" ITREALMS: 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A nation united by corruption

One of the highlights of the year that has just ended was the release from a British jail of one of Nigeria's most notorious politically exposed persons (PEPs), James Onanefe Ibori. Ibori's rap sheet is as long as the 338km East-West Road in Nigeria's Niger Delta region, but the reason for his latest freedom was the conviction and sentencing—13 years in prison—by a Southwark Crown Court in April 2012 after he pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering, corruption and conspiracy to defraud.

Of course, it wasn't Ibori's release that dominated the news, as newsy as his expected release was. Rather, it was his triumphant return to the warm embrace of his kinsmen, supporters and well-wishers. James Onanefe Ibori or James Onanefe Ochuko Ibori, depending on if you are appearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, is an enigma. 

He was governor of Delta State from 1999-2007. He and his bosom friend, Bukola Saraki, Nigeria's current senate president, bankrolled the political machine that led to the emergence of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as president in 2007. And if not for providence—the death of Yar'Adua in May 2010—Ibori, who up until then was the de facto vice president of Nigeria, would have succeeded Yar'Adua.

Yar'Adua died and Nigeria dodged a bullet or so we thought! Ibori was subsequently jailed in 2012, two years after he was arrested—and extradited to the UK—by the Interpol in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he was hiding after fleeing Nigeria. Even in prison, he maintained his godfather role and from the public admission of one of his surrogates played a key role not only in the emergence of high-ranking public officers in Delta State but the leadership of the National Assembly. For the trajectory of the Ibori saga and persona, readers will find this piece, "The welcome party for Ibori" by Simon Kolawole, instructive.

Depending on where you come from, perhaps your political affiliation and how much you benefitted from the Ibori heist in Delta State, either directly or through a third party or even tangentially as a hanger-on, the celebratory Mass held in honour of Ibori's release from prison, though detestable, was quite understandable. After all, there is an Ibori in many of us. There are countless Iboris in the National Assembly, criminals making laws and posing as "distinguished senators" and "honourable members". 

There are Ibori's in various government houses across the country; scoundrels posing as executive governors. There are Iboris in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Police, our universities and sundry public institutions where those who have been kept in charge of what Peter Ekeh in his seminal essay, "Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement", referred to as "civic public" conveniently and unconscionably steal from it and divert their loot to the "primordial public".

That is the sorry state of Nigeria. And it explains the Ibori conundrum. According to Ekeh, "A good citizen of the primordial public gives out and asks for nothing in return; a lucky citizen of the civic public gains from the civic public but enjoys escaping giving anything in return whenever he can. But such a lucky man would not be a good man were he to channel all his lucky gains to his private purse. He will only continue to be a good man if he channels part of the largesse from the civic public to the primordial public. That is the logic of the dialectics. The unwritten law of the dialectics is that it is legitimate to rob the civic public in order to strengthen the primordial public."

So, just as it is often the case where one person's freedom fighter is another person's militant, as a people, Nigerians seem not to be in agreement on what constitutes corruption or who a corrupt person is. What one Nigerian sees as corruption, another sees it as "blessing from God", their own opportunity or "turn to eat". The national cake is there for the taking. The state has abdicated its responsibilities—roads, water, school, health, sanitation, etc—and instinctively we have learned to "manage" by helping ourselves to as much as the national pottage, in the "civic public", as we can lay our hands on.

Take the ongoing spat between the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and his predecessor, Solomon Arase, who has been accused of making away with over 20 police vehicles when he retired in June 2016. Arase didn't deny carting away police vehicles. He is just piqued that when it was his "turn to eat", the police authorities suddenly became amnesic. To show his righteous anger on an issue that has caused public discomfiture, Mr. Arase's reminded the all-righteous police authorities that there is nothing new in Inspectors General of Police making away with enough vehicles to open a car shop when they retire.

