Government urged to come clean on PIP promise
Labour have today (Wednesday 20 January 2015) pressed Iain Duncan Smith to admit whether he has broken his promise that no one applying for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) would wait longer than 16 weeks for an assessment in 2015. On 30 June 2014 Iain Duncan Smith promised MPs that, ‘before the end of the year, no one will be waiting for more than 16 weeks’ for a Personal Independence Payment assessment.
But evidence from MPs surgeries across the country suggests some people are still waiting for longer than 16 weeks for a Personal Independence Payment assessment. The DWP’s own website currently says assessments will be undertaken in 26 weeks, but DWP’s online PIP toolkit says this will be down to 16 weeks by the end of 2014.
Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People, said:
“It’s time for Iain Duncan Smith to come clean about Personal Independence Payment waiting times. Far too many disabled people are still stuck in a backlog waiting for an assessment. David Cameron’s government have forced hundreds of thousands of disabled people to wait for months to find out whether their applications for Personal Independence Payments have been successful.
‘The huge delays which have blighted the introduction of Personal Independence Payments, Universal Credit and Work Capability Assessments have wasted people’s time, money and potential. It’s more Tory Welfare Waste which Britain can’t afford.”
Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to today’s Labour Market Statistics, said:
“Today’s fall in overall unemployment is welcome, but wages remain sluggish and working people are £1,600 a year worse off since 2010.
“The Tory cost-of-living crisis and the Tory low-wage economy has left millions of people who do the right thing, work and contribute struggling to make ends meet and pay the bills. And David Cameron and George Osborne’s failure to tackle low pay is making it far harder to get the deficit down with income tax receipts across the Parliament £70 billion lower than forecast in 2010.
“A Labour government will tackle the Tory cost-of-living crisis and the Tory low-wage economy by raising the National Minimum Wage to £8 an hour, ensuring more people are paid a Living Wage, getting more homes built and extending free childcare provision. We will get the next generation into work by boosting apprenticeships.
“Tackling low pay is part of our tough, but balanced plan to get the deficit down and earn our way to higher living standards for all, not just a few at the top.
“Today’s figures also show a worrying rise in youth unemployment – the government should bring in a compulsory jobs guarantee to get young people into work.”
Seema Malhotra MP, commenting on the lifting of the EU ban on importing alphonso mangoes, said:
“From the beginning Labour MPs campaigned hard to lift the ban which was affecting small businesses in our constituencies, and we are delighted that the government and the EU have listened to us at last. I pay tribute to the campaigners and businesses who worked so hard with politicians to address concerns that were raised and which led to the ban.
“We need to now work to end other damaging import bans affecting companies in the UK.
“Now everyone in Britain can enjoy delicious Indian mangoes once again.”
The Northern Alliance group has described the recent completion of two standard universities in Jigawa and Bauchi state as highly commendable.In a statement by its National Coordinator Aminu Abdusalami, he stress that this feat is worthy of emulation and commendation.
He also maintained that the building of these two universities has made the north the next academic destination as students from all over the country are moving in, in search of a higher academic career. Abdusalami said Governors Isa Yuguda and Sule Lamido have continue to raise the social and economic developmental bar in the Northern part of Nigeria with numerous developmental projects and therefore put premium on the need for continuity and sustainability.
He therefore call on all northerners to shun all form of deceit by parties and individuals who want to come to power through all means, as this will set the north back to the dark days. He maintained that PDP is the only party with clear cut developmental plan and genuine will to implement it for the good of the people.
LAGOS, Nigeria, January 20, 2015/ — As Nigeria marks six months without a new case of polio, Rotary has announced $8.1 in grants to help the country in its final push to eradicate the disease within its borders. The funds will be used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to support polio immunization campaigns, research and surveillance in the country.
Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, reported the highest number of polio cases in the world as recently as 2012. However, the country showed remarkable progress in 2014, when it reduced its polio case count by nearly 90% over the previous year. The funding commitment from Rotary (http://www.rotary.org) comes at a critical time, as the country has a prime opportunity to take advantage of these gains and end the disease for good.
“Nigeria has made incredible progress against polio this past year and I’m proud to see our country reduced cases by nearly 90% in 2014,” said Funke Akindele, Nollywood actress and Rotary polio ambassador. “With funds from Rotary, the continued support of Rotarians in Nigeria and around the world, I believe there will be a day when no child in Nigeria will be at risk of this disease.”
“Nigeria has managed an incredible feat,” said Dr. Tunji Funsho, Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Nigeria. “Our country has gone six months without a new case of the disease. However, now we must be more vigilant than ever, as our progress is fragile.”
Commitment from all levels of the Nigerian government to ending the paralyzing disease has proved crucial to the country’s recent progress. Experts urge political leaders to maintain this focus, even amidst Nigeria’s upcoming national elections next month.
Recent polio outbreaks the Horn of Africa and Central Africa stemmed from poliovirus that originated in Nigeria. These outbreaks appear to have been effectively stopped in 2014; however, the continued presence of the virus in Nigeria puts countries in Africa at-risk for renewed outbreaks. In addition to the $8.1 million in funds for Nigeria, Rotary has committed $18.5 million to be divided amongst an additional seven countries in Africa. The grants include $1.6 million, Cameroon: $2.5 million, Chad; $3.3 million, Democratic Republic of Congo; $1.1 million, Ethiopia; $250,000, Kenya; $2.8 million, Niger; and $7 million, Somalia.
Outside of Africa, Rotary also announced grants of $1.1 million for Pakistan and $6.7 million for Afghanistan. Together with Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two other countries in the world where polio has never been stopped.
