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Gov Ishaku: The Transformation That Earned Him NMA Award

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Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku

Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku

Recently, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), at its bi annual conference, conferred an award on the Taraba State governor, Arch Darius Dickson Ishaku for his tremendous turnaround of the Taraba State health sector. Omonu Nelson was there.

On May 5, 2018, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s ‘Rescue Mission’ attracted accolades from the prestigious Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). The NMA award was in recognition of Gov Ishiaku’s outstanding transformation of the Taraba State health sector. The jaw-dropping angle to the award is how Governor Ishiaku was able to achieve this turnaround, given the fact that the administration came into office, when Nigeria was going through its worse phase of economic recession, which culminated in dwindling revenue from the federation account. Added to the forgoing is the security challenge in the North East geo-political zone, of which Taraba State is a part.

Though, in recent times, in our clime, awards have almost lost its meaning, as it has assumed a ‘cash and carry’ dimension. However, coming from an association of men of noble profession like an association of medical doctors in Nigeria, the award is considered by many as credible, given the indispensable role, the members plays in the Nigerian economy and how the Association, formed 58 years ago, that has continued to shape the direction of government health policies at all governmental levels in Nigeria. It remains incontrovertible that, of all the professional bodies in the country, the NMA has maintained its integrity. The NMA award night was the climax of the one week bi-annual conference of the association. It also marks the end of the tenure of its officials and election new ones.

At the award ceremony, which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, the outgoing President of the NMA, Prof Mike Ogirima said, the Association, with the award, aimed to showcase outstanding achievements in the health sector by some elected public officials and members of the profession, who have stayed true as the Ambassador of the profession.

“Some elected public officials and members of the medical profession are making giant strides in the health sector in their various domains.” For instance, the governor of Taraba State has massively improved health infrastructures in his state. “In Taraba State under Arc Ishiaku, health workers are well remunerated and paid as when due.” This award therefore, is meant to add impetus to the efforts of his government. Prof Ogirima said.

Arch Ishiaku, who was accompanied to the award presentation by the Taraba State government officials and large crowd of political associates and well-wishers said, while receiving the award that, he is overwhelmed by the recognition by the NMA. He insisted that, he is not always disposed to receiving awards. However, an award from a reputable and prestigious Association like the NMA is certainly an indication of approval of his performances, especially, in the health sector, for which he is being honoured.

“My joy knows no bound by the honour done me by the NMA. Usually, I am reluctant to receive awards but an award from a credible group like the NMA is certainly, a candid approval of the efforts my government is making to reposition the health sector in Taraba State. This is certainly a morale booster that will spur us to do more. NMA should continue to honor deserved private and public officials. This is one way of telling them to do more.”

While addressing press men after the award, Arc Ishiaku explained that, “We are reconstructing and rehabilitating hospitals in our three Senatorial Zones. We are bringing up the local government clinics to shape. More importantly, we are equipping them. “Sincerely, I am surprised that the NMA noticed what we are doing in the health sector just less than three years in office. We will do more to keep our people healthy because health is wealth.”

Arc Ishaku further explain that the insecurity in the north east states has brought untold pressure on the health facilities in the state.

“The insecurity has added more pressure on our health facilities. Much more than one will anticipate. When you have almost 150,000 displaced persons, it is a challenge. “Before now, in the north east, Taraba State was the safest. But right now, we are having our own share of the herdsmen menace and that has added a lot of strain on our health services. That makes it mandatory for us to engage more doctors, nurses and other health specialists and to a large extent, we are succeeding. I think that is why the NMA recognized our efforts so quickly.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, and Emir of Shanga in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, Alhaji Haliru Yahaya commended Governor Ishiaku for astounding performances in, especially, the health and education sectors. He appealed to other elected public officials to emulate the good example of Gov Ishaku, who less than three year has brought tremendous turnaround to Taraba State.

“Gov Ishaku has done well in three years. My appeal is to other elected public officials is that they should put affordable healthcare on the front burner, for that is the bedrock of every development. “Nigerians are not asking for too much. At least, what will make life more meaningful to them? The monarch said.

That Gov Ishaku recorded giant strides in the health sector in Taraba State does not mean other sectors of the states’ economy were neglected. For instance, in the water sector, the governor hit the ground running from his first week in office. Governor Ishaku made funds available to the Taraba State Water Supply Agency with a stern directive that Jalingo, the state capital had been without water for 10 months and that taps must begin to run. In matter of days all equipment were refurbished and taps started running.

