" ITREALMS: January 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Appreciate digital transformation beyond statistics says Danbatta

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, has urged stakeholders to appreciate the roles of digital transformation in our society beyond the realm of statistics churned out in the telecommunications sector, reports ITRealms.
Delivering the 46th convocation lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), the EVC also called for more deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate socio-economic development of the country.
“We talk about the benefits of ICT and we normally do this by dishing out e-readiness indicators. We say Broadband penetration is 21 per cent, internet penetration 97 per cent. All these are ICT-readiness indicators that do not tell the entire picture,” he said.
Danbatta explained how ICTs have impacted to provide shared and sustainable prosperity; how ICTs have succeeded in reducing poverty; how they improve learning and make the society more open, more mobile and cohesive.
“And above all, how they encourage the economy to be more competitive and innovative. These are the ends of the digital transformation and not the input output figures we normally reel out,” he pointed out.
As said by him, “It is in Nigeria’s national interest to harness potentials that exist in the information driven age through the deployment and exploitation of ICT to facilitate socio-economic development and improvement of the human condition.”
He said developing countries like Nigeria are currently grappling with a broadband divide in addition to infrastructure, knowledge and information divides.
“Of the world’s over 5 billion broadband subscriptions, North America and European Union control over 50% while South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, where Nigeria is account for only 3% of this global share,” he decried.

Nenye Dom/GEE
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FG unveils content of recovered treasures @ Boko Haram camp, warns media

The Federal Government (FG) has unveiled content of recovered treasures at the Boko Haram camp in wake of the Nigerian Army's onslaught in Sambisa, reports ITRealms.

This follows the recent recovery of what FG tagged “a treasure trove of materials” from Boko Haram, saying media and the general public should be vigilant.

FG also attributed the recovery to the onslaught against the group leading to their shifting of strategy towards dominating the media space, propagating a perverted version of Shariah law and giving the impression that it is still holding territory.

Special Assistant to Hon Minister of Information and Culture on Media,
Segun Adeyemi, informed ITRealms in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, therefore appealed to the general public and the media to ensure that they do not unwittingly provide the terrorists with the oxygen of publicity that they desperately need.

He said the propaganda strategy was discovered from the materials left behind by Boko Haram Terrorists after they were routed from their last stronghold in Sambisa.

''The materials include documents, phones and computers that contained detailed information on the Boko Haram media and propaganda strategy. An analysis of the materials reveal Boko Haram's training in videography as well as how they sought and received training from other terrorists groups on video recording and manipulation.

''The documents, written in Arabic, also outlined the media strategy that Boko Haram Commanders should employ and how the surviving members should ensure the propagation of the Boko Haram doctrine using the Social Media,'' Alhaji Mohammed said.

The Minister said the recovered materials confirmed the announcement of a new media wing called ''Wadi Baya'' (Clear Speech) by Boko Haram in an audio released by the group on 17 Jan. 2017, following its routing from Sambisa.

''As Boko Haram refocuses its resources to media war and propaganda against the Nigerian people and state, we must all unite against terrorism by denying Boko Haram our platforms to propagate its ideology. Both the media and the citizens have important roles to play in complementing our Armed Forces, which are combining land and air resources to completely clear the vestiges of Boko Haram,'' he said

Nenye Dom/GEE
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Pix: Lai Mohammed

Nokia’s Smart Grid to bring networks into IoT era

The utilities deploying Smart Grid applications could now wirelessly extend mission-critical IP/MPLS services to grid locations in a converged field area network (FAN) using LTE/3G, reports ITRealms.

According to the Nokia, its 7705 SAR-Hm connects field devices with IP/MPLS and wirelessly to 3G/LTE networks, thus enabling advanced power distribution automation to better realize the full potential of Smart Grids.

Nokia said its latest in shelf 7705 SAR-Hm, is a purpose-built, feature-rich LTE/3G wireless router aimed at modernizing distribution networks for utilities, but with clear applications for other high growth vertical markets, like Smart Cities.

