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Oil-producing states get N625bn in two years — Presidency

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The Presidency on Friday revealed that nine oil-producing states received N625.43bn 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy, and SURE-P refunds from the Federation Account in two years.

“The states that received the refunds dating from 1999 to 2021 are Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers,” a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, read on Friday.

The statement is titled ‘Oil derivation, subsidy and Sure-P refunds: Nine oil producing states receive N625.43 billion in two years; N1.1trn still outstanding.’

The Presidency also noted that the Buhari-led regime will continue to render equal service to all the states regardless of affiliation, and “an acknowledgment of this by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the others is not out of place.”

Citing data obtained from the Federation Account Department, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, it said a total of N477.2bn was released to the nine states as the refund of the 13 percent derivation fund on withdrawal from Excess Crude Account without deducting derivation from 2004 to 2019, leaving an outstanding balance of N287.04bn.

The States also got N64.8bn as a refund of the 13 per cent derivation fund on deductions made by NNPC without payment of derivation to Oil Producing States from 1999 to December.

According to Shehu, the benefitting States still have an outstanding balance of N860.59bn windfall from the refunds, which was approved by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

From the figures, under the 13 per cent derivation fund on withdrawal from ECA without deducting derivation from 2004 to 2019, Abia State received N4.8bn with outstanding sum of N2.8bn, Akwa-Ibom received N128bn with outstanding sum of N77bn, Bayelsa with N92.2bn, leaving an outstanding of N55bn.

Cross River got a refund of N1.3bn with a balance N792m, Delta State received N110bn, leaving a balance of N66.2bn, Edo State received N11.3bn with a balance of N6.8bn, Imo State, N5.5bn, with an outstanding sum of N3.3bn, Ondo State, N19.4bn with an outstanding sum of N11.7bn while Rivers State was paid 103.6bn, with an outstanding balance of N62.3bn.

The states were paid eight installments between October 2, 2021, and January 11, 2022, while the ninth to 12th installments are still outstanding.

On the 13 per cent derivation fund on deductions made by NNPC without payment of derivation, the nine oil-producing states were paid in three instalments this year, with the remaining 17 instalments outstanding.

Under this category, Abia State received N1.1bn, Akwa-Ibom, N15bn, Bayelsa, N11.6bn, Cross River, N432m, Delta State, N14.8bn, Edo State, N2.2bn, Imo State, N2.9bn, Ondo State, N3.7bn, and Rivers State, N12.8bn.

Meanwhile, the benefitting States shared N9.2bn in three installments in April, August, and November 2022 as refunds on the 13 per cent derivation exchange rate differential on withdrawal from the ECA.

The three largest benefitting States were Akwa Ibom (N1.6bn), Delta State (N1.4bn), and Rivers State (N1.32bn).

Similarly, all nine states received N4.7bn each, totaling N42.34bn as refunds on withdrawals for subsidy and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015. The refund for all the states and local government councils was paid on November 10, 2022.

The Federation Account also paid N3.52bn each as a refund to local government councils on withdrawals for subsidy and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015 on the same date in November.

“President Buhari considers it a matter of honour and decency that debts owed to states or anyone for that matter be repaid, and in time without regard to their partisan political affiliations.

“The President will continue to render equal service to all the states of the federation and an acknowledgment of this by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the others is not out of place,” Shehu said.

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Nigerian appointed UN resident coordinator in Timor-Leste

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday announced the appointment of Ms Olufunmilayo Balogun-Alexander of Nigeria as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste, with the host government’s approval.

Guterres, in a statement, stated that Balogun-Alexander’s appointment was with immediate effect as she took up her post on December 1, 2022.

Balogun-Alexander has more than 30 years of experience working on and leading humanitarian, peace and development projects at a senior level within the United Nations and international NGOs.

Prior to her appointment as United Nations Resident Coordinator, Balogun-Alexander served as Head, Humanitarian Normative and Coordination Action, UN Women, where she led UN women’s global response to humanitarian crises.

She also supported UN Women Country Offices to strengthen gender mainstreaming in UN-led Humanitarian Coordinated response in crisis-affected countries.

Before that, she worked as UN Women Country Representative to UN Women, Deputy Representative, UN Women Ethiopia, Director, External Relations and Advocacy, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa Region and Kenya Programme Manager for the UN Development Fund for Women.

Balogun-Alexander led and supported multi-functional teams at the country level to be fit for purpose and to achieve impact and results, particularly on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

She led UN inter-agency coordination to coordinate joint assessments, develop and implement joint UN programmes, including on gender-based violence, governance and protection, from sexual exploitation and abuse.

The gender expert has coordinated national support and government priorities for development and social policy funding, including co-creating and driving solutions, including on contentious issues of gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and minority groups to ensure that no one is left behind in achieving the SDGs.

Balogun-Alexander has established and maintained strategic partnerships with governments, intergovernmental commissions, bilateral donors, media and the private sector for innovative funding and programmes.

She has a master’s degree in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Source: NAN

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Ogun Amotekun arrests four suspected kidnappers, recover skulls

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Operatives of the Ogun State Security Network, also known as the Amotekun Corps, have arrested two persons for being in possession of carbonised human skull.

The operatives also arrested four other suspects for alleged kidnapping, cultism, conspiracy and stealing.

