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The Nigerian Youth: Taking Possession of Tomorrow from Today – By James Eze

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An Address Presented by James Eze, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Anambra State at the Law & Economics Summit organized by the Law Students Association of the University of Nigeria (UNEC) on April 28, 2018.

Protocol

I find it infinitely pleasant to have been invited to address such a youthful audience at a time when the Nigerian youths have become the topic of conversation. I sincerely couldn’t have hoped for a better time to be here.

There’s so much despair, so much pent-up anger and so much disenchantment among the youths that I personally think that the political class should engage the youths more. We must find time to speak to you, to counsel you, to share our experience with you. Perhaps, that way, we may avoid a repeat of the horrors of Libya and the bloated bodies floating in silent indictment on the Mediterranean Sea. And this is why I think that the Law Students Association of the University of Nigeria deserves an applause, no, an “accolade,” for organizing this Summit.

Now, I have been advised to speak on the important skills and staying power needed to succeed as an economic leader in Nigeria and beyond and I consider it a very timely topic for obvious reasons. But I also think that it is one topic that requires a very tactical approach in order to distil its various fragments down for easy absorption. It is for this reason that I seriously think that to even talk about the skills we need to survive, we must first understand the geo-political space called Nigeria. So, just how well do we know Nigeria?

Understanding Nigeria

Well, I don’t know what anyone thinks but to me, Nigeria has always been a fascinating mosaic of dreams and nightmare, hope and despair and of course promise and fail! Nigeria can be whatever you want it to be. It is difficult to describe Nigeria. Nigeria offers diversity in a manner that other countries cannot fathom. Nigeria’s diversity is quite often the reason why it is difficult to describe her. Apparently struck by Nigeria’s immense diversity and her deep fissures, one of the founding fathers, Chief Obafemi Awolowo is reported to have described Nigeria in 1947 as ‘a mere geographical expression.’ Speaking in the same year, another founding father who eventually became Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa had also dismissively observed that “Since the amalgamation of Southern and Northern provinces in 1914 Nigeria has existed as one country only on paper …. It is still far from being united. Nigeria’s unity is only a British intention for the country.”

Lions and Lionesses, these comments were made in 1947. That was thirteen years before Independence. But has anything really changed about Nigeria since then?

In trying to understand Nigeria too, it is also important to understand the dominant passions that ruled the hearts of our founding fathers at a time when it would be fair to assume that the struggle for independence hard started to gather steam. It may be startling to notice the sharp contrast between their private fantasies and their public ambition of ousting the colonial masters.

In The Trouble with Nigeria, his slim but seminal book published 35 years ago, Chinua Achebe sought to draw our attention to the lack of intellectual rigor that marked the political thoughts of our founding fathers. Quoting James Booth, ‘a perceptive student of Nigerian politics’ who had studied the biographies of the Great Zik and Pa Awolowo at the time, Achebe argued that quite unlike their contemporaries like Nkrumah, Nyerere and Mboya, our own Great Zik and Pa Awolowo had exhibited a shallow grasp of the daunting task of providing leadership to a young country in their early days as was captured in their biographies. Achebe reported that in 1937, the Great Zik had vowed that –

“Henceforth I shall utilize my earned income to secure my enjoyment of a high standard of living and also to give a helping hand to the needy.”

Pa Awo was even more effusive in his own avowal. He was reported to have pledged thusly –

“I was going to make myself formidable intellectually, morally invulnerable, to make all the money that is possible for a man with my brains and brawn to make in Nigeria.”

If these two quotes were to be taken seriously, we may not have to look too far for where the rain began to beat Nigeria. The two comments are not only narcissistic but embarrassingly narrow. They are bereft of the big dreams and grand visions of founding fathers which should serve as a mirror in which the citizens could locate themselves at any moment in time. These two men, along with Sir Ahmadu Bello were Nigeria’s finest minds in their time. But their declarations had no deep philosophy, no clear idea of society or even a simple silhouette of what an independent Nigeria should be.

Achebe therefore concluded that “an absence of objective and intellectual rigour at the critical moment of a nation’s formation is more than an academic matter. It inclines the fledgling state to a disorderly growth and mental deficiency.”

Lions and Lionesses, I am pained to observe that Chinua Achebe may be right in his conclusion. Nigeria’s growth has remained disorderly from independence and there is a continuing absence of rigour in our national polity that has blighted all aspirations to greatness to date. There’s almost always a rivulet of blood running through the country’s deep geographical split carved out by the Niger and the Benue. Nevertheless, at this moment, I think it is still realistic to say that even with all the gloom and doom that assault our sensibilities on a daily basis, greatness has not eluded Nigeria.
And to succeed in Nigeria, we must live in full awareness of our internal contradictions and how they limit our chances of success.

