" ITREALMS: March 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter Message: Opara-Ndudu assures APGA will raise Imo again

An Imo governorship aspirant for 2019 gubernatorial election on the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Nick Opara-Ndudu, has sent an Easter greeting to Imo State citizens in the country and Diaspora, urging them not to lose hope as the state “will rise again” if given  the mantle of leadership of the state next year, reports ITRealms.
  In the Easter greeting titled “Imo Will Rise Again”,  which is contained in a video message now circulating in the country and other parts of the world,  Opara-Ndudu told  Imolites to emulate the virtues of Jesus Christ as epitomised by his passion, persecution, death and resurrection during Easter, and to pray to the Almighty God to give them the grace to come together to build a state that both present and future generations would take pride in, by taking inspiration from the teachings of Christ.
The former Imo commissioner promised quality and purposeful leadership that will bring about the transformation of the state and improved quality of the lives of the citizens, which he said has deteriorated in the last seven years, adding that the transformation would touch all sectors of the economy of the state.
 He pledged to overhaul the economy by reviving the agriculture and industrial sectors as well as providing quality education, security, health, housing, road  network, if given the mandate to run the state on the ticket of APGA.  All of these are contained in his blueprint which, he said  would  soon be unveiled.
A Chartered Accountant by training, Oparad-Ndudu, who spent over two decades in the banking sector and rising to the position of a Deputy Managing Director, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from University of Nigeria Nsukka. He has also attended training programmes in  economics, banking and finance, as well as management  within and outside the country.
While in the banking sector, he provided useful financial advice and facilities that enabled many small and medium businesses, across the length and breadth of the country, to grow bigger and now adding values to the economy of the country.
This, combined with his public sector experience, the former bank boss said he  has the required experience of working in a structured environment and the disciplined approach to accomplishing tasks that come with such exposure and experience. These are qualities that would come handy in addressing the rapacious destruction of the civil service bureaucracy and non compliance with due process in the state.
A practicing Catholic Christian and an indigene of Emekuku, Owerri North Local Government of Imo State, Opara-Ndudu said   “I have spent the better part of the past six months building up a network of concerned Imo Citizens to confront the monster that is before us.
As a former student union leader and a veteran of such struggles, I am supremely confident that the will of Imo people (and not cash ) shall prevail in due time and season. And together, Imo will rise again.”
Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Security: Obiano takes delivery of 40 Innoson trucks

The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has taken delivery of some 40 utility trucks, straight from the factories of Nnewi-based Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Ltd, in efforts to tighten security situation in the state, reports ITRealms.

The vehicles,  ITRealms gathered were carefully distributed among the security agencies covering the Police, the Army, the Navy, Civil Defence and Ocha Brigade.

"There's also a deliberate attempt to ensure that the sensitive areas of the population are effectively covered with specific trucks designated to cover Student and Night Club areas," source close to the government house confirmed to ITRealms.

The trucks were on display at the Ekwueme Square, Awka, the state capital, waiting to be handed over to the relevant agencies.

Ozo Nweke Ozo/GEE

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Easter: Plateau FRSC deploys 900 staff, warns against night travels

The Federal Road Safety Corps in Plateau State would be deploying 900 personnel to man the roads during the forthcoming Easter celebration, according to the Sector Commander, Patricia Emeordi, reports ITRealms.

As said by her, the Command has stationed eight patrol vehicles and two ambulances for emergencies on the roads.

She also advised road users to obey traffic rules and regulations, especially in the area of over loading of vehicles with goods and passengers, insisting that they should avoid night journeys and eschew over speeding during the period.

Speaking in an interview with journalists in Jos, the FRSC Commander, described as criminal the rejection of auto crash victims by Hospitals.

Emeordi said, “For this Easter celebrations, we are deploying over 500 regular Staff and 600 special Marshals on the roads in Plateau State. We have stationed eight patrol vehicles and two ambulances. 

“People should plan their journeys to avoid anxiety which could ultimately lead to over speeding, they should avoid driving against traffic. Road users should also cooperate with traffic officers who are on the roads for the good of everyone.

“Even though we preach Easter-free crashes, people are free to call the national toll free line 122. If there is an issue about traffic in Plateau State, the public are free to call the following Operation Numbers: 08077690401 and 08077690510.

“It is a criminal offence for any Hospital to reject victims of road crashes. Victims of auto crashes do not need medical reports before treatment. Any Hospital which rejects victims of road accidents risk prosecution. I wish all road users and pedestrians, Happy Easter celebrations free of road crashes.”

Ayo Midele/GEE

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mr. 2Kay set for garden city concert

Singer, Mr. 2Kay has announced that he’ll be hosting the city of Port Harcourt and its environs to a night of great music and fun as he will be having his concert tagged, ‘The Elevated Concert’ reports ITRealms.

The event, ITRealms gathered is being organised by Grafton Entertainment, has been slated for Sunday, June 17, 2018, at Aztech Arcum, in the heart of Port Harcourt, featuring other A list artistes.

ITRealms also reportst that plans have been advanced for a sing and dancing competition on Monday, April 2nd 2018, would see Mr. 2Kay giving away $2000 (Two Thousand Dollars) to 2 persons in Port Harcourt.

According to him, the initiative is a way of giving back to his starting foundation in the music industry.

“Call it my little way of giving back to a place where I started my career. The support from the South has been superb from the people. The winners of the competition will also have the opportunity to share the stage with me during the elevated concert,” 2Kay said.

To participate, interested fans are expected to post a minute video of themselves singing or dancing to their favourite song from Mr. 2Kay’s latest album – Elevated. The videos are to be posted using the hashtag #ElevatedConcertph18 and participants must be following Mr. 2Kay on Twitter (@mr_2kay), Instagram (@mr.2kay) and Facebook (@iam2kay).

Media partners for this competition are Rhythm 93.7FM PH and Beat99 FM PH. They will be dishing more details and updates on a daily basis on the competition. 

Mr. 2Kay released his sophomore album on February 11, 2018 and it climbed from 3 to the number 1 position on iTunes album chart.

The album was on number 1 for three weeks. Since the release of the album, he has performed at the ongoing Big Brother Naija eviction show and had a media tour in Kenya with several appearances.

Mr. 2Kay has just concluded another media tour in Port Harcourt and will be heading to the UK for another media round this weekend.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

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Tinubu calls for more investment in people

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called for more investment in the people, describing it as more accurate perspective, reports ITRealms.

In his address at the 10th annual Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) Colloquium in Lagos, Thursday, the national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), said despite the hurdles and difficulties that come, “let this noble effort become our national reality for the sake of those amongst us most in need, for the sake of the present generation and for the sake of generations yet to come.”

Mis-investment, he said, comes with steep opportunity costs, stressing that the misapplication of one naira means one naira less for a more appropriate investment.

“In a way, this represents a double loss. Here I shall depart from the mainstream approach that draws a line between capital investment and what many people now call human capital investment.

“We now speak of the two as if they were conflicting opposites, inherently at odds with each other.

“This is not a wise road to travel.  Instead, we must think of them as points along the same continuum. Instead of being opposites, they are in fact similar and complementary, the one to the other,” he said.

Tinubu pointed out that human capital investment connotes expenditures that improve the inner capacity or wellbeing of a person or populace. Things such as education and health care come quickly to mind.

“Traditional capital investment connotes expenditure on instrumentalities external to a person that improves his ability to further improve his productivity or lifestyle. These are things like roads and power.

In between, he said, lie things like potable water which has clear human capital as well as traditional capital investment dividends.

For Asiwaju, both forms of investment are related; both ultimately benefit the people. No right-minded government builds a road but forbids travelers its usage. Better roads lessen accidents, reduce travel time and cut costs of business and goods.

Emphasising that electric power is not generated merely for its own sake but so people can work more efficiently and live in greater comfort.

“It allows students to read into the night, learning more and learning better; it permits hospitals to utilize equipment and procedures that can save thousands of lives otherwise lost,” he said.

In addition, he said, "It allow factories to hum 24 hours a day, producing jobs and goods that increase the wealth and welfare of a people. Thus, investing in roads is more an investment in the people who use them than an investment in the gravel and tar that comprise the paved way.

Investment in power, Tinubu said, is at its "essence more an investment in the people who will rely on it to improve their activities and efforts than it is merely an investment in turbines and other physical equipment... Thus, our task is not to draw an artificial boundary between the two types of investment.

"Our task must be to re-integrate these two components into a coherent plan where finite resources are allocated in ways that respond to present urgencies yet also answer the burning question of how to best achieve durable economic growth for all segments of society.

"It is at this point that we must draw a different conceptual distinction than the one normally drawn between physical capital and human capital investment. I posit that we profit more by drawing a conceptual distinction between the type of social investment that helps us manage or mitigate poverty as compared to that investment which leads to economic growth that reduces if not eliminates poverty at its very root.

"Poverty mitigating investment may soften the harshest blows of penury but such investment offers no great escape from it," he said, citing for an instance, that every human being has a right to health care. Giving such care is a moral duty of any compassionate government. Yet, however healthy that person may become as a result, this does not mean his economic situation will necessarily improve because of better health.

The same goes for education. We already have many intelligent graduates whose abilities did not meet a job because there simply were no jobs to meet.

Over the decades, we have built legions of people who are well educated but not for this economy and this job market.

We must remember that education is not an abstraction. While education is a virtue in itself,  it also must have practical utility or else it will become a discredited, even detested thing.

A key purpose of education is to provide a person the skills required to earn a living within the context of a given economic environment. There is no pressing need to teach a desert nomad to scuba dive or to instruct a fisherman in the Delta the intricacies of hunting a polar bear or riding a camel.

Education must be wedded to the economy that now exists as well as to the economy that shall be in the foreseeable future.

The able-bodied Africans who braved the harsh desert crossing of the Sahara only to further brave the death waters of the Mediterranean Sea do so not in search for better healthcare or even education for the most part.

They do so in search of meaningful work, the money, as well as the sense of independent existence and self worth that such work can bring.

This is the compelling force.

Thus, any responsible government and society must heavily invest in those things that promise economic prosperity and employment. This is the primary challenge government must meet.

While government cannot ignore investments that lessen the grimmest effects of poverty, we also must face the hard fact that a nation cannot truly defeat poverty without generating broadly-shared economic growth through prudent investment in infrastructure, industrial development, and agricultural modernization.

My life has been dedicated to the proposition that Nigeria can grow and overcome poverty, not just live with a less brutal version of poverty. 

After 66 years, I am not about to change my walk or change my talk at this point.

There is something we must examine more closely.  The chorus of Western-appointed experts sings that we must target certain levels of expenditure on various programs to reach sustainable growth.

Few people dare question the veracity of this claim, the soundness of this song. However, the question of cause and effect casts a long shadow over the entire procession.

Is it true that sustaining certain levels of expenditures will bring economic development?
Or is the deeper, more fundamental truth that economic development will generate heightened levels of social expenditure?

Economic history points to the latter explanation as the most viable road to durable national improvement.

We must define our path to development correctly if we are to have any chance of following that path faithfully.

Yes, our society must invest sufficiently in lessening the most brutal aspects of poverty. We cannot allow people to be broken by poverty unattended. 

However, the great escape from poverty comes not by making poverty more livable. Our escape comes by burying poverty under an edifice of wealth creation and equitable distribution of said wealth.

This is only done by economic growth. This is how England, America and China did it.

As these nations represent the past, present and immediate future of economic greatness, we should learn more from what they did for themselves than from what they say we should do.

Here, I offer a few suggestions that may help blunt the effects of poverty while ensuring sustained growth to increase our national standard of living. We must:

1. Stimulate the economy by investment in new generation technology and its resultant infrastructure. This must be at the heart of our national infrastructure planning.

2. Encourage private sector investment in labor intensive industries by reducing barriers to entry in these sectors and by helping such enterprises to be cost competitive. This must be the core of our national industrial plan.

3.  Continue massive investment in agricultural output and move to establish commodity boards and commodity exchanges so that farmers will be assured of a livable income. Farm mortgages should be more accessible to give farmers a pathway to credit to procure better equipment and inputs.

4. Help the elderly.  We must continue to improve the pension system.  This will reduce poverty among the elderly while generating additional economic activity through enhanced consumer demand. Moreover, this is the moral thing to do.

5. Reform the mortgage system to facilitate credit expansion in a manner that allows the real estate sector to become a key driver of overall economic growth and that opens the door to affordable housing throughout the land.

6. Extend school feeding programs into all states.

7. Promote judicial reform to insulate jurists and the legal system from corruption.  Providing attractive salaries and allowances will make jurists less susceptible to the corrupt temptations and illicit requests that distort the cause of justice.

8. Create a blue ribbon panel that identify ways to eliminate all forms of wrongful discrimination in our land. Every Nigerian must be seen as a full and complete Nigerian in whatever part of the nation he may go, no matter what part of the nation from which he came.

Our task is to define ourselves. That means we must think for ourselves.  

We are a populous, richly endowed nation.  The growth of neighboring countries depends on ours. We hold a responsibility greater than ourselves.

We must act with care. Prudence suggests that we learn our most profound lessons from those nations that have already climbed the highest rungs of the global economic ladder.

As such, this requires that we reject the artificial difference between human capital and normal capital investment. 

All investment, if used constructively, benefits the people and thus can be called human capital investment.

As such, the term human capital investment really tells us nothing of value when it comes to defining the correct path to optimal growth.

To forge that path, we must strike the correct balance between investment that mitigates or temporarily relieves the worst of poverty and that type of investment that sparks long-term economic growth that will divorce the poor from poverty.

"For our goal is not to endure a less biting poverty. Our goal is to enter into an era of robust prosperity.

This, my friends, my brothers and sisters, my compatriots is the only way I know for our nation to invest in its people so that they may become what God intended them to be.

Ayo Midele/GEE

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Konga names Imudia, ex-Nokia VP, CEO

Finland-based Nigerian and former Vice President of Nokia, Mr. Nick Imudia, has been named the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) by the board of Konga, Nigeria’s leading e-commerce giant, reports ITRealms.

Imudia, ITRealms gathered, replaces former CEO, Shola Adekoya, who resumes at the Zinox Group headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria as Head of Future Business

Imudia assumes office on April 3rd, 2018 with a clear mandate to deliver Konga as number one e-Commerce company in Africa.

Imudia recently left TCL/Alcatel where he was the Regional Director, responsible for Nigeria and Central Africa Operations. Before joining TCL/Alcatel, Imudia was Managing Director, Nokia West and Central Africa, a thriving concern which remains a world leader in Mobility, driving the transformation and growth of the converging Internet and Communications industry.

For almost 17 years, the widely-travelled Imudia worked in Nokia, managing operations in Asia, Europe and the Americas in the areas of sales, marketing, capability development, management systems, operational excellence, IT and process management.

His core experience across several management functions including online commerce, among others will come in handy in steering the Konga brand to greater heights.

Imudia holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial Management from Mikkeli Institute of Technology, Finland; a Master of Engineering in Oil and Gas Technology Management from Aalborg University, Denmark and an MBA in International Business Management, Haaga-Helia Business School, Finland.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tenure Elongation: APC stands for internal democracy - Tinubu

The National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has declared that the party stands for internal democracy, reports ITRealms.

Reacting to the comment by President Mohammad Buhari over the tenure elongation of the current leadership of the party led by Chief John Oyegun, Tinubu, also said that the President definitely has spoken, which means that the party stand for internal democracy and the rule of law.

Recalling that in his address to the March 27 NEC meeting, President Buhari stated that talk of extension or elongation of the tenures of national and state party executive officers was improper. The President declared that any such moves would contravene both the national and party constitutions.

Additionally, he stated that the designation of existing officers as caretaker committees also violated constitutional requirements.

President Buhari’s action saves the party from serious legal turmoil. If the elongations were deemed illegal then all subsequent party actions, including the nomination of all of our candidates for elective offices, might also be of questionable legality. Such a predicament would constitute an unnecessary and mortal blow to the party and its role in promoting progressive governance to Nigeria.

Moreover, President Buhari has affirmed for all to see that our party is one based on the rule of law coupled with a firm adherence to internal democracy. While it would have been easy to allow the ill-conceived motion of 27 February to stand, President Buhari showed principle and courage by steering the party back to its original and correct path.

The President has spoken. Today is a good day for those who cherish democracy and legality.  His action will also serve to strengthen the party by allowing party members, including present incumbents, to seek to contribute to the party by vying for executive offices as they see fit.

His action will go far in advancing the process of internal reconciliation that is now underway. It is a time for the party to move forward and begin to plan and organize the needed congresses according to the existing timetables. After all, a party bearing the name All Progressives Congress should be the last party to resist holding congresses in which all its people have a fair say and fair chance to aspire to any position in the party for which they are qualified to hold.

Again, this is a good day for the APC and democratic political practice in Nigeria. We shun the politics of old to move toward a new and better way of governing ourselves and this nation.

Remmy Nweke/ED, OPs

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Computer Professionals to relocate headquarters to Abuja - Uwadia

All is now set for the relocation of the headquarters of the Computer Professionals (RegistrationCouncil) of Nigeria (CPN) to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, reports ITRealms.

Confirming this development to ITRealms, CPN president and chairman in council, Prof. Charles Uwadia, said in Lagos, Tuesday at the maiden edition of the Media Forum with Media Executives Forum which included Information Technology (IT) Editors and Journalists at Sheraton Hotel, that all is set to achieve this mandate.

 According to him, the CPN council has already given its green light on this move which must commence as soon as possible, stressing that the move is to aside closing ranks with its supervisory ministry of Education and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in carrying it out its regulatory function to aid entrenchment of professionalism in the IT practices among stakeholders.

The current Lagos office, he said, would be retained and active despite the proposed relocation, just as the exercise will be completed before end of this year, 2018.

ITRealms recalls that the Prof. Uwadia-led council came into stream since July 2017 and was formally inaugurated by the Minister for Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu on Friday 8th September, 2017 in Abuja.

Till date, the current council had hosted a strategic session for newly inaugurated Council members and CPN management on Thursday 7th September, 2017 at Ayalla Hotel, Abuja, in addition to hosting the 82 and 83 regular meeting of the council both in Abuja and Lagos respectively.

For improved interaction with other sister agencies of government, ITRealms reports that CPN had signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Council of Colleges of Education (NCCE); paid courtesy visits to Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), National Universities Commission (NUC), Budget and National Planning.

Further, ITRealms reports that CPN equally held a maiden edition of the Information Technology (IT) CEOs’ Roundtable with the theme, “Leveraging Information Technology for Economic Recovery” at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday 7thNovember, 2017 to name a few.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Computer Village shut over Buhari visit to Lagos

The popular Computer Village, would on Thursday be on lockdown due to the planned two-day visit of the President, Mohammad Buhari to Lagos, reports ITRealms.

According to information reaching our news room, the Police authorities are pleading for understanding as all the market operators in Computer Village may not have access to the market and its environ in Ikeja.

This, ITRealms gathered, is more evident with the planned commissioning of the Ikeja Bus Terminus, which is located along Simbiat Abiola Road and Computer Village is just neighbor to the terminus.

ITRealms further gathered that all the roads leading to the Computer Village and environ would be closed to both human and vehicular movement.

These roads include Kodesoh Road, Simbiat Abiola Road, Awolowo Way, Bank Anthony Way, along Airport Road.

ITRealms further gathered that only Otigba Gate by Awolowo Way through Anifowose would be opened for business.

“You are advised not to bring in your cars to Computer Village, Thursday 29th March, 2018,” our source declared.

Ayo Midele/GEE

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Lagos declares Thursday work free day, diverts traffic for PMB

The Lagos State Government has declared Thursday, March 29 as a work free day in the State and diverted traffic across the city, urging Lagosians to seek out alternative route, reports ITRealms.

According to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, who disclosed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms, said this would enable Lagosians come out enmasse to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) who is on a historic two-day visit to Lagos State.

He also urged residents to adhere to the security guidance earlier announced to make the visit as peaceful and orderly.

Meanwhile, on the traffic diversions and alternative routes ahead of a two-day visit by Buhari to the State between March 29 and 30, the State’s Commissioner of Police, CP Imohimi Edgal, said at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, that adequate preparations have been made to mitigate the impact of the road diversions on residents, while access would be given to any emergency situation.

Edgal, accompanied by heads of security and emergency agencies in the State, said while in Lagos, the President would commission the new Ikeja Bus Terminal, attend a colloquium in honour of national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and as well as embark on tour of the Eko Atlantic City, among others.

“To ensure smooth, security-free visit of the President, we would need to do some diversions. Some certain roads will be closed at certain times; some diversions will be made but I want to use this opportunity to appeal for the support and understanding of Lagosians that this temporary road closures and diversions might cause a little inconvenience.

“We want the people to bear with us to ensure that we all join hands together to make the visit of Mr. President not only hitch-free but also very memorable. The road closures and diversions will be very temporary and immediately the President leaves a certain location, that area will be opened very quickly for the general public. We have also made adequate arrangements to mitigate the impact of the closures on residents,” Edgal said.

He listed the areas to be affected to include Bank Anthony Way in Ikeja, Agege Motor Road, a section of Eko Hotel Road in Victoria Island and Old Marina in Ikoyi axis.

Besides, Edgal said security arrangement was already in top gear and that people would see a lot of deployment of personal of both military and civil logistics adding that it is nothing to worry about.

“We have done the necessary threat assessments; we have reached out to all stakeholders in areas that we believe we should reach out to them to ensure their full cooperation. We are using this opportunity to call again on the Okada Unions and the National Union of Road Transport Workers that they must abide with the terms of agreement we reached during meetings with them regarding the visit.

“We will not want to see commercial motorcycles plying the prohibited routes of Agege Motor Road, Bank Anthony Way and anywhere on the Island. Should that order be disobeyed, we would be constrained to ensure that you are arrested with your motorcycles impounded. Whoever is also found as a passenger will also be arrested and prosecuted so do not patronize these Okadas on these prohibited routes not only for the purpose of the visit but also to ensure that Lagos State Laws on the regulation of commercial motorbikes are obeyed at all times,” Edgal said.  

Further, he said three locations have been designated for all first emergency responders to station their equipment and officials including the Police, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), LASAMBUS, Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, among others at Ikeja, Victoria Island and Free Trade Zone at Lekki-Akodo axis.

On the Apapa gridlock which has spilled over to other parts of the State, Edgal said while the Joint Task Force set up by the State Government was already working to ensure free-flow of traffic, the government nonetheless has commenced the construction of a new Trailer Park in Ijora axis that could conveniently accommodate 2,800 trucks and tanker at a time.

 As noted by the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Ambode, Mr. Habib Aruna noted that the state in collaboration with stakeholders, have identified a location known as the White Sand in Ijora axis and an assessment of the place have been conducted leading to all shanties there to have been destroyed.

“Now, the State Government has given out the contract to a firm and they are now smoothening up the place. It has the capacity to take well over 2,800 trucks and tankers at the same time. Work is ongoing there at a very fast pace and I can assure Lagosians that very soon, the place will be completed and we intend to move all trucks, tankers to that location and as soon as that is done, we would have permanently take care of this trucks and tankers,” Edgal said. 

Ayo Midele/GEE

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For cult-like operations, Petroleum Equalization Fund enters FOI Hall of Shame

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has inducted the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, accusing the Board of refusal to be transparent and preference for cult-like secrecy in its operations, reports ITRealms.
The induction, MRA said, only serves to heighten questions about its continued relevance in light of its failure to achieve the objectives for which it was established.
The Board was established in 1975 by Decree No. 9 of 1975, which was later amended in 1989 by Decree No. 32 of 1989, to offset the inequality in the transportation cost of distributing petroleum products in different parts of Nigeria in order for the Government to be able maintain a uniform pricing system for such products all over the country.
The primary responsibility of the Board is to reimburse petroleum marketing companies for any losses suffered by them, solely and exclusively, as a result of their selling petroleum products at uniform prices throughout the country.
The mandate of the Board is therefore to ensure that the Uniform Pricing Mechanism that the Federal Government introduced during the period worked effectively throughout Nigeria and that each marketing company complied with the laws regarding the management of the transportation equalisation process.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Legal Officer, Ms Chioma Nwaodike, noted that “More than 40 years after the Board was established, it is clear that it has failed to deliver on the objectives that motivated its establishment, given that the pricing of petroleum products has never been uniform across the country all through these years. Perhaps, some transparency about the activities of the Board may have enabled us to understand what exactly it does and whether there is any reason for its continued existence in light of its apparent spectacular failure.”
According to Ms Nwaodike, “having been charged with the responsibility for reimbursing petroleum marketing companies for losses suffered by them as a result of their sale of petroleum products at uniform prices throughout the country, for which it is expending public funds in this regard, the Board owes Nigerians a duty to keep them informed about every aspect of its operations including what it gets annually from the national budget, how much it is expending for various purposes, who the beneficiaries of its reimbursement scheme are, how the reimbursements are calculated, among other things. Unfortunately, it is not doing this.”
She accused the Board of flouting and rendering meaningless its mission statements to its various stakeholders, including its statement to marketers “to be a prime and transparent organization, for the timely reimbursement of marketers’ transportation claims” as well as its statement to Nigerians to be “a responsible, accountable and efficient parastatal facilitating the distribution of petroleum products nationwide at approved prices”.
Ms Nwaodike said by brazenly neglecting to comply with its statutory obligations under the FOI Act, the Board makes nonsense of its mission statement where it says it aims to be a “transparent organization” and an “accountable and efficient parastatal” as well as listing ‘integrity’ as one of its core values.
She observed that by consistently failing over the past seven years to comply with its proactive publication obligations in Section 2 (3), (4) and (5) of the FOI Act to publish and disseminate 16 classes of information as well as review and update them whenever changes occur, the Board is demonstrating its clear disdain for the laws of the land, the ideals of democracy, and the core values it claims guide its operations.
According to her, “although the Board has published information that can best be described as innocuous, it however failed to publish some vital information that the Act requires it to proactively publish and disseminate including, but not limited to, documents containing information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution; documents containing the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the institution; and a list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grants, licenses or agreements, etc.”
Ms Nwaodike noted that the Board has also refused to submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation any report on its implementation of the Act for seven consecutive years, in clear defiance of Section 29 (1) and (2) of the FOI Act and the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 issued by the Attorney General of the Federation, the oversight agency for the FOI Act, as the Board has neither submitted any report nor made any such report available to the public in any form whatsoever.
She also accused the Board of not providing appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and for the effective implementation of the Act at any time in all the seven years that the law has been in operation, as it is required to do under Section 13 of the FOI Act.
Noting that there is no single reference to the FOI Act on the Board’s website, Ms Nwaodike observed that the Board has acted over the last seven years as if the Law does not exist and continued to conduct its functions and operations in cult-like secrecy.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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SimbaPay chatbot debuts for Africa, Europe

London based digital money transfer provider, SimbaPay has launch an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbot service which now makes International Money Transfer (remittance) possible with only an SMS, reports ITRealms.

The SimbaPay chatbot will also enable 24/7 instant customer service for its customers across Africa and Europe.

“We’re thrilled at the prospect of the chatbot service resolving most customer enquiries instantly at any time of day or night” said Daniel Howard, CTO for SimbaPay. “Another major objective we achieved with the chatbot service is that it also works without internet. This means customers with a mobile phone, even a basic phone without internet access, can access the SimbaPay chatbot using SMS”.
Speaking on the Interswitch partnership with SimbaPay, Paul Mwaura Ndichu, CEO Interswitch East Africa (K) said, “Interswitch is proud to be associated with a company as innovative as SimbaPay which is continually looking to improve and expand its product offering. We will continue to collaborate in development of products and services that contribute to expansion of the fintech space”.
Together with Interswitch, SimbaPay’s B2B division offers its instant remittance technology to banks & telcos who want to provide their customers with a modern digital remittance service.
SimbaPay platform senders can now send money with just an SMS. All they require is the recipient’s phone number and the chatbot will automatically obtain the recipient bank account or mobile money details.
With this launch, recipients of money transfers from SimbaPay now also have the flexibility of choosing whether to get their cash delivered to their Mobile Money wallet (e.g. M-Pesa, MTN Money, Airtel Money) or their bank account.
In some instances, recipients may not have a smartphone or internet data bundles or airtime credit. To address this, the SimbaPay chatbot is accessible through free of charge SMS.
Some of the banks that offer SimbaPay powered remittance services have millions of customers and therefore receive a high volume of enquiries. The chatbot provides the scalability to handle thousands of customer enquiries per hour.
The SimbaPay chatbot service is also accessible on SimbaPay’s social media channels including Facebook. Popular enquiries that are now resolved by the chatbot include exchange rate queries, how to send money instructions and coverage enquiries.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Jukuns back Gen. Danjuma, demand inquiry on Army's atrocities

The socio-cultural organisation of Jukun people, Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN) has thrown its weight behind its elder kinsman General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd), who at the weekend, called on his people to rise and defend themselves against rampaging Fulani herdsmen and their colluding military partners, reports ITRealms.

