Features

Muhammadu Buhari: Slavery still exists – We must take action

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Four centuries ago, the first 20 documented African slaves arrived on the shores of Virginia. In the years that followed, millions more were shipped in dehumanizing conditions across the ocean and enslaved. Slavery had, of course, existed before. But this indicated the beginning of a mechanized trade that saw human beings reduced to property on an unprecedented scale.

Despite the fact that descendants of African slaves have made valuable contributions across society, they are still dealing with the effects of this poisonous legacy. They still have to navigate its everyday manifestations, such as discrimination, racism or lack of access to resources and opportunities. This must not be overlooked or forgotten.

Yet, as we reflect on this day, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition, it is clear slavery did not only thrive then. It still thrives today. Across the world it is estimated there are as many as 40 million men, women and children living in forced servitude. They are the industrial victims of a business many believe was abolished hundreds of years ago. They are the modern enslaved.

Their exploitation appears in many guises, though usually unrecognized as slavery. Many victims are unseen, hidden beneath opaque supply chains. Others are hidden in plain sight, entrapped by circumstances that rob them of autonomy. In any case, their labor, often dangerous, is no product of choice, and its conditions are self-perpetuating.

In Africa, its modern forms include debt bondage, the enslavement of war captives, commercial sexual exploitation and forced domestic servitude. Holding people held against their will, controlling their movements and forcing them to work for the sole profit of others — wherever they are — is slavery today and always.

The abolitionists of the 19th century succeeded more than any before: By working to extinguish the transatlantic slave trade that had claimed 15 million victims, they laid the groundwork to ensure it did not manufacture millions more. But their work is not done. We must take up their examples as we forge a path forward to eliminate modern-day slavery in all its forms.

Slavery, once again, has become entwined in the global economy — and it is largely unseen. For instance, most of us might know in principle that the mining of cobalt crucial to our smartphones might have used forced labor. But what do we know of those that experience it? Just as personal testimony and resulting public pressure led to the passing of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in Britain in 1807, these stories must be told and used to inform policy. Once heard, they can elevate visceral reactions, driving the public pressure needed to ensure the application of anti-slavery laws.

One distinction from then and now is important: the costs. From records, adjusted for today’s prices, the cost of a human-being-as-property was valued on average at $40,000. Today, it is just $90, sometimes even lower. We must remember that slavery is not simply a campaign of hatred; it is the pursuit of profit. One way to extinguish it in its current forms, therefore, is to make it economically unfeasible. This means making sure that any anti-slavery laws have bite, come with strong penalties and are enforced.

It is also vital to have a robust tip-off and reporting system. Where this once meant detecting ships, today the signs are less conspicuous. The public must be shown how to see what is hidden in plain sight, particularly signs of suspicious behavior. This might seem broad. But vagueness should not give rise to reluctance to report anything that could be smuggling or forced servitude. If something doesn’t look right, report it, for you could be securing another human’s freedom.

In Nigeria, our anti-trafficking agency has rolled out the “Not for Sale” campaign to protect against the deceptions of human smugglers, helping those who might be vulnerable to false promises see through the ruse and say no. These prevention programs are crucial.

The appearance of slavery today might have changed. The institution has not. There are no radical solutions to conjure, only political will. But on this, we can learn from the past, the shadows in which modern slavery proliferates today.

It is not enough to mark this 400th anniversary. We must use it as a platform to eliminate slavery in all its present-day forms. We should reflect in memory to find a better future, one that should ensure freedom for all.

Economy

Expo 2020 in Dubai: What Benefits to Africa?

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Mohammed Dansanta Rimi, Nigeria Ambassador to the United Arab

Emirates (UAE) delivering a letter to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum,

Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee in Dubai to confirm Nigeria’s participation.

Expo 2020 in Dubai: What Benefits to Africa?

