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Google doodle celebrates Buchi Emecheta 75th posthumous birthday

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Google on Sunday celebrated Nigerian novelist Buchi Emecheta with its Doodle on what would have been her 75th birthday.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements and notable historical figures.

“Born to Igbo parents in the Lagos suburb of Yaba on this day in 1944, Florence Onyebuchi (Buchi) Emecheta, moved to the U.K. in 1962, with her husband and first two children.

“She had another two, and, at the age of 22, pregnant with a fifth, left her husband and set off on her own.

Her son Sylvester Onwordi recalled that as an immigrant single mother battling poverty in the slums of 1960s London, she would draw her five small children around her, light candles, and delight them with what she called her “Moonlight tales”.

He said that according to her mother, the stories were what she had learned at twilight by the light of a hurricane lamp from her aunts in the village, or imbibed at her father’s knee during her family’s internal exile in Lagos.

For the young Nigerian girl who dreamed even then of being a writer, these tales were like umbilical threads connecting the lonely orphan she became with the lost world of mythical ancestors and her beloved home town of Ibusa.

Over the course of her life, Emecheta published 16 novels, including: “In The Ditch, Second-Class Citizen”, and “Slave Girl”, as well as her 1986 autobiography, “Head Above Water” and wrote several plays for stage, TV and radio.

Although she resisted labeling herself a “feminist” author, much of Emecheta’s writing addressed issues of gender and race.

“I work toward the liberation of women. My books are about survival, just like my own life,” she was quoted to have said.

During the 1970s and ’80s, she worked as a lecturer and founded the Ogwugwu Afor Publishing Company with her son. She was named an Officer of the British Empire in 2005, a remarkable accomplishment for someone who faced such adversity.

“Just keep trying and trying, if you have the determination and commitment, you will succeed,” Emecheta once said.

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

Science & Technology

BPSR signs MoU to scale ICT innovation in public service

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The Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) to scale ICT innovation in the service.

The Director General of BPSR, Mr Ibrahim Arabi, at the event in Abuja, said the part decision was informed by the need to scale the capacity of public servants along current trend in technology.

He said the step would help to catalyse a rebranded public service for Nigeria in 2025.

“The official signing of the MoU is a practical step to fulfilling the aspirations of the government towards having a workforce with required sets to deliver better service to citizens.

“Huge investment of the Federal Government on ICT infrastructure in DBI was a clear demonstration of its strategic thinking to upskill of public servants in the ICT innovations towards reforming the service,” he said.

Arabi said a committee will be set up to commence development of action plan to identify skills gaps in the public service by conducting Training Needs Assesment (TNA).

He said activities that would captured in the action plan includes digital literacy, developing strategy for use of Computer Based Test (CBT) to conduct recruitment and promotion examination in the public service, entrepreneurship programme and use of local contents.

The Director General of DBI, Ms Viola Usoro said the objective of the MoU was to form a synergy between the BPSR’s vision of developing a world class public service using ICT and the provision of capacity building by the institute.

“The relevance of ICT in driving the public service reforms cannot be over emphasized especially as the Federal Government seeks to direct the public service information System,”she said.

OEO/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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FG to address ethical issues in science, technology application

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The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology says it is working with stakeholders in the sector to address ethical issues in the application of science and technology in the country.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Bitrus Nabusu, said this at the opening of the 2-day stakeholders’ meeting for the harmonisation of the National Bioethics Committee Framework and Policy Documents.

The meeting was organised by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in collaboration with the Nigeria National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM-UNESCO).

Bioethics relates to ethical issues emerging from advances in sciences and technology. It is the moral discernment from policies and practices in the fields of sciences and technology.

Nabusu, represented by Mr Abayomi Oguntunde, Director, Bio-resources Technology in the ministry said there was need to come up with policies on bioethics because of advancement in science and technology.

“The environment is changing rapidly, people are also changing fast, technology is advancing faster than we can imagine; new scientific innovations are coming up promising us heaven on earth.

“We must not forget that advancement comes with its own challenges.

“Life, as we all know, is full of risks everyday with the hope that the risk we take will yield good results and not break us.

“Bioethics, therefore, is here to mediate between changes in the society, scientific innovations and societal concerns,’’ he said.

According to him, bioethics is the application of moral principles (ethics) to life.

The permanent Secretary said the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights was adopted by acclamation on Oct. 19, 2005 at UNESCO’s General Conference.

He said the declaration affirmed that ethical issues raised by the rapid advances in science and their technology applications should be examined.

Nabusu said it should be examined with due respect to the dignity of human person and universal respect for, and observances of, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“The primary aim of the declaration is to provide a universal framework of principles and procedures to guide member states (to which Nigeria belongs to).

“It will also guide member states in formulation of their legislations, policies or other instruments in the field of bioethics,’’ he said.

In her remarks, Dr Chitu Princewill, a deputy director, NABDA said Nigeria had remained observer in international bioethics committee meeting due to lack of a National Bioethics Committee.

Princewill said the NATCOM- UNESCO which was the Nigerian clearing house for Bioethics in 2009 chose the NABDA as the Focal Point for Bioethics in Nigeria.

“Also, to ensure the establishment of the Nigerian National Bioethics Committee, since then the NABDA has been working towards achieving the mandate.

“The Federal Government as part of its drive to ensure that right thing is done in Nigeria allocated some funds to the establishment of the Committee,’’ She said.

According to her, the National Bioethics Committee Framework is all encompassing and will continue to expand as changes occur in the society.

