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Anambra: If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Mend It – By Alex Otti

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By Alex Otti; alex.otti@thisdaylive.com

Credit for the title of today’s piece goes to the erudite and brilliant scholar and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, who reechoed the old maxim. Before I get into the business of this intervention, I must admit a few issues in the spirit of full disclosure.

The first is that I am not only a card carrying member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, I am also a member of the Board of Trustees of the party, which is in power in Anambra State. Secondly, Willie Obiano is a longtime friend and brother and has been, in the last few decades. Thirdly, Willie was a professional colleague, as both of us worked in the banking industry about the same time in the last two decades and a half. While acknowledging these possible areas of conflict, I must quickly add that in the tradition of this column, we are going to deal with the subject matter devoid of bias.
History records that there is hardly any successful leader without a vision. In fact, the bible says that people perish for lack of vision. Leaders in the past century like Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr, and modern day leaders like Lin Kwan Yew, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Nelson Mandela, had one thing in common. They were or are all visionary leaders. They knew where they were going, even if it was not clear to their followers from day one. They set targets for themselves and had clear ideas of how to know when they got there. This is not necessarily the case with Nigeria. Most of our leaders come into governance, unprepared, clueless and without set deliverables, except may be to amass wealth for themselves and their cronies. There is this saying that “if you don’t know where you are going, any road takes you there”.
I can confidently say that Anambra state falls into the class of exceptions to this rule. This was taken to a new level with the assumption of office of Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano as the Executive Governor of the State on March 17, 2014. Obiano comes with excellent antecedents. Amongst several other educational qualifications, he holds a degree in Accounting, an MBA and the Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. After a short stint at First Bank of Nigeria PLC, he joined Texaco Nigeria PLC as Accountant. After four promotions in eight years, he became the Chief Internal Auditor of the Company. He was so adept at his job that Fidelity Bank poached him in 1991 to head her Audit department. He received promotions virtually every year culminating in his appointment to the board as Executive Director in 2003. Having attained the retirement age of 55, he bowed out from Fidelity Bank in 2012. As the tenure of Peter Obi was ending, he contested election for the position of the Executive Governor of Anambra State in November 2013, and won.
Like Obiano himself would say, he came to the job well prepared. Beyond his education, experience and past performances, he had a clear strategic vision. He articulated his vision in a statement thus “to make Anambra State the first choice investment destination and most preferred location to site new industries”. He followed up with a mission statement as follows “to make Anambra State a socially stable, business friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities”. As if these were not enough, he proceeded to set up an economic blue print known as the “Anambra Wheel of Development”. This blue print had four pillars as follows:
Agriculture
Industrialization
Trade and Commerce and
Oil and Gas
Having established the pillars, he went further to identify 12 enablers upon which the pillars would rest. These enablers speak to the legs upon which to anchor the 4 pillars. According to him, the enablers include Security, Education, Healthcare, Finance, Environment, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Power generation, Civil and Social infrastructure, Water and Sanitation, Hospitality and tourism, Judiciary, Youth and Sports and Information Technology.
By setting out with a strategic direction, it became easier to measure the performance of the administration. I must add that Vision and Strategy formulation are amongst the most important responsibility of leadership. It is something that cannot be done without an in-depth study and understanding of the environment. Once you have your strategy figured out and documented, it becomes easy to steer your team in the direction you want them to go and also measure performance. This sets Obiano apart from a lot of his peers. One more thing: Strategy should be specific to the environment and therefore, fit for purpose. Flowing from these, it is clear that a strategy that works for one state, may not necessarily work for another because all states are not the same. They don’t have the same demographics. I listened to a state governor do a poor imitation of Obiano’s strategy a few years ago. From the way the state is going today, it is clear the whole thing has fallen apart and little mention is made of the strategy in the recent times.
Having set the framework, it would not be out of place to look at how far the Obiano administration has gone in implementing the goals it has set for itself in its strategy document in the last 42 months. In the area of agriculture, the government has taken the bull by the horn. Agriculture alone has created close to 400,000 direct jobs and has attracted over $1.2 billion in private investments within the period under review. The government declared a rice revolution which led to the increase in rice production from about 80,000 metric tonnes per annum in 2014 to 322,000 metric tonnes presently. This means that the state is now self-sufficient in rice production as statistics shows that the annual consumption of rice in the state is 300,000 metric tonnes. In the last one year, Anambra has been exporting local vegetables to the UK. Readers will agree that this is not a mean feat, considering the very high standards that must be met before one can export food to the UK. This was done because the state showed more than a passing interest in the production and packaging of the product to ensure that international standards were met. Still on Agriculture, the world renowned SAB Miller that has a brewery in Onitsha would, henceforth, not buy sorghum, a major input for its products, from outside Anambra. At the instance of the government of Obiano, SAB Miller has entered into agreement with Delfarms, a local sorghum producer, to supply all the Sorghum that it requires for its 2.7 hectolitres brewery in Onitsha. To encourage more people to either go into farming or expand their capacity, Obiano has disbursed about N640m in agricultural loan to over 15,000 farmers in the state.
The administration knows very well that the agricultural value chain is not complete if it does not dovetail into industrialisation. So, the government does not just want to encourage primary products, but processing and packaging as added value. It has, therefore, created an enabling environment for local industrial production. In addition, it has also created incentives, concessions and financial support for small and medium scale enterprises and startups to cushion the effect of the harsh economy on genuine entrepreneurs. In response to this, hundreds of millions of private sector investments have found their way into Anambra State for industrial production. Nnewi and Onitsha have been the major beneficiaries of industrial investments. An industrial park is also being built by the government in Nnewi to take advantage of the traditional manufacturing capacity of the town.
Trade and Commerce are the natural turf of Anambra people. I doubt if there is any part of Nigeria that an Anambra trader would not be found doing business. The government has also given this sector, a boost as one of its pillars for economic development. To ensure that there is order and deliberate expansion, the government created the Anambra State Market Agency (ASMA), whose primary brief is to construct, rehabilitate and regulate commercial activities in the state. A lot of new markets are springing up and existing ones are receiving face lift.
On the Oil and gas pillar, prior to this time, Anambra had not been known as an oil producing state, inspite of the huge proven hydrocarbon deposits in the state. Exploration activities have been on in the state and companies like Orient Petroleum, which started producing oil before the inception of Obiano’s administration are receiving support by way of creating access to the communities where they operate. It is actually the bid to create access to the oil bearing communities that led to the construction of the longest bridge in the South East across the Omambala River. The government has also completed the mapping of identified oil and gas assets in the state for purposes of ease of concessioning. It has also initiated serious engagements with experts to produce electricity from the gas deposits in these communities.
Having assessed the state of the 4 pillars, we now turn to the enablers. Considering that there are many of them, we shall discuss just a few. Education is taken quite seriously in Anambra state. Starting from the last administration, the state became one of the best in education. The Obiano government has not only sustained this performance but has improved on it. Taking the NECO for instance, Anambra has continued to improve in its performance each passing year. It recorded 65% success rate in the 2015 academic year. Success here means students who made 5 credits including English Language and Mathematics. In 2016, the rate improved to 72% and this year, it further improved to 75%. In WAEC also, the state has continued to do very well. Anambra’s performance is not unrelated to the government’s holistic approach to education which emphasizes, student’s welfare, teacher’s motivation and welfare and conducive learning environment. Teachers are particularly key and in Anambra, no one is ever owed salaries unlike some states that I know.
Attention has also been paid to healthcare delivery for the state. Renovation and construction of primary health care facilities have been on the front burner of the administration. Several general hospitals have also been modernized while the Teaching Hospital at Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Amaku has benefitted from major structural and infrastructural upgrade. Several roads have been built and commissioned and Awka, the state capital has benefitted from several state of the art well-lit bridges. Anambra has been lucky to have the best road network in the South East and Obiano has ensured that hundreds of kilometres of new roads are added to the stable.
Perhaps, one of the greatest feats of the Obiano government is the Anambra Airport City project. The $5b project is being funded and constructed by the Chinese. It is a PPP initiative on the basis of Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT). The investors who are funding the project completely have given a timeline of 3 years for completion and commissioning. This would open Anambra up for further business.
For those who know Anambra well, you would agree that a major problem that the state had battled with, over a period of time is security. Violent crimes, armed robbery and kidnapping were synonymous with the state. In fact, some areas in Onitsha were abandoned as criminal gangs took them over. On resumption of office in 2014, Obiano took on security concerns headlong. Areas that were captured by criminals came under heavy bombardment by the security operatives who were empowered with equipment, vehicles, helicopters, and gunboats. Criminals got the message: that there was no safe abode for them in Anambra State. They all fled and today Anambra is reputed to be the safest state in the country.
On the management of the Anambra economy, Obiano has demonstrated that he understands how the economy works. Readers would recall that on several occasions in this column, we had advocated that the way out of the recession was to stimulate the economy by massive spending. The Obiano government rolled out a comprehensive stimulus package for the state. While other states were owing salaries, Obiano did not only pay workers, he actually increased salaries and gave workers tax breaks. This helped in empowering consumers which in turn helped in jump-starting production. Anambra is one of the few states that do not owe salaries and probably the only state that increased salaries during recession.
From the above assessment, there is no doubt that Governor Obiano has done very well. The first is that he is clear about his vision in the state. He was able to articulate them into measurable parameters. He established a template that would help achieve the objectives. He also has combined skills and experience to ensure flawless execution. The first phase of execution has been excellent in spite of the challenges of the economy which was not envisaged at the formulation stage. Given this kind of scorecard, and given that Anambra people are very discerning, my expectation is that they would renew the mandate of this fine and urbane gentleman to enable him complete the job he started close to four years ago. Like the saying goes, one does not need to change a winning team. All I can say is that all well-meaning citizens of the state should join hands now with their indefatigable Governor, Willie Obiano to lay the foundation for Anambra State of the future. Over to you Anambrarians!