The State Commander of Amotekun, David Akinremi, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

The Amotekun boss added that all the suspects had been transferred to Ogun State Police Headquarters Eleweran, for investigation and prosecution.

Speaking on the suspects arrested with human skull, Akinremi said the suspects, Busari Aliu and Adetayo Segun were arrested on Sunday, November 20 in Agunboye Ijebu-Igbo area of Ogun State.

He said they specialised in exhuming corpses at Agunboye burial ground, removing the skulls and later selling them other members of their ritual gang.

Akinremi said, “On 4th November, 2022, one Ibu Benjamin of Ayegbami quarters, Agunboye Ijebu-Igbo reported at Amotekun office at Ijebu-Igbo that, on the same date, he discovered that one heavy iron pallet, valued at N350,000 property of his landlady, Mrs. Idowu kept within the precincts of a fenced farm and a house yard at Agunboye was stolen by unknown persons.

“Consequently, operatives of the corps embarked on intelligence activities with a view to getting those behind the crime.

“Their efforts paid off on 20th November, 2022 with the arrest of these two suspects, Busari Aliu and Adetayo Segun, who not only admitted their involvement, but led our operatives to recover the stolen item where it was kept.

“On searching the house and premises where the item was recovered, some pieces of carbonated human skull was recovered.

“During interrogation, the suspects confessed that they dug into so many graves in Agunboye burial ground and removed several skulls of buried corpses which they sold to some other members of their ritual gang.”

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My Naira note is newer than yours, By Femi Adesina

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There is a unique kind of frenzy in the country today. But it is not a general or commonplace hysteria. It is limited to a tiny fraction of the population, but who curiously hold a humongous part of the country’s wealth.

Major denominations of our currency, the naira, have been redesigned, and billed to come into use from December 15. The new 200, 500 and 1,000 notes will be in concurrent use with the old ones till January 31, next year, after which the old ones become obsolete, antiquated, and fit only for the museums.

But that causes a big problem for some people. They have physical cash stored away in incommodious places like water tanks, septic tanks, cellars, and other ‘unholy’ locations. If they would not forfeit such funds, more often than not illegally acquired, they must bring them out pronto into the banking system.

And Big Brother is also watching, so he has introduced some restraining laws. There is a maximum amount you can deposit in a month, both for new and existing accounts. The rats seem cornered.

Some people will oppose anything, as long as it is coming from government. Do they get kicks from it, or it gives them some kind of sensual pleasure?

Somebody went into a banking hall in Abuja a couple of days ago, and came to tell of a mighty stink that had pervaded the entire atmosphere. Whodunnit? A mysterious depositor had brought the sum of N20 million from God knows where, but the currency had become gummed together, damp, and odoriferous.

The bank staff initially made a valiant effort to sort out the notes. With nose masks and hand gloves firmly in place, they began to count. But Lazarus had been dead for too long, and was already decomposing. No way to make the corpse walk. So at a point, the depositor was asked to leave with his cargo, which had long gone into demurrage. He left, with his tail between his legs, like a beaten dog. But the stink stayed behind. The banking hall had to be disinfected, and deodorized.

There have been many stories like the above, whether apocryphal or true, I don’t know. Naira notes, in billions upon billions, are being condemned, consigned to garbage heaps. And you wonder what kind of people we really are. In the midst of severe lack and grinding poverty around them, some people have turned naira notes to totem, a god they must worship, and sprinkle palm oil, alligator pepper, the hair of a cat, tooth of a mouse, leku leja on. A deity. Now, President Buhari has struck, and the gods have become like Dagon, which bowed before the only living God, and got broken to pieces.

There was an initial controversy over whether the naira redesign was legal or authorized. President Buhari put it to rest quickly. Yes, I approved it. And he explained why:

“International best practice requires central banks and national authorities to issue new or redesigned currency notes every 5 to 8 years. Yet, it is now almost 20 years since the last major redesign of our local currency. This implies that the Naira is long overdue to wear a new look.

“A cycle of banknote redesign is generally aimed at achieving specific objectives, including but not limited to: improving security of banknotes, mitigating counterfeiting, preserving the collective national heritage, controlling currency in circulation, and reducing the overall cost of currency management.

“As is known, our local laws  – specifically the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007 – grants the Central Bank of Nigeria the power to issue and redesign the Naira. In line with this power, the Central Bank Governor approached me earlier in this year to seek my permission to embark on a currency redesign project. I considered all the facts and reasons presented before me by the Central Bank.

“There was an urgent need to take control of currency in circulation and to address the hoarding of Naira banknotes outside the banking system, the shortage of clean and fit banknotes in circulation and the increase in counterfeiting of high-denomination Naira banknotes. It is on this basis that I gave my approval for the redesign of the ₦‎200, ₦‎500 and ₦‎1000 banknotes.”

The deed is done. From December 15, the new notes swing in, and run parri-passu with the old ones till January 31 next year. What do the cornered rats do with their loot? Throw them away? Burn them? Or eat them, if possible? I have an advice for the possessors of these loots. The festive season is upon us. Become like Santa Claus, and begin to dish out monetary gifts. In bales and loads. Give to the poor, the needy, the aching, and the hurting. It was part of their patrimony, which you had appropriated. Simply return it to them. What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole cash, and the money becomes redundant? Become a do-gooder, at least between now and January ending. Who knows, you may even expiate, atone for your sins of larceny and plunder.