, Nigeria News Agency

As countries plan to showcase their potential at the Dubai Expo 2020, the show promises to be an invaluable platform for all African nations to strengthen not only their relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but with the rest of the world.

The Expo, the first to be held in the Middle East, will hold within the Dubai South District on a site that is 4.38 square kilometres.

It is close to Al Maktoum International Airport and easily reached from Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai, Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminals.

Approximately 2 square kilometres will form the Expo gate area, while the remaining 2.4 square kilometres will feature supporting amenities, including the Expo 2020 Village for participants and staff accommodation, warehousing, logistics, transport nodes, hotels, retail and a public park.

The Expo 2020 Dubai coincides with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021, marking an important milestone for the UAE. Over the past 50 years, the UAE has impressed the world with its rapid growth and amazing achievements.

The Dubai Expo 2020 wants to motivate people to carry that innovative spirit forward for another 50 years.

With 25 million visits expected, Expo 2020 will create millions of opportunities for positive change, as nations come together to

solve some of the biggest challenges facing us all.

The people attending will come from all over the world, with 70 per cent expected to be international visitors, the highest proportion in World Expo history. 30,000 UAE resident volunteers from a range of nationalities and backgrounds will ensure visitors have the time of their lives – returning again and again.

By participating, African businesses have a chance to join a community of Expo’s buyer and supplier network. Africa’s non-oil trade with Dubai has been growing steadily over the last decade, accounting for 10.5 per cent of the emirate’s total non-oil foreign trade in 2018.

According to UAE Federal Customs Authority data, for the first half of 2018, non-oil foreign trade volume with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region amounted for AED 138.6 billion; trade with East and Southern Africa totalled AED 28.9 billion; and trade with West and Central Africa AED 27.8 billion.

The organisers of the World’s Greatest Show, said that majority of countries in Africa had publicly announced their participation, adding that each participating country, regardless of size, population, wealth or perceived influence, will have its own pavilion at the Expo.

Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Senegal,

Sierra Leone, Somalia and Togo are among Africa countries that have already confirmed their participation in the Expo.

Nigeria has the highest population in Africa and is a traditional trade partner for UAE with non-oil trade between the two countries

amounting to 1.3 billion dollars in 2016.

Mr Mohammed Dansanta Rimi, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UAE had since delivered a letter to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, confirming Nigeria’s participation in the Expo.

The Ambassador said: “We want to show the world how we are working to improve the lives of our youth and people, while opening up our economy and encouraging foreign investment – and the Expo will be the ideal platform for us to do so.’’

Al-Maktoum, confirming Nigeria’s participation in the Expo said: “People and innovation are at the heart of World Expos, which is why we are delighted to welcome Nigeria’s participation.

“Expo 2020 will be the first World Expo to be held in the developing world, and will be for the developing world; so, we look forward to working with Nigeria and other confirmed African countries on our journey to 2020.’’

Similarly, Mr Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of the Expo added: “As director-general of Expo 2020, I have no doubt to say that the Expo will offer an opportunity to take our relationships (with Africa) to new heights.

“Our Expo visitors are expected to be primarily international coming from all over the world – including Africa.

“Almost all African nations have confirmed their participation and we are working closely with them to curate and programme exhibitions that are meaningful to contribute at all levels.’’

But, according to the organisers, no fewer than 192 countries have confirmed participation, as well as companies, non-governmental

organisations, businesses and educational institutions.

The organisers, who spoke recently to some selected African journalists in Dubai, said that the six months celebration of human

brilliance and achievement will inspire everyone to create a better future for all.

According to them, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), African countries and everything they have to offer will be accessible to the

whole world in new and unexpected ways.

“From discovering what the future holds for the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, and tasting Ethiopia’s next big super-grain, to investing in Kenya’s croton nuts, energy industry, learning about Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan 2017-2020, and preserving the continent’s intangible cultural heritage, there will be no barriers to connecting minds at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Expo 2020, a once-in-lifetime experience, they added will be a time to create and renew connections and deepen through 2020 and beyond, a time to be awed by the spectacular events programme, and a time to do business.

