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Nigeria’s Parliament Deputy Speaker Calls For Urgent Action To Address Violence Against Women, Girls

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Kalu at the event

Hon. Benjamin Kalu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, has called for immediate action to address incidences of violence against women and girls in the country.

 

Speaking at the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2023: Funding and Oversight for VAPP summit organised by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative, and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA),

 

Implementation: A Parliamentary Response to Gender-based Violence, on Friday in Abuja, the Deputy Speaker, said: “The statistics on violence against women and girls in Nigeria are deeply concerning and demand our urgent attention.”

 

He lamented that approximately 30% of Nigerian women and girls experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in their lifetimes, and a distressing 55% of survivors do not receive the support they urgently need.

 

He noted that the violence takes the form of harmful traditional practices to economic violence, and gender-based violence, among others.

 

Kalu decried that the impact of conflict in certain parts of the country further increases the vulnerability of women and girls, adding that Internally displaced persons, especially women and children, face a heightened risk of violence including abduction, rape, forced labor, and early marriage, as they navigate the challenges of displacement.

 

He insisted that: “We cannot ignore the stark challenges that persist in our fight against gender-based violence,” stating that: “The VAPP Act, our legislative weapon against gender-based violence, faces implementation and coverage challenges. A culture of silence, stigmatization, and inadequate funding hinder its full potential.”

 

Kalu added: “The deliberations at this summit carry profound significance for parliamentarians present, underscoring the need for a collective and resolute response to the pervasive issue of gender-based violence.

 

“The discussions at this summit hold great significance for the parliamentarians, highlighting the need for a collective and determined response to gender-based violence. These conversations emphasized the urgency to bridge the legislative gap with the remaining states of Zamfara, Kano, and Katsina needing to adopt and implement the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.”

 

He insisted that: “Parliamentarians have a crucial role to play in championing the cause of women and girls, advocating for comprehensive legislative frameworks that address the multifaceted challenges posed by gender-based violence. This summit aims to inspire parliamentarians to not only engage in insightful conversations but also to emerge as champions of change, driving legislative reforms that protect the rights and dignity of women and girls across the nation.”

 

The Deputy Speaker said: “As Parliamentarians, we have the unique role to legislate, allocate funds, and hold the executive branch accountable for the implementation of laws and policies that prevent and address gender-based violence. We must utilize this power to its fullest extent, ensuring that sufficient resources are allocated to support survivors, raise awareness, and provide the necessary training and capacity building for law enforcement agencies and judicial systems.

 

“Furthermore, parliamentary oversight is crucial in monitoring the implementation of existing laws, identifying gaps, and proposing necessary amendments to strengthen the legal framework. We must also prioritize the establishment of specialized committees or task forces dedicated to gender-based violence, ensuring that these issues are consistently on the parliamentary agenda and that progress is monitored on an ongoing basis. Also, there must be provision for case-tracking of violence for both the survivors and offenders as this will help checkmate the menace of gender-based violence.”

 

In his intervention, the Resident Representative, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nigeria, Simon Ridley, pointed out that the legislature has an important role to play in ensuring that institutions that attend to gender-based violence are properly funded, even as he expressed the commitment of the international organisation to eradicating the menace.

 

Also in his submission, the Head of Programme, Nigeria RoLAC II, International IDEA, Danladi Plang, said the objective of the summit was to sensitize and bring to the knowledge of parliamentarians, the persistent issues that continue to limit access to justice and support services for survivors of Gender-based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria, update parliamentarians on the progress achieved so far in the GBV response sector and recommend actions that must be taken to enhance and sustain progress, including the establishment of a parliamentary mechanism for VAPP implementation monitoring and sensitise parliamentarians to the critical role they play in ensuring appropriate allocation of funding and resources for the implementation of the VAPP Act.

 

 

On her part, the EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi lamented that the lack of budgetary provision for the implementation of the VAPP law has not only created an additional burden for mandated institutions like the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) but also allowed victims of SGBV to be further traumatised.

 

 

“Distinguished Senators, honourable members, this is why a parliamentary engagement on this issue is a priority. It is crucial to have appropriations targeted at SGBV, and we count on your support in realising this objective,” she stated.

 

In her presentation, Project Manager, Access to Justice, RoLAC Phase II Programme, Oluwatoyosi Giwa, disclosed that while 14 states are yet to domesticate the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 13 have signed into law, 10 assented and two awaiting governors’ assent.

 

She listed the 14 states yet to pass the legislation including Delta, Bayelsa, Osun, Kebbi, Niger, Katsina, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, and Akwa Ibom.

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Julius Berger, Nigerian Army Sign MoU On Training Of Personnel

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Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s leading engineering construction company, last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Armed Forces Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Mechatronic School (AFEME), indicating a collaborative commitment to training its personnel and students.

Speaking at the MoU signing, Capt. Mohammed Idris, Head of AFEME Mechatronics School and the event’s host, described the day as’momentous’, as the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the School and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc represents another key milestone in the company’s consistency of purpose and proactive contribution to the country’s industrial and technological development and advancement.