READ ALSO: OON award: Come and see me dey buga…, By Femi Adesina

As President Buhari launched the new naira notes last week, I remember a story he had told us in the early days of the administration in 2015. He had recounted how he changed colors of the naira in 1984, when he was military head of state, for the same reasons as listed above.

He said stealth, surreptitiousness, was necessary. “Even Tunde (talking of Babatunde Idiagbon, his deputy, Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters) did not know about it. I kept it close to my chest, till it had been accomplished.”

Talk of a man not afraid of taking decisions, as long as it was good for the country. Buhari has now struck again.

He is full of commendation for the Central Bank, and the minting corporation, which printed the new notes locally, instead of importing at huge cost.

“While this may not be apparent to many Nigerians, only 4 out of the 54 African countries print their currencies in their countries, and Nigeria is one. Hence, a majority of African countries print their currencies abroad and import them the way we import other goods. That is why it is with immense pride that I announce to you that these redesigned currencies are locally produced right here in Nigeria by our Security Printing and Minting PLC.

“The new Naira banknotes have been fortified with security features that make it difficult to counterfeit. These new banknotes will help the Central Bank design and implement better monetary policy objectives. They will also enrich our collective memory of Nigeria’s heritage.

“Let me thank the Governor of the Central Bank and his Deputies for this initiative. I also thank the Managing Director, Executive Directors and staff of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting for working tirelessly with the Central Bank to make the currency redesign a reality, and for printing the new Naira notes within a comparatively short time.”

Some people will oppose anything, as long as it is coming from government. Do they get kicks from it, or it gives them some kind of sensual pleasure? They have tried to deride the new notes. Oh, it’s a mere coloring of the old ones with crayon. No rigour has gone into the exercise. Kidnappers will now start asking for ransom in hard currencies. Bla bla bla. They have an option: refuse to embrace the new notes, hoard the old ones, and continue presenting them as legal tender after January 31, next year. They will then have to create their own economy. Lol.

Hear Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, justifying the new notes: “First, a significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public, with statistics showing that ₦2.72 trillion out of the ₦3.26 trillion currency in circulation as of June 2022 was outside the vaults of commercial banks across the country, and supposedly held by members of the public. This statistic shows that 84.71 percent of currency in circulation are outside the vaults of commercial banks, with only 15.29 percent in the Central Bank and Commercial banks’ vaults.

“Second, is the worsening shortage of clean and fit banknotes with attendant negative perception of the CBN and increased risk to financial stability;

What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole cash, and the money becomes redundant?

“Third, there is increasing ease by criminals and risk of counterfeiting evidenced by several security reports received at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The benefits of the currency redesign to the Nigerian economy are enormous given that :

  1. a) This policy will help to control inflation as the exercise will bring the hoarded currency into the banking system, thereby making monetary policy more effective;
  2. b) It will also help with better design and implementation of Monetary Policy as we would have much more accurate data on money supply and monetary aggregates;
  3. c) We believe that this exercise would help in increasing financial inclusion, moving towards a more cashless economy, and ensuring greater formalization of the Nigerian economy;
  4. d) The currency redesign would assist in the fight against corruption as the exercise would rein in the higher denomination used for corruption, and the movement of such funds from the banking system could be tracked easily.”

He lauded President Buhari for his courage and support in taking the decision to redesign, and standing by it. That is what you get when you have a President who is not transactional, who even has a disdain for filthy lucre and material things. A President who feels freer when he has nothing. Don’t you like that kind of President?

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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‘APC plans to disunite Nigerians with Muslim/Muslim ticket’

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A former Board of Trustees Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Walid Jibrin, has accused the All Progressives Congress of planning to disunite Nigerians with its Muslim/Muslim Ticket ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Jibrin who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential and governorship campaign council in Nasarawa State made the accusation in the Awe Local Government Area of the state during his party’s zonal campaign rally on Thursday.

Our correspondent reports that the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, a Muslim, had picked the former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, who is also a Muslim as his running mate ahead of the poll.

The development caused discontent along religious lines as many Christian faithful protested what they referred to as an attempt to “Islamise” the country.

The action of the APC also forced some stakeholders of the Christian faith out of the party.

Senator Jibrin said, “That singular unpatriotic gesture, coming at a time of rising security challenges confronting the nation is never a welcome development.

“The apparent late excuses by Tinubu to justify what is clearly an anomaly, that his wife is a Pentecostal pastor, are lame and insulting to the sensibility of Nigerians.

“And with what the APC and its presidential candidate have done, it is obvious that Nigeria cannot be safe in the hands of the former governor of Lagos State whose decisions and actions could plunge the country into chaos.”

Jibrin, however, said the country will be safer in the hands of the PDP, adding that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the Nasarawa state governorship candidate, David Ombugadu, are men of high intellect and composure who would ensure steady growth and development of the nation.

He appealed to residents of the state to vote for all PDP candidates in the 2023 elections, promising that the party would tackle the numerous challenges confronting the nation by providing the dividends of democracy to the people.

On the current disagreement between the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, the former Board of Trustees Chairman said leaders of the party were making frantic efforts to settle the disputes before the commencement of the 2023 elections.

