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NDDC Summit: Pay Special Attention To Project Design In Riverine Areas, Otuaro Appeals To Stakeholders

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The Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, (PAP), Dr. Dennis Otuaro, has appealed to the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to pay special attention to project design in the riverine areas of the region.

The PAP boss made the appeal during a technical session of Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Summit 2024, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Igoniko Oduma.

The three days Stakeholders Submit is themed ‘Renewed Hope for Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta’ organised by the NDDC in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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“I know that the terrains of NDDC states are different, but my appeal is that for projects that are to be sited in the riverine areas, the NDDC should take a critical look at the designs because the designs are the contracting models. Compare the way you do contracts in those riverine communities and those in the upland areas,” he said in the statement.

READ ALSO: PAP To Pay Attention To Impacted Communities, Victims Of Military Bombardment, Others, Says Otuaro

He stated in the state that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is interested in sustainable development, stability and peace of the Niger Delta region.

The administrator further emphasised that leaders and stakeholders from the Niger Delta have a key role to play in providing sustainable development in the oil-rich region.

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Otuaro expressed confidence in Tinubu’s commitment to the accelerated progress of the region, insisting that the President would not disappoint the people.

He pointed out that without stakeholders and community people contributing their quota to peaceful initiatives, sustainable growth and development could elude the communities in the area.

READ ALSO: PAP Boss, Otuaro, Calls For Unity, Promises To Capture Stakeholders Not Captured

He posited that it was for this reason that the PAP in the penultimate week held a four-day stakeholders’ engagement in Warri, Delta State, to drive home Mr. President’s genuine desire for sustained peace and growth of the region under his renewed hope mantra.

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While underscoring the important place of stakeholders in the development process of communities, Otuaro advocated that project designs and contract models should take into consideration the peculiarities of riverine and upland communities.

He added, “Stakeholders engagement by the NDDC has been long expected over the years. That is why we at the Presidential Amnesty Programme, two weeks ago, organised our stakeholders’ meetings (in Warri, Delta State) where we assured everybody about the renewed hope agenda of Mr. President.

“Mr President has the political will to support the development of the Niger Delta. We know that he will not disappoint us but, we, as community people and stakeholders, have a role to play because this peace we are talking about is for us, comes first, before oil.

“When there is no peace in our villages, many of us will not be able to go to our villages.

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READ ALSO: The Reliance Newspaper @16: Ex-PFN President, Ogbomhe, Ochei To Grace Occasion

“Therefore, stakeholders engagement is a critical part in the design of community projects. The management of the NDDC knows the critical role of peace and stability for the development of the Niger Delta.

“Peace, security and stability have to do with the stakeholders, including the traditional rulers, youths, women and others, many of whom were alienated from the activities of the NDDC. And people don’t really know what is happening.”

Otuaro admonished all stakeholders to take advantage of the NDDC stakeholders’ summit to encourage the interventionist agency to deliver on its objectives for the region.

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“Today, all of us as stakeholders should grab the opportunity of this dialogue with both hands and encourage the management of the NDDC to continue with this stakeholders engagement.

“When we encourage them, they will seek our opinions even on projects in our areas, especially on the immediate needs of communities.”

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Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries In The World 2024

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The world’s most dangerous countries to visit in 2024 have been unveiled in a recent report by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

The report ranks 163 independent states and territories based on their level of peacefulness, covering 99.7% of the world’s population.

It also noted that there are currently 56 active conflicts, marking the highest number since the end of the Second World War, with fewer conflicts being resolved either militarily or through peace agreements.

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Using the Global Peace Index (GPI), here are the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world in 2024.

Yemen

With a 2024 Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.397, Yemen remains one of the world’s most hazardous nations, with its catastrophic civil conflict since 2015 causing immense suffering and turmoil.

Yemen is grappling with widespread famine, disease, and infrastructure collapse amid a prolonged state of war. What began as an internal conflict has escalated due to the involvement of neighboring countries, each backing different factions, prolonging and intensifying the destructive nature of the conflict.