Capt Mohammed stated that “this alliance is important because it will foster a skilled workforce in the field of Mechatronics, aligning with the ever-changing demands of the industry; and contribute significantly to the growth and advancement of the Mechatronics sector in Nigeria.” He emphasised that the emerging shared vision for the future will result in a competent, innovative, and adaptable workforce. That came as he congratulated the school and Julius Berger on their bold step towards shaping Nigeria’s educational and professional futures.

Francois Roos, Head of Julius Berger’s Plant and Equipment Department, who, in collaboration with the Human Resource Department, coordinates the Academy’s work, stated that Julius Berger seeks to further enhance the company’s and country’s productivity by taking proactive initiatives to develop the capacities of young minds. Taking that into account, he stated, “We have to train people for the future because if we don’t, we will not be able to contact the benefit of the future offices, and for us at Julius Berger, that is very important, and yes, it is the future of the young people, but we also have to train some more people so that they can help to give the experience of the past to the younger people.”

During the MOU signing, the Head of the German Technical Advisory Group stated that he would appreciate it if Julius Berger became the industry representative, as the national industry will support the development of the new plan, which is larger than what we can see in AFEME right now. The mechanics must know how to operate the machines; however, this is the foundation, and we will do an excellent job. It is going to be a big one because it will help develop cooperation in Nigeria, as well as industry experience.”

Roos agreed with Col Abel, who stated that progress is dependent on how people perceive the future.

In terms of the future, the PED Head compared today’s vehicles to those of the future, stating that today’s vehicles must still be manned or driven by someone who understands at least some of the maintenance so that if something goes wrong with the vehicle, he can repair it. While a modern vehicle may not require a driver, one will only need to tell it what to do without knowing even the most basic services. As a result, we will require people known as Technicians rather than Mechanics, he explained.

He went on to say that some people in his organisation had been heard saying that we do not need to train the employees because if we do, they will leave. However, Richard Bradson stated, “What if you do not train the workers and they stay? Imagine the standard and quality that you will have.

While stating that Himernuel, the Academy’s leader, is always available, he praised Cpt Idris, the Head of AFEME Mechatronics School, for deserving the commendation from Col Abel and thanked him for his cooperation, as well as Mr. Ojomo, Julius Berger’s HR Head, for his support of the Academy.

In his remarks, Ojomo thanked the organisers for believing in Julius Berger, saying, “I have no doubt that this is the beginning of greater things to come.” We are very passionate about the development of our employees, and we will have something for Nigerians in the coming weeks as part of our CSR.

Ojomo stated that Julius Berger will continue to support AFEME’s dream, and he thanked Captain Idris for his support.

The MoU was signed by the School’s Head of German Technical Advisory Group, Lt. Col. Frank Abel, and Julius Berger’s Head of Plant and Equipment Department, Francois Roos, on behalf of the company, in the presence of Julius Berger’s Human Resource Manager, Femi Ojomo, Head of Plant and Equipment Academy, Ajamah Himernuel, Adeyinka Adeniyi, and the Head of AFEME School, Capt. Idris Mohammed. Michael Ashofor, Talent Management Manager, was joined at the event by Uzoma Olivia and Moses Happiness, both from the Media Relations Office.

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Marwa Compliments Britian On The Marine Headquarters Project For NDLEA

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Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has praised the British Government for offering to provide headquarters and personnel accommodation for the anti-narcotics body’s Marine Unit at Eko Atlantic City Beach.

Marwa, who delivered the commendation during the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the project facilitated by the UK Home Office International Operations (HOIO), promised that the agency would continue to meet the expectations of Nigerians and international partners.

He stated that President Bola Tinubu’s and the UK government’s confidence in the agency, as well as their overall support, will always serve as a morale booster for the officers and men who daily take huge risks to dismantle drug cartels with the sole goal of curbing the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria, while also significantly contributing to the global effort to address the drug problem.

He stated that the UK government’s office and accommodation facilities for the agency’s marine unit personnel will significantly improve their safety, efficiency, and confidence. “You have given us a place to stay, trainings, boats, repairs, and now accommodation. We can only say “thank you.” We want to reassure you that the NDLEA is a serious agency that does what it has to do without fear or favour, and that we will get the job done. I can give you this assurance as we continue to collaborate. Thank you very much,” the NDLEA boss said while addressing British government officials and contractors at the project’s site.

He also praised personnel from the Navy, Customs, Immigration, and other local services for their cooperation with NDLEA. “We must all stand together; while the NDLEA is the lead agency in this enterprise, the work is collaborative. To accomplish the task, we must work together. I have been informed that there is a lot of collaboration going on in the same way. I was at MMIA this morning and spoke with your senior colleagues, who are all working together while you are here. I encourage you to keep up this spirit, and I wish you continued success.”

Addressing Unit officers, Marwa stated that the agency’s leadership is restructuring the Marine Unit so that it “can become a lean and mean force under an able commander,” adding, “you should brace up, stand up on your two feet, and work very hard to ensure that drugs do not pass by water.”