“What is happening now in the PDP is a family matter. Alhaji Atiku and Governor Wike are brothers. As leaders, we are making efforts to address the issues, and we are hopeful that they will be resolved before the February 2023 elections.

“I stepped down from my position as BoT chairman to allow peace to reign in the party and pave way for other party stakeholders who had never occupied my former position to do so.

“I am confident that the PDP will retake the presidency and win many states during the forthcoming elections, so I am urging our party members and supporters to remain resolute in the struggle,” Walid Jibrin added.

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FG, governors discuss proposed 2022 Finance Bill at NEC meeting

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The National Economic Council, NEC, has resolved to update the draft Finance Bill with additional inputs from state governors before the bill goes to the Federal Executive Council, FEC.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice-President, Mr Laolu Akande, stated this on Thursday in Abuja.

NEC, presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, received briefings on the proposed Finance Bill 2022 at an extraordinary virtual meeting.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, updated NEC on the main features of the bill.

According to the minister, the proposed bill is anchored on five fundamental policy drivers.

She listed the drivers as tax equity, climate change, job creation/ economic growth, tax incentives reform and revenue generation/tax administration.

Other aspects of the bill include chargeable assets; exclusion of losses and replacement of business assets.

She added that the bill sought to amend relevant taxes, excises and duty statutes in line with the macroeconomic policy reforms of the federal government.

Ahmed said the bill aimed also to amend and make further provisions in specific laws in connection with the public financial management of the federation.

Under tax equity pillar, all sectors of the economy will be brought into the tax net including capital gains, tax from digital assets, cable undertakings, lottery and gaming business.

On the climate change and green growth pillar of the bill, there will be incentives for the natural gas sector and discouragement of gas flaring.

Under the pillar of tax incentives reforms, there will be new deductions for research and development, and investment tax credits; reconstruction investment allowance, rural investment allowance, while incomes in convertible currencies will be exempt.

“Also the bill contains an amendment under chargeable assets.

“Subject to any exceptions provided by this Act, all forms of property shall be assets, whether situated in Nigeria or not, including options, debts, digital assets and incorporeal property generally,’’ she said.

The minister said bill clarified the taxation of crypto currency and other digital assets in line with government’s policy thrust of enhancing cross-border and international taxation of growing e-commerce with emerging markets.

She said that, by doing so, Nigeria would join the league of jurisdictions currently taxing digital assets, including the UK, the U.S., Australia, India, Kenya and South Africa.

The minister said that extensive consultations had been done on aspects of the bill such as tax avoidance and tax evasion by introducing a general anti-avoidance route.

She said that in coming up with the bill, the Ministry of Finance engaged a wide range of stakeholders and elicited enough feedback, especially through the work of a technical committee.

Ahmed said the technical committee was co-chaired by the Special Adviser on Economic Matters to the President, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, and Special Adviser on Finance, Mrs Sarah Alade.

Governors of Sokoto, Borno, Kaduna, Kebbi and Ogun states, among others, commented on the presentation of the bill.

It was  resolved that state governors should make additional inputs just as the proposed bill was being sent to FEC for consideration before the president would send it to the National Assembly.

At the meeting, newly sworn-in Osun governor, Sen. Ademola Adeleke, was also formally welcome to the Council by the vice-president and other members.

Source: NAN

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Ex-CAN president Onaiyekan, cleric bag honorary degrees Saturday

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A former national president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan and the Archbishop of Abuja catholic diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, will be honored with honorary doctorate degrees by an Abuja-based Catholic institution, Veritas University, on Saturday, December 3, 2022.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Rev. Fr. Professor Hyacinth Ichoku, made this known in a briefing with selected journalists in Abuja.

Speaking on Thursday ahead of the convocation ceremony of the university, the don also noted that four countries had indicated interest to send their students to Nigeria to study pontifical degrees in the theology of philosophy.

The development follows approval by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Vertical City Rome, Italy, to Veritas University Abuja to establish Pontifical Faculty.

The countries are Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast and India.

Professor Ichoku said only two countries including Nigeria and Nairobi run the pontifical degree which necessitated the influx of foreign students to Nigeria.

“For the first time, the university will be honoring prominent Nigerians such as the former CAN president, cardinal John Onaiyekan and the archbishop of Abuja diocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama.

‘’Veritas University has been granted the faculty to run Pontification degrees in theology and philosophy by the Congregation of Catholic Education in the Vertical City, Rome. That is in addition to National Universities Commission-approved programmes in theology and philosophy. As a Catholic University to be granted the power of the faculty to run these programmes is the height of our development and in Africa; there are just two granted such faculty, which are, the Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi and Veritas University in Abuja. It is an exceptional privilege for us,’’ Professor Ichoku stated.

Professor Ichoku said the university would be awarding first-class degrees to 28 students who had distinguished themselves in character and learning.

He noted that the minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola would be delivering the convocation lecture.

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Buhari flays corruption in local governments, shares experience

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja flayed the tendency of some chief executives to encourage corruption at the local government system, thereby inhibiting development at the grassroots.

The president spoke at a parley with members of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) No. 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.

He narrated his personal experience on stemming the tide of   corruption in the local government system after the presentation of the report of NIPSS SEC 44.

