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Environment stakeholders call for synergy on environmental impact assessment practice

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Environment stakeholders call for synergy on environmental impact assessment practice

Stakeholders in the environment sector have called for synergy to avoid disproportionate environmental impact assessment (EIA).


They made the call at the 5th Charlie Wolf Symposium with the theme: “Learning from the UK Impact Assessment Journey” held in Abuja on Friday.

Mrs Hadiza Mailafiya, Former Minister of Environment, and chairman of the event, said there was the  need for team work in the sector, adding that more attention should be paid to quality and not quantity.

Mailafiya added that there was also need for effective leadership, professionalism in the practice of EIA, adding that continuity was paramount to ensure effectiveness.

She said that EIA was significant in all areas of life and should be done at the appropriate time.

She said dam construction, noise and air pollution, road expansion required EIA regulations.

“When roads are being expanded, trees are cut and that leads to deforestation. For every tree cut down, five trees must be replaced because of the role trees play in our lives and environment, trees help check erosion, they have herbal significance and they held a lot about our history,”  she said.

Speaking of the Ogoni clean up, she said practical steps needed to be taken to achieve results instead of having “meetings and meetings without any results.”

Mr Tayo Taiwo, an Environmental Geo-scientist and a panelist, said there was  need for synergy in the sector because experiences from other climes had shown that synergy was what they used to build the EIA sector and make it better.

Taiwo said it was sad that in Nigeria, there were organisations set up by the Federal Government who were doing the same things because they wanted to be territorial.

“We also have professional societies that want to go their own way as well, Even the academics have gone territorial. Everybody just want to be territorial and it is not because of the love of environment but for money.

“Because of this lack of synergy, we are not able to focus on one direction and then we have different standards. If we have synergy, we will spend less, we will have more quality in what we do.

” If we do not close ranks and get things done come 10 years,  20 years,  we will still be talking about this and the environment will be the loser for it and the environment is you and I because we are the most important component of the environment,” he said.

Mr Josh Forthergill the Guest speaker, who spoke on the topic, “30 Years of U.K. EIA Resolutions Sharing Progress in looking to the Future” stressed the need for teamwork to improve the practice of EIA.

Forthergill, a consultant in the U.K., said synergy and team work had helped the practice in the U.K, saying there was  need to keep communication open and share ideas.

Mr Ahmed Sanda, President, Association for Environmental Impact Assessment Nigeria, said it was necessary to have everyone come together because the sector was being threatened with issues of over regulation.

“In the sense that a company will have to come and look for four or five different certifications of the same thing from five different agencies.

“The cost financially is high, the cost time wise is prohibitive, so that is why as an association,  we are working with everybody to streamline the activities to reduce over regulation,” he said.

Sanda explained that there were things from the act that were domiciled at the ministry of environment as the apex regulation agency and there were things that the state and local government areas could act on.

“At the federal level, we have the issue of some federal government agencies thinking they also have some role to play because the impact assessment is all emcompassing, all inclusive of each and every sector.

“There are some gray areas that bring some conflict here and there but with continued discussion and understanding these gaps are being closed,” he said.

He, however, said there was a new bill coming up that clearly specified these roles so that the areas of conflict would reduce.

Sanda said the lecture was held annually in honor of Charles Wolf, one of the co-founders of the International Association of Impact Assessment, who passed away five years ago.

He said Wolf taught at the Federal University of Technology, Yola, in the early 80s.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide

 

Okeoghene Oghenekaro: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Education

95% of students in exit classes resume in FCT  

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About 95 per cent of students in the exit classes of the secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), resumed on Tuesday, in preparation for the 2020 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).


Majority of the teachers and students said they were happy to resume after lockdown, which lasted for about five months, due to the ravaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mrs Essien Enewan-Okon, Principal of Government Secondary School, Wuse Zone 3 in Abuja, said that 90 per cent of students in the school’s exit classes have resumed.

“They are all in their classrooms, very happy and we teachers are equally happy to resume; we thank God and the FCT Administration, who have made it possible for us to resume.

“As a government school, we are fully prepared for resumption because the FCT Secondary Education Board gave us all it takes to resume, starting from hands sanitizer, buckets for hand washing to face masks.

“The entire school premises was fumigated, we washed our classrooms and created the two meters distance required for desk spacing in all our 11 classrooms before resumption,” she said.

The principal also said that the school on resumption began by giving the students orientation on the new normal and how to go about their lives in school and at home.

“We even told them the type of food they should eat and pray to God that they should comply with the protocols,” she said.

A student in the school, Daniel Boluwatife said that she was excited to come back to school because the uncertainty of whether or not Nigerian students would be writing the 2020 WASSCE was very disappointing to her.

Also, Michael Oyegoke said, “I am excited to come back to school because there were a lot of distractions at home than in the school environment”.

On whether the teachers would be able to cover their syllabus within the two weeks preceding the WASSCE, both teachers and students were optimistic.

Mrs Felicial Ogbuegebe, head of sciences department in the school said that before they went on lockdown, there was only two weeks remaining before the WASSCE.

