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Agbalanze Onitsha Cultural Association: Origin & Developments - ITREALMS

BookReview@ITREALMS:  Agbalanze! Ogbuevi Ogbuevi nu o! Onye na nk’ie, Onye na nk’ie o! Nke onye chi, nya ze kw’oo! [PROTOCOLS] Title: Ag...

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Agbalanze Onitsha Cultural Association: Origin & Developments - ITREALMS

BookReview@ITREALMS: 
Agbalanze! Ogbuevi Ogbuevi nu o!

Onye na nk’ie, Onye na nk’ie o!

Nke onye chi, nya ze kw’oo!


[PROTOCOLS]

Title: Agbalanze Onitsha Cultural Association: Origin and

Developments

Published: 2019

Publishers: Agbalanze Onitsha Cultural Association

Consultant/Author: Chinyelugo Osita Anionwu

Research Assistant: Ugokwe Tobechukwu Etukokwu

Editors: Zelugo Joe Bel-Molokwu & Nnabuenyi Chiedu Ofodile

Contents: 211 pages; 17 chapters



This seminal work is at once many things rolled into one – an educative narrative, a historical record, an academically authoritative output, an essential routine reading material, and a cultural vade mecum for every Onitsha person, and for all who have interest in the essence of Onitsha, this enigmatic city on the eastern bank of the Niger. It is also eloquent testimony to the intellectual potency and cultural depth of Agbalanze Onitsha, a unique component of Onitsha society, and its membership. Agbalanze Onitsha has drawn its membership over time from the crème de la crème of Onitsha. From Zik to Professor Chike Obi. From Justice Louis Mbanefo to Chief Modebe. From Engr. Willie Achukwu to P. N. C. Molokwu, MBE. From Justice Emmanuel Araka to Justice Omenye Nwokedi. From R. M. C. Chukwurah to Ajie Ukpabi Asika. From the lowest to the highest.



Conceived, planned, researched, written, edited, proof read and produced by components of Agbalanze Onitsha, this book is one to be proud of. That it took time in coming is well justified by its presentation to the world today. It answers virtually all questions there are about the mystique of Agbalanze Onitsha as a revered institution, misunderstood by many, viewed with suspicion by some, reviled by others – but respected by ALL.



Prior to this book, there have been numerous works that touched – albeit tangentially - on Agbalanze Onitsha and what is stands for. Indeed, there is hardly any work that has ever been written about Onitsha that does not talk about Agbalanze Onitsha and Ichi Ozo Onitsha. But none has dwelt on the institution as its sole theme; none has been as well researched as this; none has traced the history of Agbalanze Onitsha in as much painstaking depth; and, above all, none has had the imprimatur of Agbalanze Onitsha Cultural Association. This feat is to the credit of the leadership of Nnabuenyi Uchenna Mbanefo, under whose presidency this initiative was actualized. It is also to the credit of Chinyelugo Dr. Osita Anionwu that he was able to put so much time and energy into bringing forth this legacy of a book.



Prior to this, there was the production of a video documentary under the presidency of Nwakibie Dr. Henry Molokwu, a project directed by Akunnia Col. George Molokwu. There have also been individual efforts here and there to unravel the innards of Agbalanze Onitsha, so to say.



The positioning of the book under review today is elevated with the inspiring Foreword by none other than the Obi of Onitsha himself, His Majesty Alfred N. Achebe, mni, cfr, whose voice captured the all-importance of a book of this seriousness and breadth. This is in line with his vision of the emergence of a neo-modern society out of the rich traditional setting of Onitsha. The Agbalanze President, Nnabuenyi Mbanefo, also highlights the critical purpose of this work in his Preface, with the words: “…that the values and integrity of Ozo and Agbalanze in Onitsha will continue to rise to greater levels.”



Agbalanze Onitsha Cultural Association: Origin and Developments is a blend of quite a rich repertoire. It is well written and is complete with referencing, making it as useful for scholarly work, as it is for casual or inquiring reading. It seamlessly migrates from its deep effort to locate the origin of Ozo title taking in Onitsha, to identification of landmarks in Ozo title taking, to detailed description of sequences, paraphernalia, processes, songs and chants, protocols, ceremonies, regalia and the structure of the association.



Works of scholars like anthropologist Dr. Richard Henderson, who did and continues to research into Onitsha and its people since 1961, his wife and fellow researcher Helen, Ojinnaka R. I. Chukwurah, Jerry Orakwue, Dr. Chudi Okwechime, Onuora Nzekwu are among the sources of back-grounding.



This work traces the growth of Agbalanze Onitsha from its roots that date to the 16th Century exodus from the Benin Kingdom (or maybe even earlier) when it had no specific name beyond the description of “ichi Ozo”, through to the beginning of the 20th Century wherein it is captured from research that there were “about 200” members, on to modern times. Indeed, today, Agbalanze, now well structured as a registered trustee association, has between 800 and 900 members in all parts of the world. From the primordial ichi Ozo within small family units, there are today 37 Agbalanze Ozo kindred units, and the number most likely could have exceeded that, but for initiatives to minimize further splintering of Ozo units.



In 211 pages broken into 17 chapters, the book does a jolly good job in marshaling out the significance of Ozo and its spirituality, as it does with its treatment of the meaning of Agbalanze, Ozo titles and names, rites of passage, administration of the association through a seven-man Executive Council, the processes leading to the development of a Constitution, interviews, and the opening of a befitting headquarters. The book is also well illustrated with photographs, which apparently took great effort to assemble. It also has a chapter on suggestions!



One high point of the book is the rich essay on Ugo, the Eagle, the regal bird, around which Ozo title taking revolves. The eagle’s feather is a sine qua non in the entire process and significance of Agbalanze Onitsha. There is a nostalgic reference to the early days when the Ugo (the feather) was daintily stuck into a specially grown tuft of hair on an initiate’s head. This with time gave way to sticking the Ugo in gold or silver wire thread embroidered caps that we know today.



In all, this work has done justice to the concept of Ichi Ozo Onitsha, something that has continued to confound non-members and non-Onitsha indigenes at large.



Is Agbalanze Onitsha a cult? Is it a cabal? Is it a religious sect? Is it a coven (okwu alusi)? Is it an exclusive club for millionaires? Is it a segregated society? Is it a political pressure group? Is it a power bloc?



Or, is Agbalanze Onitsha a sacred institution founded and operating on lofty principles of honour, dignity, pride and incorruptibility? Is it a deep-rooted ancestral institution that promotes high values and moral principles? Is it an organization that dwells on the elevation of moral standards, social ethics and clean living?



Will the “outside” find answers to these posers in this rich book?



My answer is:



Icho ima ife di n’Ozo, bia chi e l’anyi Ozo!







Dr. Joe Bel-Molokwu

Zelugo

November 16, 2019





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APC, architect of hate speech in Nigeria says Vatsa – ITREALMS

A former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Niger State, Comrade Jonathan Vatsa, has described the All Progressive Congress (APC) as architect of hate speech in Nigeria, reports ITREALMS.

