" ITREALMS: September 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Quasim Akinreti emerges chairman, Lagos NUJ

The Assistant Director News at the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Dr. Quasim Akinreti has polled a total of 288 votes to emerge the winner of the 2017 chairmanship election of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Lagos council at the weekend, reports ITRealms.

The election which took place at the Lagos State TV auditorium, left his only contender to the position, Mr Adeleye Ajayi of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), with 272 votes.

Also joining Dr. Akinreti in the new Lagos council executive committee includes Mrs Abiola Beckley of Daar Communications who emerged the vice chairperson with 282 votes against Mr Innocent Anaba of Vanguard Newspapers, who scored 275 votes. While others officers were returned unopposed.

In his acceptance speech, Akinreti described the victory as a defining moment in the history of Lagos NUJ and commended the elders of the profession and the immediate past leadership led by Mr. Deji Elumoye

He pledged to work with every member of the council, assuring there would be no victimization, stressing the need for an all-inclusive NUJ in Lagos Council under his watch.

“… We will run an open door administration, we do not have monopoly of knowledge and I want to assert that we are all winners in this election. God willing, I will serve you assiduously as I have promised and I will open my arms to everyone because we all have a common goal, which is to move Lagos NUJ forward,” Akinreti asserted.

He called those who may have offended one another in the course of electioneering, “I want us to put that behind us and move on,” he urged.

Congratulating the new chairman, Mr. Elumoye assured to make himself available for any clarification as may be required.

“In case you (present Executives) want to ask any question about what we have done in the last six years, my doors are open, even if I am out of the country, I will come back to answer you,” he reassured.

The new exco of Lagos NUJ Council were later sworn in by the Vice President of NUJ, Southwest (B Zone), Mr Cosmos Oni, who applauded candidates and electorates for ensuring a peaceful election.

Nkem Nweke/GEE

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Malami, Magu and blues of anti-corruption war

Much as both labour to put up gestures suggesting cordiality, truth is there is no love lost between them. And interestingly, the one thing that came between them is corruption, which is also supposed to be the only thing that should see them basking in a harmonious relationship in this dispensation. What a paradox!
How to engage this terrible plague is the cause of the simmering discord in their affairs. Yet, between Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s all-knowing Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the one who never gives an inch in making the point that in all matters legal he is in charge, and Ibrahim Magu, the subordinate, less-obtrusive head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it is not difficult to know who is more minded to waging a more concerted, frontal war against corruption which the administration they both serve promised to fight to a standstill.
First, a slice of these gentlemen’s background. As far as most Nigerians can remember, the one enjoyed a brief spell in a fuzzy limelight as junior to Dipo Opeseyi as attorneys for Muhammadu Buhari, then presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) battling in court to upturn the declaration of Goodluck Jonathan as winner of the 2011 presidential election.
The other earned glittering epaulettes as a tested, uncompromising anti-corruption warrior from the days of Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of EFCC. Also, while the one, with no antecedent whatsoever of vigorous combat with societal wrong merely thrived in the shadows of redoubtable defenders of the law, the other was, and still is, enmeshed in bruising battles with highly placed fraudsters and economic saboteurs operating in and out of the shores of Nigeria.
But for Magu’s exploits, bolstered, of course, by President Buhari’s rhetoric and body language, there is no way this administration would today beat its chest and announce progress, no matter how minimal, in the war against corruption. Only Magu, and his principal, it seems, are the ones really focused on slaying the dragon of corruption in the country.
Of course, the belief out there is that under Buhari’s watch corruption is thriving despite his well-known anti-corruption stance. He owes it a duty to wipe off this belief. But the real cause for worry in this administration’s anti-corruption campaign chain is Malami, the country’s chief law officer who is holding an office that is supposed to be seen in the forefront of the charge against a monstrous vice that his government has sworn to do everything to permanently tame.
Instead, it is this same AGF that appears to be confronting corruption with kid gloves, when he should be slugging with it in the mud with bare knuckles. In the face of the overwhelming decadence corruption has inflicted on the country, and given the unusual decisiveness with which the ruling All Progressives Congress pledged to curb it, it ought to be Malami, not Magu, that should be talking of seeing the task at hand as a matter of life and death, or a “do or die” affair, to use the language compatriots would easily understand – if not for anything but to save Buhari’s face.
You expect Malami to be the one donning his wig and gown and pounding the courtrooms as the leader of government lawyers prosecuting the big cases of corruption. No, he would rather ensconce himself in the cushion of ego trip. There he throws his weight around and drums it into as many ears as care to listen that he has all the powers under the law to define the law.
Not a surprise though. Like all the Attorneys General of the Federation, especially since the founding of EFCC, this one too is a fortune-hunter, a deal-maker whose primary interest is not to combat corruption but to snuff out the country’s foremost anti-graft agency to enable him have a field day to bargain with looters for a share of the loot.
To offer a snippet of how these AGFs not only compromise the integrity of their office but also work very hard to render the EFCC ineffective, Michael Aondoakaa as AGF and Minister of Justice in 2008 connived with then EFCC Chairman, Farida Waziri, to scuttle the arrest and trial of Liyel Imoke who no longer enjoyed immunity as his election as Governor of Cross River State had then been annulled by the election petition tribunal. Tunde Ogunsakin, then Director of Operations at EFCC, ordered the arrest. Rather than end up in EFCC interrogation room, Imoke ended up at Aodoakaa’s house. And that was the end of the matter.  
Malami has sermonized on the poor prosecution of financial crimes and criticized the whistleblower policy for focusing on reward instead of the safety and protection of whistleblowers. But what has he done about it? What does it say of his office if an AGF whose government at inception swore to fight corruption with all its powers is only just waking up, after almost two years in office, to announce “plans” to create a central body to coordinate all criminal prosecutions in the country?

