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PMB: Why I signed 2018 budget despite NASS padding - ITREALM Online

ForTheRecords@ITREALMS:  ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE SIGNING INTO ...

SS-ICT4D Week 2018

Saturday, June 23, 2018

PMB: Why I signed 2018 budget despite NASS padding - ITREALM Online

  • ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE SIGNING INTO LAW, THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ABUJA, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20TH 2018.
I would like to thank the leadership of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as all the Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, for passing the 2018 Appropriation Bill, after seven months.
2. When I submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year.  The importance of this predictability cannot be overemphasized.  
3. While the Federal Government’s budget represents less than 10% of aggregate yearly expenditures in the economy, it has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.  
4. Notwithstanding the delay this year, I am determined to continue to work with the National Assembly towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle.
5. I note, with pleasure, that the National Assembly is working on the enactment of an Organic Budget Law, so as to improve the efficiency of the nation’s budgetary process.
6. As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.  
7. It is in this regard that I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented.  The logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that, it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.  
8. Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me.  The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
9. Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation.  Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.  
10. Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.  
11. As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.
12. Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows:
·  a. The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.
·  b. Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.
·  c. The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.
·  d. The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.
·  e. The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.
·  f. The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.
·  g. At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
·  h. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.
·  i. The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.
·  j. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.
·  k. About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.  In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote.  Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.
13. Another area of concern is the increase by the National Assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira.  Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance.  
14. An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive.
15. Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.
 16. However, it is my intention to seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget which I hope the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider.
17. I am pleased with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2017 Budget.  A total sum of 1.5 trillion Naira has been released for the implementation of capital projects during the 2017 fiscal year.  In response to this and other policy measures implemented, we have observed significant improvement in the performance of the Nigerian economy.
18. To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2018 Budget, we will work very hard to generate the revenues required to finance our projects and programmes.  The positive global oil market outlook, as well as continuing improvement in non-oil revenues, make us optimistic about our ability to finance the budget.
19. However, being a deficit budget, the Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.  I crave the indulgence of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan.
20. The 2018 Budget I have just signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of 9.12 trillion Naira, which is 22.6% higher than the 2017 Appropriation.  Further details of the approved budget will be provided by the Minister of Budget and National Planning.
21. I thank the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation, and everyone who worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much to bring us to this day.  However, the job is only partly done.  
22. I am sure you will remain committed to advancing our Change Agenda, not only in the preparation of the national budget, but also in ensuring its effective implementation.
I thank you and may God bless Nigeria.


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*PMB during the signing of 2018 Appropriation bill into law