Also, he condemned the 9th National Assembly for the proposed bill seeking death penalty for convicts of hate speech, urging them to equally propose bill for cemetery to accommodate those their latest hate speech will affect, alleging that there are more to it than meets the eye.

Vatsa, a former Publicity Secretary of APC in the state made this known while addressing selected journalists in Minna, and described the move as not only laughable but a direct invitation for anarchy.
The APC chieftain advised the 9th Assembly to also propose a bill that will apply for lands in the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as did for Ruga to be used as cemetery for hate speech offenders that will be killed.
“I call on Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi to also propose a bill that will ensure we have separate cemetery for offenders so that we can have it as tourist’s sites with inscriptions ‘Hate Speech’ cemetery because the offenders may also include those of us who have benefitted from hate speech.
“What a shame.”
Vatsa wondered why the APC-controlled Senate should ever contemplate such a “draconian and unpopular law,” saying “We rode to power in 2015 through hate speech.
“We (APC) brought hate speech to Nigeria politics and I am one of them.
“As a Publicity Secretary of the APC, I know how we used hate speech to mobilize Nigerians against the then ruling party.
“And it paid off because Nigerians eventually hated the Peoples Democratic Party. Before 2015, Nigerians did not know anything like hate speech.
“In fact, since the return of democracy in 1999, we are just hearing about hate speech. APC as a political party brought hate to politics in form of propaganda.
“The truth must be told: we’re the architect of hate speech and nobody complained about it. We enjoyed it and it worked for us.
“If we think we have failed Nigerians in our change promises, we should be bold enough to tell Nigerians that we are sorry, we couldn’t deliver, but to try to cage them by trying to introduce or recycle Decree 4 of 1984 in the name of hate speech is unacceptable,” he said.



Vatsa further blamed the Senate Deputy Whip, who is from Niger North Senatorial District, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, over the proposed bill for death penalty for hate speech, warning it “might consume all of us.”
He said rather than proposing death penalty for hate speech offenders, it should be death penalty for corrupt leaders in this country because “corruption and injustice gave birth to what is now being called hate speech. If there is justice, equity, fairness and respect for rule of law, there will be no hate speech.
“But when people are being marginalized and denied their right, surely there will be hate speech,” he said, insisting that “You cannot stop people from expressing their freedom of speech.”
“If the Senate is proposing death penalty for hate speech, then what will they do to Boko Haram, armed bandits, kidnappers, oil bunkers and treasury looters both politicians and civil servants?
“All these things are worse than hate speech. There are more pressing issues to Nigerians that the Senate should look into and address instead of wasting their energy on an unpopular bill like this one that will not see the light of the day,” Vatsa said.
He believes that there are more to the proposed hate speech bill, alleging that “If the rumor of President Muhammadu Buhari nursing the ambition of third term is correct, then they need death penalty for hate speech to silence everybody who will want to oppose him.
“But the Senate should know that he who lives in a glass house should not throw stone because they cannot be there forever.
“When they leave the Senate, the law can catch up with them.
“Again, if the money meant for constituency projects are utilized for the purpose it was meant for and the people begin to see dividends of democracy, there will be no need for hate speech.
“If the millions of Nigerian youths can have something to do to earn a living, they will not have time for hate speech.
“If people are allowed to elect their leaders in a free and fair election there will be no hate speech.
“So, something gave birth to hate speech and that is what the Senate should address.”

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Catholic priest, Edmund Nwagbara, dies in fire outbreak @Nnewi – ITREALMS

A Catholic priest in charge of the St Peter Clavar Parish, Nnewichi, Nnewi, Rev Fr Edmund Nwagbara is dead, reports ITREALMS.

Fr. Edmund, ITREALMS gathered died during an early morning fire outbreak in his room which cut up with him on Saturday.

Confirming this, the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi through the Director of Communications, Fr Martin Onwudiwe told ITREALMS that Fr. Edmund died in the early morning fire in his apartment.

“Rev Fr Edmund Nwagbara was the parish priest of St Peter Clavar Parish, Nnewichi, Nnewi,” he said.

Fr. Onwudiwe also urged faithfuls to continue to pray for Fr. Edmund among the departed.

“May we continue to pray for his repose,” he concluded.

Nweke Ozo Nweke/Editor

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Pix: Remains of Fr Edmund's room @Nnewi after the fire.

ALTON to Pantami: Only NCC can regulate telecoms - ITREALMS

The speech delivered by the chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo during a visit to the Hon. Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami on Monday, October 14, 2019.
Excerpts:

Protocols

· ALTON commends the Minister on his recent appointment as Hon. Minister which is an endorsement of his performance in NITDA by President.

· We commend the Minister for proactively defining short to long terms targets for the communications sector and for championing the cause of the sector home and abroad.

· The Association Extend hand of partnership to the Hon. Minister, restating our commitment to working with government at all levels to bridge the digital divide in Nigeria and to foster inclusive economic growth.

A. National Digital Strategy

· There is no doubt that the world is experiencing rapid technology revolution. Digital technologies are reshaping traditional human activities and disrupting business models. Broadband networks are being used to transform the way people communicate, socialize, shop, travel and work, and are creating entirely new business models and markets. The reality of the world being a global village is now more evident.

· The leading global businesses such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Alibaba are all enabled by broadband networks. This speaks to the power of technologies in global economies. Thus, any country that overlooks the ongoing digital revolution and fails to act strategically to exploit the benefits of the digital ecosystem will lose in the long run. 


· For Nigeria, we are well-positioned to benefit from the digital revolution given our human capital potential which is our greatest asset and our burgeoning high youth population. However, what is missing is a holistic strategy that would enable Nigeria to exploit the benefits of the global digital ecosystem.

· It is, therefore, our view that Nigeria needs a holistic digital strategy that would deliver economic prosperity to its citizenry. We advocate that the strategy should address critical issues such as Broadband Infrastructural development, Digital services, finance, capacity building, and the regulatory environment.

REQUEST:

· Develop a Digital Economy Strategy in consultation with the National Economic Council. ALTON is willing to partner with the Minister to develop the Strategy.

B. Critical National Information Infrastructure

· Telecommunications infrastructure is globally acknowledged as an enabler for economic and social growth in the digital economy. The impact of telecommunications in enabling new industries and introducing significant efficiencies in education delivery, financial services delivery, health care provision, energy management, agriculture and ensuring public safety cannot be overemphasized.

· Given the role of telecommunications as a social capital overhead, damage to telecoms infrastructure or interference with same would have devastating impact on the economy and security or public safety.

· There has been an increase in vandalism of telecoms equipment by unscrupulous persons and shut down of telecom infrastructure by government agents and communities as a means of compelling operators to comply with their demands for spurious taxes or levies.

· The CyberCrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015 empowers the President on the advice of the National Security Adviser to designate certain networks (physical & virtual) as Critical National Information Infrastructure to protect and preserve same.

REQUEST:

· We therefore urge the Hon. Minister to facilitate the issuance of an Executive Order (EO) to designate telecom network infrastructure as Critical National Information Infrastructure in the national interest. We have a draft EO for the Hon. Minister’s adoption.