“I expect that former occupants of the office of the Inspector-General of Police should not be demeaned. This explains why Force Order 295 was emplaced by the force management under my leadership as acknowledged in your letter in reference," Arase wrote to his predecessor in his defence. "In spite of the emplacement of this order and despite the fact that my two immediate predecessors left office with 13 and nine vehicles of different makes and models respectively, I never pressurized either of them to return any of such vehicles neither did I engage in any act that was capable of bringing them to ridicule as being done to me of late by a force I dedicated my life to serving up to the highest level."

Clearly, pubic office in Nigeria is simply a sinecure and you would be eternally excoriated by your kinsmen and associates for not taking advantage of a life-changing opportunity.  As someone once reminded me, public office in Nigeria is like climbing a mighty tree with lots of fruit. Once you climb, you are required to get as much as you can because you may not have a second chance. So, we are all, ceaselessly, engaged in the race of getting a nibble at the cake. To appreciate the Ibori phenomenon, you must understand Nigeria. Here, the best private schools, including universities, are owned by those whose responsibility has included how to make our public schools functional. It is the same story for the health, transport, and indeed, every sector of the Nigerian society. 

It is as if Nigerians, wherever we find ourselves in the "civic public", are in a race for a medal on how best to pillage the country. The "Villa Repair Heist", as someone has described it, provides a fitting example of this brazen larceny that is called public service in Nigeria. The 2016 budget for repairs and rehabilitation of Nigeria's Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, was N642.5 million.

By 2017, the budget had shot up to N5.6 billion. "Was the Villa hit by a bomb or earthquake unbeknownst to us citizens?" "Was there a war akin to Aleppo in the place?" one commentator asked. No, there wasn't. It is simply "their time to eat."
In the same budget, there is a provision of N2.3billion for the Defence Headquarters to clear backlog of electricity bills that is budgeted for every year.  

In July 2012, I was part of an audience at Chatham House, London, where an ex-governor of Niger State and Chair of the Northern States Governors Forum, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, was guest speaker. Dr. Aliyu spoke on "Nigeria’s Unity and Regional Socio-Political Groups: Influence and Impact of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF)." He noted that "corruption was the single unifying factor of the elite in Nigeria and that the way to deal with it was to reduce the focus on the centre." Aliyu is right in many ways. But it is not just the elite. It is about Nigeria. 

Today, if someone is robbed, we no longer get jolted. The refrain will be, "Thank God he is alive." "We praise God the robbers took his possession and spared his life." "God bless those robbers." It is the same response you get when kidnappers strike. We no longer bother to interrogate armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices that have become part of our national ethos.

The celebration of Ibori's return from prison, therefore, provides an opportunity to interrogate what Nigeria means to us as Nigerians. The problem is not really with Ibori or those who have elected to celebrate him. The problem is with Nigeria, a place where allegiance is to the "primordial public", where rulers live in mansions and religious centres luxuriate in splendor while public schools and hospitals wallow is squalor. 

*Chido Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans Contact him on conumah@hotmail.com; Follow him on Twitter: @conumah
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Access Bank asserts industry leadership with ‘Bank of the Year’ award

Access Bank has asserted its leadership of the Nigerian banking industry with the recent recognition as the ‘Bank of the Year’ at the 17th annual Bank of the Year awards black-tie dinner in London, reports ITRealms.

The award, ITRealms gathered corroborates other nine international honors earned by the Bank over the past 10 months for operational excellence, responsible business practices and innovation.

Presenting the award, Michael Buerk, BBC News journalist, noted that the award is unarguably one of the most coveted prizes in the banking sector globally, stressing that in spite of the challenging operating environment and rapid changes in the industry, Access Bank has remained a formidable institution. 

“Specifically, the Bank has been a purveyor of innovation in the Nigerian banking space and consistently outperformed industry forecast.  It is firmly believed that its operational model, risk management and governance framework, which enable sustained superlative financial performance need commendation” he said.

ITRealms also gathered that this view is consistent with Analysts’ opinion on the Bank in the past one year, but its Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe who received the award for the Bank said, “While innovation, excellent risk and corporate governance framework might be the advantage we have over our competitors, the Bank is propelled by a vision of becoming the world’s most respected African Bank, and this requires us to do things differently to standout. He thanked the bank’s stakeholders for their support and assured them of improved performance in the years ahead”.