National Presidentm JDAN, Chief Bako Benjamin said in Lagos, alongside top executive of the association on Monday, that majority of Nigerians are unaware of the calamity and atrocities that has befallen Jukun people in the last four years and the nation's press does not pay enough attention to report to the world the silent ethnic cleansing and genocide ongoing in southern and central Taraba.

Also, he said rather than lampooning Danjuma for his candid view which was coming after a thorough analysis of the situation, the Nigerian military should have launched an investigation into the weighty allegation and fish out her culpable members.

JDAN, he said, demands for a Commission of Inquiry to look into several cases of atrocities, human rights violations and banditry committed by some security forces in Jukunland  against the innocent people, who are being killed by herdsmen, whose homes and farmlands are being burnt with wanton impunity and whose lives means virtually nothing to the very people who have sworn to defend them and the nation against aggression.

On developments in some parts of the country, especially Taraba State, Bako said the retired General was speaking exactly the minds of his people and out of frustration, stressing that Danjuma statements was a reflection of what presently goes on in Taraba and elsewhere around the middle belt, where several villages and town have been sacked and indigenes chased away by Fulani herdsmen who invaded their communities with the full backing of security operatives. 

"Rather than carpet our revered elderstatesman, the Jukun people have been anxiously waiting for the time when Fulani herdsmen who have killed entire villagers in our land will be arrested and paraded. We are peace loving people, but our people are being arrested in our land and been killed by those who otherwise came for pasture for their cattle," he said.

Bako lamented that parading Jukun youths on Sunday, barely 24 hours after Gen Danjuma’s criticism of their handling of their roles for taking pictures of the ongoing violence in their land, is simply exposing the ugly underbelly of the Nigerian military and heir complicit in the whole tragic saga unfolding in Taraba State, adding that where that is the case, the pople would be left with no choice than to defend themselves. 

“We are anxiously waiting for when Fulani herdsmen that have killed and wiped off entire villages in our land would be paraded. We have not travelled to anybody's land to look for trouble, but our people are been arrested in our land for snapping pictures. What Jukuns expected is for the Nigerian military and the federal government to launch an investigation into the weighty allegations that  General Danjuma raised not to be beating about the bush in denials without substance,” he said.

Bako further alleged that there are widespread reports of glaring bias and nepotism by the Nigerian military's Operation Ayem Kpatuma particularly in Takum and Ussa local government areas since they arrived.

For example, he said, there was no single presence of Fulani herdsmen in the two local government areas for over a year now since their last mass killings of the people, which saw them abandon the area and flee until the soldiers arrived on the same day with them in the name of Operation Ayem Kpatuma.

“No sooner had they arrived in the peaceful communities that burning of houses and killings resumed. As if that's not enough, the soldiers went about unleashing a campaign of terror and intimidation against Jukun people, breaking into homes and confiscating hunting dane guns, cutlasses, bows and arrows, and left the Fulani herdsmen fully armed with their weapons to continue their campaign of terror in the countryside.”

We have evidences where severally attempts by our youths who were driven out of their villages to defend their communities against the herdsmen by soldiers until the herdsmen are done.

“Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN), is eagerly waiting for a commission of inquiry into the atrocities that was committed against our people in Takum and Ussa local government areas to  clear the good name of the Nigerian Army and bring the collaborators and perpetrators to book,” Bako insisted.  

Benjamin observed that close to 50 villages in southern and central Taraba exist only in name as Fulani herdsmen has wiped out the indigenous population and are presently commandeering the villages.

He said persistent plea on the government to come to the rescue of the people have fallen on deaf ears and atrocities got worse with each passing day.

 “When operation Ayem Kpatuma was launched by the federal government, Jukun people jubilated and thought their misery has come to an end, only to discover that military operatives of the program started arriving together with thousands of Fulani herdsmen that had fled the area previously with their cattle.

“Our fear was confirmed when no sooner they arrived in the peaceful communities that burning of houses and killings resumed.

Ayo Midele/GEE

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