“The show which will open to the world between October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021, will also move away from traditional geographical clusters and band together countries facing similar challenges and will  focus on `Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability’, which is the sub-theme of the Expo.

“This involve ensuring jobs, education and healthcare for all; easy and equitable access to transport and ideas; and balancing development with preserving the environment for future generations.

The sub-themes also form part of commitment to advancing the 2020 Global Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),’’ they said.

“The African Union (AU) has been identified as a body that will play a critical role in promoting Africa’s growth and development at the forthcoming Expo, with the AU already embodying Expo 2020’s theme: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the future’, will showcase to the world the power of collaboration in building a more prosperous and integrated Africa.

“Already, with a collective effort of the 55 AU member states to implement Agenda 2063 – a blueprint for delivering Africa’s goal for

inclusive and sustainable development, also involves addressing issues in agriculture, transport, science and technology, health,

information and communication technology, as well as those relating to legal and financial matters.’’

It said that among the 25 projects selected in Expo 2020’s Global Best Practice Programme, 15 have a direct impact on some of the biggest challenges facing Africa, noting that Africa and the UAE had enjoyed a long friendship, steeped in a shared culture and trade ties that date back centuries, and which still define their mutually respectful relationship.

Analysts believe that Africa is the future of global economic growth. And while other continents see slow to negative growth in their economies, Africa countries’ economies are growing at double digit level.

So, African participation in Expo 2020 is seen as an important element for the success of the mega event.

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FEATURE: Gender-Based Violence: Do men suffer same?

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Gender-Based Violence: Do men suffer same?

Aliyu, Nigeria News Agency

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is any violence directed at an individual

based on his or her sex or gender identity.

It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse,

threats, coercion and economic or educational deprivation, whether

occurring in public or private life.

Whoever the victim is – man, woman, girl or boy — GBV undermines

the health, dignity, security and autonomy of victims and it remains shrouded

in a culture of silence.

An overview by UN Population Fund (UNFPA) which places more emphasis

on the female gender, however, states that violence against women and girls

is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world.

The fund notes that such violence knows no social, economic or national

boundaries and adds that an estimated one in three women in the world

will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.

However, GBV as the name connotes, is any violence on an individual due

to his or her gender identity, men inclusive.

Against the backdrop of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against GBV declared

by the UN from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 to bring to light various acts

of violence and abuse against men, women, boys and girls, News Agency of

Nigeria seeks to find out if men also suffer same and why they keep mum.

With the 2019 theme — “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands

Against Rape’’, the 16 days of activism is a call for global actions to increase awareness, galvanise advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations toward dealing with abuse cases.

Malam Ya’u Umar, a 57-year-old civil servant in Abuja, then narrates

what he calls“psychological trauma suffered by many married men.”

He says it is not only women, girls and boys that suffer GBV, noting that

married men especially suffer it “as exhibited by some wives in many

different forms.’’

He explained that from the definitions of GBV, which include emotional and

psychological abuse, “many married men are also suffering in silence.”

Umar says culture plays a great role in silencing men suffering from

domestic violence, as they cannot openly speak about it.

The civil servant, who said he would not want to go into details of the things

some men go through in the form of violence in their homes, added that “culturally and religiously, a man is the head of the home and as such, should not be heard as being violated in his house.

“Culture sees it as something unimaginable, and as such, the men will rather continue to endure in silence; but these are things that actually happen; many family members can attest to that.

“I don’t think any man can openly say that he is being assaulted by his wife or by a woman; no man will ever come out to say that his wife or a woman beats him; right from childhood, boys are made to know that girls/women are the weaker sex.”

Another man, Mr Donatus Nnamoko, a 48-year-old businessman residing in Abuja, said “I almost abandoned my family due to my wife’s nagging; the psychological and emotional abuse was too much for me to bear.’’

