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Plateau Assembly Says 2012 Budget Performance “Very Poor”

The Plateau House of Assembly on Wednesday expressed disappointment over the implementation of 2012 budget, describing it as ``very poor’’.

Mr Ponmak Rindap, Chairman of the assembly’s Committee on Works, told newsmen in Jos that the general performance, especially from the ministry of works, was ``abysmally poor in 2012 despite an appropriation of N7.1’’.

Rindap, who spoke shortly after the ministry defended its proposals for the 2013 fiscal year, attributed the ministry's performance to the ``non release of the appropriated funds to do its work’’.

He said N7.1 billion was approved for the ministry for completion of on-going road projects in the 2012 budget, but they remained undone.

``The budget performance last year was just absolutely poor,’’ he declared.

Rindap said no new roads had been awarded in the past five years ``even though there were appropriations and releases for the completion of on-going road works''.

``There has been no new project in the works sector; we met on-going projects which have not been completed up to now as I am talking to you.

“So, budget performance is far below expectation, but we expect more releases from the government this year.”

He urged the ministry to be sensitive to the plight of road users, especially in the rural communities, and advised government to ensure prompt release of appropriated funds to relevant ministries and departments.

The law maker said part of the requirements for budget defence included proofs that projects were actually executed and advised that more funds should released to contractors.

“It is our desire that by the end of 2013, all road projects will be completed,” he said.

The Commissioner for Works, Mr Chris Hassan, also told newsmen that contractors had been directed to immediately mobilise to site, to complete all on-going road construction before the end of March.

He lamented that some of the projects were awarded in 2008 and that their period of completion had elapsed.

Hassan also disclosed that the State Executive Council, in 2012, approved the award of 12 new road contracts which had been captured in its 2013 appropriation.

``Already, the work agreements have been signed between the government and the companies expected to carry out the jobs,’’ he said. (NAN)

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PLSG Awards 20 Roads Contracts Worth N33bn

The Plateau Commissioner for Works, Mr Chris Hassan, said on Wednesday in Jos that the state government had awarded 20 road contracts worth N33 billion to be completed in two years.

Speaking shortly after signing the contract papers, Hassan said the Gov. Jonah Jang's administration was executing a 10-point agenda with a special focus on the provision of a sound road network.

``Roads have been a major focus because all developments are anchored on the movement of goods and services. We cannot develop without roads.’’

He said that much had been done in the area of road construction, but that government intended to construct more roads and bridges to open up the hinterland so that development could flow.

“Any visitor to Plateau will see the difference. We are doing all these because one day, we shall give an account of our stewardship to mankind, and ultimately to God.’’

The commissioner warned the contractors against ``substandard work’’ and urged them to put the public interest above the selfish desire to amass profit.

``And if you think Plateau is where you will come and learn how to construct roads, then I assure you this is the wrong place,’’ he warned.

Hassan warned further: “If you also think you can just come and take the 30 percent mobilisation fee and disappear, I assure you, again, that you cannot do that here.’’

He also cautioned the contractors against relegating technical and legal specifics to the background.

According to him, the corporate responsibility that entails the creation of job opportunities for Plateau indigenes should also never be compromised.

``You must strive to complement our efforts toward reducing poverty and unemployment,’’ he said.

Speaking on behalf of the contractors, Michael Dofe of P. W. Nig. Ltd thanked the state government for the offers and pledged to execute quality job.

Some of the projects include the construction of a fly-over at the Federal Secretariat junction, Jos, as well as the dualisation of the Old Airport-Rayfield-Government House Road in Jos. (NAN)

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INEC Set To Embark On Continuous Voter Registration – Ogunmola

Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos State, on Tuesday said that the commission was set to embark on voter registration.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that everything had been put in place for the commencement of the exercise, adding that it had commenced sensitisation of the people of the state on the exercise.

“We told them that as soon as we are about starting, we will make it public.

”We have put everything in place to ensure that we commence as soon as possible.

“The machines that we will use are being cleaned up; the materials like the ink for the printers, are already with us and we have just recruited Registration Area Officers (RAO's)”, he said.

He said that RAO's would man clusters of wards in local governments with schedules of duty that would cover a wide range of exercises, include taking note of voters who died, with a view to de-listing their names.

He added that the others were manual registration of persons of 18 years and above, pointing out that the programme would continue till six months before the next general elections.

He said the RAO's would also process the transfer of voters from one state to another and identify voters who lost their cards with a view to replacing them and compile comprehensive voters list.

Ogunmola said that beyond their functions, the RAOs would educate voters about the election process and democracy for people to take informed decisions on voting, among others.

He noted that de-listing names of death persons from the voter register would commence as soon as the RAO's were deployed to their places of assignment.

Ogunmola expressed optimism that Nigeria politics would overcome money politics noting that many people were conscious of the fact that politicians who used money to entice voters, made their money through corrupt means (NAN).

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My Wife Is A Traitor, Divorce-seeking Cleric Alleged In Court

An Islamic cleric, Ibrahim Olateju, on Wednesday told an Abeokuta High Court that he was seeking the dissolution of his 10-year-old marriage because his wife, Rukayat, was allegedly a traitor.

Ibrahim, who spoke under oath in the witness box, said that the marriage had produced two children, aged five and three.

The suit is being heard by Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje of the High Court III in Isabo.

Olateju told the court that they (couple) had been living peacefully before he lost his job in January 2010.