“We had covered our syllabus and we were doing revision before the lockdown came.

“All we need to do now is to revise with the students because staying at home for this long, they must have forgotten one or two things.

“Every safety measure has been put in place before the school resumed; so all the teaching staff are joining our hands together to teach the students, especially the sciences – Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

“All the teachers are now involved in preparing the exit class; this time it is not a time for a teacher to say that he teaches only SS 3 or SS 1 classes.

“Whatever class you teach, we are all involved with the SS 3 class now to make sure that they get whatever they need to get before their exams, ” she said.

An optimistic Nuralhuda Mohammed, a female student told the News Agency of Nigeria : “my expectation for WASSCE is that, it will not be hard for me because I have read over and over during the lockdown, so, I am good to go.

“Since my teachers have all covered all their schemes of work and I am not new to the school environment, I have nothing to worry about,” she said.

In another vein, Malam Tamim Yusuf, the chief administrative officer of the Muslim Community Centre, owners of Fau-ad Lababidi Islamic Academy and four other institutions in Abuja, said that, the school was in full compliance with the government directives for resumption.

“In compliance with the directives of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, it is only our SS 3 students that have resumed.

“We decontaminated the entire school premises and an inspection was carried out by the Department of Quality Assurance of the FCT Education Secretariat on arrangement of classrooms.

“They were satisfied with our compliance, so they issued us a certificate for having satisfied all the requirements.

“Today being the first day of resumption, we organized a general orientation both for students and teachers.

“The orientation is in two phases: a medical doctor came from the National Hospital Abuja to give a talk generally on the COVID-19 protocols and an Imam gave another talk on what the Qura’an says about the pandemic and human responsibility.

“Right from the gate, no one is given access to the school premises until they have washed their hands and had their temperature taken; our classes are compliant in terms of social distancing,” he said. .

 

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Felix Ajide (NAN) 

 

 

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Agriculture

Food sufficiency: Osun commissioner inaugurates ‘Wave City’ project

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Osun Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Adewole Adedayo, on Tuesday  inaugurated an agricultural project, ‘Wave City,’ sited by FarmKonnect Agribusiness Nigeria Ltd at Wasimi to promote food sufficiency.


Speaking at the inauguration,  Adedayo, who described the project as the first of its kind in the state and the South-West region, said it was aimed at promoting food sufficiency, national development and agricultural inclusion.

According to him, every responsible government must create an enabling environment for farmers.

“Today, I believe FarmKonnect is now realising a dream that started in 2017. Today, having FarmKonnect in Osun State is another dream.

“Today, having these facilities on ground to develop agriculture in the south-west is a dream realised. So FarmKonnect has realised a dream.

“Like I keep saying, agriculture has the highest potentials to create jobs, both for skilled and unskilled labour. So, I will like to thank FarmKonnect for bringing this project to Osun State,” he said.

According to the commissioner, agriculture is top on the agenda of the state government.

The commissioner, who highlighted the various initiatives of the government to support agricultural development, pledged the administration’s readiness to welcome investors like FarmKonnect to the state.

“We are looking for investors like this, people who will empower our youths and also create jobs for farmers,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that FarmKonnect was founded by Lt.-Col. Oluwole Azeez who voluntarily resigned from the Nigerian Army to invest in agriculture real estate business.

Azeez said that his organisation’s mission was to take agriculture beyond just planting crops and making money to a business which promotes food sufficiency, national development and agricultural inclusion.

“In FarmKonnect, we run a model we call agricultural real estate and we are the first to do that. This allows multiple people to own a portion of the farm and they don’t necessarily have to step on the farm.

“All they just need to do is engage their money and we take all the performances around. The greenhouses you are seeing here are specifically designed for the tropics.

“The vision is to build one million square metres of greenhouses, a controlled farming environment technology using greenhouses and net houses to produce fruits and leafy vegetables from tomatoes to pepper.

“This is the first of its kind in Nigeria. This is specifically designed for minimal electricity as well as to expand our yield,” he said.

Azeez  said he was grateful to the Osun government for its tremendous support to the project and assured it of greater benefits in terms of food sufficiency and job creation.

Also speaking, Dr Bosade Ogunlana, the Founder of Entrepreneurship Initiative, commended FarmKonnect for the project, saying it would help in empowering the youths.

According to her, Africa has more youths to engage in land cultivation in order to boost food sufficiency and security.

“Africa is the biggest gun of the world because over 60 per cent of arable land in the entire world resides in Africa. I know with something like this happening here today, there is hope for Nigeria.

“Agriculture is the new gold, there is no longer oil. There is nothing we want to do with oil. Agriculture can help us with the GDP of the economy.

“It can help us to engage the youths. It can help us to ensure there is no scarcity of food,” she said.

Ogunlana thanked the Osun government for its support to FarmKonnect, urging it to ensure adequate security for the project.

NAN reports that the event,  which also featured the unveiling of the tomato statue and facility tour, was held in strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

The event was also attended by Mr Yemi Lawal, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Osun, as well as representatives of the various partners of FarmKonnect.

