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Blockchain tech: VaultBridge to train Nigerians, laments low adoption - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : Vault Bridge Global has concluded plans to train Nigerians on the efficacy of blockchain technology, just as it laments low a...

ICT4D Week 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Blockchain tech: VaultBridge to train Nigerians, laments low adoption - ITREALMS

Vault Bridge Global has concluded plans to train Nigerians on the efficacy of blockchain technology, just as it laments low adoption, reports ITREALMS.

The Executive Director of Vault Bridge Global, Mr. Harrison Ozinegbe, told ITREALMS that this could be attributed to the low level of enlightenment.

According to him, this event is a public enlightenment venture and a process to further engage on education, training and advocacy in order to bridge the gap of knowledge deficit of Cyber Security and Blockchain Technology.

“It is also to further unravel the benefits that government, commerce and industry stands to derive from the introduction, adoption and application of the Blockchain Technology,” he said.

Ozinegbe noted that from recent surveys, it has been observed that even the average elite in Nigeria do not have proper and adequate knowledge about this innovative technology called Blockchain.

“Both the public and private sector economies have a lot to benefit from the Blockchain Technology. Unfortunately, operators of the economy are either ignorant or are afraid to venture into an uncharted terrain, just as people trod the path of caution at the introduction of the internet in the 90s. On the other hand, even the few individuals who claimed to have some knowledge about Blockchain end up tagging Blockchain with CryptoCurrency as the only solution that Blockchain can deliver. Blockchain is a disruptive and innovative technology built on trust, an answer to an immutable record, storage, transmission of any form of data or transaction.”

To demystify this myth, he said VaultBridge Global in collaboration with their foreign partners, KIPYA Connect and Bit2Big are organizing this workshop scheduled for November 10, 2018 where arrays of experts in the Blockchain including the CEO of KIPYA and Bit2Big Michael Kiberu Nagenda would make presentations.

Mr. Ozinegbe further noted that what is lacking in the drive to get Blockchain technology accepted in Nigeria include the need for adequate enlightenment, education and training.

“There is need for players in the economy both government and private to constantly engage in adequate studies and research into the Blockchain Technology. Also, there is need for practitioners to come up with Blockchain Technology core solution architecture in real sectors as Power, Health, Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, etc., in order to enhance the economy,” he said.

The workshop, he said, seeks to further address some of these issues and many more that needs to be attended to in order to bring Blockchain technology to work for the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Our purpose at VaultBridge in putting up this event is to educate and enlighten the general public, create advocacy for what inherent and unfolding benefits that the emergence of Blockchain Technology holds in the future development of Nigeria and Africa at large,” he declared.

Blockchain Technology has proven to be a tremendous invention, but it was never meant to be the be‐all‐end‐all to security. As we are daily advancing in the digital age, there is also a phenomenal increase in cybercrimes. At this conference, much discourse shall also be centered on latest measures of prevention and combating criminal hackers and cybercrimes as it relates to our everyday activities in the cyber world.

Nenye Dom/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Ekeh berates Nigeria party politics, says its too analogue for 21st century democracy - ITREALMS

Serial digital entrepreneur and Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, has lampooned the poor state of internal democracy in the Nigerian political party landscape, describing it as a misfit for true democratic process in the 21st Century, reports ITREALMS.

Ekeh made this call at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja last week, in response to reported shoddy conduct of primaries for elective positions by the major political parties in the country in relation to the sterling work done by Zinox in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in creating a credible database of eligible voters and reducing litigations in successive elections.

ITREALMS recalls that a number of candidates had expressed their grievances over the manner in which the eventual winners and representatives for various positions were hand-picked or selected by party big-wigs and godfathers, thereby making a ruse of the process which had seen intending candidates purchase forms at often exorbitant costs.

“Party politics in Nigeria leaves a lot to be desired and the current state is a misfit for true and responsible democracy in the 21st Century. There is a glaring lack of internal democracy among all of the major political parties in the country. As a result, many people are left disgruntled and disenchanted with the process which is anything but transparent.

“The 21st Century requires a more transparent and democratic approach to the process of choosing our elected representatives and technology can play a huge role here, provided we have the mindset and the political will to allow it. Technology does not lie,” he intoned.

Ekeh, who has built a reputation as arguably Africa’s most disruptive digital entrepreneur, disclosed that the recently concluded party primaries represent a sad case study which further justifies the need to infuse technology in the process in order to reduce litigations and accusations of undemocratic practices.

“It makes no sense to encourage prospective candidates to purchase Nomination/Expression of Interest forms at prohibitive costs only to turn around and deny them a chance to test their popularity by foisting hand-picked choices on the electorate,” he stated.

While calling for a change of approach and dedication to stronger internal democracy among the parties, Ekeh noted that the status quo, if left unchecked, will continue to deny and discourage eminently qualified candidates from seeking political office.

“No team or army goes to battle without its best hands. If we continue to relegate internal democracy to the doldrums, Nigeria will be worse for it as our most qualified brains will continue to stay away from elective office,” he concluded.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

GOCOP set for second annual conference in Lagos - ITREALMS


The Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) has concluded plans for its second annual conference holding on Friday, October 19, 2019 at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State, reports ITREALMS.

A statement released in Lagos on Wednesday by GOCOP Publicity Secretary, Olumide Iyanda, confirmed that the theme of the conference is “Online Publishers’ Role Towards a Sustainable Economy, Credible Election and Security in Nigeria.”

Former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba (CON), has confirmed his presence as chairman of the event.

“Aremo Osoba’s choice as chairman is informed by his enviable profile as a journalist, elder statesman and peace advocate.

“He brings in a wealth of experience as former Managing Director of Daily Times Nigeria Limited, Governor of Ogun State and member of the Nigerian Constituent Assembly, among others,” the statement said.

Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Senior Team Manager for the Africa Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, has also confirmed his presence as the guest speaker.

“Recognised globally as an authority in international law, international economic and human rights law, public policy and political economy, Prof Odinkalu’s presentation will provide a clear roadmap for the media and other critical stakeholders in the Nigerian projects,” the statement added.

Chairman, Centre of Excellence in Multimedia Technology, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye; and former Director, ICT Centre, Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Prof. Leonard Shilgba, will be the discussants.

The Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other stakeholder groups in the media will be represented at the conference.

GOCOP represents media organisations registered in Nigeria with promoters drawn from practitioners who have served at senior levels in the profession.