C. NITDA Frameworks

· We commend the Hon. Minister for the innovative ideas and policies introduced during his tenure as Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) which are currently yielding positive benefits to the society.

· Our members are concerned about the impact of some of the recent frameworks introduced by NITDA on their operations and licence.

1. Framework and Guidelines for Public Internet Access (PIA) 2019:

Background

· The Framework sets out rules for the provision of Public Internet Access

· It permits NITDA to license a Public Internet Access Provider (PIAP) which technically is a provider of data services and prescribes minimum quality of service for such providers.

Our members' concerns are as follows:

o This framework will result in multiple regulation as two regulators (NCC/NITDA) will be overseeing the data market.

o Allowing PIAP to offer free data services is in conflict with the pricing principles for data services in the communications market as developed by the NCC and could potentially lessen competition in the data market.

REQUEST:

Direct NITDA to withdraw the framework in the overall interest of the industry

Direct NCC to develop a framework for Public Internet Access which would promote the use of data services in public places.

2. Registration of Data Centre Facilities:

Background:

NITDA wrote to some of our members in July 2019 requesting for the registration of Data Centre facilities owned by our members. According to NITDA, the registration is in furtherance of Presidential Executive Orders 003 and 005 on local content development.

Our members’ primary concern is that the directive from NITDA will result in multiple regulation of the industry as the data centers owned by our members are part of telecommunications networks that are already being regulated by the NCC.

REQUEST:

Direct NITDA to exempt licensed telecommunications operators from the registration requirement for Data Centres.

3. Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019:

The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 defines the rules governing the processing of data. It contains far-reaching provisions on personal data which includes communications identifiers such as IP address, IMEI number, IMSI number, SIM and Personal Identifiable Information, etc., as well as the procedure for procuring consent from customers and the transfer of data outside of Nigeria.

The Nigerian Data Protection Regulations is an innovative piece of subsidiary legislation which has placed Nigeria on the global map of nations with national data privacy and data protection legislations.

Concern:

· Complying with the provision which deals with obtaining consent from customers prior to the use of their data for our operations is an area of challenge for the industry. For example, majority of our customers are pre-paid and communication with most of the customers is via text messages. Thus, securing consent in the manner described in the Regulations (i.e. intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language) will prove difficult for the industry. It is also highly probable that some customers may not respond to the request for consent.

REQUEST:

Direct to the NITDA to collaborate with NCC to issue additional guidelines on securing consent for the telecommunications industry.

Given the volume of subscribers in the telecommunications industry and the highlighted challenge with procuring consent, we request for a compliance transition period of 1 year before full enforcement.

D. Refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to Grant Build Permit for Infrastructure Roll-Out

· The provision of first class telecoms service in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has been hampered by the refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to grant permits to our members to build infrastructure. Despite concerted engagement, FCDA has maintained that due to the need to maintain the Abuja Master Plan, it will not grant approval to our members to build new sites in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

· Honourable Minister, ALTON respectfully states that without adequate infrastructure, the provision of qualitative telecommunications services cannot be guaranteed. We therefore respectfully invite you to use your good office to liaise with the FCDA to identify suitable locations for new sites build by our members to ensure the provision of qualitative telecoms service in FCT and environs.

REQUEST:

To have discussion with the management of FCDA on how to expand the infrastructure build in the FCT for better quality of service.

E. The Amended Taxes & Levies Order of 2015:

· The Schedule to the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act (Amendment) Order 2015 further engendered the institution of multiplicity of taxes across different tiers of Government which has been perennial challenge for industry. The Taxes and Levies Order of 2015 introduced additional tax items and permitted States to apply their discretion in the fixing of tax rates resulting in the imposition of arbitrary levies and charges at the State Government levels. Specifically, item 3 (b) of the Amended Schedule to the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act introduced new levies and taxes under items 12 – 25. Most of these taxes and levies were hitherto contested by our members on the ground that they were not applicable to telecommunications operations.

· Further, pursuant to Taxes and Levies Order of 2015, States and Local Government Councils have been enacting Internally Generated Revenue based legislations targeted at our members. We find that most of these legislations are at variance with fundamental tax principles such as neutrality and certainty. Some examples of the taxes being imposed include:

  • Ecology Tax for gaseous emission.
  • Sewage, Sanitation and public convenience levy for base stations
  • Fumigation Levies: Some States demand for the payment of fumigation charges of Base Station.
  • Sanitation and refuse effluent tax for base stations
  • Business premises tax for base stations
  • Tenements rates charged per base station in some states is far higher than rates per square metre charged by the same State for residential and commercial buildings when the infrastructure occupies the same land?

REQUEST:

ALTON respectfully requests the Honourable Minister to engage the Honourable Minister of Finance towards a review of the Amended Taxes and Levies Order 2015, which is not business friendly and negates the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business agenda.

F. Over The Top (OTT) Services in Nigeria

Increasing usage of OTT services by customers is adversely impacting on traditional telecoms platforms. According to Ovum, the independent analyst and consultancy: The growing adoption of OTT services by customers instead of traditional telecoms services will occasion global revenue loss of $386bn over a period of six years (2012 – 2018) for the traditional telecom operators, thus endangering network development.

· OTT Services in Nigeria and the Displacement Effect:

1. Data shows that voice minutes have been declining due to impact of OTT.

2. Voice Minutes has been declining while VoIP has been increasing

3. OTT Data flux has been increasing as shown with the 2016 data.

4. Telcos are losing money due to this trend.

5. Urgent action is required to save Telcos further loss due to activities of OTT players who do not invest in infrastructure.

· Comparing OTT and Mobile Network Operations

OTT Operators: offer the same services as the operators (voice, SMS, content, etc.), but are neither subject to licensing under the NCA nor have any contractual obligation with telecommunication operators in terms of interconnection.

Mobile Network Operators

Strong presence in the country, attracted over USD38bn FDI in the past 16 years. The industry is a Catalyst for telecoms infrastructural development in the country, and also a major employer of labour having created over 30,000 direct job opportunities andover 500,000 indirect job opportunities.

Telcos have paid over NGN300bn to the coffers of the Government in taxes and levies annually.

REQUEST:

Introduction of data price floor to ensure that Telcos price data profitably irrespective of activities carried out by data customers.

We recommend that OTT players to enter into agreement with Telcos for revenue share or payment of a kind of interconnect fee to Telcos.

In Conclusion:

We wish to inform and invite the Hon. Minister to the 20th Anniversary of ALTON scheduled to hold on Friday 29th November, 2019 at the MUSON Center, Onikan, Lagos.

ALTON is committed to the continued growth and development of the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry and respectfully requests that in order to save the legacy telecoms operators, measures must be put in place which will avoid distortion in the digital space in order to ensure unimpeded development of telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

*Engr. Gbenga Adebayo
October 14, 2019

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Friday, November 15, 2019

Buhari leads FG delegation to eNigeria’19 - ITREALMS

President Muhammadu Buhari has been confirmed to lead the Federal Government (FG) delegations to the 2019 e-Nigeria annual conference as the special guest of honour, reports ITREALMS.