After listening to comments on the Course 44 presentation, themed ‘‘Strengthening Local Governance in Nigeria: Challenges, Options and Opportunities”, by some members of the Federal Executive Council, who aired their personal views on enhancing the autonomy of local governments, the president narrated his own experience on the treatment of local governments by some state governments.

“I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is as a result of my personal experience.

‘‘What they did, this is my personal experience, if the money from the Federation Account to the State is about N100 million, N50 million will be sent to the chairman but he will sign that he received N100 million. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with.

‘‘And then the chairman of the local government must see how much he must pay in salaries and to hell with development. When he pays the salaries of the bigman, the balance he will put in his pocket.

‘‘This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who was doing this is not educated.’’

President Buhari urged public office holders to be guided by their conscience and personal integrity wherever they foundd themselves.

He pledged that the recommendations contained in the presentation of SEC 44 would be painstakingly studied by the government with the view to implementing its recommendations.

Declaring that his administration had done so much in building trust between the government and the people, the president noted that the report would largely assist in the provision of good governance to the people at the grassroots levels and by extension win back their trust in government.

‘‘It is obvious that government cannot afford to pay lip-service to the recommendations contained in this report.

‘‘I assure you that the Report will be treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves. Government will study the report with the view to implementing the carefully detailed recommendations,’’ he said.

Commending the quality of the report, the commitment and dedication that went into it, President Buhari said the National Institute could always be trusted to deliver on very critical and sensitive assignments of national importance.

He expressed delight that the Institute had been exceptional in handling several assignments, and that the current submission was a commendable improvement on the existing standards.

‘‘The quality of the presentation, and the confidence with which they were made, strongly attests to the quality of training the participants received during the course. I congratulate you for justifying the confidence and trust reposed in each and every one of you by your respective nominations.

READ ALSO: Has Buhari won or lost the corruption war?

‘‘I am also happy with the level of knowledge and discipline you have all openly demonstrated. I have been briefed of the rigorous training process you all underwent at Kuru. Your graduation therefore is well deserved,’’ the president told the 89 participants of Senior Executive Course 44.

He added that he was convinced that they were all now well equipped for the strategic tasks, increased responsibilities, and positions of authority of trust.

‘‘I challenge you to go back to your various establishments, units, posts, beats, departments, directorates, Ministries, Parastatals, commissions, commands, agencies to revitalize, reinvigorate, reform and rejig your various platforms and spheres of influence, responsibility and leadership,’’ he said.

After listening to some demands by the leadership of NIPSS, President Buhari promised to look into some of the challenges facing the Institute, adding that no government establishment existed without challenges.

He assured them that his administration was poised to complete the review and passage of the NIPSS establishment act and condition of service before handover in May 2023.

To this extent, the president directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation to take all necessary steps to its actualization.

In his remarks, the Director-General of NIPSS, Prof Ayo Omotayo, said the course participants undertook study tours of 14 states of the federation, six African countries and six countries outside Africa.

‘‘This enabled them to have both local and international perspectives on local governance, how to overcome challenges in achieving it, identify the available opportunities to strengthen it and develop workable options to be considered by government in strengthening local governance,’’ he said.

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Importance of drones in Nigeria’s anti-insurgency fight

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In this special report, SEGUN ADEWOLE takes a look at how unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones can be a game changer in the war against Boko Haram and banditry in Nigeria

“But we don’t have adequate weapons to fight them. We can’t just be wasting our lives. We have families.

“Without weapons, we are not soldiers. Let them provide the weapon and we’ll fight the idiots.

“It’s not that they will give me this (points at an AK-47 rifle) and they (terrorists) will come with something three times better than this. No, blood runs through me.

“We just have to go… we are going home. Let us go and enjoy the new year with our family. If the army is ready, let them call us back with adequate weapons.”

The above words were those of a soldier walking in the desert part of the northern region of Nigeria with dust all over his malnourished face.

The words of the soldier, which were aired in a viral video, were dismissed by the then Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman in 2018.

According to Usman, the video was taken in 2014 and the complaints tabled by the yet-to-be-identified soldier didn’t represent present realities.

However, the same complaints were tabled by the then Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, General Olusegun Adeniyi in a viral video.

“This is not the time to cry,” said Adeniyi to a soldier who looked demoralised with tears welling in his eyes. The soldier was either mourning a friend or afraid to head into battle again for reasons soon to be revealed by his commander.

Turning to the camera, Adeniyi complained to higher authorities about the situation he and his men were facing in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists. According to him, most of the gun trucks used by the troops he commanded were faulty.

“Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mustard bombs at us. They have fired more than 80 to 100 RPGs at us in addition to more than eight to 10 gun trucks on every side since yesterday,” he added.

The General then pointed at two army gun trucks with bad tyres while lamenting that over 250 tyres had been expended in their operation due to bullets from terrorists and bad terrain.

Also, a soldier, in a viral video, was seen pointing at what he described as outdated equipment at a military base in Metele while mourning his colleagues killed by insurgents when the base was attacked in November 2018.

“See the weapons they bring here. These are not working.

“These are outdated vehicles, they are not working. They just keep them here for formality. They are killing us every day. The situation is getting worse,” said the soldier.

With incidents like this and many more, security expert, Oladele Fajana believes it is time for Nigeria to engage in the use of modern technology in the fight against terrorism.

According to him, such technology will save the country the embarrassment it got as a result of the viral videos made by its soldiers.