Officials informed ITRealms that the newest addition to the Nokia Service Routing portfolio merges IP/MPLS and LTE/3G technologies to provide utilities state-of-the-art wireless connectivity for grid devices located deep in a highly scalable distribution network. This allows for promising new smart grid applications, including distribution automation, advanced metering, and integration of renewable energy sources, and lays the groundwork to support an anticipated massive increase in field devices with the Internet of Things (IoT).

In addition, Nokia noted that nany power utilities currently use narrowband or proprietary wireless solutions to connect their field devices to each other and the control center. Most remote devices have no connectivity at all. Without the ability to scale and manage the network, remote monitoring and control of devices is challenging, costly and extremely difficult to operate and deploy.

Just as Nokia said it has applied experience in deploying secure IP/MPLS networks and LTE/3G to extend the reach of utilities' networks with this solution. Network operators, both public and private, will now have high capacity connectivity in their power distribution grids and directly into field devices, as well as the highest levels of reliability, security and scalability for mission-critical applications and services.

As Smart Grids are deployed, utilities will face a huge proliferation in the number of field devices they need to connect and manage. This includes integrating renewable energy resources, such as solar panels and wind farms, which are putting new demands on the electrical distribution system. Shifting loads and fluctuating generation from renewables will require real-time adjustment without operator intervention. Because the 7750 SAR-Hm distributes intelligence wirelessly over the IP/MPLS transport network, devices in the field will now be able to communicate and make decisions without human intervention as well as have greater flexibility, reliability and scale. This is critical for a more responsive grid today, and support for the expected increase in IoT devices in the future.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Fly TurkishAir, watch football league on Internet

Beginning this Sunday, the Turkish Airlines (TK) passengers will be able to watch the Super Bowl, the final game of the National Football League, live on all flights with Internet access, reports ITRealms.

The airlines Chief Marketing Officer Mr. Ahmet Olmustur, disclosed this, saying that take off time for this new service offering is Sunday, February 05, 2017.

"We not only carry our guests to the most countries worldwide, but we also aim to organize a flight that offers the best passenger experience at the highest level. We are excited to offer American Football experience with Super Bowl to our passengers at thousands feet of elevation, and also debut our new commercial video on this broadcast," he said.
Also, Olmustur said the decision to broadcast Super Bowl, the most-watched show in U.S. TV history, live in Turkish Airlines flights, was to create more relaxing environment for Turkish Air travellers.
He pointed out that Turkish Airlines has been recognized as the "Best Airlines in Europe" and awarded "Best Business Class Airline Catering", and also ‘Best Business Class Dining Lounge’ by Skytrax, one of the most prestigious passenger survey organizations in global aviation industry.
According to him, the global carrier offers in-flight entertainment service with Planet which features contents in 23 different languages including more than 800 TV shows, over 700 music albums, 7 in-flight live TV broadcasts, 11 "barrier-free" films with "descriptive subtitles" and "descriptive audio" techniques; as well as Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet in Business Class for flights taking more than 5 hours and Denon headphones in all long-haul flights.

Ayo Midele/GEE 
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ISOC condemns US travel ban, says its 'anathema'

The Internet Society (ISOC) has reacted in condemnation of the last week’s travel ban by the United States, describing it as an anathema to the society and values it represents, reports ITRealms.

ISOC, ITRealms gathered is an American, non-profit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access, and policy.

ISOC prides itself with the mission "to promote the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world".

President and chief executive officer, ISOC, Kathy Brown, in a public statement made available to ITRealms that as a global organization with trustees, employees, chapters and members all over the world, ISOC is deeply troubled by actions taken by the U.S.

Noting, no doubt that such action placed immediate and unprecedented bans on entry to the United States of citizens and refugees of seven majority-Muslim countries.

This, she also said, not only will the purported bans place an unwarranted burden on people in our organization, “it is an anathema to the Internet Society whose values rest firmly on a commitment to an open, globally connected community dedicated to the open, global Internet.”

ISOC, Brown said, is encouraged by the countries who have rejected the U.S. action this weekend and by the human rights organizations that have stood in solidarity with countless refugees and travelers who were so abruptly halted in entering the U.S.

“We are watching developments; I will keep you updated as we know more,” she assured.

 Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Accra Technology Salon takes on ‘How Technology can Promote Good Governance’

All is set today for the 12th Accra Technology Salon, which takes on ‘How Technology can Promote Good Governance’ reports ITRealms.

The organisers, Penplusbytes through its Executive Director, Kwami Ahiabenu, II, revealed to ITRealms that in order to expand on how technology plays out in enhancing governance systems and processes, especially in Ghana, Penplusbytes has concluded arrangements for today, Tuesday, January 31for the hosting of the first Accra Tech Salon event for the year 2017.

The event which is on its 12th series, he said would hold at the New Media Hub in Osu, Ako-Adjei.

As said by him, the Salon is aimed at establishing Ghana’s potential in leveraging ICTs to enhance transparency, accountability and participation, the 2-hour lively platform is expected to bring under one roof, governance experts, media personnel, civil society actors, tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts with shared interest on the matter.

He pointed out that globally, there are examples of efforts towards the opening up of governance systems and enhancing accountability such as Huduma, Twaweza,Cuidemos el Voto, CGNet Swara, Fix My Street, Sunlight Foundation, World Bank’s Open Data, the Open Government Partnership and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and a wide range of others.

While Ghana’s democratic credentials are not in doubt, there seem to exist a capacity gap in, particularly, citizens’ abilities to hold duty bearers to account even in the face of exponential growth in the influence of technology.

The Technology Salon, he emphasized, will explore drawing on lessons and challenges from other places.

“We are witnesses to the extent to which tech tools and new media enhanced participation and the greater conduct of the 2016 general elections. With the heightened interest of citizens and many stakeholders in the business of governance in general, this event will highlight what the possibilities and challenges are,” he said.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

MIKA, first digital assistant customized for telecos debuts

The Espoo, Finland based Nokia, has created a customized 'digital assistant' known as the 'Multi-purpose Intuitive Knowledge Assistant' (MIKA) to aid engineers' efficiency by providing voice-activated access to information for telecommunications operators, reports ITRealms.

Head, Global Services at Nokia, Igor Leprince, said MIKA will improve telecom operators' efficiency by providing engineers faster access to critical information.

Powered by the Nokia AVA cognitive services platform and underpinned by Nokia's services expertise, MIKA will provide voice-dictated automated assistance to reduce time spent searching information resources, enabling operators to focus on key business tasks without being distracted by the complexities of multi-technology network environments.

Leprince also said that MIKA is the first digital assistant 'trained' specifically for the telecom industry, designed to provide automated assistance that saves time and frees highly skilled workers to focus on critical tasks. 

Nokia analysis of working methods within a Network Operations Center, Leprince said, has revealed that application of MIKA could 'give back' more than one hour of productive time every day to engineers by providing them with access to information and recommendations through the interactive user interface.

Further, Leprince noted that MIKA combines augmented intelligence with automated learning to provide access to an extensive range of tools, documents and data sources. 

These include the Nokia AVA knowledge library, a repository of best practice gathered from Nokia projects around the world. Using the knowledge library MIKA can provide recommendations based on similar issues seen in other networks. MIKA is available via a web interface and mobile agent so that engineers can tap into its knowledge base, wherever they are.

"Finding the right information is a daily challenge for telco engineers tasked with boosting network quality. MIKA taps into the power of the Nokia AVA platform to provide quick and accurate answers, avoiding time wasted on fruitless searches. MIKA is customized to support the specific needs of telecoms, and can deliver recommendations based on experience from networks around the world." 

Nenye Dom/GEE
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Econet’s KweseTv takes off with pay-as-you-watch in Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia

The operators of Kwese Tv networks in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia, Econet, has launched a ‘pay-as-you-watch’ service that enables viewers to purchase three or seven day passes to its full programming bouquet, reports ITRealms.

Confirming this to ITRealms, the Econet Media President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Hundah, said the launch would put a stop for people never have to miss out on trending sports or entertainment programming.

In an official statement also made available to ITRealms, Mr. Hunday said the latest Africa’s satellite network is here to stay, beaming Kwesé’s full suite of superior entertainment and sports programming to households in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia, which make up the initial phase of the Kwesé TV rollout across Africa.

