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Nigeria's economic outlook positive says Lai Mohammed - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Buhari Administration has laid the necessary groundwor...



ICT4D Week 2018

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Nigeria's economic outlook positive says Lai Mohammed - ITREALMS

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Buhari Administration has laid the necessary groundwork for the growth of the nation's economy, and urged investors to take advantage of the government's efforts by investing massively in Nigeria, reports ITREALMS.

The Minister, who made the call in London on Thursday, at a breakfast meeting with investors, lawyers, the business community and diplomats with ties to Nigeria, said the country - as the largest economy and a political powerhouse in Africa - represents a highly attractive market and investment partner.

''Not only is our administration positive about our economy's outlook, but the $5 billion in foreign investment that we have secured after the recent elections signals that you, the international community, share our positive outlook and confidence in the administration's policy,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said in the past four years, President Muhammadu Buhari has led the nation's economy from recession to growth through his Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), in addition to diversifying the economy.

''While there is no denying that oil remains an important part of the economy, we have diversified, with real GDP growth being driven by the expansion of non-oil activities,'' he said, adding that the service sector, for example, is responsible for 54% of GDP and has become the primary driver of growth for the economy.

The Minister said Nigeria's successful battle against insecurity and corruption has made the country an advocate for transparency and accountability in Africa, while further strengthening its economy.

On the recent general elections, he said the re-election of President Buhari is a validation of the fact that Nigerians recognized the change and transformation that the administration has brought to the country.

He however described as disappointing and deeply irresponsible the attempts by the opposition to discredit the election and undermine the democratic choice of the Nigerian people, saying local and international observers have described the elections as credible.

''We will not be distracted from our vision and we hope that the opposition will join us in shaping a better future for Nigeria, for the benefit not only of the people of Nigeria but the region and the continent,'' Alhaji Mohammed said.

The event is part of the ongoing visit of the Minister to the US and the UK to meet with the international media, opinion molders and think tanks.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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Pix: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (left) and Nigeria's High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador George Oguntade (middle), at the venue of the Breakfast Meeting with investors, business community, lawyers and diplomats with ties to Nigeria in London on Thursday.

Onnoghen: CCT says you're guilty as charged - ITREALMS

Finally, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja, the Federal Capital, has pronounced that  the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen is guilty as charged, reports ITREALMS.

This follows trials over false assets declaration which has generated lots of controversies. 

ITREALMS also reports that the tribunal headed by Danladi Umar, had Thursday, April 18, 2019, ruled that Mr Onnoghen should forfeit the funds in the five accounts which he was accused of not disclosing.

Also, the tribunal said Mr Onnoghen evidently acquired the funds fraudulently since he failed to show how the huge amount was acquired.

However, there are indications Mr. Onnoghen will appeal the judgement, ITREALMS gathered.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Genocide: AfDB marks 25th commemoration - ITREALMS

With poems, videos and a riveting testimony from a former Prosecutor General of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the African Development Bank (, in collaboration with the Rwandan Embassy and the Rwandan community in Côte d’Ivoire, observed the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda under the theme “Remember-Unite-Renew”.

The event, held Thursday, April 11, was attended by the Ambassador of Rwanda in Côte d’Ivoire, Stanislas Kamanzi, and the Rwandan community; a delegation of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire led by Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, Minister of Animal and Fishery Resources; members of the diplomatic corps and Bank employees. The ceremony also included the lighting of candles to commemorate the occasion.

Ousman Jammeh shared that, through his work with the ICTR, he had the opportunity to see first-hand the courage and resilience of genocide survivors in their difficult testimonies. He also drew attention to the crucial role that the media played in enticing hate and division and called for Africans to closely learn from this tragedy.

The commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda is an opportunity to remember and honour the one million lives lost within three months in 1994. In Rwanda and across the world, the commemoration is a moment of reflection on the past and a time to recommit to the pledge of “Never Again”.

