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Kenyan teenagers win Daily Trust African of the Year Award

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The Selection Committee of the Daily Trust African of the Year, headed by former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, has chosen a group of five Kenyan schoolgirls as winners of the African of the Year for 2018.

Stacy Owino, Purity Achieng, Ivy Akinyi, Synthia Otieno and Macrine Atieno, from the western Kenyan city of Kisumu, were selected out of several dozen nominees, for developing a mobile application called I-cut. The application has become a very useful tool in the war against Female Genital Mutilation, (FGM). Although FGM is illegal in Kenya, it is still widely practised in the country and many other countries in Africa and around the world.

United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] estimates that one in four Kenyan women and girls have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. UNICEF also said 200 million girls and women around the world have been subjected to FGM, which it described as “a range of procedures that can cause extreme physical and psychological pain, prolonged bleeding, HIV, infertility and death.”

The five girls, aged 15 to 17, call themselves “the Restorers”. As one of them, Synthia Otieno, said, they adopted the name because they want to “restore hope to hopeless girls.” I-cut is a slick mobile application that connects girls at risk of circumcision with rescue centres. It also gives legal and medical help to those who have been subjected to FGM. “The Restorers” are partnering with several non-governmental organisations in their mission to eradicate FGM. They were Africa’s only representatives at Google’s 2017 Technovation Challenge which took place in Silicon Valley, California, USA.

The winners of the award will be honoured at a ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria in January 2019. The programme was started by Daily Trust Newspaper, eleven years ago. The first winner was the Congolese surgeon, Dennis Mukwege, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Winners of the African of the Year award get $USD 25,000 prize money in addition to a specially made plaque.

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Nasarawa Assembly passes N23.4bn supplementary budget

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Nasarawa Assembly passes N23.4bn supplementary budget

The Nasarawa State House of Assembly on Tuesday passed a supplementary budget of N23.4bn presented to the House by Governor Tanko Al-Makura.

Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, the Speaker of the House, announced the passage of the bill after Tanko Tunga (APC-Awe North), the Majority Leader of the House, moved the motion.

The speaker said the passage of the bill would enable the present administration complete the ongoing projects before the end of its tenure in May 2019.

“Governor Tanko Al-Makura administration is determined not to leave any project uncompleted at the expiration of his tenure, hence the need for the passage of the supplementary budget.

“Based on the governor’s letter to the House, he said during the preparation of the 2018 budget, some projects were underfunded and because of their importance to the general public it has become necessary to request for additional funds to complete them.

“We have approved N23.4bn as the total supplementary budget for 2018.

“This is made up of N5,292,726,871 billion only for Recurrent Expenditure while N18,100,346,140 only is allocated to fund capital expenditure,’’ he said.

The speaker disclosed that the House increased the supplementary budget by N100million due to omission of International travel, transport, bank charges among others.

Mr Balarabe-Abdullah assured the executive arm and the people of the state of its commitment to pass bills that would have direct bearing on the lives of the people of the state.

Daniel Ogazi (APC-Kokona East), the House Deputy Majority Leader, seconded the motion moved by the Majority Leader.

The House unanimously passed the supplementary budget.

Mr Al-Makura, on November 29, 2017, presented the 2018 budget proposal of N122.8billion only to the state House of Assembly for consideration and approval.

NAN also recalls that the House had on January 24 passed the state’s 2018 appropriation bill of N125.4 billion into law by jerking up the budget by N2.6 billion.

(NAN)

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Atiku absent as presidential candidates sign peace accord in Abuja

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70 percent of my appointments will go to youth, women if elected president – Atiku

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was absent at the signing of a peace pact for 2019 presidential candidates in Abuja.

It was not immediately clear why Mr Abubakar, the major challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari, did not turn up at the event.

Mr Abubakar was among those expected at the event.

Spokespersons for Mr Abubakar and the PDP separately told PREMIUM TIMES they were not aware of the event, which began at 3:00 p.m., and promised to make urgent findings and revert.

Mr Buhari arrived at the International Conference Centre to join other candidates in signing the peace agreement, which was drafted by the National Peace Committee.

Abdulsalam Abubakar, a former Nigerian military ruler, is the convener of the committee and the event.

A similar pact was signed by presidential candidates in 2015 and the committee was widely deemed crucial to the peaceful outcome of that contentious election.

Details shortly…

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Reps committee threatens to block aviation agencies’ 2019 budgets

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Reps discharge 16 committees of 25 referral bills

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has warned it may block the budgets of agencies under it over the failure of their heads to turn up for a budget defence meeting with the committee.

The committee Chairman, Nkiru Onyejeocha (Abia, APC), at a scheduled meeting of the committee with the agencies on 2018 budget performance said the committee would be left with no other option than to block the 2019 budgets of the agencies.

Ms Onyejeocha was reacting to the absence of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and heads of parastatals.

None of the heads of parastatals were present at the meeting but rather, sent in representatives.

Prior to the passage of the 2018 budget by the National Assembly, some agencies had alleged that some lawmakers demanded bribes as conditions for passing their budgets.

The officials said the unceasing demand for gratification was responsible for the reluctance of a number of heads of MDAs to honour invitations by Senate and House of Representatives committees to defend their budgets.

“It is either one director-general is not in the country or the other has travelled out,” Ms Onyejeocha said while lamenting their absence.

“Let it be on record that we are not happy with the ministry and all its agencies,” she continued.

“It is unfortunate because your minister is a product of this parliament. As a former member of the House of Reps and of the Senate, he should know the rules,” she told the representatives.

Ms Onyejeocha said the committee was not satisfied with the way the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was running the ministry, adding that he cannot get anything good out of it.

“We won’t ask questions and get a reply, the budget implementation is zero to the best of our knowledge as far we are concerned. If they do not take time, they won’t have a 2019 budget; we have sent referrals and consultants to the ministry but they refuse to comply.”

The chairman said her committee recently contacted the ministry and its agencies that they would be coming for oversight but was either told the minister was not around or the head of agency had travelled.

“We are not here to play politics, we would just collect these documents, our hands are tied, the committee’s hand is tied, the House of Reps’ hands’ are tied. After this session, we may issues summons for them to appear before the House.”

She said the controversial issue of Air Nigeria and others were forwarded to the committee for investigation but was withdrawn and forwarded to the committee of the whole due to the absence of the minister and his officials.

“If Aviation is now domiciled abroad, let us know that we may request to the House and that we need visa to see your DGs. Today, we the members of the committee are saying no, we can’t take this committee for a ride, we shall collect the documents and let them speak to it.

“We give them not less than 48 hours to appear before the committee, it must happen, and if it does not, you people must appear on the floor of the House,” she ruled.

In his comments, Abiante Dgomie (PDP, Rivers), said the ministry and the various parastatals under it had become very evasive and were not accountable to Nigerians.

He said this was unfortunate, as it was happening under a regime that has a signpost of anti-corruption.

Mr Dgomie said the representatives of heads of agencies did not have sufficient information for the committee.

“If we begin to interrogate the documents, you will hear that I am not the DG or minister and so I can not talk on the matter. This is a waste of precious time and Nigerians are watching and observing a and they will run their own commentaries themselves.

“Those saddled with these responsibilities have failed Nigerians and let us put it on record. The strength of any nation is not as regards for individuals but for the strength of the institutions that run the affairs of the nation,” he said.

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