Friday, June 22, 2018

Court says no to suspension of FOI suit against Lagos - ITREALMS Online

For the second time in four months, a Lagos High Court has struck out a motion by the Lagos State Government to suspend proceedings in a Freedom of Information suit brought against it by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) pending the Government’s appeal against the court’s ruling that the FOI Act, 2011 is applicable to the Government of Lagos State and all other States, reports ITRealms.
Justice Beatrice Oke-Lawal, sitting in the Ikeja Judicial Division of the State High Court, struck out the re-listed motion for stay of proceedings on June 20, 2018 for lack of diligent prosecution by the Lagos State Government, which she ordered to pay MRA N30,000 as costs. She had previously struck out the motion for the same reason on February 19, 2018, following which the Government applied to have it re-listed.
The suit arose from an FOI request made by MRA in November 2016 to the Lagos State Ministry of Health asking, among other things, for details of plans by the Ministry to provide the Araromi Zion Estate located in Akiode Area of Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) with health care services taking into consideration the peculiar needs and circumstances of the community as well as details of the budgets and costs estimates for the implementation of the plans, if any.
When the Ministry failed to respond to MRA’s request despite a reminder issued to it, the organization filed a suit against the Ministry and the Attorney-General of Lagos State asking the Court to declare the Ministry’s refusal to provide it with the information wrongful and compel the institution to disclose the information to the organization in accordance with the FOI Act.
But the Ministry filed a notice of preliminary objection to the suit in which it contended that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the suit and asked that the suit be struck out on the ground, among others, that the FOI Act is not applicable to Lagos State and that the Ministry is not a juristic person that can sue or be sued.
In her ruling on the Ministry’s preliminary objection on November 28, 2017, Justice Oke-Lawal upheld the arguments of MRA’s lawyer, Mrs. Mosunmola Olanrewaju, that the FOI Act was validly enacted by the National Assembly and that it is applicable to the Government of the Federation as well as to State Governments. She also overruled the Government’s claim that the Ministry cannot be sued.
The Lagos State Government thereafter lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Lagos on December 5, 2017, asking it to set aside Justice Oke-Lawal’s ruling which held, among other things, that the FOI Act requires no “domestication” for it to be applicable to States.  The Government and the Ministry also filed a motion on notice asking the court to stay further proceedings in the suit pending the determination of its appeal by the Court of Appeal.
However, on several occasions thereafter, when the motion was slated for arguments, neither the Ministry nor the Attorney-General of the State was represented in court. On February 19, 2018, upon a motion by MRA’s lawyer asking the court to strike out the application for stay of proceedings, the Government’s motion was struck out for lack of diligent prosecution and a date fixed for the hearing of the substantive suit.
But rather than proceed with the substantive suit, the Ministry filed an application in March 2018 asking the court to relist its motion for stay ofproceedings pending appeal. The court granted the application to relist the motion which the State Government then filed again on April 10, 2018.
On two consecutive occasions thereafter, when the matter came up for hearing, neither the Ministry nor its counsel was in court and no letter was written to the court to explain their absence.
On June 20, 2018, when the motion again came up for hearing, neither the Ministry nor the State’s Attorney-General was represented or present in court to move the motion for stay of proceedings.
MRA’s counsel, Ms. Morisola Alaba, reminded the judge that when the matter last came up on May 16, 2018, the Ministry and its lawyers were absent and the court adjourned proceedings till June 20 so that the Ministry would be given a fair opportunity to argue its case consistent with the principles of fair hearing.
She noted that the Ministry again had no representation in court and urged the court to strike out the motion for stay of proceeding for lack of diligent prosecution on the part of the Ministry.  She also prayed the court to set down the substantive case for hearing.
Ms. Alaba accused the Ministry of “intentionally delaying the case while depriving Media Rights Agenda of its right guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act.”  She urged the court to award substantial costs of N50,000 against the State Government.
In her ruling, Justice Oke-Lawal struck out the State Government’s motion for stay of proceedings for lack of diligent prosecution and awarded costs of N30,000 to MRA against the Government.
The Court thereafter adjourned the case to October 2, 2018 for the hearing of the substantive suit.
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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pro-freedom leaders head to Rome for CitizensGO Summer School - ITREALMS Online

The third summer school organized by the CitizensGO is headed to the city of Italy in Rome in partnership with the Leadership Institute, reports ITRealms.
The Summer School slated for July 3 through 6 with emphasis on participation, training, and networking of young pro-life, pro-family, and pro-freedom leaders. 
A public statement from CitizensGO and made available to ITRealms, informed “We will talk about the most relevant challenges to our values, including gender ideology, attacks on marriage and the family, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, and the violation of freedom of opinion in the West.”
ITRealms gathered that during the Summer School students and participants from around the world will learn how to improve their advocacy skills through full-immersion training and networking with influential pro-life and pro-family leaders.
Also, ITRealms gathered that topics that would be discussed include communication strategy, the values-driven audience, judgments and choices, identity as message, messaging toolkit, storytelling: connecting with people who share your values, television interview techniques, producing compelling video (to better distribute your messages), working with the media, etc.
Imagine the huge benefit that you and I, as citizengoers, get from a programme such as this and contact with people (especially young people) from all over the world who are training along with us to spread the values that you and I defend.
“We who build communities (this is why I am writing to you and asking you for help) will ensure that highly-skilled speakers promote the values that you and I defend as citizengoers. And this way your voice, and mine, and that of those who defend life, family and freedom, will be stronger, spread farther ... and fulfill what we set out to do: spread the word, spread this message and share.”

 Nonye Dom/GEE

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Tanzania’s CSO battle government on Internet regulation - ITREALMS Online

The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Tanzania are now at the battle ground with the government of the country over the introduction of Internet regulations, reports ITRealms.

On the Monday of 11th June 2018, ITRealms recalls, the Tanzanian government tightened its grip on free speech by ordering the immediate suspension of unregistered blogging sites and other online fora.

Failure to suspend, ITRealms gathered, would lead to prosecution under Tanzania’s criminal law, forewarned the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA). The authority went ahead to explain that this move was in a bid to solve computer misuses such as hate speech, pornography, and online bullying.

According to Human and Digital Rights advocates, violators of the regulation will find themselves liable to paying a fine of at least five million Tanzania Shillings (2200 USD), serving a 12-month jail term or to both. 