Oley Dibba-Wadda, the Bank’s Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development, speaking on behalf of President Akinwumi A. Adesina, stated that the 1994 genocide remains “a deep scar on humanity’s conscience.” She expressed her solidarity with the people of Rwanda during this period of commemoration and saluted the bravery and sacrifice of helpers who risked their lives to save others.

Dibba-Wadda also commended the resilience and determination of the Rwandan people, especially Rwandan youth, whose dynamism and sense of purpose are already shaping country’s future for the better. She concluded by reaffirming the African Development Bank’s commitment to continue its strong partnership with Rwanda on its journey of transformation.

In his remarks, Minister Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, representing the Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, stated that the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda reminds Africa and the world of the dramatic consequences of policies based on hatred, communitarianism and any other form of divisionism. He underlined the importance of educating African youth to equip them with the tools to systematically reject genocide ideology and protect unity.

Addressing the participants, Pacifique Kayihura, President of the Rwandan Diaspora in Côte d’Ivoire, highlighted that the progress made in Rwandan over the last 25 years in the areas of unity, justice, reconciliation and development, demonstrate that no country is doomed to failure and that our strength lies in unity. He further urged the participants not to be indifferent to impunity and the suffering of others.

In closing, Ambassador Stanislas Kamanzi thanked the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the African Development Bank for the solidarity shown during this period of commemoration. He reiterated that over the past 25 years while we mourn the loss of our loved ones “we do not let despair bring us down. Rwanda has instead embarked on a challenge of rebirth...for an inclusive, equitable, dignified and prosperous society.”

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Zenith Bank sustains market dominance - ITREALMS

Leading financial institution in the country, Zenith Bank Plc has sustained its market dominance for improved profitability, reports ITREALMS.

In the first quarter ended 31 March 2019, Zenith Bank Group recorded improved numbers across key metrics, driven by a solid performance in all business segments. 

This, ITREALMS gathered, resulted in a Profit before Tax (PBT) of ₦57 billion, representing a 6% growth over the ₦54 billion achieved in the corresponding period in 2018. The Group’s on-going commitment to cost optimisation on the income statement and statement of financial position ensured earnings per share increased by 7% to ₦1.60 compared to Q1 2018.

Also Read: Zenith Bank reiterates commitment to sport development

The growth in net interest income and operating income by 23% and 1% respectively mitigated the decline in gross earnings. The effective management of cost-to-income ratio, cost of funds and cost of risk offset top-line declines to deliver an enhanced operating income in the period.

Our risk and asset quality continues to improve as cost of risk dropped significantly by 52% from 0.9% in the prior year to 0.4% for the period. This was achieved as impairment charges declined by 54% (₦2.5 billion year on year reduction). Our cost of funds also improved, declining by 25% from 4% in Q1 2018 to 3% at quarter-end. This was supported by a 22% decrease in interest expense of ₦10 billion over the same period, affirming the Group’s robust treasury and liquidity management. Our prudent cost management led to a 5% decline in our cost-to-income ratio by 5% from 53.3% in 2018 to 50.9% in the period with an absolute reduction in operating expenses by ₦2.3 billion year-on-year.

The Group’s retail franchise continues to increase as retail deposits grew by N80bn between December 2018 and March 2019 representing a 9% growth notwithstanding the fact that total customer deposits dropped marginally by 3%. The drop in customer deposits was as a result of rebalancing of the deposit mix as expensive purchased deposits were forgone in favour of cheaper and stickier retail deposits.

The volume and value of transactions across our electronic and digital platforms continue to grow as new customers are being acquired. Our balance sheet continues to strengthen as liquidity ratio is at 66.7%, loan to deposit ratio closed at 43%, and capital adequacy ratio ended the period at 25% respectively and remain above the relevant regulatory thresholds as at 31 March 2019.