According to him, other countries will be announced in due course, while viewers in these countries could now access Kwesé TV via Kwesé’s own satellite and set-top-box (decoder) available at leading retailers.

He explained that Kwesé TV has launched with a full-suite of top-shelf content which is unprecedented for a new broadcaster, with impressive portfolio of sports assets on its premium sports channels Kwesé Free Sports, Kwesé Sports 1 and Kwesé Sports 2, Kwesé TV introduced some fantastic entertainment programming to the mix including some exclusive, first-to-market content as well as original programming.

In addition to great content and its multi-platform, he said  the multi-screen broadcasting model, Kwesé’s key differentiator is its innovative payment options that offer flexibility and convenience.

“Kwesé offers a ‘pay-as-you-watch’ service that enables viewers to purchase three or seven day passes to its full programming bouquet so they never have to miss out on trending sports or entertainment programming,” he said.

These payment options, Hundah said, turns the traditional pay TV model on its head, provides unparalleled access to premium programming at an affordable price. The monthly subscription option, which gives subscribers access to the full suite of Kwesé TV programming, is available at an astonishing $25 (USD) per month excluding VAT.

“We are a dynamic, young company built to respond to the way audiences want to access and consume content, whether you subscribe for the full Kwese TV bouquet, watch amazing sports programming free-to-air or choose to watch TV on the move, we aim to be the first choice for viewers all over Africa by bringing them the best in programming, at an affordable price making it accessible to more people than ever before,” Hundah said.

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Trending: Nigerians confess #ThingsWeDoForLove

Investigations by ITRealms have shown that many Nigerians are confessing the kind of things they do when it comes to love as population warms up for the 2017 Valentine month with the hashtag #ThingsWeDoForLove.

Reports also have it that lately, Nigerians have been pouring out their hearts and confessing online all the crazy, funny, and romantic things they have done and will definitely do for the sake of love.

 Can you relate? Me sef, I’ve done some crazy things for love, like that one time when I sat through an entire Nollywood film just to please someone in my life…I almost died of boredom, sigh, #ThingsWeDoForLove.

Even celebs like Alibaba and Naeto C joined in on the conversation.

Guys, don’t be left out of the conversation, get on Twitter and Instagram, use the #ThingsWeDoForLove and share your amazing love confessions. Let’s hear the crazy, funny, romantic or most embarrassing things you have done or will do for love, especially in this Valentine love season!

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Benefits of FG, Lagos partnership to renovate national theatre

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the partnership between the Federal Government and Lagos State on the renovation of the National Theatre will breathe life into the national edifice, reports ITRealms.

Speaking after an inspection tour of the National Theatre in Lagos on Saturday, ahead of the renovation to be carried out by Lagos State, the Minister described the theatre as a valuable national asset that cannot be allowed to become derelict.

''We are here today (Saturday) to take physical stock of what the Lagos State Government has offered to help us with - that is the rehabilitation of the National Theatre.

''I want to use the opportunity to express my gratitude and that of the Federal Government to the Governor, the Government and the people of Lagos state, who have graciously offered to assist to renovate the main bowl of the National Theatre, two cinema halls, the exhibition lobby and the banquet hall as part of the collaboration between the Federal Government and the State, especially as the state turns 50 this year,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said ''with the hand of friendship that the Lagos Government has extended to us, we are very hopeful that we are going to get the main bowl, two cinema halls, the exhibition lobby and the banquet hall renovated and ready for the Lagos at 50 celebration''.

''The National Theatre is an asset we can boast of, and what we need to do is to bring it back to a working condition,'' he said.

The Minister promised that after the renovation, the national edifice will not be allowed to go into a state of disrepair again.

''I know that the question on the lips of many people is that what happens after the renovation. But I want to assure Nigerians that it cannot be business as usual. The National Theatre now has a new management that is in tune with reality and we will simply not allow the National Theatre to degenerate to the level we met it today,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said Lagos State will benefit massively from the renovation of the theatre, ''because it is going to give the necessary impetus to the creative industry''.

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Nigeria, Ukraine to partner on space management

The Federal Government (FG) has declared its readiness to collaborate with friendly countries that will assist Nigeria to bridge perceived technological gaps in the bid to improve the quality of life of Nigerians, using space technologies, reports ITRealms.