Over the years, he said, Access Bank has established a reputation as one of the most formidable financial institutions in Nigeria. This is unconnected with its impressive growth trajectory and contributions to the development of the Nigerian economy through empowerment initiatives and practical SME schemes.  As an acclaimed innovative industry pioneer, the Bank has remained the choice of international financial organizations and multilateral agencies seeking partnership in Nigeria.

For some of its pioneering initiatives and outstanding performance, the bank has earned a number of recognitions in the past months. The recognitions include the ‘Karlsrushe Outstanding Business Sustainability Award’, ‘ BusinessDay Banking Award – CEO of the Year’, ‘BusinessDay Banking Award – Best Bank of the Year’, ‘EMEA Finance Best Bank in Nigeria Award’, ‘EMEA Finance Corporate Responsibility Award (Pan-African)’, ‘EMEA Finance CEO of the Year (Pan-African’ and World Finance Most Sustainable Bank of the Year Award’.

The bank is particularly excited about its emergence at the ‘2016 Bank of the Year’ because the award is renowned as a valuable reward for banking excellence, and recognition for achievements of outstanding individuals and exceptional institutions in the global banking landscape.

The Banker Awards is an annual event of the Banker Magazine, a publication of the Financial Times of London and world’s leading monthly journal of records for the global banking industry, with expertise in publishing developments in the African banking industry and beyond for more than 90 years.

Oyi Midele/GEE

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Pix 1: L-R: Editor, The Banker Magazine, Michael Buerk; Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe with the plaque for the  Bank of the Year Award which the Bank won at The Banker Awards 2016 by The Banker Magazine in London

2 L-R : Dapo Olagunju, Group Treasurer;  Rooselvelt Ogbonna, Executive Director- Commercial Banking Division; Group Managing Director/CEO, Herbert Wigwe; Chief Financial Officer, Seyi Kumapayi at The Banker Awards 2016 where Access Bank won “Bank of the Year’’ Award.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mobile app for EnvironNews debuts

Mobile app for EnvironNews debuts: NaijaAgroNet : Foremost online environment and development magazine,  EnviroNews Nigeria , has launched an Android version of its mobil...

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Akeem Oyetunji buries mother in Ibadan

Madam Sariyu Oyetunji, the mother of the Publisher of Prompt News Online newspaper, Mr Akeem Oyetunji, is dead, reports ITRealms.

A statement endorsed by her first son, Mr Akeem Oyetunji, said Madam Sariyu, 72, died at about 11.00 am Thursday morning, at her residence in Ologuneru, Ibadan, Oyo State.

Madam Oyetunji, a devout Muslim, he said died after a brief illness.

She was also buried at 4.00pm Thursday afternoon, according to Islamic rites.
Madam Oyetunji is survived by two sons, three daughters and grand children.
May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace. Alahumo amin.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Anambra partners Etisalat on ‘Adopt-a-School’

The Anambra State government has partnered Etisalat Nigeria as the state, has adopted Oraukwu Community Secondary School in Idemili-North Local Government Area of Anambra State, South -East Nigeria under its Corporate Social Responsibility-based Adopt-a-School initiative, reports ITRealms.

The Etisalat Adopt-a-School initiative avails pupils and students in government-owned primary and secondary schools access to qualitative education with access to a range of modern education facilities.

Speaking on the new development, Director, Regulatory and Corporate Social Responsibility, Etisalat Nigeria, Ikenna Ikeme, said the telecoms firm is glad to add a new school to the growing list of schools under its Adopt-a-School Programme, just as he commended the education authorities in the state for choosing to partner with the company for the development of the younger generation through access to qualitative education.  

Ikeme also added that the initiative is borne out of the company’s commitment to leverage the potentials of quality education to drive the sustainable development programme of the nation. “In Etisalat, we recognize the fact that education is the bedrock of any meaningful development; that is why we have made education one of our three CSR platforms.”

