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Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic, Yahaya Bello Lifts Ban On Religious Gatherings In Kogi

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Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has lifted the social distancing order imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on religious congregations in mosques and churches across the state.

Bello, in a statement issued in Lokoja on Thursday, said that the lifting of the ban was to enable religious bodies to resume their normal worship and services.

The statement was signed by Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication.

The state government urged all religious leaders to put in place preventive and precautionary measures in their various worship centers in order to contain the outbreak and spread of coronavirus in the state.

Specifically, the governor directed that hand sanitizers must be provided for worshippers at the entrances of all churches and mosques.

” Sitting arrangements in mosques and churches should be done to ensure social distancing.

” We also urge churches and mosques to make their services as brief as possible in order not to keep a large crowd of worshipers within enclosed confinement,” the governor said

Bello then enjoined the religious leaders to continue to pray for the end of the pandemic so that the world could return to normal activities.

NAN reports that Gov. Bello on March 20, ordered the closure of public and private schools (tertiary, secondary and primary) in the state indefinitely as measures in preventing the spread of coronavirus disease in the state.

Bello said the closure of schools and other public gathering places take effect from Monday, March 23, 2020.

The governor also banned all forms of gathering involving 30 people and above as part of the preventive measures against the spread of the virus.

(NAN)

BIG STORY

Squeeze Old Political Leaders Out Of Office, Obasanjo Tells Nigerian Youths

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the youths to make conscious efforts in taking over political power from the older generation.

Obasanjo made the call on Wednesday while delivering a keynote address at an interactive session held virtually to mark the 2020 International Youth Day.

He asked the youth to take over leadership positions by “squeezing older generation out of office”, adding that the leaders would not vacate their offices except they are forced out.

He further enjoined the youth to demand affirmative action with “positive discrimination in favour of youth” enshrined in the constitution of political parties.

According to him, it is easier to influence changes at the party level.

“Unless you squeeze out those who are in the office and those who want to remain in office perpetually, some after the age of 80. Unless you squeeze them out they will not want to be out,” Obasanjo said.

“The type of change I am talking about, that I believe we can all embark upon is to subscribe into the constitution of political parties in favour of youth. Or if you like it you call it affirmative action in favour of youths. For instance, if you say, in the constitution of a political party, not less than 50 per cent of those who hold executive office within the party will be less than 40 years of age.

“You’re just making sure that people that are 40 years of age will hold 50 per cent of executive offices within the political party. “You can even go beyond that and say that people who will be put up for election, not less than 50 per cent of them, will be less than 40 years of age. That’s affirmative action. That’s positive discrimination in favour of youths.

“I am saying this because if you leave it entirely for people to do it for you, nobody will do it for you. You have to do it for yourself.”

The session was organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), and attended by participants from Nigeria, Mali, USA, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa.

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Petrol Supply Disruption Imminent As PENGASSAN Begins 3-Day Warning Strike

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Members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and some of its agencies on Wednesday began a three-day warning strike that could disrupt petrol supply across the country.

It was gathered that the senior workers downed tools at the Abuja headquarters of the FMPR in protest against the non-payment of their salaries for the past three months.

It was also learnt that the strike was embarked upon by PENGASSAN to kick against the Federal Government’s inclusion of its members in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

It was reported on June 22 that Nigeria could face petrol scarcity if oil workers made good the threat of withdrawing their services nationwide should the Federal Government insist on registering employees in the oil sector on IPPIS.

PENGASSAN and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers had made the threat in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

Following the seeming silence of government over the matter, PENGASSAN’s National Public Relations Officer, who doubles as the Rivers State Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, Fortune Obi, told our correspondent on Wednesday that the industrial action had commenced.

The striking senior staff, who staged a protest in Abuja, displayed various placards with inscriptions such as “IPPIS is a pandemic worse than COVID-19; the President should act fast,” “IPPIS office respect your agreement and come for negotiations,” among others.

Obi said, “PENGASSAN members working for government agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources are embarking on a three-day warning strike.

“The strike is for the lack of payment for the past three months, plus due to the inclusion of workers in the IPPIS. The strike started (Wednesday) this morning.”

He further outlined the agencies where members of PENGASAN had downed tools to include the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Petroleum Training Institute, and Department of Petroleum Resources.

Officials of the FMPR said they were aware of the protest and the three-day warning strike but declined to comment on what the ministry was doing to address the situation.

The spokesperson of the ministry, Eneffaa Bob-Manuel, said she was relatively new at the FMPR and knew little about the matter.

The Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Garba-Deen Mohammed, said he could not speak on the matter when contacted.

He promised to revert to our correspondent but had yet to up till the time of filing this report.

PENGASSAN and NUPENG had kicked against plans by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to register oil workers on the IPPIS platform.

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Nigerian Govt To Reciprocate Any Visa Ban, Travel Restrictions By US, Other Countries — Immigration CG

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Muhammad Babandede, comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), says the government will reciprocate travel bans and restrictions on Nigeria by any country.

Babandede was reacting to the inclusion of Nigeria by the US to its list of countries with visa restrictions.

In February, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled a new visa policy for the country which provides for three categories of visas: short visit, temporary, and permanent residence and 79 visa types.

Babandede told TheSignature50 magazine that the new visa policy is reciprocal in nature, adding that like the US, Nigeria has the right to dictate who it allows in or restricts entry from.

“I can tell you that US is a country, it is a nation like Nigeria. They have the right to restrict who will enter their territory or not just like we can restrict US citizen or whomsoever from entering Nigeria,” Babandede said.

“So they have the right, but I want people to know that Visa restriction is not a Visa ban, it is a ban for people who want to take residency not people who want to go for short visits.

“You are aware that President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR just launched a new visa policy for Nigeria, the visa policy has 79 classes of visa. So, we will be in a position to say to countries, if you allow us for short visits we will allow you for short visits and if you stop us from other visits, we do the same, because the new visa policy is based on reciprocity.

“So, we will test this for a year and see those who reciprocate and we take actions for those who do otherwise.”

Speaking on his management of the agency, Babandede said he has been able to execute projects with transparency.

He said when he assumed office, he made it a duty to inaugurate two new command buildings so that the agency could act independently without any interference.

“When I came on board, I was really ashamed to find Immigration office, especially commands been kept in federal secretariat, we are law enforcement agency, we ought not to be in a Federal Secretariat. So i made a commitment to myself that every year, I want to commission two new buildings – commands,” he said.

“And we have developed a model for each command. I am glad to say that 2017, we did two – Kano and Jigawa, 2018 we did two – Plateau and Abia, and 2019 we did three – we commissioned Adamawa, Zamfara and Uyo.

“This year 2020, God’s willing we will commission around five or eight, depending on the availability of fund.”

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