There is prospect Nigerians keen on knowing details of how Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds are disbursed and spent by the Delta State Government may soon have some answers, as Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has won the latest round in the legal battle to compel Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and UBEC to publish spending details of the funds collected for primary schools in the state, and the locations of projects carried out between 2015 and 2019.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, last week ruled that, “Going through the Application filed by SERAP, supported by a 13-paragraph affidavit, with supporting exhibits, statements setting out the facts, verifying affidavits and written address in support, I am satisfied that leave ought to be granted in this case, and I hereby grant the motion for leave as prayed.”
Justice Aikawa granted the order for leave following the hearing of an argument in court on exparte motion by SERAP counsel, Ms Joke Fekumo.
The suit number FHC/L/CS/803/2019 filed last year followed “the failure by Governor Okowa, UBEC, and the Delta State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to explain how billions of naira of UBEC funds and from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee have been spent, and to disclose the locations of primary school projects.”
The order by Justice Aikawa has now cleared the way for SERAP to advance its case against Governor Okowa, UBEC, and SUBEB and to challenge the legality of their refusal to publish the information requested. The suit is adjourned to 14th January, 2021 for motion on notice.
In the suit, SERAP is applying for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling Governor Okowa, UBEC, and SUBEB to “widely publish details of disbursement and spending of UBEC funds in Delta State; locations of projects carried out, and details of primary schools that have benefited from any spending of public funds.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus directing and compelling Governor Okowa, UBEC, and SUBEB to disclose details of actual spending to provide access to quality education for children with disabilities in Delta State, and the names of the schools that have benefited from any such spending.”
The suit, read in part: “Delta State government has received over N7.8 billion from UBEC. The government has also received funds from federal allocations to Delta State. The government accessed over N3 billion of UBEC funds between 2015 and 2016, while it also reportedly approved the release of N1.28 billion counterpart funds to enable it access UBEC funds for 2017.”
“The government also received N213 billion from Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in 2018, at an average of N17.8 billion monthly. Yet, several of the around 1,124 primary schools across the State are in shambles, and with very poor teaching facilities.”
“Tens of thousands of Nigerian children are being left behind in Delta state and their futures put in jeopardy. These children are being short-changed and they deserve to know how much exactly have the state government and UBEC spent between 2015 and 2019, on their education.”
“The right to information and truth allows Nigerians to gain access to information essential to the fight against corruption, institutionalise good governance and improve citizens’ confidence in public institutions and officials.”
“The refusal by the governor, UBEC and SUBEB to respond to SERAP’s Freedom of Information requests can only be construed to mean denial of the information sought. We shouldn’t have to ask for the information on spending of public funds in the state. The poor conditions of primary schools across the state would seem to suggest that the government has abandoned poor children in Delta state.”
“The governor, UBEC and SUBEB have nothing to lose if the information is released to SERAP and members of the public. It is in the interest of justice that the information be released. Unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the governor, UBEC and SUBEB will continue to be in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, and other constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”
“The information is needed to verify and establish the truth about the spending of public funds on education by the government, for the purposes of transparency and accountability. There must be accountability for the massive budgetary allocations to primary education in the state, including the funds provided by UBEC.”
“Access to information held by public authorities is a fundamental element of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and vital to the proper functioning of any democratic system. Providing the requested information will also allow the citizens to track the level of execution of education projects in the state.”
It would be recalled that SERAP had last year in separate Freedom of Information requests to the governor, UBEC and SUBEB stated: “The evidence of education deficit in the state is further buttressed by the case of Success Adegor, who was sent home because her parents could not pay the illegal school fee/levy of N900 and the insufficient and poor-quality education infrastructure of Okotie-Eboh Primary School 1, Sapele.”
SERAP Deputy Director
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WE’LL COMPLETE LAGOS-BADAGRY EXPRESSWAY, SANWO-OLU ASSURES
… As Governor unveils first electric car in Nigeria
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday assured Lagosians that the State Government would complete the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
He said his government is committed to the construction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, saying that the delay of work on the road was based on the government’s plan to build a first-class infrastructure that people would be proud of when completed.
Speaking at the unveiling of Hyundai Kona, Nigeria’s first locally assembled electric car in Nigeria at Ojo in Lagos State on Friday, Governor Sanwo said the Lagos-Badagry Expressway when completed will last for about 30 to 40 years.
Governor Sanwo-Olu who commended Stallion Group for believing in the Lagos and Nigeria dream, also hailed the company for revamping the moribund VON asset located along Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
He said: “This is one of the major industrial hubs of this nation. This is one of the major employers of labour in this country. I commend Stallion Group for revamping the asset that was going moribund.
“I want to assure you that the Lagos-Badagry Expressway would be completed. The road was just a two-lane way, but the government has turned it into 10 lanes, five on both sides.
“We are doing a complete rebuild of the road, with bridges and interchanges. We are building a road that will last for 30 to 40years for you. And because we know that this is an international gateway, it does not deserve anything less. We are building a first-class road infrastructure that all of you would be proud of.”
Speaking on the Hyundai Kona car, assembled by Stallion Group Automobile at Ojo in Lagos, Nigeria, Governor Sanwo-Olu said with the unveiling of the car, Nigerians can now drive electric cars, noting that Lagos remains the hub for the nation’s economy and a pacesetter in industrialisation.
The Hyundai Kona car is 100 per cent electric and comes with zero emission, 482km driving range and can be charged both at home and workplace.