 

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Young people from the Commonwealth get the royal treatment

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THE DUKE and Duchess of Sussex made their first appearance at a Commonwealth engagement following the Duke’s appointment as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
The ‘Your Commonwealth’ Youth Reception took place on Thursday (Jul 5) in celebration of the Commonwealth Youth Leadership workshop, which is designed to give aspiring leaders strategic skills to bridge the gap between young people and their governments and also to advocate for greater inclusion of young people at all levels of decision making, policy planning and implementation at national and regional levels.
Thirty-five delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Council and other Commonwealth youth networks attended the workshop at The Commonwealth headquarters in London. The workshop brought together 120 young people, scholars, youth leaders, and youth representatives of High Commissions who worked together to generate ideas about the type of Commonwealth they want to see in 2040.
The reception, hosted by Secretary-General: Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, saw speeches from Tijani Christian, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, as well as Ms Scotland and The Duke of Sussex.
Addressing the audience at Marlborough House, Ms Scotland shared her excitement at Their Royal Highnesses involvement in the Commonwealth Youth Forum and the important role young people have in building the future of the Commonwealth.
“It is a special delight for us all to be assembled here with His Royal Highness as – supported by Her Royal Highness – broad new prospects for involvement and engagement as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador are added to his already illustrious career of public service in and for our member nations,” she said.

The Duchess of Sussex meeting guests during the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House in London.

