Following the recent disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) by the Nigerian government, the Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) wishes to draw the attention of the government and the public, to the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) involving some unscrupulous security operatives in Nigeria. Issues of human rights abuse perpetrated against the girl child must be brought to the fore, in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl child, which was marked across the world yesterday, October 11, 2020. There have been allegations of rape, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence meted out against women and girls by law enforcement agents. There also appears to be a conspiracy of silence whereby, security agents found complicit, are neither suspended from office immediately for their unprofessional conduct, nor made to face judicial sanction. Women’s rights have been flagrantly violated and the law enforcement agents saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the enforcement of these rights are now increasingly indicted in the physical and sexual abuse of women and girls.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation has proposed a series of tax incentives for the Maritime industry. This was disclosed by the Director – General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who stated that the proposed tax incentives were meant to boost economic activities in the Sector, amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, the tax incentives which shall be applicable to vessels imported by Nigerians or by the Nigerian shipping companies and intended for use in foreign or domestic trade, shall include: zero import duty (full waiver) for brand new vessels, 0.5 percent import duty (partial waiver) for vessels aged between one and five years, and 1 percent import duty (partial waiver) for vessels aged between five and eight years, respectively.
The Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, condemns and rejects wholly, the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. Under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the pump price of petrol has witnessed a steady and unprecedented increase from ₦121 per litre in June 2020, to over ₦143 in July 2020, ₦150 in August 2020, and now sells for as high as ₦162 in September, 2020. Electricity tariffs were also increased by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, from about ₦30.23 per kwh (kilowatt unit of energy per hour) to as much as ₦62.33 per kwh, an astronomical increase which is meant to also affect pre-paid Meter users who had recharged their units before the policy took effect. SOCIAL ACTION wishes to state unequivocally, that such an increment is totally unacceptable and must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerians.
As the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues, the Federal Government of Nigeria has made various attempts to bolster the economy of the country, in order to cushion the adverse impact of the disease outbreak on the populace. The Federal Government recently announced its approval of a ₦10 Billion COVID-19 intervention fund to road transport workers and operators in Nigeria, in support of the continuity of their businesses. This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, when she received the leadership of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA).
The Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) and Civil rights Council (CRC) wish to draw the attention of the Nigerian government and the public, to the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) involving some unscrupulous security operatives in Nigeria. There have been allegations of rape, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence meted out against women and girls by law enforcement agents. There also appears to be a conspiracy of silence whereby, security agents found complicit, are neither suspended from office immediately for their unprofessional conduct, nor made to face judicial sanction. Women’s rights have been flagrantly violated and the law enforcement agents saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the enforcement of these rights are now increasingly indicted in the physical and sexual abuse of women and girls.
Anyone who truly opposes corruption would cringe at the fact that billions of dollars has been swooped in reckless spending spree in a few months without demonstrable impact on the Niger Delta region. Following recent developments from the Senate probe and reports from the Niger Delta Development Commission-NDDC, the media has been awash with absurd findings against the Interim Management Committee-IMC over alleged corrupt misappropriation in the NDDC through various fronts. The findings of the Senate report expressly reveal the level of deep seated corruption going on in the commission.
The House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements in carrying out their oversight function, has commenced an investigative hearing of loans taken by the Federal Government. To ensure that the country is not shortchanged, a committee was set up to evaluate the bilateral loan agreement between the two countries. At the ongoing investigative hearing,the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said that the probing if not suspended would scare the lenders.
As the probe on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is ongoing, with horrible allegations and counter – allegations emerging from the probe committee, the damp muddle is hanging precariously over the Commission’s shady activities which are not in accordance with its mandate, as prescribed in the NDDC (Establishment) Act, 2000. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, last week revealed that lawmakers have been beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the NDDC. In response to the 48 hours given to him by the House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila to mention the beneficiaries, Akpabio has forwarded names of National Assembly members who were beneficiaries of NDDC contracts to the House of Representatives. They include: Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi involved in 53 projects, Sen. Nicholas Mutu whose name appeared on 74 projects, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide and Sen. James Manager involved in 6 projects respectively, Sam Anyanwu with 19 projects and others who were identified as Ondo and Edo Reps.
We, the undersigned, hereby address this communiqué to the President of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. We are representatives of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, Communities and stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta region. In the light of recent events at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and similarly past antecedents of unprecedented and monumental corruption manifesting in extensive contract frauds, Procurement law infractions, non-budgetary and extra-budgetary spendings, audit violations, cronyism, fiscal recklessness and flagrant disregard to procedural rules, the Civil Society Network and communities, on Friday, July 17, 2020, held a virtual meeting to deliberate on a way forward in the interest of the people of the Niger Delta.
By Vivian Bellonwu
Nigeria’s hitherto precarious economic state appears to be in for an unmitigated meltdown as the present Coronavirus pandemic has exposed and is bringing to the fore, both the weak nature of the nation’s economic fundamentals as well as the deficient capacity of its managers and management.