“The initiative is aimed at providing an environment conducive for learning which will bring out the best in our pupils. We are committed to driving sustainable development and one of the key platforms on which that can be achieved is education. Like our other adopted schools, we will implement key components that will ensure sustainable impact on the quality of education in Oraukwu Community Secondary School,” he said.

Under the Adopt-a-School initiative, Etisalat has renovated class rooms and toilets, provided clean water, internet facilities, furniture, laboratory equipment and many more to the three existing adopted schools namely Government Girls’ College Dala, Kano State, Edward Blyden Memorial Primary Schooland Akande Dahunsi Memorial Junior and Senior School, Ikoyi, Lagos State.

In a related development, the telecommunications company has concluded the 2016 Merit Awards Scholarship Scheme with the presentation of Scholarship certificates to students in four Universities across the country. The beneficiary universities include Modibbo Adamawa University of Technology, Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu and Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.

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Security challenges after fall of Sambisa forest by Ekhomu

President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr. Ona Ekhomu has commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the fall of Sambisa Forest, the headquarters of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Borno State, saying there are still challenges, reports ITRealms.

He also said that the capture of this important military objective is a significant achievement in the fight against Boko Haram terrorism and a major morale boost for the Nigerian military.

“Mr. President deserves high accolades for his focus, commitment and the political will that resulted in the fall of Sambisa forest” he said.

Dr. Ekhomu, a renowned security expert said that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and the entire Nigerian military also deserved high praise for their prowess in battle which resulted in the desired outcome of routing Boko Haram terrorists from their last parcel of real estate and achieving this important operational milestone on the war on terror.

Ekhomu however warned that the Nigerian authorities should not be tricked into a false sense of security. “We shouldn’t think that it is over with Boko Haram. We shouldn’t think that they have been defeated and they are no longer a threat. That would be a big mistake. Boko Haramism is based on Salafist jihadist ideology. So, in addition to battle-field defeat, their perverted strict wahabbi ideology must be defeated before the war can be deemed to be over. If not, the conflict continues,” he added.

In press release made available to ITRealms, the security expert expatiated that BH is engaged in asymmetrical warfare against Nigeria, and does not need real estate to prosecute its terrorist campaigns. “In asymmetrical warfare, there are no front lines, no prescribed methods or means of conflict,” he averred.

Based upon the displacement theory of crime, the senior leadership personnel of BH are likely to have migrated to safer areas across the Nigerian borders (Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, CAR or Mali).  The field commanders should have gone into hiding in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu. “This position is supported by the announcement by the Chief of Army Staff that a BH commander was arrested in Lagos last week.”

“BH terrorists do not wear uniforms and they look like everyone else in the general population.  So, it is easy for their foot soldiers to escape far from the northeast in search of refuge in the south or elsewhere. My fear is that with leadership, these guys can regroup quickly and resume their campaign of violence. We have seen this before in 2009 to 2010 when BH pretended that it had been defeated by General Saleh Maina in Maiduguri only for them to resume violence in Sepember 2010 by breaking out over 700 inmates from Maiduguri Prisons  -- mostly radicalized fighters,” he said.

Ekhomu advised the government security forces to remain in a state of high alert for the next 12 months on the BH problem. He urged the intelligence services to work hard to uncover terror plots and urgently intervene to save Nigerian lives. He advised the Police agency to be alert to the presence of criminals and terrorists in their jurisdictions. 

He called for the adoption of criminal profiling and aggressive community oriented policing strategies to identify BT terrorists in our communities. Ekhomu said that the Civilian JTF operatives in Kasuwa Shanu in Maiduguri who detected and prevented two female suicide bombers from accessing the crowded cow market and detonating their explosive payload outside without killing anyone but the bombers, was an example of this community oriented policing. At this crime scene on Monday (Boxing Day), neither the police nor the military were present, yet the Civilian JTF took action to save many lives and killing two suicide terrorists in the process.

He urged the FG not to assume that BH is interested in integrating into Nigerian society. He said: They are committed jihadists and extremists and will only hide as a survival mechanism, and strike when the opportunity presents itself.