How well do you know yourself?
Surviving in the world today and making a success of one’s chosen career requires a considerable level of self-knowledge. American author, Rachel Simmons once observed that “Self-knowledge is the foundation of real success.” Indeed, experience has shown that one of the keys to living a happy life is to know oneself. No two blades of grass are the same. We are individually different. We carry different sparks of genius, distinct personalities, different aspirations and unique worldviews. Sometimes we are vaguely aware of this and most times we are not. That’s why you find people trying to force themselves into shapes and frames that were not built for them. But Bill Copeland, American poet and historian advises us to always “try to be like the turtle; at ease in your own shell.” Besides, experience has often shown that there is no faster route to career failure, lack of fulfilment and profound unhappiness than making a wrong choice of career. That is why we must be familiar with who we are and what we can comfortably do with the right passion and zeal. In all honesty, your life has not truly begun if you have not discovered your passion. So, it helps to know what we are passionate about. But it also helps to be familiar with our own story and to develop a unique way of telling it.

Once in every while, a serious job interview starts with the seemingly unserious question, “tell us about yourself.” To answer this question with convincing sincerity, the candidate must know his or her own story. He must be familiar with his or her strengths and weaknesses, his innate desires and passions, his unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. Self-knowledge is a very important first step on the road to self-actualization and contentment.

The Imagination will never fail you
Lions and Lionesses, to my mind, no meaningful conversation with the youths can ever be complete without mentioning the importance of the use of the imagination. An unknown thinker once observed that ‘imagination is the strongest nation on earth.’ And the great Albert Einstein reinforced the argument when he observed that ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ The Spanish painter, sculptor and poet, Pablo Picasso agreed when he declared that ‘everything you can imagine is real.’ The word ‘Imagine’ is therefore the most powerful word in the world today. It is the word which continues where ‘creation’ stopped; for imagination is what we see when our eyes are firmly closed. All the wonders of science and technology are products of the imagination. Similarly the greatest artistic expressions; from the Renaissance through Neoclassicism to Romanticism and down to the Contemporary arts which stand today as monuments to the human genius were once figments of the imagination. So, the imagination is everything. And we must learn how to use our imagination to open new doors, expand the boundaries of nature and nurture and create a happier world for ourselves and others. Lions and Lionesses, there is in fact no better time to tune our minds to the use of the imagination than now that you are young, uninhibited and fearless!

Take the Path Less Trodden
Brothers and sisters, more often than not, life offers us an array of choices. But there are no short cuts to success. There is always a story to every success. When you put the two together, you have a “success story.” The trouble with most of our youths today is that we want success without a story. And that is absurd. That is why we have many youngsters who want to pluck their fruits before they are ripe. I think we should all worry about that because a life on the fast lane has a predictable ending. Just before I left my house this morning, I remember reading Robert Frost’s poem titled “The Road not Taken.” I remember that the final stanza of that poem always fills me with bubbles of hope. And it goes like this –

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference

Lions and Lionesses, we are talking about the Path Less Trodden. Do you want to travel the well-worn path where everything SEEMS rosy and a feast appears laid out for you? Or would you rather take the road less travelled like Frost and see what difference it will make in your life? Think about that. But while you are at it, please remember that there is a great sense of fulfilment when we boldly decide to, in the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, ‘hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.’ There is no doubt about it; Nigeria is today surrounded by a mountain of despair. But only those who can hew out a stone from its rocky surface will travel far into the horizons. Fellow citizens, there is something infinitely wrong with achieving success without a story or success which story we cannot tell with pride. If you look around you today, there are so many of your fellow students who own state-of-the-art cars. On many university campuses today, there are students who are living the life that some bank CEO would envy. This is so because, I am told that the sand has since shifted from Yahoo-Yahoo to Yahoo-Plus. The question is, after all the fast cars and the bling-bling, what is next? What would happen if tomorrow comes? My only joy is that, students who conceived the idea of this lecture and have sustained it for years cannot be numbered among these “big” boys and girls.

Live in the Present
I am often fascinated by the pace at which technology evolves. It is as though when we close our eyes in sleep every night, something new slips into the technological atmosphere. At the moment, there is actually a glut of technological offerings out there that to acquire a mastery of a fraction of them presents a challenge of its own. But in this increasingly intense digital environment, we cannot afford to be left behind; for to be digitally cut off is a new kind of death that leaves one marooned in a dark tunnel without the slightest hint of light. So, we must not only strive to live in the Present but also anticipate the Future.