“In our nations, as in our networks, there is immense diversity – there are also rich and distinctively Commonwealth strands of common purpose. The Commonwealth Youth Council, our Commonwealth Youth Networks, Commonwealth scholars, fellows and civil society organisations are living expressions of this unity of vision.
The mutual support and cooperation they offer bring to fruition the inspiring commitments and aspirations of our Commonwealth Charter.”
Tijani Christian followed Ms Scotland, and echoed her sentiments of working alongside His Royal Highness and dealing with issues affecting the Commonwealth today.
We, the young people of the Commonwealth, are pleased to work alongside you [Duke of Sussex] in ensuring all young people across the Commonwealth have their voices heard and their ideas taken into account.
We are all here representing the diversity of the Commonwealth – the youth council, the network, high commissions, commonwealth organisations –in you we see the hope of the commonwealth and the world. The power and importance of our network and institutions cannot be underestimated. We are building bridges across the commonwealth, dealing with the most pressing and vital issues affecting young people today.”
Mr Christian also discussed some of the key topics addressed during the workshop, which included the development of the education sector. He said: “We the young people have a unique perspective and some of the ideas that came of the challenge was to ensure we have a more robust system that involves a rigorous curricular and takes into account entrepreneurship and innovation, because young people are indeed leading the way.”

The Duke of Sussex makes a speech during the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception

The Duke of Sussex took to the podium and reiterated the importance of bridging the gap between young people and their governments and his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
“As many of you know, earlier this year, I was honoured to be named The Queen’s Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. My job as your ambassador is to listen and learn from you, amplify your voices and to bring your ideas to the attention of decision makers. It only seems right that as the youth of today, you should play a part in shaping the policies that will make the future better for everyone.”
The Duke of Sussex also urged young people to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the planet including health care, governance and climate change. “When talking about the future, recognising the advances and progress we make year by year and day by day, we know the potential of what can be achieved by 2040 is limitless.”
At the garden party, the royal couple spoke to participants of the workshop and members of Commonwealth organisations, youth council and networks, including Vice Chairperson Policy & Advocacy for the Commonwealth Youth Council, Nafula Faith Wafula.
The Kenyan activist and poet spoke of her interaction with The Duchess of Sussex and their shared desire to advocate for gender equality.
“It was amazing to engage with them because they’re very aware of the issues young people face. We had the Duchess and we spoke a lot about gender equality and youth engagement as well the bottom-up approach to development issues.”
Jamaica’s Benjamin Fraser, a Representative on the Commonwealth Students’ Association, spoke about how the workshop and Commonwealth Youth Forum has benefitted him and continues to provide opportunities for youth “I grew up in the more rural side of urban Jamaica – to be here shows that opportunities exists for youth to grow, to get exposure and do things you didn’t even think about. You just need to work hard, surround yourselves with the right people and be.”

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo seeks 6-year single term for president, governors

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a socio-cultural umbrella of Ndigbo, has called for the adoption of a six-year rotational single tenure for the president and governors of 36 states in the country.
It also demanded creation of one additional state in the South-East geo-political zone, scrapping of local government system and resource control for states where natural resources were exploited.

These were some highlights of the resolutions tagged, “Ekwueme Square Declaration 2018’’, which members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo reached during their one-day summit in Awka on Monday.
Charles Soludo, the Chairman, Planning and Strategy Committee and Organising Committee, read out the resolutions.
Mr Soludo further said Ohanaeze want the federal government to adopt the report of the 2014 National Conference.
He said the resolution already ratified by all the component arms of Ohanaeze, equally demand that the current Constitution of Nigeria, which he stated was the product of the military, be redrafted.
Mr Soludo added that Ohanaeze recommended that a constituent assembly for the drafting of a new constitution be constituted and thereafter a referendum be held, adding, “Whatever recommendations of the group would be sent to National Assembly.”
He said the group also demanded for the scrapping of state of origin and its replacement with residential rights whereby a Nigerian would have full right in any place he or she resides for 10 years.
On the six years single tenure, the group noted that six vice presidents from each of the six geo-political zones should be elected, while the governorship seat would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
On his part, John Nwodo, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said the summit was organised to enable Ndigbo articulate major challenges affecting the country.

Mr Nwodo claimed that the present constitution of the country was skewed against Igbo people and should be redrafted to give Igbo people fair treatment.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, challenged the Ohanaeze leadership to convince those yet to support the restructuring of the country to back the idea.

Mr Ekweremadu assured that he would table any bill on the restructuring of the country whenever the Ohanaeze present it at the National Assembly.
A former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ike Nwachukwu, who also spoke called on the people of Middle Belt to support the call for restructuring of Nigeria, claiming that they stand to gain more.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the Chairman of the summit, called on Igbo people especially the leaders to exhibit honesty in their affairs, to help move the people forward.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra in his address thanked the organisers for choosing his state for the summit organised for the Igbo people to articulate what they want as Nigerians.
Earlier in a sermon, Ben Osisioma of the Anglican Communion, called on Ndigbo to rely on God for solution to their challenges in Nigeria.
The summit was attended by prominent Igbo leaders from Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Rivers and Delta.
(NAN)

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Obiano, Best Option for Greater Anambra, Says Nwosu

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As the people of Anambra State prepare to elect a new governor to lead them for the next four years on Saturday, Chike Nwosu, a lawyer, administrator, entrepreneur and President of Greater Anambra Initiative for Development (GAIN), a leading development, good governance, and sustainable leadership advocacy group, in this interview with Olaoluwakitan Babatunde, makes a case for incumbent Governor Willie Obiano’s re-election
Anambra State has been in an electioneering season.
What for you are the issues? And would you say the parties and their candidates are addressing them?
I think the issues in this election are the need for a credible and honest leadership; how do we create a vision for our dear state and take its development to the next level; and how do we get a leader with the right pedigree to lead us to the desired level. Without vision the people perish. The candidates so far have done their best in terms of political rhetoric, marketing themselves and selling their party manifestos to the good people of Anambra State. Politics is a battle of ideas and contact sports. My thesis and submission is that the election is going to be a sprint and not a marathon race.