When asked about the use of UAVs, he said, “In fact, all other systems of fighting Boko Haram are obsolete.

“Many Boko Haram fighters and bandits commit atrocities and run inside the bush. We need technology that can locate them wherever they are anytime any day.

“I don’t know why the government has not yet invested in drones but some days ago, I read in the newspapers that we were trying to partner with Turkey to get drones and others to help alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians in the hands of these bandits.”

Buttressing Fajana’s point, a former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, said drones have to be deployed in the fight against bandits no matter the cost.

He said drones were cheaper than sending soldiers to die while citizens continue to be killed as a result of terrorism.

“How can you send soldiers to go and fish out bandits? It’s only drones that can bring data to tell you the exact location of bandits. No matter the cost, I think drones must be deployed.

“It is cheaper to go for drones because you can’t quantify or value human life. How much can you pay for human life? No matter what, I think it’s more cost-effective than allowing people to be dying and recording collateral damages everywhere,” he said.

Nigeria moves for drones from Turkey

When you type the word drone in the search bar of the social media platform, Twitter, the results obtained are usually associated with the Russia-Ukraine war. It shows that drones have played a major role in the war and have been much needed, especially when both sides of the war were losing men to conventional warfare.

There are so many things Nigeria can learn from the use of drones in the Russia-Ukraine war. The good news is that Nigeria will soon receive Bayraktar (TB-2) drones from the Republic of Turkey as revealed by the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hidayet Bayraktar on October 28, 2022.

Bayraktar (TB-2) drones have been employed by Ukraine in defending itself against Russian invasion.

However, Nigeria has to understand a lot about what it is about to purchase.

What Nigeria stands to gain with Bayraktar (TB-2) drones

According to the manufacturers of the drones, Baykar Tech, the Bayraktar is a Tactical UAV capable of conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The drones also carry out armed attack missions.

Bayraktar (TB-2) drones are currently used by the Turkish Armed Forces, French Gendarmerie and the Turkish National Police. Other countries making use of these particular drones include Qatar and Azerbaijan.

Monitoring the effect of the drones in the Russia-Ukraine war, Oryxspioenkop, a defence website dedicated to reports on weapons use, reported that they have been able to destroy six armoured fighting vehicles, five towed artillery, one multi-rocket launcher, two anti-aircraft guns, 10 helicopters, six naval ships, three command posts, one communication station, two logistics trains, and numerous resupply trucks all belonging to Russia. Military Today News reports that the success was recorded using just three Bayraktar drones.

Bayraktar travels with a maximum speed of over 220km and is powered by a single Rotax 912 internal combustion engine with 105hp.

The drone carries 300 litres of fuel and has a loitering time of 27 hours, meaning it can float around for a long time to enable the mission of striking targets and also carrying out surveillance.

According to Baykar Tech, their drones, which are armed with 4 Laser Guided Smart Ammunition, have recorded 500,000 hours of flight and counting, and an altitude record of 18,000 feet which can get to 27,000 feet at maximum.

A video shared by Military Today News showed the drones taking out Russian armoured tanks which were nothing less than nine metres in length.

When the tanks were hit by the drones, the impact of the weapons covered beyond the nine metres length of each of the tanks. This was aside from the accompanying shockwave common with such strikes.

When told about the effectiveness of the drones, a security consultant, Yemi Adeyemi, told our correspondent that such would help the military navigate terrains difficult for soldiers to access.

He said, “If Nigeria can get that type, I think it will be okay. Anywhere our military personnel cannot reach the drones can go there and drop whatever they want.

“I currently use a drone for spy work. For example, if there is a bank robbery, we fly the drone to the location to check the kind of weapon used by the robbers so that security agents will know the kind of weapon to use to counter them.

“So, if Nigeria can have the drone that will be more effective, I think it will go a long way in improving the security situation of the country.”

On his part, security expert, Dr Kabiru Adamu, backed Nigeria’s interest in attack drones but feared that there were some challenges not being addressed.

He said, “In instances where you are short of manpower, one of your easiest fallback plans is to embrace technology.

“We are aware that we have a shortage of boots on the ground. The natural way to go is the use of technology. Although it’s not the only way, it is one of the easiest ways to solve security problems. To that extent, I think it’s a good development.

“The only challenge, in my understanding, is the absence of a framework to guide the acquisition of these drones.

“At the moment, every security agency licensed to bear arms is acquiring these unmanned aerial vehicles without any guidance.

“I think in the long run, there’s going to be a challenge because you want to think about integration if you are embarking on the acquisition of any asset for your military or national security strategy. You also want to think of longevity.

With Bayraktar TB2, Nigeria still needs to watch its back

At least, 12 of the Bayrakter TB2 have been shot down by Russia’s anti-aircraft systems, a thing Nigeria should be worried about if the country is to employ the services of drones in its fight against bandits and terrorists.

In September 2021, reports quoting multiple sources said Boko Haram terrorists were training gangs, known locally as bandits in the use of anti-aircraft guns.

Four months later, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, announced that troops recovered one Deshka M Anti-Aircraft Gun from terrorists in Borno State in the North East region of Nigeria.

Also, a memo addressed to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps warned that terrorists have rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-aircraft guns and general-purpose machine guns. This means that the terrorists Nigeria is dealing with can repel the country’s aerial attacks.