He said: “We are not just launching Hyundai Kona, Nigeria’s first electric car assembled in Lagos, we are indeed empowering and creating youth employment. We are also creating opportunity for teeming youths of this nation.
“The future that we see is the future of technology and this is the technology that we are talking about. This is 21st Century technology that has been brought into our country. With hardcore manufacturing companies like Stallion Group Automobile, we can begin to see the need to disemphasise mono product, which is oil.
“With the innovation of Hyundai Kona, we do not need to put the pressure on what the pump price of oil is again, what the pump price of petroleum is. All the issues and fights that we are having about prices of petroleum going up and the rest of it will be a thing of the past. This is a way to go and it is the future that we are seeing now.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu while stressing his administration’s commitment to growth of businesses in the State, said Lagos State Government will partner with Stallion Group Automobile as well as private industries in the State and create an enabling environment for them to do well, so that they can create job opportunities for the youths.
He also assured that Lagos State Government would be partnering through Ibile Oil and Gas and other private organisations to create different charging points in Lagos, so that people will have opportunity of where they will charge the electric cars.
He said: “This is the first electric car that we are seeing and we as the government need to partner with them. We need to create an enabling environment for them to do well, so that they can employ a lot more youths and create more jobs and pay our youths a lot more money, knowing fully well that the future belongs to you and the future is here.
“And so the state government, working with Ibile Oil and Gas will be creating different charging points in the city, so that people will have an opportunity of where they need to charge the cars.
“For us we see a renewed hope, for us we see a tomorrow coming today, for us we see and believe in the Stallion dream.”
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of the Stallion Group Automobile, Mr. Rohtagi Manish, said the innovation toward building Nigeria’s first electric car was a step towards an eco-friendly green Lagos.
Manish said that the materials used to assemble Nigeria’s First 100 per cent electric zero emission car was mostly sourced from local resources.
The Vehicle, when fully charged for 9hrs, 35mins could go a distance of 482km (a distance of Lagos to Warri), before it requires another charge.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also took time to tour the premises of Stallion Group Automobile to see the various innovative work and assembling of various brands of vehicles by the company.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
RIWAMA Sole Administrator, Bro. Felix Obuah Urges Collective Responsibility For Healthcare Waste Management
The Sole Administrator of the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA), Bro. Felix Obuah says the task of effective management of healthcare wastes in the State is a collective responsibility and not to be left for government alone.
He noted that the collective participation and synergy with RIWAMA would fast-track the achievement of set objectives of the Agency and engender a dirt-free, clean and healthy environment.
Speaking while declaring open a one-day workshop on Effective Healthcare Waste Management at the RIWAMA Premises, Km 6, Ikwerre Road, Port Harcourt on Thursday, Bro. Obuah said the calibre of resource persons engaged in the workshop showed the seriousness of the Agency to rejig the waste management delivery system in the State.
“We are believing that at the end of this all-important workshop, our people will begin to think and do things in a new way, rather than thinking and doing things in the usual parochial ways they are used to. I am very convinced that those who listened to the lectures would have a rethink, knowing that whatever thing you put will come back to you”, he said.
While stressing that the summation of the lecture encapsulated the aphorism that ‘health is wealth’, the RIWAMA boss reiterated that it is not the responsibility of government to pay for the management of wastes generated by citizens.
“For the sake of protecting her people, government has gone out of the way to shoulder the responsibility of managing wastes. It is not the global best practice to consider waste management as utility”, he said.
Bro. Obuah posited that the industrial principle of ‘polluter pays’ is premised on the ground that waste is owned by the generator and that citizens owe it to themselves to be responsible and law abiding, adding, “They need to change and begin to exercise duty of care in managing waste products”.
In his lead presentation, the National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria, Dr. Edwin Isotu Ede, warned on the implications of improper disposal of healthcare waste products.
Dr. Edeh whose presentation was done via a Zoom social media platform, cited the dreaded HIV/AIDS disease that could be contracted through healthcare wastes products that are not properly disposed.
Emphasizing that good health is a function of a good waste management system, he warned that healthcare management should not be politicized.
Dr. Edeh commended the Sole Administrator, Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA), Bro. Felix Obuah for his courage and wisdom to organize the training which according to him, is timely and germane for a healthier and cleaner Rivers State.
Other facilitators at the workshop include Dr. Ransome Lilly West: Legal Burdens, Healthcare Waste Management, Extant Laws and legal implications for Generators;
Prof. Charles Tobin-West: Public Health Concerns, Healthcare Waste Management in the context of infection, Prevention and Control;
Pastor Sanitarian Walson Paminola: Environmental Health Perspective – Healthcare Waste Management and Hospital Sanitation;
H.A. Tobin-West: Effective Regulation of Generators and Private Service Providers, Healthcare Waste Handling, Documentation, Data Management and Transportation and,
Dr. Sanitarian Newman K. Samuel (PhD): Liquids and Gaseous Healthcare Waste – Healthcare Effluents and the Prevalence of Tissue Toxicity, Anti-Microbial Drug Resistant Strains.
The workshop which had in attendance, the Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Dumle Maol and principal officers of RIWAMA, was also graced by organizations from the health sector. They include Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) National Association of Laboratory Scientists; AGPMPN, NESREA and officials from the Ministries of Health and Environment respectively.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to
Bro. Felix Obuah, Sole Administrator,
Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA),
Friday, November 13, 2020.