Confirming this to ITREALMS, spokesperson to the Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman said, Buhari accepted and approved the invitation of the Minister, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) to serve as Special Guest of Honour, through a letter.

The confab scheduled to hold from Thursday, 28th to Saturday, 30th of November 2019 with the theme centred around: Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria, she said, would be declared open by the President, with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as the Chief Host and Chief Convener, Director-General National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashif Inuwa Abdullahi.

They are expected to be joined by all the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of agencies under the Ministry’s purview will serve as co-hosts. 

These, she said, include the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta; Managing Director Galaxy Backbone PLC, Mr. Yusuf Kazaure; Managing Director Nigeria Communications Satelite (NIGCOMSAT), Dr Abimbola Alale; Acting Executive Secretary Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Mr Ayuba Shuaibu; and the Post-Master General, Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) Barrister Adebisi Adegbuyi.

Also, she said the highlight of this year’s event, would be the formal public presentation for review, in line with the President’s directives, the draft document on the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, in accordance the Ministry’s mandate.

The Minister has also constituted Central Working Committee (CWC), for e-Nigeria chaired by him, with NITDA as its secretariat and coordinator, while the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Parastatals under the Ministry’s supervision serve as members.

Recall that the e-Nigeria Conference is the nation’s flagship IT Conference organized by the Federal Government and coordinated by NITDA, the Federal Government’s Information Technology (IT) develop arm, supervised by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor
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Ijeoma urges Ndi-Imo to keep faith with Ihedioha - ITREALMS.

The Senior Special Assistant on Project Monitoring in the Office of the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Architect Zach Ijeoma has called on Ndi-Imo to continue to keep faith with the administration of Governor Emeka Ihedioha, describing it as the best thing to have happened to the state, reports ITREALMS.

Ijeoma, who made the call while addressing hundreds of stakeholders in his home town, Egbuoma, Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State argued that the few months of reign of Governor Ihedioha has given hope to people of the state.

“I invited people from different political parties to formally inform them of my new appointment as SSA, Project Monitoring to the Deputy Governor of Imo State. I invited people across party lines to come and join the Rebuild Imo Government in order to add their quota to the development of the state. You can see that the few months that the present administration in the state has stayed, has given our people home. They are doing things that people can see.”

“I urge people of Egbuoma, Oguta LGA and Imo State at large to continue to keep faith and support the Rebuild Imo administration in order to secure the future of generations yet unborn.”

Continuing, he expressed gratitude to the Deputy Governor, Engr. Gerald Irona for what he described as his exemplary leadership style, urging him to continue with his good works.

He expressed optimism that people of the area will benefit from the present administration, regretting that previous administrations in the state, in spite of having some top members of the government from the area did not impact the lives of the people.

The Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Governor, Hon. Sydney Uneanya commended members of Egbuoma community for what he described as their commitment to supporting the administration of Governor Ihedioha, assuring them that they will not be disappointed.

He further lauded members of opposition political parties in the area for putting aside their political affiliations to support the administration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.

*Correspondent/Editor


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Kogi and Bayelsa 2019 Governorship Election: Foretelling the Outcome - ITREALMS

Commentary@ITREALMS:

Democracy is earning the power to govern through free, fair and credible elections. Nigeria is a democratic state, but the leadership recruitment process is largely undemocratic. 

Material and financial inducements determines victory, the security agencies are political, and the umpire lacks the capacity and will to conduct credible polls. Public sovereignty is departing the ballot for court as the 2019 general elections produced about a thousand petitions. 

Subjecting almost every electoral victory to judicial confirmation is making voting lose its essence. Like every human, judges are prone to errors as much as they have preference. Hence, their verdicts can’t always be a true reflection of the peoples will. Several mandates have been mistakenly or deliberately upturned. Parties and candidates must strive to end their contests at the polls, instead of the court.

Nigerians hope for this as the people of Kogi and Bayelsa state elect governor on 16 November, 2019. Over 40 parties fielded candidates, but the contest is a two horse race between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). APC’s David Lyon is slugging it out with PDP’s Duoye Diri in Bayelsa state. In Kogi, PDP’s Musa Wada and SDP’s Natasha Akpoti is challenging incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello of the APC. On the sideline, PDP’s Dino Melaye is facing APC’s Smart Adeyemi in the Kogi-West senatorial rerun. This piece foretells the outcome of the elections.

Bayelsa State:Bayelsa is a riverine, less populated state of about 2.5 million persons, eight local governments, and 923,182 registered voters. Unfavorable judicial pronouncements have practically make winning an unattainable height for APC in Bayelsa state. The party’s deputy governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, was disqualified on November 12 for providing false information in his nomination form. On November 14, the court invalidated David Lyon’s candidacy on account that the governorship primary that produced him was improperly conducted. APC miraculously got a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal few hours after Justice Jane Inyang of Bayelsa High Court gave the ruling.

Is Nigeria’s legal system so flexible that appellants can get a stay of execution the same day judgment is delivered? Did the trial judge err by granting reliefs not sought by Heineken Lokpobiri, the plaintiff who originally prayed to be declared candidate?

In any case, APC is back on the ballot and the poll won’t be a walkover for PDP. The former made an impressive performance in the last general elections and may increase the beat. From scoring a meagre 5,000 votes in the 2015 presidential poll, APC garnered over 118,000 votes in 2019. While one may argue that the party got more votes because a Bayelsa indigene wasn’t on the ballot, as in 2015, the progression is a testament that APC is making waves in Bayelsa.

Ethno-regional balance of power would earn PDP votes. The party’s primary generated resentment, but drastic measures were taken to address the impasse. Diri and the immediate past speaker of the state assembly, Tony Isenah hails from Kolokuma Opokuma. Agitations were rife that the region cannot produce governor and speaker, while Southern Ijaw, the second largest voting population, held no key position. To calm frayed nerves, Governor Seriake Dickson and other PDP leaders forced Isenah out for Monday Obolo. The move has brightened PDP’s chance in Southern Ijaw, the APC candidate’s homeland.

A major setback for the PDP is intra-party crisis. Governor Dickson backed Duoye Diri, against the wish of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and other bigwigs. Diri’s candidature was actualized through the Restoration Group, the dominant PDP faction in the state controlled by Dickson. Diri pulled 561 votes, while Jonathan’s preferred candidate, Timi Alaibe, scored 365 votes in the primary. Efforts to make Dickson concede the deputy governorship ticket to Alaibe’s faction failed. This made several PDP stalwarts decamp to APC and other parties. Gabriel Jonah, the incumbent deputy governor’s younger brother led the Otita Force group out of the PDP to APC. Some of the defectors have returned and PDP also won some APC decampees.

Recurring conflict of interest broke the cordial relationship between Dickson and his godfather, Jonathan. The latter wants to keep calling the shot, but the former feels he has come of age. Dickson is having his way as the party structure is firmly under his control. Many allege the Jonathans are working against PDP’s victory. Ex-first lady Patience reportedly attend an APC rally and the husband visited President Buhari within the same period. Politics is an interest driven game, hence it is not impossible, but most unlikely that Jonathan would support APC. This is premised on the manner the party has disparaged him since he lost power in 2015.