When asked if Nigeria will need to worry about the drones getting shot down by bandits, Fajana said it was an exaggeration that bandits have the capacity to do such.

“That is an exaggeration. The producers of that technology don’t just sell to anybody anyhow. Just like the Super Tucano jets, it took some time before the US sold them to Nigeria.

“The bandits can’t buy anti-aircraft weapons except those guns mounted at the back of the vehicles they used in Libya which they brought to Nigeria.

“Apart from that, nobody can walk up to manufacturers to purchase weapons without his government’s attention. In Nigeria, there are some things you cannot import without the consent of the Federal Government,” he said.

On his part, Adamu expressed the belief that bandits were capable of shooting down the drones, adding that such was something to worry about.

“If the bandits could shoot down a fighter jet, they could definitely shoot down drones. So, yes there are things to be worried about.

“But that should not in any way deter us. There are protective measures that we need to acquire when we eventually get those drones so that they are not shot out of the sky,” he said.

Cost of drones used in Russia-Ukraine war

Multiple reports have it that each Bayraktar costs $5m. The number of such drones to be purchased by Nigeria was yet to be identified as of the time of filing this report.

Reacting to the cost of the drones, Fajana believes such shouldn’t be a thing to worry about if Nigeria is to be secured.

He said, “Every effort needed to secure the country is not too much. Those big personalities that bought armoured vehicles, how much did they buy them?

“Drones are what individuals can buy for Nigeria if they are not greedy. Femi Otedola spent $3m to hire a yacht for his birthday. Can’t someone like that procure such a drone for Nigeria? So, it’s not too much.

“Drones are the kind of things we cannot manufacture, so we must buy at the rate the owners are selling them. A single drone can give us rest in this country.

“With drones, bandits, kidnappers and terrorists can be tracked to their location. The number of properties and lives terrorists have destroyed is more than $5m in 10 places.”

While Ukraine has been recording successes with Bayraktar, the aggressor Russia has also been having its fair share with the deployment of Iranian Shahed-136.

Shahed-136 drones, with a range of 600 miles and speed of 120 miles per hour, cost €20,000 and can be taken by Nigeria as an alternative to Bayraktar when the prices of both UAVs are put into consideration.

This is because one Bayraktar is equivalent to 240 Shahed-136, meaning the destruction of one of the Turkish UAVs would be regarded as a huge loss compared to its Iranian counterpart.

However, a careful look at the operations of Shahed-136 shows that they are easily identified because they are very noisy. They have been nicknamed “flying mopeds” by Ukrainians who are often alerted of their presence due to the lawnmower or moped kind of sound they produce.

Many such drones have been downed by Ukraine before they got to their targets in the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to Military Today News, they are not effective against military targets but effective against civilian infrastructure.

Russia sends the drones, which were designed to fly directly into targets on suicide missions, which is why they have been dubbed kamikaze drones in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Looking at the purpose they serve in the Russia-Ukraine war, it would be unwise for Nigeria to opt for the Iranian UAVs as an alternative to Bayraktar. This is because insurgents in the country don’t have infrastructure worth wasting €20,000 to destroy.

This is why Ejiofor advises against settling for cheap drones, adding that cost shouldn’t be a thing of worry when security is being considered.

“Security is not cheap, so we must invest in it. My worry is the investment in substandard equipment. If we get the effective one, it will help us no matter the cost,” he told our correspondent.

Drones used by security forces in Nigeria

Nigeria inaugurated its first indigenous UAV named GULMA in 2013 under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan. It was a technology demonstrator used to gather performance data on UAV systems.

This was followed by the production of TSAIGUMI, an operational UAV manufactured at the Air Force Research and Development Centre at NAF Base Kaduna.

The difference between both UAVs was revealed in a statement issued by the Nigeria Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, AVM Olatokunbo Adesanya in 2018.

According to him, GULMA UAV has an operational endurance of four hours, a service ceiling of 5,000 feet and could not be operated beyond 20km.

He said it had a maximum take-off weight of 40kg, engine sound is not muffled and the UAV relied on a direct radio frequency communication system.

As for TSAIGUMI, Adesanya said its engine sound was muffed and had a state-of-the-art encrypted communication system.

The drone has an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 feet and a mission radius of 100km.

However, not much has been heard about the drones, especially in the fight against insurgency.

Defence website, Oryxspioenkop, in a post in 2021, said the projects “appear to have been unsuccessful in their design or perhaps too limited in their usefulness.”

Just recently, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, announced the acquisition of three high-powered Asisguard Songar Armed Drones to checkmate criminal activities in the country.

 According to the website of the manufacturers, Asisguard, the drones can function in any kind of day/night military and security operation.

“The system can broadcast real-time video and operate within a mission radius of up to five km,” Asisguard said of the drones.

A promotional video of the drone in action as shared by the manufacturers showed it firing shots right from the sky in a similar fashion to an AK-47 rifle. However, nothing was said by the manufacturers about the capabilities of the drone’s weapon.

Avoiding accidental drone strikes on civilians

There have been allegations of accidental airstrikes by aircraft of the Nigeria Air Force on civilians in the country leading to the loss of several lives.

In response, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, instituted a committee to address the allegations as well as review the circumstances leading to such strikes.

With attack drones set to arrive from Turkey, the avoidance of accidental strikes might be a thing to put into consideration.

