Security agencies begin crackdown on armed herdsmen, militants

Security agencies in Nigeria have begun a nationwide crackdown on armed herdsmen, gun runners, cattle rustlers, militias and others perpetrators of violence.

National Security Adviser, NSA, to President Muhammadu Buhari, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) stated this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of Thursday’s meeting of the National Economic Council, where he was invited to state the security situation in Nigeria.

Monguno said he briefed the Council on the security situation in the country, particularly the conflict between armed herdsmen and farmers, especially in Kaduna, Taraba, Benue States and others.

According to the NSA, governors at the meeting welcomed the security report, commending efforts of the federal government so far, in tackling the security challenges and advocating for more collaboration between the federal government and states in this regard.

General Monguno said the council resolved that there was need to have an extraordinary session to discuss security issues in Nigeria as a means to deepening the issues and effectively addressing the menace.

We all agree that the security situation in the country has been cascading in recent times, he stated, explaining that the overall consensus was that the security agencies need to collaborate with the various state governments in dealing with the situation.

Governors’ social investment

The National Economic Council, also resolved at the meeting to situate the state governments’ coordination units of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programmes, SIP, in the 36 states in governors’ offices.

The move is aimed at further advancing an effective implementation of the SIP now operational in all 36 States of the Federation and the FCT.

While updating the Council, which is made up of all 36 State Governors, the Central Bank Governor and Minister of the FCT, on progress in the implementation of the SIPs, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo noted that in all the States and FCT, different aspects of the programmes are operational.

The SIPs include the N-Power job programme for unemployed graduates where 200,000 have been engaged in all States and FCT, the Homegrown School Feeding Programme now operational in at least 7 states feeding over one million primary school pupils one hot meal daily, the Conditional Cash Transfer in 9 States and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, a micro-credit scheme meant to grant soft loans to well over one million Nigerians.

The Vice President informed Council on impediments and other observed programme implementation delays noticed as the SIPs have become operational across the country.

Ecological funds audit

The National Economic Council, also at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, set up an ad-hoc committee to audit the management of the Natural Resource and Ecological Funds.

Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State, South East Nigeria, who spoke on this decision of the meeting, said the accountant general of federation council that the balance of the Natural Resource Fund as at March 31, 2017 stood at 70.9billion while Ecological Fund stood at 33.6 billion.

Obiano said ad-hoc committee comprising Oyo, Imo, Anambra, Borno, Kaduna, Akwa, Ibom, Benue and Ministers of Finance and Environment was set up to audit the funds and come out with recommendations on how the fund could be managed.

He said the committee was mandated to do the audit and come out with recommendations on how the fund should be managed.

The council also decided that states and local governments would henceforth keep their share of Resources Fund and Ecological Fund for use on intervention as the need arises in their respective jurisdictions.

Paris Club refund

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who was also at the briefing said the Minister of Finance gave an update on the disbursement of the Paris Club refunds and addressed issues about the next round of the payments to the States after the first disbursements.

State Governors at the meeting expressed appreciation to the President for the previous disbursements of the refund, which is more than 10 years overdue, and noted their expectations for the next round of refund from the FG, he said.

Lalong said that the Minister of Finance also told Council that the Balance in the Excess Crude Account as at April 26, 2017 stood at US$2.2billion.

He said the Ministry of Finance also made presentation to Council on the Operations of the Efficiency Unit of the ministry and informed the meeting that the unit has been able to save about N17 billion since it was established.

Update on meningitis.

Governor Lalong also said that the Minister of Health made a presentation to Council on the update on the Meningitis outbreak as follows, stating that there have been 9,646 suspected cases of Meningitis affecting six States in the country, namely Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Kebbi and Kaduna

He said as at April 25, 2017, about 767 deaths had occurred, representing 9% of the infected population.

Lalong said the Minister of Health, reported to the meeting that about N46.7 billion was required for vaccination against the disease.

Council expressed grave concern over the ravaging effects of the meningitis epitome in parts of the country and directed the Federal Ministry of Health to intensify its intervention efforts to contain the embarrassing epidemic, while advocating for increased funding for Health, Governor Lalong said.

He said the minister of health, in his presentation, called for the establishment of a National Health Emergency Fund to be domiciled in the Presidency under the supervision of NEC Chairman.

Source: Voice of Nigeria