“It will expand and with advances in science and technology, therefore it cannot be restricted to one particular issue.

“The framework will attend to all issues posing challenge to life, dignity and freedom of persons as it affects us as a nation and also proffer advice on how best to tackle these issues.’’

In addition, Princewill said the main objective of the committee was to act as an advisory body to the President and policy makers.

She said that the stakeholders meeting to kick start the establishment of the National Bioethics Committee had been established since 2009.

The official, however, urged the stakeholders to deliberate on producing a National Bioethics Framework and a National Bioethics Policy to enhance the establishment of the National Bioethics Committee.

Also speaking, Mr Ngandeu Hugue, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences UNESCO said the agency was looking forward to the recommendations from the meeting.

Hague said the agency would provide support for the committee when inaugurated.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 2-day meeting is expected to produce inputs from six technical sessions; health, agriculture, environment, society, education as well as defence and security.

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Paradigm Initiative, Dufuna Technologies train graduates to be employable

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Paradigm Initiative an NGO and Dufuna Technologies Ltd say they are collaborating on a digital skills training programme to empower under-served youths with relevant digital skills and connect them to both local and global opportunities.

They said on Wednesday in Lagos that the collaboration would also contribute to ease the unemployment burden in the country.

According to them, the National Bureau of Statistics has rated the youth unemployment and underemployment at 55.4 per cent.

Olatokunbo Fagbamigbe, Project Lead at Dufuna Technologies, said that the company was a training-focused organisation that is passionate about tackling unemployment among recent graduates through its training programmes.

Fagbamigbe said that from October 2019, the collaboration between Paradigm Initiative and Dufuna will be organising a six-month hands-on CodeCamp.

He said that it was a Lagos-based project-centric software engineering training programme for recent graduates.

“’Prior to this new initiative, Paradigm Initiative had for eight years from 2012, organised its innovative Techtiary programme, involving training of tertiary institution graduated to acquire technical skills.

“The programme has enabled students in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to develop entrepreneurial and technical skills during their university education with many success stories as a testament to its impact.

“This collaboration between Paradigm Initiative with Dufuna announces the rebranding of the Techtiary programme,” he said in a statement.

Tosin Abolaji, Programme Manager for Digital Inclusion at Paradigm Initiative, said the programme would equip participants with skills in HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, SQL, algorithms & data structures and software version control and classes would be taught both virtually and physically in Lagos.

He said that no prior knowledge of programming was required but, however, to succeed in the programme, participants must have the determination to succeed and be a self-starter.

Abolaji said that applications for the programme opened on  Aug. 2 and will close Aug. 30.

According to him, there is a deferred payment model that allows trainees to only pay for the cost of the programme after they have completed the program and started work based on new skills acquired during the training.

SKA/PDE

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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FG appoints Kashifu Abdullahi as new NITDA boss

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The Federal Government on Tuesday appointed Mr Kashifu Abdullahi as the new Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of NITDA confirmed the appointment to the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

Umar quoted a statement signed by Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, on the new NITDA boss appointment and others.

The appointment of Abdullahi was sequel to the nomination of Dr Isa Pantami, the outgoing director general of the agency as a minister designate by the President.

Abdullahi until his appointment was a principal officer at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who was on secondment to NITDA as a Technical Assistant to Pantami.

Born on Feb. 21, 1980, Abdullahi is a graduate from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi state and the fifth director general of NITDA.

He, in the past worked with the Galaxy Backbone Limited and has a number of professional certifications.

Other appointments by the government according to Shehu, included Sen. Basheer Mohammed who replaced Mrs Sadiya Farouk as Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees,Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Dr Chioma Ejikeme was appointed to replace Mrs Sharon Ikeazor as the Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.

Mr Adeleke Adewolu’s name had also been forwarded to the Senate to replace Mr Sunday Dare as Executive Commissioner, Nigerian Communications Commission.

NIU/ROT

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NCC records 271, 112 complaints in 4 years – Danbatta

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it recorded 271,112 complaints from Jan. 2015 till July 2019 from which 95 per cent has been successfully resolved.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta revealed this on Tuesday at the opening of the 2nd edition of Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO) in Abuja.

The conference hosted by the NCC has the theme: “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution” .

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the conference, declared by President Muhammadu Buhari is being attended by representatives of Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Bodies from 11 countries.

“We are ensuring that telecoms service delivery is improved through continuously monitoring of activities of our licensees in order to treat consumer right and offer them value for their money.

“We believe that service delivery on the parts of our licensees in this era of technological evolution should be the totality of how telecoms operating companies package, provide and deliver, those services to their consumers, ” Danbatta said.

He said the commission introduced two major initiatives as part of measures to empower the consumers which were, the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code, and the 622 Toll-Free Line

He said the DND 2442 Short Code is used by consumers to control what they receive on their phones as unsolicited text messages or calls while the 622 Toll-Free line is too ensure improvement in service delivery.

Danbatta explained that 21 million subscribers had signed up for the Do Not Disturb (DND) initiative and NCC has continued to create more awareness on it through various outreach programmes and other stakeholder engagement fora.

The EVC said that consumers can call the 622 number to escalate their unresolved complaints to their service providers for effective resolution through the Commission’s intervention.

Danbatta said that the commission had commenced aggressive enforcement of compulsory compliance with the NCC’s Code of Corporate Governance for Telecommunications Industry.

NAN reports that representatives from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Uganda, Sirialone, Gambia, Mali, Niger, Mozambique, Mauritania and Eswatini ( Southern Africa) attended the conference.

JEZ/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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