June12: Democracy standing strong amidst fires of adversity – CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), says the country's democracy has been tested by the fires of adversity but had remained steadfast because it is the best form of governance. Its President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, in a message to mark this year's democracy day, emphasised the need for the government to lead the country with integrity and put its citizens first. 'As we celebrate 25 years of uninterrupted democracy and the 31st anniversary of the widely acclaimed 'freest and fairest' presidential election of June 12, 1993, CAN congratulates the government and people of Nigeria. 'Our democracy has been tested by the fires of adversity, from the struggles of its early years to the present-day trials of insecurity, economic hardship, and social injustice. 'Nevertheless, we remain steadfast in our belief that democracy is the best form of government for our nation. 'We urge the government to prioritise the common good, address pressing issues, and ensure that our democracy serves the people, not just the interests of a few,' he said. Okoh emphasised the importance of integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance, saying that leaders must recognise that power is a sacred trust and that they would be held accountable for their actions. He also stressed the need for unity and inclusivity, recognising the value of Nigeria's ethnic, religious, and cultural differences. 'Let us work together to build a stronger, more just Nigeria, where everyone has a voice and equal opportunity. 'As people of faith, we believe that democracy is a gift from God, and we must steward it wisely. 'We pray for divine guidance and wisdom for our leaders, and we urge all Nigerians to participate actively in the democratic process. 'Let us work together to build a brighter future for ourselves, our children, and generations yet unborn,' Okoh stated. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Customs intercepts 26,950 litres of smuggled PMS

The Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) said it has seized 26,950 litres of petroleum products worth N19 million being smuggled out of the country into Republic of Benin. The National Coordinator, Operation Whirlwind of the NSC, Mr Hussein Ejibunu, disclosed this on Thursday at a news conference held at the command's headquarters in Abeokuta. He said that the petroleum products which consisted of 978 kegs of 25 litres totaling 26,950 litres was impounded in Zone A of the NCS consisting of Lagos and Ogun. Ejibunu said the special squad was set up few weeks ago by the Controller-General of NCS, Bashir Adeniyi, to complement efforts aimed at cracking down on criminals smuggling petroleum products outside the country. The customs officer added that the activities of the smugglers usually aid the artificial scarcity of petroleum products in the country forcing the prices to go up for as much as N900 per litre. He said: 'In just about two weeks of operation, Operation Whirlwind team, Zone A axis, intercepted 26,950 litres of premium motor spirit worth N19 million. '121 kegs of PMS of 25 litres equivalent to 3,025 litres was intercepted at Oyinkansola Global Concept along Badagry/Seme road in Lagos State on May 31. '77 drums of PMS (616 kegs of 25 litres) equivalent to 15, 400 litres was seized on June 7 at Seayab Petroleum along Imeko/Obada road in Ogun state. 'The means of conveyance is a truck with the registration number 95D4244D.' Ejibunu stated further that another 100 kegs of PMS of 25 litres equivalent to 2,500 litres was impounded on June 8 along Owode/Atan road in Ogun. 'While an equivalent of 6,025 litres consisting of 141 kegs of 25 litres was seized at Julankoly Oil and Gas along Owode-Ilaro Road,'' he said. Ejibunu said that the petrol stations involved in the criminal activities had been sealed while their owners would be prosecuted. He said the menace posed by the unpatriotic act of smugglers on the Nigerian economy could not be overemphasised, hence the need for synergy with other relevant agenci es to win the fight against the saboteurs. He warned all those who were into criminal acts of sabotaging the country's economy to either have a change of heart or get dealt with according to the laws. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