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READ ALSO: Top 5 Cheapest Countries To Study In Europe

Sudan

Sudan is widely regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous countries, influenced by a variety of factors that severely affect its safety and stability.

Sudan’s instability stems primarily from the ongoing conflict in Darfur, alongside unrest in South Kordofan and Blue Nile districts. In 2024, these conflicts resulted in over 3,000 deaths and displaced nearly 2 million people, according to UN estimates. The humanitarian crisis is exacerbated by frequent attacks on civilians by government forces, opposition groups, and militias.

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Also, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 14 million people need humanitarian aid.

South Sudan

South Sudan, with a 2024 Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.224, continues to rank among the world’s most dangerous nations due to ongoing civil conflict, ethnic violence, and political instability since gaining independence in 2011.

Afghanistan

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Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with a Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.448. The country has been experiencing ongoing violence for more than 40 years, making it a center of international concern.

READ ALSO: 7 Countries Who Recently Changed Their Names And Why

Decades of conflict have shaped Afghanistan into one of the most dangerous countries. The Taliban’s seizure of power in August 2021 has intensified instability, with heightened risks of terrorism, kidnappings, and widespread violence.

Ukraine

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Ukraine has experienced the most significant decline in safety and stability, not only within its region but globally as well. This notable deterioration can be primarily attributed to the Russian invasion that began in February 2022.

By 2024, the conflict in Ukraine has claimed over 150,000 lives, including soldiers and civilians. More than 8 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, with an additional 7 million internally displaced, causing widespread destruction of cities and critical infrastructure like homes, schools, and hospitals.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The conflict in Congo has spanned more than four and a half years, has taken more lives than any other since World War II, and is the deadliest documented conflict in African history, according to the International Rescue Committee.

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Russia

In 2024, Russia, with a Global Peace Index (GPI) score of 3.249, ranks among the world’s most hazardous nations, exacerbated by heightened geopolitical tensions stemming from the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

READ ALSO: 10 Safest Countries In The World In 2024

Russia is grappling with internal challenges including organized crime and corruption, which undermine law and order, alongside escalating environmental concerns such as industrial accidents and pollution, posing significant health risks to the population.

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Syria

Syria’s civil war, beginning in 2011, has resulted in a profoundly tragic and complex situation. The conflict has ravaged infrastructure, including buildings, roads, hospitals, and schools, severely impacting the daily lives of those remaining in Syria.

The humanitarian situation in Syria is dire, with over 13 million Syrians, including 6.6 million internally displaced, requiring humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

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More than half of the population faces food insecurity, and the healthcare system is in disarray, with many hospitals either destroyed or operating at minimal capacity.

Israel

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has escalated regional risks for Western travelers and exacerbated unrest-related dangers.

Mali

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Mali has been in the grip of armed conflict since January 2012, when Tuareg rebels seized control of northern territory and subsequently declared the independent nation of Azawad by April of that year.

The situation escalated further with a military coup in March of 2012, intensifying the turmoil in the region.
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Nigeria’s Public Officials Received ₦721bn Bribe In 2023 – UN, NBS

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A newly released report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), has said Nigerian public officials received nothing less than ₦721bn as bribes in 2023.

The result was based on a survey conducted with the UNODC.

According to the report “Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends”, published by the NBS on Thursday, the ₦721bn paid in bribes amounted to about 0.35 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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According to the survey, the average cash bribe was ₦8,284, an increase from an average of ₦5,754 in 2019.

“According to the 2023 survey, the average cash bribe paid was 8,284 Nigerian Naira. While the nominal average cash bribe size increased since 2019 (from NGN 5,754), this does not account for inflation. The inflation-adjusted average cash bribe in 2023 was 29 per cent smaller than in 2019 in terms of what could be bought with the money.

“Overall, it is estimated that a total of roughly NGN 721 billion (US$1.26 billion) was paid in cash bribes to public officials in Nigeria in 2023, corresponding to 0.35 per cent of the entire Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria,” the report read in part.

The report indicates that 56 per cent of Nigerians interacted with a public official in 2023, down from 63 per cent in 2019.