What is your assessment of the campaigns? Are you satisfied with the comportment of the contestants and the response of the people to them?
Like I said, the candidates especially that of APGA, PDP, APC, UPP, and of course, PPA have done well in their campaigns. That does not mean that the candidates of other 32 parties have done less. In Anambra, we go for what is authentic. I think Governor Obiano has superior arguments. He has demonstrated a unique kind of consistency, an undiminished stamina and steadiness in delivering infrastructure.
Do you foresee a peaceful election in view of the call for its boycott by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)?
Anambra has always been a peaceful State. The election of 18th November would be peaceful. We are peace loving people. Every Igbo man knows that it is to our collective best interest that the Anambra election succeeds. In the past six months we embarked on advocacy and sensitization of our youths on the need for a peaceful election in Anambra. We have held seminars, town hall meetings and sensitized them through various social media.
Looking at the pedigree of the candidates and their parties, which of them do you find most suitable to govern the state for the next four years?
Honestly, we have interacted with some of the aspirants, and we believe that almost all of them are eminently qualified to be governor of Anambra. Unfortunately they can only be one governor at a time. So many of them have excelled in their endeavours and leadership. However, for now, Ndi Anambra have collectively agreed that the incumbent should complete his second term for the following reasons: he has provided uncommon leadership with quintessential attributes; he has stabilized the Anambra polity; he is methodical, a strategic thinker and intellectually mobile; he has managed our resources reasonably; he has achieved his short and midterm targets and should be allowed to complete his long term targets, which includes the Cargo Airport at Umueri.
He also has visible achievements, he has been up to date in payment of salaries, pensions, and he continues to break new grounds; he has practical and cognate experience on the job; and he has carried our collective interests, sentiments, philosophy, aspirations well. Presently, he is favoured by God, history, geography (where he comes from) and politics. In other words, he is favoured by all the elements. Most importantly, he has ongoing projects that he needs to complete.
Obviously you prefer Governor Obiano to continue in office. But he has been criticised for not doing enough in last four years?
Governor Obiano has pedigree. Anambra people already know him. He is a good manager of resources being a chartered accountant and auditor. Even in the midst of recession, he was able to navigate the state safely. He pays salaries, pensions, emoluments and on time. He is Primus inter pares amongst his contemporaries in other states. Criticism is part of life. Nobody is above criticism. The hallmark of leadership is the ability to solve problems. Amongst the contestants, he presents more convincing and more compelling reasons to Ndi Anambra.
Do you not think his chances of returning to office would be narrowed by array of forces against him? The man who brought him, Chief Peter Obi, is in the trenches against him. Wouldn’t this impact negatively on Obiano?
It is hypothetical and speculative to insist he was made governor by the efforts of only Peter Obi. We are not interested in the jurisprudence of who made him governor, how, and why. We just want him to sustain the momentum of development.
I think the incumbent is a beneficiary of God’s benevolence like his predecessor. That is why we have asked the people of Anambra to allow him complete his developmental programs. Peter Obi is a great son of Anambra. We are proud of him and his achievements. To be a governor in Anambra State is no mean achievement.
This is against the backdrop of contending forces and contradictions. If I were Governor Peter Obi, I would quietly retire to advisory capacity and role. One of the pitfalls of extreme intelligence is that you are so accustomed to being right that you believe you are always right. The future is created, not inherited. Everything in life happens for a reason. Peter Obi should support the incumbent to sustain the tempo of infrastructural development in the state.
And what do you make of the internal wrangling in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)? Isn’t the party approaching the election with a divided house?
I am not a card carrying member of APGA. I do not know about their wrangling. However, I am aware they have some issues in court like all the other political parties. As a Lawyer, I understand the legal implications of commenting on matters that are subjudice. Our interest in Greater Anambra Initiative for Development (GAIN) is to advocate and support honest and credible leadership, support positive development projects and ensure that Anambra youths are put to jobs.
Should Obiano win the election, what would be your charge to him?
Considering Governor Obiano’s pedigree, his achievements thus far, we believe that he would win the election. What are the expectations of Ndi Anambra? Create the enabling environment that would enable entrepreneurship thrive, create employment, which will reduce social vices. As an entrepreneur, I understand the positive effects and contributions of entrepreneurship to national development and our GDP. He should support the youths in Anambra State acquire and attain entrepreneurial characteristics that would equip them in start-up enterprises. The truth is that our education and certificates as presently constituted do not make our graduates employable.
The emphasis globally is on youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and vocational skills. He should get the youths busy through positive interventions and initiatives that would promote positive social change. We expect the governor to instigate social change through insights and interventions in entrepreneurship and job creation. We shall support him in this regard.
We need to enhance the entrepreneurial and leadership characteristics of our youths. Entrepreneurship is in the DNA of every Anambra person. It is our forte. It is a game changer. We are equally favoured by other factors of production (Land, labour, and capital). With a good synergy, Anambra would be a power- house in the next three years. We must work hard to put our youths out of the streets. Failure to do so portends doom for all of us. The governor must sustain hope through skill acquisition and entrepreneurship, which are the panacea of tackling unemployment. We in Greater Anambra Initiative would oblige the governor our manual and blueprint for massive industrialization of the state.

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Why the odds favour ‘The Alert Governor’

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By Arinze Chukwudimma

13 days to the Anambra election, the electorate are bracing up for a battle of Titanic proportions. Not only is there a star-studded line-up of heavyweight candidates for the poll, each of whom is truly distinguished in his own right, there is the obvious desperation of the APC- led federal government to “capture” the state which, against all odds, has remained the one true bastion of Emeka Ojukwu’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). To further complicate the situation, there is in addition the widely reported iron determination of a former governor of the state to teach the incumbent, Willie Obiano, the lesson of his lifetime, over issues arising from Obiano’s Campaigns and subsequent election in 2013.

The said former governor is reported to be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that his protégé unseats Obiano.

