…To renovate 44 police stations affected by protest
…Unveils N175bn skills acquisition scheme for 4m youths
…Low interest rate loans for affected businesses
…Received N28.7bn donations, spent N43bn
…Wife, son of Atiku Abubakar’s security detail, lawmaker’s brother kidnapped in Yola
…Three kidnapped children in Ondo released after parents paid N2.5m ransom
…Senate summons Communications Minister, Pantami over insecurity
By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Babajide Komolafe, Henry Umoru, Peter Egwuatu, Umar Yusuf & Aliyu Dangida
The private sector-led Coalition Alliance Against COVID-19 yesterday unveiled a N100 billion equipment support to retool the Nigerian Police Force over the next two years.
The group also said it received N28.7 billion as donation from members of the private sector and spent N43.272 billion on various interventions, including N28.7 billion on food relief as palliatives to 1.7 million households translating to about eight million Nigerians.
CACOVID’s interventions came, as insecurity in the country heightened, with kidnappers and bandits running riot in different parts of the country. This accentuated the need for the support from the private sector.
Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Co-Chair, CACOVID, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed news of the support for the Police at a briefing in Lagos, said measures adopted by the group will rebuild confidence in the economy, following looting and destruction of properties, and insecurity which trailed the #EndSARS crisis.
The measures include renovation of 44 police stations destroyed by the crisis that followed the ENDSARS protest; low interest rate loans for affected businesses; and a N175 billion fund to empower four million youths through skill acquisition programmes over five years.
Emefiele spoke in the company of President, Dangote Industries and Co-Chair, CACOVID, Aliko Dangote, Chairman, UBA, Tony Elemelu, and Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe.
Rationale for CACOVID intervention
Speaking on the rationale for the intervention announced by CACOVID, Emefiele said: “As we are all aware, the aftermath of the EndSARS protest that took place in several parts of the country in October 2020, led to the vandalism of private and public assets, which includes business houses, shopping malls, banks and police stations. Many small and medium scale businesses that were affected have struggled to resume full business activities. In addition, the provision of security which is essential to the conduct of business activities has been hampered due to the damage of 44 police stations across the country. If left unattended, this situation could undermine confidence in our economy and derail the efforts of government in enabling faster recovery of the Nigerian economy, following the impact of COVID-19.
As a result, the Bankers’ Committee and critical stakeholders in the private sector, under the auspices of the CACOVID alliance, held series of meetings towards developing measures that will support the government’s efforts in rebuilding confidence in our nation’s economy. Some of the measures agreed upon by the CACOVID alliance include:
Support for Police
“CACOVID has committed to fully rehabilitate all 44 damaged and destroyed police stations nationwide in a bid to restore provision of security in affected locations.
“To further strengthen the security apparatus in the country, CACOVID has committed to provide over N100bn to procure equipment and gadgets for the Nigerian Police Force over the next two years; as our contribution to fully modernize the Nigerian Police.
CACOVID won’t hand over cash to police
Speaking further on the modalities for the Police support, Emefiele and Dangote said that 44 police stations will be renovated by contractors appointed by CACOVID members while the group will also handle all the procurement under the N100 billion equipment support.
Emefiele said: “The private sector does not intend to hand over money to anybody. Indeed, even the government themselves, the Presidential Task Force that we worked with during the first phase of the lock down, never asked us to give them money.
“They just said “build the isolation center, procure the food, if that is what you want to do, and deliver or provide through whatever channel. Just give us the record of what you have done. That was what we did.
“So in this case, we have already dimensioned the cost of rebuilding these police stations, at least those that were damaged in the first instance, and they would be rebuilt and redeveloped by contractors, appointed by members of CACOVID, and then handed over to the police authorities and not money handed over. I am sure the police authorities themselves do not expect that we would be handing over money to them.
Speaking in the same regard, Dangote said: “We in the private sector are known not to give cash out. Because if we are going to buy anything, we would go to the manufacturer and then drill to the last penny. So we get the best price. If you look at it today, you imagine what would have happened if we had gone out to the market to buy food items worth N28.7 billion, the prices would have doubled. But silently we went to the manufacturers who manufacture these items — rice, pasta etc,
“Whatever we bought, we bought directly, and that is why it took a little bi of time for them to produce and sell. So we did not really distort prices in the market. And that really helped. So what we did we did the best.
“And with police, with N100 billion, we would import vehicles, we would buy munitions, we would buy so many things to retool the entire police. N100 billion is a lot of money; if the private sector is spending N100 billion, you can be sure that government may have to spend N300 billion or more.”
N175bn skill, equipment scheme for youths
Speaking further on the CACOVID plans to address the problem of youth unemployment across the country, Emefiele said: “Our preliminary analysis indicates that unemployment particularly amongst the youth was a critical factor behind the unrest. As a result, CACOVID has committed to create a high impact youth development programme that will provide technical and vocational education to over 4 million Nigerian youths over the next five years. Students will be trained on craft work, plumbing, masonry, capentry, and other artisan-related skills for which sufficient demand exist in Nigeria .
“Over N150 billion is expected to be deployed towards the set-up and implementation of the youth development programme, which will be available at select training centres across the country .
“Selected students on conclusion of the program will be certified by the appropriate standards board and will be eligible to receive loans to support their entrepreneurial pursuits. So far, over N25 billion will be domiciled in a fund to support these entrepreneurial pursuits, which would also include acquisition of related equipment to conduct business activities.
“The ultimate objective is to provide young Nigerians with employable skill sets that will enable them to live a gainful life. We believe this initiative can lead to the creation of over four million jobs over the next five years.
“For the out-of-school graduates that possess certain entrepreneural skills, CACOVID will be working with Bankers’ Committee to complete the Creative Centre at National Arts Theater area of Lagos in four select areas namely; ICT and software design/development, Fashion, Music and Movies. This project is expected to cost the Bankers Committee over N40 billion”.
Low interest loans for affected businesses
On plans to help businesses affected by the crisis, Emefiele said: “Banks and financial institutions would be required to extend relief through concessionary loans to affected businesses and firms, so they can rebuild and restock their stores and continue to conduct their business activities.
“Given the impact the unrest had on the conduct of business activities, members of CACOVID have committed to develop a business continuity plan that will enable businesses and firms to share timely information and resources to forestall physical or cyber-attacks, which could derail the smooth functioning of business activities in the country.”
How CACOVID generated N39.64bn, spent N43.27bn
Speaking on the stewardship of CACOVID activities, Emefiele said the Group received N39.646 billion in support of the fight against COVID-19.
The Group, however, spent N43.27 billion including N13.2 billion on medical facilities and equipment, and N28.767 billion spent to provide palliatives in the form of essential food items to 1.7 million households, which is equivalent to supporting eight million Nigerians.
Explaining how the money was spent, Emefiele said: “On the expenditure side, the CACOVID has so far incurred expenditure, in the sum of N43.27 billion on the acquisition of, not only medical equipment and supplies, but also food palliatives for the vulnerable amongst us. The funds raised by CACOVID was used to support three key priorities. These priorities include;
“MedicalFacilities and Equipment – Working with other stakeholders, CACOVID developed 39 fully equipped isolation centers across the 36 States of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The sum of N4,194,262,899 was spent in building isolation centres. In addition, medical equipments such as PCR test kits for suspected cases of COVID-19 were procured along with other required medical items at a cost of N9,017,561,723. This support by CACOVID enabled many states to deal with an unexpected surge in cases of COVID-19.
“Food relief programs – As part of our efforts to cushion the effects of the lock-down on vulnerable Nigerians affected by the restrictions in movement, CACOVID provided palliatives in the form of essential food items to 1.7m households, which is equivalent to supporting eight million Nigerians. A total of N28.767 billion was spent procuring these food supplies. These palliatives were acknowledged and disbursed by various state governments; and a schedule showing the various quantities and dates of delivery will also be posted on our website for public scrutiny.
“Our intention for distributing these items through the state governments, just like in the case of the isolation centres was based on the thinking that the state governments have the closest contacts with the most vulnerable in our society for whom these support were meant.”
Wife, son of Atiku’s security detail, lawmaker’s brother kidnapped in Yola
Meanwhile, the insecurity in the country continued yesterday as suspected kidnappers abducted wife and son of a security detail attached to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in Yolde Pate, a suburb of Yola, Adamawa State.
Sources said the incident took place in the early hours of yesterday after the target reportedly arrived town with the former Vice President last weekend.
“The kidnappers believed that the police personnel, being so close to Atiku, would have money, so they went for him but took his wife and son when they did not find him,” a source said.
A source told Vanguard that the kidnappers were yet to make any demand for ransom.
It was also learned yesterday that a brother to one of Adamawa State’s lawmakers was also abducted about the same time in the state.
Local sources said the elder brother of the state Majority Leader, Hammantukur Yetisuri, was kidnapped in his home at Jada Mbulo by gunmen who demanded N50 million as ransom.
The sources said the gunmen got to the community around 2am, shooting into the air to deter helpers before breaking into the house of the lawmaker’s brother.
“They went away with the man, shouting that they would not return the man unless the family paid N50 million,” a source said.
The Public Relations Officer of the Adamawa State Police Command, DSP Suleiman Nguroje, confirmed the two abductions but did not give further details.
He assured that the Police would do everything to free the abducted people and bring the gunmen to book.
Gunmen abducts bride-to-be in Jigawa, four weeks to her wedding
Similarly, a 20-year-old bride-to-be, Saratu Sabo Wada was also kidnapped in Jigawa, less than a month to her wedding.
Saratu, daughter of Sabo Wada Ringim, former clerk of Jigawa State House of Assembly and currently secretary of Ringim Local Government, was kidnapped in Gida-Dubu Quarters in Dutse Local Government Area of the state.
The kidnapped victim Saratu, according to a family source, was abducted on Monday morning in front of her father’s residence at Gida Dubu quarters in Dutse metropolis.
Family source said: “Saratu went out after receiving a phone call and since then, she was nowhere to be found and all her phones are switched off.”
The source further disclosed that the victim was abducted a month to her wedding, adding that nobody had so far contacted the family for any ransom.
Jigawa State Police Command Public Relations Officer, SP Abdu Jinjiri, confirmed the incident, saying the Police were investigating the case.
Three kidnapped children in Ondo released after parents paid N2.5m ransom
Also, three children of same parents who were abducted by gunmen along Owo/lfon highway five days ago, have been released after the payment of N2.5m ransom by their parents.
It will be recalled that the children were abducted alongside their mother while travelling to attend a festival at Imoru in Ose Local Government Area of the state.
Their mother was subsequently released, while the three children were whisked away by the abductors who, a few hours after the ugly incident, communicated with their parents and demanded N50m ransom.
A member of the family who confirmed the release of the children to newsmen in Akure, said they had since reunited with their parents
The source said: “They have been freed and we paid N2.5 million before they were let off the hook. It is unfortunate that our roads are not safe for travellers anymore.
“We appeal to the relevant security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities and save innocent travellers from kidnappings which have taken a worrisome dimension.”
Senate summons Communications Minister, over insecurity
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday mandated its Committees on Legislative Compliance and Communications to invite the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, to impress on him the need to implement its resolutions regarding security related to the mandate of his ministry.
The decision was reached in a resolution which followed the consideration of a motion on the spate of growing insecurity in Nigeria.
Rising under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP – Taraba South), noted that the rate of insecurity in Nigeria has not only increased astronomically but has also reached a melting point.
According to him, the security challenge has manifested in kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, assassination and other criminal activities in the country.
He said: “The assassination of Nasarawa State APC chairman and other high profile cases are still fresh in our memories. A Chinese national was recently abducted in my community, his whereabouts is still unknown.
“There is growing suspicion of complicity of officials of state saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties of the citizens, but compromised in the process.
“This is heightened by arrest of several security operatives involved in armed robbery and kidnapping activities across the country. It is only in Nigeria that communication facilities can be used without a biometric process, no valid identification of passport details (in the case of foreigners) in place to check abuse.
“Bandits, terrorists negotiate for ransom using telephones and getting away with it. How can we be so negligent and insensitive to the safety and security of citizens?
“Senate is concerned that the confidence between the protected and the protector is being increasingly eroded resulting to breakdown of law and order as demonstrated in the #EndSARS protest which was subsequently hijacked by miscreants.
“Further notes that political permutations across the landscape is attracting politicians to recruit criminals for the purpose of destabilizing the corporate existence of Nigeria.”