President Muhammadu Buhari in the course of the week extended the ongoing fight against corruption to nation’s education sector to demand for accountability in the administration of academic institutions.
This, he said, has become imperative to address corrupt practices in the institutions.
He said that corruption in education sector had continued to undermine investments.
The president stated this while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.
The Summit was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
Buhari expressed concern over the manifestation of various forms of corruption in the education sector.
He presided over the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday where the Council endorsed the 2023 budget proposal for onward presentation to the National Assembly.
Buhari also on Wednesday hosted Gov. Duoye Diri of Bayelsa, where he pledged to address three major requests tabled by the governor with “promptness and immediacy.
”The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the president also met behind closed doors with former President Goodluck Jonathan, immediately after his engagement with Diri.NAN reports that the agenda of the meeting between the president and Jonathan, also an indigene of Bayelsa, was unknown to newsmen as at the time of filing this report.
Also on Wednesday, the Presidency dismissed accusations on social media by presidential candidate of the Labour Party’s Peter Obi claims that some of his supporters, known as “Obidients”, have been “silently arrested” were unfounded.
A source in the State House, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said both the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS) have officially confirmed that no such arrests whatsoever had been effected.
According to the source, neither “silent arrests”, nor for that matter “open arrests” – have been made of any of Obi’s supporters.
On the same day, Buhari expressed his happiness and satisfaction, and that of the entire nation with the military as well as other security agencies on the safe release of the remaining 23 kidnapped Abuja-Kaduna train passengers.
The affected passengers were held in captivity by Boko Haram terrorists over six months ago.
The president addressed the Passing out Parade and Commissioning Ceremony of Cadets of 69 Regular Course (Army, Navy and Air Force) of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), in Kaduna on Thursday.
At the event, Buhari directed the Service Chiefs to replicate the successes recorded in the fight against insurgency in the North East in other parts of the country.
The president listed comprehensive and systematic acquisitions by his administration within seven years, describing them as unprecedented in the past 38 years of the Nigerian military.
Buhari, who again commended the military for the safe release of the remaining 23 victims of the March 28 Abuja-Kaduna train attack on Wednesday, met with the freed passengers at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) hospital in Kaduna.
The president made an impromptu visit to the hospital to see the victims of the train attack after inaugurating Cadets of 69 Regular Course (Army, Navy and Air Force) of the NDA, in Afaka, Kaduna State, on Thursday.
Before boarding NAF 001 back to Abuja from the Kaduna International Airport, Buhari detoured to the hospital, where he also thanked the Nigerian military for their brave services in securing the safe release of the hostages.
The president’s special write-up also featured in the Financial Times of London, where he expressed the happiness of Nigerians by the news this summer that 72 artefacts, known as the Benin Bronzes, held by the Horniman Museum in London were returning home, 125 years after being plundered by British troops.
”The clamour for repatriation of looted treasures is becoming irresistible.
”There was once a similar clamour for the return of Africa’s stolen assets, and I see both as part of the same struggle to bring back to Nigeria what is rightfully ours.
”Siphoned from the continent by corrupt former leaders, countless billions remain stashed in western bank accounts.
”Although Nigeria has inarguably been the most successful among African nations in securing the return of stolen money, it has recovered only a fraction of what remains in the west,” he said in the article also published by some local media outfits on Thursday.
On Oct. 7, Buhari met with the leadership of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum over the reported cases of flood across the country.
The president encouraged the governors to meet with the Minister of Water Resources to fashion out solutions to the problem.
The meeting was attended by the outgoing Chairman of NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, the incoming Interim Chairman, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, and the Interim Deputy Chairman, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi.
The governors had told the president that lives had been lost, homes and farmlands washed away in states like Kogi, Yobe, Jigawa, and many others.
Buhari hosted Mr Michael Lodge, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
Lodge was in Abuja to attend a workshop on Africa Deep Sea Resources in Abuja.
Also on Friday, President Buhari unveiled a budget of N20.51 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year at a joint session of the National Assembly (NASS).
According to the president, the 2023 budget will be his last budget to be laid before the NASS as the second tenure of his administration expires on May 29, 2023.NAN reports that the budget will also be the last for the consideration and approval of the 9th NASS.
He described the 2023 appropriation bill as a budget of fiscal sustainability and transition.
