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Johnson told to drive out ‘dinosaur mentality’ from Tory party after race row

dinosaur mentality

Johnson told to drive out ‘dinosaur mentality’ from Tory party after race row

Boris Johnson has been urged to drive out a “dinosaur mentality” from the Conservative party amid warnings that an MP mixing up two ministers of Asian heritage was “not an isolated incident”.

James Gray confused his Tory colleagues Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid at a charity reception in parliament last month, allegedly saying “they all look the same to me,” it emerged on Tuesday.

It was the second time in less than a month that Javid, the health secretary, was mistaken for another minister of Asian heritage. He was confused with Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, at Conservative party conference in Manchester. A fellow delegate commented on him being driven in a gas-guzzling car despite supposedly being in charge of the climate summit, it is understood.

On Tuesday, Gray, the MP for North Wiltshire, was called in for a meeting with the chief whip and reminded of the standards expected of him. St John Ambulance, which appointed Gray as a commander last year, stripped him of the role after the alleged racist remark made at an event held in honour of its volunteers in September.

Gray, who was hosting its reception, tried to introduce Javid but incorrectly called Zahawi, the education secretary, up to the front. When the mistake was pointed out, the MP was said by a witness quoted in the Daily Mail to have told the audience: “They all look the same to me.” The witness added that Zahawi pulled Gray to one side for a private conversation afterwards.

Gray denied making that specific remark, telling the BBC he thought he might have said “I mixed you up” and adding it was a “very silly non-story”. In a statement to the Daily Mail on Monday night Gray insisted he had said the ministers “look very alike” and that he was “sorry if I got you two mixed up”. He added that the two were close friends of his and that “the notion this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous”. His office did not respond to requests for further comment.

A spokesperson for St John Ambulance said it “does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form”, adding: “We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”

The revelation about Gray’s comment prompted criticism from Sajjad Karim, a Tory former MEP. “He should have apologised immediately,” he said. “It’s certainly demonstrative of the huge journey the Conservative party needs to go on when it comes to the issue of diversity and – dare I say it – levelling up internally.”

Karim told the Guardian it was “not an isolated incident at all” and that he had lost count of the number of times other minority ethnic Conservatives had recounted being confused with someone else or he had experienced it personally, including being mistaken for the innovation secretary, Syed Kamall.

He said it was symptomatic of a “dinosaur mentality” and signalled his concern at the seemingly soft action taken against Gray. Karim said Gray should at the very least apologise and undergo diversity training, adding: “It is a clear signal that such behaviour and flippant reactions by perpetrators are still regarded as the order of the day. Back to the 50s, 60s and 70s, it is.”

A Tory anti-racist activist, who asked not to be named, called Gray’s remark “unpleasant and sloppy” and said comments like his would not have been accepted under past Conservative leaders but “in the post-2016 era, we seem to have to accept mediocrity”. Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said it was a “sign of an endemic inability and lack of political will to tackle racism”.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”

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Bauchi pays N3.418bn in outstanding gratuities

The Bauchi State Pensions Board has announced that, from May 2019 to date, the state government has paid N3,418,288,11.68 in outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants.

The Chairman of the Board, Senator Bala Adamu Kariya, made the disclosure at the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, held at the State Secretariat.

Although Senator Kariya did not specify the total gratuity backlog, he noted that it exceeds N20 billion.

He stated that since the inception of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in 2019, a total of 4,273 people have retired, and 677 have died while in service, out of 4,948 files processed.

“The Board processes the files of civil servants due for retirement. We are the custodians of the processed files of all state civil servants who have retired,” the chairman stated.

Senator Adamu, however, said that in order to avoid further accumulation of pension and gratuity liabilities, the state government intends to commence the implementation of the proposed contributory pension scheme on June 30, 2021.

“As a sign of commitment, His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, appointed a 20-member committee, including a staff member of Messrs Premium Pension Ltd for technical guidance under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdon Dalla Gin (Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters).”

“In line with the Terms of Reference to the Committee, a final report with a draft bill has been carefully produced, tapping from the 2004 Act, 2014 revised Act, and previous efforts of successive state administrations like the 2005 and 2017 draft bills, and was presented to His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, as appropriate.”

He recalled that Governor Bala Mohammed had presented the report to the State Executive Council for consideration and approval, following which a draft bill was forwarded to the State House of Assembly for further legislative process in line with the laid down constitutional procedure.

“After gathering the necessary stakeholders’ input, the State House of Assembly then ratified the draft and returned the same to the Executive Governor for assent. Consequently, on August 5, 2022, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, assented to the bill enacted by the State House of Assembly.”

“It was named the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme. The law also provided for the establishment of the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Commission.”

“The state governor approved the constitution of another high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, the Secretary to the State Government, to facilitate the full implementation process of the new scheme in the state.”

Kariya further explained that prior to this development, the state government appointed two firms of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), who have now engaged stakeholders in a massive sensitization, advocacy, and enlightenment of the scheme across the state.

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Two-storey building collapses in Abuja

A two-storey residential building in Phase 2, site 2, Kubwa Abuja has collapsed

The building collapsed on Saturday morning at about 7:00am.

It was learnt that the building was formerly a hotel, Al-Hilal, but was converted to a residential apartment.

It was gathered that several people are currently trapped in the rubble.

As at time of filing this report, emergency responders and security personnel were at the scene.

 

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Police to enforce e-CMR compliance from July 29

The Nigeria Police Force have given all motor users 14 days to register their vehicles with the newly-introduced digitalized Central Motor Registration (e-CMR), which will end on July 29, to begin the enforcement of its compliance in order to checkmate the rate of vehicle-related crimes and other offenses.

In a press release, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, informed that the move is part of the efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, to enhance the security of lives and property and significantly boost the nation’s safety.

The release further stated that the exercise is an advanced form of helping security agencies, mostly the Police Force, in their investigations and operational activities to combat vehicle-related crimes, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other social vices.

It also stated that the introduction of the e-CMR digitalized system will help streamline the documentation and verification process for vehicle ownership and related transactions.

“Following the directives of the IGP, services such as change of ownership, change of license number, change of engine, and change of chassis/body would become seamless as the e-CMR system would ensure the validation of vehicle genuineness and ownership, enhancing the ability to track and recover stolen vehicles effectively, and preventing the purchase of stolen vehicles by innocent buyers.

“Prior to the enforcement itself, the IGP has ordered full publicity of the e-CMR and its enforcement to all members of the public, intimating them of the requirements, processes, and the enforcement procedures. Members of the public are urged to obtain the digitalized CMR certificate online at https://cmris.npf.gov.ng.

‘For further inquiries, individuals can contact the CMR Command Centre at FHQ Abuja (08117777666, 09169892000) and FHQ Annex Lagos (08117777555, 09169891000). Technical support is also available at cmftech@npfcmr.ng,” the release partly stated.

Following this new development, the Nigeria Police have enjoined members of the public to participate in the exercise by ensuring that all vehicle users comply with the new directive, maintaining that the initiative, which is in line with modern technology, remains a strategic approach to enhance public safety and national security.

ACP Adejobi further stated that the enforcement of the e-CMR is necessary to ensure a safer and more secure environment for vehicle ownership and to decimate the trend of vehicle theft by greatly reducing the possibility of selling stolen vehicles in the country.

“We therefore urge all vehicle owners and users to embrace and participate in this initiative promptly for optimum safety and security,” he stated.

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