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Nigeria Restructuring: APC sets up committee on true federalism

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The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has inaugurated a 24-member committee on true federalism to articulate the party´s position on restructuring of the country.

The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who inaugurated the committee on Thursday in Abuja, said the party was not opposed to true federalism.

According to Odigie-Oyegun, it is only the APC that can claim ownership to the principle and the need for true federalism in the country.

´´When we sat down to discuss the union of the APC, it was one of the principal issues that were almost like a no-go-item that we negotiated and agreed.

´´And as such, the Constitution and the manifestos of the party are very elaborate in their references to true federalism and devolution of power.

´´It is therefore totally inconceivable for uninformed members of the public to jump on this bandwagon of reconstituting the federation,” he said.

He added that such members of the public gave the impression that the APC was “in any way against the principle of taking a fresh look at the basis of our federalism´´.

Odigie-Oyegun insisted that true federalism was already a mantra to the APC, and must be looked into without jeopardising the fundamental unity of the country.

He tasked members of the committee to have a critical look at issues of devolution of power, fiscal federalism, resource control and others thrown up following recent clamour for restructuring of the country.

He, however, stressed that APC’s Constitution and manifesto vigorously canvassed the issues, adding that they were elaborately provided for.

The chairman said that the party´s position on the issues had been eloquently stated in the terms of references of the committee.

´´It is your duty, especially having regard to the emotive nature of the national discourse on restructuring, to distil from our party constitution and manifesto the various ideas canvassed in different constitutional conferences.

´´I expect you to look at whatever document available on this subject and to look at whatever views and recommendations available on it.

´´I also expect, at all times, that your anchor will be the constitution and manifesto of the party, because it is on that manifesto that we went to the public of this nation.

´´I ask you to generate a report which will truly reflect the desire of our people and a true reflection of what our party stands for,” he said.

He added that it was critical to ensure that the party met the desires of Nigerians on their idea of true federalism.

In his response, Kaduna State Governor and Chairman of the committee, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, said that APC believed in balanced federation and fiscal federalism and was doing well in that regard.

´´We can give example as state governors of the level of participation of states in certain economic policy directions for the country.

´´This government has also taken steps to devolve power and responsibility to states, without any constitutional amendment to states.

´´We have seen more cases of federal assets and roads being taken over by states willingly,” el-Rufai said.

He disclosed that the committee had met three times and had identified 12 key issues to be discussed by Nigerians to ensure a clearer direction on issues of restructuring.

He said that the committee would visit 12 states in the country to meet with the people at the grassroots to collate their views on the issues with a view to proffering solution.

El-Rufai said some of the issues to be looked into were state creation, regionalism, land tenure system and revenue allocation.

He added that the committee would also utilise social media platforms to interact with the people across the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 24-member committee, which has nine states’ governors, women, youths and some leaders of the APC, was constituted on July 9.

Member of the committee are Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau and Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun.

Others are former governor of Edo, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor; APC National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso; APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi and Hajiya Fatima Balla.

Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi is the committee’s Secretary.

The committee is expected to complete its assignment within three months. (NAN)

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Nigeria records 500% increase in COVID-19 infections, in 2 weeks, says NCDC

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Nigeria recorded a 500 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks across the country.

This is contained in a statement issued and signed by the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, in Abuja.

Adetifa attributed the 500 per cent increase in infections in the country to the COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants.

“As of Dec. 19, Nigeria reported 223,887 cases and 2,985 deaths in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The country is now in a fourth COVID-19 wave.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as NCDC and its partners, are therefore intensifying risk communication efforts to remind Nigerians of the risk we face and need to take collective responsibility to reduce transmission of the virus.

“The response to COVID-19 requires a whole-of-society approach. Therefore, individuals, families and institutions also need to play their part in protecting each other by ensuring adherence to COVID-19 public health and social measures,” he explained.

He also disclosed that the NCDC was launching its yuletide season campaign themed #CelebrateResponsibly as part of the #TakeResponsibility campaign which began in February 2020.

“#CelebrateResponsibly focuses specifically on measures Nigerians need to take to protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19 during this period.

“The #CelebrateResponsibly campaign targets the entertainment industry, transport industry, religious settings, media, security personnel, young people, and the general public to promote adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures during this festive period,” he added.

He urged Nigerians to adhere to recommended measures by the agency and other public health authorities, as they celebrate Christmas and New Year.

“Please avoid all non-essential travel within and outside Nigeria to reduce the risk of transmission.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is more likely to spread in mass gatherings especially when held indoors with full capacity and poor ventilation.

“We strongly recommend outdoor events with physical distancing, compulsory use of facemasks, and provision of handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers.

“Please make use of every opportunity provided to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” he advised.

The NCDC boss noted that the government had made the COVID-19 vaccines available for all eligible citizens and booster doses available for those previously vaccinated.

The Celebrate Responsibly campaign which spans from the Christmas holiday through to the start of the new year, he said, emphasises the responsibility of all Nigerians, the government, private sector, institutions, associations, communities, families and individuals in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Religious leaders and heads of institutions, organisations and businesses, he added, are urged to enforce public compliance to COVID-19 preventive measures in their jurisdiction.

“COVID-19 continues to threaten the lives and the livelihoods of Nigerians therefore we must not let our guards down this festive season.

“We urge Nigerians to take all precautions necessary to ensure we and our loved ones live to celebrate many more events and festivities.

“The campaign includes the production of key messages, audio and visual materials for wide dissemination.

“The NCDC urges all individuals, traditional and religious leaders, business owners, the media, transport workers and other institutions and sectors to join the campaign by adopting the key messages and sharing within their networks,” he said.

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Nigeria records three more cases of Omicron variant, total now six

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Tuesday announced the discovery of three additional cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

The agency had on Wednesday detected the first three cases of the variant. With Tuesday’s discovery, the total number of the omicron variant cases in Nigeria stands at six.

Last week, Canada after it said it detected three cases with travel history to Nigeria, banned travellers from the country.

Also, on Saturday the United Kingdom placed a travel ban on Nigeria following the discovery of 21 Omicron cases with travel history to Nigeria.

On Tuesday, the NCDC, in a statement signed by its Director General, Ifedayo Adetifa stated that three additional cases of the variant had been discovered.

He said, “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has confirmed three more cases of COVID-19 with the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, i.e., the Omicron variant, in Nigeria. In addition to the three cases announced earlier on 1st December 2021, this brings the total number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant detected in Nigeria to six .”

The NCDC also added that it had been notified by the UK of seven cases of the omicron variant which were linked to passengers from Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Governor’s Forum has condemned the stigmatization of Nigeria by the United kingdom and Canada by placing travel ban on the country, describing it as precipitate, unfair and discriminatory.

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Omicron: Canada issues travel ban on Nigeria, others

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Canadian authorities have issued a travel ban on Nigeria in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The announcement was made on Tuesday December 30. Other countries affected by the travel ban include South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt.

Canadian Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra, has said foreign nationals who had been to these countries in the previous 14 days would be temporarily banned from entering Canada.

Alghabra added that Canadians and permanent residents who have been in the 10 countries, even those who are fully vaccinated, must also be tested before entering Canada.

This is coming as the Nigeria Center for Disease and Control (NCDC) announced that two cases of Omicron variant had been detected in the country.

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