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AbdulRazaq: Kwara’s Godsent doing wonders with KWASSIP By Muhammad Zakari

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Good, good news are coming from the Kwara State Social Investment Programmes (KWASSIP). KWASSIP is a creation of our own Godsent in Kwara State, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. Since its establishment, the people of Kwara ranging from traders, artisans, aged, young entrepreneurs, small and medium scale enterprises owners, among others, have been largely impacted from its multi-pronged programmes.

What we used to know in Kwara before under the Saraki dynasty until the people said O to ge was a deliberate attempt at impoverishing the people and weaponising poverty. Political figures throw peanuts around, share pittances to the people in a most undignified manner. They capitalised greatly on the poverty of the people. There was no intentional actionable plan to decisively tackle the question of poverty since this is what they capitalised on to buy the people’s loyalty.

Governor AbdulRazaq came, saw this yawning gap and is closing it appropriately. He established KWASSIP as his own deliberate effort at breaking the yoke of poverty and empowering the people. Kwara is one of the few states that has such structure where people are provided with grants, stimulus, safety nets, soft loans and other kinds of social security.

KWASSIP has earned its accolades from far and near. Representatives of the federal government have lauded the initiative. A research team from the military did same when it appraised the system, in fact, stating that over 500,000 persons could be lifted out of poverty with KWASSIP. Statistics over the years are pointing to the wonders KWASSIP and other positive economic policies of the AbdulRazaq led government are doing. For instance, the fiscal sustainability rating of Kwara has improved drastically which means that there is dip in poverty rate. From 20th in 2018, 19th in 2019, the state is now rated 8th at the sub-national level on fiscal sustainability rating. Similarly, the poverty rate of Kwara which was put at 30.2% in 2019 has dropped to 20.4 in 2022 according to the World Bank State-by-State Poverty Index. Unemployment rate is now at 16.5% from 21.1% in 2019 per NBS report.

All these of course will be happening, since we have a government led by a prudent administrator who is not in for looting and embezzlement. He is made before coming to government. So, we are rest assured money set aside to empower the citizenry will just be for that. Support funds meant to stimulate SMEs will be channeled to just that.

In the last three years of its existence, KWASSIP has touched so many lives. Thousands of our senior citizens have benefitted from Owo Arugbo. They don’t have to know anybody. They don’t have to face a dehumanising process before getting the support funds. This is Kwara money working for Kwarans.

Traders, artisans, business owners have also benefitted immensely. Owo Isowo has covered several thousands of people. Lately, AbdulRazaq approved the disbursement of N600m to 30,000 women petty traders. The disbursement has been ongoing. Also, N200m for 4,000 artisans has been approved. All these are business grants.

Earlier, through KWASSIP, the AbdulRazaq administration has doled out soft, non-interest loans to several thousands of petty traders across the 16 local government areas that make up Kwara. Petty businesses have been stimulated and people at the lower rung of the ladder empowered.

Remember during COVID-19 how transporters, school owners were also supported with loans. When the EndSARS agitation led to the destruction of businesses, the Kwara government also was there for the victims. Their morale was down with the incident, but a responsible government was there to motivate, lift them and keep them going. All these processes have been to a large extent fair, objective and scientific.

There is also the Kwapreneur where hundreds of young entrepreneurs have accessed millions of support funds to boost their businesses. So far, two editions have held; the third edition is ongoing. In the first edition, about 170 young persons got non-interest loans between N300,000 and N6m to either develop a new business or boost existing ones. The second edition was a whole lot better. It came as a grant to about 100 young entrepreneurs on a day marking the commemoration of the International Youth Day 2022.

All these are the wonders done by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq through KWASSIP. Nobody have been left out, but the significant thing to note is that KWASSIP has touched the lives to average Kwarans. It has helped in banishing poverty in the state and our people are empowered. The opposition elements have tried effortlessly to denigrate the KWASSIP initiative. The joke is always on them because some of their members have benefitted from these programmes. It’s therefore not about politics but touching lives. Kwara money is working for Kwarans. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is the one doing the wonders. Let’s do 4 more with AA.

Zakari writes from Baruten Local Government.

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Gov Adeleke’s First Day In Office Off To A Violent Start

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On Monday morning, hoodlums unleashed indiscriminate attacks on various auto parks throughout the metropolis, terrifying residents of Osogbo, the capital of Osun state.

Fidel Info reports that Members of the transport unions were attacked at the parks in a coordinated attack that began at 8 a.m. at Oke-Baale, Old-Garage, Ilesa Garage, and Aregbe Garage.

Leaders who supported the state government, which was governed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and just finished its term, dominated the parks.

Gunshots could be heard throughout the area as union members at Old-Garage were pursued from the park toward Ayetoro.

One of the union members managed to flee from Ayetoro with matchstick cuts, but his car caught fire.

In an effort to stop the attacks from spreading, business owners quickly closed their doors.

At Oke-Baale, Aregbe Garage, and Ilesa Garage, union members were also the targets of attacks.

In the meantime, Governor Ademola Adeleke issued a directive to union leaders to uphold peace in all parks and issued a warning against violence in a statement through his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed.

“The Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke has warned against violence among transport workers’ unions in the State, directing security agencies to maintain status quo across the motor parks.

“All union leaders and their supporters are, hereby, directed to remain calm and bring any grievances to the dtate government for resolution.”

“Security agencies are consequently directly to maintain law and order,” it reads.”

Meanwhile policemen have been stationed at strategic areas in the state, including the motor parks.