And on the protection of whistleblowers, pray, what has Malami done? At the moment, there are reports of persecutions of whistleblowers in many government offices, but not a whimper of disgust ever issued from his office. But for the civil society and the media which took up the fight, Ntia Thompson, a deputy director in the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was sacked for reporting fraud in his office might not have been reinstated.

At the moment, there is Murtala Ibrahim of the audit department of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), a victim of similar unconscionable high-handedness, who was sacked by the management of the bank since May 8 for refusing to help cover fraud in the bank. This is one of a whole slew of cases Malami should promptly wade into not only to show that he really cares about whistleblowers’ safety, but also that he is serious about strengthening the anti-corruption war.

Godwin Onyeacholem is a journalist. He can be reached through Email: gonyeacholem@gmail.com  

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CSAM 2017: CSEAN says Nigeria needs SA on Cybersecurity

As prelude to the October 2017 Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM 2017), the Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN) has called on President Mohammadu Buhari to urgently appoint a Special Adviser on Cyber Security in the country, reports ITRealms.

CSEAN President, Mr. Remi Afon, made this call in commemoration of the 2017 CSAM and told ITRealms that Nigeria is ripe for such an august appointment in order to properly drive the cyber security agenda of the federal government.

“The time is ripe for President Mohammadu Buhari to appoint a special adviser on cybersecurity who will be driving the cybersecurity agenda of the government,” he declared.

Afon also noted that every year, October has been set aside globally as cyber security awareness month, was started 14 years ago by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now being embraced by many countries around the world with added expansive international adoption this year under the umbrella of Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM).

CSEAN, he said, being a cyber security awareness advocate and the curator of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. in Nigeria, the global online safety education and awareness campaign, will be at the forefront this month of October to educate all consumers and businesses about the importance of cybersecurity and how to protect their personal information. CSEAN is a non-profit organisation made up of Information security professionals, centred on a collective purpose and vision of championing the cause and awareness of Information security best practices, acting as an agent of change to address Cyber Crime phenomena through engaging intellectual minds, business and political leaders.

This year, he also said, CSEAN will kick off the Cyber Security Awareness month with series of cyber security awareness lectures and symposium across the country starting from Abuja and Lagos. 

“The association has selected some private and public organisations,  secondary schools and tertiary institutions for the awareness campaign. As part of the activities during the month, we will be having cyber security awareness walk during which our members will be giving out tips to people on the street on how stay safe online,” he said,

Afon explained that parallel to all the lined up activities will be social media campaign on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #CyberAware  #NoFallMaga and interviews with expert speakers on Facebook and YouTube.

Throughout the month of October, CSEAN’s campaign will focus on cybersecurity in the workplace, governance, social media security, cyberbullying, fake news, phishing, identity theft, privacy and data protection, cybersecurity at home, and skills in cybersecurity.

CSEAN, he said, is using this occasion to again call on all arms of governments Executive, Judiciary and Legislative to set aside and adopt October as National Cyber Security Awareness month.

“We have for a very long time observed with great concern the apathy of the present government towards cybersecurity development in the country. The lack of leadership from the government, inadequate regulation and lack of public private partnership in the area of cybersecurity could potentially hunt the country very soon,” he insisted.

Ayo Midele/GEE
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Weak Commission: Dearth of NGO Regulatory bill

I read it twice and did a third to study only the portions that are of interest to my initial interest. My initial interest arose from concerns that the operation and interests of a Professional Association to which  I belong and which we have ordinarily regarded as an NGO, might be adversely affected if the draft Bill becomes Law.