In all, five candidates command attention: Dr Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Chief Oseloka Obaze of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) Osita Chidoka of the United People’s Party (UPP); and the sitting governor, Willie Obiano, of APGA. While each of the candidates brings credible antecedents, the odds appear to favour Obiano. The reasons are compelling: Regular, prompt, payment of salaries and pensions. This has earned Obiano the popular sobriquet, “The Alert Governor”, among Anambrarians, especially, workers and pensioners. While it is true that salaries and pensions have generally been paid in the state from the time (in office) of Dr Ngige, yet at no time since the creation of the state in 1991 had salaries and pensions been paid within the month, regularly; the bank alerts going out before the month actually runs out. What could be more re-assuring! What could be more impressive of a government? Especially coming at a time when several states are either paying half salaries or not at all for months on end, despite repeated federal bailouts. To argue, as another candidate recently did, that it did not matter when payment was made so long as there was a monthly cycle is, to put it very mildly, simply absurd. It is in fact most revealing of the moral depth or otherwise of some of our public office seekers. Construction of the first – ever flyover bridges at three highly strategic, accident-prone crossings along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway that bisects Awka in two; Building bridges of friendship and inclusiveness among communities and groups previously mercilessly marginalized, ostensibly for “daring” to vote out – of – line or being critical; The broad acceptance among Anambrarians of the zoning principle in the selection of governorship aspirants, with the concomitant willing acceptance that Anambra North has the prerogative for the next four years. The Anambra electorate understand that only an Obiano victory would preserve this gentleman’s agreement, the governor having been in the saddle for one term already; The governor’s giant strides in agriculture, education and industry. For the first time in living memory there are reports in respectable quarters of Anambra vegetables selling in Europe! While Anambra Rice emanating chiefly from the Coscharis Farms in Anaku and elsewhere generated intense interest among Anambrarians all over Nigeria. This has had the salutary effect of generating strong interest among Ndi Anambra in agricultural production. It has the potential for a quiet, green revolution in the state. In education, Anambra under Obiano has prospered. This is borne out by the performance of the state at both the WAEC, NECO and JAMB examinations in recent years. Indeed, a few weeks ago, news was widely carried of a teacher at the Central School, Abagana, Anambra State,. Mr Okodo, emerging the overall best teacher in Nigeria and thus winning the Presidential Prize of a Nissan Car. The provision of a “chopper” for the State Police Command, as well as formal understanding with the Cattle Fulani on their herding activities both have contributed to solidifying peace and security in the state. While the privileges of incumbency do not necessarily always guarantee victory for a candidate, the advantages derivable therefrom must not be underestimated. This is more so where the sitting candidate has not been adjudged a veritable failure, or considered guilty of a catastrophic faux pas. To the contrary, this governor has been the recipient of many awards for creditable performance in office that other contestants verily have an uphill task proving to the Anambra electorate that the governor is a misfit in office, has not performed and hence needs to be changed. It is to the eternal credit of the man that he has resolutely stood by APGA, the party that made him, and the one party that the ethno-nationalistic Igbo man / woman still identifies as their own and as the one surviving legacy of Odumegwu Ojukwu. Obiano cuts the image of a truly principled politician who would not readily trade his first love for some new attractions, which is the stock-in-trade of a great many Nigerian politicians who seem to think that the voters are nit-wits; that we must vote for them, their unprincipled opportunism notwithstanding. There is much more in favour of the sitting governor. But this analysis is predicated on the uncertain assumption that the actual conduct of the election would be free, fair and credible, and collation/presentation of the results free of rascality. Given the stakes involved, our electoral history and INEC’s recent prevarications, this may just prove to be too tall an order!.

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APGA Chief: Obiano Will Win Anambra Election With 85% of Votes Cast

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David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Oye, has said Obiano will be reelected with over 85percent of the total votes that will be cast in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Oye, who spoke to THISDAY in his country home in Amawbia near Awka, said his party was sure of victory in the election as it was the only dominant party in the state.
The national chairman said every available indices pointed to a favourable election for the APGA, and it is not in doubt that it would win the election.
He said: “This election has been challenging and rewarding for us in APGA. In all the places our campaign train has visited, you need to see the joy on the faces of the people.

 

“The APGA government in the state has delivered on its promises, and the message of hope is everywhere, and the people are happy. We have visited 12 local government areas so far since after the flagging off of our campaign, and in all these places, we have registered huge turnout.”
Oye added that APGA was not afraid of any political party in the state, nor do they pose any challenge to the re-election of the governor on November 18.
“APC that you are talking about cannot get up to 10percent of the total votes cast in this election, and I am ready to bet on that. Our people cannot vote them because APGA remains the only party the Igbo people can boost of politically.
“You can see how the people have been decamping from their parties to APGA? Does that not tell you something? Ben Nwankwo, a member of the federal House of Representatives recently declared for our party with numerous supporters.
“People are still talking with us to join the party and that is because they have read the political atmosphere and already know where the pendulum will swing, and once Obiano wins the election, you will see a grand swell of activities, but we will keep all that in wraps,” the party leader stated.
Speaking on the allegation that APGA has a hand in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Oye said his party has not contained the activities in its party, let alone meddling in that of others.
He said: “We are not instigating the crisis in PDP, people have only seen the truth and they are acting on it. That is why you see their members trooping into our party, just like the lawmaker, Nwankwo. I can tell you we are winning the election.”

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Student becomes model after homecoming pictures go viral

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A 19-year-old student his set to become a model after pictures of her went viral.
Anok Yai is a sophomore at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire and she was snapped by a photographer at Howard University’s homecoming celebrations in Washington, DC last weekend.