Going into the rest of the year and with improving economic fundamentals, we are confident of delivering value to all our stakeholders on our commitments even as we create more opportunities for businesses by supporting them through selective risk asset creation. We shall continue our investments in the retail segment of the market as we consolidate our leadership position in the corporate segment while maintaining a strong balance sheet.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Amid growing outbreaks UNICEF launches #VaccinesWork campaign - ITREALMS

UNICEF is launching a new global campaign on 24 April to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.

The campaign will run alongside World Immunization Week from 24 to 30 April to spread the message that together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines.

#VaccinesWork has long been used to bring together immunization advocates online. This year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$ 1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork in April, up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need.

Vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera, and diphtheria. Thanks to vaccines, fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated. Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented – every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits.

“We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral,” said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. “Vaccines are safe, and they save lives. This campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.”

The campaign is part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme, Protected Together: Vaccines Work, to honour Vaccine Heroes – from parents and community members to health workers and innovators.

“More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,” said Violaine Mitchell, Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are delighted to work with UNICEF and all the global and country partners around the world who are working tirelessly to ensure all children, especially those in the world’s poorest countries, can be protected from life-threatening infectious diseases.”

Despite the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017. While this is often due to lack of access to vaccines, in some countries, families are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because of complacency or skepticism about vaccines. This has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles, especially in higher-income countries. Uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms is one of the factors driving this trend.

That is why the centerpiece of this UNICEF campaign is a 60-second animated film, “Dangers,” which, along with illustrated animations for social media posts and posters, is based on the relatable insight that kids, by their very nature, are little daredevils who are constantly putting themselves in danger. The video explains that while parents can’t prevent all the dangers their kids get themselves into, they can use vaccination to help prevent the dangers that get into their kids.

Immunization coverage in Nigeria was only 57.2% in 2018.  This is far below the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) target of 90 percent.

However, the clear benefit of vaccines can be seen in the case of polio, where vaccines have been crucial in eradication efforts. The country has been free of any case of wild polio virus since September 2016 and is on track for being declared polio-free by the end of this year. The success of polio vaccines in eliminating polio has, among other factors, been linked to the low cost and oral administration route of vaccines, enabling mass delivery.

Angélique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Grammy Award-Winning Singer:

“Today nine in ten children receive immunizations, but we cannot leave anyone behind. We must reach every child with life-saving vaccines.”

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Oluleye, PPPRA ex-boss buried @Ekiti - ITREALMS

The remains of  the former Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), and later Petroleum Trust Development Fund, late Dr Oluwole Oluleye, has been laid to rest in his country home, Efon Alaaye, Ekiti State, reports ITREALMS.

Late Oluleye was laid to rest on Wednesday with eulogies from friends and well wishers including the governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who described him as a leader who, not only shunned politics of bitterness but engaged in politics for development of both the masses and society.

Speaking at the funeral service held for the late Dr Oluleye, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has said the late Dr Oluleye, was an exemplary and quintessential leader who inspired many with his selflessness, humility, simplicity and sincerity in all that he did.

The funeral was attended by an array of dignitaries including the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, a former Deputy governor of Ekiti State, Prof. Modupe Adelabu and many top government functionaries.

“Every death diminishes us especially if it is the death of someone who is an exemplar in all its best, Dr Oluleye was an exemplar. He was a quintessential Ekiti leader and he was always very warm to everyone, as many here may know. he was a co-contestant in our recent gubernatorial election in Ekiti state and all through the process, I’m sure all of us who were in the contest with him will see one thing that his politics was without bitterness, his politics was for development and he consistently engaged me in the course of that race in a wide range of discussions that we really have to transform our state and he has served with distinction all over.

"I think his last official assignment was when he came to see me in 2013, I was still governor and he was the secretary of a project monitoring committee that President Jonathan set up to look at all the abandoned projects round the country. So, apart from coming from a distinguished family, he distinguished himself in every assignment that he was given, and for us this is a great loss to Ekiti,” he said.