And let me say this here, it is a source of worry to me personally that my generation and the generations before me left the inventive fire of our fathers to die without a fight. What do I mean by this? Lions and Lionesses, our fathers fought the most horrendous Civil War in this part of Africa. And in the midst of adversity and the heavy blast of artillery fire, their creative genius found expression in the array of military hardware that they rolled out to stave off the heavy assault on our people. I have been to the War Museum in Umuahia. I have climbed down the famous Ojukwu Bunker. I have witnessed the remnants of the home-grown inventions that flowered during the war. I have taken selfies with the legendary “Biafran Babies” aircraft flown by Swedish Carl Gustaf Von Rosen and felt with my own palms the numb metal of the famous Ogbunigwe launchers. Now, the question is, if our fathers could churn out all these marvellous inventions in the heat of the war, 50 years ago, what excuse can we give for dropping the baton in peacetime? If our fathers could lend such a weighty hand to technological advancement in wartime, how do we explain our inability to walk in the shadow of their greatness in peacetime?

I have listened to different excuses which often blamed the Federal Government for abandoning the Biafran scientists after the war. That is a fact. But valid as that argument may sound, it is no longer sufficient in the light of what we know now. At least we know with a surfeit of evidence that where there is no government support, technological know-how can still be acquired by entrepreneurs who desire to make a difference in the society. Nnewi is a living proof that technology can grow without the usual hand-out from the government. Indeed the Nnewi industrialists have been at it for decades now, rising against all odds to astonish the world with their never-say-never spirit. The first job I ever did when I left secondary school was as a hydraulic machine operator at Edison Brake Pads and Linings at Uruagu Nnewi. I was waiting for the release of my high school results and rather than idle away my time at home, I choose to work in Edwin Obichebendu’s factory where we manufactured brake pads and linings long before Innoson came around to give Nigeria her first indigenous automobile. My brief stay on the hydraulic machine is still fresh in my memory today. Nwanne, otegokwalu Awusa n’uta o!

My sadness however is that Nnewi remains an island of success in a wasteland of woes. A sad reminder of what happened in Egypt where questions have been raised as to why the elevated science of building pyramids was not replicated in other surrounding countries which would have strengthened our claim to the great civilizations of Pharaonic Egypt. Why has Nnewi remained an oasis of ingenuity and daringness in a region that once astonished the world with high calibre weapons half a century ago? Obu na nwa mgbeke amarozi isi akpu, ka obu na aguba adirozi nko? What have we all been waiting for? I should like to know.

When you realize that we have produced a lot more engineers, scientists and technologists since the war ended than we had during the war, you can’t help but wince in pain. When you also realize that most of the great men and women shifting the technological paradigm in Nnewi may not have chains of university degrees, the irony becomes even more telling. So, Lions and Lionesses, the time to re-enact the wartime technological exploits of our fathers is finally here. And you must lead that charge. ‘A lion does not proclaim its lion-hood.’ I am not trying to echo somebody but this great university must lead from the front. The field of ICT offers us a rich minefield to discover hidden treasures. If India can attain such outstanding mastery of the ICT world and China can assume leadership of the industrial world, surely a region that showed a great technological promise more than half a century ago can still spring awake from its prolonged slumber. And this is my silent hope!

The Obiano Promise
There is a glimmer of hope in the horizon. About a fortnight ago, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, inaugurated the Board of Directors of the newly formed Anambra Creative Economy Agency. The thinking behind the establishment of this Agency is to finally create a warehouse where all the numerous creative, inventive and artistic talents that abound in the state can be harnessed for the greater good of the society. The Creative Economy Agency is the first attempt by any government in this hemisphere to give a sense of validation to people who have a gift of the imagination. I think Governor Obiano deserves applause for this. So, slowly but steadily, our political leaders are beginning to look at encouraging the inventive genius that once flourished during the war. And Nigeria shall be the better for it.

Before I end this address, I have one more advice to give –

Don’t cover up your Ignorance
In my interactions with some youngsters, I have come to realize that many of them find it difficult to admit that they are not knowledgeable in some things. They often make desperate efforts to cover up whenever a crack on their polished surface reveals the emptiness within. Sometimes, their spirited effort at face-saving speaks even more poignantly to the void within. This attitude often gets in the way of learning and mentoring. I am a proud beneficiary of long interactive sessions with cultural icons like Chinweizu, Chimamanda, Obumselu, Osundare and several other accomplished scholars and thinkers that are far too many to mention here. We are all learners at different stages and different situations in life. The field of knowledge is so vast and so immense that sometimes it is safe to say that we know only what we know. Even Albert Einstein who could be said to have singularly split the atom of knowledge and explored its innards had the humility to say “I have not eaten enough of the tree of knowledge, though in my profession I am obligated to feed on it regularly.” If Einstein could approach knowledge with such humility, why would anyone feel uncomfortable to admit their ignorance?

In conclusion therefore, there are no extraordinary skills to learn and no superhuman staying power to acquire in order to succeed as an economic leader in Nigeria and beyond. What stands us out is what we know and the passion we invest in everything we do.