Every governor wants to install a successor and Dickson is no exemption. He is striving to enthrone Diri to protect himself from probe and prosecution. Bayelsa’s development is incommensurable with the federal allocation and internal revenue Dickson has accrued. His government spent mammoth funds on less impactful schemes. For instance, the Bayelsa International Cargo Airport was constructed at a prodigious rate, while the population is lacking basic amenities.

Ex-governor Timipre Sylva’s appointment as Minister of State for Petroleum has energized APC in Bayelsa. Sylva hopes to raise his political clout by capturing the state. Poised to bring honey out of the rock, Sylva will use federal might and fund for APC, but the party will not sail through. The 2019 Ameachi-Rivers scenario would most-likely occur. Sylva would predictably incapacitate PDP bigwigs, flood the state with armed officers, and do all legally and illegally possible to enthrone APC. Yet the party would lose. PDP is more formidable despite the intra-party crisis and shortcomings of the Dickson administration. Duoye Diri (PDP) would win the election.

Kogi State

‘Your Excellency’ is a title Nigerian elites admire, and do all possible to acquire. Struggle for the coveted position of governor has made Kogi the violence capital of Nigeria lately. The 2019 governorship poll will go down in history as the fiercest in the state. Yahaya Bello (APC) and Musa Wada (PDP) are not aiming for second and Natasha Akpoti (SDP) is waxing strong. They are campaigning aggressively, spewing unfulfillable promises, and going all out to win the heart of the 1,646,350 registered voters.

Kogi APC had a good outing in the 2019 general election. The party won two of the state’s three senatorial seats, and seven out of the nine House of Representative seats. While this is a pointer that APC is on course for victory, it may lose the governorship election for fielding an unpopular candidate. Bello’s track record shows he’s not deserving of governorship or any other position. He is bereft of ideas, non-tolerant, arrogant, and violent. His address during campaigns are basically hate speeches and threats, rather than a presentation of his scorecard and manifesto.

Another minus for Bello is his style of governance. He ruled Kogi like a conquered territory. His mindset is too shallow to accommodate opposite views and criticisms. You either agree with him or be hounded. He has, at different times, been embroiled in conflict with the labor union, university staffs, and the state’s Chief Judge. Bello also has issues with his former deputy, Elder Simon Achuba. He withheld Achuba’s allowances and honoraria, and influenced his unconstitutional removal from office.

A major impediment to Bello’s reelection is the non-payment of salaries in the civil service, salary-dependent state. Bello has no tenable excuse for owing as he accrued over N300 billion internally generated revenue and federal allocation within 38 months of his administration. Yet workers were unpaid and no landmark project has been commissioned. The state is enmeshed in poverty, unemployment, insecurity and underdevelopment.

Sadly, the funds that should have been used to better Kogites lot would be apparently used for vote-buying. Federal government has aided the practice by releasing N10 billion project-executed repayment fund to Bello three days to the election. It’s upsetting Buhari’s anti-corruption centered government released the fund at a time it would most certainly be used for election purposes.

Vote-buying shouldn’t be aiding poor performing politicians to victory, but most Nigerians are descendants of Esau, the biblical character who sold his birthright for a plate of porridge. Pecuniary gain makes many praise-sing and reelect failed governments. Kogi people won’t act different. Many would vote the poor performing governor after receiving peanuts. Vote-buying is not a one party affair. PDP also induce voters and will do so again in Kogi.

Ethnic politics reigns supreme in Kogi. The population often deliver bulk votes to their tribesmen, irrespective of party. Igala tribe has numerical advantage and principally determines who carry the day. In 1999, Abubakar Audu won the governorship election under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, defeating PDP which had better structures at the time. Igala people are domiciled in Kogi East and constitutes over half of the state’s voting population. PDP’s Wada and the APC deputy governorship candidate, Edwin Onoja are Igala natives.

If ethnic voting occurs, Wada would win as Bello hails from the less populated Ebira tribe. Onoja’s influence won’t earn APC majority vote; Igala people would rather be first than play second fiddle. Moreover, Wada’s allies are conversant with the tactics of winning elections in Kogi state, especially Igala land. The PDP candidate is the brother of ex-governor Idris Wada and in-law of ex-governor Ibrahim Idris.

Bello is hoping to harvest Ebira votes in Kogi Central, but Akpoti is a pain. The budding politician’s fan base is increasing outstandingly. Her supporters are largely women, a crucial and influential arm of the voting population. Akpoti knows she can’t win, but wants to split Bello’s vote in Kogi Central, not minding who her action benefits. Having her way would propel PDP to victory and Bello’s army of thugs won’t watch that happen. They allegedly set her campaign office ablaze and have been harassing her routinely. This misstep is earning Akpoti the popularity she might have joined the race for. It would also earn her sympathy votes, which may be inadequate to make her win, but sufficient to make Bello lose. In case Bello gets injured in Kogi Central (which is most unlikely), he will hope on recovering at Kogi West.

Kogi West Senatorial Rerun

One man’s misfortune is another’s stroke of luck. Dino Melaye’s trouble turned into blessing for Wada when he needs it most. The former’s senatorial mandate was nullified and rerun is holding alongside the governorship election. Melaye who had initially distanced himself from Wada’s campaign, having lost out in the primary, backtracked upon realizing him and Wada must either rise or fall together.

Melaye is facing arch-rival Smart Adeyemi of the APC in an epic rerun. In the nullified February 2019 election, Melaye defeated Adeyemi in six out of the seven local governments constituting Kogi West. He won despite being hounded by the state and federal government, and under a party in opposition at both levels of government.

Melaye is in tune with the masses than Adeyemi and other APC bigwigs in Kogi West. James Faleke’s reconciliation with Bello will not help APC much in the district. Faleke is late Abubakar Audu’s running mate in the 2015 governorship poll. He’s been inactive in the state since he lost the party’s mandate to Bello after Audu’s demise. Bello came second in the party primary.

Faleke is currently a federal lawmaker representing Lagos. He and Adeyemi’s political strength does not match Melaye’s in Kogi West. Melaye has over 100 projects to his credit; a contribution neither Adeyemi, Faleke nor Bello has made to the district. Call it uncivilized, Melaye’s politicking is admired by his people. His comical utterances and songs has won him the hearts of the population who sees other politicians as arrogant and inaccessible.

Melaye is a grassroots politician and popular in Kogi West. He stands a chance as none of the major opposition candidates in the governorship election hails from Kogi West. Based on the prominence of ethnic voting in the state, Melaye would lose if a strong opposition governorship candidate like Bello hails from Kogi West. Favored by these odds, Melaye (PDP) would defeat Adeyemi (APC) in the senatorial rerun election. In the same vein, for governorship, Musa Wada of the PDP would garner more votes than Yahaya Bello of the APC in Kogi West.

Governorship Election Outcome

Bello’s underperformance, misgovernance, dwindling admiration, and the odd-against ethnic voting permutation would deter his win. PDP’s Wada would get bulk ethnic votes in Kogi East. Melaye’s senatorial rerun coincidence would earn Wada majority vote in Kogi West. Natasha Akpoti would split Bello’s bulk vote in Kogi Central. The lowest of Wada’s vote would come from the district, while highest would come from Kogi East.

