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Senate debates bill to empower, provide jobs for poor Nigerians

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Chamber Senate
The Senate
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The Senate on Wednesday considered a bill seeking to empower poor Nigerians in rural areas with guaranteed income and jobs that would provide 100 days of paid work per year.

The Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2021, which scaled second reading on the floor was sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East).

Leading debate on the general principles of the bill, Senator Musa explained that the bill among others,  essentially seeks to provide livelihood security in rural communities by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult member volunteer do do skilled manual work.

According to the lawmaker, the bill when passed into law would empower rural poor through the processes of a rights-based Law; ensure a strong social safety net for vulnerable groups; strengthen the natural resource base of rural livelihood; and serve as a model of governance reform anchored on the principles of transparency and grass root democracy.

He added that the National Rural Employment Guarantee bill aims to reduce poverty by providing extra work for those who need it, while also providing empowerment and insurance when other sources of work dry up.

Citing the Poor Employment Act of 1817 in Britain, and the New Deal Programs in the United States in the 1930s, Musa explained that the piece of legislation was similarly intended to be an intervention that makes government an employer of last resort.

He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would monitor the implementation of the scheme in association with state governments.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), threw his weight behind the passage of the bill into law.

According to the lawmaker, having agencies backed by law to oversee the implementation of such schemes for the poor would ensure that they are not abused.

He said, “In our nation today, Mr. President, most of these palliatives that the present government has put in place has been abused, because you have a situation where names are duplicated.

“It is even difficult for you to know those who are benefiting.

“The bill my brother is seeking, is for us to have a formal agency for social security that will take care of all employment problems and even health problems of people who are not gainfully employed. It must be holistic.

“This bill is good, the intention is good, but I think this bill must go further to make it a holistic solution to the problem of unemployment in our nation, so that it is not abused, and so that in every local government in Nigeria, you have an agency in charge  that will take care of unemployment of our people.

“In having the law, we must also have the punitive measures in place for those who would abuse it, so that people will know that this bill is intended to alleviate the suffering of people, and by extension, Mr. President, guarantee security of our nation.

“Most of the people who are into crime today, is out of frustration of unemployment. We have a large number of people who are unemployed.

“Today, we have up to two hundred universities and polytechnics producing graduates.

“So, I think we must advise our government. Progressive as this government is to palliatives, let us formalize these palliative measures by having a social security agency in every local government of Nigeria, and let us put a law in place to make sure that nobody abuses it.”

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for further work after passing second reading.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Abdullahi Adamu was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

In a related development, the Smallholder Farmers (Protection) Bill 2021, also scaled second reading on Wednesday.

The bill sponsored by Senator Muhammad Enagi Bima (Niger South) was also referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Also, the Petroleum Industry Act  (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Chartered Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2021; and Federal College of Agriculture, Shani (Establishment) Bill, 2021, passed second reading during plenary.

While the Petroleum Industry Act (Amendment) bill 2021, was referred to the Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream); Petroleum (Downstream); and Oil and Gas, the other two were referred to the Committees on Establishment and Public Service; and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further imputs, respectively.

The Committees were all given four weeks to turn in their reports to the chamber in plenary.

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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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