This is in a bid to enforce the March Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations 2018 that requires bloggers and any other Internet-based service to reveal the names of their shareholders, their details, their approximate cost of investment, tax clearance certifications, pay slightly more than 900 USD in fees that includes an initial application fee, a licence fee and a renewable licence fee after 3 years and a lot more.

It is evident that this regulation only aims further stifle the already tight freedom of expression of the Internet in Tanzania. A popular site Jamiiforums that is known to be used to expose unethical information on matters concerning the country continues to fight it out in court on grounds on infringement of the right to privacy of the freedom of expression. The appellate court is to rule on the freedom of expression in Tanzania but the most recent ruling was in the government’s favor.

Tanzania’s civil society organizations have argued that “The law is part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015."

The government of Tanzania is defying International, regional and national regulation with the legislation. It is evident that they have forgotten that, “ the same rights people have offline must also be protected online," as provided in  Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights-In this case the universal freedom of expression.

The exorbitant fees will only seek to ensure that bloggers from the lower end of the economic spectrum are off the net, taking away their source of livelihood and freedom of speech.


We urge that the government of Tanzania and president Magufuli recall this legislation as it grossly contributes towards the abuse of numerous human rights. We are calling on Tanzania to keep the Internet open and free.

Ayo Midele/GEE

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Paradigm takes NGOs on Google Impact Challenge @ 7 cities - ITREALMS Online

Seven cities across the federation would play host to series of workshops dedicated to nonprofit and social enterprises interested in applying for the 2018 Google Impact Challenge Nigeria, courtesy of Paradigm Initiative partnership with Google, reports ITRealms.

The workshop, ITRealms gathered is being organized by Paradigm Initiative on behalf of Google in Aba, Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt and Yola between June 25 and 27, 2018.
Director of Programmes, Paradigm Initiative, Tope Ogundipe, confirmed this to ITRealms, saying that the Google Impact Challenge is an important project design to empower Nigerian nonprofits and social enterprises with important resources to help deepen their work.
“The application workshops will help prospective applicants understand what the challenge is all about, its rules and the intricacies of putting forward a strong application,” she declared.
Ogundipe also said that Google is looking for 12 most innovative nonprofits and social enterprises in Nigeria and Paradigm Initiative wants to ensure that everyone doing great work in their communities stand a chance to making the cut.
“This is why we are organizing the workshop in all the 6 geopolitical zones and the federal capital territory. Great ideas are everywhere and we hope all the worthy ideas are able to compete on an equal footing. Those interested in the workshop can go to our website paradigmhq.org to register,” she said.
Ogundipe further said that the Google Impact Challenge Nigeria is an open invitation to nonprofits, social enterprises and businesses in Nigeria to share their vision for innovative ways to make our community stronger and create social impact, with a specific focus on increasing economic opportunity.
ITRealms equally gathered that judges for the 6-month challenge would include MI Abaga, John Momoh, Parminder Vir OBE, Kanu Nwankwo and Mo Abudu.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

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Buhari blames NASS over cut on second Niger bridge, other strategic infrastructure - ITREALMS Online

President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed the National Assembly (NASS) for some strategic cuts in the 2018 appropriation bill for the provision of national and regional infrastructure projects like the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project, reports ITRealms.
Revealing this Wednesday during the signing of the 2018 appropriation bill, Buhari lamented that an aggregated N11.5 billion was cut off the strategic infrastructure vote, just as the bill for provisions of some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of N7.5 billion.
Although he expressed thanks to the leadership of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as all the distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, for passing the 2018 Appropriation Bill, after seven months.
“When I submitted the 2018 budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year.  The importance of this predictability cannot be overemphasized,” he said.
Also, he noted that while the Federal Government’s budget represents less than 10 per cent of aggregate yearly expenditures in the economy, it has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.  
For Mr. President, NASS is working towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle, stressing that the National Assembly is working on the enactment of an Organic Budget Law, so as to improve the efficiency of the nation’s budgetary process.
“As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020,” President Buhari said.  
He further expressed concern over some of the changes that the National Assembly made to the budget proposals that was presented, insisting that the logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that, it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.  
Buhari described as “Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me.  The National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.
Lamenting that many of the projects cut were critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation as some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed, costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.
Furthermore, he pointed out that many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.  

“As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened,” he maintained.
Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Nigerian father, son graduate, collect degrees in Scotland - ITREALMS Online

Graduation is no doubt, a time for families to celebrate their loved one’s success, however, this year will be extra special for a Nigerian family who have fallen in love with the University of Dundee, Scotland, reports ITRealms.