In a free, fair and credible contest, PDP’s Musa Wada would defeat APC’s Yahaya Bello. But the election is not going to be free; not going to be fair; and not going to be credible. Thugs would disperse voters and smash ballot boxes in Wada’s stronghold. The security agencies won’t arrest disruptors, and would be grossly partisan. Above all, the Independent National Electoral Commission would be ‘remote controlled’ by the ‘powers that be’. Several votes would be cancelled and the election would be declared inconclusive.

Virtually all the election winning indicators point to Wada’s emergence, but the pundit foresees Kogi 2019 governorship election ending with a rerun, and if it does, APC’s Yahaya Bello would ultimately be declared winner.

Note: Foretelling the outcome of an election doesn’t mean the writer has access to one sacred information or the election winning strategy of any candidate. Assessing candidates’ fortes and flaws to foretell election results is a common practice in developed nations. This doesn’t mean the pundits are demeaning the electoral process or influencing election results. Bayelsans and Kogites have already decided who they would vote for, and nothing – not this prediction – can easily change their mind.


*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

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Amansea-Ebenebe-Awba-Ofemili road: Obi expresses dismay on lack of completion - ITREALMS

The former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has expressed dismay over lack of commitment to complete the Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Ugbene-Awba-Ofemili road, which he started during his tenure, reports ITREALMS.

The Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Ugbene-Awba-Ofemili road is about 37 kilometres from the capital.

He made this known at the 7th annual lecture by News Express Magazine at Ikeja Sheraton Hotel, Lagos on Thursday, as the special guest of honour and guest speaker, held under the theme: Getting Nigeria Out of the Woods – The Challenges of African Integration.

Obi, who expressed shock that the road has not been completed, over five years after he left office, however blamed the populace and especially community leaders for not holding those in political offices accountable.

As the first governor of Anambra State to visit Awba-Ofemili through Amansea-Ebenebe-Awba-Ofemili road, Obi expressed dismay that on his visit, the adults were busy dancing and hailing him despite lack of community healthcare, and functional school, instead of asking how to improve the livelihood of the community.

He disclosed that his interaction with students revealed that their school premises were not conducive for learning; hence he got focused on fixing the schools among other things whilst in office, urging citizens to always ask questions than eulogizing their leaders, which does not often help the leadership.

He obviously blamed adults for not showing our children the right values that make society great beyond wealth display and for personal aggrandizements.

Obi also expressed dissatisfaction that despite the fact the road has been down half-way at the time he left office, that Awba-Ofemili axis which is the end of the road has not been successfully completed.

He, therefore, advocated for revolution of ideas for our leadership, without which, current woes orchestrated by acceptance of corruption as a way of life will continue.

In addition, Obi called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police and security agencies directly or remotely involved in the conduct of election to see the elections holding in Kogi and Bayelsa states as opportunities to redeem the bartered image of Nigeria as a country unable to conduct free and fair elections.

Lamenting that the gains Nigeria recorded from the conduct of free and fair elections during the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan administration is fast fading away, Obi maintained that INEC must use this Kogi and Bayelsa elections slated for Saturday, November 16, 2019 to restore hope for Nigerians on elections as a means of freely expressing their franchise as against what he called the “return to kangaroo elections marred by violence and all that was vile” seen during the last election.

He declared, “Besides, it would also encourage well-meaning Nigerians to join in the future elections. … As the giant of Africa, Nigeria ought to be showing example to other African countries by encouraging free and fair election and allowing candidates with the highest vote cast to emerge winners.”

Remmy Nweke/DoP


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Voicemail: ALTON accuses Pantami of meddlesomeness - ITREALMS

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has accused the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami of meddlesomeness on his alleged interference over Voice mail deactivation order, reports ITREALMS.

Responding to the deactivation order by the Minister, ALTON described as unnecessary interference on a value added service, which the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), could simply handle without much ado.

in response to the claimed order for deactivation of Voice Mail Protocol by Service Providers' Network as a ‘policy issue’ ALTON maintained that within the Section 23 and 24 of the Nigerian Communications Act, “this is not a major ‘policy issue’ which must align with consultations to be organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“It is a mere operational/consumer protection issue which the Ministry can simply call NCC's attention to,” ALTON insisted amounted to unnecessary interference.

The group which is the umbrella of all licensed mobile network operators, noted that in as much that they want to believe that the Minister was misquoted.

However, ALTON posited that “Voicemail (VM) is a value-added service. Only those who opt-in should have it” stressing that the current practice on some networks is that once subscribers call and the recipient does not pick, “you get a voice prompt saying that the subscriber is not available and asking you to record a voice message *after the tone*”

They further said that for the avoidance of doubt subscribers are not billed anything, but if they delay in either exiting in the event of not wanting the voicemail, “they may be charged for a few seconds, or for the time it takes you to record the message.”

ALTON pointed out that the recipient of the voice mail does not get charged for listening, because “It is free.”

The group explained in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS signed by ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and Head of Operations, MR. Gbolahan Awonuga, said that VM is a value added service and should only be provisioned for those who expressly request for it, recalling that MNOs reintroduced the VM facility to discourage people who "flash" continuously.

“Flashing wastes network resources and also degrades QoS reporting. This should not however justify the practise the way it is being done by some networks” they said.

ALTON, however maintained that, this is not a major "policy issue" within the meaning of S. 23&24 of the NCA which empowers the Minister to formulate "general policy for the communications sector..." after due consultations organised by the NCC, describing it as a mere operational cum consumer protection issue which the Ministry could simply refer to NCC's attention.

“It is a purely consumer related issues that minister refers to as a major policy issue and also amounts to unnecessary interference by the Minister contrary to Section 25 subsections 1 & 2 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003,” ALTON insisted.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Pix: Gbenga Adebayo of ALTON and Minister Pantami

Much ado about cybersecurity - ITREALMS

These terms: cyberspace, cybercrime, cyberattacks and cybersecurity are increasingly gaining grounds in today’s society. They are readily on the lips of individuals, ranging from small businesses and corporations to governments. The entry of these terms into the common lexicon shows the pervasiveness of internet today.

While cyberspace, according to Wikipedia, refers to the virtual computer world, it is today a conventional means to describe anything and indeed everything associated with the Internet and the diverse internet culture. It has become evident that the growing access to mobile internet services and the widespread, interconnected digital technology brings cyberspace within the reach of millions of Nigerians and businesses. Today, the cyberspace is the go-to-space for work, play and relaxation.

However, sadly, because people with evil intentions would always seek to take advantage of this space as it contains data of any kind, systems security has become the most important element for all the players in the cyberspace. These so-called evil people launch attacks and commit crimes on the internet, this is done in cyberspace is called cyberattacks or cybercrime. This means more and more individuals and businesses are susceptible to cyberattack.

To curb this act, the emergence of the digital economy has led to a growing urgency to protect players in cyberspace. The urgent need therefore is to protect players in cyberspace and ensure integrity of information which is the basis of the digital economy.