The president said: “A total expenditure of N20.51 trillion is proposed for the Federal Government in 2023. This includes 2.42 trillion Naira spending by Government-Owned Enterprises.
“The proposed N20.51 trillion 2023 expenditure comprises: Statutory Transfers of N744.11 billion; Non-debt Recurrent Costs of N8.27 trillion; Personnel Costs of N4.99 trillion; Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits of N854.8 billion.
”It also includes Overheads of N1.11 trillion and Capital Expenditure of N5.35 trillion, including the capital component of Statutory Transfers; Debt Service of N6.31 trillion; and sinking Fund of N247.73 billion to retire certain maturing bonds.
“We expect total fiscal operations of the Federal Government to result in a deficit of 10.78 trillion Naira.
’’Buhari ended the week with a goodwill message to Muslims on the occasion of Maulud to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The president urged Muslims to “practice the noble and shining virtues of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
He explained, “the prophet became famous for his life of humility, justice and fairness,” saying that, “the best way to honour him is to follow his good examples.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has described corruption in education sector as stealing the future of the country.
Owasanoye stated this in Abuja at the annual ceremony of the 4th National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector with the Theme: Corruption and the Education Sector.
The event was organised by ICPC in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
It is aimed at highlighting corruption issues bedeviling the Education Sector and providing solutions to tackle the menace.
The ICPC boss said that the commission in collaboration with the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to prevent corruption in the education sector.
“This year we have chosen the theme: Corruption and the Education Sector because corruption in education has been rightly described as stealing the future education being the medium for transmission of knowledge and values.
“Once education sector is corrupted the foundation for future ethical leadership and labour force is destroyed,” he said.
Owasanoye stated that corruption in education manifests in different ways such as recruitment of unqualified or unfit persons to teach at primary, secondary or tertiary levels.
He said admission racketeering; examination malpractice, diversion of revenue for and within the sector, operation of illegal academic institutions especially at the tertiary level, abuse of power and procurement rules by management were things of concern.
He explained that in response to the recent epidemic of sexual harassment in the education sector has led to the creation of a special team on investigation and prosecution of sexual harassment in secondary and tertiary institutions.
“In collaboration with civil society, we are in the process of introducing a model policy on sexual harassment for academic institutions to adopt.
“We have also secured some major convictions including that of a professor.
“With JAMB and DSS, we conducted in 2021 a series of undercover operations across the country on corruption in the university admissions processes leading to the busting of syndicates and arrest of its leaders responsible for compromising IJMB and JUPEB, ” he said.
According to him, the commission in collaboration with the Budget Office and stakeholders met with some MDAs on the recurring surpluses in their payroll to determine proactive measures to improving the budget process.
He said this was done towards separating outright fraud from administrative lapses.
He maintained that ICPC reviewed of special funds meant to improve education delivery such as UBEC and TETFUND revealed continued abuses and breach of procurement standards and compromise of statutory mandates.
He added that while a System Study and Review on SUBEB in six states for 2019-2020 revealed that the intention of UBE law to support states to improve basic education was frustrated by lack of commitment by state governments in not providing matching grants amongst other defaults.
He said, “the capacity and commitment of states and tertiary institutions to access UBE fund and TETFUND respectively as anticipated by law remains highly questionable.
“In support of government’s effort to improve revenue generation, the Commission continues to investigate diversion of tax and other statutory revenues as part of routine investigation and has recovered N1.264 billion this fiscal year.
“As part of the efforts to sanitise the public service and upscale integrity, the Commission has been collaborating with the OHCSF to flush out fake appointments and screen candidates for appointment to position of permanent secretaries amongst other initiatives.
“The findings thus far indicate that many prospective appointees are implicated for financial impropriety, corrupt practice, failure of code of conduct standards and substance abuse.
“The commitment of the Head of Service to clean up the stable by effective pre appointment screening is commendable and ICPC will continue to play its part.
”The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said that Nigeria must fight corruption to be liberated, adding that differences could be made in all sectors no matter how bad it was perceived.
“Nigeria has a bad reputation of being a corrupt society.
Nobody will change that except us.
At a moment, you see people condemning corruption and the next moment, they engage in it.
“We have to sincerely fight it otherwise this nation is doom,” Adamu stated.
He, however, commended the leadership of JAMB for achieving what no other agencies had achieved in recent past.