Sulaiman Badmus, who graduated Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Mechanical Engineering would today, June 21st witness his father Abdulwaheed Badmus, feel the tap of the Dundee bonnet as he graduates from Scottish Law.

The pair, ITRealms gathered would follow in the footsteps of Sulamain’s sister, Mariam, who graduated from the University two years ago. Meanwhile, Abdulwaheed’s wife, Khadijat, who will be watching the ceremony, is also due to finish her own degree in Scottish Law later this year.

Sulamain said that the friendliness of Scottish people initially attracted the Badmus family from Ibadan in Nigeria to Scotland.

“Everything is wonderful about Dundee. We think it is marvellous. We were able to integrate so quickly into Scottish culture and feel much more involved here than anywhere else,” he declared.

For his father, Abdulwaheed, Dundee is an excellent example of inclusive education, “it is laudable and something we, as graduates, should be proud of. Studying in Dundee is like a second chance. I will be 55-years-old next year and the University helped me to start a new career with a promising future. Dundee sets the pace for inclusive education for all, irrespective of family backgrounds and ethnic diversities.”

In addition, he pointed out that “No matter who you are and where you are from, I think that Scottish education can help you become who you want to be.”

After graduating, Abdulwaheed says the family intends to continue to practice law in Scotland.

He explained that they do not just want to stay here in Scotland but wanted to work here and run own family law firm and be ambassadors of the University.

“All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the University,” he asserted.


Uj. N. Dominic/ED, Ops

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Surveyor-General Office joins FOI Hall of Shame - ITREALMS Online

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has inducted the Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation (OSGOF) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame following a scathing assessment in which it was adjudged to have “failed abysmally in many ways to comply with its obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years,” reports ITRealms.
Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director, said in a statement in Lagos that “The OSGOF appears to be one of those public institutions which exist only in name, receiving allocations annually from federal budgets, but performs no real functions, provides no discernible service to the Government or people of Nigeria, generates no income for the country, and stimulates no development in any known or visible area.”
According to Mr. Longe, the irrelevance and non-functioning state of the institution is evidenced by its website (http://www.osgof.gov.ng/), which was generally last updated about four years ago, in 2014 with the only more recent update being a posting on September 21, 2016, announcing that “Surv. (Dr.) E. B. Awudu, fnis, mni was appointed the Surveyor General of the Federation in  April, 2015.”
The OSGOF describes itself as an Extra-Ministerial Office under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Works which assumed its current status vide Federal Executive Council conclusion No. EC 17 (05)8, dated April 27, 2005.
It says its primary assignments are: the provision of requisite geo-information in right quantity, quality and format in real time for national development and decision making in all sectors; delineation, demarcation and maintenance of interstate and international boundaries and co-ordination and harmonization of all surveying and mapping activities in the country.
Mr. Longe said: “with the information generated and published on the OSGOF’s website so hopelessly out of date, even if the institution actually produces any geo-information, it might be a mistake for the Federal Government to rely on such information for national development and decision-making, especially also given the image of a very incompetent institution that the OSGOF projects of itself.”
He noted that although the OSGOF has published information concerning its operations, departments and zonal offices on its website, they are information that respond to just one of the 16 classes of records and other information that the FOI Act requires every public institution to publish proactively.
According to him, the information proactively disclosed by the OSGOF do not satisfy the full categories of information listed for proactive publication in the FOI Act, and especially not the most important set of information among the various items.
For instance, Mr. Longe said, the website does not contain information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution; the names, salaries, titles, and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the OSGOF; or the list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grants, licenses or agreement, among several others listed in Section 2 (3) of the FOI Act as information that must be proactively published.
He also noted that there is nothing whatsoever on the website to indicate to a visitor or members of the public that the OSGOF has appointed an officer to receive and process Freedom of Information requests from members of the public, although this is required to be published with the name, title and contact details of such an official, in accordance with Section 2 (3) (f) of the FOI Act.
Mr. Longe said in addition to the fact that the information is not available on its website, the OSGOF has also not supplied the name and address of its FOI Desk Officers to the Attorney-General of the Federation despite repeated requests from the Federal Ministry of Justice with the result that those details are not contained in the Database of FOI Desk Officers of Public Institutions made available to Media Rights Agenda by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
He castigated the OSGOF for having failed to submit any report detailing its implementation of the FOI Act to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation for seven consecutive years since the Law came into force and accused the institution of violating another of its important obligations, as contained in Section 29 of the FOI Act.
Mr. Longe said:  “The failure of the OSGOF to submit its annual FOI implementation reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation and publish them proactively as required by Law makes it impossible to determine the number of requests for information that the institution has received from members of the public and how many of them it has acceded to; the number of such applications it refused to grant and how many of those cases went to court, among other related details that its reports should contain, as required by Section 29(1)(a-h) of the Act.”
He noted that there is no indication that the OSGOF has provided any training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and for the effective implementation of the FOI Act, in accordance with Section 13 of the Act.
Mr. Longe stressed that “the OSGOF has failed abysmally in many respects to comply with its obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years since the Law was passed, thereby bringing itself into ridicule and seeking to perpetuate a culture of impunity which continues to rob the government of public trust and confidence.”
He therefore called on the relevant committees of the National Assembly to institute measures to ensure that the OSGOF and other public institutions which are failing to comply with their obligations under the FOI Act are compelled to fully implement the Law.
Launched in July 2017, the FOI Hall of Shame shines the spotlight on public officials and institutions undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions. 