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NIS Instructs Passport Offices To Work On Saturdays

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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has ordered passport offices all across the nation to open on Saturdays in order to process the backlog of passport applications.

Fidel Info reports that This information may be found in a statement that the Service’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Akuneme, made accessible in Abuja on Saturday.

According to Akuneme, the Comptroller-General, Mr. Isa Jere, who issued the direction, also gave his approval for the transfer of the Ondo Passport Controller to the NIS Zonal Office in Ibadan and the deployment of the Ekiti Passport Controller to Jigawa.

According to the NIS spokeswoman, for forward, the CG will hold passport officers responsible for any acts of indiscretion committed by officers working under their supervision.

The directive, he said, was intended to help the Service lessen the backlog brought on by the lengthy lockdown that would occur in 2020 and 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The C-G has directed that Passport offices across the country with high volume of pending applications to work on Saturdays.

“The period for this exercise is expected to be every Saturday commrencing from Dec. 3, 2022 to Jan. 28, 2023 between the period of 10 am to 2 pm.”

“This is to enhance our service delivery to out esteemed clients.”

“The Saturday proceding the Christmas and New Year holidays are exempted, ” he said.

The spokesman said passport offices that fall within this category should contact him by Monday for further details.

Akuneme reiterated the resolve of the C-G to make passport services available and stress free to the traveling public, especially during the festive season.

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Biden’s Granddaughter Weds At White House

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Trailed by a lengthy, flowing veil, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden walked across the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday toward an altar of shrubs and flowers to marry her longtime boyfriend Peter Neal in a rare wedding on the grounds.

Fidel Info reports that Theirs was just the 19th wedding in 200-plus years of White House history.

Under a sunny, blue sky paired with unseasonably crisp 40-degree temperatures, the bride and groom, both dressed by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, exchanged “I do’s” as 250 family members and friends watched as they were united in a nearly hourlong ceremony.

Naomi Biden, 28, wore a long-sleeved, high-neck gown and veil covering hair that had been styled behind her head. Neal, 25, chose a navy blue, three-piece suit with a double-breasted vest.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted the wedding of their eldest grandchild.

“It has been a joy to watch Naomi grow, discover who she is, and carve out such an incredible life for herself,” they said in a statement announcing the marriage of Naomi King Biden and Peter George Heermann Neal.

“Now, we are filled with pride to see her choose Peter as her husband and we are honored to welcome him to our family,” they said. “We wish them days full of laughter and a love that grows deeper with every passing year.”

The south side of the White House, facing the lawn and Washington Monument, was decorated with wreaths and garland bearing white flowers. The bride walked down an aisle that led from the Diplomatic Reception Room to the altar of shrubs and white flowers.

Guests began arriving at the security checkpoint hours before the ceremony, including women in open-toed shoes despite the chill. Some guests were given hand warmers. Most wore coats, and some topped off with hats and scarves.

It is the first White House wedding with a president’s granddaughter as the bride, and the first one ever on the South Lawn.

Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to ordinary pedestrians before and during the ceremony, as was a sidewalk bordering the Ellipse, the park just south of the White House.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds, their families and the wedding party had lunch in the White House. A reception with dessert and dancing was planned for later Saturday. President Biden went to church in Washington in between events.

Unlike some past White House weddings, Naomi Biden and Neal barred journalists, although the ceremony was outdoors on the grounds of what the president and first lady call the “people’s house.” The White House released a photo, and others were posted on the wedding planner’s social media account.

Naomi Biden is a lawyer in Washington. She is the daughter of Hunter Biden and his first wife, Kathleen Buhle.

Neal, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania law school. He works at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. His parents are Drs. Mary C. and William “Bill” C. Neal of Jackson Hole.

The couple, who have been living at the White House, was set up by a mutual friend about four years ago in New York City and have been together ever since, the White House said. Neal proposed in September 2021 near his childhood home in Jackson Hole with a ring that repurposed the band of his grandmother’s engagement ring, according to the White House.

The White House has released few other details about the wedding, citing the couple’s desire for privacy. The Biden family will pay for all wedding activities, officials have said.

“Naomi and Peter have asked that their wedding be closed to the media and we are respecting their wishes,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.

White House weddings are rare. There have been 18 documented weddings in the 200-plus-year history of the White House. Nine involved a president’s daughter, most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 and Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Lynda in 1967.

But nieces, a grandniece, a son and first ladies’ siblings have also gotten married there. One president, Grover Cleveland, tied the knot at the White House, too, while in office.

Some of the weddings were open to coverage by the news media, while others weren’t at all.

Journalists were allowed into Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Ed Cox, the first wedding held in the Rose Garden. Her wedding planner — a three-ring black binder in the offices of the White House Historical Association — includes extensive notes on the media plan.

But the May 1994 wedding of a brother of then-first lady Hillary Clinton and the daughter of then-U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer — the first since Tricia Nixon’s marriage — was closed to the press. Clinton’s spokesperson commented afterward and the White House released a photo.

It was the same for the October 2013 wedding of Pete Souza, President Barack Obama’s official photographer, and his longtime partner, Patti Lease. The White House announced the wedding in a statement following the small, private wedding in the Rose Garden.

The White House Correspondents Association, which advocates for press access to the White House and the president, said it was “deeply disappointed” that the White House declined its request for press coverage of Naomi Biden’s wedding.

“White House weddings have been covered by the press throughout history and the first family’s wish for privacy must be balanced against the public’s interest in an event occurring at the People’s House with the president as a participant,” the WHCA board said in a statement.

Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said it’s important to remember that first families are families first.

“Their privacy should be respected, their wishes should be respected,” he said.

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