Governor Fayemi urged members of Oluleye family, friends and well-wishers to take solace in the worthy legacies and examples that he left behind adding that the government and people of Ekiti state will always remember his works and his contributions to the development of the larger society.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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L-R: Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; flanked by children of the deceased, Tokunbo Oluleye (left) Temidayo Oluleye (second left) and Tinuke Oluleye (right) , during the burial of the former PPPRA Executive secretary, Dr Oluwole Oluleye at St Paul's Anglican Church Efon Alaaye- Ekiti.... On Wednesday

'Supreme court verdict: Oni not my enemy' - ITREALMS

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has said that the decision of Engr Segun Oni to seek redress in court after his defeat in the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) last year has declared it does not make the former governor his enemy, reports ITREALMS.

Reacting to his victory at the Supreme Court during a chat with journalists in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday, Governor Fayemi said though it was within Oni’s right to seek redress in court, the exercise, according to him, was needless because it was clear that he resigned his appointment as a minister in line with the laws of the country.

The Governor said he is of the view that Oni would see the Wednesday’s verdict of the Supreme Court as the end of the matter and as wake up call on him to begin to play active roles as a leader in the APC.

Fayemi said: “Going to court does not necessarily translate to being enemies. He felt strongly about a position and I believe that is why he went to court. Now that the highest court in the land has pronounced definitively on it, I hope he will see it as a cue to play active roles in the party.

“To the best of my knowledge Engr Oni remains a member of APC and I don’t believe he has decided to remove himself from the party. I hope this will not lead to another round of recriminations and attack because I have said it in the past that it is within his right to pursue anything he felt strongly about in the law court”, the governor said.

While calling on Oni to support his administration in moving the State forward, Fayemi said distractions and recriminations should end.

On the party’s call for the withdrawal of lawsuits against fellow party members, Fayemi said it was the party’s duty to take actions on any member who disobeys it.

“However Ekiti must move forward. Enough of this distractions and recriminations over matters that need not go to court because it is very clear that one, I resigned in accordance with law of the land. Two, that the shenanigans that culminated in the White Paper that said Fayemi could not serve in a political position has been dealt with by an appropriate law court and the trash that it was, and finally that the primary that took place in Ekiti was to anyone who is objective enough, one of the cleanest, fairest, most credible primaries that have ever taken place in the history of politics in Nigeria.

“If all of these have not convinced those who want to contend with the party, if the party chooses to take a decision on their continued membership of the party, that will not be about Fayemi and it will not be my decision. It will be the party’s decision”, Fayemi said.

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Igbo lady, Wendy Okolo emerges most promising engineer in USA - ITREALMS

A 29-year old Nigerian-born Igbo lady, Dr. Wendy A. Okolo, has won ‘The Most Promising Engineer in the United States government’ prize, reports ITREALMS.

The award, 
ITREALMS gathered, was presented to her at the just concluded BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference for the year 2019.

Okolo who works as an Aerospace Research Engineer at NASA Ames Research Center, serves as the Sub-Project Manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center and a Special Emphasis Program's Manager for Women at Ames.

Okolo had obtained her secondary school education from Queen's College, an all-girls secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria, before heading to the University Of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2010.

She became the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the same university in 2015 at the age of 26.
ITREALMS equally gathered that Wendy Okolo started her career as an intern for Lockheed Martin working on National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) NASA’s Orion spacecraft. She worked first in the Requirements Management Office in Systems Engineering during her first summer internship, then she worked with the Hatch Mechanisms team in Mechanical Engineering.

While she was a graduate student between 2010 and 2012, she worked in the Control Design & Analysis Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Wendy Okolo had other awards before now, including the Amelia Earhart Fellowship (2012), National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship (2012), and AIAA John Leland Atwood Graduate Award (2013).