In the area of rural water supply, the administration, within the first few months sank numerous boreholes in the following locations, Pampetel, Gwahir, Garin Sule, Makurna, Madachi, Bashau, Mishali, Bashin, Jalingo Main Motor Park and Mechanic Village. The stride still continues.

Seeing the purity and selfless determination of Gov Ishaku, the Pan African Development Bank, Africa Development Bank, AfDB officials quickly keyed into his water supply efforts. Soon, the synergy started paying off, with the expansion of water pipelines.

In the power sector, upon assumption of office, Governor Ishaku decried the abysmally low Megawatts supply to Jalingo from the national grid. As former Minister of Power, he engaged Officials and relevant stakeholders; the Yola Electricity Distribution Company to increase Megawatts. The request was immediately granted as Jalingo today enjoys more 18 Megawatts of electricity.

The administration installed gigantic transformers at strategic areas to service the Wukari business district with 7.5 Megawatts of electricity. The same way, about 50 pieces of transformers were made available by the administration for different ward across the state.

Governor Ishaku commissioned the Tunga Mini Hydro-electric dam executed in partnership between the state government, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO. Ishaku gave his best to the project when he was Minister of Power. This project is now providing gainful employment to the people within and around the Kakara community as small scale businesses such as phone charging, grinding machines, business centres, poultry incubators, etc can be powered.

To encourage closeness to our Creator, especially through prayers, the administration has continued to sponsor pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj while food items were purchased for the Muslim Ummah across the 16 local governments in the state during Sallah celebrations.

Governor Ishaku understands the indispensable role of traditional rulers and religious leaders in peace building. This decision has impacted positively as our brotherliness and sense of common purpose have been reinvigorated. He resuscitated the standing Local Government Security Committees which had hitherto gone comatose.

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Calamity awaits South Africa if land reform fails

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Ramaphosa: Roots for land reform as most of South Africa’s land in the hands of a few

Ramaphosa: Roots for land reform as most of South Africa’s land in the hands of a few


Land reform has been a focus of debate in South Africa in 2018, which saw the government accelerating its programme unprecedentedly.

The year has been characterised by divisive and acrimonious debates on the reform, particularly on the suggestion for land expropriation without compensation. Despite the government’s comprehensive land reform program, the country has not made sufficient progress in addressing this issue, because “most of the country’s land remains in the hands of the few,” as President Cyril Ramaphosa put it recently.

Even as Ramaphosa exhorted South Africans in his Dec. 16 Reconciliation Day message to accept land reform as the primary instrument to bringing about long-term and sustainable reconciliation in the country, some of the luminaries of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and analysts have warned of dire consequences if this issue is not urgently and effectively dealt with.

Some have accused the ANC of “bowing to the whims” of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Black First Land First (BLF). Both the EFF and BLF have vocally championed the land issue as part of radical economic transformation. They have argued that the failure to consolidate political will and to move to soberly address the very emotive land reform issue in South Africa could seriously impact the country and open the door to chaos and anarchy, with dire consequences for the southern African region and the continent. This is a critical question that raises the spectre of the unfinished transition from apartheid both in heated debates in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and the National Council of Provinces, the upper house, as well as in numerous volatile public consultation events on the proposed amendment to section 25 of the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.

Some have accused the ANC of “bowing to the whims” of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Black First Land First (BLF). Both the EFF and BLF have vocally championed the land issue as part of radical economic transformation. They have argued that the failure to consolidate political will and to move to soberly address the very emotive land reform issue in South Africa could seriously impact the country and open the door to chaos and anarchy, with dire consequences for the southern African region and the continent.

Ernst Roets, deputy CEO of Afriforum, which represents a large constituency of the country’s white farmers, declared in his submission on the proposed amendment that the process was driven by “an oversimplified, twisted perspective of history.” He stated that it was premised on a false “ideological viewpoint that centralisation of the power in the State will be to the benefit of the public.” Roets said the land reform initiative “was built on the false argument that the eroding of property rights and tampering with healthy market principles will lead to economic growth.”