``We never had any problem until I could not perform my financial responsibilities as the head of the home due to loss of my job.

``She refused to understand how bad things were for me. Rukayat will fight me to the extent that I will rely on our neighbours to come to my rescue.

``Apart from the fact that she betrayed my trust in her, she made me a subject of ridicule before our neighbours and her family members.

``I was thinking things will change but was surprised to come back home on May 5, 2010, to see that she had packed out with our children and my belongings, `` he alleged.

The complainant disclosed that his investigation revealed that Rukayat had relocated to her mother’s house in Abeokuta.

He further explained to the court that he made futile efforts through their (couple’s) parents and relatives to persuade his wife to return home.

In her address, his Counsel, Mrs Olayemi Yusuf, alleged that despite the fact that Rukayat was served with summons and hearing notices, she refused to appear in court.

" By the attitude of the respondent (Rukayat) and evidences before this court, it is obvious that Rukayat is no longer interested in this marriage.

``In the instance case my Lord, I humbly urge the court to grant the prayers of the complainant by dissolving the marriage on the ground that it has irredeemably broken down, `` she pleaded.

The defendant, who had been absent in court since the commencement of the case in June 2012, was not represented by any counsel.

After the oral address by the counsel and testimonies of Ibrahim, the judge, thereafter, reserved judgement on the mater till April, 23.(NAN)

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Man Sentenced To 1 Yr Imprisonment For Stabbing 16-yr-old Boy

A Magistrates' Court in Abeokuta on Tuesday sentenced a 20-year-old man, Bidemi Jayeola, to one year imprisonment for stabbing a 16-year-old boy.

The Magistrate, Mr Matins Akinyemi, sentenced Jayeola after he pleaded guilty to the charge of assault filed against him.

Akinyemi, who did not give the convict an option of fine, said the sentence was with hard labour.

The magistrate said that the offence was classified as a violent crime.

He said that Jayeola inflicted ``serious bodily injury'' on another person, therefore, he had to go to jail and think about his actions.

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Catholics Mark Ash Wednesday

Catholics all over the world will on Feb. 13, mark this year’s Ash Wednesday, signifying the commencement of the 40-day Lenten season.

Msgr. Gabriel Osu, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

According to him “Ash Wednesday ushers in the Lenten Season.

``A forty-day period of penance, reflection and fasting prepares us for Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

``It is a period of conversion, self- denial, renewal, reconciliation, change and growth; it is about denying self for the life of others.”

He said that the hall mark of Ash Wednesday was the marking of the forehead of Catholic faithful with ashes, making the “sign of the cross” as a reminder of their sinful nature.

Osu said that in the Archdiocese of Lagos, the Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, would be expected to lead other clergies to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and administer ashes on the foreheads of the faithful.

``Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the church and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

``The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year; christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.

``The ashes symbolise penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts,” he said.

Osu urged Christians to take advantage of the season to draw nearer to God and seek His mercy and forgiveness.

``Christians are obliged to fast, pray and abstain from heavy meals and other bad habits as well as give alms,'' he said. (NAN)

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AFCON: Eagles’ Victory, Confirmation Of A New Era In Nigeria – PDP

The Super Eagles’ victory at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in South Africa is a confirmation that Nigeria has entered a new era of possibilities, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has said.

This is contained in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja and signed by Mr Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the party.

The statement said the victory was an indication that the nation would surmount its challenges under the current dispensation.

It said the fact that the team won the trophy, which has eluded the country for many years, ``shows that nothing is impossible for the country''.

The statement added that the victory had opened the doors for the nation to achieve other goals.

``It is an indication that there is nothing impossible and that collectively we will overcome all the challenges we are facing as a nation," Metuh said.

The Super Eagles on Sunday beat the Stallions of Bukina Faso 1-0 to win the trophy for the third time.

Nigeria won the cup for the first time in 1980. It last won it in 1994. (NAN)

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NIS Will Install Biometrics Equipment At Border Posts

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says it will install biometrics equipment across all the borders posts in the country, to check the influx of immigrants.

The NIS Acting Comptroller-General, Mr Rilwan Musa, made this know to newsmen in Lagos on Sunday after he visited the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Musa said that the country's borders were porous and needed to be fortified through the introduction of biometrics.

He said that some of the biometrics equipment would be placed at the airports, adding that it would give accurate data of individuals for the next 40 years because all information would be in the data bank.

The comptroller-general said that the immigration counters at the airports would be increased to accelerate passengers’ clearance.

He said that Immigration officers would be sent on observation trips outside the country to observe passengers clearing in other airports, saying that there would be changes as soon as that was done.

``We are trying to put biometrics equipment in place. The passengers are expected to be given speedy clearance on arrival after over eight hours flight.

``Our intention is to have these officers on observation trips so that by the time they come back, I believe they will improve on what they are doing,” he said.

On the difficulties associated with issuance of passport to Nigerians, he blamed it on desperate Nigerians who want to travel by all means without obtaining genuine travelling documents.

He, however, stressed that the organisation was working with embassies in the country to fish out criminals with fake documents.

The Managing Director of FAAN, Mr George Uriesi, assured the Immigration chief of the organisation's support toward ensuring ``seamless clearance of passengers''.

Uriesi said that FAAN and the NIS had been working tirelessly to provide a conducive travelling environment for passengers.

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