Chuks Egbune/Editor

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

15 Nigerian Startups graduate from NG_Hub-FbStart Accelerator Programme - ITREALMS

Some 15 Nigerian startups graduated from the joint NG-Hub and FBStart Accelerator programme held in Lagos, reports ITREALMS.

This, ITREALMS gathered was in fulfillment to support and empower local start-ups and upcoming entrepreneurs in realizing their business goals by Facebook in partnership with CcHub.

The programme held on Friday April 12 saw to a Demo Day and pitching session for graduating startups of its NG_HUB FBStart Accelerator Programme.

The session afforded the startups the opportunity to pitch their solutions, ranging from agritech, healthtech, e-transport, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, to investors and potential customers from around the world, and for the invited guests to have first-hand experience trying out their products.

Equally Read: 'Its Your Facebook’ thrills Lagosians - ITREALMS

The FbStart accelerator is a research and mentorship driven six-month programme for innovative and visionary teams daring to create solutions with advanced technologies. The accelerator programme provides the startups with the support they need to build and optimize value driven products and match them with resources from Facebook and CcHUB.

Speaking at the event, Kendra Nnachi, Startups and Developers Programme Manager, Facebook said: “We are really proud of the growth of the pitching startups and their solutions which are very crucial for the current realities in the country and for Africa as a whole. We went around the country to different universities and hubs to search for people with innovative ideas and a passion for driving impact. Out of those communities came these 15 startup teams who have been working on their solutions for the past six months. We are proud of their progress, and hope that this experience will positively change their lives.”

Damilola Teidi, Director of Incubation, CcHub, described the partnership between Facebook and Cchub as beneficial. “We partnered with Facebook last year because as an incubation hub, we understand the intricacies and issues facing startups in the country, especially in regards to funding. This year, we regard these pitching startups as harvested potentials and this platform presents an opportunity for optimization and funding for them.”

Among the startups and their solutions were RoadPreppers who designed, a chatbox for public transit directions in Nigeria and other developing countries; Quadron Studios who came up with QVES, a Virtual Reality safety training solution that prepares enterprise workers for emergency situations by use of immersive virtual training experiences; Gricd Agroservices, whose product, GRICD Frij is an affordable and portable cold chain device for efficient storage of vaccines, blood and other health/agricultural products, as well as Vetsark, a web-based platform that uses disease report data to predict, prevent and manage disease outbreaks, for the benefit of livestock farmers, veterinarians and public health.

Other startups DeepQuest AI, Project Move, Up NEPA, Treplabs, Plantheus, Cycles, Insyt, SayPeace, Chiniki Guard, Team Kanji, as well as Smart Electricity.

Chuks Egbune/Editor

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Pix: L-R: Kendra Nnachi, Startups and Developers Programme Manager, Facebook; Francis Sani, Accelerator Programmes Manager, Cchub, and Damilola Teidi, Director of Incubation, CcHub during the NG_HUB Accelerator Program Demo Day for 15 graduating startups of the programme held in Yaba, Lagos.

Easter 2019: FRSC deploys 35,000 officers, 200 mobile courts - ITREALMS

In readiness for the 2019 Easter celebration, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has approved the deployment of some 35, 000 officers and 200 mobile courts, reports ITREALMS.

According to Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Corps Marshal, Boboye O. Oyeyemi, this has become imperative for both regular and special marshals, to address wrong road usage by motorists and ensure free flow of traffic on all major highways across the country.

ITREALMS also reports that total number of regular and special marshals approved for deployment are 35,000 and over 200 mobile courts.

The FRSC spokesman, Bisi Kazeem, said the proactive Patrol and Rescue Operations which is billed to commence from Thursday, April 18 to Tuesday, April 23, 2019 and will cover some 52 corridors nationwide.