President Muhammadu Buhari who declared the summit open also presented a Public Service Integrity Award on Mr Daniel Amah, a Superintendent of Police for displaying exceptional courage and integrity in the discharge of his duties.
The summit which featured panel discussion on topics such as “Corruption and Special Initiatives to Improve Education e.
g the Safe Schools Initiative”.
Also, “Corruption at Primary and Secondary Schools – Corrective Measures”, Corruption and Regulatory Initiatives at the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education” and “Corruption at University Level and Education Regulatory Challenges”.
Prof. Attahiru Jega, a former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Tuesday said that no nation developed without adequate and appropriate investment in education sector.
Jega stated this in his keynote address at the 4th National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector with the theme: ‘Corruption and the Education Sector’ on Tuesday in Abuja.
The event was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in collaboration with the Office of the Federation (OSGF) and JAMBHe said the Nigerian education sector had suffered neglect, underfunded which led to crisis, compounded by the impact of corruption both from within the education sector itself, and from the wider public sector.
He added that the effects of corruption in the education sector had undermined national capacity to develop requisite national social capital for socioeconomic development.
“The corruption that takes place within the education sector is a dwarf mirror image of what happens in the wider Nigerian context, albeit to a lesser extent but with comparatively more consequences.
“Nonetheless, it is significant enough to attract serious attention and appropriate mitigation measures.
“In any case, fighting corruption and eliminating from the Nigerian public sector generally, and the education sector in particular, is a task that must be done.
“All hands need to be on deck for the successful accomplishment of this task.
”The former INEC Chairman suggested that to end corruption in the education sector, the culture of whistle-blowing to expose corrupt practices and their perpetrators should be encouraged.
He called for appropriate incentives to, and protection for, whistleblowers so as to encourage them to expose corrupt related issues to the authority for necessary action.
“A very good legal framework for the fight against corruption, especially with the aid of whistle-blowing, needs to be enacted, with appropriate incentives and , as well as strong institutional mechanisms and agencies for enforcement.
“In this regard, the already existing anti-corruption institutions, which are doing commendable work, need to be strengthened, adequately resourced and incentivized to increase the tempo and effectiveness of their activities, ” he said.
On his part, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, called for commitment of stakeholders in the sector to take anti corruption initiatives seriously.
Mustapha said that if such initiatives were given more attention, they would be deployed to tackle corrupt practices.
According to him, research shows that the education sector is paradoxically playing a major role as enabler of corruption in the country.
He added that, “there is need for commitment of stakeholders in the sector to take anti-corruption initiatives more seriously and deploy them to tackle corrupt practices.
“The National Ethics and Integrity Policy remains a tool for all stakeholders in the education sector to collaborate on a consistent basis with anti-corruption bodies most especially the ICPC or mechanisms for corruption prevention.
“The theme is even more appropriate, because corruption is eroding the practical purpose of education at all levels.
At the primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions.
”He added that this administration would not leave any stone unturned to tackle corruption in the public sector, adding that his office had been collaborating with ICPC in the last four years on this.
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) said that the highest paid official of the commission earns less than N1million a month,an official has said.
The Head, Corporate Communications of PenCom, Mr Abdulqadir Dahiru, made the statement available to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja.
He said, ”it was illogical and improbable that the least paid staffer receives a monthly salary of N3million.
” Dahiru said that it was earlier alleged that the least paid PenCom employee earns a salary of N3million per month.
”This has fueled all sorts of false allegations and unfair insinuations.
“ We understand that there is an element of mischief and possible blackmail on the commission’s compensation package.
“ From our understanding, it appears someone calculated all staff costs, including training, staff exit benefit scheme and employer’s pension contribution.
”He divided the total by the number of the commission’s employees and concluded that the least paid employee is on a monthly salary of ₦3 million.
“ There is a clear difference between staff cost and staff salaries,” he said.
Dahiru said that there was a false and misleading information on the compensation package of the commission being circulated in the traditional and social media.
He that said from the inception of the commission in 2004, the Federal Government mandated its board to adopt an employee compensation policy.
Dahiru stated that the policy favorably compared to comparative government bodies in the financial services sector, He said that they include Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“ Section 25(2)(b) of the Pension Reform Act 2014 also empowers the board of the commission to fix the remuneration, allowances and benefits of the employees.