Part A
For the purpose of that my initial interest, the most interesting section to me is PART VII - MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS, paragraph 57 where the definition of a NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATION, for the purpose of the Bill, is provided.
Arising therefrom, my conclusion is that our Association, for the purpose of that draft Bill, is NOT an NGO.
For me, what is not STATED in Legislation is not INTENDED in Law, and I say that with no pretense to any expertise in Jurisprudence. It is common knowledge that this position has been canvassed and accepted in Court.
In SPIRIT and in WORDS of the draft Bill, the Association is not a candidate for registration by the intended Non-governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission.
(Using the same argument, I hold the opinion that churches and mosques, village-, community-, or professional Associations, do not come under the purview of the intended Non-governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission.

For purposes of argument, I will normally expect to see some key words which associate very closely to objective of associations that are intended to be regulated. For churches and mosques the word ‘spiritual’ is critical. For the professions, the word is ‘professional’. For community associations the word is ‘cultural’. All these are missing in the draft bill and they are, to that extent, and in my opinion, not included in the catchment group that the bill aims at.
Ordinarily, one should just stop here since the issue of interest is whether or not the Association's operations and interests are under any threat if the draft Bill becomes Law.

I suggest the Association seeks legal advice on the matter IF the subject poses sufficient concern.
For me, it does not.

Part B
Having said that, concern about the draft bill is currently trending and having read it,
 I should have an opinion.
I therefore express the following views on the draft NGO Bill.

I am old enough to be familiar with bandwagon effect of opinions that are traded by some privileged persons who take advantage of massive illiteracy and inability of a large number of our citizens to read documents by themselves and thereby use sentiments of religion, tribe and class to sell dummies to the masses. In many cases, people criticize books that they have not read, condemn opinions that they have not heard and participate in protests that have no foundation


The composition of membership of the Board of the Commission makes it civil servants heavy. Eight of the nineteen members are representing various Federal Ministries. Although no specific skills or expertise are required of these representatives of the Federal Ministries nor of any of the other members, indeed a tenure of four years is attached to their stay on the Board renewable for another four and no more. All of them aside the executive Secretary are part-time. This makes it a Board that will be ineffective. Such ineffective Boards are usually used by Governments for ulterior purposes. Impliedly, this Commission has a high prospect of being used by Government to destroy any NGO of their choice even for no good reasons.
Of course safeguards are provided against abuse but all based on a weak foundation.

A law scholar and Professor is known to have taken 5.5 minutes of a video clip, shared over social media recently to denounce and campaign against the draft Bill. I received 11 copies within 24 hours from various sources and contacts all preaching nothing but emotions. The Prof preaches vehemently to emotions such as religion, community interests, and humanitarianism to condemn the objective and modus operandi of the intended Commission and asks that Nigerians rise to oppose it. He says "it is totalitarian" and the "most dangerous piece of legislation to have come to the National Assembly since 1999".

These are mere exaggerations.
I have the experience of participation in canvassing argument against some intended legislation for use in my industry and after our technical presentation to the legislators, they bowed to our opinion. Some of such bills never went far. I expect the professor to do better than drawing ignorant masses to a battle they know nothing about.

Going by my own understanding, the bill does not regard churches, mosques or community associations as NGOs for its purpose contrary to what the professor preaches. The professor's method is, therefore, at best, unfair. He is merely taking advantage of Nigerians' gullibility especially knowing that many Nigerians cannot read and those who can read do not read. He sounds like merely playing TRANSFERED AGGRESSION in the sense that he may have other issues or motives that make him a self-made opposition to governance of the day.

A Senator of the Federal Republic has also issued a PRESS RELEASE condemning the object and spirit of the draft Bill while vowing to ’kill’ it when it comes to the Senate for concurrence.

This is mere theatre as he may as well use his position to stop the bill within the Senate process without playing to the gallery.

When did it become normal that a legislator who wants to ‘kill’ a bill first makes public his desire to do so through a press release! For God's sake go ahead to 'kill' and stop boasting.

The draft Bill is a certain albatross for NGOs that are appendages of foreign interests or donors whose mission might not have been salutary to Nigeria's all along. To the extent that several of the existing NGOs are in this class, nobody should expect the draft Bill to go without facing a bitter fight from that sector.

it is reported that one NGO in particular has pushed it's objection to the draft Bill to the level of United Nations asking that the Nigerian legislature be stopped from passing the motion sought by the draft Bill into law.  That is ridiculous.

It shows the extent of desperation of several NGOs who are bound to feel threatened by the proposed law.

I see the objective of the bill as salutary to the extent that it is asking that NGOs be accountable and to forestall Nigeria being vulnerable to ulterior machination of external forces that can destabilise our country through the use of poor but pampered NGOs.

While I sympathise with the objective of the proposed legislation I am unable to agree that the draft Bill has prepared genuine ground for meeting such laudable objective in concrete terms.

A legislation that means well but poorly drafted should only be reworked and improved through the genuine process of wider consultation and public participation in law making. That I believe, our legislative process allows for.

