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UN Mission facilitates dialogue aimed at mitigating herdsmen-farmers crisis in the middle-belt region of Nigeria

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As part of efforts to mitigate the herdsmen-farmers crisis in some parts of Nigeria, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) has visited the country and met with key stakeholders to discuss the protracted conflict affecting numerous communities, particularly in Benue and Nasarawa states.

The violent conflict has led to massive displacement of people from the affected communities, death of hundreds and loss of livelihoods, posing a formidable threat to the country’s food security and long-term stability.

During the mission, the UNTFHS led by Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi facilitated a training workshop aimed at equipping implementing partners with the required knowledge and practical skills to apply the human security approach within the context of the country’s middle-belt. The workshop under the theme “Applying the Human Security Approach to Operationalize the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus in Nigeria” held from 24th to 26th of June 2019.

Participants at the workshop appreciated the important role guaranteed human security plays in fostering socioeconomic development in the country. The visiting team shared insights into the significance of the human security approach as a framework for policy-making in complex development challenges.

While in Makurdi, Benue State capital, the team met with representatives of civil society organizations, farmers associations, local and state government representatives, community elders, traditional leaders, and representatives of local and international non-governmental organizations with whom they exchanged information on key elements of the human security approach which could be employed in promoting dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts, especially between the herdsmen and farmers in the region.

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The team later engaged in a policy dialogue in Abuja, organized by UNDP, in collaboration with UNHCR and FAO. The event, dubbed “Transitioning from humanitarian relief to long-term development: Addressing the herdsmen-farmers conflict in Nigeria” brought together senior UN representatives in the country, experts from national and local governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector, and explored several policy options that could be adopted in the quest to end the conflict. Key among the recommendations was the advocacy for comprehensive solutions, preventive and mitigating measures, which requires all key stakeholders are integrated into policy planning and response frameworks thereby strengthening long term resilience and safeguarding sustainable development.

The Policy dialogue also served as a platform to enhance multi-stakeholder partnerships to support implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

“The Human security approach recognizes the full array of challenges that can both propel the devastating force of a crisis and undercut prospects for sustainable peace and development. This essential understanding presents opportunities to complement immediate humanitarian efforts, while helping to shape long-term solutions that put people on the path to towards inclusive and sustainable development.” UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon said in his opening statement at the event in Abuja.

Chief of the United Nations Human Security Unit, who is also leading the team, Ms. Mehrnaz Mostafavi noted that the challenges to human security of both farmers and herders and activities are structured around addressing the numerous risks to safeguard livelihoods and promote peace”.

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She added that a piecemeal approach will not address the prevalent cycle of violence and multi-faceted nature of the herder-farmer conflict, instead a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses the root causes of the conflict while reducing the vulnerability of communities to protection risks is required.

This dialogue is the first in a series of consultations for the implementation of UNTFHS programme, a 3-year project being implemented by UNDP, UNHCR and FAO in partnership with Benue and Nasarawa State Governments. The overall goal of the intervention is to contribute to ending the herdsmen-farmers conflict in affected States.

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Senator trains Oyo North constituents in cosmetology

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Senator representing Oyo North Senatorial District, Abdulfatai Buhari in conjunction with the National Directorate Of Employment (NDE) has trained no fewer than three hundred  (300) selected constituents in Makeup and Cosmetology

The 3- day training programme facilitated by Sen. Buhari, as reliably gathered, is part of his strategic intention to create alternative means of employment generation for his constituents.

It is believed that the beneficiaries will make judicious use of the knowledge acquired, start up pack (Complete make up kit), and training allowance not minding the little way they are starting.

The training is expected to run through Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th  November 2020 and simultaneously  at three different venues and local governments which included, Ogbomoso Cooperative Building ( Isale Afon, Ogbomoso), Okeho Town Hall, Okeho in Kajola Local Government and Tede Town Hall,Tede in Atisbo Local Government in Oyo North Senatorial District.

No doubt, the professional practise of beautifying the face , hair and skin has brought many people to stardom within and outside the country.