“ We made all these facts known in a recent submission to the House of Representatives Committee on Finance over the compensation package of the commission.
“ We also stated that the last compensation package review was done in 2017 with the approval of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).
“ No review has been done in the last five years and this has affected the ability of the commission to attract, hire and retain staff with competitive skills,” he said.
Dahiru urged the public to ”ignore the false and mischievous information on the staff compensation package.
”The commission has nothing to hide and will continue to run a transparent and an accountable system.
Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF),
on Thursday, reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to improving the health of Nigerians.
He made the government’s position known at the 6th National Council on AIDS with the theme “Innovative
Approaches Towards HIV Epidemic Control and Programme Sustainability at State Level” in Abuja.
He said “the Federal Government is committed to improving the health of Nigerians and will continue to
confront and address challenges affecting HIV services that constitute a key barrier to accessing HIV treatment.”
Represented by Dr Nnamdi Mbaeri, the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office, OSGF, Mustapha
affirmed Federal Government’s renewed commitment to ending HIV, saying it was reinforced by placing additional
50,000 persons on treatment annually.
He added that government would continue to finance the treatment of the additional 50,000 persons, noting that
governments at sub-national levels were variously evolving innovative approaches to sustainable health financing,
including health insurance.
He explained that government would continue to encourage services to demonstrate ownership and
assurance to sustainable HIV response.
He recalled that the Federal Government, through the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in collaboration
with the organised private sector recently launched a N62-billion private sector-driven Trust Fund.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the world had recorded great improvements in HIV prevention,
treatment and care over the last two decades due to strengthened global and regional response to the scourge.
Ehanire, who was represented by Dr Alex Okoh, said such development led to reduction in the number of new infections
across the world.
He, however, expressed concern over the rate of new infections among young people and babies born to HIV positive women, especially
in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The minister said that the goals that no child in Nigeria should be born HIV positive and zero new infections informed the theme for
this year’s National Council on AIDS: “Innovative Approaches toward HIV Epidemic Control and Programme Sustainability at State Level”.
He commended stakeholders and partners for their collaboration toward controlling the spread of the virus, especially the U.S.
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Global Fund, Joint UN Programme on (UNAIDS) and the private sector.
According to him, the National AIDS Indicator and Impact Study (NAIIS) in 2018 rebased the HIV epidemic in Nigeria,
resulting in HIV prevalence reduction from 3.4 per cent to 1.3 per cent.
He added that “this translated to an estimated 1.8 million persons living with the virus, with 1.6 million persons presently on life
saving antiretroviral treatment.”
Ehanire, who emphasised the need to close the gap in HIV treatment, said there was treatment gap of about 200,000 persons
yet to know their HIV status.
He, however, assured that “it is heart-warming to know that we are closing the gap rapidly. We have doubled treatment
sites from 1,091 in 2015 to 2,321 in 2021 to ensure that no one is left behind and re-established the National Treatment
and Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes.
“The programmes have successfully increased treatment coverage from below 40 per cent to more than 80 per cent.”
The health minister identified the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) as another innovative strategy put in place
by government to ensure that women and children accessed quality health services.
He added that the Fund would also ensure that women and children were protected from impoverishing health expenditures.
He said there was now greater facilitation of high population-based viral load suppression among HIV-positive persons
on ART, with a decline in morbidity and mortality of persons living with the virus.
A Financial Expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, has urged the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review salaries and emoluments of political office holders downwards.
Unegbu, a past president of the Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), made the call in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja.
He spoke against the backdrop of plans by RMAFC to review salaries and emoluments of political office holders and judicial officers.
NAN reports that RMAFC’s Secretary, Mohammed Shehu, had recently announced plans to partner with relevant agencies of government to review salaries and emoluments of certain categories of government officials.
He said the commission would partner with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
“While it is the statutory responsibility of RMAFC to carry out such review, the commission would equally partner with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National planning for proper funding of the exercise,” he said.
According to Unegbu, only judicial officers deserve upward review of the emoluments due to the nature of their job.
“What the RMAFC is doing is good, it should review salaries of political office holders downward.
“Those political office holders are already overpaid, considering their contributions to the national growth and development. But the judicial officers deserve an upward review of their emolument,” he said.
An economist, Mr Sule Adebayo, urged the commission not to consider an upward review of salaries of those categories of public officials, considering the present state of the Nigerian economy.