(
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)

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Education

Robogarden set to empower education stakeholders on coding technology

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A digitised educational platform, Robogarden, has urged the Federal Government to imbibe personalised learning on coding, robotics, artificial intelligence and skills in the Nigeria’s educational system.


Its President, Dr Mohamed Elhabiby, made the plea at a webinar on Tuesday, in Lagos, saying this would ensure future of the new economy was dependent on successful and sustainable digital transformation processes.

According to him, this will be achieved through skills, education technology, personalised learning and artificial intelligence.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the webinar focussed on Personalised Learning, AI and Education Technology, Digital Transformation Skills, Challenges, Today and in the Future.

Its theme was: “Rights and Voices of Youth: Teach Coding for the Youth.”

Elhabiby said there was the need to prepare children from an early age for the new reality of professions and mastery of digital technology to address shortage of skill and enhance competitiveness in the future of jobs.

He said that Robogarden was created to engage and provide code execution support for persons of different races and culture, irrespective of language.

The founder of the garden also urged the government to stimulate plans to provide tools to enable individuals, communities and companies to become active innovators.

“The job market was already undergoing profound digital transformation, and so required professionals with an increasing knowledge of technology.

“Such qualifications would result in better income distribution, reduction of social inequality, unemployment and crime rates.

“Skills for the future in 2030 include: digital literacy and computational thinking, creative and innovative thinking, and cognitive flexibility.

“We are highly relying on technology and skills should be matching to them.

“It is important to be digitally literate to the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things and data science.

“Today’s job vacancies may not be the same as tomorrow, and that is why humans should be able to adapt to the changes happening around them in the digital space.

“Currently, every country has issues with shortage of skills and high unemployment rates globally.

“Skills plus education is the new future, while the new literacy is coding,” he said.

In her remarks, Mrs Ngozi Ogoke, Chief Executive Officer,  Ovana E-learning Limited, said her organisation, in collaboration with Robogarden,  focussed on bringing transformation to the Nigerian digital economy and Africa as a whole.

According to her, the webinar serves to offer scholastically unique technology driven solutions that would lead to critical thinking and achievement of excellence in higher learning outcomes.

“We aim to create bright new opportunities for individuals and the entire community as we are in a new world of technology and

digitalisation,” Ogoke said.

Responding, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the country had opened its doors to technological training with regards to robotics.

Adamu, represented by Mrs Muna Onuzo-Iyanam, Special Adviser, Technical Planning, Research and Development, Ministry of Education, said he was committed to upscaling training of teachers and students toward achieving digital transformation in the education space.

“Our schools will become more compliant at introducing AI, robotics, coding and technological learning to prepare our children for the future and advance the future of jobs,” he said.

Also at the webinar, Dr Sally Adukwu-Bolujoko, the President, National Association of Proprietors of Private School, pledged her support and commitment to ensuring public schools’ participation in technological personalised learning.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Politics

Opposition lawmakers leading anti-corruption investigations says Elumelu

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The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) says opposition lawmakers in the house have been at the center of unearthing and exposing acts of corruption in the country.


Elumelu made this known in a statement by his Special Assistant on Legal Matters, Mr Oyomira Idahosa, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Elumelu was reacting to a statement credited to the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Timi Frank, accusing the opposition of being indifferent and silent over the ongoing anti-corruption investigations in the house.

“Such accusation is unfortunate, misleading, undeserving and uncharitable to the minority caucus in our manifest forceful efforts in exposing corruption and holding this administration accountable.

“Opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly have never and will never compromise or shy away from its legislative duties at any time, even at the risk of their lives.

“While we appreciate his concerns, the accusation by Comrade Timi Frank against opposition lawmakers is incorrect and misleading miscomprehension of our processes in the uncompromising efforts in exposing corruption.

“The accusation is apparently borne out inadvertent misunderstanding of the processes and procedures of the legislature, including those related to listing and presentation of motions, bills and other activities at plenary and committee levels in the National Assembly,” he said.

Elumelu said that the minority caucus in the house Minority had not dropped any motion for corruption investigation on any individual as wrongly alleged by Mr Timi Frank.

According to him, it is also misinforming to allege that a motion was officially slated to be read before the Eid-el-Kabir festivities and that no action was taken.

The rep described the alleged inaction as another mis-comprehension of the procedures, processes and scheduling of legislative activities.

“Our efforts contributed to various corruption investigations both within and outside the National Assembly, and we will never relent in this onerous task.

“The minority caucus has been extensively vocal on the floor in the fight against corruption as well as in holding government accountable in all sectors of our national life.

“The roles of opposition members in the National Assembly in unearthing corruption as well as investigating of indicted persons are in the public domain.

“However, it is imperative to state that in this task, guiding legislative procedures and processes, which reinforce the achieving of expected results, are followed.

“The opposition lawmakers are indeed aware of the confidence reposed on it by Nigerians at this critical time in our national history and we will never relent in holding government accountable in the interest of Nigerians,” he added.

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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