Senator Buhari, in conjunction with the National Productivity Centre (NPC) and the National Directorate Of Employment (NDE) , had over the past weeks trained no fewer than eight hundred ( 800) constituents selected from across the thirteen (13) local governments of Oyo North Senatorial District in various field, ranging from ICT, soap making and disinfectants, tie and die, barbering and hairdressing.

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Don’t drag us into UI succession battles – Oyo BIR boss

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The Chairman of Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Aremo John Adeleke, has debunked reports linking his agency, the State’s Ministry of Finance and officials of the University of Ibadan, with any form of shady deals in the process that led to the refund of the PAYE tax arrears owed the state by the university.

The BIR boss, in a statement made available to newsmen, declared that there is no evidence of shady financial dealings between the BIR and the University of Ibadan, or any other federal MDA on the Pay As You Earn tax liability audit process for the periods of 2012 to 2018 and 2019.

According to the BIR boss, there was no case of abuse of office or contravention of the code of conduct for public officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He also insisted that the tax audit process was transparent, unblemished, and in line with the tax assessment and reconciliation procedure provided by the Personal Income Tax Act 2004 (as amended).

The statement further indicated that the media houses which published the story had been misled by the muddled-up analyses put forward by an unknown anti-corruption group headed by one Bala Ayodele.

Adeleke equally stated that the basis of the agreement between the Federal Government and Oyo State which led to the settlement of the undisputed PAYE tax liability, has nothing to do with any matter relating to the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), as, according to him, the settlement was consequent upon the Nigerian Governors’ Forum complaint to the Federal Government on the huge unremitted PAYE of federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies in most states.

The BIR boss warned that the Oyo State Government should not be dragged into the on-going succession battle in the University of Ibadan, adding that the false and malicious publications were made in bad faith to tarnish the government of Engr. Makinde by elements who are bent on dragging the state into the ongoing battle over the emergence of a new Vice-Chancellor in UI.

He stated that contrary to claims in the publications that the tax audit process allegedly covered a period of 12 years , 2007 to 2018, in contravention of the Personal Income Tax Act 2004, the exercise only covered the period of 2012 to 2017 (six years) in the first instance, and then 2018, which was conducted in 2019 in strict accordance with the relevant section of Personal Income Tax Act, 2004, as amended.

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The OYIRS equally debunked the claim that there was a fraudulent deal on the 10 per cent commission to Tax Audit and Monitoring Agents, stating that the governor approved the engagement of the agents in July 2019 for the recoveries of the PAYE tax liabilities and that the 10 per cent commission is to reward all the categories and layers of consultants involved in the recovery process.

Adeleke maintained that contrary to claims in the publications that an initial 2 per cent paid as commission is not part of the 10 per cent approved for such purpose, the 2 per cent paid to the first category of consultants, indeed, formed part of the 10 per cent.

Responding on the case of reward disagreement between Baytem Nigeria Ltd. and the Oyo State Government, Adeleke maintained that the matter is being handled by a court of competent jurisdiction and that the OYIRS would limit its comment until the court process is completed.

He said: “It becomes pertinent to put the records straight as a matter of public interest and give the process flow of the tax audit process that led to the recovery of N3,751,024,427.22 of which N1,875,512,213.61 (50 per cent) has just been recovered from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation in two tranches of 25 per cent each. The N1,875,512,213.61 recovered was essentially receipted by the Oyo State Government following the payments.

“It is also pertinent at this juncture to state that: The tax audit exercise, covering the period, 2012 to 2017 (six years), was facilitated and conducted in 2018 in strict accordance with the relevant Section of Personal Income Tax Act, 2004, as amended. A sum of N4,003,020,114.02 was established and later revised to N2,975,027,903.83 after the tax audit reconciliation process that featured exclusion of Withholding Tax liability and expungement of penalty and interest, as demanded by the verification team.

“In 2019, however, following a similar process, a tax audit liability of N775,996,523.39 was also established and resolved. Therefore, the total tax audit liability of N3,751,024,427.22 was resolved and signed by both parties (University of Ibadan and Oyo State Internal Revenue Service). In a nutshell, the tax audit effort, in good faith, was not beyond six years in any of the cases.

“There was no case of false financial claims or abuse of office and the code of conduct for public officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was not contravened. We are glad to emphasise that the tax audit process for the period, 2012 to 2018, is transparent in line with the tax assessment and reconciliation procedure as provided by Personal Income Tax Act, 2004, as amended.”