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

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African Tech Hubs diversifying with innovation - ITREALMS

The innovation and entrepreneurship play an ever-increasing role in growing Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem.

According to research by the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator, over the past two years alone, Africa has seen the number of innovation hubs double. Whilst the big 3 cities – Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town – have been dominating the Sub-Saharan growth narrative, the next wave of incubators are arriving from new ecosystem cities in North Africa. 

And the cities driving this growth, Casablanca, Cairo, Sousse and Algiers, are serious about generating sustainable operating models in the fast evolving ICT landscape to overcome core business challenges around viability, future-proofing the business and most importantly, producing continuous success stories.

Funding in North Africa is shifting from relying on public spending

According to the Disrupt Africa Tech Start-ups Funding Report 2017 (http://disrupt-africa.com/funding-report), funding in African tech start-ups surged 51% to reach $195 million in 2017, as compared to figures of the same period in 2016. When it comes to funding, the majority of Africa’s tech hubs are grant funded by Governments and foundations, however there has been a growth of social ventures and a trend toward for profit and self-funded endeavours to fast track growth.

Rabeh Arezki, Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region (MNA) at the World Bank stated, “When it comes to sustainable funding, African tech hubs tend to focus on demand-driven service models that solve problems and support the specific needs of an ecosystem. To succeed, a modern innovation hub needs to pinpoint a niche in growth areas and deliver that proposition. Key areas ripe for development are start-ups looking at improving Internet infrastructure, payment systems and education. These are the types of businesses we see succeeding.”

Eric Chan, Digital Investment Expert, Xona Partners remarked, ‘What’s important is that we are seeing the gaps in infrastructure that impact technology development, digital entrepreneurship, and innovation closing. What’s powerful is that technology hubs are facilitating the development of that infrastructure. A lot of hubs are driven by forward thinking, young entrepreneurs who are looking to improve their skillset. The hubs are filling those skill gaps which will only continue to progress the development of the local ecosystem in a positive way.’

Algiers has been claiming a highly favourable investment climate and hosting major regional events like the upcoming Global Smart Cities Technology and Investment Summit (http://bit.ly/2LONCiz) on June 27-28 2018, where 4,000 smart city leaders from around the world will discuss how smart technology and ecosystems, smart data and sustainability and the Government’s role in stimulating new technology are changing the landscape. Founder of Smart City Algiers, Fatiha Slimani said "Algiers smart city project is in a way our commitment to develop our city based on principles of durability, sustainability and innovation. We’re trying to find solution to what we call - the cascading technology trap - where technology moves way faster than policy makers' decision making."

Innovation hubs are diversifying their scope


We are also seeing the new innovation hubs adopting hybrid systems to enable sustainability. Many choose a mix of community tech space and ‘paid-for’ co-working space, though corporate partnerships are increasingly becoming more common, especially though mobile operators. Over 14% of active tech hubs in Africa now supported by mobile operators like MNT, due to the opportunity to scale quickly. Examples of this include Orange–Start on in Morocco and Djezzy’s ENP Incubator Algeria (https://goo.gl/oRcmXf). Others create their own private funds by taking equity in early stage start-ups whilst offering business support.

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ETSI takes on 1st MEC Hackathon @Edge Computing Congress - ITREALMS

The first-ever Multi-Access Computing (MEC) hackathon has been slated for the Edge Computing Congress in Berlin during the last quarter of this year, reports ITRealms.

