would take full advantage of the Dry Port being constructed in Ibadan.

Makinde added, “Health is one of the pillars which this administration is resting on. We believe if there is security and a healthy body, we can go out to work and move from poverty to prosperity.”

“NAFDAC and this government will definitely be partners in progress. A couple of things have also happened here so far.

“In Oyo State, I believe in the next maybe a year or two, we will have our own dry port
here. It is in our own interest and that of NAFDAC that we plan for expansion in the scope of activities for the state office here because of the headache of Apapa in Lagos.”

Also, the governor affirmed that his administration would assist NAFDAC to combat the menace of illicit, and substandard drugs across the State, promising to look into the requests tendered to him by the agency and act as appropriate.

“It was imperative for the state to support NAFDAC in order to ensure protection of lives of the people against illicit drugs and dangerous processed food,” he said.

He said that with the emergence of Dry Port in Ibadan, the work of the agency would be definitely needed.

“If somebody is coming from the Northern part of the country and he can pick his container here in Ibadan, why would he have to drive to Lagos. They will pick it from here and make a turnaround back to the Northern part of the country.

“Now that the standard gauge rail line by the Federal Government has reached Ibadan, the state will make adequate use of the Dry Port located at Olorisa-Oko in Akinyele Local Government as according to him, people from the South East, South-South, the North and majority of South West states would not have reasons to go
to Apapa in Lagos to clear their cargoes”.

In her response, Mrs. Adeyeye who said the purpose of the visit was to seek the assistance of the state in combating the menace of illicit drugs and substandard drugs across the Country added that the agency operates in all the 36 states and the FCT, Abuja.

Accompanied by the management team of the agency and Southwest state
coordinators, Mrs Adeyeye also requested for a befitting office accommodation and operation vehicles from the state
government.

‘She said, ‘We request for unused, abandoned building to renovate or land that the agency can build its state office.”

She also affirmed that the agency has National Taskforce resident at its
headquarters and State Taskforce that is supposed to reside in each state.

She said: ”We need the help of our governors to join hands with our Federal
Task Force to assist us to combat the menace of illicit, substandard, falsified drugs including herbal medicines.

”Part of what NAFDAC does since I came is ensuring that the drugs we are using in the country are the drugs that can work. I never knew that I would come here and start battling with tramadol and codeine, that have destroyed so many young lives.

”Nigeria cannot be greater than her youths because we cannot have tomorrow if we don’t take care of our youth.

”Drugs change the way the brain works and if the brain doesn’t function well the home would not function well, so if the home doesn’t function well, then the society won’t function well.”

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More Nigerians on death row in Malaysia

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More Nigerians are on death row than other nationals in Malaysia, Amnesty International said in a new report Monday.

Of the 568 foreign nationals on death row for various offences in Malaysia, 119 are Nigerians, the report said.

In all, some 1,281 people are on death row in the Southeast Asian country, held across 26 detention facilities as of February 22, 2019. That figure includes Malaysians.

In Malaysia, 33 offences are punishable by death.

Most people were sentenced to death for drug-related crimes and murder, the report revealed.

Other offences include use of firearms, robbery and waging war against the king or ruler of a state.

Nigeria tops the list of foreign nationals with 21%, followed by Indonesia (16%), Iran (15%), India (10%), Philippines (8%) and Thailand (6%).

Reports have shown many Nigerians are held on death rows in many countries. In April, 23 Nigerians were placed on death row in Saudi Arabia.

It is not clear whether the Nigerian government has responded to the new data in Malaysia. Calls to the Foreign Affairs ministry in Abuja did not go through on Monday.

Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Criminal Procedure Codeguarantee the right of a person and the relative of such person to be informed, within 24 hours, of the grounds of their arrest as well as the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of their choice.

Amnesty said representatives of legal aid schemes whom it spoke with expressed no concern about the timeliness of the notification of arrest which was received from law enforcement agencies.

“However, they mentioned concerns related to practical issues, such as the receipt of the fax or email notifications after office hours which would not be acted on until the following day; and the low availability of lawyers when the notification comes in,” the group said.

Amnesty International said family members of defendants said their relatives saw lawyers when they were charged at the Magistrate Court, days after their arrest.

“Similarly, representatives of foreign embassies indicated that they usually get the notification of arrest of their own nationals with a time gap of more than 24 hours or even days.

“Amnesty International was also told by representatives of foreign embassies that in several cases involving foreign nationals, the Malaysian authorities had failed to correctly identify or verify the identity and nationality of the defendants, with the result that those defendants were not able to exercise their right to seek assistance from the consular authorities of their states of origin at the time of arrest,” the report added.

The report further added that foreign nationals who are far from their relatives and have little or no support from their embassies are at a disadvantage to file pardon petitions.

Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Executive Director of Amnesty International, Malaysia, faulted the use of death penalties by Malaysian authorities.

He called on the authorities to completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes while also reviewing all cases where people have been sentenced to death, with a view to commuting the sentences.

“Our research found a pattern of unfair trials and secretive hangings that itself spoke volumes. From allegations of torture and other ill-treatment to an opaque pardons process, it’s clear the death penalty is a stain on Malaysia’s criminal justice system.

“Malaysia has a golden chance to break with decades of cruelty and injustice, disproportionately inflicted on some of the most marginalised,” Kaliemuthu wrote.

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