Thank you

 

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Photonews : Representatives of the Family of the Late Chief (Dr) Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President of Nigeria, visit President Buhari

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PHOTOS: Representatives of the Family of the Late Chief (Dr) Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President of Nigeria, visited President Buhari at the State House yesterday. Delegation included Chief Laz Ekwueme, Prof. O. Ekwueme and Mrs Beatrice Ekwueme.

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President Buhari Mourns Coomassie

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President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the family members, the government and people of Katsina state following the demise of his classmate and former Inspector-General of Police, Sardaunan Katsina, Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassie.

The President in a statement said he received the news of the death of the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF with shock and deep sense of loss.

He said his thoughts were with late Ibrahim Coomassie’s family and those mourning the demise of the late community leader and fine gentleman.

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala : Twitter appoints ex-Nigerian minister to its board

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NIGERIA’S former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed to the board of directors of Twitter.
Okonjo-Iweala shared the news on Twitter, saying she was “excited” to work on a platform that connects people and ideas.
“Excited to work with @Jack and an incredible team on the Board of Twitter, a global platform that is such a strong connector of people and ideas,” she wrote.

Okonjo-Iweala served under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2006 and President Goodluck Jonathan from 2011 to 2015.
With her new role, Twitter’s 10-member board now has three women, two of whom are black.
The social media company has been criticised in the past for its lack of diversity, joining the likes of many other Silicon Valley tech companies.
A report published in 2017 revealed less than 5 percent of all tech workers are African-American, and less than 11 percent are Hispanic and Latinos.
Double minorities face and even tougher glass ceiling in the tech industry, as only 25 percent of computing jobs are held by women — but a black woman in tech without a traditional education is unheard of.
Twitter has acknowledged it needs to improve diversity in its ranks and has ambitions to increase the percentage of female employees in the company to 43% by 2019 from 38% at the end of 2017. It has also committed to increase the percentage of black and Latino employees to 5%; both groups each represented 3.4% of Twitter’s staff at the end of 2017.

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NYCN elective congress: Nduanya calls for unity, canvasses support

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Comrade Innocent Nduanya, an aspirant to the seat of the President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), has called for unity of purpose ahead of the elective congress on the council scheduled for Saturday, 21, July 2018 in Gombe.
Nduanya, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, assured delegates of his commitment to building a stronger and respectable NYCN if he elected president.
He said that the National Transition Committee led by the acting President of the council Comrade Mayor Enujeko and the Election Committee deserved commendations.
“I wish to welcome all the delegates to Gombe 2018 congress and pray for all others in transit a successful arrival.
“I implore all delegates and fellow aspirants to disregard all divisive information being spread which is capable of rubbishing all the efforts made so far on having a formidable NYCN.
“I also want to applaud the efforts of the supervisory ministry led by the Minister of Youths and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung and the Board of Trustees led by Amb. Dickson Akoh, for their determination toward having a successful congress,’’ he said.
Nduanya, who said his aspiration was divinely-led, reiterated his seven-point agenda as follows: reforming the activities of NYCN, promotion of peace and unity among Nigeria youths, campaign to foster youth participation in governance campaign to create more job opportunities for the youth.
Others are establishment of Youth Empowerment Trust Fund, establishment of National Youth Research Centre and Youth Leadership Institute and Nigeria Youth and International Exchange.
“I have a vision to make our dear youths to regain their glory and position. We all know that no Nation can stand without the youth,’’ he said

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FAAC: FG, states, LGs share N668.89b

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Federal, States and Local Government Councils have shared N668. 89 billion from the federation account as revenue generated in May.
The Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr Hassan Dodo, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
Dodo, however, said that the distribution of the funds did not signify the end of the dispute between the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) and some revenue generation agencies.
“Owing to disagreement on remittances by the Revenue Generating Agencies, especially the NNPC, the sharing of revenues for May 2018 that was meant to be distributed in June 2018 was put on hold.
“However, the urgent need to cushion the undue hardships being experienced by workers nationwide has made it necessary to distribute the May figures, totalling N668.898 billion to the three tiers of government.
“Efforts are being intensified to address the unsatisfactory remittances, ” he said.
Dodo said that the N668.89 billion shared was made up of statutory revenue of N575.47 billion and N 93.42 billion from Value Added Tax (VAT).
He said that the May revenue was shared in line with the extant formula as follows: Federal Government, N282.22 billion; State Governments, N181.16 billion; and Local Government Councils, N136.49 billion.
He said the oil producing states received additional N53.071 billion as 13 per cent derivation while N15.947 billion was paid to the revenue generating agencies as costs of collections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FAAC has been unable to share May revenue to the three tiers of government following rejection of NNPC remittances.
When FAAC meeting was held on June 27, representatives of the 36 states rejected the NNPC remittance for May, on the grounds that it was less than the projected revenue for the month.
Again, when the meeting reconvened on July 12, the state commissioners for finance insisted that a permanent solution must be explored to resolve the recurring issue around NNPC under-remittances to the federation account. (NAN)