Rotary provides grant funding to polio eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with governments and others in polio-affected countries to plan and carry out immunization activities. Mass polio immunizations must continue until global eradication is achieved.
To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion to fight polio. Through 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match two-to-one every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication (up to $35 million a year). In 2014, there were only 350 confirmed polio cases in the world, down from about 350,000 a year when the initiative launched in 1988.
EU deploys Election Observation Mission in Nigeria
ABUJA 20 January 2015 – The European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission for the Presidential, National Assembly, Governor and State Houses elections of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, scheduled for 14 and 28 February 2015. At the invitation of the authorities of Nigeria the mission will assess the elections against national law and international principles for elections contained in regional and international law and standards.
Nine analysts of the core team arrived in Abuja from 6 January, following an advance team that was deployed during the party primaries last November and December. Thirty long-term observers arrived from 12 January. The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is led by Santiago Fisas Ayxela, Member of the European Parliament, from Spain, who will arrive in Abuja later this week. A delegation from the European Parliament and EU diplomats in Nigeria will also join the mission on election days.
”The EU EOM’s extended presence shows the EU’s commitment to the conduct of inclusive, transparent and credible elections in Nigeria. We don’t just focus on the election days, but on all aspects of the electoral process, including the arbitration of petitions long after voting is finished” says Chief Observer Santiago Fisas Ayxela.
The EU EOM will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the entire electoral process. This will include assessing the legal framework, the performance of the election administration, voter registration, candidates’ nomination and political parties primaries, campaign activities, respect for fundamental freedoms, access to and conduct of the media, voting and the counting, the announcement and acceptance of results, and complaints and appeals.
The EU EOM is bound by a code of conduct which requires strict neutrality and no interference in the process. The mission undertakes all its work in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. The EU EOM will publish its initial findings in Preliminary Statements, which will be presented in press conferences two days after each election day. A final report will be later published which will include recommendations for improvements for future elections.
The European Union was invited to deploy an observation mission by the Nigerian authorities and has signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The EU EOM is independent from any EU institutions or Member States and is committed to remain neutral and abide by the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct, as well as the laws of Nigeria.
DISCLAIMER OF MEDIA REPORT FROM NIDOA
RE: POLITICAL RALLY STATEMENTS ERRONIOUSLY CREDITED TO NIDO AMERICAS
The Nigerians in Diaspora Organization in the Americas (NIDOA) has been made aware of a world-wide media report concerning the unauthorized political rally in the United States of America, in support of a candidate for election in the coming Nigerian general election. In addition, we have seen some pronouncements made on behalf of the Organization purportedly by certain members of the Organization. Comments were credited to these individuals and photographs showing banners bearing the logo and name of NIDO were carried in support of a presidential candidate. This matter was discussed at the Board meeting of the Organization on Sunday January 18, 2015, and the actions and statements attributed to our members have been referred to the NIDOA Board’s Investigation Committee for necessary action.
NIDOA categorically dissociates itself from any foreknowledge or approval of any support for this privately organized political rally. The Organization unequivocally disclaims the statements credited to these individuals and maintains that they are NOT representative of the Organization’s position nor those of its membership. We affirm that the political support rally was NOT authorized by the Board of Directors of NIDO Americas. We also wish to make it abundantly clear that these individuals were not speaking for the Organization.
NIDO is, has been, and remains a non-partisan organization. The mission of the Organization is to engage the Nigerian government on programs, propose policies, and provide opinions that will advance the interests and welfare of all Nigerian citizens living in the Diaspora. Our core goal is to utilize the NIDO forum as a platform for harnessing the talents and resources of the Nigerian Diaspora for the enhancement of Nigeria’s development. To this end, NIDO Americas will work with the Nigerian Government and its policy makers to propose and implement strategies or achieving this goal.
It is therefore regrettable and totally unacceptable that any member of NIDOA would engage in activities that do not align with our policies and bylaws, purportedly, in the name of the Organization. NIDOA stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all well-meaning Nigerians in support of:
a) A free, fair and peaceful electoral process at the local, state and federal levels;
b) A violence-free election: before, during and after the elections.
c) A transparent process that would win the confidence of the electorate and minimize post-election litigations and inter-party rancor that may throw our fledgling democracy into and unwarranted tailspin.
We take this opportunity to appeal for a peaceful process throughout the election season and request all candidates to place the nation’s interest above their personal in the interest of the nation.
Long Live NIDO Americas
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Tristram Hunt MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to the Ofsted report published today on Durham Free School said:
“Michael Gove said Durham Free School would raise standards and would add to the quality of education in Durham – in reality it has done the exact opposite. David Cameron’s failing Free School programme is damaging school standards – too many are failing their Ofsted inspections, one third have employed unqualified teachers and a complete lack of local oversight is allowing underperformance in these schools to go unchecked for far too long.
“Labour would end the flawed Free Schools programme and reverse David Cameron’s decision to allow unqualified teachers in our schools. We will deliver a tough new system of local oversight for all state schools, with new Directors of School Standards in all areas of the country, rooting out falling standards and challenging underperformance.”
Tristram Hunt MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to the news that David Cameron will fight the election with a policy of allowing unqualified teachers into our schools, said:
“David Cameron has confirmed that he will fight the election on a pledge to allow the number of unqualified teachers in our schools to expand.
“On his watch, 400,000 pupils are being taught by unqualified teachers. This is damaging the education system in this country and harming the life chances of young people.
“Labour will end David Cameron’s unqualified teachers policy. We will ensure that all teachers become qualified, as a starting point, and require all teachers train to continue to improve as a condition to being in the classroom. Only then can we improve the quality of education for all children, in all schools.”
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