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YIAGA Africa co-opt students to rid Nigeria of corruption

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Yiaga Africa, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) has co-opted students in tertiary institutions and youths to join the anti-corruption fight.

According to Yiaga, this is by amplifying their voices on the values of integrity, transparency and accountability.

The Director of Programmes, YIAGA-Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said this at the Bounce Corruption National University Debate Competition on Anti-Corruption organised by Yiaga Africa with support from Mac Arthur Foundation in Abuja.

The debate was designed to complement efforts by state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption by promoting zero tolerance for corruption and impunity through effective citizen’s oversight and mobilisation for accountable governance.

The competitors were drawn from universities in the six geo-political zones, Federal University of Technology, Owerri; University of Lagos, University of Benin, Bayero University, Kano, University of Maiduguri, and University of Jos.

Mbamalu said that the need for students to join the anti-corruption fight became imperative because corruption activities were becoming a worry to all and it would take youths’ collective effort to end.

She said that it was estimated that at least 582 billion dollars had been lost from Nigeria since independence due to corruption, while N1.3 trillion of public funds was reportedly laundered between 2011 and 2015 alone.

“It is thus not surprising that Nigeria rank 149th out of 179 countries on the 2020 Corruption Perception Index rankings of the Transparency International.

“A December 2019 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the patterns and trends of corruption in Nigeria revealed that young people are most likely to give or receive bribes.

“At least, 60 per cent of them admitted to have given bribes.

“This data when placed side-by-side with the high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment, 42 and 21 per cent respectively in the country has millions of young people finishing their studies with no job prospects.

“It further increases the pressure on them to offer bribes in order to secure jobs.’’

Mbamalu said with this, it became important to engage young Nigerians on how to fight corruption and enshrine integrity, accountability and transparency into the fabric of the society, and in the public and private sectors.

She added that as the group that suffered most from the effects of corruption, young people could be instrumental in the fight against corruption in Nigeria using peer influence to spread values of transparency and accountability.

She said that Yiaga Africa believed in the power of youths and students because they had the vibrancy, innovation and passion to effect change.

“At the end if the system fails, we all are victims of a failed system, so we need as citizens to begin to demand accountability and to ensure the government works for us.

“As young Nigerians especially, we have longer years to live in Nigeria so honestly not being interested in government is at our own peril.

“So we have more duty to come awake to our responsibility as young Nigerians and move with the spirit of solidarity in holding the government to account and in contributing our own quota to national development.’’

Mbamalu said that at the end of the competition, the debate teams would be encouraged to establish and strengthen public integrity clubs in their schools.

Mr Uchenna Igwe, the National Secretary, National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ) said that corruption had caused a lot of damage to Nigeria, although government put in place measures of anti-corruption, there was the need for citizens to get involved.

Igwe said that young people should rise to the occasion, and contribute to stemming the tide of the challenges that plagued the nation.

“We owe this as a duty to ourselves, and the children we will have in the years to come.

“If the Foundation of the issues we face today is consequences of the actions and inactions of the older generation, then it leaves little to imagination what would be if we do nothing today.

“I charge us not to be drowned by the illusion of “tomorrow”. Why wait for tomorrow to tackle the issues of today? Problem no dey finish’’.

Igwe urged youths to speak up, shun and condemn corrupt practices, imbibe good values and lead good examples in homes, campuses, hostels, workspaces, religious and social fellowships.

Mr Frankline Ubi, the General Secretary, All Nigeria Universities Debating Championship commended Yiaga Africa for the initiative, adding that debate offered a platform for vigorous interaction and activism.

Ubi said that for youths to prepare for their future roles as leaders, they should show interest in the present by interrogating policies and debate as a viable tool to use.

He said that universities had a role to play as a sector whose primary duty was the generation of knowledge for the development of society.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Bayero University Kano, Federal University of Technology Owerri, University of Lagos and University of Jos were the semi-finalists for the debate competition.

NAN also reports that University of Lagos came first while University of Jos came second.

The first edition of the Bounce Corruption National University Debate was held in 2018, and 23 university teams competed at the zonal and national levels, with the University of Ilorin emerging the winner.