NSE seeks Seplat’s collaboration on renewable energy, national development

The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) on Monday solicited collaboration of Seplat Energy Plc on capacity building for local engineers, renewable energy expansion projects and innovations for national development. NSE President, Mrs Margaret Oguntala, made the appeal while leading a delegation of the society on a visit to Seplat Energy in Lagos. Oguntala said that the visit was in line with NSE's objectives and committed to partnerships toward influencing and providing quality advice to governments, commerce and industry sector players, academia as well as other stakeholders. She listed programmes embedded in the NSE Strategic Agenda developed by its council to drive growth in various sectors and communities. She commended the company's demonstration of leadership through innovations, sustainability, and excellence within the industry and its efforts in pursuing cleaner energy use to reduce carbon emissions. She said the firm's efforts in reducing carbon emissions, investing in renewable energy sources, and supporting local communities aligned perfectly with the values and objectives of the NSE. Oguntala solicited support from the energy firm toward the expansion of NSE's renewable energy installations at its headquarters in Abuja, as well as capacity building of engineers to ensure the development of the nation. 'We believe that working together with us to expand this infrastructure will go a long way in helping us to achieve our objectives and bolster your contribution to supporting a more sustainable and prosperous future for our country. 'NSE also seeks to collaborate with Seplat Energy in the realm of capacity building and professional development. 'Our engineers are the backbone of the energy sector, and they must be equipped with the latest knowledge, skills, and technologies. 'We propose the establishment of joint training programmes, workshops and research initiatives that will not only enhance the capabilities of our engineers but also drive innovation within the sector. 'As we look towards the future, it is clear that the path to sustainable development lies in strong partnerships and collective actions. 'The NSE is committed to fostering such partnerships, and we are confident that our collaboration with Seplat Energy will yield significant benefits for both our organisations and for the nation as a whole,' she said. Oguntala announced that the 2024 National Engineering Conference and Exhibition with the theme 'Sustainable Engineering Solutions to Food Security and Climate Change' will focus on food security. She added that the Council of NSE carefully considered and approved the theme for the conference to reflect the desire of President Bola Tinubu in achieving sustainable food security for Nigeria. The NSE president thanked the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Seplat Energy, Mr Roger Brown, and his team for hosting the NSE while expressing hope for fruitful partnerships for advancement of Nigeria. Responding, Brown, CEO of Seplat Energy, thanked the NSE team for recognising the firm as a leading indigenous energy company and for the partnership over the years. Brown congratulated Oguntala on her emergence as the first female president of NSE since inception in 1958. According to him, Seplat Energy is leading Nigeria's energy transition with accessible, affordable and reliable energy that drives social and economic prosperity. 'As the nation's trusted independent energy supplier, we understand that Nigeria's energy transition is a unique challenge. It needs leaders with long-term vision, local insight and courage to forge new pathways. 'We are one of them. Step by step, we are bringing together like-minded trailblazers and forming networks of partners to make cleaner forms of energy more available and reliable for everyone. 'Each step propels us further, and in our mission to lead Nigeria's energy transition with accessible, reliable and sustainable energy that drives Nigeria's social and economic prosperity. 'In line with our strategy to deliver energy transition, we have assessed var ious midstream gas, power, and renewable investment opportunities that are focused on increasing energy supply and reliability, lowering costs, and reducing carbon intensity of Nigeria's electricity consumption,' he said. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Nigerians differ on gains of 25 years of uninterrupted democracy

A cross section of Nigerians on Wednesday in Abuja expressed divergent opinions on the gains that had accrued to Nigerians in the 25 years of democracy. Some Nigerians, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that democratic government had yielded much result for the country, while others thought otherwise. Mr Benjamin Otu, a resident of Mararaba, Nasarawa State, said democracy had impacted positively on Nigerians and the Nigerian economy. According to him, democracy is gradually taking its roots in every facet of national life. 'Some of the rights and privileges enjoyed today resulted from a thriving democracy. 'Nigeria's democracy has come a long way since 1999; all hands must be on deck to reposition it.' A civil servant, Mr Rotimi Adeyemi, said that there was no alternative to a democratic government. 'Under democracy, we have freedom of expression and association, which was non-existent during the military regime. 'For the past 25 years, the people of Nigeria have imbibed and internalised the principles and culture of democracy. 'Most of the bills coming from the National Assembly and the change of government periodically, without any interruption, have shown that democracy has come to stay,' he said. According to him, some of the problems faced by Nigerians can be traced to the military. 'Now, people associate freely and walk freely, as power flows from the people. It is the people that decide who rules them,' he said. Mr James Edoh, a businessman, said that democracy had given Nigerians the power to choose their leaders and hold them accountable. 'In contrast, the military rule we had was characterised by tyranny and oppression. It is often said that the worst democratic government is better than the best military government. 'It is better that we stay with the democratic government and improve on it than the military regime. 'A lot has been enjoyed by Nigerians in this democratic regime compared to the military regime. Like peace, job creation, among others,' he said. Also, Mr Caleb Ezea, a trader, said that democracy allows for participatory governance. 'Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It gives voice to the common man. 'The voice of everyone is heard unlike military rule where tyranny reigns supreme,' he said. Mr Ezekiel Ogbu, a civil servant, on his part, called for more transparency and efficiency in Nigeria's democracy. Ogbu, who said that the country's democracy was too expensive, urged the country to try another system of government. Similarly, Mr Solomon Oladapo, a resident of Suleja, called for more progress at the level of development in the country. He advised the government to close loopholes exploited to loot the nation's wealth. Miss Irene Nsiodo, a resident of Garki, said that democracy had brought stability in the political system. 'I believe that democracy has given hope for a brighter future for the people of Nigeria. 'Freedom of expression has been given a chance to thrive, le ading to the exposure of corrupt practices in various sectors of the economy,' she said. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Heads of State, Ministers discuss economic prosperity at Afreximbank meetings