But after the photos were posted by the photographer on his Instagram account, TheSUNK, Yai went viral.
Not only were the images widely shared and commented upon, but they’ve even led to Yai being contacted by multiple model agencies who want to sign her.
“Saw her right at the end of Yardfest,” wrote the photographer. “Stunning @anokyai.”
He was looking for the best dressed students at the event and Yai caught his eye. She thought perhaps she could gain a few more followers so struck a pose and moved on.
But the reaction to the pictures was greater than Yai could’ve imagined.
The artist shared two photos of Yai, which have now racked up over 11,000 likes and hundreds of comments on Instagram.
Speaking to the Boston Globe about when she realised her photos were going viral, Yai said: “My phone just started vibrating rapidly for a long, long time.
“At first, I honestly thought someone made a meme of me or something.”
She said she didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about, admitting that she thought it was “an average photo.” “At first, I questioned what everyone was seeing because I didn’t really see it,” she said. “Honestly, I think that people get so used to seeing themselves that people don’t see their own beauty because they see it everyday.”
But as her followers grew and the comments poured in, many members of the public urged modelling agencies to sign Yai.
And by Tuesday evening she’d been contacted by three agencies.
Yai says she’s always been interested in fashion and art but never thought she could actually be a model.
But now Yai would like to pursue modelling alongside her biochemistry degree.
“It was a dream that I always wanted, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen,” she said.

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Anambra State : This Stability Must Remain

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Anambra state is currently in the news due to the gubernatorial election slated for Nov 18 and as is customary in our climes, the campaigns have been heated and quite dramatic with various camps trying hard to win the hearts of the electorate.
I have always held the view that a people who don’t appreciate where they’re coming from, can hardly make progress and this is important when they are daily flooded with all manner of mudslinging masquerading as campaigning.
I recall the dark days of the Gov Mbadinuju led administration, how for four years, the state was in limbo.
Those were the days a governor felt the only way to curb crime was to invite an extra judicial outfit (Bakkassi Boys) who killed at will in the full glare of the public.
We cannot forget in a hurry how the scourge of Godfatherism held us down to the point where workers were owed for months on end but God had a plan and Mbadinuju soon gave way to Chris Ngige, a court certified electoral usurper who figured that the only way he could assuage the anger of same electorate he stole their mandate was to work and be seen to be working.
I’m sure you still recall how Ngige disagreed with his fellow electoral bandits and their failed plan to kidnap a sitting governor.
Thankfully the courts threw him out and Peter Obi of APGA got his mandate restored but it would take a while before things settled down because Andy Ubah briefly became governor.
I’m taking the pains of walking us down memory lane so we can appreciate how far God has brought us as a state.
Peter Obi of APGA governed for eight years and handed over to Willie Obiano who has so far continued the stable developmental strides enshrined in the APGA manifesto.
Indeed, Anambra was in darkness until APGA led the way and it keeps getting better.
You will agree with me that there was a time our relatives in the diaspora could not dream of returning home for kidnapping was rife but today, the case is different and huge kudos must be given to the Willie Obiano administration for tackling the security situation head on and relative calm pervades the state as we speak.
It needs to be mentioned that had God not blessed us with an astute administrator like Gov Willie, we would have had it rough in this era of recession but our Governor weathered the storm and today, ours remains one of the few states that has consistently paid salaries in spite of the general financial meltdown.
It should sadden the heart of any true Anambrarian that the campaigns have been hijacked by an opposition determined to hurl all manner of mud at a man whom God has prepared for a precarious time like this and I honestly fail to understand the rationale behind equating insults to issues.
A state that has seen the worst of leadership has no business denigrating a man who has created an enabling environment for investors to thrive.
It was not always so and we should really be worried when men in pursuit of selfish interest, equate their will to that of the people.
Unfortunately, the immediate past Governor is at the forefront of those playing politics of bitterness.
Daily he hops from one place to the other expressing self-righteous disdain for the incumbent and one wonders why politics must be done this way.
The other day, the APC candidate stood in front of a crowd and labeled a sitting governor a thief and one is saddened at this total lack of decorum from someone who desires the exalted seat of a governor.
Anambra state has been through a lot and cannot afford to jettison the stability it currently enjoys for untested hands whose one true motivation is Power for Power’s sake.
To be clear, no true Anambrarian has any business being a part and parcel of Mr Peter Obi’s vindictive drive and we have to make the clear distinction between his selfish anger towards Willie Obiano and the general good of our state.
We have to understand that his personal interest does not equate to the collective interest of Anambra state.
The pendulum of this election will be hinged on the need to maintain stability in the face of the current recession ravaging our nation.
It will not be decided because a man feels slighted and is on a personal revenge mission but on the need to stay our eyes on the ball so as not to rock the boat in these perilous times.
I have heard the APC candidate openly canvassing the need for Anambra to align with the center and one is forced to ask how this so-called alignment has favored IMO state where workers have been owed for months on end and the governor feels its normal building an expensive statue in honor of a visiting President.
Imo , an APC state where pensioners were forced to sign waivers dramatically cutting down their emoluments?
Do we mention Kogi, another APC state where the “youthful governor” has more or less put paid to the illusion that youth is the panacea for good leadership?
Can any right thinking person tell Anambrarians the advantages of connecting to this so-called center?
Do you talk of youth where experience is non existent?
You first came to real political limelight when Andy Ubah brought you in and made you chairman of the PDP party in the state and from there, without any proof of producing anything in your life, you contested and lost a gubernatorial election, then you won a seat in the House of Reps and now feel eminently qualified to become governor of a state like Anambra?
Even in the field of medicine, has he ever put on a stethoscope, not to talk of treating patients?
What am I saying? A man who hasn’t for one day in his life added real value to the society he lives or indulged in real administrative work cannot effectively administer a complex organization like a state.
It doesn’t matter that some chant his praise for identifying with the “youths” but in the complex business of administering a state, we do ourselves a great disservice if we elect someone who is coming to learn on the job!
Anambra is one state designed by God to enjoy progressive stability and this is why the rotation formula was put in place to engender peaceful transition of power among the various senatorial districts.
As it stands today, the North as epitomized by the incumbent currently holds the slot and it would be taking us back to the dark days if we ever go back on that laudable agreement.
I want to believe I’m addressing realists who understand the near impossibility of a man promising you he only wants to go for one term.
Except for Willie Obiano, ALL other contestants stand the risk of destroying the peaceful transition of power to the South should they be elected for Willie is statute barred from recontesting after four years.
The question now is, would you not rather put your faith in that enshrined by the constitution than the words of men who are not statute barred from repudiating their words?
I believe it is in the best interest of the state that this stability is sustained and we look forward to a peaceful and seamless rotation of power to the South in four years time.
Nov 18 is just around the corner and as the day draws near, the smear campaign would get worse.
You will be treated to all manner of denigrating commentaries designed to cast our state in very precarious robes and they will unleash all manner of stories to break the weak hearted in our midst but I enjoin you to stay focussed and not allow yourselves to be used as tools in furtherance of parochial interests that don’t mean well for our great state.
In the words of a great son of Anambra, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, “IF IT ISN’T BROKEN, WHY BOTHER TO FIX OR MEND IT?”
May God bless us as we go out there to maintain the peace and stability as epitomized by the APGA Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano candidacy!
God bless you!