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Nigerian children recount the challenges they face working in a city

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Stories of children being used in Nigerian mines have hit the headlines. But this phenomenon isn’t uncommon. About 15 million Nigerian children work –- the highest rate of working children in West Africa.
Globally there are over 168 million children, aged 5 to 14, that work. While most studies focus on child labour that happen in rural and agricultural areas, very few have reported the dangers experienced by children in urban areas of Africa where they work as street hawkers, hustlers, vendors and domestic servants.
But in a rapidly growing society such as Nigeria, where poverty is widespread, child labour in urban areas has become a systemic avenue for augmenting parental income. Though it may build the entrepreneurial skills of youngsters for later life, it can have detrimental consequences.
I set out to find out more about the lives of children who are working. Drawing on interviews with 1,535 children (aged 8 – 14 years) and their parents, my study documented their experiences. It showed that although child labour provides significant economic assistance towards the sustenance of the family, children don’t get a proper education and experience negative health and social consequences in the process.

Working children

Over half the children interviewed were female and the average age of all children was 12 years, though some were as young as 7-years-old. Most were engaged in sales (such as street hawking) and services (like car washing). While some of the children worked as much as six hours a day, the average daily hours of work was four.
When it came to the parents, more than two-thirds were engaged in trading and services, the remaining 28.4% were employed in administrative and professional occupations, indicating more education. Regarding parental income, an overwhelming 8 out of 10 parents earned about 20,000 Naira (about USD$55) per month. Such low earnings mean the households turned to using the labour of their children to supplement the family’s income.
Despite the economic benefits of child labour, the findings show that children face a variety of challenges in their daily activities.
More than a third had experienced accidents involving motor vehicles. “John,” a boy aged 9, complained that: “I get hit by car and motorcycles when I want to cross the roads.”
Surprisingly, 1 out of 7 children told our interviewers about attempted kidnapping. “Laide”, a 10 year-old-girl, narrated a scenario where two men wanted her to follow them by promising to give her 5,000 Naira (about USD$14).
The study also found that about 1 out of 10 children had been subjected to rape, sexual molestation, or assault while on the streets selling foodstuffs and fruits.
“Tayo”, a 13 year old girl said: “At times, some men would pretend that they want to buy things from me, but later would be touching my body.” “Kehinde”, a 14-year-old girl, said: “I was raped twice and became pregnant on one occasion by two men…My parents aborted the pregnancy so that it wouldn’t ruin my education.”
Because children spend considerable time away from their family and household, about one-quarter (22.8%) reported that gangsters would invite them to join in their bad activities. “Tolu”, an 11-year-old boy said: “Touts and gangsters would come to me and ask me to smoke Indian hemp (marijuana). Sometimes, they would ask me to describe my house so that they can come to visit me and invite me to join them in their activities.”
Almost one quarter (24.1%) of children miss one day or more of school each week. Moreover, 7 out of 10 of the working children attribute their poor school attendance to tiredness or sickness resulting from long distance walking due to their daily work activities, while the remaining 28% miss school because of their parents request that they should sell foodstuffs instead of attending school that day. This finding shows how child labour can have a detrimental effect on child health, which invariably affects their school attendance.
When children do go to school, about half are sometimes, or always, late. When asked why they’re late, 52.6% cited child labour as the major reason. Another one-third mentioned tiredness or illness as reasons for the lateness. Again, child labour appears to have a negative impact on their punctuality which does not bode well for effective learning and success in school.
Children were also asked about opportunities for doing homework after school. Just a little over 40% said that child labour does not hinder their time for homework.
Finally, interviews with the children reveal that two-thirds do not have time for recreation, although the remaining one-third manage to play with friends during the time they are engaged in child labour. Child labour disturbs children’s leisure time, hindering their optimal social development which they get through interacting with peers.

New policies

I recommend that policies need to be put in place that reduce the number of children working in Nigeria. Policy programmes such as credit facilities, poverty reduction schemes, by creating jobs for adults, and the provision of affordable medical facilities would improve the quality of lives and, consequently, reduce the need for child labour.
Existing laws should also be enforced, including compliance with the minimum working age and ensuring universal enrolment of Nigerian children in schools.