"... Concerned by the increasing wave of movement of vehicles and passengers travelling during festive periods in Nigeria, and the usual traffic preconditioned by unplanned journeys, inadequate vehicle maintenance, inappropriate use of the road and other rogue journey determinants and delays; the aggregate of which commonly result in gridlock and road traffic crashes. The Corps Marshal has also directed the immediate commencement of aggressive public enlightenment campaigns across motor parks, terminals etc to sensitise the motoring public on the basic safe road use practices expected from drivers this season" he said.

In a related development the Corps Marshal, Boboye O. Oyeyemi has warned the general public to note that the Corps will not hesitate to bring any erring offender to book, hence the Mobile Court.

FRSC Easter Special Patrol, 
ITREALMS gathered, frowned on all offences, including "Overloading violations, drivers license violation, lane indiscipline, as well as driving with expired/worn out tyre and without a spare tyre and failure to install speed limit device.

Further, he said the Corps will be prompt in rescue operations and removal of rickety vehicles on the road and other obstructions, as well as Mobile Court Operations shall hold across the country to minimize cases of offenders discharge to entrench good road culture and behaviour.

Oyeyemi went on to remind the public to call FRSC toll free numbers; 122 or 0700-CALL-FRSC, 0700-2255-3772 for prompt rescue and removal of obstructions.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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NITDA’s data regulation: MDAs warn on silo effect - ITREALMS

Any Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of the government at all levels working in silos run the risk of losing legitimacy, especially with subsidiary legislation, reports ITREALMS exclusively.

The Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative (PI) Mr. Gbenga Sesan gave this advice while reacting to the proposed Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

He told ITREALMS that although NITDA is not a regulatory agency and by coming out with this data protection regulation bill, needs to collaborate with other MDAs and relevant stakeholders.

Some of these MDAs and stakeholders, he listed to include the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Identity Management Commission and relevant National Assembly organs.

Also read: Reflections on Nigeria Data Protection Regulation ...

This, he also said, will afford Nigeria to have a proper Data Privacy Law.

“First, NITDA is not a regulator. Having said that, anyone can push for regulation, and they are right to work on an area of interest but with existing Data Privacy bills,” he advised.

Sesan pointed out that it would have been more thorough for NITDA to engage “instead of taking advantage of an obvious gap to lay claim to a turf.”

Wondering what has become the state of NCC’s hitherto “Lawful Interception Draft Regulation” insisting on collaboration to make good sense of pieces of regulations for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and data users at large in the country.

Chuks Egbune/Editor

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Pix: Gbenga Sesan

Igbanke Grammar School Old Students reunite, launch school building - ITREALMS

Igbanke town, Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State,  will be agog come Saturday, April 20, as old students of the prestigious Igbanke Grammar School, will reunite in a colorful reunion, reports ITREALMS.

The old students will also launch a new block of classrooms during the gathering, which will be attend by the education commissioner, senior public servants,  politicians, among other dignitaries.

Already, the school is wearing a new look as preparation for the mother of all reunions which is expected to gather the Who-is-Who  in both Edo and Delta states, gets underway.

Chairman of the Steering Committee, Mr. Jacob Erhabor, in a statement said, the event is expected to reunite old students from the 1972 through 2018 sets.

He enjoined all old students of the school to take advantage of the event to catch up with old classmates and old friends.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Nigeria: How not to fight corruption - ITREALMS

Between fighting corruption with bare knuckles in an inspired manner and wearing well-padded gloves to do half-hearted battle with a monster that has literally crippled the country, the Buhari administration has to make up its mind on which style to adopt. And because time is not on its side, it had better do so now.

Although Buhari says he is fighting corruption, the question to ask is, how is he fighting it? It is true that waging war against corruption was at the top of his agenda in 2015 and he set up a think-tank of seasoned eggheads as well as introduced a couple of novel anti-corruption strategies to match the resolve. But it is also true that in spite of these supposedly virtuous schemes, corruption in various shades, propelled by its more virulent evil partner, impunity, is still rampaging through the land.