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Despite this reduction, bribery remains widespread, with an average of 5.1 bribes paid per bribe payer, totalling approximately 87 million bribes nationwide. This is a decrease from the 117 million bribes estimated in 2019.

READ ALSO: [JUST IN] Alleged N33.8b Fraud: Court Grants Bail To Ex-power Minister

On payment mode, the report noted that over 95 per cent of bribes were paid in monetary form (cash or money transfer) in 2023.

It said public officials were more likely to demand bribes while private sector actors included doctors in private hospitals, which increased from 6 per cent in 2019 to 14 per cent in 2023.

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Despite this rise, bribery in the public sector remains about twice as high, with public sector contact rates also being twice as high as those in the private sector.

In 2023, 27 per cent of Nigerians who interacted with a public official paid a bribe, a slight decrease from 29 per cent in 2019. Including instances where bribes were requested but refused, over one-third of interactions between citizens and public officials involved bribery.

Similarly, the report shows a growing trend of Nigerians refusing to pay bribes. In 2023, 70 per cent of those asked to pay a bribe refused at least once, with the highest refusal rates in the North-West zone at 76 per cent. All regions recorded refusal rates above 60 per cent. This indicates that Nigerians are increasingly standing against corruption.

According to the report, bribery is becoming less accepted in Nigeria. The percentage of citizens who view bribery requests as acceptable to expedite administrative procedures decreased from 29 per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent in 2023.

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READ ALSO: NDDC Summit: Pay Special Attention To Project Design In Riverine Areas, Otuaro Appeals To Stakeholders

Fewer citizens reported suffering negative consequences after refusing bribe requests in 2023 compared to 2019. This suggests a growing empowerment among Nigerians to confront corrupt officials without fear of repercussions.

In 2023, 21 per cent of bribe refusers indicated they refused because they had other options. Normative concerns (42 per cent) and cost of living pressures (23 per cent) also played significant roles in their refusal to pay bribes.

Furthermore, not less than 60 per cent of public sector workers were hired due to nepotism, bribery or both between 2020 and 2023.

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The report noted that six out of 10 successful candidates admitted to using either nepotism, bribery, or both to improve their chances of being recruited.

Specifically, 27 per cent of these candidates admitted to using only bribery, 13 per cent to only nepotism, and 19 per cent to both bribery and nepotism. On the other hand, 40 per cent of the candidates claimed to have secured their positions without resorting to any such means, based on data collected between November 2020 and October 2023.

The report read, “The selection process used to recruit public officials plays a crucial role in shaping the culture of integrity that should drive the civil service as well as ensure that recruits have the highest standards of professionalism and merit.”

However, the 2023 survey findings indicate that the public sector recruitment process requires closer monitoring, as almost half (46 per cent) of people who secured a job in the public sector in the last three years before the survey admitted that they paid a bribe to facilitate their recruitment – about 1.5 times the share found in the 2019 survey (31 per cent).

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“The 2023 survey also found evidence that a considerable number of people recruited into the public sector secured their posts with the help of a friend or relative, many in addition to paying a bribe: of all successful applicants in the last three years before the 2023 survey, 32 per cent were helped by friends or relatives. Overall, in the three years before the 2023 survey, around 60 per cent of public sector applicants in Nigeria were hired as a result of nepotism, bribery or both – about 1.2 times the share found in the 2019 survey.”

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The report also noted that the use of bribery is notably lower when the recruitment process includes formal assessments.

Specifically, 51 per cent of candidates were not formally assessed, and of these, a significant 53 per cent admitted to using bribery or nepotism to secure their positions.

Conversely, among the 49 per cent of candidates who underwent a written test or oral interview, the use of unethical means such as bribery or nepotism dropped to 41 per cent.

The report read: “The 2023 survey data show that approximately half (49 per cent) of those who secured a position in the public sector in the three years before the survey passed a written test and/or oral interview during the recruitment selection process. Importantly, the data suggest that the means of selection had a role in facilitating or preventing the use of illegal practices during recruitment. Among those who underwent an assessment procedure (written test / oral interview), 41 per cent made use of bribery, while the share was as much as 53 per cent among those who were not formally assessed.”