“The government has been resorting to local and foreign borrowings to fund budget deficits and capital projects.
“There is, therefore, no justification for any increase in the pay package of political office holders and judicial officers,” he said.
According to Ibrahim Suleiman, a civil servant, the Federal Government should rather prioritise harmonisation of salaries and allowances of all government employees across board, instead of favouring a few categories of officials.
“The gap between the salaries and allowances of political office holders and civil servants is unfair, and should be bridged.
“We all patronise the same markets and are subjected to the same economic conditions.
“Government should rather take steps to harmonise salaries and allowances of employees of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, rather than concentrating on a few ” he said.
>The Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) says it is partnering with relevant stakeholders to review emoluments of public officers.
Secretary to RMAFC, Mohammed Shehu, said this in a statement by Christian Nwachukwu, RMAFC’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) in Abuja on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Shehu gave indication of the partnership recently, while reacting to questions on the forthcoming review of salaries and emoluments of relevant government officials.
He said the commission would partner with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
According to him, the commission is already making effort to review the current salaries and emoluments of political office holders and judicial officers in the country.
“While it is the statutory responsibility of RMAFC to carry out such review, the commission would equally partner with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National planning for proper funding of the exercise.
“This is after the commission had written to the Minister, requesting for funds to prosecute such exercise,” he said.
The RMAFC Secretary said that though the OSGF was of utmost importance to the commission in the area of stakeholders’ engagement, the request of fund for the review would be channeled through the Minister of Finance.
He added that RMAFC enjoyed cooperation and support of SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, in the execution of its mandates.
He cited the recent review of the current “vertical Revenue Allocation Formula” which has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for further action.
“Such is an example of strong collaboration between the two government agencies,” he said.
The Coalition of Societies for the Rights of the Elderly in Nigeria (COSROPIN), says it will recognize businesses operating aged 60 and over in the country with a national citizens' award.
Senator Eze Ajoku, Chairman of the Coalition, had this to say at the National Corporate Seniors Initiative Partner and Stakeholder Disclosure Meeting in Abuja.
Ajoku said the national citizens' award was aimed at helping the country build institutional memory, as well as appreciate its sustainability framework, capacity and service delivery.
“The National Senior Citizen Corporate Award Initiative is an innovative national strategic initiative with an international focus.
“Designed to help our country create and develop institutional memory, referral and award protocols for corporate seniors 60 and older.
“With a view to appreciating their sustainability, capacity, service delivery framework, partnership with government or communities, and their innovative skills that have kept them going,” he said.
The head of the coalition, who emphasized the imperatives of recognizing the contributions of viable legal entities to national development, said that the country needs to meet the pioneers of its business ecosystem.
According to him, the award is designed to honor corporate and institutional seniors who are 60 and older.
He reiterated that the award initiative would go a long way in encouraging corporate institutions to strive for longevity and sustainability.
Mr. Ike Willie-Nwobu, President of the International Federation on Aging (IFAN), said effective population management was a roadmap for creating wealth through national productivity.
Willie-Nwobu, who described the companies as national assets, said they drive activities for national growth.
He praised Senator Eze Ajoku for an ingenious initiative that, according to him, was able to revive the economy.
Ms. Veronica Ugu, Director, Department of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), commended the coalition's leadership for the initiative.
Ugu also praised Senator Eze Ajoku for his commitment to improving the welfare of older people in Nigeria and said the government secretary's office would support them.
“The SGF office would know the area where we can enter to build this program, because this is a very good initiative.
" Distinguished Senator, we thank you for the work you are doing so far."
The Nigerian News Agency reports that the proposed National Senior Citizens Award Initiative is an innovative strategy with an international focus, to help the country create and develop institutional memory.Keep reading
The Federal Government has called on Nigerians to make volunteering their way of life to accelerate development in priority areas such as education, health and governance.
Boss Mustapha, Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), said this on Tuesday at a one-day stakeholder meeting organized Overseas (VSO) in Abuja.
According to SGF, volunteering and development is achieved by building the culture of volunteering and inculcating volunteering in citizenship to harness the inherent potential to complement national development.
Mustapha, pictured, Deputy Director, Political and Economic Affairs of the Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS), Office of the OSGF, said that the Federal Executive Council had approved the National Policy on Inclusive Volunteering for Nigeria in December 2020.