A more dispassionate scrutiny of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign would undoubtedly reveal a huge gap between the performance of government and perception. Such awkward disproportions should not be the case in this matter of prosecuting the anti-graft war. What ought to be happening—at least as an enduring index of the promised change—is that citizen perception would largely correspond with the government’s side of the story. That is, government should be seen to be genuinely dealing hard blows on corrupt people and corrupt practices in the country. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Government says it is winning the war, but a large segment of the populace doubts this assertion.

The problem is that the political will mobilized to fight corruption is itself severely enfeebled by the corruption it is summoned to confront. There is no way corruption can be defeated when Buhari seems to be engaging with it wearing blinkers. In all honesty, his fight is puerile; lacking all the firmness, decisiveness and, more importantly, the even-handedness required to secure confidence and belief.

Given Buhari’s reputation for toughness, who could have thought that reports of investigation of alleged corruption would be lying on the desk of whosoever in the presidency or outside of it for ages, gathering dust in a Buhari presidency? Has he, all of a sudden, forgotten that his lead campaign promise to fight corruption to the bitterest end, not to mention his acclaimed integrity, is the major reason the people elected him in 2015?

Sometime in October 2017, Abdulrasheed Maina, the civil servant who absconded after being declared wanted for corruption, suddenly surfaced and was reinstated and promoted to a higher position in the civil service. The news of the recall reverberated across the country and was accompanied by widespread condemnation. Seemingly furious, Buhari, on October 23, directed Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation, to submit a report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall to the office of Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President, before the end of that day. That report indeed got to the table of Abba Kyari before the end of that day.

In another six months, it will be two years since the report of that investigation was received at the presidency. But, up till now, no word has come from the presidency regarding the report. It must be on somebody’s desk or shelf, submerged in cobwebs perhaps. No one needs be told that this sends a wrong message about the fight against corruption.

The fury of what the media aptly dubbed “Mainagate” promptly spread to the National Assembly where the House of Representatives launched its own investigation by setting up a 10-man ad hoc committee headed by Aliyu Sani Madaki, a member of the ruling APC from Kano State. At the end of two weeks, the committee laid a report at the plenary which indicted Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. The report said Maina’s recall was “fraudulently masterminded” and that Malami “pressured all that mattered” to force Maina back into the service.

As the Senate was also plunging into an investigation of the scandal, Malami rushed to court to stop the probe, showing clearly that he had something to hide. But what do you make of Attorney General, the chief law officer of a country who held secret meetings with a wanted citizen outside the country? Ordinarily, anyone would think this is a fugitive whose extradition Malami should be working hard to perfect.

Even Itse Sagay, professor of law and chairman of Presidential Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), was horrified by Malami’s action and urged Buhari to do something about it. Nothing happened. Not one person among all those found culpable by the House of Reps probe in the reinstatement of a fugitive into the civil service has been punished by this government. From the AGF, to officials of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and the permanent secretary, all are still sitting pretty in their cozy positions, none visited with the consequences of such grievous wrongdoing. Again, a wrong signal in the fight against corruption.

And there is yet another. Also in six months’ time, it will be the first anniversary of the presidency’s announcement of investigation into allegations of infraction and financial malfeasance levelled against Usman Yusuf, professor and head of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), by the governing council. Yusuf, according to a statement by the presidency, was directed to proceed on administrative leave November 5, 2018, to make way for an investigation by a 7-man panel headed by Hassan Bukar.

Although the panel had two weeks to submit its report to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the report was not turned in until seven and a half weeks later on December 24, 2018. It is about four months now since that report was submitted but nothing has been heard about it. Recently, one top official of the office of the SGF said government was unable to release the report because of the general election that was just concluded. Pray, what does election have to do with making public the report of an investigation into allegations of corruption against the NHIS boss?

There are many allegations of corruption involving top government officials, including those very close to the presidency, among them a serving governor and even Buhari’s chief of staff, where the president blatantly refused to take action, or reluctantly did so after intense public outrage, as in the case a former secretary to the federal government, Babachir Lawal. This, certainly, is not how citizens expect that corruption would be fought anywhere in the world, least of all in Nigeria under a Buhari presidency.