Ayo Midele/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Accurate, timely information critical for national unity, democracy growth, says Lai - ITREALMS

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that access to accurate and timely information is critical to enhancing citizens' participation in governance, the strengthening of national unity and the growth of democracy in the country, reports ITREALMS.

The Minister was quoted by his SA Media, Segun Adeyemi, in a press statement made available to ITREALMS from London, in his presentation on the topic ''Nigeria's National Unity: Toward Participation and Shared Values,’’ at the Chatham House in London on Wednesday.

He also said that in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Information and Culture, which includes the strategic communication of government's policies and programmes, he has embarked on programmes to keep the citizenry fully informed about government activities and also to get feedback from them.

Alhaji Mohammed listed such programmes as the Town Hall Meeting, regular engagements with stakeholders, touring of federal government projects across the country, the government information portal FGNiApp and regular media intervention, among others.

He said shortly after he assumed office, he took local and foreign journalists on a tour of the liberated part of the North-east to see the battle against Boko Haram first hand and report it vividly to Nigerians to get their buy-in and also for them to appreciate the renewed efforts by the military to decimate the insurgents.

‘’We also realized early on that for democracy to grow, it is important to ensure citizens’ participation in decision and policies affecting their lives – especially in a direct manner, rather than through their elected representatives only. This informed our decision to launch the Town Hall Meeting series in which cabinet Ministers meet, in a town hall setting, a cross section of Nigerians from all walks of life, with a view to keeping them informed about government policies and programmes and, at the same time, getting their feedbacks and inputs,’’ the Minister said.

He said the tour of government’s projects was also initiated to intimate the citizenry with the massive infrastructural projects of the Federal Government

‘’Since coming into office, the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on an unprecedented renewal of the nation’s infrastructure, investing an unprecedented 2.7 trillion Naira on roads, rails, power and other similar projects. But it is not enough to embark on these projects, it is also important to let the public know the extent and spread of such projects to foster a sense of national unity.

‘’This explains why we kick-started a nationwide tour of Federal Government projects, with not less than 25 journalists accompanying me on each trip. Till date, we have inspected many of such projects, including the new Lagos to Kano standard gauge rail line, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in the Southwest that connects the port city of Lagos to other parts of the country, the new intra-city rail line connecting the Abuja city centre to the international Airport, the Enugu-Port Harcourt freeway and the second Niger Bridge in the South-east and the Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa road in central Nigeria,’’Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said the FGNiAPP was launched to provide up-to-date information about government’s projects and policies to the people, irrespective of where they are.

The Minister also said he had regularly met with the various media stakeholders in Nigeria, to discuss with them government policies and programmes, listing some of such groups as the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Online publishers.

‘’We have also gone beyond the shores of Nigeria to meet with the global media, policy think tanks and decision makers, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. My current visit to London is the latest of such visits,’’ he said

Alhaji Mohammed said that in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, Nigeria faces a new challenge, a threat not just to the country's peace and security, but indeed its very existence.It is the dual challenge of fake news and hate speech.

''Yes, the fake news problem is not unique to Nigeria, but it poses a more potent threat to the country because of its multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural status. It is also a clear and present danger to the nation’s unity. Naysayers have latched onto the fake news phenomenon to exploit the country’s fault lines and inflame passion,’’ he said

He said the National Campaign Against Fake News was launched to tackle the problem by sensitizing Nigerians to the dangers posed by fake news.

The Minister assured of the government’s continued effort to remain dynamic in providing information to the people, both within and outside Nigeria.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Pix: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, addressing Chatham House in London on Wednesday.

Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo to lead guests @ TD’s celebrating you 2018 - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo is expected to lead line-up of special guests to the TD’s celebrating you 2018, reports ITREALMS.

Also, Akufo-Addo, ITREALMS gathered, will grace the 2018 edition of Celebrating You, an annual year-end awards/dinner party organized by Technology Distributions Ltd (TD), Sub-Saharan Africa’s foremost ICT distributors as the Special Guest of Honour.

ITREALMS reports that the event tagged Glamorous, will potentially go down in history as one of the most high-profile ever, as the anticipated star-studded guest list will include captains of industries, bank CEOs, dignitaries and other prominent representatives of the biggest brand names in Corporate Nigeria, will specially recognize and celebrate TD’s partner eco-system, namely a host of globally-renowned Original Equipment Manufacturers in the technology space and other channel partners.

Further expected to spice up the event is the entertainment fare, with a powerful line-up of A-list artistes and performers as well as a rich assortment of choice wines and food.

According to Mrs. Gozy Ijogun, Managing Director, TD Mobile and Chairman, Organizing Committee, Celebrating You 2018, this year’s event will reach unprecedented heights in terms of the quality and calibre of acts, entertainment and attendance expected.

“For Celebrating You 2018, we are taking things a notch higher, as we have always done every year since it became an annual tradition of TD. We intend to celebrate our partners in a more special way this year for their patronage, support and loyalty to the TD brand. Apart from the mouth-watering delicacies on the menu, we have put together a strong cast of artistes, entertainers and performers to thrill our special guests who are expected to come from within and outside Nigeria. Furthermore, there will be an after-party hosted by one of Nigeria’s finest DJs – another way we intend to make it a memorable occasion for everyone,” she stated.

Celebrating You 2018 is an annual tradition aimed at bringing together employees, partners, suppliers and clients of Technology Distributions Ltd. in a fun and relaxing environment to mark the end of the calendar year on a positive note. An avenue to unwind after the rigours of the current year and re-energize for the challenges of the coming year, Celebrating You is also an effective medium of showing appreciation and encouragement to outstanding individuals and corporate entities that have positively impacted TD’s performance during the year under review.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

African Legal Support Facility launches Academy Project - ITREALMS

The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) has launched a flagship initiative, the ALSF Academy Project, reports ITREALMS.

Under this initiative, the ALSF has developed a three-level capacity building and certification program. This program will be conducted through an interactive online portal, starting with an inception phase consisting of a series of in-person workshops. It is an innovative tool that will efficiently produce, collect and disseminate knowledge, as well as provide tailor-made training solutions for African lawyers and professionals.