(NAN)

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5000 LAGOSIANS GET FREE HEALTH INSURANCE ON SANWO-OLU’S BIRTHDAY

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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No fewer than 5000 Lagosians are to be enrolled in the Ilera Eko Social Health Plan – courtesy of the Lagos State Executive Council.

The gesture is to celebrate Governor Sanwo-Olu’s 57th birthday on June 25 and in the spirit of his compassion for the indigent and vulnerable.

Beneficiaries will have access to quality health care services and drugs under the ILERA EKO Standard Plan at no cost to them.

Nominees will be selected from the Lagos State Social Protection Register. An equal number of the 5000 eligible beneficiaries are to be selected from the five IBILE divisions of the State and will enjoy Universal Health Coverage.

These beneficiaries have been identified using a multi-dimensional poverty index tool, which includes the poverty means-testing to ensure accuracy, reliability and validity of the data generated.

ILERA EKO is the State Social Health Insurance Plan managed by Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), which offers the basic minimum health plan that provides quality and affordable healthcare for all Lagos residents, especially the middle and low-income earners as well as the vulnerable.

Services on the Plan include: General consultations; Specialist Consultations; Management of uncomplicated chronic diseases (Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma); Maternal and Newborn Care; Normal Delivery and Caesarean Section; Dental Care (with Composite filling) and Eye Care, including glasses.

There are also minor and major surgeries; laboratory tests and scans; HIV/TB Testing services; Emergency Health Services; Cancer Care and the provision of prescribed drugs.

A policy cycle under the ILERA EKO Health Insurance Plan runs for 12 calendar months in which an enrolee’s policy is due for renewal before the 25th day of the 12th month to enable such subscribers have access to care the next month (Start of renewed policy cycle).

The selected beneficiaries will commence access to care from July 1, 2022.

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Wife remanded as UK Court denies them bail

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife
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An Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in the United Kingdom did not grant bail to Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, and Beatrice, his wife, who were apprehended over attempted harvesting of organs.

It was gathered that the Nigerian couple was detained by the Metropolitan Police when they tried harvesting an unnamed child’s organs.

When the Senator was arraigned on Thursday, the court refused to grant him bail but ordered that he should be remanded till July 7

The Metropolitan Police while confirming the arrest said in a statement that the pair were charged to court on Thursday following an investigation by the police’ specialist crime team.

“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” the statement read.

“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.

They have both been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later today.

“A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support.”

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Conditional Cash Transfer: Lagos flags off distribution of ATM card, activation pins

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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Lagos State Government on Thursday flags off distribution of ATM cards and activation pins to beneficiaries in continuation of conditional cash transfer programme.

Speaking at the event which took place at Agege Local Government, Agege, Lagos, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Hon.Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke, appreciated the Federal Government through the National Cash Transfer Office(NCTO), under the Office of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD), who has the mandate to develop humanitarian policies, provide effective co-ordination of national and International Humanitarian interventions, ensure strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response and manage the formulation and implementation affair, focused social inclusion and protection program in Nigeria.

She recalled that she was elated that CCT beneficiaries in Lagos State have received the bi-monthly cash stipends from the programme and have been availed with the much needed capacity skills through the Savings and Group Mobilisation (SGM) training, which have been in no small measure of immense benefits to their livelihood, which culminated in the result of the success stories that have been shared across the targeted LGAs /LCDAs.

“It would be recalled that the Federal Government in partnership with the World Bank, established National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP), have played a pivotal role to help end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity with a view to ameliorate the lives of the citizenry. The NASSP Project Development Objective (PDO), is to provide access to targeted transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded National Social Safety nets system”, Arobieke said.

She further maintained that the National Cash Transfer Office under NASSP, was given the mandate to implement the Federal Government conditional cash transfer, also known as Household Uplifting Programme.

“The programme since inception has successfully paid beneficiaries via transparent and accountable means that enables the NASSPS programme pay beneficiaries at their doorstep through Payment Service Provisions (PSP)”, Arobieke said.

She also acknowledged the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for being a father of the nation and as well as a proactive governor for putting the programme in place with his audacious vision of lifting 100 million people out of the poverty net in Nigeria .

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