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SERAP To Nigeria’s President Buhari: Cut Cost Of Governance

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him “to put the country’s resources at the service of human rights, and to support the less well-off to enjoy an adequate standing of living through cutting the cost of governance and implementing bold transparency and accountability measures in your government’s response to Nigeria’s second recession in five years.”

In the letter dated 21 November, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “This economic crisis provides an opportunity to prioritise access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic socio-economic rights, and to genuinely recommit to the fight against corruption. The country cannot afford getting back to business as usual.”

SERAP said: “Implementing human rights, transparency and accountability measures would save money, address projected adverse human rights impacts of the recession, and fast-track the economic recovery process. It is not too late to take urgent measures that would put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians.”

According to SERAP: “Decades of mismanagement and corruption, and deep-seated deficiencies in public financial management have directly contributed to higher levels of borrowing and public debts, and consequently, the economic recession. Successive governments have squandered the promise afforded by the country’s natural wealth and resources.”

The letter, read in part: “The paltry resources Nigeria invests in essential public goods and services that would benefit ordinary Nigerians can be partly explained by the high spending of public funds to finance a life of luxury for members of the National Assembly, state governors, and other powerful politicians.”

“The country’s resources appear to have been used almost exclusively for the benefit of the political elites rather than on projects that would ensure the right to an adequate standard of living, the maximum welfare, prosperity, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality.”

“SERAP is seriously concerned about the adverse consequences of the economic crisis on the human rights of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, including denying them access to essential public goods and services such as healthcare, education, clean water, and regular electricity supply.”

“We would be grateful if your government begins to implement the recommended action and measures within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations for the sake of human rights, transparency and accountability.”

“Nigeria has been poorly governed for many years, with systemic and widespread corruption at all levels of government, contributing to failures by successive governments to deliver essential public goods and services to Nigerians, contrary to the country’s constitution and human rights and anti-corruption obligations.”

“Huge budgetary allocations to fund security votes, renovate the National Assembly complex, pay jumbo salaries and allowances to members of the National Assembly, and life pensions to former governors and their deputies, as well as massive corruption in ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs] contribute to low provisions for health, education and other essential public goods and services.”

“Prioritising the human rights of poor and vulnerable Nigerians means providing public goods and services free of charge for those who cannot afford them. This is the time to prioritise poor and vulnerable Nigerians, and to ensure that any response to the recession goes well beyond bailing out large companies and banks.”

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and Nigeria’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the UN Guiding principles on human rights impact assessments of economic reforms.”

“Your government ought to have taken full advantage of court judgments ordering the full recovery of stolen public funds, recovery of life pensions collected by former governors and their deputies, and mandating your government to hold to account corrupt electricity contractors and companies that collected billions of naira but disappeared with public funds without executing any projects.”

“The continuing failure to enforce these judgments has contributed to increasing level of borrowing, and in the process, the inability to fulfil the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations to progressively realize the human rights of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, including their rights to affordable and decent health care, clean water, adequate sanitation, and education.”

“As the National Bureau of Statistics stated, the country’s GDP recorded a negative growth of 3.62 per cent in the third quarter of 2020. The country had earlier recorded a 6.10 per cent contraction in the second quarter.”

“SERAP therefore urges you to prioritise citizens’ socio-economic rights and undertake comprehensive reform to stem grand corruption including in MDAs, hold corrupt electricity contractors to hold, fully recover all stolen public funds, and life pensions collected by former governors and their deputies, and ensure a transparent and accountable spending of any recovered public funds on projects that will directly benefit poor and vulnerable Nigerians.”

SERAP also urged President Buhari to:

Increase investment in public health, the healthcare system, education services, provision of clean water and other basic public goods and services that will benefit majority of the population;

Re-direct budgetary allocations to renovate the National Assembly complex and take urgent steps to ensure that essential public goods and services are available to poor and vulnerable Nigerians;

Improve transparency and quality of information in government budgets and reform public financial management to bring it in line with international standards, and safeguard the right of media and civil society to speak out against corruption and human rights abuses;

Direct the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to urgently undertake a downward review of remuneration and allowances of all political office holders including President, Vice-President state governors and their deputies, and members of the National Assembly, consistent with the provisions of paragraph N, 32[c][d] of the Third Schedule, Part 1 of the Nigerian Constitution;

Regularly and widely publish full accounts of projected and actual government revenues and expenditures;

Immediately instruct the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to jointly investigate allegations of systemic and widespread corruption in MDAs, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation, and to ensure effective prosecution of those suspected to be involved, and recovery of any stolen public funds; Ensure independence of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

Politics

Nigerian Senator Fined For Assault Leaves Opposition For Ruling Party

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Senator Elisha Abbo, a lawmaker from Adamawa State, Northeast Nigeria has defected from Nigeria’s opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Abbo, who was recently convicted and fined for assaulting a woman, announced his switch on the floor of the Senate.

In a letter titled “Movement of God’s People from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC,” Abbo blamed the mismanagement of the opposition in his state as his reason for changing parties. He said governor of the state Ahmad Fintiri is not handling the party well.

“I write to formally inform you Sir, the Senate and indeed Nigerians of my defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), ” he wrote in the letter.

“This is as a result of the mismanagement of the PDP by Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in Adamawa State which led to the crisis in the party that in turn led to the polarization of the party in the state (PDP and rPDP).