Top on these strategic friendly countries is Ukraine, according to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who gave this indication while receiving the Ambassador of Ukraine to Nigeria, His Excellency Dr Valeri Aleksandruk in his office in Abuja.

The Chief press Secretary to Minister, Taye Akinyemi, quoted Dr Onu, as affirmed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms.
He also said that part of the Ministry’s mandate is to ensure that Nigeria, by shifting her focus from being a resource-based economy to a knowledge based and innovation driven economy will become a leading economy through value addition to our institutions in the area of Science and Technology.

The Minister further stated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to diversify and improve the economy of Nigeria by bridging Technology gaps   through such co-operations and exchange of ideas.
He asserted that Nigeria is succeeding in sustainable diversification process through ensuring that we tap and harness the natural resources coupled with the abundant human resources that will make Nigeria a technology hub especially in the area of space management.
In his remarks, the Ambassador of Ukraine informed the Minister that part of his mission in Nigeria is to get best cooperation and exploration through sharing of ideas in various areas of Science and Technology in Nigeria especially in space management.
He also intimated the Honourable Minster that Ukraine has very big potentials in the area of Science and Technology as well as human resources which when explored can help boost Technology in Nigeria.  He reiterated the need for basic agreements and collaborations with the Nigerian government to achieve this goal.
Nonye Dom/GEE
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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Dickson, a rising star from Niger Delta

There is the idealized notion of leadership which offers that progress is change, and that no leader ever becomes great without overthrowing extant rules and conventions in order to transform society. In other words and in true Fanonian fashion, those leaders who have real vision and are truly desirous of making enduring impact in the lives of their societies must shake up and if necessary overthrow the status quo.
Though this could come at a political price, some even with huge loss of political capital and, in revolutionary cases, lives, this is how serious leaders lead and how they entrench enduring legacies.

In the recent history of governance in Bayelsa State, I think the dramatic shift in leadership style, vision and achievements, speak eloquently of how incumbent Governor Henry Seriake Dickson came armed with a mission and was resolved never to betray it. His resolve to question the status quo since 2012 when he first came into office is translating to a re-validation of the proper ethos of public service.
Now in his second term, the first year of which will be celebrated on February 14 and would also come barely days after his 51st birthday anniversary today, evokes the kind of extraordinary story genuine leaders can create in the development narrative of their people. Specifically, the socio-economic and political re-engineering birthing such remarkable developments in the last five years of his leadership in Bayelsa State, underscore the fact that Governor Dickson is a driver of change, a reformer driven by big ideas. Not surprisingly he ran into spirited resistance by forces of the status quo who were comfortable with depressing indices of societal development so long as their own narrow interests were taken care of.

For us to properly appreciate the import of this reflection is to compare the situation the Restoration Government inherited in 2012 and what obtains today in the various sectors of the state economy which will show clearly the huge transformation that has taken place among our people and why the future beckons with such exciting possibilities. One does not have to look far for the evidence of the imprint Dickson has left on Bayelsa landscape. The evidence is everywhere.

His leadership goals were founded upon a deep understanding of the challenges he met and a realisation that he would literally have to drag much of the society to attain noble goals of development and progress. There was the high security challenge of 2012 as a result of wrongheaded militancy and when criminals of various stripes ruled the roost. He took on the challenge head on, employing modern crime fightingtechnics and technology to tame crime and criminality. Then there was the challenge of education. What has been achieved has been adjudged a revolution given the achievements in infrastructure and human development. The declaration of emergency in the sector which made education totally free was the impetus which enabled those who might have been unable to go to school due to financial constraints to now do so and with rare scholarships to boot in some of the best schools at home and abroad. There is the re-introduction of boarding schools in all the senatorial districts and with adequate classrooms and teachers provided. The nobility of the teaching profession is now marked not only in words but in deed.