Heads of State, Ministers, government officials, and renowned captains of industry have gathered at the 31st African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Annual Meetings (AAM) in Nassau, The Bahamas. The meetings, holding from June 12 to June 15, would be hosting no fewer than 2,000 delegates, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. The theme of the Annual Meetings is 'Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.' The three-day event is taking place jointly with the 3rd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF). 'This is in recognition of the increasingly closer linkages between Africa and the Caribbean and the movement towards a Global Africa uniting Africans, their diaspora, and descendants worldwide. 'The first day of the Meetings called to strengthen the linkages between Africa and the Caribbean, the sixth region of the African Union. 'These meetings are considered crucial for economic decision-makers in Africa and the Caribbean and are covered by the African, Carib bean, and international media,' Vincent Musumba, Afreximbank's Manager, Communications and Events (Media Relations), said in a statement. Mr John Rolle, Governor, Central Bank of The Bahamas, in his welcome remarks, encouraged the attendees to capitalise on the opportunities to learn, share, and network. Rolle mentioned that the Caribbean could benefit from learning more about the Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) from Africa. He said that with support from Afreximbank, the Central Banks across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) could work towards replicating that system. 'A successful project in the Caribbean could keep us on pace to deliver on targets that are already being set for an international payment system. 'A system that even at the retail level, is more integrated, faster, and significantly cheaper for the average consumer. 'If we perfect the multilateral cross-border payments and settlements arrangement, it could also help us to conserve the use of precious international rese rves, especially if we expand intra-regional trade.' Also, Mr Denys Denya, Senior Executive Vice-President, Afreximbank, said the AAM and ACTIF2024 were a reunion of all Africans in the context of Global Africa. Denyal said the meetings would also help shape the shared vision and aspirations of the Caribbean region and Africa. 'For a continent that is endowed with such an abundance of natural resources, the quest for sustainable development has been a perennial struggle. 'It is in this context of sustained deprivation and marginalisation, that we seek to unify our forces in the context of Global Africa for a better future. ' In our unity, we have the numbers, we have the voice to sit at the table when decisions are made. We are a viable force to influence global decisions.' Similarly, Asa Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre, emphasised the significant trade potential between Africa and the Caribbean, projecting trade to reach 1.8 million dollars annually by 2028. Coke-H amilton suggested it was time to explore establishing a free trade area between Africa and the Caribbean. 'Trade agreements are one way to help bring down barriers and open new opportunities.' During a session on 'Building Resilience in an Era of Globalisation,' Dr Roger Ferguson, Former Vice Chair, Federal Reserve, emphasised the importance of developing diverse and flexible systems to respond to challenges. Dr Donald Kaberuka Chairman/ Managing Partner of SouthBridge Group emphasised the importance of countries learning to manage crises rather than treating them as unique situations. Kaberuka, Former President, African Development Bank Group said this during the first plenary session, on 'Navigating Economic Transformation in a Poly-Crisis World.' Also, Prof. Jeffery Sachs, Senior Lecturer in Economics, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University of Rotterdam, said that in the face of stiff competition internationally, Africa must unite. 'You cannot operate in this world as a s mall country. Even the small countries that are successful are part of somebody's world. ' Africa is too big to be part of somebody's world. It's got to be Africa as a fundamental pillar of the world scene.' Source: News Agency of Nigeria

How govt can reduce maternal mortality rate – Health advocate

Mrs Franka Okeke, a U.K.-based maternal health advocate, has appealed to government at all levels to improve on the health care facilities to reduce maternal deaths in the country. Okeke made the appeal in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday while recounting her near death experience during childbirth in a government hospital in Lagos. She said as a way of minimising maternal deaths in Nigeria, there is urgent need for government to increase budgetary allocation to primary health facilities and make the health facilities more friendly for pregnant women. 'Government at levels should invest adequate resources in infrastructure development, equipment and drugs for the adequate provision of basic and comprehensive emergency care in accordance with global standards,' the maternal health survivor said. Okeke, who noted that the high prevalence of maternal mortality was of concern, called for urgent action by the government to stop needless maternal deaths. 'Governments need to do something to stop the needless maternal deaths in Nigeria. 'There is need to ensure proper monitoring of private hospitals because there are many with quack doctors, while government hospitals are also too slow and there are some conditions that are urgent. 'Besides, government should provide comprehensive health coverage for Nigerians, especially pregnant women so that out of pocket medical expenses can be minimised,' she said. Narrating her ordeal, Okeke said: 'God delivered me from near death experience while giving birth. There is so much to thank God for in our lives. 'I had fluid in the lung, several complications, haematoma and sepsis. Even doctors misdiagnosed my condition. 'I had preterm twin babies and I had to leave them for months, and go to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and other places, looking for solution. 'The doctors said it was my womb that was protruded which led to sepsis and more complications. 'Also, I had surgery and doctors were not ready to repeat another su rgery. My blood level was very low but God saved me,' she said. Okeke, who noted that she recently released a single track song titled 'I'm loving you Jesus' on YouTube and other digital outlets, said the song was to thank God for saving her life during childbirth. Okeke also said that she had published a book titled 'The Tears We Bleed'', endorsed by the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologist of Nigeria, which chronicled maternal death and fistula issues in Nigeria. Source: News Agency of Nigeria