He urged Nigerians to conduct background checks on individuals who they hire as security guards, gardeners, house helps, etc. He said that BH members are likely to speak little English and claim to be from Niger Republic, Chad Republic. Prior to hiring West African nationals, they should be asked to provide proof of permission by the Nigerian Immigration Service to work in Nigeria.

The security expert urged the Immigration service to better secure the borders and prevent the free movement of terrorists into and out of Nigeria. He also exhorted immigration officials to eschew petty corruption at the borders as it negates Nigeria’s national security interest.     

He also urged the military to sustain the man-hunt for Abubakar Shekau. He said that without forensic proof, it could not be assumed that Shekau is dead. This mistake has been made several times with Shekau, making him the proverbial cat with nine lives. He advised the military to deploy massive intelligence assets in search of Abubakar Shekau whose neutralization would signal the beginning of the end of Boko Haramism in Nigeria.
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Emma Okwuke passes onto glory

The family of Emma Okwuke has announced his demise after a protracted illness, reports ITRealms

A press statement made available to ITRealms, by the Secretary, Nigerian Information and Communication Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), Mr. Kunle Azeez, said that Emmanuel Okwuke, a senior ICT reporter with the Independent, and committed member of NITRA, has kicked the bucket.

Late Emma Okwuke passed on December 24 morning after a prolonged illness.

“I have been sadly directed by NITRA President to announce to you that Emma Okwuke of Daily Independent , who just passed away … after doctors battled to save his life all through the night,” Azeez said.
He also prayed for the repose of Emma Okwuke to rest in peace.

In a related development, Azeez said the family has fixed dates for late Okwuke’s final burial rites.

According to him, on ‎Friday December 30, there will be Service of Songs between 4pm and 6pm at his residence, Oreyo Quarters, By Agbalumo Bus Stop, after Igbe Junction in Ikorodu area of Lagos State.

While on Saturday, December 31, interment and laying of his remains to earth in his Ikorodu residence by 10am.

May his soul and that of all departed rest in perfect peace.

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Still Waiting for the ‘Damning’ Report on Magu

Surely, there has to be a lot more to the Senate refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) than the contents of what is being circulated in the media as “security report”. In all honesty, it is hard to see the ‘damning’ part of what the public has been fed with so far, or how it even qualifies as a security report in the first place.

To be sure, Magu's transgressions include allegations that he lives in a 20 million naira a year accommodation (or 40 million, whichever figure sounds more sexy) paid for by FCDA (or Magu's “questionable” businessman friend, whichever version is more fit for purpose); that he once flew in a private jet owned by, and in the company of the same ‘friend’, a retired Air Commodore; that he once flew first class to Saudi Arabia for Umrah; that he was once arrested and detained by his bosses for taking official EFCC files home from the office.

I have tried to list these allegations in their order of severity. However, it so happens that as you move from one to the next, you are not so sure about which is more flimsy among the charges. There are one or two more details such as the private jet in which he flew (from Maiduguri to Abuja) also had, as one of its passengers, a bank managing director under investigation at the time by EFCC.

Now, let’s forget the flimsiness of these allegations for a while, or the accuracy of the 'facts' for that matter, and look more dispassionately at the case, at least now that the shock value of the report has waned somewhat.

Starting with the N40 million rent, the substance of the SSS allegation appeared to hinge initially on the insinuation that Magu's residential accommodation was paid for by this businessman whose activities the DSS only recently determined to be on the wrong side of the law. However, the evidence has turned out to invalidate the narrative. First, documents that we have seen in the media, including contract details, show clearly that the rent was paid for by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), the government agency that has in the past been responsible for accommodation of political appointees based in the federal capital.

So what is the source of the misrepresentation? It is not clear at this point whether it was deliberate misinformation by the DSS or the product of spin and propaganda by the hatchet man. But for what purpose really? It is also very questionable why a two-year rent term was first made to look as if it was rent paid for only one year, obviously for exaggerated effect. The padding of evidence can only mean that even the authors of the report are not very convinced about the strength of the initial evidence and its capacity to achieve the intended “damning” purpose.