The ALSF is implementing the Academy Project in partnership with the East Africa Law Society (EALS), the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association (SADCLA), the International Training Centre in Africa for Francophone Lawyers (CIFAF), the African Business Law Firms Association (ABLFA) and the capacity building organization, ILFA. In sum, the partner institutions, in collaboration with national bar associations are providing valuable support in designing and implementing the three-level certification program, with the aim of granting continuing legal education credits to participants.

The ALSF will hold an introductory level in-person training workshop in Kigali, Rwanda from 15-20 October 2018, for Anglophone African lawyers selected by the SADCLA and the EALS. The subject areas to be covered during the workshop include (i) mining; (ii) oil & gas; (iii) power; (iv) infrastructure and Public Private Partnerships; (v) sovereign debt; and (vi) the soft skills required for a successful legal practice (“Personal and Professional Development”).

Nenye Dom/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

2019: Facebook expands 'Fact-Checking Programme' to Nigeria - ITREALMS

Facebook on Tuesday, launched of Third-Party Fact-Checking to help assess the accuracy of news in Nigeria, and reduce the spread of misinformation, whilst improving the quality of news people find on its platform, reports ITREALMS.

With this development Nigeria has joined fact-checking programmes in Kenya and South Africa,

Working with two partners, Africa Check; Africa's first independent fact-checking organisation and AFP, a well-respected news organisation, both are part of a global network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.

Facebook's fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Akua Gyekye, Facebook Public Policy Manager, Anglophone West Africa said, “Nigeria is important to us and we're committed to taking our responsibility seriously in tackling the spread of false news. We know that there is no silver bullet, and believe that a multi-pronged approach is the best strategy, and a key solution is identifying and demoting false news. Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we're able to reduce its future views by an average of 80 per cent, helping to curb economic incentives and reduce its spread.”

When third-party fact-checkers write articles about a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that's been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

“We're pleased to partner with Africa Check and AFP to expand our fact-checking efforts into Nigeria, joining the recently launched South Africa and Kenya programmes. Fighting the spread of misinformation via news articles, photos and videos will help to build a better informed community and help verify the stories flagged by our community in Nigeria.” said Facebook's Strategic Partner Manager, Media Partnerships, Africa, Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy

Commenting on the partnership, David Ajikobi, Africa Check’s Nigeria editor, added: "Nigeria has experienced a surge in misinformation on social media, particularly about health issues not just limited to health risks and disease prevalence but also including purported cures and treatment. The partnership with Facebook presents us as fact checkers a unique opportunity to tackle misinformation on this key platform. We expect that as we move along, millions of Nigerians who get their news through Facebook will start seeing less content that may be socially harmful."

AFP Global News Director, Michèle Léridon, added: “We are delighted with this new contract with Facebook in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya alongside Africa Check, which is renowned for its fact checking work in Africa. The different initiatives set up by AFP in the fight against disinformation testify to the Agency’s expertise and credibility in the verification of information at a time when false news is proliferating.”

Chuks Egbune/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Pic: L-R: Policy Programmes Manager, Sub Sahara Africa, Sherry Dzinoreva; Strategic Media Partnerships Manager, Sub Sahara Africa, Jocelyne Muhutu-Rémy; Communications Manager, Sub Sahara Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, and Public Lead, Anglophone West Africa, Akua Gyekye, all of Facebook at the launch of its Fact-Checking Programme in Nigeria with Africa Check and AFP on Tuesday October 16 in Ikeja, Lagos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

FG expresses shock, sadness over aid worker killing by Boko Haram - ITREALMS

The Federal Government has expressed shock and sadness over the killing of another aid worker by Boko Haram on Monday, despite the actions taken by the government and the widespread appeal to save the young woman, reports ITREALMS.

In a statement issued in London on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the killing as dastardly, inhuman and ungodly, saying nothing can justify the shedding of the blood of innocent people.

He commiserated with the family of the aid worker, and said the Federal Government did all within its powers to save her life.

''It is very unfortunate that it has come to this. Before and after the deadline issued by her abductors, the Federal Government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker.

''As we have been doing since these young women were abducted, we kept the line of negotiations open all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole.

''We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker. However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors,'' the Minister said.


He thanked all the friendly governments that have continued to work with Nigeria for the safe release of the abducted women, and the clerics across religious lines who have been pleading for their release.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Why we insist our pupils elect their captains, prefects - M.D School - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
Head of School, M.D Nursery and Primary School, New Oko Oba, Lagos, Olushola Akaiso has explained why it was fun last week Thursday as  they conducted elections for class captains and other school perfects, reports ITREALMS.

Speaking on the development, Akaisolt stated that the era where teachers just pick pupils to be in charge of a particular position has become outdated since the pupils needed to be involved in the process of selecting their leaders.


Akaiso said this will enable them hone their skills of public speaking, confidence and also teach them the ability to compete.

Akaiso revealed that the tradition of the pupils selecting their leaders themselves is an old one that started since the inception of the school and there are processes that must be rigorously followed before one can be allowed to stand for election.

She said: “There is a nomination form, which they collect with the consent of the parent.
“They fill and submit it with their manifestos. 

“They do their campaigns. 

“Some do fliers and banners and they move around the classes and assembly grounds canvassing for votes and support from their colleagues and there was a primary election and one must meet the academic requirement of at least 70 per cent to participate.”

Akaiso also disclosed that teachers try as much as possible not to be partisan in the “political process”.

A parent, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed that even when the pupils campaign banners fall off, the teachers do not try to pick them up so as not to be seen as “being a fan to a particular candidate”.

The parent said although, the pupils are allowed to campaign, they are not allowed to do so with any form of inducements like storybook and chocolates. 

Those elected top run the school during Thursday’s election were:

Head Boy: Afolabi Busari
Assistant: Adejayan George


Head Girl: Success Ferdinand
Assistant is Yusra Usman


Social Prefect: Fatolu Nifemi
Assistant: Akomolafe Promise


Games Prefect:
Shoyinka-Shonola Tomiwa
Assistant: Olukunle-Akinola Oyinkansola


Health Prefect: Anjola Tinubu
Assistant: Akinmusire Sophie


Time Keeper: Fareedat Afolabi
Assistant: Ajayi Praise


Library Prefect: Akinoluwa Lasisi
Assistant Ifeoluwa Lawal


Dining Prefect: Obileye Temiloluwa
Assistant: Ogooluwa Adebayo


Sanitation Prefect: Adeigbe Togbami
Assistant: Ajala Folahan


Protocol 1: Tinuola Bewaji
Protocol 2: Okiki Omosebi
Protocol 3: Jesutomisin Yinka-Oke.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

ANEC 2018: Participants tasks INEC on credible election - ITREALMS

Rising from the 14th All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC 2018) participants have tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to remain independent in its practice by allowing citizens’ votes to count, reports ITREALMS.

ANEC, ITREALMS gathered, was hosted by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); made up of editors drawn from the print, electronic and online media across the country, which has three categories of membership, namely member, associate and fellow. NGE fellowship is earned and conferred and not applied for.

Participants at the 14th edition held in Asaba, capital of Delta State, which ended at the weekend with the theme: "Credible Elections, Sustainable Democracy and the Nigerian media” in a 9-point communique observed that elections in Nigeria are not yet built on truth and urged INEC to ensure every vote counts during the 2019 elections.

“… As such, is cardinal to sustaining democracy,” part of the communique signed by both the president, Funke Egbemode and General- Secretary, Victoria Ibanga read in part.

It also challenged media practitioners to join in the mobilisation of Nigerians through unbiased reports to take collective responsibility in choosing leaders for the nation in the next general elections.

Equally, they expressed the need for Nigerian journalists to intensify efforts that will deepen democracy through sustained investigative, balance and analytical reportage.


Noting however, that the role of traditional media is being threatened by emergence of social media where balanced reporting, truth and accuracy are relegated, ANEC vowed to defend the truth through professional practice.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

President Obasanjo & Alhaji Atiku Abubakar: A reconciliation not endorsement by Bishop Kukah - ITREALMS

ForTheRecords@ITREALMS:
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr. Matthew Hassan KUKAH explains his role in the purported report of reconciliation turned endorsement, insisting his interest remains peace. Excerpts.
I have deliberately made this explanatory note long because I think it is necessary that people make up their minds based on the facts, given my central role in the event. I note that Sheikh Gumi has already told his own side of the story. I feel obliged to state my own side so that Nigerians can have a clearer picture of my own involvement. Sadly, I personally did not read President Obasanjo’s statement until two days later on the Internet since I was not physically in the hall.

Although trying to reconcile President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was something I had been working on intermittently in the last few years, nothing could have prepared me for the way things finally shaped up. My focus all along had been with President Obasanjo and I had never brought Alhaji Abubakar into what I was doing. Quite fortuitously, a chance meeting changed the tide in favour of reconciliation.

Understandably, the pictures of the four of us (President Obasanjo, Alhaji Abubakar, Shaikh Gumi and I) literally lit up the social media and elicited divergent reactions from the general public. Although over 99% of the reactions that have come to me have been largely those of commendation, with people focusing, rightly, on the reconciliation, there have been others whose focus has been on an isolated development that had absolutely nothing to do with what I had in mind all these years, namely, the endorsement.

I must say that I am eternally grateful to God that this reconciliation finally happened. The focus of attention has been on the endorsement of Alhaji Abubakar by President Obasanjo, a development that I can call the third leg of the process which I initiated. I am not sure of President Obasanjo’s other interlocutors after we agreed to meet leading to the participation of other actors and so, I will only clear the air on what I can take full responsibility for.

Let me state first that I am a priest of the Catholic Church and by the grace of God, a Bishop. I have more than a passing knowledge of our discipline and doctrine in matters relating to the role of a Catholic priest in political engagement. My doctoral thesis was on Religion and Politics in Nigeria. So, this is an area that I have written and spoken extensively about for over thirty years. I am therefore very clear about the boundaries, the slippery slopes and the contexts. Unlike Shaikh Gumi and Rev. Oyedepo who were invited to this event, I am a central actor. So let me explain what really happened.

On Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 I had the honor of being the Guest Speaker for the annual Conference of the Four Square Gospel Church in Alagomeji, Lagos. (The Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, a member of this Church had first invited me some years back but I could not honour the invitation). President Obasanjo was the Chairman of the occasion. At the end of the lecture, he indicated that he would have to leave because he had a scheduled meeting. I told him I needed to see him briefly and he obliged. I brought up again the issue of what he thought of his reconciliation with Alhaji Atiku.

My last discussion with him this year was either January or February. His response was still negative and he told me what he later told the media. I reminded him that I was not interested in the politics of reconciliation but the spiritual angle. After all, I said to him, ‘as a Christian, this is an important thing for you to do’. He was quiet and then said he would speak with me later that evening on his final decision. We parted, he to his car and I returned to the Church to end the event.

At about 9pm the same Tuesday, he called to say that he had thought over the issues I had raised and finally decided to accept my suggestion and that yes, he would be happy to reconcile with Alhaji Abubakar. When did he think we could meet then, I asked him? He said he would look at his diary and get back to me later. Then, just before 11pm the same Tuesday, I received another call from him saying his diary was full, that the earliest date for him was October 21st. I accepted happily and told him that I would try and reach Alhaji Abubakar either directly, or through his aides to convey the news.

My initial intention had been to return to Abuja that same evening from Lagos, but my hosts at the Four Square Gospel had suggested that I should get some rest. Next morning, Wednesday October 10th, after I had finished celebrating the Holy Mass, I received a call from President Obasanjo: ‘Bishop, listen, I have changed my mind’. My heart nearly sank, but before I could ask why, he said: ‘Let us do it tomorrow if you can reach Atiku. I am going to deliver a lecture in Ife and will be back home before 1pm. So, tell him to come at 1pm’. I started frantic efforts to reach Alhaji Atiku without luck. I reached one of his aides, Paul Ibe, and asked him to please let him know I am trying to reach him. Finally, at about 1pm, I received a call from him. I told him what had happened with President Obasanjo. He agreed and said he would be in Abeokuta for 1pm on Thursday.

I got back to my hosts, the Four Square Gospel Church to tell them about the change in my travelling plans especially as I had no car to take me to Abeokuta. I didn’t want to ask President Obasanjo’s people to send me a vehicle because I believed I needed a leeway of independence and trust. My hosts were exceedingly gracious in making a vehicle available, a driver and an aide to take me to Abeokuta. Earlier that morning, President Obasanjo had called me a second time and told me that he wanted Alhaji Abubakar to come with the Chairman of the PDP, and two or three others. He also told me he had also invited both Shaikh Gumi and Rev. Oyedepo. This was welcome news- Rev. Oyedepo is a kinsman of his, and the presence of Shaikh Gumi made sense. I was a bit nervous, seeing that the circle was getting larger for something I thought was between three of us.

I arrived Abeokuta about 12.15pm ahead of both President Obasanjo and Alhaji Abubakar and his team. Alhaji Abubakar and his team arrived, and then I saw more and more people coming in. I saw familiar faces of different people who turned out to be the leaders of Afenifere. All these years, whenever I brought up this matter of reconciliation, my idea has always been for the three of us to sit down together. I still believed that the meeting would be between the two of them and the three religious leaders.

When President Obasanjo appeared, I walked up to him and said I wanted to know the protocol for the meeting. He suggested that we would meet in a hall and that I should say a few words about how we got here. I declined because it seemed again that at this point, we were in small forest of politics and I had no wish to be caught in it. I was happy that what I wanted to achieve had been achieved, namely, getting these two men to put the past behind them. My personal preoccupation was a pastoral one, and not a political one. I was uncomfortable with this and I decided to make my position clear. I offered a different proposal to help us sift the moral grain from the chaff of politics via a three-step process so as to insulate the three of us from the political fallout.

I proposed that the first step would be for he and Alhaji Abubakar to sit down behind closed doors, sort out their issues and then the next step would be for both Sheikh Gumi and I to go in and listen to the two of them as Rev. Oyedepo had not arrived. After that, I said, they could continue with the third phase which from what I could see was high wire politics and I had no wish to be caught in the web. After they both finished their brief meeting, Sheikh Gumi and I went in and sat down with the two of them. We had some small briefing and then both of us spoke briefly on what they had done, encouraging them to ensure that this reconciliation holds. I even said jokingly that I am a Catholic priest and our marriage vows are indissoluble! After that, we prayed and then took what has now become the famous photograph behind closed doors.

At this point, I felt that my spiritual duties had been achieved and I was prepared to maintain my independence. Sheikh Gumi and I shook hands and although I was hungry and food was being laid out, I skipped lunch. I quietly let myself out by the side door, got into the Four Square Gospel car and we drove off to Lagos. Despite the dread of Lagos traffic and the disruption of flights at the Airport in Lagos, I had declined the offer of a seat in the Aircrafts which had flown them to Abeokuta. Although flying with them was the best (and most convenient) assurance I had of getting to Abuja in time for a speaking engagement at an event with the Sultan and Cardinal Onaiyekan for 9am the next day, it was necessary to ensure that I took no favours from any of the two parties.

I was not in Abeokuta to endorse Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party. I perfectly understand the feelings of many of my friends and members of the opposition who believe that I travelled with Alhaji Abubakar and his team to attend his endorsement by President Obasanjo, but I reiterate that this was not the case. All the bills for my travel were settled by the Four Square Gospel hosts for the earlier dated programme who had bought my tickets, booked accommodation for me and took care to get me to the airport for my flight to Abuja and Sokoto.

I am a strong believer in a peaceful and united Nigeria, ideals for which I have striven and served my entire adult life as a thinker and a priest. My instincts for reconciliation and peace were sharpened during my involvement and experience with the Oputa Panel. When the Generals refused to respond to the invitation of Oputa Panel, I personally undertook to visit both General Babangida and Buhari (he was not at home) at a time that today’s

latter day Buharists were asking the Panel to compel them to come or risk being blacked out of national life. Objective-minded people will remember that back in 2001, when the Christian community and many of President Buhari’s opponents claimed that General Buhari had said that Muslims should vote only for Muslims, many people in the Christian community were disappointed that I wrote a long article to explain the context of what he had said after speaking with the General. His party, the ANPP later used part of my article for their 2003 campaigns! My faith and experience have taught me to learn to suspend judgment till I have heard both sides of a story, no matter what.

I hope that this clarification helps to allay the concerns of those who may have seen all of these in a different light. Many minds will remain set no matter the reasonableness of my comments here, and this is to be expected- one can not please everyone. This is why it is often best to seek to please only one’s own conscience, and here, mine is very clear.

I have been involved in a few behind-the-scene shuttle diplomacy for years, largely on my own initiative, taking advantage of my knowledge of those engaged in the conflict or at the invitation of third parties. Some have succeeded and some have not. As priest, it is not in my place to publicise what we have achieved.

I am the Convener of the National Peace Committee. This alone is enough to place a moral boundary which I am bound to respect. The NPC able to accomplish much because of trust and that is not what I can treat lightly. When it became clear that both President Obasanjo and Abubakar were on the verge of making peace, I alerted the Chairman of the NPC, General Abdusalam. Since I happen to be in Lagos, I drove to the Ikoyi home of Chief Emeka Anyaoku and alerted him. I spoke to my Metropolitan, the Archbishop of Kaduna, Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso. All in all, everyone believed this was a very good move if we could achieve it. None of us imagined the third phase of this meeting.

Both theoretically and practically, I have come to know that peace making is a very risky business and often a thankless job. I recall listening to the late Kofi Anan speak about his on two different occasions. Anyone involved in peace making from domestic quarrels to larger battles, must be ready for the good, the bad and the ugly. In the end, we must wear the shoes of the long distance runner, believing and trusting that the truth never ever sinks to the bottom of the sea. The truth will always have a stubborn way of defying the hostile elements and popping up at the right time, no matter how long it takes.

I perfectly understand that with Alhaji Abubakar having just picked up the Presidential ticket of his Party, without providing this context, definitely, I can appreciate why many people will have a lot of anxieties. They will definitely be right to question my neutrality. However, I have far too many friends across party lines for me to openly endorse one candidate or party against the other. It will be against the principles of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church which regulates our public life in the political space.

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has signed a statement to the effect that no altar of the Catholic Church must ever be open to any politician, something we have all taken seriously. I therefore hope that this clarification helps those whose minds are open. I am thankful to God and quite pleased that this reconciliation took place and that I was a small instrument in making it happen. However, I am sorry that it has been given a different colouration and doubts to many people. Its timing was purely fortuitous and purely circumstantial not a contrivance. Personally, I will never relent in the very urgent task of making peace and reconciliation across the spectrum of our country.

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Pix: Obasanjo, Atiku, Kukah and Gumi.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Internet Shutdowns: Africans must get on keyboards and fight - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

... Counsel of Aneke the bird!

FifAfrica lands in Accra:

The fifth edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) in Accra, Ghana, which held at La Palm Beach Resort, was a sort of reviving the African spirit to engage, mostly positively so as to make a digital sense, especially with regards to access to information and online mediums. It was organized by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with the Media Foundation West Africa (MFWA), from Wednesday, September 26 through Friday, September 28, 2018.

Although I missed that of Wednesday, which agenda centered on the Ford Foundation partners’ meeting, UPRoar: Advocating for Internet Freedom with the Universal Period Review as well as Digital Tools Localisation Sprint, due to my flight schedule largely, it was interesting to catch up for the remaining two days.

I succeeded holding a brief meeting with members of my panel that were already on ground and we shared modus operandi for the session on “Trends in Online Regulation in Africa.” It aided us to agree on workabilities and think ahead for plan ‘B’ in case of last minute changes.

The Ghanaian handmade:

So, in the morning of Thursday, September 27 was the official opening and welcoming session after registration was done, with the name tags having this Ghanaian handmade necklace, of course, with her national colours. The chief executive, Media Foundation for West Africa, Mr. Sulemana Braimah took the podium to welcome participants to the city of Black stars and enjoined we relax and enjoy the hospitality of Ghana people.

For the Executive Director of CIPESA, Dr. Wairagala Wakabi, #FIFAfrica has served as a platform to mark the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) in Africa, stressing the fact that the continent is having an increase in Internet shutdowns, which have drastically affected the state of Internet freedom, advised Africans especially digital rights defenders to adopt the approach of Aneke the bird as depicted in Nigeria’s Nollywood; summed up in African proverb where the bird declared that since the hunters or shooters have decided to shoot without missing, Aneke the bird will also fly without perching; to avoid being caught by the government in their exercises who may be looking for reasons to shut down the Internet on the continent.

Hate for free Internet?

Kofi Annan, (April 8, 1938 – August 18, 2018): Nairobi, February 2008.
The publisher of Africapedia, Mr. Charles Onyango-Obbo in his Africanese-laden keynote address, entitled “Many African Governments Hate the Free Internet – And That Is a Very Good Thing” noted that for the fact African leaders hate free Internet, gave digital rights advocates a role to play towards saving the situation.

His take off point was a hearty tribute on behalf of Africans and indeed all participants in #FiFAfrica 2018 on the recent death of true African, Mr. Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who passed on Saturday, August 18, 2018, in a hospital in Bern, Switzerland.

He recalled that about February 2008 that late Kofi Annan (April 8, 1938 – August 18, 2018) was in Nairobi, leading a peace talk after the Kenya’s general election which resulted in violence and after a session, he took a walk over a 100 meters to show the return of peace on the streets of Nairobi, which was remarkable which he tagged as “the most important walk in a park in Africa.”

He said on one hand, that “Most African Big Men Hate the Free Internet - And that’s a ‘Wonderful’ thing” and listed what he called “Enemies of the Internet” to include leaders and governments of Ethiopia, Cameroon, Egypt, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Congo (Rep.) and Gabon. Stressing that idea of “enemy of the internet” relies on a grand myth: That African dictators and their henchmen/women “don’t get” the internet/digital universe.

“They do, possibly better than the democrats and good guys appreciate its power, which is why they suppress it,” he said, pointing out that the Internet has driven several significant “state shifting” forces the Big Men understand.

According to him, there are just a few examples, in that it was “instrumentalised” by the new and dominant 21st African bureaucracy, the “digitocracy” which is built around telcos, platform technologies like Mpesa, E-Citizen, and the “surveillance securitocracy”.

Internal contest:

These, Onyango-Obbo said, they weaponised for political messaging, attacking regime foes, and election influencing. He alleged an internal contest between the old and new, with the new favouring open internet even for cynical political reasons and urged new generation or netizens to take heed and do well to fight the ‘battle’ of keeping the Internet open, because the old had fought for the African independence.

He reiterated the fact that fake news may have saved Kenya from an Internet shutdown after the 2017 elections, which included but not limited to the likelihood that government was benefitting from much of the false content that “fake news was motivating more people to go to the polls.”

The Big Men, Onyango-Obbo also said, understood the internet allowed a new type of “digital/virtual secession” which paved the way for growing exit by citizens from the spaces controlled by states, citing for instance, the Nigeria’s Lola Omolola’s invitation-only Facebook group “Female in Nigeria” (FIN); founded in 2015 as “a movement of women focused on building compassion and providing support for one another, with the goal of having up to 1,000 members” but today, has over 1 million members!

He also elaborated with “Kilimani Mums in Nairobi, Confessions of a Married Woman in Egypt and Iranian ‘Signal Madam,’” emphasizing that Internet has finally been seized from the state narrative-making power (via satire and memes).

“It doesn’t forget, so keeps memory alive. Without amnesia, political control is difficult,” Onyango-Obbo declared, insisting that this virtual secession has significantly constituted emotional emigration, which he explained to mean that already some African leaders rule mostly over the bodies of their subjects, not their souls.

“The real surprise is not that there’s internet censorship, but if there had been none,” he said, and called for more innovation around subverting digital censorship. Charging the new generation of netizens that past generations, had the fight for independence, for the liberation of Africa, and for the ‘second liberation’ … this one is yours. Get on your keyboards and fight.”

#FiFAfrica18’s overview:

This saw the highlights of some of the key themes to be expected with Hu Xianhong of UNESCO, Grace Bomu of KICTANET and Peter Asare Nuamah of Pan African University sharing their insights. For Xianhong, UNESCO will have a session on Friday afternoon on the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI) study on some seven African countries including Nigeria.

For Grace Bomu, it was time to extend invitation to the session on ‘Consumer Rights Protection in the Digital Age, considering the fact that digital technologies create new opportunities for consumers, but yet make the upholding of their rights more challenging. She urged participants to come to the session to know how to navigate some of these challenges.

The last but not the least on the highlight session was Peter Asare Nuamah, a PhD candidate at the Pan African University, who underscored the importance of Africans taking cognizance of trends in online regulations on the continent. He noted that since 2017 Cameroon shut down the internet to digital communications and ever since has remained one of the longest interruptions in a bid to control online community, especially in the Anglophone regions of the country.

Then came a session on open data and importance of recognizing open data for better economic planning and improved life.

Trends in online regulation:

Penultimate afternoon witnessed the session on Trends in Online Regulation in Africa at Room 2, which saw the Lead Strategist at DigitalSENSE Africa Media group, Mr. Remmy Nweke leading discussions at FIFAfrica2018. Other speakers include Sakah Bernard Nsaidzedze of Pan African University in Cameroun; Legal practitioner and media trainer, Mr. Zakaria Tanko Musah of Ghana Institute of Journalism, an independent analyst, Nanjala Nyabola, and Sellina Sheena Nkowani from the Nation Publications, Malawi.

The session examined the series of laws in Africa which have in recent time proposed or passed laws and regulations that undermine public confidence in the use of online platforms and could lead to increased self-censorship by media, civil society groups and individual citizens, as well as to their withdrawal from online discourse.

Top on the outcome of the session was the charge on media entities and digital rights defenders group to establish both regulatory desk in media houses and regulatory officers to work with the lawmakers at the national levels, across African countries to aid proactive interventions against turns of Internet shutdowns.

Resetting Online Narrative on Africa:

After that comes the “Re-setting Online Narrative on Africa” anchored by Dembah Kandeh from the University of the Gambia and featured Sandister Tei of Wikimedia, Charles Onyango-Obbo of Africapedia as well as Dragana Kourin of Localisation Lab, where they examined who is creating online contents and for whom, taking into perceptive, the truism of these content as for Africa and Africans.

They ended by calling on all Africans to join the train of creating contents especially in our local languages to save such languages from extinction and at the same time promoting the language which cannot be distanced from the culture. In addition, a proposition from yours sincerely is that the African Development Bank (AfDB) should see the issue of localization of African languages as huge way of resetting the online narrative for the continent, by investing on it to make it more attractive.

*Zankaria, Sellina, Remmy, Nanjala and Benard after the session on Trends ...

*Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops

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CIPESA goes to Accra with FiFAfrica’18 - ITREALMS


IDGC2018: Sosan tasks girls to confidently use opportunities - ITREALMS

ITREALMS
The former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, has tasked Nigerian girls to be confident by exploring the opportunities within their immediate environment for the good of the society, reports ITREALMS.

Sosan gave this charge at assembly of girls for the International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC 2018) hosted in Nigeria by eBusiness Life Communications in Lagos with the theme ‘The power of The Adolescent Girl: Vision For 2030.’ 

ITREALMS gathered that Sosan who also chaired the event, encouraged the girls from several schools across Lagos and environ, to be courageous, bold and strong without waiting for opportunities to be handed over to them.

Although there are a lot of challenges militating against girl child in Africa, she said, they should research and follow up on global trends, coupled with pursuant of relevant education and they will make the necessary difference that the society needs.

Further, she challenged them to make themselves relevant in all spheres of life and rise above the challenges that face them, and not to “advertise themselves through their dressing and talk mode.”

“You girls should also learn to encourage less privileged girls because the more the merrier. It’s about women supporting women, girls supporting girls. What boys can do, girls can do also, just offer yourselves to do those difficult tasks” She also told the girls to be “bold and strong and speak out.”

While applauding non-government organisations (NGOs) for offering platforms where girls can access aids, she also called on the public and private sectors to encourage girls by providing facilities to teach them, especially in public schools.

Also speaking at the event, Public Sector Manager, Globacom, partners of the event, Mrs. Tina Abdulateef noted that girls have strong assertive attention and long attention span and can take in a lot of information at a time, which gives them an edge against boys. “These are qualities that can be used to excel”, she asserted.

She advised them to research things that will develop them in whatever career path they may choose.

Further encouraging the students, Lead Consultant, IT Managed Services, Signal Alliance Mr. Kinsley Inyang, who represented the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Adanma Onuegbu, told the girls of the need not to relent in the pursuit of their endeavors. “Do not relent, strive hard, look high and you will get there.”

He said girls still have so much to contribute in the growth, development and global competitiveness of the country.

The students, during a panel discussion comprising representatives of five schools in attendance, expressed their concerns on the societal treatment of girls.

The panel discussion, themed “How human trafficking endangers the future of young girls” saw the girls raise issues against the handling by the government, families and friends, of girl victims of human trafficking and rape. They called on the government to ensure proper rehabilitation of victims and smooth integration into the society.

They also opined that government should take another concerned look at girls and their security, they should also infuse it into their campaign promises. They should not make false promises or lie to the victims. They charged Nigerians to stop stigmatizing victims and bring about due punishment for child trafficking and rape offenders.

While moderating the students’ panel, Chief Executive Officer of customer Centricity Limited, Mrs. Uloma Umeano charged Nigerians to be their “brothers’ keepers”, encourage undercover activities and whistle blowing, geared at fishing out traffickers.

“We should also show them (the victims) love and open our arms to them”

She further tasked the girls to learn to communicate with their parents, assuring them that “girls can grow to be strong women; therefore be confident of who you are, learn what knowledge capital is all about.”

In her opening remark, the convener and Chief Executive Officer, eBusiness Life Communications, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, explained that the International Day of the Girl Child is a campaign to spread awareness about issues faced by girls, especially in developing countries. “The main aims of the day are to promote girl empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights, while also highlighting the challenges that girls all over the world face.”

According to her, issues that need to be addressed include access to education; gender bias, early marriage, sexual violence against girls among others.

Speaking further, she noted the need to equip the girls with transferable and lifelong skills such as critical thinking, creativity and digital awareness. “Having role models will also be critical, especially in the sciences and other fields where the presence of women is sparse.”

*Nkem Nweke with additional report by Chidi Nwankwo/GEE

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Imo 2019: Why Irona is deputy Ihedioha needs - ITREALMS

The wind of politics is blowing heavily across the country, with alignments and re-alignments as daily occurrences, depending on the interest of individual politicians, groups and associations. In Imo State, the wind is so heavy that the state is up for grabs, as no particular political party or structure can confidently claim that Imo is in its hands.
A look at the major political parties in the state shows that they are all crises-ridden, but for the Peoples’ Democratic Party-PDP, which gubernatorial primary is adjudged most transparent and peaceful, both in Imo State and at the National stage; particularly, the governorship (Imo) and Presidential primaries that produced Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, respectively.
One of the aspirants for the Imo PDP gubernatorial ticket, Senator SamDaddy Anyanwu is said to have approached the Court to challenge the outcome of the primaries, even after allegedly congratulating and pledging to support the flagbearer, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; a move pundit describe as being done in bad fate. As at today, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha remains the authentic flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The other two main political parties in the state: the All Progressives Congress- APC and the All Progressives Grand Alliance appear to be in an unending internal battle for control of the parties. While the APC presently has two of her aspirants- Chief Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodimma claiming to be candidates of the Party; the All Progressives Grand Alliance broke the hearts of millions of people, who were hoping that the party would elect an acceptable gubernatorial candidate through a peaceful and transparent process. Some of the party’s gubernatorial aspirants are already pitching their tents with other political parties. No doubt, the internal wrangling of the APC and APGA may still linger and will certainly not end well. The rest is history.
One other candidate that many expect would make a serious impact in the election is that of the Young Progressives Party-YPP, Mr. Linus Okorie. Okorie would have been a good candidate, but for his political party, which many see as not having the required structure and network to take over Imo in 2019. The YPP has so much to do to enhance its visibility, position itself as a strong and identifiable brand, while strengthening its structures for greater impact. Who knows? There is nothing God cannot do.
The Peoples Democratic Party appears to be the shinning star of the moment in Imo. It has gone beyond primaries and already positioning itself for the main election, hence, the thrust of this piece. Hon. Ihedioha’s chances of becoming Imo Governor have never been this bright. If he fails to win in 2019, he might as well forget governing Imo forever. Whatever decisions he takes at this stage will go a long way in determining if he will win; and if he does, whether he will enjoy a peaceful reign as governor. The crux of this piece is not to set an agenda for him yet. That is for another day. The idea behind this is to ensure he gets conscious of the banana peels around.
Any moment from now, a Deputy Governorship candidate will emerge. What should be the considerations for Hon. Emeka Ihedioha’s choice of a Deputy? If he fails to get it right at this point, then, his major problem has started.
The recent betrayal of the Lagos State Governor by some of his aides, especially, his Deputy is still very fresh in our minds. The first consideration in choosing a Deputy Governor must therefore be trust. Such a person must therefore be someone he has known and possibly worked with in the past.
Next in order of importance is capacity. Having one with no experience in governance and public service is a recipe to failure. The state of affairs in Imo as at today is so bad that putting a green horn in certain positions might spell doom for the next administration. The Deputy Governor must be one that has capacity to support and guide his principal. Such a person must also be one that will have the ability to guide and advise the Governor sincerely. This is very important because one of the major reasons behind the failure of leaders is that they are usually surrounded by sycophants who do not tell them the true state of things, thereby making them continue in error.
Again, such a person must not be tainted with corruption and will have the ability to suggest initiatives that will promote transparency in governance. One of the major problems of the present administration in Imo is the complete absence of transparency and accountability. Having one that has no baggage of corruption, with capacity to drive good governance initiatives will certainly make the business of governance easy for the incoming governor.
More so, political consideration is a very important issue that must be given serious consideration. The PDP Governorship candidate is from Owerri senatorial zone of the state, with nine local government areas. The disputed candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance - Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is from Okigwe zone, with only six Local Government Areas. The two individuals jostling to have the ticket of the APC- Chief Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodimma are both from Orlu zone. Orlu is the largest/biggest senatorial zone in Imo State, with twelve Local Government Areas.
Strategically, the only option the PDP candidate has is to pick a running mate from Orlu zone. Apart from being the largest senatorial zone, the two candidates of the APC have serious baggage working against them. The gist is for another day.
In Orlu zone, one must look inwards, to ensure that historic and landmark decisions are taken. There are four Federal constituencies in Orlu zone. The first is Ideato Federal constituency, made up of Ideato North and South. This constituency produced the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who is about completing his second tenure in office. It is therefore completely out of it.
Next is Orlu, Orsu and Oru East Federal constituency. This constituency produced two-time Governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa, who ruled the state for eight years. It also produced a former Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Douglas Acholonu. It is also instructive that one of the two main contenders for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress- Senator Hope Uzodimma is from this constituency.
The third is the Nwangele/Nkwerre/Isu and Njaba federal constituency. The Orlu zonal senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Rt. Hon. Jones Onyereri is from this constituency. Can the Senator and Deputy Governor come from the same place? More so, one of the two APC Gubernatorial hopefuls, Chief Uche Nwosu is from the same area.
The last, but most marginalized federal constituency in the area is the Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency. In spite of contributing over eighty (80) percent of Imo crude oil earnings, as well as being the food basket of the state, this federal constituency remains the most marginalized in the state. This is the only oil producing federal constituency in the state. It is the same area that Adapalm is situated. Sadly also, it is currently ravaged by flood, with the attendant oil pollution. The federal constituency has neither produced a governor nor a deputy, since the creation of the state.
Interestingly, Hon. Ihedioha is from Owerri zone of the state which has also been crying over marginalization. He therefore has an idea of how it feels to be marginalized. If Ndi Imo agree that it is the turn of Owerri zone, will he not agree that the marginalized people of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency be considered for at least, a Deputy Governorship slot?
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha will be writing his name in gold as an apostle of justice and fair play if he looks in the direction of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency in selecting his running mate for the 2019 general election. This decision will portray him as one that does not accept injustice in any form. Even stakeholders from other constituencies agree that it is the turn of the oil producing federal constituency to have a shot at the deputy governorship position. Doing this will simply mean implementing the wish of the people and this will endear him more to the masses.
In all of these, one candidate that appears to fit into all the earlier listed criteria and most importantly, has the electoral value and capacity to secure victory for Hon. Ihedioha in the zone is a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Gerald Irona. If you have him, then, you are sure. An Ihedioha/Irona ticket will give hope to the people. Irona is transparent, credible, experienced, reliable, competent, independent-minded and trustworthy.
Imo people appear determined to vote out the APC in the next general elections. APGA has also broken the people’s heart. It is not about partisanship at this stage, but about patriotism. The hope of the people of Imo state for 2019 is the PDP’s candidate. Don’t dash it. Hon. Ihedioha’s chances are very bright. Let’s collectively fight injustice, as injury to one is injury to all. It is the turn of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency to produce a deputy governor. Be an instrument of honour and give the people justice.
Irona as deputy governor will nail it!
*Contributed by Dr. Walter Duru is a Communication expert and Public Relations Strategist. He can be reached on:walterchike@gmail.com.
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