He explained that even though his wife is educated and earning salary, her nagging behaviour subjected him to psychological trauma and anxiety “and many times, I felt like just absconding from home.

“Even though we have now ironed out our differences, anytime I remember

those days, I begin to think differently about her.

“I had to report her to both families, where we were summoned for meeting and we discussed at length and both of us spoke our minds on everything happening between us.

“We were then warned and we swore to an oath not to cause trouble again and I want to believe she has now changed.’’

For Mr Adebayo Aina, a lawyer also based in Abuja, said violence against men had been happening for ages, “but the attention on it has been very low; and the men do not speak about it due to culture or maybe stigma.

“Even though it happens to women more than men, many men are also undergoing some form of torture.’’

He explained that many husbands suffer psychological abuse in homes, narrating how his wife tried to poison his children against him.

He said that “some women are troublesome and can do anything to make life unbearable to their husbands; especially when they ask for something and are not granted or suspect the man is into extra marital affairs.

“Some women can tell the children all sorts of things that can make them to even hate their father; many women display such attitude, which is very bad and can divide the family.

“Do you know that many men resort to hanging out with friends and the bar because of their wives’ attitude?, many of us will like to go home and rest after work, but cannot do that because of some women’s nagging.

“Many times I felt like running out of the house because of the `dangerous’ look my wife gives me when I return from work.’’

He added that “the unfriendly look’’ would just send the man thinking about what he did wrong, “and that kind of trauma can cause high blood pressure, as the woman keeps eyeing without any explanation.

“That kind of trauma is a huge abuse because the man will not be able to concentrate.’’

Aina said that even though he is a lawyer, he never handled any abuse case against a man, as many see it as a family matter “which the men would not want to make public.’’

He added that although it had been happening and the men kept enduring in silence, there was need to bring it to the fore, just like the advocacy against abuse of women and girls “so that men too would have peace of mind.’’

He urged the media to also focus and report cases of abuse against men, so as to find lasting solution to it, “in form of a law, establishment of special court to try such cases or emphasis on the use of family to tackle the matter.

“Once there is a law to protect men against abuse, it will deter suspected culprits.’’

He, however, encouraged men who felt violated to feel free to speak out and not to feel ashamed so as to avoid psychological trauma, which might cause diseases or send men to early grave.

He said “men also experience gender abuse but do not shout about it; I hope it would not get to a time that they would carry placards to protest against the aggressors.”

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FEATURE: Nigeria’s border closure: The pains, gains and challenges

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Nigeria’s border closure: The Pains, gains and challenges

, Nigeria News Agency

Nigeria shares international boundaries with the Republic of Benin to the west, Cameroon and Chad to the east and Niger, to the north.

Apart from these official borders, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says more than 1,400 illegal border routes exist in the country as smugglers routes, creating security challenges.

The comptroller-general of the service, Mr David Parradang, says that although the country has only 84 approved land border control posts, there are also more than 1,400 illegal borders in the country.

But Nigerian authorities note that the porous borders have resulted in crisis in economy sector that has been affecting the development of the country.

So, in August, Nigeria authority announced and enforced the closure of its border with the Republic of Benin.

The operation under the codename “Ex-Swift Response’’ was a collaborative security operation involving the Nigeria Immigration Service and Nigeria Customs Service together with Nigeria Police Force and the Armed Forces.

President Muhammadu Buhari attributes the partial closure of Nigeria’s border with Benin Republic to the massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor.

He expresses great concern over the smuggling of rice, noting that it threatens the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.

Similarly, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali, says that the closure of Nigeria’s borders was undertaken to strengthen the nation’s security and protect its economic interests.

Ali also observes that closure would stem the influx of smuggled goods, especially rice and tomatoes into the country, insisting that the closure has significantly increased revenue from import duties.