Only recently, at the request of Ade Ipaye, deputy chief of staff in the presidency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) sent to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo a preliminary report of its findings on allegation of corruption against Marilyn Amobi, MD/CEO of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc. (NBET). Limited as it was in its findings and conclusion, the report dated March 6, 2019 indicted the NBET boss and said the Commission would prosecute her and others for violating the Procurement Act 2007 and ICPC Act, 2000. Significantly, the report stated that two whistleblowers who reported Amobi’s corrupt practices—Waziri Bintube, former head of finance and Abdullahi Sambo, former head of audit, were wrongfully dismissed.

Since December 2017 these officers have not been paid their salaries and entitlements even after Raji Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing whose office supervises NBET, had directed Amobi to reinstate the officers and pay their salaries and entitlements. That is just one of the many instances of insubordination she had shown to Fashola.

It is more than five weeks since the presidency received the Commission’s report on the NBET boss but nothing has been done. You would wonder why the presidency is still sitting on the damning report. With it, a government that is really committed to fighting corruption would promptly direct Amobi to step aside as MD/CEO and encourage the Commission to begin prosecution. In addition, that government would also immediately direct that the whistleblowers (Sambo and Waziri) return to work and all their outstanding salaries paid without any further delay.

Clearly, this government realized, and rightly so, that it can never make meaningful headway in the fight against corruption without the input of the citizens. That must have informed the introduction of the whistleblower policy in December 2016. Yet, it cannot claim to be seriously fighting corruption when whistleblowers are not protected; and so far, there is no demonstrable political will to hold wrongdoers accountable.

*Godwin Onyeacholem, a journalist, is with the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).

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Ayodeji Ajayi is new Head of Service - ITREALMS

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has approved the appointment of Mr Ayodeji Ajayi as the new Head of Service following the recommendation of the Civil Service Transformation Strategy Committee after a rigorous selection process.

Ajayi, who is Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, is to take over from the Acting Head of Service, Mrs Peju Babafemi.

The new Head of Service is to be sworn in on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Acting Head of Service, Mrs Babafemi has been commended by Governor Fayemi for her diligence and professionalism which helped in stabilizing the government in its early days, even as she proceeds on an overseas programme as a Senior Research Fellow at the African Leadership Centre, School of Global Affairs, King’s College, London, United Kingdom.

During the programme , Mrs Babafemi will also undertske study visits to the Royal Institute of Public Administration(RIPA), Royal Institute of International Affairs, (Chatham House), Houses of Parliament, Cabinet Office in Whitehall, Westminster Foundation, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in the UK, among others.

The Civil Service Transformation Strategy Committee, is an advisory body of experienced technocrats under the chairmanship of Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun. Other members of the committee are Dr. Goke Adegoroye, Prof Modupe Adelabu, Mr Philip Amujo and Alhaji Afolabi Ogunlayi.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Igbanke Unity Forum presents furniture to 13 primary schools - ITREALMS

Igbanke Unity Forum (IUF) will in April 20, 2019, present school furniture to all 13 primary schools at Igbanke, Orhionmwon Local Government Area, Edo State. 

Co-founder of the IUF, Mr. Collins Edomaruse, said in a statement that the furniture would be officially presented to head teachers of the schools by the state's commissioner of education at the main field of Igbanke Primary School, Igbanke. 

Mr. Edomaruse, a former editor at THISDAY and Publisher of METROWATCH Online newspaper, said the IUF, a FaceBook-based non-profit and non-political organisation, was founded three years ago. 

With a membership strength of about 4,000, the IUF was founded to primarily address the education needs of all Igbanke children schooling at both primary and secondary schools in the community. 

In November 2017, the IUF printed and distributed branded books to all students of the three secondary schools in the community.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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