Today, while it is clear that almost everyone has an idea about cyber security, it is still doubtful if anyone is really doing enough to guarantee it. The truth still remains that the threat of cyberattacks is real and this growing threat is with the potential to stall progress or cause the collapse of the digital economy.

This is certainly a multi-faceted challenge. Individuals, businesses and the government have to be prepared against its onslaught. The question however is: What sort of damage can result from cyberattacks and cybercrime in general? Hard to tell until its experienced.

Consider the result of a recent survey conducted by International Monetary Fund (IMF). It indicates that “cyberattacks are bringing in $100 billion in losses to financial institutions (FIs).” This is due to the fact that FI’s play a vital role in procuring and handling funds.

According to the IMF Staff Modeling Exercise report, “hackers choose FI’s as easy targets due to the fact that they can spread the attack quickly through the interconnected financial system”.

The reference here is to Denial-of-service (DOS) attacks, Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, password attacks and so on.

In Nigeria, where nearly everything is hush-hush no one can really tell how many companies have faced denial of service threat? How many have paid various ransom to access their own files? These figures may not be in the open but they are real nonetheless.

Also take a look at the huge sums associated with cyber fraudsters nabbed by the EFCC recently. Mind boggling figures, that were almost unimaginable a few short years ago.

To bring it closer, another prevalent form of attack; one that nearly everyone must have heard of, is someone locking a member out of a WhatsApp group and then using his number to scam other members. For this, the fastest way to combat this threat is to quickly set up two step authentication code NOW.

One cheery news here is that the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the official government body saddled with the responsibility to develop and regulate information technology in Nigeria, is demonstrating that it is aware of the issues.

The Director-General of the agency, Kasheem Inuwa, noted at a recent forum that “the increasing use of digital technologies is continually exposing sensitive information and critical systems to risks and threats in cyberspace.”

In combating the problem, he revealed that the agency is implementing new regulations, inspecting and examining regulated entities, providing support to its constituents and collaborating with relevant stakeholders and sensitizing citizens.

It must now consider establishing a department dedicated to coordinating cyber security regulations and policies in the country in line with global best practice. NITDA cannot afford to be reactive at this time but proactive to help Nigeria stay ahead of the risk.

The menace is real. The danger is close to all. The loss affects many.

Governments and its agencies have the responsibility for policies and regulations to limit incidences of cyberattacks and cybercrime. They should educate the populace about the cyber security. Cue NITDA. In addition to the government’s efforts, to curtail the menace and eliminate the danger, everyone must be involved. All hands must be on deck because the responsibility belongs to each one of us. The national assembly should look closely at reforming relevant laws and where necessary explore new laws to effectively manage cyberspace. As a guide, it may want to check out what other countries are doing.

To add to this, organizations that offer and provide services over the internet must install robust cybersecurity solutions. They must spare no expense to ensure the security of transactions on their platforms. Financial and cloud services providers must be particularly involved here. Cybersecurity is not the place to penny pinch or cut expense to improve profit. Firms must realize that installing multilayer security is systems is no more a luxury but a must have. Corporations offering cloud services have a particular role to play. They must invest massively in security infrastructure.

For the individual, he/she must also watch out for his personal security. Follow basic rules for online security. Principally, people must learn to keep personal information professional and limited, ensure privacy settings stay on and that internet connection is secure. In addition, individuals must learn to choose strong passwords, be careful what and where they download and be wary of sharing private information over free and public Wi-Fi.

Countless conversations have been held concerning cybersecurity, it is time for actions to take place and there is absolutely no better time than now to start. Like never before, information integrity, confidentiality and security must today be sacrosanct.

It is only through eternal vigilance and proactive measures that we can curb incidences of cyberattacks and cybercrime.

*Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Eko to host gospel music awards LIMAA - ITREALMS

Acclaimed greatest Christian gospel music and arts show anywhere in the world, Loveworld Incorporated aka, Christ Embassy, has announced the hosting of the fourth edition of the Loveworld International Music and Arts Awards (LIMAA), reports ITREALMS.

A member of the Central Executive Council , Pastor T. T. Edun told 
ITREALMS that the event with the theme "Hotter than Fire," is a celebration of the creativity and excellence of Loveworld Music and Arts, would hold on Sunday November 17, 2019 in Lagos at the Loveworld Convocation Arena.

"Christ Embassy with all modesty has some or most of the big names in the gospel music industry in Nigeria, South Africa and some other countries and these artists have done well reaching believers and even non-believers in Nigeria and the world over with the gospel of Jesus Christ in music," he said.

Also speaking, the Media Director, Loveworld Inc, Tony Ikeokwu, "We believe that if you give people opportunities to express themselves, they will excel and because we feel we have limited opportunities available to our artists to be celebrated oustside as gospel music ministers, so we instituted the LIMA awards to recognise and honour our own.

"LIMA is a platform created by the President of The Loveworld Inc aka Christ Embassy, Rev. Dr Chris Oyakhilome PhD, in 2016 to recognise and reward music ministers produced by the church who are standing out in their ministry," he said.

In her comment, Evangelist Kathy Woghiren, Director Loveworld Music and Arts Ministry, (LMAM) said LIMA Awards "is actually a full concert to recognise and appreciate various arts and music ministers and reward those that have done exceptionally well."

She said, "The beautiful thing about this year's edition is that it is not only going to be watched by the over 20,000 who are going to be at the venue but it's going to be streamed live on the internet and all Loveworld satellite stations."

Deacon Buchi one of the Loveworld All-Stars in his comment explained that "Over the years, shows like LIMAA has improved our own in-house artists, musicians, songwriters, dancers, comedians, spoken word artists amongst others.

"LIMAA has stretched the possibilities of our achievements and greatly motivated us on the path of continuous improvement and excellence. Younger artists are coming up and with every edition, you find new voices emerging and the younger ones are motivated to strive for excellence in their music and arts ministry.

"We know that the Loveworld All Stars are people to emulate as they are recognised and involved in events all over the world."

In attendance at the briefing were some members of the Loveworld All Stars including Joe Praize, Buchi, Obi Shine, Rozey, Chuka amongst others.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Deactivation order: ALTON disagrees with Pantami, insists Voicemail is opt-in only - ITREALMS

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has disagreed with the deactivation order on voice mail by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, insisting that Voice mail is opt-in value added service (VAS) only, reports ITREALMS.

ALTON in response to the claimed order for deactivation of Voice Mail Protocol by Service Providers' Network as a ‘policy issue’ maintained that within the Section 23 and 24 of the Nigerian Communications Act, “this is not a major ‘policy issue’ which must align with consultations to be organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“It is a mere operational/consumer protection issue which the Ministry can simply call NCC's attention to,” ALTON insisted amounted to unnecessary interference.

The group which is the umbrella of all licensed mobile network operators, noted that in as much that they want to believe that the Minister was misquoted.