However, Fajana believes accidental strikes are part of what is experienced during war just as he advised that more needed to be done to avoid such.

He said, “We shouldn’t be afraid of accident airstrikes. Even in America and also in the current war between Russia and Ukraine, there is still what we call accidental discharge. That’s what we call collateral damage.

“The problem with the north is that it is not properly managed. People are scattered all over the place and also live close to the bandits’ enclaves.

“Even when the government announces that there is going to be an attack somewhere, because of people’s lack of education, they will not understand; some won’t even take it seriously to run for their dear lives.”

On his part, Adamu said to avoid accidental airstrikes in the case of drones and any other attack aircraft, intelligence must be verified before offensive measures.

He said, “Accidental airstrike is a function of failure of intelligence, where you have faulty intelligence. Intelligence is a wide topic.

“Usually, once you gather information, you would want to verify it before you introduce the offensive measure. So, a combination of both technology and human sources will verify it.

“If we have offensive drones which we use to target particular groups, it is important that we use coordinates and human points that we have on the ground. Intelligence requires extra levels of verification.”

On his part, Ejiofor stated that such could be avoided if accurate data is gotten before airstrikes are embarked on.

He said, “We shouldn’t be worried if we have effective and accurate data. A problem can only occur when these people (bandits) are with civilians and using them as human shields. But if they are free, it’s okay.”

It added that operators of the drones were currently being trained by consulted foreign experts on how to operate and maintain the UAVs.

Speaking to our correspondent, Adamu, who saw photos of the drones, said they didn’t look like what any serious police force would go for.

“They told us it was an offensive drone but when they presented it to the public, for those of us in security, we found out that we could have done better.

“Those are toy drones and not something any serious police force should present as an offensive drone.

“If we are serious about using offensive drones, there are drones that are out there that if the enemy hears that we are acquiring them, the enemy will know that they are in for trouble,” Adamu said.

Aside from GULMA, TSAIGUMI and the Asisguard drones, Nigeria had also made use of other drones in its defence strategy.

Military Africa, a website putting the spotlight on military technologies in Africa, listed the drones to include Amebo drone, CH-3A UCAV, Star Tiltrotor, ADS Aerostar UAV, VTOL fixed wing UAV, Mugin commercial UAV, RQ-11 Raven Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, CH-4 UCAV and Wing Loong II.

 When asked about the drones currently being used by Nigeria, Ejiofor said the available ones are not effective.

“They are using drones but what they are using are not effective drones,” he said.

 Efforts to get the reaction of the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, proved abortive as messages and calls put across to his phone were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.

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FG extends deadline on data protection compliance

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The federal government has extended the deadline earlier set requiring organisations to comply with the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019.

The deadline has been shifted from November 25, 2022 to January 20, 2023.

National Commissioner, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, who made this known on Thursday explained that the approved extension of time was for data controllers and data processors to comply with the earlier notice on National Data Protection Adequacy Programme, NaDPAP, Whitelist.

The development came as the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, issued a Guideline on Personal Information Technology Devices, PITeD, Provision and Usage in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.

A statement by Babatunde Bamigboye, Head, Legal Enforcement and Regulations, NDPB, on Thursday in Abuja said the guideline seeks, among others, to “foster strict adherence to government policies and global best practice in respect of data protection; provide clarity on the legitimate uses required on the part of users and the consequences of breaching the provisions of the guideline”.

The statement read in part: “In order to reinforce data privacy and protection practices in MDAs, Part X of the Guideline provides inter alia:

“Each MDA shall ensure that the usage of PITeD is consistent with Nigeria Data Protection Regulation and any regulatory instrument on data privacy and protection in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: SGF stresses need to curb data breaches in Nigeria

“The measures to be taken by each MDA for the purpose of data protection and accountability shall include but not limited to the following:

“Designation or appointment of a suitable officer within the MDA as a Data Protection Officer (DPO).

“Development of a Data Protection Policy in line with Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) and other applicable regulatory instruments on data privacy and protection.

“Forwarding of the contact details of the data protection officer to the Office of the Head of Service and the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau.

“It will be recalled that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, recently issued a service-wide circular directing MDAs to comply with the provisions of the NDPR.

“The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau National Commissioner, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, has lauded the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation for taking this bold and strategic measure.

“The Bureau sees this effort by the Federal Government as another clear demonstration of commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms which are often impacted by data processing.

“In view of this encouraging development in the public sector, the National Commissioner has approved an extension of time for data controllers and data processors to comply with the earlier notice on National Data Protection Adequacy Programme (NaDPAP) Whitelist.

“The deadline for the submission of details of Data Protection Officers/Contacts, among others, has now been shifted to 20th of January, 2023.

“Data Controllers and Processors who submitted before the deadline of November 25th, 2022 have been awarded full marks of 10 points under Accountability Metrics and Responsiveness to Regulatory Processes.

“This represents 10% of the total number of scores to be awarded in order to be eligible for inclusion on the NaDPAP Whitelist.

“The Bureau will also evaluate data controllers and data processors on other performance metrics including but not limited to Implementation of NDPR Compliant Privacy Policy; Sensitization of Data Subjects on Data Subjects Rights; Filing of Annual Compliance Audit Returns and Globally Acceptable Information Security Certifications.”

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