*From the Observatory of Titi Omo-Ettu,  Uyo, Nigeria

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Friday, September 29, 2017

LS Observer installed at LTA

Worldwide leader in Spectrum Management and Monitoring solutions, LS telcom, Inc, has installed multiple LS OBSERVER sensor-based monitoring stations for the Liberian Telecommunications Authority (LTA). The purchase of the systems was facilitated through the non-governmental organization (NGO) NetHope as part of a USAID technology package for the country, reports ITRealms.
Following the Ebola crisis in 2014-2015, improvement in communications was identified as a top priority for the country. Working together with USAID, NetHope selected LS telcom as the superior technology solution for LTA’s requirements. The acquisition of the LS OBSERVER technology provides LTA with the foundation of spectrum monitoring capability including identification of spectrum conflicts, identification of free spectrum, isolation of dead zones in coverage, and locating rogue networks.

“We are very pleased to have this new capability. As I consider radiofrequency a scarce resource for Liberia, the LS OBSERVER monitoring stations will allow our team to fully optimize spectrum policy and increase the enforcement capability at LTA,” said Henry W. Benson, Commissioner for Engineering & Technology at the LTA, “This technology is a key part of our mission to improve communications for our country.”

“LS telcom is excited to be part of the USAID technology deployment in the African region. As the pace of spectrum management accelerates, regulators need to be equipped with the proper tools and capabilities to stay ahead,” said Casey Joseph, Vice President of Sales and Business Development, “With the LS OBSERVER stations in place, LTA is positioned to modernize their spectrum management capability throughout the country.”

As the African continent deploys next generation wireless networks, regulators must maintain pace with the requisite capabilities to monitor and regulate activity.  The LS OBSERVER monitoring system delivers state of the art sensor-based monitoring capabilities across the commercial spectrum. 
Available in fixed and portable versions, the LS OBSERVER is ideal for regulators to monitor, establish and maintain a spectrum inventory or support spectrum inventory activities, and enforce spectrum usage policies and procedures. As the value of spectrum continues to increase, LS OBSERVER can also be used to identify areas of unused spectrum that can be reallocated and licensed for future use. The technology package is being delivered to Liberia through NetHope, the leading technology NGO in the region. The monitoring systems are part of a larger USAID recovery package for the country.

Chuks Egbune/GEE 
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When A Pen Becomes A Piper

The saying goes that the pen is mightier than the sword; but those must be pens that scribble in alignment with the ethos of pen-pushing and the principles of truth and justice. Some pens have lost their soul, having traded their lead for pecuniary ends. Those are the pens that distort the facts, write out of context, or turn the truth upside down. They are no longer pen, they have become a piper.

When a pen becomes a piper, it starts to play to the premeditated tune of its sponsors instead of writing for the enlightenment of the readers. A pen that has transmuted into a piper shifts its focus from serving a wide, heterogeneous audience and stops writing about the various socio-political issues that keep coming up in our ever-evolving society, but instead caters to the preferred tune of a few whose interests are not as diverse as that of the bigger society. This is the story of the once respected Punch Newspaper. It is fast becoming a mouthpiece of a few rather than the voice of the populace.

Over the years, the Punch newspaper has adopted a sustained anti-Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala approach in its reportage. A search on the medium’s own search bar will reveal an alarming number of negative coverage. But because of the volume of its features per day, it is not so obvious to the average eye the covert media onslaught that Punch keeps launching against the persona of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

It is worthy of note, though, that Punch is not the only medium embarking on this ‘writ of shame’ campaign. For several years, Sowore and his infamous Sahara Reporters were willing allies for individuals with vested interests to use in their attempt to destabilise the woman all through her two stints as finance minister.

Isn’t it interesting that years after she left office, having done a generally acknowledged sterling job in managing the nation’s economy, some powerbrokers and their media cronies cannot get over their fixation on Okonjo Wahala, as they dubbed her then? Even though there are different people running the government now, it is pathetic to see how often the name of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala keeps popping up on news pages.

The ludicrous side to this whole media trial is that while the likes of Punch keep inserting her name in one negative slant or the another, the woman only keeps rising higher than their mercantile hands could reach to drag down, while they and their sponsors inadvertently serve to make her more popular by the day.

Well, it’s true that some of the media who have made Okonjo-Iweala a daily feature in their medium do so to generate traffic to their site or sell their medium. It is also true that others do it as part of a hatchet man’s job, bankrolled by individuals and party leaders who are still smarting from the way she blocked those intent on "chopping" as it is our political custom while she held sway as finance minister.

The ironic twist to it all is that the media attacks only seem to be making her more renowned and celebrated locally and internationally. Or, how does one explain that despite the smear campaigns, top institutions all over the world are either bequeathing this same Okonjo-Iweala with different awards or seeking her involvement in their causes? It can only be because this woman, whose name is Ngozi (meaning Blessing) is truly blessed.