In terms of visible impact no sector has received as much attention and reflected obvious progress as infrastructure.  Governor Dickson met an abysmal state of infrastructure compounded no doubt by a forbidding terrain that gulps hugeexpenditure. Bayelsa is largely riverine and linking the various towns and communities is a huge and expensive task. This obviously has had consequence for trade and commercial activities. But today, the story is different as we have modern roads and bridges linking up the entire state in a strategic manner and properly designed to connect  people and communities to facilitate commerce and social relations. From the first flyover bridge in the state capital, Yenagoa, to the various senatorial roads and bridges to the fact that people can now drive straight to Nembe by road recently facilitated by the Governor Dickson-led Restoration administration, a project first mooted in the 1950s by Shell and later jointly executed by NDDC, we have seen true leadership, focused, determined and sincere, tackling the challenge of development and putting the welfare of the people first.

That the welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government has informed the attention to manpower development which has enabled many youths to be trained and empowered and to helping women entrepreneurs get financial support either through the Izon Microfinance Bank or special grants facilitated by the government. Promoting economic independence has seen the emphasis placed on modern agriculture which utilizes the geographical comparative advantage of the state to grow rice and cassava and to boost fisheries, a traditional occupation of our people but now developed not only for local consumption but for sale farther afield.
Far-sighted leadership is also evident in the massive investment on a the international airport at Amassoma, a strategic step which will further help to open up the state for major development as business entities in the south east and south -south region will prefer to land straight in Bayelsa and onward to their destinations or around the state.

Thinking big and working doubly hard to actualize the dreams is indeed the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson story. He has been animated by the goal of moving the state from over-dependence on oil and gas to becoming an industrialized entity. To him, nothing is impossible especially going by his understanding of the Dubai story of sheer enterprise that has also catapulted a landlocked country to such a highly diversified economy that has become a huge attraction to the whole world. It was such thinking on mastering the art of what ordinarily is the impossible which informed the determined efforts at economic diversification long before it became a sing song elsewhere.
Hence the bold exploration of tourism potentials with five star hotels, golf links and all other infrastructure to develop the tourist attractions which abound in the state in the pipeline. A better tomorrow is also heralded by plans for a light industrial park in the state, the Agge Deep Seaport and the LNG project in Brass. What is needed is just the support from the federal government not only because of the constitutional/ legal structures of such complex establishments but also the huge capital involved. But what is not in doubt is the viability of these projects. For instance, Agge has the deepest coastline in the country, a strategic gateway, looking at its proximity to the Gulf of Guinea and Governor Dickson sees it as a national endowment which will naturally help to decongest the Lagos Port and boosting trade and commerce in the eastern half of the country and farther to the north east.
Transformation of a society entails the people knowing that part of their civic responsibility is paying tax and the government demonstrating by its own example that accountability is an indispensable trait for any human institution or government.
Overall, we have witnessed stability in recent years and this speaks volumes about what a serious leadership which inherited a situation of anomie could bring to bear in the lives of the people.  No wonder the fond reference to Dickson in popular parlance as the “talk na do governor” or  “countryman governor”.
Our reflection on Dickson as he clocks 51 won’t be complete without talking about his politics and the philosophy driving it. As he is wont to say, he is a politician of conviction, meaning that his participation in politics is driven by his desire to leave society much better than he found it. Every other thing follows from this. He believes in the utilization of state resources to develop the state instead of pillaging such resources as a personal estate.  Which is why he has had fierce running battles with many members of the elite formation in the state, battles which he has largely won and which framed the cut-throat contest for the last governorship election in the state. As the public would soon read from a book written on the controversial election, the foreword of which is written by Ekiti State governor,Ayodele Fayose, what made the election a mortal combat warfare as it were, was the desperation to control state resources for personal aggrandizement but which Dickson abhors. Interestingly, the good people of Bayelsa whom theOfurumapepe (the great white shark that braves the ocean when the tempest is fiercest) has served in truth and in deed rallied round him by voting en-masse for his re-election, some even throwing their bare bodies to challenge armoured tanks to safeguard democracy.

The rest as they say is now history but the lesson here is the need for dedication and determined leadership if society must move forward. This is also what Governor Dickson’s 51st birthday means to the good people of Bayelsa State. He only challenged the status quo for the sake of the people, to create a new direction that has now led us out of Egypt. But his work is not yet done. Nigeria beckons for the enthronement of a new leadership paradigm so that this long suffering land will at last enjoy the benefits of the resources Almighty God so generously bestowed upon her. It is a call which with other like minds would leave him no other choice but to answer. Happy 51st year of your sojourn,Ofurumapepe, in this our God-given earth!

