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Effective local government administration critical to Nigeria’s dev- Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu has called for a more effective local government system that fosters community development and deliver the essentials of governance within a strengthened federal structure.

Speaking when he received a delegation of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought at the State House on Friday, President Tinubu emphasized that governance must be transformative and must address the critical needs of citizens.

He said the past 12 months have been fulfilling for his administration despite the presence of some challenges that are being addressed frontally.

“It has been challenging. It has been fulfilling as well. We took over, and we have stopped the bleeding. I can say categorically now that Nigeria is no longer bleeding. And it will not bleed to death, but rather will now move to prosperity. That is the promise that I made to you all, and it is also the charge that you gave to me.

“We are managing to swim through the pond. The current is not a good one. We will turn the tide. We are turning the bend. This I assure you. I am being very careful. The worst is over for Nigeria. We will prevail.

“I thank the team who have been working really hard. All I can promise is that we will do whatever it takes. We are determined, and we will work so that all Nigerians can feel the impact of good governance,” the President said.

The President assured Nigerians that his administration will ensure they get value for every kobo spent, and that his government will leave a lasting legacy of prosperity to future generations, while removing the yoke of poor governance and expanding access to qualitative public goods.

“We will get value for our money, and it is not for ourselves, but for our children. Our children will not inherit the burden of bad governance. Yet, they will enjoy the prosperity of Nigeria as a blessed nation from our very hands; from our sweat. We will bequeath to them a nation full of pride and prosperity,” President Tinubu said.

President Tinubu also called for the deepening of governance and the reinforcement of leadership across all levels of government and institutions, adding that his administration is committed to encouraging fiscal federalism and strengthening the system to enhance inclusion and equity for all Nigerians.

“Healthcare upgradation is ongoing. Road rehabilitation and construction is ongoing. Education development is ongoing. I am charging you to look at what is going on in the states. Pay attention to your state governors. Tell them to take their responsibilities seriously and make the people the focus of their development plans. Once there is synergy, then I can assure you that Nigeria will be one of the best nations that you will see anywhere on earth.

“Local government administration is being suffocated. People are looking at the opportunity to ensure that they survive and become more purposeful through community development programmes. What I will not support is any effort to make the local government a unitary system by handing all core responsibilities to the federal government. That is criminal when there is a federal system.

“We have a federal system. There is state and federal administration. We have two components. States must do whatever is in the best interest of their own process of administration. There is no one-size-fits-all. That is what we should do by looking at the revenue formula, and we must be consistent with federalism; fiscal federalism. Those are the things you should expect from me, not the knee-jerk reactions ahead of elections.

“Our population is growing. It is getting larger. The geographical requirement is getting bigger, so we still want more space for housing. The population is growing. So that is the basis for flexibility at the local government level. We must grow and expand,” the President said.

While thanking the delegation of eminent Nigerians, President Tinubu urged continuous support for and faith in Nigeria, assuring them that his government would live up to expectations.

“I can tell you that Nigeria is no longer printing paper money and deceiving itself that it has a base for survival. Nigeria went through terrible labour pains, but we have seen the baby coming out alive,” the President concluded.

In his remarks, Honourable Bayo Aina, the National Secretary, who spoke on behalf of Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, Convener of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought, commended the President for his prioritization of investment in infrastructure across various sectors.

“We salute your timely initiative to upgrade, construct, and modernize the infrastructure of our nation in health, aviation, transportation, as well as the education sector. We commend you for your commitment to providing responsible, responsive, and accountable governance in this country.

“At this point, we state without equivocation our total commitment to the vision of greatness that you have articulated, which is the destiny of Nigeria, not only within Africa, but globally and among the comity of nations before the end of the 21st century,” the National Secretary of the group concluded.

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Police arrest, parade two suspected drug traffickers in Imo

The Imo State Police Command has paraded two persons, Uchechukwu Nwaguma, 28, and Onyekosi Chukwu Ebuka, 35, as suspected drug traffickers who specialise in selling different kinds of illicit drugs.

According to a statement from the Public Relations Officer of the command, ASP Henry Okoye, the arrest of the suspected drug pushers was carried out by the operatives of the command’s anti-narcotics unit in different locations through painstaking investigations.

He stated that Uchechukwu Nwaguma was arrested on July 17, 2024, at Caroline Hostel, Okwu Uratta, Owerri, with large quantities of weeds suspected to be Canadian Loud, a substance the police spokesperson said to be an imported strong synthetic strain of cannabis, and hard drugs commonly known as molly or happy pills.

According to ASP Okoye: “The suspect, upon interrogation, confessed to the crime, stating that his parents were late and that he moved into the sale of hard drugs to enable him to take care of himself and his siblings.”

In another successful operation by the operatives of the command’s anti-vice unit on the same day, Onyekosi Chukwu Ebuka of Uloano in Isu LGA of Imo State was arrested for unlawful possession of weeds suspected to be Indian hemp. He was arrested following a tip-off received from a concerned citizen.

The police spokesperson in the statement further informed that the suspects will face prosecution upon completion of a diligent investigation.

Following the development, Commissioner of Police Aboki Danjuma has reaffirmed the command’s dedication to clamping down on illicit drug dealers and peddlers in the state.

He implored parents to caution their children against indulging in the intake or sale of hard drugs or illicit substances, warning that violators will face severe legal consequences.