Kris Hawksfield of the UK Home Office International Operations assured attendees at the ceremony that the project would be completed by July 2024.

Speaking earlier at a War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy meeting with the leadership of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Marwa stated that the organisation must collaborate with the Agency to combat substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking. He urged PMAN President Prettywise Okafor and other executives to rally their members to use their God-given talents for the betterment of society rather than using music to promote drug abuse, particularly among young people.

Okafor’s response expressed PMAN’s willingness to collaborate with the Agency. He also discussed their efforts to organise an advocacy campaign against drug abuse across the country, as well as their plans to build rehabilitation centres as part of ongoing projects in Abuja and Lagos.

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Nigerian Government, Stakeholders Brainstorm To Avoid Perennial Flooding In Abuja.

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The federal government and prominent stakeholders have devised strategies to raise awareness of the Federal Capital Territory’s (FCT) perennial erosion and flooding problems, particularly in the Trademore Estate in Lugbe.

At the Stakeholders Meeting on Annual Flooding at Lugbe Trademore Estate and Environs held in Abuja on Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mahmud Kambari, tasked stakeholders to brainstorm and provide potential solutions to prevent annual erosion and flooding in the capital.

The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director Special Duties in his office, Mrs, Adelopo Oluwatoyin, reiterated the importance of the meeting considering the incessant flooding along River Pyakasa during annual rainy season and its devastating impact on Trademore Estate and its Envrions.

Kambari noted that, “The annual flood event along this river has been occurring since 2019, which has cost the nation huge loss of lives and property of citizens. The event is attributed to, among other things, climate change through unusual downpour, urbanisation through population and infrastructure growth, undersized hydraulic structures, and siltation of hydraulic structures and the Pyakasa River.

The flooding, according the the Permanent Secretary, has affected the economy of Federal Capital Territory and Nigeria at large with devastating effect on livelihood and the ecosystem.

He decried the loss of market that was flooded in Goza community and farmlands at Kuje community, noting that the situation if not addressed could be worsen in different parts of FCT due to rate of population growth and its impact of water waves.

He said the ministry deem it fit to gather all relevant stakeholders together in the meeting in order to exchange ideas that will make FCT safe from flooding, and encourages sustainable development.

He asserted Government’s Commitment to safety of lives and properties in the estate and Nigeria at large. “I remind you of the commitment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Renewed Hope Agenda towards ensuring a sustainable quality environment devoid of annual havocs occasion by flood, the administration recognises the need to urgently provide steps to assuage the problem and its attendance hardship in the FCT. It is this commitment that necessitated the organisation of the stakeholders meeting.”

Kambari however urged stakeholders to share ideas and show the New Zeal towards addressing the flood challenges along Pyakasa River.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director of the Ministry’s Erosion, Flood, and Coastal Zone Management Department, Mr Dilichukwu Etigbue, stated that the flooding in Trademore Estate has caused massive economic losses to the FCT and the nation.

He noted that the workshop with the stakehokders is at the instance of his department to take proactive steps to avert the reoccurrence through proper handling of waste and adhering to FG directives and advise on flood warning signals and flood management to help address some of the challenges.

Etigbue said flooding along Pyakasa River has become an annual event with Trademore Estate been its major flash point.

Speaking further he said, as you all are aware, the Department of Erosion, flood and Coastal Zone Management had it’s statutory responsibility of formulating environmental policies, measures that are relevant to solve erosion and flood control management through out the country and this meeting is to enable us have a robust deliberation on ways to avert this annual disaster.

He pointed out that the Ministry has documented the root causes of the erosion which would be shown during the technical session for inputs and way forward for a safer Trademore and other areas affected by flood.

In the same vein, the Deputy Director Environmental Services, Division of Safe the Town Development Department, FCDA, Mr. Lateef Olawuwo called on the general public to support the government policy as this will help in addressing erosion control.

Olawumo disclosed that supporting the FG policy is very crucial as most of the problems we are talking about can be tackled if we adhere to building plan, not tempering with green areas as well as living just and fair without building on flood plains and blocking the drainage.

“If you love our environments, you love yourself because your environment is you, if you treat the environment in a negative way the impacts are the consequences coming back to us. The message we have for everybody here that we should please support the policy that will help everybody so that at the end of the day, we will have the focus to glorify.” He added.

He also pointed out that there should be more enforcement of these policies if we have to enjoy the Environment we all crave for.

“The message we have majorly is support from all stakeholders, the developers, the residents, and all sorts of people so that at the end of the day everybody will be happy.” He concluded.

The representative of Trade More Estate, Mr Abdul Abubakar in his remark, appealed to the government to quickly swing into action to come up with solutions to address the menace.

Abubakar noted that if urgent measures are not taken the flooding issue will still occur.

“So now that we are expecting rain again, definitely all the residents in Trademore are already scared of the outcome, so this is an opportunity for us to really say our minds on this, Trademore itself is not where the problem lies, but because of where it is located,” he said.

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