The allegation about the private flight from Maiduguri in the company of the same “questionable” businessman was obviously constructed to achieve the same impression as the one about the link with the rented accommodation – guilt by association. Until Magu himself speaks, it is premature to reach any verdict one way or the other about the significance of this plane ride, since the DSS has not told us anything of substance beyond describing the physical encounter between the Acting EFCC Chairman and the owner of the private jet. However, it would be a real tragedy of national proportions if what the DSS does by way of top security intelligence gathering is to try to create a pattern from two disparate events with no connection whatsoever, in order to establish guilt by association.

The allegation about the first-class trip to Saudi Arabia would appear on the face of it to be more clear cut, considering that it is a more straightforward matter whether the man violated a federal government directive or not. Never mind that it is the most flimsy ground on which to base a 'security' report. The matter even becomes more academic if, as we have also read in the media, Magu paid for the ticket with his own money. Why should it matter to us how Magu decides to spend his own money, as long as he is not encroaching on any of our rights or offending our sensibilities? Except you can show that the money was corruptly acquired.

Now the one about the official files that were found in Magu's home during Farida Waziri's time is the most baffling, and raises the biggest question about the real purpose of the DSS secret memo to the Senate. Honestly, the DSS will have to clarify what is the problem with possession of confidential files for which the officer has been granted authorized access. In all the years that I served in the Civil Service, I am shocked to hear that taking files home to treat is one of the cardinal sins of the service. For those of us who did not recognize the distinction between private time and official hours in the amount of time and effort that we devoted to public service, the DSS report is beginning to make me feel like the biggest transgressor of my time.

But I will say this to Magu if he is listening: getting on the wrong side of Farida Waziri on something like that is nothing short of a big badge of honour.

Beyond that, the DSS should come clean with the real reasons for why the candidate is unworthy of the position of Chairman of EFCC. Because there is nothing to suggest that what we have been fed so far in the media is the product of any rigorous intelligence gathering or that it even qualifies to be described as security report.

For most Nigerians who have been on the receiving end of the scourge of corruption, the interest is simply in having an anti- corruption agency that is strong enough to confront the monster with all the force that we can muster. True, there is nothing that equates an effective anti-corruption agency only with Magu at the top. But the process of selecting the leadership of that institution should not become an arena for executing an agenda that erodes the credibility of that institution as well as undermines its future effectiveness.

In giving the DSS the benefit of the doubt, it is probable that they think the EFCC position is too serious and sensitive to allow any detail to go unnoticed. But it is precisely for that reason that Nigerians expect a supposedly serious institution like the DSS to treat the matter with the seriousness that it deserves and not with the underhandedness that they have handled the Magu report. In a proper democracy, issues relating to conflict of interest of public officials are placed in the public domain, not surreptitiously designated as 'security report'.

In the off-chance that the DSS has information about Magu that validly disqualifies the man from holding that position, by all means let’s have it. The EFCC and the DSS are both accountable to Nigerians. If they are holding on to a more serious version of this ‘security report’ it should be declassified for the sake of the integrity and credibility of the process – because the current version just doesn’t wash.

Contributed by Adebimpe Joseph writes from Gwarimpa, Abuja. 
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Avaaz alleges plans by Trump to shut down service

An online global social campaign organization known as Avaaz, has alleged that the elected controversial president of the United States of America (USA), Mr. Donald Trump may shut down its services, reports ITRealms.

According to Ricken, Danny, Mia, Spyro and the Avaaz team in a press statement made available to ITRealms, said that they are worried Mr. Trump has a way to kill Avaaz, stressing that like much of the internet, Avaaz servers, data, email list and website, are all housed in the United State 'President Trump' could shut us down in a heartbeat.

The Avaaz team also wondered if Trump would do it, “We campaigned hard against him, we even filed a criminal case against his top advisor for voter fraud. And if we've learned anything about Trump, it's that he holds a grudge.”

They posited that Avaaz team intends to move countries and fast.

“This won't be easy. Shifting all our technology will be costly. But if just 0.1% of us donate the price of a drink or a meal by Jan 1st, we can make Avaaz safe before Trump takes office. Let's trump-proof Avaaz,” they said.

Further, they noted that when the US government wanted to kill Wikileaks, they simply told companies like Visa, MasterCard and Paypal to stop processing their online donations. “It shut them down for over a year. Trump could go even further to target firms that house our servers and email list. We might never recover.“

Avaaz said they are particularly at risk because “we're a global organization. Far-right nationalists everywhere rail against Avaaz and "foreign" organizations who challenge their hate and ignorance. We can't afford to be unprepared for this assault, let's Trump-proof our movement.”

The great beauty and legitimacy and strength of Avaaz, the team said is that all their power flows and comes from people, hence, they are so hard to intimidate “because you won't be. But our fearlessness has made us many enemies, and we need to be smart. Let's get ahead of what they'll do next.”

Chuks Egbune/GEE 
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Yudala excites Owerri with P-Square,Dr. Sid

Excitement and unlimited fun was part of the Owerri residents and environs on Wednesday December 21st as the Yudala Imo My Pride Mega Music Concert witnessed thrilling performances from twin sensation, P-Square and Mavins star, Dr. Sid which kept the massive crowd at the Heroes Square, Owerri up all night.

The event, which featured as part of the activities for the Imo Carnival 2016 had in attendance the Executive Governor, Imo State, Dr. Rochas Okorocha; Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere; Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, members of the Imo State House of Assembly and a number of first class traditional rulers.

Also in attendance was the Executive Governor, Cross River, Prof. Ben Ayade who was the Special Guest of Honour.

A night which got underway with a carnival parade by dance troupes from various local governments in Imo State eventually saw a high-octane musical feast when the Yudala Imo My Pride Concert commenced from 2am.

With upcoming act Akuchi Amadi raising the curtain and David Grey again showing why he is unarguably one of the most promising talents in the music scene, the atmosphere was lifted when Ten Over Ten crooner, Naeto C took over.

Next up was Dr. Sid. Hit after hit, the Mavins star and medical doctor-turned-singer/songwriter took the crowd to a higher level with an energetic performance which prepared the grounds for headline acts, P-Square.

The Anambra-born entertainers did not disappoint, delivering an exciting performance featuring a plethora of hit songs with the high-point being the rendition of their latest effort – Bank Alert – which had everyone singing and dancing along.

Uju N. Dominic/GEE
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Travelers tips: How to keep valuables safe in a hotel room

Leaving your valuables in your room while lodged in a hotel can be very disconcerting. Whether you have placed it in a safe as most hotels would suggest or you have put it safely in your luggage, you can never be too sure. How safe is the safe really? How trustworthy is the staff? Is the security as tight as acclaimed? An option would be to always keep your valuables with you, but then that might not be convenient as there is the chance of you getting mugged or you misplacing the valuable, especially if you are visiting a new city.

The solution would, therefore, involve a situation where you are in charge of security and in that regard, ITRealms has put together pointers on how to keep your valuables while lodged in a hotel.
The safe is never safe. Digital or manual, never succumb to the temptation of the hotel’s safe or locked storage area. Doing that would imply relying on the accommodation staff. A number of things could happen, the locked safe could be broken into or stolen entirely or the safe could get jammed and your valuable would be trapped. Again, never use a safe that requires a key provided by the hotel, as there may be untold numbers of key copies circulating among staff and former guests.
Lock your suitcase. Always lock your suitcase either with numbers combination or with a key lock and ensure the key is with you at all times. Yes, there is a slim chance that someone could steal the entire suitcase, but that is extreme.
Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. If you care more about your valuables than about your room being cleaned, simply leave the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and if possibly, leave the TV on when you are leaving for the day. This will discourage people from entering your room when you are not there as they would think you are occupied inside. If you must invite room service, do so when you are available to monitor their activities.

Find hiding spots. There are so many places in your room where you can hide valuables from prying hands. You can hide money and important documents under the carpet corners, taped to the bottom-side of drawers, within a small bag and pin between double drapes, you could even go as far as unscrewing ventilator grates and hiding valuables inside. Basically, the idea is to choose areas of the room that are either not cleaned regularly or are so obscure people won't think to search them. Also, avoid putting all of your valuables in the same place. If you split them around the room, you are much less likely to lose everything if someone happens to find one of your hiding places.

Set the stage. Keep the room and your items very tidy so that any disorder would be conspicuous. This is not to say that you should now leave any valuable items out in the open. Also, while you are rearranging the room, you don’t want to damage or disturb things or areas in your room as you may end up paying to fix what you broke, thereby losing some or even all of the money you were trying to save.

*Contributed by Nkem Ndem, a PR Associate at Jumia Travel, phone +2347033853356 | skype Vivienne Ndem

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Update on ICANN transparency reporting

Transparency is foundational to the success of a healthy multistakeholder model and even more essential in the post-transition environment. Recognizing this, ICANN has a strategic goal to address transparency, along with accountability and ethics, which are essential and closely related components. While the global Internet community continues its work on ICANN’s and the community’s transparency and accountability through the work of Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing Accountability: Work Stream 2 (CCWG WS2), ICANN as an organization is also making improvements. This includes the implementation of recommendations from the second Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT2 [PDF, 3.46 MB]) and enhanced reporting on the progress toward related strategic goals.
ATRT2 identified the need for “a report on the broad range of ICANN Transparency issues with supporting metrics to facilitate accountability” and included several additional recommendations for improving transparency. Various transparency enhancements have already been implemented. For example, a comprehensive explanation of ICANN’s Publication Practices is now posted in icann.org and progress reports on implementation of Specific Review recommendations are published on a quarterly basis (see ATRT2SSRWHOIS). On a parallel track, ICANN has improved reporting of progress toward strategic goal [PDF, 1.65 MB] to promote ethics, transparency and accountability, included on the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Dashboard (see goal 5.2).
In addition to these enhancements, ICANN will publish the first Annual Transparency Report before ICANN58 to make it easier for stakeholders to find and understand relevant information about ICANN’s transparency efforts. The report will provide an overview of transparency-related activities from across the organization with the ability to view detailed information, where feasible. The report will cover information included under ICANN’s Publication Practices as well as numerous other activities which demonstrate transparency, such as the published audited financial statements, operating plans and budgets, progress toward addressing the needs of ICANN’s multilingual community, and information about ICANN’s quarterly stakeholder calls.
The ATRT2 recommendations also asked ICANN to analyze the “continued relevance and usefulness of existing transparency metrics [and to] provide recommendations for new metrics.” ICANN has been reporting Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) using the ICANN KPI Dashboard to measure progress on strategic goals for some time. We are continuously looking for more relevant and meaningful measures as well as improvements to the way we communicate activities and progress. Community feedback is key to making useful improvements. For example, recent community input from ICANN57 will inform the evolution of the Annual Transparency Report as well as the KPI Dashboard. Community members provided useful suggestions such as:
  • The development of interactive “drill-down” capability;
  • Bringing community activities into the reporting on promoting ethics, transparency and accountability;
  • Incorporating ethics awareness training for the community and opportunities for community wide discussions on the topic of measuring progress toward transparency, as well as ethics and accountability.
In line with these suggestions, ICANN is planning enhancements to the current KPI Dashboard to be launched around June 2017.
The work of improving transparency is a continuous exercise in partnership with the global stakeholder community. We have heard community feedback and will continue to analyze and incorporate improvements to enhance the information around the organization’s transparency, and how we measure and report progress made toward our transparency goals.
ICANN is committed to evolving our annual reporting to incorporate new relevant activities – such as the outcomes of community work on WS2, and we look forward to working with the ICANN community to find ways to improve all our transparency efforts.
*Contributed by Theresa Swinehart, Senior Advisor to the President on Global Strategy, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

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