*Temisan Jackson writes from Warri, Delta State.

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News Express unveils new logo, holds 5th lecture

Nigeria’s influential online newspaper, News Express, today marked its fifth anniversary with a well-attended Lecture during which it also unveiled its new logo. Venue of the event was the upscale Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.

The event attracted an array of distinguished personalities from all spheres of endeavour and heavy media presence. The Guest Lecturer, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, spoke on the theme, “National Unity and the Demand for Restructuring — A Governor’s Perspective”. The Governor, who was held back in Abuja by the National Economic Meeting, was represented by his Chief Press Secretary, Mallam Jibrin Baba Ndace, who did justice to the topic.

Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Hon. Emmanuel Jime, delivered the Keynote Address on the theme, “Using the Platform of Public Office to Reclaim the Promise of Our Destiny”. He was unavoidably absent but was represented by a Deputy Director in his office, Barrister Richard Obianu, who expertly delivered his paper.

Other speakers included Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina; Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited, Leo Stan Eke; and General Manager, External Relations, Nigeria LNG Limited, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, all of whom held the full house spell-bound with their masterly deliveries.

Chaired by eminent lawyer and President Emeritus of Aka Ikenga think tank, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, the event also graced by NTA Lagos Channel 10, Mrs. Helen Onma Odeleye; while former Anambra State Governor and Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, sent representatives. Peter Obi was represented by his Special Adviser, Barrister Valentine Obienyem and Dr. Peterside by NIMASA Director of Legal Services, Barrister Abdulsalam Suleiman.

One of the highlights of the occasion was the unveiling of the new logo of News Express, depicting two intertwined circles – one red and one black – along with the name of the paper. The circles represent the world while red stands for day and black night.

The new logo was unveiled by Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina while it was interpreted by Speech Coach and Registrar of the Institute of Certified Communicators of Nigeria (ICCOM), Mr. Chris Nkwocha.

A thrilling poetry performance by Oluseye Noiki further added colour to the event.

News Express, which debuted on August 29, 2012, is one of Nigeria’s most popular and influential online dailies. It is read by hundreds of thousands of people around the world and records annual traffic of upwards of 100 million.

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Pix: Chief Goddy Uwazurike (L) and Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina displaying the new News Express logo while other dignitaries watch . . . on Thursday at Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Six ways children can benefit from early exposure to technology

New and emerging technologies have always been associated with the younger generations. Older people tend to be set in their ways, leaving tech-savvy millennials in the forefront of discovering and embracing new devices as they arrive on the scene. Younger people learn more quickly and that goes for technology in the same way it goes for everything else.

A major question posed by the Research and Development Unit of Yudala, Nigeria’s fastest growing online and offline e-commerce outfit is: what age is suitable for kids to be exposed to technology?

This is a question all parents have to answer during their children’s formative years: the decision on when a child can be allowed access to technological gadgets such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Instructively, recent studies show that active or interactive technology and screen time can actually help develop and improve your kid’s learning, when used appropriately. After a review of the Kids Legacy Tab, a new product designed by Nigeria’s foremost technology company, Zinox Technologies Ltd., the Research and Development Unit of Yudala arrived at a number of ways children can benefit from early exposure to modern technology:

1.Develop Maths Skills: Research show that younger children are more interested in the short-term goals of games, which are essential in problem solving. Logic games, obstacle courses and other applications on tech devices go a long way to help build your child’s basic mathematic skills by imbuing them with the capacity for quantitative reasoning. For parents, this is very important as the phobia or apathy often expressed by most people for Mathematics is often a result of wrong or late to exposure to its usefulness in the analysis and interpretation of real-world quantitative information.
2.Improve Language Skills: The benefits of technology for kids especially at an early age are numerous. One of such areas is in the aspect of developing their language skills. Designed as a critical foundational tool targeted at children from the ages of 3 – 13, the Kids Legacy Tab ranks as one of the most fitting gadgets to introduce kids to technology and new ways of learning such as word pronunciation. There are many such applications and games to help boost their vocabulary and teach them to look for word meanings when they come across an unfamiliar word.
3.More Visually Attentive Kids: Exposure to games and other relevant applications on tech devices can help raise a generation of more visually attentive kids. This is because a significant amount of attention to detail is required on the part of kids when exposed to visually-stimulating contents on tablets and other entry-level gadgets. A device such as the Kids Legacy Tab which comes pre-loaded with over 50 educational and fun games can help build the requisite attention to detail and capacity for visual attention in children.
4.Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is a buzzword that is becoming increasingly relevant in the contemporary work-place. Most organizations today prioritize the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. This quality can be developed in your child right from an early age through exposure to technology. There are numerous emotional intelligence apps pre-loaded on tablets which teach kids what emotions are, how they work, and how to use them and manage them for social interaction and learning. Among other things, these applications teach a child how to recognize other people's emotions, to discriminate among the different feelings, and to label them appropriately. Armed with this insight, your child can learn from an early age how to refrain from emotional outbursts and undisciplined loss of self-control, thus leading to a well-rounded personality.
5.Build discipline and self-motivation: Exposing your child to technology from an early age is a sure way of building discipline and self-motivation, two qualities that are ultimately crucial to your child’s future development. A lot of games and activities on tech devices such as the Kids Legacy Tab often require the user to complete a task in order to progress to another level. To complete the entire course requires a huge dose of mental discipline and personal resolve. As a result, exposure to these learning apps inadvertently challenges a child and pushes him/her to strive to go the extra lengths in order to enjoy the thrill and satisfaction that comes from achieving. Your child, therefore, develops a disciplined mindset that sees challenges as surmountable as long as he/she keeps trying to overcome them. This is effortlessly transferred to real-life situations.
6.Develop New Talents: Technology can help unearth hitherto-hidden skills and talents in your child. From being exposed to playing certain musical instruments or skills such as painting on the screen of a tablet, for instance, your child can develop a keen interest which may see him/her becoming proficient at these activities. With the aid of technology which bridges the gap, you may not even have to pay the hefty fees of enrolling your child in a physical music or painting class to learn. There are loads of apps that your child can take advantage of to learn and become the next Mozart or Leonardo da Vinci. Early exposure to technology has the potential to unlock amazing new interests in your child which, coupled with the natural curiosity in kids, can transform your child into a whiz-kid.
A note of caution: It is important to mention that parental supervision is key. A child should not be given a tablet without supervision. Handing over a tech device to your child requires a great level of responsibility so, as a parent, be sure to trust your instinct. However, the fact is allowing children have access to tech devices can benefit them in many ways. As a parent, you may understandably be nervous at first, but there are some real, tangible benefits to be had from exposing your child to tech devices such as tablets. Most experts recommend not more than a half hour of screen time per sitting for a child. This is bearing in mind that tablets may be addictive for children because it allows quick, instant access to everything in the real world. As long as parents do their best to monitor, protect, and prepare their children and usage doesn’t get out of hand, technology exposure can provide great opportunities for children to grow and develop that you may not have anticipated.
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Continental rail project gains momentum

The first meeting of the steering committee and experts of the Continental High Speed Rail Network project ended in Dakar, with the aim of sharing the experiences of member countries while waiting for the feasibility study, reports ITRealms.

The two-day meeting of the coordination mechanism for this project is an initiative of the NEPAD Agency, in the framework of the African Union's Agenda 2063, which is the main continental strategy for regional integration through the provision of infrastructure.  

“The Continental High Speed Rail Network project is backed by a long-term vision that has a draft action plan and an institutional framework, a general framework in which several actions have been carried out since 2015,” remarked Louis Napo, Advisor on the High Speed Train project at the NEPAD Agency.  An overall feasibility study of the project needs to be developed in order to proceed to the implementation phase.

“However, this initiative will not start from scratch as several countries are engaged in similar projects, wherein some are still in the planning phase,” said Adama Deen, Senior Advisor to the CEO, and Project Manager, Continental High Speed Railway Project, at the NEPAD Agency.

The first session of the meeting was devoted to presentations on the experiences of Senegal, South Africa and Morocco, the latter two countries considered to be the most advanced in this field, which can inspire other countries on the continent.

The presentations by officials of railway companies in Senegal, South Africa and Morocco were followed by questions and comments, in order to inspire the best strategy possible for the project of the Continental High Speed Railway Network.

Adama Deen then went back on the actions taken before stressing the need to develop a study and a pilot project, which would involve taking charge of points relating to the cost of the project, its viability on how to deploy it through the continent and the choice of technology.

“The funding strategy is also a key success factor, of the project's business case. The Study would therefore be exploring the quantification of 3 key viability factors: the strategic equity and strategic debt required, as well as, the multiple revenue streams, to make the first 10-Year Implementation Plan, and the first country- regional pilot project viable, for implication by 2023,” Mr Deen added.

"In essence, we have a target to reach 20% network development by 2023; hence, we will working with "willing and ready" countries, and their respective regional economic communities, to define the first set of regional HSR pilot projects, Mr Deen further said. "Starting in 2018, we can have a clearer idea of what we want," he added, “For which viable and solid decisions must be taken, allowing the project to move forward.”

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HRW condemns mass forced return of 100 Nigerian refugees

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned the alleged mass forced return of Nigerian refugees by Camerounian military, reports ITRealms.