*Contributed by Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor
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Friday, January 27, 2017

‘CODESRIA is best think-tank in Sub-Saharan Africa’

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) has been rated the best think-tank in Sub-Saharan Africa, reports ITRealms.

Disclosing this, the Executive Secretary, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) Dr. Ebrima Sall, noted that this was contained in the just released 2016 Global Go-To Think Tanks Index published by the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, hence CODESRIA has some reasons for celebration on this eve of its 44th anniversary.
This, he said, is an improvement on recent years when CODESRIA has generally been ranked 3rd or 4th.
The report, he said, which evaluates close to 7000 think tanks worldwide, also rated CODESRIA highly in many other categories, including its work on international development and social policy were acknowledged with rankings as the 18th and 72nd best think tank in these fields worldwide respectively.
“Our commitment to transdisciplinary research is also acknowledged in our ranking as the 26th best think tank worldwide in that category,” he said.
As said by him, the wisdom in CODESRIA’s insistence on support for basic research in the social sciences and humanities as an effective way of contributing to public policy is positively endorsed by its ranking as the 35th best think tank worldwide for influence on public policy. It is also ranked as having had the 48th best advocacy campaign worldwide.
The executive secretary said that CODESRIA looks at the report as a reinforcement of the Council’s decision to undertake a wide-ranging process of self-reform that was set in motion in 2014.
“In the area of communication, we hope to improve on ranking as the 40th best think tank worldwide in the use of the Internet. We also hope to improve on the use of print and social media for which we are not even mentioned in the rankings,” he said.
Also, he said, CODESRIA hopes to improve its reflections on and contributions to knowledge in the critical areas of health, the environment and science and technology. Just as the Council’s new 5-year programme cycle represents an opportunity to leverage the Council’s strengths to cement its position as the leading social science research organization in Africa and as a leading contributor to the broad visions for national, continental and global transformations that are captured in the many documents circulating today.

He expressed appreciation to all those who have been supporting CODESRIA including staff and the authorities of the country that hosts the CODESRIA’ secretariat, Senegal; for their confidence and support.

“I would also like to urge the African social science research community to continue to redouble our efforts to move African research forward and advance the production of knowledge on our continent,” Sall said.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Two hi-tech helicopters in Lagos, as NCS handsover to NAF

The Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command of the Nigerian Customs Service on Friday handed over two seized hi-tech civil model Bell helicopters imported into the country by yet to be disclosed persons to the Nigerian Air Force, reports ITRealms.

According to correspondents, NCS said the hi-tech helicopters were handed over to NAF for failure by the yet-to-be-identified importers to produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser.

The NCS said this was in contravention of Section 36 (2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act and that the seizure was effected on November 7, 2016 in line with section 46 of CEMA.
Customs Area Controller, Frank Allanah, told journalists that the value of the two helicopters and other accessories was over N9.7bn.

“The helicopters were flown in as a consignment with Airway Bill Number 17232444403 into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. The choppers were detained at the Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited shed pending fulfillment of all legal requirements for the importation,” he said.

The chopper, he said, would be useful to the Nigerian Air Force in the fight against insurgency as the chopper were specially designed for such operations.

Speaking during the hand over the chopper , the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the choppers and accessories would be taken to the NAF hangar at the Lagos Airport for full examination in collaboration with Customs officials .

He described the handover as a milestone as the configuration of the aircraft was fitted for military combat operations.

He said the handover had presidential approval adding that all legal issues had also been considered.

*Reports from The Punch.

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Ojobo, Melaye, Wike, Akpabio, Buratai honoured @ maiden Authority awards

The Director of Public Affairs (DPA) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Tony Ojobo, the Governor of Rivers State, Nyeson Wike and Senators Godswill Akpabio and Dino Melaye as well as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai were honoured at the maiden awards ceremony hosted by the Authority Newspapers for Excellence and Good Governance, reports ITRealms.