He noted that the policy provides guidelines and orientations for the effective management of volunteering in the country.
Mustapha called on the private sectors, non-governmental organizations and community organizations to be familiar with the policy document and determined to guide others to make volunteering for development a lifestyle starting with their immediate communities.
He noted that NNVS had carried out a promotional campaign program in the three northern geopolitical zones with the hope of doing the same in the southern part of the country in 2022.
The OSGF added that the essence of the campaign was to promote volunteerism in the federation's zonal / state and local government areas.
Philip Goodwin, VSO CEO, speaking via virtual conference from London, said one of the organization's importance was working through volunteers to empower communities in developing countries.
He added that the other thing the organization was doing was creating a space for all people at the regional and international level that would allow them to promote their development, as well as address the root causes of marginalization.
Christabel Omolade, Director of Practice for the Nigeria Country Program for VSO Education, said the organization had existed in Nigeria since 1958.
He added that in 2000 the organization expanded its presence in the education and livelihood sectors through its Safe Pace and Resilience Community (SPARC).
Omolade said SPARC was introduced to support VSO's livelihood activities in northeast Nigeria with 52 volunteers and had reached 16,208 children through its Inclusive Neighborhood Space.
She said VSO had also trained 189 teachers in the use of sign language, supported 136 school management committees and 66 members of the National Youth Participation Network on social responsibility to improve school infrastructure.
He noted that as COVID-19 took its toll on the world, the organization had continued to support Nigeria's most marginalized and vulnerable children to access education.
Omolade added that VSO, as an international organization, had extended its support to more than 16,000 children in five local governments in Kano and Enugu states.
In addition, he claimed that the organization had contacted two other northern states, namely Katsina and Jigawa.
He said that today, VSO has shown its presence in terms of assisting the marginalized and oppressed in 18 states across the federation.
The Permanent Secretary for Political and Economic Affairs of the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Andrew Adejo, has said that a divided Nigeria cannot survive and prosper.
Adejo, who is also the secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Awards "Nigeria at 60", said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Saturday, while receiving an award on behalf of Mr. Boss Mustapha, the SGF.
reports that the prize was presented to the boss Mustapha as well as to the permanent secretary by the group “Say It Loud”, organizers of the initiative of the prize.
The permanent secretary said the clamor for the division in Nigeria is unrealistic.
He said: “The division of Nigeria is not viable. Look across the country, there are mixed marriages, our cultures are the same because we are one. Unity involves both the government and the people.
“The government needs to do more to convince people that it has their best interests at heart by reducing the unemployment rate and putting money in people's pockets through social investment programs.
“Nigerians are very enterprising. Let people have opportunities to get involved. If you are engaged, you will not listen to advise you to go and fight.
He urged the government to continue providing social services to people, while encouraging private investors to provide the necessary support.
“The private sector should not depend on the government because the private sector is the engine of growth, and the government should also strengthen public-private partnerships,” he said.
In the same vein, the director, Mr. Fasina Olakunle, director of public and bilateral relations of the OSGF, stressed that the 60 years of the independence of Nigeria deserve to be celebrated.
“It has been 60 years of development, 60 years of growth, 60 years of learning to come together and the theme of the program, 'Nigeria's Independence at 60', was 'Together'.
“The fact that we are still together despite all the clamors of a breakup is a sign of development. It is very important and that is why the government emphasizes it at every opportunity, ”he said.
The director urged the government to take action to discourage Nigerians who are trying to derail the government on the path to growth and development.
He added that there is a need to improve the education sector as well as job creation.
“Job creation is another critical area that the government needs to address. We have an army of unemployed graduates and that is a potential risk for any country.
“There are brilliant people who have been trained and tutored, but who have developed skills in the negative sense. It is a potential time bomb for any country. The government should therefore look into this, ”he advised.
In response, the group's managing director, “Say It Loud”, Mr. Femi Oyelade, congratulated the winners - SGF and the permanent secretary - for their advice and support.
He said the special awards were in recognition of their contributions to the Nigerian @ 60 project.
He said the organization of the awards was difficult but rewarding and promised a better awards ceremony afterwards.
“I will take the advice of the permanent secretary to go back and be innovative and create different works for achievement and recognition awards to push people and also encourage Nigerians,” he said.
reports that on September 30, the Nigeria @ 60 Prize was held and awards were given to 60 notable Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavor.