By Sunny Udeh in Calabar

Against the backdrop of the recent guidelines to reduce vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawals from local government funds throughout Nigeria issued by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on May 6, 2019, former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has called for consequential checks on Local Government administrators to ensure the realization of the benefits intended by the said guidelines.

Senator Ndoma-Egba was speaking during a routine interaction with members of the press in Calabar recently. The Senator reminded the media of their responsibility to continually advocate the sustainability and relevance of the Local Governments as the third tier of Government. He stated that the spirit and intention for which the Local Government system was created by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have been under serious threat owing to the way and manner most State Governors have reduced the Local Governments as mere appendages of the State Governments; and funds meant for the Local Governments from the Federation Account tampered with indiscriminately.

While answering a question on Local Government autonomy and the recent NFIU guidelines, Ndoma-Egba reminded those present that the Local Government should be considered and treated as the most important tier of Government since it is the closest to the people at the grassroots. He reminisced about the years past when Local Governments embarked on projects and programmes that have direct impact on the daily lives of the people such as rural road rehabilitation, rural water supply, primary education, primary healthcare, development of markets, provision of certain basic infrastructure, etc. He decried the near collapse of the Local Government system due to the appropriation of their functions and finances by State Governments.

Senator Ndoma-Egba therefore declared his support for the NFIU and the released guidelines, a move he said is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution. However, he sounded a note of warning to the relevant authorities, as the NFIU guidelines which effectively check the excesses of State Governors as it concerns Local Government funds, come into effect on June 1, 2019. He advised that an effective mechanism to check any misuse of the funds available to Local Government administrators should be put in place and strengthened. He recalled the recklessness with which some Local Government Chairmen during the onset of the Fourth Republic managed their Council funds, fraught with corruption and high-handedness.

With the new guidelines, the joint account system currently in use by States and Local Governments now exists only for the receipt of allocations from the Federation Account but not for disbursement. The guidelines place a daily cash transaction limit of N500,000 for Local Governments, with any transaction in excess of that amount to be done through e-transfer channels. All these will be registered and monitored by the NFIU. These measures effectively wrest control of Local Government funds from the Governors and put same back in the hands of Local Government administrators. Expectedly, the Governors are opposing these new moves.

By Alhaji Rasheed Olanrewaju

Eid-el-Fitr marks the end of the sacred month of Ramadan. Also known as “feast of breaking the fast”, it is an important religious day celebrated by Muslims worldwide. The Eid is performed on the first day of Shawwal, the month that follows Ramadan when Muslims start the day with an obligatory contribution called zakat al-fitr in which prosperous families give away, for each member of the house, food items such as rice, Corn wheat, Garri the needy before going to Eid ground for prayers.

Calabar the Capital of Cross River State is known for lots of festivals. Globally famous among these festivals is the annual thirty-two days Christmas Festival where fun seekers gather in the ancient city to do businesses while catching their fun. The period is December and it is registered in the global tourism calendar. This festive period coincides with the Christmas period when Jesus Christ (prophet Issa) was born and everyone, including the Muslim community in the city join the predominantly Christian state to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Like Christmas festival and the Calabar Carnival, Cross River State is known for many firsts in the history of Africa most populous Country, Nigeria. Calabar is the home of the First Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, the First Nigeria Capital City. She has the First social Club, African Club, Home of the First Football, Cricket and field hockey games. The city of the oldest Secondary School in Eastern Nigeria, Hope Waddell Training Institution, the home of an international museum not forgetting Hogan Bassey among others.

The 2019 Eid celebrations birthed the first Calabar Eid-El-Fitr Picnic. The festival-like picnic, an initiative of the Chief Imam of Calabar Central Mosque, Imam Abdulkabir Olowolayemo with the support of other organizing committee members recorded a boost to the Muslim Community who find it difficult to go out a day after Eid prayers.
The Eid el-Fitr picnic was part of the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month where Muslims gathered together. It was a meeting point for families, friends and well-wishers (Muslims and Non-Muslims alike) to congratulate one another as they end the Thirty- or Twenty-Nine-Days Ramadan Fast. Held a day after the Eid prayers, it afforded participants the platform to meet, greet and mix freely with friends, relatives, neighbours with exchange of gifts. There was also games, movies, dance and Islamic quiz competitions involving mostly the children, who obviously enjoyed themselves to no end.

Trade and commerce was another opportunity provided by the Eid el-Fitr picnic. It was an avenue where buyers and sellers met to engage in business transactions. Vendors made brisk business with sales of Suya, smoothies and various other drinks, shawarma, pizza and cake as well as gift items and branded clothes all located at different stands in a trade fair-like environment with adequate security provisions.

For a debut event, the Eid-el-Fitr Picnic in Calabar during the 2019 Sallah celebrations was a welcome development and a huge success. It is a development that Government will need to be involved as there is a potential revenue generation opportunity as well as the diversification of the Government’s event cum tourism offerings in Cross River State.

May Allah enable us to witness more in life and allow the next Eid-El Fitri Sallah Picnic in Calabar to be more successful than the maiden edition. Ameenah.

Alhaji Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair is a Muslim Community Watch Team Leader and Public affairs Commentator.

Former Senate Leader and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Cross River Central Senatorial District in the recently concluded general elections, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has enjoined all the candidates of the Party in the recent general elections, as well as their supporters, to remain steadfast and stay true to the Party in Cross River State.

Senator Ndoma-Egba made this appeal during an interaction with a cross section of House of Assembly candidates from the Central and Southern Senatorial Districts who paid him an unscheduled visit on Friday, May 24, 2019 in his office at Barracks Road, Calabar. He acknowledged the fact that the activities of some leaders of the Party were inimical to the Party’s chances in the last election and their persistence has inhibited the growth of the Party and its ability to move to the next level. He also agreed that this situation has affected the morale of Party members and casted doubts in the minds of a few with regards to the potential of the Party in the State in the coming years.
The former Senator Leader expressed his steadfast loyalty and continuous support to the APC, both in the State and the National levels and restated his confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s avowed determination and capacity to move Nigeria to the Next Level of national development. He emphasized the need to continually work to strengthen the Party in the State, hoping that the differences of opinion within the Party will soon be harnessed to rebirth a stronger, more united and refocused APC in the State.
Earlier, the House of Assembly candidates had expressed their deep appreciation to Senator Ndoma-Egba for the financial, professional and moral assistance he has freely rendered to them during the last elections. They informed him that they were discouraged and disillusioned by the widespread controversies and irregularities that trailed the elections, particularly the ignoble roles that some of the Party’s leaders played as well as the poor performance of INEC in the conduct of the elections in the Cross River State. They reported that some of them have filed petitions to seek redress before the Election Petition Tribunal.
The candidates also reiterated their loyalty to the APC and the State leadership of the Party and hoped that the intractable issues will be decisively resolved forthwith. They also expressed their hope that justice will not only be served but will be seen to be served at the conclusion of their litigations.
Some of the candidates in the meeting included Hon. Barr. Ebaye Akunjom, Hon. Celestine Odumokam, Hon. Iwara Inah, Hon. Ujong Bob, Hon. Inyang Ogar, Mr. Leonard Ogwa, Prof. Esu Effiong Esu, Hon. Polycarp Effiom, and Hon. Asuquo Effiom as well as the Director-General of the Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba Campaign Organization, Hon. Dr. Bassey Ina Ibor.