The vote by both houses of parliament in November in favour of amending the constitution for land expropriation without compensation, therefore, has raised the stakes and threatens to unravel the tenuous peace that underwrote the South African transition to democracy, according to Roets. Opponents to land reform also argue that the ongoing process has also opened the wounds of the country’s disturbing past and fuelled a dangerous discourse that will deeply polarise the society, threaten food security, and undermine nation-building and efforts to develop the economy.

However, for the South African government and the ANC, the land issue is cardinal, and it was at the ANC’s most recent congress that the party resolved that land expropriation without compensation would be a central plank of its project to address the injustices of the past and to transform South Africa. Injustice and dispossession of land among blacks were inflicted by colonial conquests across the world, and continue to play a role in many modern conflicts, Ramaphosa said. The president calls for a more just and equitable land reform or redistribution regime. “The equitable distribution of land has been a consistent call of the overwhelming majority of South Africans,” he said. “Access to land is a fundamental right of citizenship.” “It doesn’t just empower communities and workers. It enhances food security, especially for the rural poor,” Ramaphosa said. Access to and ownership of land open significant opportunities for those who have been marginalised, because it “enables people to gain and develop productive assets, and to participate more meaningfully in the economy,” according to the president.

Ramaphosa echoed the view of land reform supporters who insist that land reform is inextricably tied to nation-building, is key to further reconciliation in the country and central to eliminating inequality in the society. They say that far from being a measure that will fuel tensions or set race relations back, accelerated land reform has the potential to improve goodwill between the races in South Africa.One of the voices calling for a more deeply-contemplated approach to land reform is ANC stalwart Ben Turok. As one of the framers of the ANC Freedom Charter, and one of the party’s longest serving representatives in the National Assembly until 2015, Turok has been one of the party’s most incisive thinkers on transforming the economy and society. He cautions against a cavalier approach in trying to resolve the land issue.

Currently director of the Institute for African Alternatives, Turok said the debate on land reform has been deployed by numerous forces to mobilise their constituencies in the run-up to the national elections, scheduled for early 2019. “It is an election year and everyone is looking for votes, and this matter of land reform is an emotional issue so the ANC and EFF are raising it sharply,” Turok told Xinhua in an interview. However, the ANC stalwart believes that the decision to make the call for the amendment of section 25 of the constitution was not properly considered, as the current statute holds significant power which is under-utilised. He also believes that there is oversimplification, and that the question of land reform has numerous components, each of which has to be dealt appropriately. “Nobody has clear answers, as the land question is a complex issue with many factors,” Turok said.

This includes traditional leaders and their abuse of land and the corruption that goes with it and then the agricultural issue and the land tenure issue, he explained. Turok stated that the problem is that “the debate has been so simplified” and had drawn reactions of anger and insecurity from some of the white farmers because “the lunatic fringe of the EFF and BLF are threatening land occupation.” Part of the problem, he said, is the lack of political will, and “after 25 years in Parliament the ANC has failed to take action on land reform.” “There is a lot that can be done such as utilising peri-urban land that needs to be farmed, but is being used for speculation,” he stated.

Turok also pointed to “a looming danger in failing to confront traditional leaders.” He said firm action is needed to address the question of land reform and that this will call for assertive action from the head of state. “Cyril Ramaphosa will see he has to act, because failing to act will create a lot of negativity,” Turok added. Former Minister of Arts and Culture Z. Pallo Jordan advised that the issue be tackled in a focused manner. Jordan said in the latest edition of New Agenda periodical that “since the adoption of a resolution by ANC’s elective conference in December 2017 to change the constitutional provision requiring equitable compensation for land expropriated by the state, the dialogue on the specific constitutional clause as well as on land distribution and ownership in this country appears trapped between the extremes of hyperbole and double talk.”

Search for solutions to the land question in South Africa calls for depth and understanding, he noted. “Calm, deliberative debate, based on an appreciation of our country’s history, pre- and post-1652, the immense societal changes wrought by industrialisation, urbanization and economic integration, is vitally important at this moment because the decisions and actions taken will be of great consequence not only for South Africa, but also for the region and the continent,” Jordan said.