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The management of the state’s internal revenue service also debunked allegations of underhand arrangement with the top echelon of the University of Ibadan.

The statement read: “For emphasis, there is no way OYSIRS could have compromised the top management of University of Ibadan and also the other parties and layers of verification, as evidenced by the participation of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Joint Verification Team of the Joint Tax Board and the Office of Accountant-General of the Federation, as well as the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and its consultancy apparatus.”

According to the OYIRS Management, the BIR Chairman, Adeleke, did not at any time meet with Professor Olayinka and/or Prof Adebowale or any other top echelon of the university to perpetuate any fraudulent act.

“We are not aware of any kickback process or underhand arrangement involving the trio: Prof Idowu Olayinka, Prof Kayode Adebowale and Dr. Michael Alatise in one part and any official of Oyo State Internal Revenue Service or by extension, Oyo State Government on the other.

“In addition, no trade-off existed in favour of either any University of Ibadan official or any official of Oyo State Government. The tax liability for 2018 was evidently established, reconciled along with 2012 to 2017 and mutually signed for onward recovery from Federal Government intervention funds. All monies of all federal MDAs audited and recovered for PAYE liabilities in OYSG, were duly recovered to the account of OYSG and could not have ended in anyone’s private pocket as alleged,” the statement added.

The body equally maintained that the resolution period of the tax audit matter between the University of Ibadan and the OYIRS did not span beyond three months, contrary to the allegation in the publications.

“The Oyo State Internal Revenue Service, based on its normal revenue recovery mandate and working towards meeting up with the mutually agreed figure before the arrival of the verification team of the FGN, encouraged the University of Ibadan, among other Federal MDAs, to take advantage of Federal Government offers to help clean their books of tax liability – essentially backlogs of unremitted PAYE.

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“The agreement of the Federal Government to help to settle the tax liability is also logical in addressing the plight of the MDAs on account of inadequate funding by the Federal Government and insufficiency of the released funds to pay the employees’ salary in many of the MDAs, including the University of Ibadan.

“For collaboration with OYSG to relieve the university of unpaid PAYE liabilities to OYSG, the university management deserves commendation, not vilification, especially when the final liability is a product of thorough audit and reconciliation.

“In finality, this spurious petition is full of lies and has no basis in logic and reality. The PAYE recovery by the states is a special initiative of the Federal Government to, on behalf of her MDAs owing the state, to repay all the outstanding and unremitted PAYE to all affected states in the federation. The settlement of the tax liability is at no cost to any Federal MDAs, including the University of Ibadan.

“The process was guided by strict rules and procedures by the verification team from Abuja. All these rules were thoroughly applied and observed by the Oyo State Government and the management of the University of Ibadan. The process of tax audit of Federal MDAs and the payment process was and is straight-forward.

“The writer and his allies, acting scripts, are only trying to smear Oyo State Government and this will not stand. We have no hesitation in owning up to a good working relationship with the out-going management of the University of Ibadan. This same cordial atmosphere will always be extended to any management of the University, past, present, or future,” the statement concluded.

 

 

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Ooni’s new prince: Palace disowns viral pictures, says traditional rites ongoing

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The Palace of  Ooni of Ife, on Monday informed the general public to disregard the two viral pictures in circulation misrepresenting the newly born heir to the ancient sacred throne of the Ooni who joined the Ogunwusi royal family recently.

Ooni’s Palace added that his   father, Arole Oduduwa , Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife who has the sole right to make the face of the baby public is yet to do so, as essential traditional rites to formally welcome the Prince in accordance to culture and traditions are still ongoing.

The Palace in a statement signed by its Director, Media & Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare, unequivocally stated that the pictures are not that of  the Prince,  urging the public to ignore the social media circulation of the pictures capable of threatening the privacy of the babies in those pictures and their parents.

Olafare further urged Journalists and bloggers to always verify sources of news materials and pictures before publishing or posting so as to avoid ‘Invasion of Privacy’ which he said  is an actionable offense punishable by law.

He added that child and mother are  doing perfectly well as the palace remains agog with daily jubilations and congratulatory visits.

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