 

Prof. ‘Dimeji Togunde
Associate Provost for Global Education & Professor of International Studies, Spelman College

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Nigeria’s plan to redistribute recovered corruption money needs a rethink

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The Nigerian government has announced that USD$322 million (£244 million) stolen by Nigeria’s former military ruler, Sani Abacha, has been returned by the Swiss authorities. Abacha, an army general who was head of state from 1993 until his death in 1998, is suspected to have embezzled between USD$3 to 5 billion of public money.
Plans have also been announced to distribute the recovered loot to around 300,000 households in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states. Under the plan each household would get around USD$14 a month. The handouts would be paid to poor Nigerians for about six years.
Roberto Balzaretti, one of the Swiss officials involved in the negotiations with Nigeria, reported that there would be strict conditions attached to the transfer of the money back to Nigeria. Nigeria has signed a memorandum of understanding with Switzerland and the World Bank agreeing the modalities for the return of the stolen funds.
The Nigerian government has opted for cash payments to be made to help poor families as part of the Nigeria National Social Safety Net Program. The money is to be paid in instalments and in small amounts under the supervision of the World Bank, which will also conduct regular audits. If the first instalment is not properly accounted for, subsequent payments will be halted. This is to prevent the funds from being stolen again.
But there are fears that this is not the best way to use the recovered funds and that the “distribution” is just a ruse to influence the Nigerian elections next year. Concerns have been raised that it’s an easy way for the ruling political party to score cheap points ahead of the 2019 polls. And there are strong views about how the money can be better spent, particularly on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Vote Buying?

The money is being returned to Nigeria at a delicate time. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he will be seeking reelection next year. This despite his ill health and corruption scandals.
Nigerian politicians are infamous for buying votes.
Suspicions that the redistribution scheme is another vote buying ruse have been fuelled by the fact that the government plans to give money to only 19 states out of the 36. The government has said that 17 states where excluded from the scheme because they didn’t have the “appropriate platform” to implement the conditional cash transfers.
There are also fears that the recovered loot might end up in the coffers of ghost beneficiaries.
The Nigerian house of representatives – the lower house of Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly – has passed a motion that the money must be distributed in line with the country’s revenue sharing formula for disbursing money to all 36 states.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a Nigerian nongovernmental anti-corruption agency, has added its voice to criticisms of the plan. It has pointed out that the distribution of funds is mis-targeted and would not bring any tangible benefits to the beneficiaries.

The project argues that the president should renegotiate the memorandum of understanding with the Swiss authorities in consultation with the communities affected by grand corruption so that the recovered loot can be put to better use.

A better way?

Is there a better way to utilise the recovered loot?
Nigeria needs proper procedures to manage recovered money as it continues with its anti-corruption agenda. The government will be better placed in the future to manage recovered funds if it has a coherent plan detailing how they should be handled. The plan will need to be overseen by the country’s anti-corruption institution.
There’s a strong view that the recovered money should be used to foot the bill for infrastructure projects that would improve the lives of the victims of corruption and also help alleviate poverty.
Infrastructure projects, such as proper transport systems and power generation, also have the advantage of being highly visible and could be easily tracked through Budgit and Tracka. Construction projects would also create jobs.
There is a clear link between infrastructural development and economic growth – an area where Nigeria could really do with some help. The country struggles from infrastructure deficits, particularly in power generation, transport, education and health care.
Experts also argue that giving the money to poor households will only serve as temporary respite from poverty. Investing in infrastructure that can improve growth, employment, production, education and health care would create better and longer-term value.
The government might be wise to listen to these views.

 

Tolu Olarewaju
Lecturer in Economics, Staffordshire University

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Trevor Noah accused of racism for saying Africa won the cup

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THE DAILY SHOW host Trevor Noah has been accused of racism for saying Africa won the World Cup – because of the number of black players in the French national team.
During a segment of his show on Monday about France’s 4-2 victory against Croatia, Noah said” “Africa won the World Cup.”
“I get it, they have to say it’s the French team,” Noah said. “But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.

“Basically if you don’t understand, France is Africans’ backup team. Once Senegal and Nigeria got knocked out, that’s who we root for.”
Noah’s remarks weren’t received well on social media, with some French natives noting that nearly every team member, regardless of their race, was born and raised in France.
French former reality TV star Martin Medus was among those who slammed the comments.
He said: ‘You’re a f****** racist. Those people are French and p***** to always be reminded of their background. They fight hard to tell people they are proud French people and yet you disrespect them calling them African. Are the Lakers an African team?’
Kevin Razy, a French comedian, criticised the South African host for regurgitating a racist joke that has circulated in France, while basketball player Evan Fournier said: “Stop it with this “Africa won the world cup for France” non sense. Is it Africa winning when the USA win Gold medals in the Olympics ? Is it Europe winning when South Africa win in Rugby ? And we can go on and on. Cut the BS. We are all french deal with it”

Of the 23-man squad, 16 have African roots with the exception of Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud are of European heritage.
France’s World Cup win has been described as a ‘victory for immigration’ and has posed questions as to whether the country’s approach to xenophobia, racism and discrimination will change following this win.
A tweet from Khaled Beydoun acknowledging this went viral. He said: Dear France, Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup. 80% of your team is African, cut out the racism and xenophobia. 50% of your team are Muslims, cut out the Islamophobia. Africans and Muslims delivered you a second World Cup, now deliver them justice.”