Political commentator Sipho Seepe, who was former vice chancellor of Vista University, takes a different approach, arguing that “the intended process is meant to correct the historical injustice and change the economic landscape.” “The anti-colonial struggle was like any revolution based on land, and this means that the South African transition would be incomplete without addressing this historic injustice which has correctly been described as South Africa’s original sin,” Seepe told Xinhua. He explained that land represents many things. “It is a signifier of who matters and controls the country’s economy. It is all encompassing speaking to the social, the cultural and the economic. It is not an accident that those without land are poor and marginalised. Politically this is an affront if one considers that indigenous people have been reduced to trespassers in the country of their birth.”

The volatility of the debate, he said, is driven by real factors and “the reason the land reform issue has become explosive is because it threatens to upend the economic relationship in the country.” Seepe noted that what is reflected as a “strong opposition” to land reform is actually “a manufactured strong opposition.” He believes that “the main obstacle to the implementation will be ironically the ruling party. “The ANC suffers from the need to be affirmed. It wants to please all people and as a result it sends mixed messages which make implementation impossibly difficult,” Seepe said. When asked what will happen if the process fails, he said South Africa can expect more land invasions and in time the people will turn against the ruling party. “The ANC will succeed in becoming enemy of the people with South Africa becoming ungovernable,” Seepe warned.

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Refusal to obey court order is corruption – Emir

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Emir of Kano

Emir of Kano

The Emir of Gummi, Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi (retd.), says refusal to obey a court order is another form of corruption, noting that government must exemplify the change it promised before expecting citizens to follow suit.

He said disrespect for the rule of law, bad governance, disobedience to court orders, non-compliance with electoral regulations by political parties, godfathers hijacking the electoral process and dwindling confidence in the justice system posed threats to Nigeria’s democracy.

The monarch, who was the keynote speaker at the Barewa Old Boys Association annual lecture, held at the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto, spoke on the topic, ‘The challenges of the judiciary to democracy: The Nigeria perspective.’

The 97-year old college, located in Kaduna State, is reputed for producing five out of Nigeria’s past leaders, including General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, late Umaru Yar’adua, late Gen. Murtala Mohammed and the late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

It has also produced three Chief Justices of Nigeria, three Inspectors-General of Police and four Secretaries to the Government of the Federation.

But in his address, Gummi described the judiciary as the watchdog of democracy, without which “reckless marauders will attack the society,” adding that an insecure judiciary is one of the greatest threats to democracy.

He said, “Orders of court are disobeyed at will in the name of fighting corruption. No one institution, no matter how highly placed, should flout the laws of the land, not even under the guise of fighting corruption. Refusing to obey an order of court is another form of corruption in itself.

“The executive cannot play the role of both the accuser and that of the judge at the same time. It is an aberration in a democracy. National security cannot take precedence over the rule of law; rather, it should be guided by the rule of law.

“Any democracy where the executive tries to intimidate and harass the legislature and/or the judiciary into doing its bidding is a democracy under threat. In the same vein, it is not right in a democracy for the National Assembly to make governance difficult for the executive for pecuniary reasons. “We all agree that we need change as promised by the government, but that change must first begin with them, then, you and me.”

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Marriott International’s Three Loyalty Programs Unify

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A new era is beginning for the more than 110 million members of Marriott International’s (www.Marriott.com) award-winning loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). For the first time since Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, the programs now operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency spanning the entire loyalty portfolio of 29 brands and more than 6,700 participating hotels in 130 countries and territories. Members are able to seamlessly earn and redeem across the entire loyalty portfolio and achieve Elite status faster with new Elite tiers. Members can now combine their separate program accounts into one at Marriott.com (www.Marriott.com) or SPG.com (www.Marriott.com/default.mi?program=spg&reset=true) to take advantage of everything Marriott International’s loyalty programs offer worldwide.

Together, the unified programs are richer. Members now earn on average 20 percent more points per dollar spent and have their Elite status recognized consistently at every hotel as they indulge in the elevated benefits they’ve earned. Additionally, members now have the added convenience to book stays throughout the portfolio on Marriott.com (www.Marriott.com), SPG.com(www.Marriott.com/default.mi?program=spg&reset=true), and the Marriott and SPG apps, or by contacting customer engagement centers.