However, ALTON posited that “Voicemail (VM) is a value-added service. Only those who opt-in should have it” stressing that the current practice on some networks is that once subscribers call and the recipient does not pick, “you get a voice prompt saying that the subscriber is not available and asking you to record a voice message *after the tone*”

They further said that for the avoidance of doubt subscribers are not billed anything, but if they delay in either exiting in the event of not wanting the voicemail, “they may be charged for a few seconds, or for the time it takes you to record the message.”

ALTON pointed out that the recipient of the voice mail does not get charged for listening, because “It is free.”

The group explained in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS signed by ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and Head of Operations, MR. Gbolahan Awonuga, said that VM is a value added service and should only be provisioned for those who expressly request for it, recalling that MNOs reintroduced the VM facility to discourage people who "flash" continuously.

“Flashing wastes network resources and also degrades QoS reporting. This should not however justify the practise the way it is being done by some networks” they said.

ALTON, however maintained that, VM is not a major "policy issue" within the meaning of S. 23&24 of the NCA which empowers the Minister to formulate "general policy for the communications sector..." after due consultations organised by the NCC, describing it as a mere operational cum consumer protection issue which the Ministry could simply refer to NCC's attention.

“It is a purely consumer related issues that minister refers to as a major policy issue and also amounts to unnecessary interference by the Minister contrary to Section 25 subsections 1 & 2 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003,” ALTON insisted.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Group warns Adelabu, APC: You can’t take gov seat through back door - ITREALMS

Oyo State-based socio-political group, the Oyo Kajola Group (OKG) has chided the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 9 election, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu and his party for seeking to snatch the governorship seat through the backdoor, reports ITREALMS.

The group, in a press statement made avaialble to ITREALMS on Thursday by its Media Coordinator, Adebayo Ayandele, said that the statements credited to the APC and its candidate were targeted at provoking the good people of Oyo State.

“We cannot understand what Mr. Adelabu meant when he said he had a date with history in a statement he made after the ruling of the Court of Appeal on his election petition. We can also not understand the enthusiasm of the APC on the same matter.

“Rather than creating false hopes and hiding under the banners of lies and confusion to deceive their followers, we wish to urge the APC to face the reality of it all and accept that the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State has been won by Engineer Oluseyi Makinde.

“Let us warn very clearly that the election of the Governor of Oyo State was done within the purview of the law and not extra-legal factors.

“We, therefore, reject in its entirety, any form of ambivalence or ambiguity written into the judgement of the Court of Appeal on the Oyo State election matter and stick to the truth of it all: that Engineer Seyi Makinde remains the man voted for by the people of Oyo state and that his mandate will be in force till May 28, 2023.”

The group described the statement credited to Adelabu that some agents of darkness perfected the plan to steal his mandate,” which led to his “recourse to the judiciary to proof (sic) their wrongdoing,” as hogwash, and an insult to the good people of Oyo State who massively rejected him on March 9, 2019.

The statement also warned the APC not to keep the hopes of manipulative tendencies too high as according to it, no one can supplant Makinde through the back door.

The group urged Makinde to continue the good works he has started in Oyo State, which it said have made him a cynosure of all eyes and a worthy example for other governors.

It noted that “the APC’s plot to take a mandate given to Governor Makinde by Oyo State people through evil machinations will not succeed.”

“We read with amusement a statement credited to Adelabu that the pronouncement of the Election Appeal Tribunal has rekindled his and his party’s hope in their march to keep a date with history. They, indeed, will have their date with history at the Supreme Court and it will end in disappointment and shame, as we are sure that the court, as the last bastion of hope for the common man, will not allow itself to be used for the APC’s evil intention.

“In the said statement, like a similar one released by the APC a day after the judgment, Adelabu had robed himself in borrowed gowns, stating how some imaginary people knew he was the best candidate among the lots that sought the mandate of Oyo State people. He had equally prided his campaign as most organized and issue-driven.

“We in the Oyo Kajola Group would not have bothered with whatever borrowed gowns Adelabu chose to robe himself in, of course, no one can stop a butterfly determined to pride itself as a bird.

“Indeed, we would have considered his statement and that of his party as a bit of blarney, an amusing nonsense that should be laughed at and ignored but knowing the evil machinations of the APC and its tendencies to pervert the cause of justice and snatch popular mandates through the judiciary, we will like to place it on record that the APC did not and could not have won the 2019 governorship election in the state. The result of the election in which Makinde won in 28 out of 33 local governments, polling 515,621 votes to defeat the Adelabu, who polled 357,982 votes.

“The people of Oyo State reacted rightly by voting against the APC, a party that nearly ruined Oyo State in eight years; turned nearly every institution and processes upside down and tore into the core of the state’s nobility and prestige as a pace-setter state. The people voted against a reign of terror synonymous with the APC campaigns.

“It is, therefore, amusing that the same party is laying claim to victory and putting its hopes in the Supreme Court. We will like to call on well-meaning Nigerians and members of the international community to be watchful at a time like this so that some desperate individuals do not sabotage democracy using ill-gotten wealth to pervert the cause of justice.”

Ayo  Midele/Editor
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Pix: Ayo Makinde, Gov. Oyo State

FirstBank Lagos Amateur open golf championship listed in WAGR - ITREALMS

As the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Golf Championship tees-off, tomorrow, Friday, 15 November 2019, it has been listed amongst the golf tournaments in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), reports ITREALMS.

The WAGR is offered by the R&A and the United States Golf Association as a global service to golf. Through incorporation and assessment worldwide of both amateur and professional events, WAGR™ encourages the international development of the competitive game.

Since 1894, FirstBank has continued to promote the growth and development of sports in Nigeria. Apart from the Lagos Amateur Golf Championship which the Bank has supported for 57 years, the Bank has sponsored the Georgian Cup of the Kaduna Polo Tournament for 100 years. Other sports supported by the Bank include; the Dala Hardcourt Tennis, Kano for 32 years and for over a combined 30 years, the Bank has sponsored and owned the popular Elephant Girls Basketball club – which has remained a dominant force in the Nigerian Women Basketball league for many years – and the Elephant boys football club. The highpoint of these is the 2019 100th unbroken years of sponsoring the Kaduna Polo Tournament, widely attributed as the longest running sports sponsorship in the world and a Guinness Book of Records potential.

The 56-hole golf tournament, to be played over three days would be rounded off with a grand finale and awards ceremony on Sunday, 17 November 2019. Other activities to be held in the course of the tournament are the “Professional Coaching Clinic” to nurture the skills of young and upcoming talents and “Beat the Pro Skills competition”. The 2018 edition which had over 260 golfers in attendance was won by Sam Njoroge from Kenyan.

Speaking on the Bank’s sponsorship of the tournament, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said; “We are excited at the giant strides achieved with the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship. The championship is now one of the international golf events where all amateur golfers worldwide can now participate and amass points to aid their WAGR rankings.”

“FirstBank has been in the business of supporting sports in Nigeria throughout its 125 years of existence. We have partnered with individuals and institutions to provide support, not only in the sports arena, but also in Education, the Arts and Small and Medium Enterprises,” he submitted.


Nenye Dom/Editor

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Pix: Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited with Samuel Njoroge, Winner of the 57th FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship held in 2018.