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Student loan scheme will thrive on equity and inclusiveness says President Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu says the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) will thrive on fairness and equity and promote inclusiveness by removing the financial barrier to higher education for Nigerian students.

The President, who launched the digital NELFUND disbursement exercise at the State House on Wednesday, said the provision of loans to students will encourage more people to seek knowledge, go for higher education, and become valuable contributors to national development.

“As I earlier said, my belief is that education is the greatest weapon against poverty. Without education, there is no vision; without education, there will be no development; without education, you cannot successfully conquer poverty, insecurity, and abuse in society.

“Education is that light at the end of the tunnel, and no matter how sluggish it moves, it will give you light and the hope you need. We are investing in it. We do not want to try ignorance as an alternative. We want education from the foundation to the topmost level.

“I am glad we are achieving it with NELFUND and that the leadership has accepted this responsibility, and they are working hard,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu commended the Chairman of the Fund, Mr. Jim Ovia, and the Managing Director, Mr. Akintunde Sawyerr, for their efforts in driving the critical agency.

The President expressed his determination to ensure the success of the Fund and the fulfilment of the dream of higher education by indigent Nigerian students.

“The tool is available, and the hope is here; genuine, and the commitment to inclusiveness is what democracy is all about. I am fulfilling one of my greatest promises of the campaign. We are building an inclusive society. You can find many ways around any opportunity, but you cannot find a way if you are not well-educated,’’ President Tinubu stated.

The President emphasized that education is an essential antidote to some of the challenges faced by the nation.

“We cannot even fight terrorism and banditry unless there is inclusiveness, and our people are properly educated and can invest in their own lives. I promise that we will hand a banner without stain to our children. Therefore, it is my honour to launch the portal,’’ the President said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of NELFUND thanked the President for the privilege to serve the nation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today for Mr. President to formally launch the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND). Mr. President, I would like to make reference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, of which education is number four.

“The President has recognized that; hence, he inaugurated and also signed into law in February the NELFUND. We are all grateful for Mr. President’s time for inaugurating and also sanctioning the activities of NELFUND,’’ Mr. Ovia said.

The Managing Director of NELFUND affirmed that there were enough funds to meet the initial requests of students across the country.

“Your Excellency, at this stage, we have more than enough funding. When we start to promote properly, we might need more, but right now, we can disburse to any single person who has applied,’’ he said.

Mr. Sawyerr said the portal was opened on May 25, 2024, and had so far received 110,000 applications, with more than 164,000 visits; noting that the applications have been increasing daily.

“Clearly, what we want to ensure is that there is equity in the distribution of the loans across the six geo-political zones. So, we are having to look very closely at the data we are receiving to ensure that we are doing the right things and pushing the right buttons to ensure that those who need these funds get them, and that it is seen to be fair and equitable,” Mr. Sawyerr added.

President Tinubu presented cheques to some of the students and institutions that had already been processed by NELFUND. Students are to receive stipends for their upkeep, while tuition goes directly to the institutions.

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Imo House of Assembly recommends sack of Chief Judge for misconduct and age falsification

The Imo State House of Assembly has recommended the removal of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka-Chikeka, citing misconduct and alleged age falsification.

This decision was reached during a plenary session on Thursday, with a two-thirds majority of the lawmakers voting in favour of the recommendations made by an ad hoc committee.

The committee was established to investigate a petition filed by the Civil Society Engagement Platform (CSEP), which accused the Chief Judge of falsifying her age. The petition, titled “Petition Against The Chief Judge of Imo State, Hon Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka Chikeka For Age Falsification Which Is A Grave Criminal Offence And An Act For Which Many Other Judges And Justices Have Been Summarily Dismissed And Some Are Currently Being Prosecuted By The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC),” prompted the House to take action pursuant to Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The ad hoc committee, chaired by Hon Ikenna Ihezue, included Hon Bernard Ozoemenam, Rt Hon Clinton Amadi, and Hon Ebonine Beneath, with Mrs. Anne Martins Ezirim serving as the committee clerk. They conducted thorough investigations by inviting relevant individuals and institutions to provide oral and documentary evidence.

Despite the committee’s invitation, Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka declined to appear, citing the Constitution and insisting she would only appear before a panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Key testimonies and documents were obtained from the Civil Society Engagement Platform, represented by its Director of Investigations, Comrade Ndubuisi Onyemaechi. Additionally, the Head of Service of Imo State, the Secretary of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission, the Secretary to the Council of Legal Education, and the Director of Administration at the Nigerian Law School were consulted. These consultations aimed to verify the actual date of birth of the Chief Judge, as recorded during her admission to the Nigerian Law School in 1981 and her employment with the state’s civil service in 1993.

Evidence revealed that Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka had altered her date of birth from October 27, 1956, to October 27, 1958, via a statutory declaration of age sworn in 2006. This adjustment was made long after she had initially declared her birthdate when enrolling in law school. The statutory declaration was later submitted to the Judicial Service Commission.

The ad hoc committee concluded that Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka had indeed engaged in misconduct and recommended her removal from office by Governor Hope Uzodimma. The House also resolved that this recommendation be forwarded to the National Judicial Council for further action.

All 19 members present at the plenary session unanimously adopted the committee’s recommendations. The resolution marks a significant development in the state’s judicial administration, with further actions anticipated from the NJC.

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