“This is an exciting time for our loyalty members who now have endless inspiration to travel and experience the world to create memories that will last a lifetime,” said David Flueck, Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty, Marriott International. “We merged the incredible earning and redeeming power of Marriott Rewards with the phenomenal Elite benefits of SPG to create one of the richest travel loyalty programs with the most extraordinary global portfolio of hotels – from overwater bungalows, to mountainside ski resorts, to iconic urban landmarks.”

Earn Points and Achieve Elite Status Faster

As a result of the unified, single-currency programs, when members combine their accounts, their points balances will also combine, ending the need to transfer points between programs. For SPG members, their SPG points balance multiplied by three. All members earn 10 points for every dollar spent at all brands except Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element which earn five points per dollar spent and Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay properties which earn 2.5 points per dollar spent. In addition, for 2018, nights earned at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels will also combine, potentially helping members achieve Elite status faster. Under the unified programs, all SPG members receive a new account number to align with the Marriott Rewards system. Members with multiple program accounts can choose to combine under their preferred account. The Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) names will continue to live on until early 2019 until combining under a new brand name.

Under the unified programs, members now earn Silver Elite status after just ten nights annually, Gold Elite status after just 25 nights, Platinum Elite status after 50 nights and Platinum Premier Elite status after 75 nights. All Platinum Premier members surpassing 100 nights and $20,000 annual spend will enjoy the highest level of personalized service – the popular ambassador program – along with all the other benefits in that tier. Members who have achieved Lifetime status will continue to have their status recognized under the new Lifetime Elite tiers that will apply across the unified programs.

Redeem for Free Nights Easier

The unified programs introduce a new Free Night Award chart for redemptions across the entire loyalty portfolio. Nearly 70 percent of hotels now require the same or fewer points for a free stay than before. Further, members can save 25,000 points per night by redeeming for future category eight hotels priced in category seven until 2019, including coveted all-suites properties. The new Free Night Award chart launched with standard pricing, adding off-peak and peak pricing in 2019.

Earn Points and Access Benefits with Co-Brand Credit Card

With the new programs comes an array of refreshed benefits for co-branded credit cardholders that provide members with more benefits across the entire loyalty portfolio. Members of all three loyalty programs in the United Arab Emirates can take advantage of the Emirates NBD Starwood Preferred Guest® World MasterCard® with world-class banking partner Emirates NBD and new benefits offered within the region.

Experience rich rewards and best in class benefits with the Emirates NBD SPG® World MasterCard®. The ability to earn and redeem at our extraordinary collection of 6,700 hotels across 29 brands, an automatic upgrade to Gold Status, an annual anniversary Free Night Award Certificate upon renewal, and premium Wi-Fi are just a few of the exciting new opportunities that are now available to members.

With the Emirates NBD SPG® World MasterCard®, earn 6x points for each US dollar of eligible purchases made at participating SPG, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards hotels, and 3x points for each US dollar of eligible purchases on your card. For more information, visit EmiratesNBD.com/spg.

More Travel Experiences

Marriott International’s loyalty programs offer members a holistic travel experience encompassing much more than hotel stays. Members have access to the wide collection of nearly 120,000 irresistible experiences in 1,000 global destinations on the company’s ever-expanding Moments platform – Marriott Moments, Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments. These range from destination tours and day trips, to exclusive member-only events such as Super Fan Experiences during the Keith Urban Graffiti U World Tour, including autographed merchandise and backstage access, VIP access to sought after sporting events like the Super Bowl, music festivals like Coachella, and master classes with superstar chefs like Daniel Boulud in intimate settings.

More Benefits

In addition, other new benefits to highlight include:

All members now earn points for food and beverage, spa and other qualifying incidentals charged to their folio, rather than just the room rate.
Hotels throughout the loyalty portfolio now have no blackout dates for points redemptions.
Booking direct on any of Marriott International’s digital and mobile channels means members can take advantage of exclusive member-only rates and free Wi-Fi. In addition, both the Marriott and SPG apps offer mobile check-in and check-out and send members alerts when their room is ready. Members can also chat directly with hotel associates before, during, and after their stays using Mobile Requests, and use their smartphones as their room key at more than 1,000 hotels.

The information above represents a summary of certain features of Marriott International’s unified loyalty programs and is subject to the programs full terms and conditions.

To learn more about the unified programs and benefits, as well as combine accounts, please go to Marriott (www.Marriott.com) or SPG.com(https://www.marriott.com/default.mi?program=spg&reset=true).

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