However, while the government claims to have acted in the best interests of the economy and Nigerians, some Nigerians and citizens of neighbouring countries most affected by the closure, continue to express worry about it, calling for an immediate reopening of the borders.

Some economists believe that the decision to close the nation’s land borders could be painful to the concerned neighbouring countries, considering the relationship with them.

According to them, one of the immediate gains of the closure could be a stop to the dumping of goods from European markets in Nigeria.

They are of the opinion that the action would go a long way in protecting our local manufacturers and producers.

They describe it as policy that would address and redefine relations with our neighbours in a win-win situation.

But critics insist that border closure is an economic aberration as most countries don’t usually close their borders for trade-related reasons.

According to them, the closure has the potential to disrupt the economic lifelines of many traders who depend on legitimate cross-border trade.

Irrespective of this, Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, says that the decision to close border is part of the measures to preserve foreign policy in the national interest.

“Last time, I was critical of Nigeria’s refusal to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and recently I have been in support of the decision to close the border.

“Nigeria is 70 per cent of the population of West Africa and if we have an industrial policy that is aimed at protecting the productive sector of Nigeria, it is a fair competition.

“We cannot allow our neighbours to open their doors to this unfair competition and through the back door undermine our industry.

“It is not about smuggling petroleum or rice; but in 2017, the Republic of Benin was the world’s second largest importer of tramadol — an opioid pain medication that is being abused — to U.S.

“So closing the borders, I hope is not a permanent solution but what I hope is that is an opportunity to sit down and agree on rules and then opens up the borders.

“It is extremely important to have a Foreign Policy that is ready to take very firm decision to protect the national interest against dangerous trade activities,” Sanusi observes.

Sharing similar sentiments, Ghana’s former President John Mahama has lauds the creation of a joint-security taskforce on the borders of Nigeria but warns that the continued delay is harming the economies of the West African region.

Mahama believes that the greatest volume of trade in West Africa takes place in the Lagos – Abidjan corridor.

“I believe that an ECOWAS meeting of the Heads of States should discuss the issues and it could lead to the resolution of the problem.

“So, closing your border is the simplest thing to do; any country can say I’m closing my border to imports from my neighbours, but it doesn’t help to build the kind of integration we are trying to build in West Africa,’’ he said.

He also expresses the fear that by the time the borders are re-opened, some businesses that rely on each other’s export may have collapsed.

Economists note that one of the immediate consequences of Nigeria’s action is the backlash it will have on Nigerian traders in Ghana.

They allege that more than 400 shops owned by Nigerians have been closed for flimsy excuses that were, hitherto, overlooked.

Nigeria Union in Diaspora also alleges that Nigerian traders in Accra are being harassed and victimised.

In spite of this, authorities in Nigeria, having observed the encouraging changes in the economy, recently foreclosed re-opening of the nation’s borders.

For instance, the Federal Government says 95 per cent of arms and ammunition inflow to Boko Haram insurgent group, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and bandits has gone down considerably.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed says border closure against importation of foreign goods and illegal immigrants will remain, observing that 296 illegal immigrants have been arrested.

According to him, the decision to close the borders is taken to secure the country which has been confronted by numerous trans-borders economic and security challenges.

“These challenges range from banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, illegal migrants and proliferation of light weapons, among others.

“The preference for foreign goods, especially food items such as rice, has continuously impoverished our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security.

“It is, however, disturbing that some neighbouring countries circumvent the ECOWAS protocol on transit.

“ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country.

“Experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol. Rather, they break the seals of containers at their ports and trans-load goods destined for Nigeria,’’ he said.

The minister, who expresses satisfaction with success so far recorded by the joint task force, observing that the singular decision has reduced importation of foreign goods, increased revenue generation and enhances security.

“On the economy, the partial closure of the borders has curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country, in addition to other prohibited items.

“Our series of interactions and engagements with Rice Miller Association of Nigeria since the commencement of this exercise has shown that the border closure has enhanced more production and milling of Nigerian rice.