For Mr. Ojobo, he was honoured with The Authority Newspaper Public Affairs Spokesperson of the year 2016 at the ceremony presided over by former old Anambra State Governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and keynote speaker, Human Right Activist/Constitutional Lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, was described by Madu Onuorah, The Authority Managing Director, as painstaking before the Board of Editors “took decisions to select the personalities we are honouring today”.

He also told the audience that The Authority Newspaper Award was “a celebration of God’s greatness, grace and the human power to dare the impossible”.

In arriving at its decision to name Ojobo as Outstanding Public Affairs Spokesperson of the year 2016, the Board of Editors of The Authority described him as “a consummate communication driver of the critical government agency in a milieu where legitimate expectations are high and tempers short”.

Ojobo “has managed to bring winsome professionalism, unusual humility and noteworthy grasp of his brief to deliver a five-star performance and manage the high-octane volatility that is associated with his job”, according to the citation at the event.

With over 28 years of experience in the telecommunications sector covering areas such as Marketing, Customer Services, Institutional Strengthening, License Administrations, Corporate Communication and Brand Management, Ojobo started his career with the defunct Nigerian External Telecommunications (NET) Limited as a Commercial Officer in August 1982 and by 1985 when Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) was established he joined and served at various times as Customer Services Manager in the Organisation.

He left NITEL in 1995 and went into Management & Consulting Services until 1999. In March 2000, Ojobo joined NCC as Deputy Director Projects in the office of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC)/CEO. He coordinated World Bank Consultancy for institutional strengthening and development at NCC.

Further, Ojobo coordinated various times Telecom Service Demand Study, carried out by Growing Business Foundation which served as a prelude to the Digital Mobile Licence (DML) auction in 2001.

He later served as Deputy Director (Administration), 2002; Head of Licensing and Zonal Operations, Acting Director, Human Capital and Infrastructure and later substantive Director in the same department in January 2010.  He was redeployed to the Public Affairs Department as Director, Public Affairs in October 2012. He holds the position till today.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Why Bayelsa approved N10bn to upgrade school facilities

The government of Bayelsa State has explained why it gave approval of N10 billion for the upgrading of school facilities, reports ITRealms.

Speaking to stakeholders in civil service administration in Yenagoa who endorsed a number of reforms aimed at restructuring the public service for effective delivery, the Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said the state is working at checking the syndrome of ghost workers and other unwholesome practices.

He described as unacceptable, the age long sharp practices in the state civil service, adding that the said payment of over N4 billion monthly wage bill could no longer be sustained.

Dickson said that it has impacted negatively on the developmental agenda of the restoration government.

According to him, the meeting was convened to intimate the stakeholders of the financial position of the state and chart a way forward in view of the prevailing economic situation.

Some of the reforms as highlighted by the governor and endorsed by the stakeholders in attendance include; approval of N200 million monthly subvention to the state owned Niger Delta University.
He stressed that only subventions would be given to tertiary institutions as against the old practice of monthly payment of salary.

Also the state government gave approval of N10 billion for the purpose of upgrading facilities in all its tertiary institutions across the state and also instituted a special Education Safety Corps to ensure the safety of its schools.

The governor urged all tertiary institutions to key into government’s vision of adopting a single accounting system to check fraud, stressing that education levy would be introduced for all workers in the state to fund activities in the sector.

According to Governor Dickson, as part of the reforms, the state civil service commission will be reconstituted just as government did to that of the local government service commission.

He stressed that further steps would be taken to re-organize the state’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies pointing out that staff with requisite qualifications and skills would be redeployed to relevant ministries and institutions.

Also, the state government has created a N10 billion Enterpreneur Development Fund to empower people that may voluntarily opt out of the civil service arising from the re-organization of the service.

The Governor announced that henceforth, the State Environmental Sanitation Authority would be taken out of the mainstream of the civil service, stating that only a few and relevant staff would be deployed on secondment to the authority .   

To tackle the problems of absenteeism, and ghost workers syndrome, attendance registers have been introduced in all the MDAs which would be properly monitored by special teams.  

 The meeting had in attendance, the traditional rulers, captains of Industry, members of the State House of Assembly, top government functionaries, local government chairmen to mention but few.

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