The event being organized by the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) will hold on 18 and 19 of September 2018, in Berlin, and co-located with Knect365’s event at the annual Edge Computing Congress on 18-20 September.

The ETSI MEC (Multi-Access Computing) Hackathon, ITRealms reports, will challenge developers to create in-vehicle infotainment applications featuring Virtual or Augmented Reality and to demonstrate how they can leverage Multi-Access Edge Computing and networking to improve performance and user experience.

Hosted by KNect365, the event is supported by key players in the ISG MEC community:  the technical infrastructure is supported by Intel, Huawei, Saguna and Viavi, and prizes are courtesy of KNect365 and Vodafone. Ip3 and Ismb also form part of the organization committee.

Registration, ITRealms gathered, is open and free of charge with deadline fixed on 10 July 2018. Team size is 5 members (maximum), while registration notification to the selected teams will be done by 30 July 2018.


Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Shell urges contractors on safety, rewards champions - ITREALMS

The Vice President of Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN) and Gabon, Peter Costello, has charged contractors working for and with Shell Companies in Nigeria to prioritise safety and be relentless in discussing the challenges and dilemmas, noting that the international oil giant was poised to help improve safety performance throughout the energy industry, reports ITREALMS.

“Safety is our top priority. Everyone who works for us, or with us, has an important part to play in making SCiN a safer place to work. We cannot succeed in isolation and we must share the challenges by building strong partnerships to further improve our safety culture,” Costello said at the 7th edition of annual SPDC JV Contractor CEO Safety Leadership Conference held in Lagos last week.

He added: “We expect our staff and contractors to comply with safety rules and regulations relevant to their work; to intervene to prevent unsafe conditions; and to respect fellow workers and the communities in which we work.”

In his remarks, Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, described the annual event as an opportunity to share learnings and ensure alignment, common ground and shared commitments on Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) in Shell’s joint operations.

“We cannot be too careful with safety issues. Through engagement, we ensure that the right competence is in place and we create opportunities for our staff and contract staff to speak openly about dilemmas. The collaboration must be continually strengthened so as to make Shell a safety model in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.” Okunbor said, adding that SPDC “more than ever before, is committed to delivering energy responsibly and safely, with total prevention of harm to our employees, contractors, local communities and the environment.”

While setting the conference scene, the General Manager Safety and Environment of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Chidube Nnene-Anochie, said the two-day conference was informed by SCiN’s mission to constantly work in partnership with contractors, regulators, industry trade associations and professional bodies to share Shell’s global safety experience, standards and knowledge.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Pix: L-R: General Manager Safety and Environment of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Chidube Nnene-Anochie; Managing Director, Alcon Nigeria Limited, Gerando Della Santa; Managing Director, Daewoo Nigeria Limited, Tea- Wong Jung; Managing Director, SPDC and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor; Managing Director, BGP/CNPC International Nigeria Limited, Bai Guangyu; and SPDC General Manager, Projects, Toyin Olagunju, at the 2018 SPDC JV Contractor CEO Safety Leadership Conference Gala Night held in Lagos… on Wednesday

Alakija’s foundation marks 10 years of succour for widows, orphans - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
Rose of Sharon who first opened their doors to widows and orphanages exactly a decade ago on the 23rd of May, 2008 is celebrating their 10th anniversary, reports ITRealms.

The Rose of Sharon foundation was founded by Mrs Folorunso Alakija  to guarantee the financial independence & educational opportunities for widows & orphans through schemes & programmes that assure greater self esteem & ease of socio-economic integration. The foundation hasn’t just stopped there, just last year, it launched a youth empowerment scheme which trained over 100 youth enabling them to become part of the country’s working class.

The foundation also boasts several educational, mentorship and skills acquisition programs for the widows. Over the years, it has managed to empower thousands of widows who are now able to function without needing assistance from the foundation.

A journey that started with three (3) widows on 23rd May, 2008, has culminated into a network of almost a thousand widows today. Since inception, RoSF has empowered 970 widows – 11 of whom are in university, awarded scholarships to 1,366 widow’s children and 72 orphans. The loans to widows are interest free and the scholarships have no conditions attached. It has also provided accommodation for residential/business purposes for 82 widows.

As Rose of Sharon turns 10, they celebrate the truly altruistic nature of her founder, Mrs Folorunso Alakija in her generosity towards the disadvantaged as well as the board of trustees and team members who have kept this machine fueled. 
Uj. N. Dominic/GEE
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