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Why Anambra did not experience recession with rest of Nigeria – Obiano

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Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, has highlighted steps his government took to keep the state out of the recession that rocked the country for more than 15 months.
According to him, robust internal revenue generation mechanisms put in place by the state government and prompt payment of workers’ salaries helped keep the state out of recession.

Obiano stated this during the weekend when he met with Balogun Business Association at Trade Fair Complex, Ojo, Lagos, and traders in Alaba International Market, Ojo Alaba.
He said: “One important thing I want us to know is that in Anambra we have a lot of activities going on and even when other states were in a recession, Anambra state didn’t experience it because we generate over N1 billion monthly and that has been stimulating the economic activities of the state which is of great importance.”
Obiano said apart from generating N1billion monthly, Anambra also pay workers’ salaries promptly.
“Another reason why Anambra did not go into recession is that we pay salaries as at when due, exactly on the 25th of every month.

“Another important thing is that in Anambra state, work is in progress. The largest electronics market in sub-Saharan Africa will be built in Anambra, including our airport projects,” he said.

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The PDP Rallies For APGA – By Chuks Iloegbunam

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Without Chief Victor Umeh, Governor Peter Obi would not have had a second term of office. This declaration is an easy start to explaining the title of this article. It happened this way. Well before his first tenure ended, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, fed up to the hairline, ruled Mr. Obi out of a second term. One morning, General Ojukwu arrived APGA offices in Awka, to the cheers of party faithful and expectant journalists. There, he lifted the hand of Mr. Emeka Etiaba, now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and pronounced him the man to fly APGA’s flag in the 2010 governorship election.
Government House, Awka, immediately went into turmoil, with Governor Obi looking like someone poleaxed. Long hours later, he ditched lamentation for counteraction. This came in his flying to Victor Umeh’s patronage. They met later that week at the grounds between Government Lodge, Enugu and the Enugu State House of Assembly, Governor Obi having chased security aides, drivers and other convoy regulars to no less than 50 metres away. Left severely alone, Governor fell to his knees, contrite, subdued and solicitous, pleading with Umeh for a second chance. After some contemplation, Umeh, reluctantly decided to give Obi a kind ear.
Former Anambra State PDP chairman, Dan Ulasi, recently stated on two national TV stations – AIT and Channels – what happened next. Arriving Chief Ojukwu’s Enugu home one evening, Chief Ulasi was startled to find Peter Obi and Victor Umeh lying flat on the carpet, pleading profusely. Umeh was suppliant; Obi was plaintive. Feeling that, with Umeh’s support, Peter Obi had repented, Ojukwu relented. Obi giggled back to Awka, the second term ticket firmly in his kitty. When the campaigns started a few months later, Ojukwu touched Anambra’s emotional nerve by giving his people a “last wish”, which was to vote Peter Obi again.
When Peter Obi spoke at PDP’s campaign flag off on October 14, he had denied Governor Obiano the benefit of the doubt that Ojukwu and Umeh had generously accorded him. On and on he went, pillorying the Governor of Anambra State. Dates must come into play here. Ojukwu died in November 2011. Less than three years later, Peter Obi abandoned APGA he had vowed before the Ikemba to sustain. This happened only six months after his governorship ran out. Peter Obi plunged into the PDP, arguing that it was wiser “to be a competitor and not a spectator in national affairs”!Four months later, in February 2015, Governor Obiano gave the boot to Joe-Matins Uzodike, his Political Adviser. After another four months, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, who had continued as SSG under Obiano was instructed to tender his resignation letter. This shows that even before Obiano had done half of his first term of office, the Peter Obi-inspired coalition against him was well in place. Clearly, Peter Obi’s animus against Obiano was unconnected to the latter’s governorship credentials. Thus before Governor Obiano had done two years in office, the war of attrition against him had been joined.
By the time I joined the Obiano administration in July last year, Mr. Uzodike had made 77 anti-Obiano appearances on various Anambra State FM radio stations. Peter Obi’s men constructed, especially on airwaves and the Internet, a skyscraper of lies against Obiano, denigrating the man, disparaging him, minimizing his achievements, and cursing the flaming daylight out of his good deeds. Remarkably, there is no record of Governor Obiano, a perfect gentleman, ever repaying his traducers with swear words.
If Peter Obi’s concern was quality leadership, why didn’t he remonstrate with Governor Obiano for any perceived shortfalls? Hadn’t Victor Umeh led him by the hand to obtain reprieve from General Ojukwu? Why did he shun Obiano who publicly offered apologies to him for any perceived infractions right in front of the casket of Revered Father Tagbo, their principal at Christ, the King College, Onitsha? Why did he decide rather to upset the applecart? APGA is bigger than any of its members. Why is Peter Obi on a course of destroying the party that gave him eight years of governorship?
Let’s bring in Alex Ekwueme. In 1999, political generals stopped Chief Ekwueme and handed national leadership to an Olusegun Obasanjo they had spirited from the jailhouse. Yet, Dr. Ekwueme remained in the PDP. Had he decided to pull from the party because he was given a short shrift, Peter Obi would today probably not find a PDP platform from which to try and destroy APGA, the only national party rooted in the Igbo country.
When, in the 2015-2016 English Premier League Season, Chelsea performed abysmally, club owner Roman Abramovich didn’t throw away the baby with the bathwater. He had the club reworked into winning ways and the League title last season. Assuming Governor Obiano has performed below expectation, Mr. Obi’s only right course of action would have been to locate ways of righting wrongs, not demolish a house he had helped in constructing.
In 2006, when I was Chief of Staff at Government House, one rich man gathered his disgruntled cohorts and unjustly impeached Governor Obi. All our efforts to prevent the injustice were met with the prime mover’s boast that he had the means to carry through the impeachment. It is the same boast that we hear today: Peter Obi has the means to unseat Obiano! That’s unjust.
To invite Dr. Ekwueme again. Speaking at the PDP campaign flag-off, he said the party lost previous elections due to indiscipline. Mrs. Uche Ekwunife left the party and joined another. Andy Ubah left the party and joined another. Nicholas Ukachukwu left the party and joined another. Well, isn’t the same indiscipline currently repeating itself? Whoever saw Princess Stella Odua, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, Chief John Emeka and many others at the PDP campaign flag off? Isn’t that a forewarning that previous electoral defeats are on course for reenactment? Doesn’t it show that the PDP is rallying for APGA’s continued supremacy?
Dr. Ekwueme for the final time, for he is a man without cant. At PDP’s campaign flag-off, he had no ill word for APGA or Obiano. His contribution was clearly a rally in APGA’s favour. Months earlier, he had given this unequivocal endorsement: “In retirement I consider myself an elder statesman. But at a personal level, I am close to Governor Obiano and I think he is doing well and should be given a chance to complete his second term. Even purely from a selfish point of view and as somebody from the Southern senatorial district of Anambra State, it is in our interest that he should have a second term of four years because once he finishes that, there will be no question of anybody coming to contest with us.”
It leaves us all with the recurring pertinent question: If it isn’t broken, why mend it when wisdom dictates that a good first term deserves a second?