“Patronage of local rice has increased and farmers are expanding their farms as well as engaging more hands.

“Border closure has also impacted positively on revenue generation which in turn will be used to build more infrastructures and develop critical sectors of the nation’s economy.

“The border closure has also curbed diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries,’’ he said.

Mohammed says further that 95 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons that are being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria is through porous borders.

“Our conclusion is that the arms and ammunition these terrorists and criminal elements are using no longer gain access into the country.

“The drugs which affect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians have equally been reduced,’’ the minister said.

He assures the public that government, through diplomatic channels, would continue to engage the nation’s neighbours to agree to comply with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit.

According to the minister, goods that are on the prohibition list to Nigeria, such as rice, used clothing, poultry products and vegetable oil, should not be exported to the country.

He also notes that the closure has provided a unique platform for the various participating agencies to jointly operate together, thereby strengthening inter-agency collaboration and reducing animosity.

He insists that the purpose of border close is to promote a secure, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.

Mohammed, therefore, calls on all Nigerians to be patriotic by patronising local rice to help the country to attain self-sufficiency in local rice production and boost the economy.

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Stakeholders restate rejection of Hate Speech Bill at Editors’ Conference

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Stakeholders restate rejection of Hate Speech Bill at Editors’ Conference

Bello, Nigeria News Agency

Stakeholders who participated at the

 

15th All Nigerian Editors’ Conference (ANEC) held in Sokoto, were unanimous in their rejection and condemnation of the Hate Speech Bill before the Senate.

They said that the bill was unnecessary, as everything needed to punish perpetrators of hate speech was taken care of by extant laws and legislations.

The bill was sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC-Niger North).

The bill which prescribed death penalty for offenders, also sought for the establishment of a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech.

A similar bill was earlier presented to the Senate in March 2018 for consideration, but did not make it to third reading.

Leading the pack at the 15thANEC, Chief segun Osoba, former governor of Ogun, described the bill as direct confrontation of the code of conduct instituted by the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO), made up of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).

“I don’t think we deserve this hate speech bill, we fought for those who are in political offices now. You all fought, many of you were killed, many of us were sent to jail.

“The social media is not part of us, we are trained journalists, we have our code of conduct instituted by the NPO, for which the NUJ, NPAN and Guild are all members. We have our standard, we are not part of social media.

“I don’t know why anybody will want to make a law to punish those of us who are part of those who fought for the independence of Nigeria, and we all fought for democracy we all enjoy today, the media was very strong when the issue of return to democracy was on the table,” he said.

The former governor said when he was defamed by Fame magazine and Punch newspapers in 1993 and 2001 respectively, he personally went to court to clear his name.

“When I was governor in 1993, Fame magazine wrote that I have 19 personal cars; immediately Abacha sent us packing in Nov. 17, 1993, the first thing I did was to go to court.

“I sued the magazine for label, at the end, the magazine apologised.

“In 2001, Punch wrote that I had a child as a governor out of wedlock, I also went to court.

“I am saying all this to show that in our laws, there are enough provisions for anybody to go to court if he or she felt injured.

“So I want to plead with you, that we should fight, let the current provisions of our laws take care, we must not let this hate speech bill go through.

“If it will mean to lobby the senators, I offer myself to the Guild to lead you as a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), I hope the senators will be sensible enough.

” We fought for democracy and independence, we shall also fight this one and by the grace of God, we shall overcome,” Osoba said.

In the same vein, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal, of Sokoto State, complained of gradual erosion of our laws.

” Our laws are now being obeyed more in the breach, freedom of speech and association are under severe attacks.

“Let us move against the anti-hate speech bill that prescribed death penalty for offenders, this is quite scary, indeed some people question the true intention of the bill.

“There are enough provisions in our laws to deal with people whose actions can undermine national unity and cohesion. Such draconian legislation has no place in constitutional democracy like ours.