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It was also disclosed that bribery is more common in rural areas, with rural residents paying an average of 5.8 bribes compared to 4.5 bribes in urban areas.

It was also disclosed that bribery is more common in rural areas, with rural residents paying an average of 5.8 bribes compared to 4.5 bribes in urban areas.

The report stated that corruption was ranked fourth among the most important problems affecting the country in 2023, after the cost of living, insecurity and unemployment.

It added, “This suggests relatively stable and high levels of concerns about corruption over time and compared to other concerns such as education or housing.

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“Nigerians confidence in the government’s anti-corruption effort has been declining over time and across regions. While in 2019, more than half of all citizens thought that the government was effective in fighting corruption, in 2023, the share declined to lessons than a third of all citizens. The downward trend in the citizen’s confidence is observable across the entire country, with all six zones recording reductions of more than 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2023 in terms of the share of citizens who thought the government was effective in fighting corruption.”

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Kenya Police Chief Resigns After Protests

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Kenya’s police chief has resigned following sharp criticism after anti-government protests left dozens of people dead, the presidency said Friday, the latest head to roll over the unrest.

The move came a day after President William Ruto sacked almost his entire cabinet, seeking to contain widespread public anger against his government after largely peaceful demonstrations over proposed tax hikes descended into deadly mayhem.

The presidency said in a statement that Ruto has “accepted the resignation” of inspector general of police Japhet Koome, who has served in the role since November 2022.

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Some of the young Gen-Z Kenyans behind the demonstrations had called for Koome to go, with police accused of using excessive force during the protests, the most serious crisis of Ruto’s near two-year presidency.

READ ALSO: At Least 30 Killed In Kenya Anti-government Protests – HRW

Ruto has taken a series of measures to placate the demonstrators, including abandoning the finance bill that contained the deeply unpopular tax increases.

On Thursday, he dismissed the attorney-general and all cabinet ministers, with the exception of Foreign Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

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-‘Wasted two years’ –

But the cabinet announcement, while welcomed by some, did not appease some young Kenyans frustrated with Ruto’s failure to deliver on his 2022 election promises to create jobs and boost their fortunes.

We will be back on the streets until Ruto goes. He has wasted two years in office travelling and telling lies,” said Hyrence Mwangi, 25.

READ ALSO: [JUST IN] Alleged N33.8b Fraud: Court Grants Bail To Ex-power Minister

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Initially peaceful, the protests sharply escalated when police fired at crowds who stormed parliament on June 25, ransacking the partly ablaze complex.

While large-scale street protests have subsided, anger against the government has not, particularly towards the police, with rights groups saying that 39 people were killed in the demonstrations.

When we first went to the streets, Ruto dismissed us as a bunch of hired goons and criminals, only to come later and start saying he will make changes,” said 27-year-old Jackson Rotich.

“We can’t trust him.”

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IT specialist Cyrus Otieno, 27, was among those who had called for Koome to go, saying he “must be prosecuted for police brutality”.

Law student Melisa Agufana, 24, welcomed the cabinet dismissal, saying she wanted to “thank the president for listening”.

She added that ministers had “wasted two years doing nothing apart from being driven around with our national flag.”

READ ALSO: Ruto Ready For ‘Conversation’ With Youth Protesters, Says Kenya’s Presidency

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-Fresh start after protests –

Analysts said the move offered the possibility of a fresh start, but warned of further risks.

The challenge that Ruto now faces is forming a new cabinet that includes various vested interests, whilst simultaneously calming popular anger in the face of an explicitly leaderless movement,” Gabrielle Lynch, professor of comparative politics at the University of Warwick, told AFP.

Last week, Ruto announced sharp cuts to government spending, including travel and refurbishment costs, and said he would increase borrowing to pay for some services even as Kenya grapples with massive foreign debt equivalent to roughly 70 percent of GDP.

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The crisis led US-based Moody’s to downgrade Kenya’s debt rating further into junk territory, warning of a negative outlook, which will make borrowing even more expensive for the cash-strapped government.

Ruto said Thursday that he would “immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government”, without elaborating further.

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