Cameroon’s military, ITRealms gathered, had carried out a mass forced return of 100,000 Nigerian asylum seekers in an effort to stem the spread of Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The deportations defy the UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to northeast Nigeria “until the security and human rights situation has improved considerably,” and leaves deportees facing spiralling violence, displacement and destitution.
The 55-page report, “‘They Forced Us Onto Trucks Like Animals’: Cameroon’s Mass Forced Return and Abuse of Nigerian Refugees,” documents that since early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers have tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers in remote border areas, denied them access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria. It also documents violence, poor conditions, and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees, as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria.
“The Cameroonian military’s torture and abuse of Nigerian refugees and asylum seekers seems to be driven by an arbitrary decision to punish them for Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon and to discourage Nigerians from seeking asylum,” said Gerry Simpson, associate refugee director at Human Rights Watch. “Cameroon should heed the UN’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in northeast Nigeria, not return them there.”
In late June and July 2017, Human Rights Watch interviewed 61 asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria about the abuses they faced in Cameroon. They said soldiers had accused them of belonging to Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant Islamist group, or of being “Boko Haram wives” while torturing or assaulting them and dozens of others on arrival, during their stay in remote border areas, and during mass deportations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has heard similar accounts from Nigerians living in Cameroon’s border areas.
Some said their children, weakened after living for months or years without adequate food and medical care in border areas, died during or just after the deportations, and others said children were separated from their parents. 
An asylum seeker who was deported from Mora in March 2017 described how without warning, Cameroonian soldiers rounded up 40 asylum seekers “and severely beat us and forced us onto a bus. They beat some of the men so badly, they were heavily bleeding. When we got to the Nigerian border they shouted ‘Go and die in Nigeria.’”
Refugees who reached Cameroon’s only designated camp for Nigerian refugees, in Minawao, have also faced violence from Cameroonian soldiers. While they have some protection as refugees, the approximately 70,000 people there have had limited access to food and water and abusive restrictions on their movement. In April and May, 13,000 returned from Minawao to a displacement camp in Banki, just across the border in Nigeria. Some were killed in early September when Boko Haram attacked the camp.
Although UNHCR does not have reliable access to most of Cameroon’s border areas with Nigeria, in early June it said its monitoring partners found Cameroon had forcibly returned almost 100,000 Nigerians to their country since January 2015. In late June, the Nigerian authorities responded to Cameroonian pressure by sending military vehicles over the border to help Cameroon deport almost 1,000 asylum seekers. That made Nigeria complicit in the unlawful forced return of its own citizens.
Tens of thousands of deportees from Cameroon end up in insecure militarized displacement camps or villages in Borno State, where conditions are dire, and women and girls face sexual exploitation. These sites are surrounded by the ongoing conflict between Nigeria’s armed forces and Boko Haram, which as of mid-September had displaced almost 2 million other Nigerian civilians.
Cameroon’s forced returns are a breach of the principle of nonrefoulement, which prohibits the forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers to persecution and, under regional standards in Africa, to situations of generalized violence, such as in northeast Nigeria. 
Since 2014, Cameroonian armed forces have carried out operations against Boko Haram in the country’s Far North Region. Cameroon has the right to regulate the presence of non-nationals on its territory, including those proven to be threat to its national security. The authorities also have an obligation to carefully investigate attacks in Cameroon by suspected Boko Haram members. However, it may not block refugees from seeking asylum and summarily deport them.
After staying publicly silent on the situation for two years, in late March, UNHCR publicly criticized the authorities for their mass forced refugee returns. The criticism was triggered by deportations after Cameroon had signed an agreement that month with Nigeria and UNHCR confirming that it would ensure that all refugee return was voluntary. 
As of mid-September, the Cameroonian authorities had allowed UNHCR only to pre-register asylum seekers in some border communities, leaving those pre-registered and tens of thousands of other asylum seekers without access to meaningful protection and putting them at risk of deportation.
The Cameroonian authorities deny any forced return or abuse of Nigerian asylum seekers and have not replied to a Human Rights Watch request for a response to the report’s findings. Cameroon has had a reputation as a generous country toward refugees since the early 1970s and it has hosted tens and then hundreds of thousands of refugees since then
“Faced with overwhelming evidence of mass refugee abuse and UN condemnation, Cameroon is trying to bury its head in the sand,” Simpson said. “But returning tens of thousands of Nigerians to harm and destitution will only further shred its well-deserved reputation as a generous refugee-hosting country.”

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

UBA Foundation calls for essay entries, dangles N2.2m

The corporate social responsibility arm of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, the UBA Foundation, has called for entries for the 2017 edition of its annual UBA Foundation National Essay Competition in Nigeria, dangles N2,250,000 for grabs, reports ITRealms.

The essay contest, ITRealms gathered is for Senior Secondary School (SSS) students organized as part of UBA Foundation’s education initiative to promote a reading culture and encourage healthy as well as intellectual competition amongst secondary school students in Nigeria and across Africa.