Mr. Iloegbunam is chairman of Governor Obiano’s Media Team.

 

Source : 247ureports

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37 job openings for young Nigerians in UN: Amina Mohammed

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By Prudence Arobani/New York

There are 37 career openings for young Nigerians under the United Nations bureaucracy, according to UN deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed.
Amina disclosed this at a Cultural Night organised by Nigerians working at the United Nations Systems. She said the openings are available  via the Junior Professional Officers’ (JPO) Programme, including internship for young graduates.
According to her, Nigeria has the opportunity to sponsor its youth for UN careers through the JPO. But Nigeria has not seized the opportunity in a long while, she noted.
JPO is a programme for the young people to come and grow their career at the UN and it has 37 positions for Nigeria – one for each of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.
The JPO programme provides young professionals with hands-on experience in multilateral technical co-operation, and is one of the best ways to gain entry level positions within the UN system.

JPOs are sponsored by their own government, which fund their placement in one of a range of UN organisations.
At the cultural night, Amina asked older Nigerians to pave the way for the youth by creating leadership opportunities for them .
She urged them  to stop competing with the younger ones for employment opportunities.
“Whenever there are opportunities, try and pave the way for the young ones; you are getting old and we want to see the young ones in the system.
“We need to give the youth the opportunity because if we don’t give them the opportunities, they can easily fall victims of crimes,” she said.
According to her, the Nigerian employees at the UN system are getting old and there is the need for the Nigerian youth to be allowed to come into the system.
“Home really does need us; there are leaders and we are trying with the professionals that we see in the United Nations.
“The work we need to do is not just to the world but also to remember that at the root of all that, you are only as good as where you come from.
“And it’s really important that we remember, with what we do here, what we can get back home, that we can encourage those at home, and inspire them.
“It’s not just what we do for the world.  Can’t we take those expertise back home,  Amina said, urging them to make the best use of every opportunity they got.
She condemned what she termed alarming gender-based violence in Nigeria, saying it has increased in dimensions that one could never imagine.
“So when I look back home and I see that there are women that are coming back from Boko Haram captivity, they come back with a type of violence that many, for the rest of their lives, can’t recover from.
“But I also see that what is worse is the kind of violence that is visited upon the young girl. She is indoctrinated and convinced to tie a bomb around her and blow it off; that’s violence against girls; that’s violence against women.
“But what I wanted to say was that as we look at the gender-based violence initiative that we put a spotlight on our own nation; we all have a part to play.
“I know we would spend some money in Nigeria on this initiative but we all have a part to play individually and collectively in trying to bring it to zero,” she said.
Mohammed also lamented how girls were left behind in education, stressing that everyone needs to have an education – the boys and the girls.
“The boys we didn’t educate are the same ones that kidnap the girls that we educated.
“So education for everyone is exposure for everyone; it matters so much; it really does give us the basis, the moral compass to help us navigate through life.”
Nigeria’s Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Samson Itegboje, commended the Nigerians in the UN and particularly lauded the appointment of Mohammed as the UN Deputy Chief.
Itegboje said Nigeria was proud of Mohammed, describing her as an “ultimate authority and a reference point when it comes to Sustainable Development Goals’ issues”.
The Nigerian envoy said: “Nigeria is a great country; we are a happy people, you can’t take that away from us; we have gone through difficult times but we are happy that we have a government that is responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of dear people of Nigeria”.
Col. Jolly Abu (rtd), President, United Nations Staff Recreation Club Nigeria Association, said the cultural night was organised to showcase Nigeria’s culture.
According to him, the Nigerians in the UN are very proud of their culture adding, it is also for them to mingle, rekindle and renew their bonds.
“The UN encourages that we should meet and foster unity among ourselves and also enjoy ourselves; so that’s what we’re doing,” Abu said.
Amb. Audu Kadiri, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN Office and Other International Organisations in Geneva and Nicholas Ella, acting Consul-General in New York also attended the event. (NAN)

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