Political figures including Barack Obama and Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro seem to echo Noah’s sentiments in acknowledging the minority influence in the French national team.
“The French team looked like an African team, in fact it was Africa who won,” said Maduro. “France won thanks to African players or the sons of Africans.”
Maduro also congratulated France and called for an end to racism in Europe against African people.

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SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ORDER PAPER Thursday, 19th July, 2018

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8TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 38 FOURTH SESSION NO. 13

SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ORDER PAPER
Thursday, 19th July, 2018

1. Prayers 2. Approval of the Votes and Proceedings 3. Oaths 4. Announcements (if any) 5. Petitions

PRESENTATION OF REPORTS

1. Conference Committee Report Federal Audit Service Commission Bill, 2018 (HB. 107) Sen. Matthew A. Urhoghide (Edo South) -That the Senate do receive the report of the Committee on Public Accounts on the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill, 2018 (HB. 107) – To be Laid.

2. Report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Promissory Note Programme Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations Sen. Francis Alimikhena (Edo North) -That the Senate do receive the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Promissory Note Programme on the Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations on refund to States Government for Projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government – To be Laid.

ORDERS OF THE DAY EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATION

1. Confirmation of Nomination. Sen. Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North-Senate Leader) -That the Senate do consider the Request of Mr. President C-n-C on the Confirmation of the Nomination of the following persons for Appointment as Chairman and Commissioners for the Federal Civil Service Commission in accordance with the provisions of Section 154(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended). S/N Name Position State New/Renewal of Appointment 1. Dr. Bello Tukur lngawa, OON, mni Chairman Katsina New Appointment 2. Moses Musa Ngbale Commissioner Adamawa New Appointment 3. Waziri Umara Ngurno, mni Commissioner Borno New Appointment 4. Alh. Bello Mahmoud Babura Commissioner Jigawa New Appointment 5. Arch. Ahmed M. Sarna (fnia) Commissioner Kebbi New Appointment 6. Princess Iyabode Odulate-Yusuf Commissioner Ogun New Appointment 7. Shehu Umar Danyaya Commissioner Niger New Appointment 8. Fatai Newton Adebayo O. MFR,FNSE Commissioner Oyo New Appointment
39 Thursday, 19th July, 2018 13

9. Chief Ejoh Michael Chukwuemeka Commissioner Anambra New Appointment 10. Joe Philip Poroma Commissioner Rivers New Appointment 11. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Commissioner Kaduna Renewal of Appointment 12. Prof. Aminu Dio Sheidu Commissioner Kogi Renewal of Appointment 13. Mr. Simon Etim Commissioner Akwa Ibom Renewal of Appointment

CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS

1. Report of the Committee on National Identity Card and National Population Commission Screening of Twenty Three (23) Nominees for Confirmation of Appointment as Commissioners Sen. Suleiman O. Hunkuyi (Kaduna North) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on National Identity Card and National Population Commission on the Screening of Twenty Three (23) Nominees for Confirmation of Appointment as Commissioners for National Population Commission. S/N NOMINEES STATE OF ORIGIN 1. Nwanne Johnny Nwabusi Abia 2. Dr. Clifford T. O. Zirra Ondo 3. Dr. Chidi Christopher Ezeoke mni Anambra 4. Barr. Isa Audu Buratai Borno 5. Sir Richard Odibo Delta 6. Okereke Darlington Onuabuchi Ebonyi 7. Mr. A. d. Olusegun Aiyejina Edo 8. Ajike Ezeh Enugu 9. Hon. Abubakar Mohammed Danburam Gombe 10. Prof. Uba S. F. Nnabue Imo 11. Suleiman Ismaila Lawal Kano 12. Prof. Jimoh Habibat Isah Kogi 13. Nasir Isa Kwarra Nasarawa 14. Barr. Aliyu Datti Niger 15. Yeye (Mrs.) Seyi Adereinokun Olusanya Ogun 16. Prince (Dr.) Olanadiran Garvey Iyantan Ondo 17. Senator Mudasiru Oyetunde Hussain Osun 18. Mrs. Cecilia Arsun Dapoet Plateau 19. Dr. Ipalibo Macdonald Harry Rivers 20. Sale S. Saany Taraba 21. Charles I. Ogwa (Rtd) Cross River 22. Dr. Sa’adu Ayinla Alanamu Kwara 23. Dr. Abdulmalik Mohammed Kaduna

2. Report of the Committee on Special Duties National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Bill, 2018 (SB. 335) Sen. Abdul Aziz M. Nyako (Adamawa Central) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Special Duties on the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Bill, 2018 (SB. 335).
13 Thursday, 19th July, 2018 40 3. Report of the Committee on Communications Nigeria Postal Services Act Cap N127 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 106 & 437) Sen. Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Communications on the Nigeria Postal Services Act Cap N127 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 106 & 437).