“Today I join the APC and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhamadu Buhari to build the Nigeria of our dreams.

“The journey may be long, but we are on the right track as I strongly believe that by the end of the tenure of Mr President, Nigeria will be a better place.

“My Senate President Sir, it is worthy of note that in the history of Nigeria’s Nascent democracy, specifically from 1999 till date, no President has paid attention to the welfare of Nigerian Citizens like President Muhamadu Buhari as it is evident in packages such as:i. Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT); ii. Homegrown School Feeding Program (HGFP); iii. Trader Money; iv. Market Money; v. Farmers’ Money; vi. nPower; vii. Special Public Works Programme, currently employing 1000 persons from each of the 774 local Government Areas; viii. National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA): Buhari Young Farmer’s Network; ix. Artisans and Transportation Grants; x. Guaranteed Off-take Scheme; xi. CAC Business Formalization Scheme; xii. Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Grants among others.

“Thus, in living up to the expectation of the good people of Adamawa North Senatorial District, I hereby defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with effect from today being Wednesday, the 25th day of November, 2020.

“Accept Distinguished SP Sir, the assurances of my highest regards.”

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Conservation News

Ghana and Switzerland Sign Historic Pact for Climate Action

Under the agreement, the National Clean Energy Access Programme (NCEP) will be implemented. It is expected to lead to the transfer of mitigation outcomes to Switzerland in exchange for financial resources and the extension of Swiss technical expertise as a demonstration of the scalability of Ghana’s conditional mitigation commitments.

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The government of Ghana and Switzerland has signed a bilateral pact as a framework for the implementation of Article Six (6) of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

After two years of negotiations between the two countries, the signing of the framework agreement marks the first of its kind in Africa, and second in the World. The new partnership will enable the adoption of green and low carbon technology solutions across the country resulting in social and environmentally beneficial outcomes.

With this Agreement, Ghana will receive funding from the Swiss side for sustainable development projects.  Switzerland will take carbon credits from the Ghanaian side for the emission cuts to meet her climate commitments without compromising Ghana’s effort to achieve her own climate actions.

The negotiations between technical teams of Ghana and Switzerland was further boosted by a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Bern between Ghana and Switzerland during the State visit to Switzerland by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in February, 2020.

​Read also: https://newscentral.africa/rwanda-to-create-green-energy-bank/

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner stated, “We are proud to have been able to facilitate the dialogue between Switzerland and Ghana, build trust in the process on both sides and offer our technical support in the implementation…”

Article six (6) of the Paris Agreement on carbon markets is an innovative voluntary instrument available to countries to mobilise finance and catalyse private sector investments for the implementation of nationally determined contributions.

Steiner further explains “…We hope this bilateral agreement will enable Ghana’s national clean energy access programme (NCEP) to fulfil its objectives by abating up to 2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, providing energy access to millions and head towards a green recovery.”

Read also: https://newscentral.africa/experts-kenya-global-emission-challenge/

In his speech, the President of Ghana H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway called on the private sector of both countries to consider “this bilateral cooperation as a step to further strengthen collaboration between Swiss and Ghanaian companies to identify commercially viable and sustainable development projects over the next decade”.  

​In formulating this agreement both parties have highlighted practical ways of operationalising the envisioned architecture of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Credit: wri.org

Read also:https://newscentral.africa/fossil-fuel-human-cost-powering-africa/

Under the agreement, the National Clean Energy Access Programme (NCEP) will be implemented. It is expected to lead to the transfer of mitigation outcomes to Switzerland in exchange for financial resources and the extension of Swiss technical expertise as a demonstration of the scalability of Ghana’s conditional mitigation commitments.

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Politics

Nigeria Plans to Ban Fish Importation by 2022

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Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, says the West African country plans to ban fish importation in the next two years.

The minister, who said this when he spoke at the 35th Annual Conference of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria in Abuja on Monday, added that the Nigerian government had ordered fish importers to consider farming and production locally.

Nanono noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has initiated and is implementing programmes, especially in the agriculture sector, to diversify the economy.

Nanono, who was represented by the Director of Federal Department of Fisheries, Mr Imeh Umoh, noted that an estimated over 12 million Nigerians are actively engaged in primary fish production.

He added that contribution of fisheries to the national Gross Domestic Products is about 4.5 per cent.

He said, “Let me inform you that the vision of Mr President is to grow Nigeria’s agriculture sector to achieve a hunger-free nation, through agriculture that drives income growth, accelerate the achievement of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform Nigeria into a leading player in the group of food and fish markets, and to create wealth for millions. It is in this regard that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, under this present administration, is pursuing a holistic approach to the development of the fisheries subsector through the diversification programme along the value chain process.

“In line with the theme of this conference, the ministry has developed various programmes to increase domestic food/fish production and the main target is the empowerment of the youth and other groups especially the women. All these programmes are tailored towards wealth and jobs creation, arrest and prevention of youth restiveness. Currently, the total demand for fish is 3.6 million tonnes annually while Nigerian is producing 1.1 million tonnes, leaving a deficit of about 2.5 million tonnes to be supplemented by importation.

“As part of the measures of the ministry to reduce this importation and generate employment, the government has directed all fish importers to go into backwards integration for local consumption and export to the international market. In this regard, several companies have complied with the policy and the ministry is optimistic that in the next two years, Nigeria will have no business with importation of fish.”

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