Speaking Tuesday at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer of UBA Foundation, Mrs. Bola Atta, said the essay competition is for all SSS students across the country, provides an opportunity for students to win prizes in the form of educational grants to help them realise their goals in life.

“We are well aware that if you help get one child educated, you help support an entire family as that child will eventually positively impact his or her community. The competition is a key aspect of our investment drive in human capital and we will continue to sustain the initiative because education is very important to UBA and we are more than committed to providing the necessary support for students in Nigeria and throughout the African continent,” she said.

She explained that each year, the bank donates thousands of books to students in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, under the ‘Read Africa’ initiative to encourage and promote the reading culture in secondary schools.
“We are driven by the mantra to do well and do good and we will not relent in our efforts at touching lives through our various projects, and initiatives,” she told the excited students.

According to her, the first prize for the UBA National Essay Competition is a N1 million educational grant for the winner to study in any African university of his or her choice while the second and third prizes are N750,000 and N500,000 educational grants respectively.

She explained that entries received from students for the competition will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges made up of professors from reputable Nigerian Universities, who will then shortlist 12 best essays for further assessment. A second round of the competition will involve the 12 finalists who will write a second supervised essay from which three best essays will be selected. “Three best essays will be selected as the overall winners from 12 finalists that will emerge from the first round of the competition,” she noted.

Atta explained that the choice of essay for this year’s competition is one that helps promote creative and analytical thinking in students. The students are to develop a manual on any chosen form of technology or innovation (real or imagined) and make this manual discernable for the simplest of minds

It is important to note that apart from Nigeria, the national essay competition is also held in other African countries including Ghana and Senegal with more countries to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2018.

Equally speaking, the Deputy CEO, Anglophone Africa, Ebele Ogbue, said that knowledge is power and the only effective way to transform Africa is through Education. “Undoubtedly, the future of any nation rests on the younger generation. Hence, the legacy passed on by the preceding generation could make a nation. Therefore, investing in the future of the youths is key to redeeming the economy for the collective good. This is why UBA’s support of education across Africa is relentless,” he stated.

As a the CSR platform for the UBA Group, UBA Foundation embodies the Group’s CSR objectives and seeks to impact positively on the society through a number of laudable projects and initiatives.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE 

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Nigeria targets broadband investors @ITU Telecom World 2017

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said the focuse of his administration at the ongoing Telecom World in Busan, South Korea, is to attract the right investment to expand broadband coverage in Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

Danbatta, in his remarks at the official opening of Nigeria Pavilion at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) organised Telecom World 2017, said that NCC has noted with interest the recent joint report by ITU and UNESCO Broadband Commission for sustainable development which indicated that Nigeria now has about 21 per cent broadband penetration.

The Commission, he said, is conscious of the reality that broadband fuels faster data transmission speed and capacity.

“Our focus now is on how we can attract the right investments to grow this critical area of the sector through broadband coverage expansion,” he declared.

NCC, he noted, as a foremost regulator, has put in place measures and guidelines to licence wholesale broadband service providers consistent with the Open Access Model for broadband deployment. 

Danbatta said, of the seven infrastructure companies (Infracos) earmarked for licensing, only two have so far been licensed for Lagos which is commercial hub of Nigeria, and Abuja including the North Central zone of the country leaving five more licences for the South West, South East, South South, North East and North West zones of the country.

“The process of licensing of infracos for these five remaining zones is about to be concluded,” he said.

Although, he said, Nigeria has made very modest progress in the sector, “we still need to deepen investments to make broadband pervasive in the country.”

Nigeria, he emphasized is at 21 per cent now, “our target is to hit 30 per cent by 2018, consistent with the National Broadband Plan.”

Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops 
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FG discharged N336b capital funds to MDAs in Q1 2017

The Federal Government has discharged till date, the sum of N336 billion from the 2017 Budget to Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the funding of capital projects in the first quarter of 2017, reports ITRealms.

The balance of N14 billion, ITRealms also reports, is being processed, pending resolution of some formalities within the agencies concerned.

Power, Works and Housing received the largest allocation of N90 billion, followed by Defence and Security, which got N71 billion, while Transport got N30 billion. 

Additionally, Agriculture received N30 billion and Water Resources got N12 billion. 
Other sectors combined received a total sum of N103 billion. 

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the prioritization of the release of available funds was made in accordance with the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

She also said that in 2017, the Federal Government would continue to focus on capital expenditure spending on priority sectors to stimulate economic activities and job creation. 

“Despite fiscal constraints, the Federal Government was able to fully cash-back the budgeted capital releases so far made, which is a reflection of the current administration’s commitment to economic development,”Adeosun said.

Ayo Midele/GEE
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