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‘Nigeria has witnessed significant progress under Tinubu’— SGF Akume

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Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, has given thumbs up to the administration of President Bola Tinubu, saying the country has witnessed tremendous progress in just one year of the government.

Akume, who was speaking at the ‘Ministerial Sectoral Updates’ in Abuja on Wednesday, said despite the hardships being experienced as a result of the policies of the government, the administration had also rolled out social intervention programmes to mitigate the suffering of the people.

“I make bold to say that, Nigeria, under its present stewardship, has witnessed significant policy strides in various sectors including but not limited to,” Akume said as the Tinubu administration heads to its first year in office.

Listing some of the achievements of the government, the SGF noted in particular the following:

“i. The Presidential accent to the 2023 Electricity Bill, a move that dismantled monopolistic control over electricity generation, transmission and distribution at the national level and granted authority to State Governments, Corporations and individuals to generate, distribute and transmit electricity, thus decentralizing the power sector;

ii. Accent to the passage into law of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2023 that established a legal framework for safeguarding personal information and promoting data protection practices in Nigeria; and

iii. The challenging but very necessary Removal of Fuel Subsidy, a longstanding policy notorious for fostering corruption, and inefficiency and imposing significant fiscal strain on the government annually, and primarily benefitting the affluent and smugglers, rather than effectively aiding the general populace.

​It is apt to say that under President Tinubu’s stewardship within his first year in office, we have witnessed significant strides in various sectors of our economy.

Through prudent fiscal policies and strategic investments, the Nigerian economy has shown resilience and potential for growth.

The administration’s focus on infrastructure development, job creation and economic diversification has laid the foundation for sustainable progress and prosperity for all Nigerians.

Furthermore, the government’s commitment to good governance and the rule of law has strengthened our democratic institutions and enhanced transparency and accountability in governance,” Akume said.

However, his optimism is not shared by a majority of Nigerians, especially the masses who have been at the receiving end of the stick.

The ordinary Nigerians do not seem to enjoy the present administration of President Tinubu due to the hardship and hunger they have been made to go through due to the policies of the government.

Cost of living has skyrocketed and the prices of basic commodities have gone out of the reach of the masses while government officials are living large at their expense.

A labour leader who lamented the current situation in the country on Wednesday summed it up with these words:

“Government cannot be telling us that there is no money; this is an insult. We did not remove subsidies or float the national currency.

“The government created this problem. Since the removal of the petrol subsidy and floating of the naira, has the government shown proof that the country has no money, no?

“We are aware that the government gave members of the National Assembly no less than N160 million each to buy cars, the same government has released N90 billion to subsidise hajj operations.

‘’The government has renovated the Senate chambers, and the vice president’s office, and it is buying luxury buses for Customs in millions of naira.

‘’They are also buying all manner of SUVs for government officers. Since the removal of subsidies, the government has been making life better for political elites who have been feeding fat on workers.

“Crude oil sales have increased considerably and it has been getting more money in dollars, while workers have been suffering and going deeper into poverty.

“The state governors have been receiving three times more than they were receiving before the removal of subsidy. We cannot accept this. We did not cause the socio-economic challenges the country is facing.

“The government inflicted these problems on the country with their ill-thought out and unprogressive policies of subsidy removal and devaluation of the national currency. If the country has no money, let it reflect in the lives of government officials, their aides and cronies.”

Metro

Zambian cleric Archbishop Phiri bans politicians from speaking in Ndola archdiocese

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The Metropolitan Archbishop of Ndola, Archbishop Benjamin Phiri, has banned politicians from speaking in any church in the Ndola archdiocese following the disruption of services in the diocese by the police last Sunday.

The newly appointed Archbishop, who condemned the actions of the police, expressed deep concerns over the incident which he described as a blatant violation of the fundamental right to freedom of religion and assembly.

Phiri who bared his mind during a thanksgiving service for the establishment of Ndola as an Archdiocese on Wednesday, also announced a ban on political activities in the church, citing the creation of divisions.

The Archbishop particularly referred to an incident at Divine Mercy Parish where a 66-year-old parishioner, Kamwale Phiri, was arrested for taking photographs of the heavy police presence around the church.

The incident, according to reports, occurred as police were allegedly hounding out opposition leaders including ex-president Edgar Lungu and Citizens First Party leader Harry Kalaba, who were attending services at various churches in the Ndola province.

“If you get any request that this one wants to pray, does he have to announce that he wants to pray? Why can’t he just come and sit in the crowd like everyone else?” Phiri queried while addressing the church.

He emphasized that no politician, whether from the ruling party or opposition, would be allowed to speak anymore because what they do is to bring confusion into the church.

“You are bringing confusion in the house of God. Politicians who want to pray can come to pray but don’t give them a platform to talk. I don’t want to hear that any priest allowed a politician to speak in church,” he stated.

Phiri reiterated that no politician was special, whether from the ruling party or not, and they would no longer get the privilege of preaching hatred in church.

“We are not playing, we are not joking here. I found it strange, and I do not know which law is being used by the police officers for them to detain a congregant without sufficient reasoning,” he stated.

Phiri added that it was not prohibited to take pictures in the country, especially if a person is within their own premises.

“When I was told of the police presence, I asked what the police were looking for and was told it looked like they were looking for opposition leaders. I said the church is the wrong place to look for opposition leaders. I advised my leaders to continue monitoring the situation and report to me,” he said.

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Mixed reactions as govt plans to send first Nigerian to space

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There have been mixed reactions following an announcement that the Nigerian government is planning to send a Nigerian to space in the shortest possible future.

The announcement was made by the Director-General of National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA), Dr Matthew Adepoju, after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a U.S firm, Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), on Human Space Flight programme.

Adepoju, who signed the MoU on behalf of the Federal Government in Abuja on Wednesday, said the agreement was aimed at sending the first Nigerian to space.

Adepoju noted that the event marked the commencement of the agency’s efforts to implement part of its mandate of human space flight, as the agency is committed and determined to ensure a Nigerian is sent to space.

“The Human Space Flight programme is one of the cardinal objectives of National Space Policy and Programme.

“It was with this in mind that we established the Department of Physical and Life Sciences about three years ago to forge this mandate.

“This is also coming as one of our deep space exploration because there are many spinoffs that will come from the collaboration and opportunities opened for Nigerians,’’ the DG said.

Also speaking on the plans, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji, said the human space flight was a key objective of Nigeria fully supported by the President Bola Tinubu Tinubu administration.

Nnaji said the National Space Policy and Programme (NSPP) which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2001, identified human space flight as one of its three pillars.

“Human spaceflight is not just a random aspiration of our country but a major objective of the Nigeria Space Policy and Programme which was approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, in 2001.

“Reviving and implementing all abandoned national plans is a cardinal point of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the administration of President Bola Tinubu. This partnership provides a way of achieving our long-time aspiration as a nation.

“This is also coming as one of our deep space explorations because there are many spinoffs that will come from the collaboration and opportunities opened for Nigerians.

“According to the 25-year roadmap approved in 2005 for the implementation of the NSPP, our first human space flight was scheduled for 2018.

“This means we are about six years behind schedule,” Nnaji said.

However, the plans have been eliciting mixed reactions from Nigerians since it was made public.

While some Nigerians have applauded the government on the move, others believe it should not be a priority as ordinary citizens are going through harrowing experiences as poverty and hardship continues to bite hard.

Those with the latter school of thought are urging the government to prioritise the welfare of the citizens instead of embarking on an audacious task of sending a Nigerian to space.

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