4. Report of the Committee on Information and National Orientation Agency for National Ethics and Values (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (HB. 519) Sen. Suleiman Adokwe (Nasarawa South) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Information and National Orientation on the Agency for National Ethics and Values (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (HB. 519). 5. Report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation and Mediation Bill, 2018 (SB. 74) Sen. David Umaru (Niger East) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters on the National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation and Mediation Bill, 2018 (SB. 74).

6. Report of the Committee on Environment National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Act 2006 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 557) Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) -That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Environment on the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Act 2006 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (SB. 557).

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

No. Committee Date Time Venue

1. Ad-Hoc Committee on Thursday, 19th July, 2018 1.00pm Committee Room 204 Alleged Mis-use, Under- (Public Hearing) Senate New Building Remittance and other fraudulent Activities.

2. Ad-hoc Committee on Thursday, 19th July, 2018 2.00pm Committee Room 117 Investigation of Allegations Senate New Building of Corruption against NNPC Trading Ltd.

3. Gas Resources Thursday, 19th July, 2018 1.00pm Committee Room 107 Senate New Building

4. Police Affairs Thursday, 19th July, 2018 2.00pm Committee Room 305 Senate New Building

5. Finance Thursday, 19th July, 2018 1.00pm Committee Room 211 (Emergency Meeting) Senate New Building 6. Information and National Monday, 23rd July, 2018 11.00am Conference Room 231 Orientation (Public Hearing) Senate New Building

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Ekweremadu leads Igbo Senators to protest ‘one-sided’ federal appointments

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Senators from the South East led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu have voiced their dissatisfaction with the appointments of head of agencies by President Muhammadu Buhari, claiming it has been lopsided.
The Deputy Senate President in his remarks on the floor of the Senate today lamented that appointments by the President are “unacceptable” and from a particular zone of the country.
Ekweremadu made the comments after Senate President Bukola Saraki read a letter from the President on board appointments into FERMA which is to be chaired by Tunde Lemo.
“I have a problem with the way government is directing its appointments,” Ekweremadu started.
He continued: “Over the last two or three weeks we have had cause to discuss this FERMA, or the NDIC, or AMCON. The head of all these parastatals have come from one particular part of Nigeria. This is completely unfair; we cannot seat in this Senate and allow that to go on.
“We need to ensure that every part of Nigeria is represented in the running of Nigeria. This completely unacceptable”
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan in his response played down the comments made by Ekweremadu by urging him to look at the “larger picture”. He expressed conviction that there is no lop-sidedness as propounded by the Deputy Senate President, adding that the Federal Government has done its “homework” to comply with federal character.
The Senate President in his ruling warned against speculations and mandated the Senate Committee on Federal Character to examine the claims of Senator Ekweremadu. He also ruled Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) out of order after the Enugu Senator requested that the letter on the FERMA nomination be stood down.
Shortly after the ruling of the Senate President, the Senate Leader moved for the confirmation of the nomination of the Chairman (from Katsina State) and Commissioners for another agency, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC). This again threw the red chamber into a rowdy session as more Igbo Senators joined the fray and revived the earlier controversy stirred by the comment of the Deputy Senate President.
Speaking on the matter, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia) argued that the confirmation of FCSC should be halted pending the submission of the report by the Committee on Federal Character.
The Senate President nevertheless ruled that the screening of the nominees will continue as scheduled. He however, assured that the screening report will only be considered after the submission of the report by the Committee on federal character next week Tuesday.
However, Senator Chukwuka Utazi in his submission insisted that the screening should be halted.
“If we want to be seen to be doing justice to all parts of the country then we should not continue with the screening. There is injustice already regarding appointments,” he objected.
The Senate President in his remarks reassured that there will be no final confirmation of nominees if the report by the Committee on Federal Character shows lop-sidedness in appointments.
The matter was then laid to rest despite additional protest from Senator Obinna Ogba (PDP, Ebonyi).
The nomination list for FERMA as sent by the President has Tunde Lemo as Chairman and Engr. Nurudeen Rafindadi as Managing Director. The Executive Directors are Bubas Abdullahi, Babagana Muhammed, Shehu Abdullahi, Lauretta Nwagono, Njedu Stanley, and Vincent Kolawole.

 

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