“The media must therefore remain vigilant, you have a responsibility to educate and mobalise Nigerians to defend this hard earned democracy.

“We cannot operate democracy like a military dictatorship, the storms are gathering, we must join hands to checkmate anti-democratic elements,” Tambuwal said.

On his part, NGE President, Mustapha Isah, said editors were not in support and would never support fake news and hate speech, as NGE members are trained professionals.

“But we will not accept any move to surreptitiously curtail press freedom. The social media space, just like any other ecosystem, is being abused by some people.

“But we wish to place on record and to remind the promoters of these bills, that there are laws already in existence to deal with such infractions. We shall not shy away from testing these extant laws.

“Besides, we expect the government to work with critical stakeholders in the media industry to address these challenges,” Isah said.

In a related development, the NUJ also rejected the bill.

Mr Christopher Isiguzo, the NUJ President, spoke during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

He described it as plan to silence the media and perceived political opponents if eventually passed.

Isiguzo also expressed worries about recent events, adding that most actions taken were targeted to silence journalists.

 

” These threats and attacks against the media are aimed at inducing fear and self-censorship and these should not be allowed if our democracy is to flourish,” he stated.

Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, described the bill as an “eye service.”

He spoke in Minna, when he hosted the NUJ president.

Babangida said there was no basis for the bill, because no one can deny Nigerians their fundamental rights of freedom of expression.

“I am surprised that this bill has resurfaced. There is no basis for this now. We are developing; we should be allowed to develop. If we make mistakes people can be cautioned. If somebody goes off, you have the right to call him to say, no, we don’t want this.

“Unless people are able to express themselves, those in government or in authority will not know what is happening in the country.

“If somebody makes hate speech, put him in the gallows and not shoot him. It is crude and out of tune with the 21st-century reality. It could have happened, maybe some 300 years ago, but not now.

“I am with you on this. I will also talk to those of us who could be in a position to bring sanity to bear on some of these things. if we had their type of media, I think they should be jailing you all by now. But today, the country is better for it,” he said.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on its part, described the bill as ploy to “gag Nigerians.’’

CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, in a statement, called on the National Assembly to drop the bill and focus on legislations that could address insecurity, deplorable infrastructural deficit and general welfare of the people.

“The bill has generated misgivings and criticisms that they have led to uncommon tension and fears among citizens.

“Having looked at all sides to the debate, CAN is calling on the National Assembly, particularly the President of the Senate and all distinguished senators to discountenance the bill and put off completely any contemplation to pass it to law, as sincere lovers of the nation.’’

In what appears to be response to CAN’s appeal, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said the Senate won’t pass the proposed bill.

Lawan made the disclosure in response to a detailed written protest letter against the hate speech bill and anti-social media bill before the senate by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA.

He said legislators would listen to the pulse of Nigerians who have rejected the bill and will do exactly as they demanded.

 

 

 

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How secure is Nigeria’s cyber space?

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How secure is Nigeria’s cyber space?

Ijeoma Olorunfemi, Nigeria News Agency

Often Nigerians are inundated with messages on their telephone sets and e-mails asking them to subscribe to goods and services.

The recipients, especially public service workers, are encouraged to apply for loans from micro-credit outfits on very liberal conditions, including not providing securities for the facilities.

Repayments for such loans, which can be obtained within 24 hours, are cheap with interests on single digit.

Others request prospective subscribers to buy  household goods on credit and the repayment plan spread overtime.

Prospective subscribers are asked not to worry about the mode of repayment since the vendors can access their payroll information from their employers.

This has often been the case with Federal Government employees enrolled in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Integrated System (IPPIS).

While the promoters of the services claim they work with IPPIS, the agency under the Office of Accountant-General of the Federation, denies knowledge of the transactions. Meanwhile, the workers are on the receiving end moan.

Apart from public sector workers, bank customers receive similar solicitations from banks which they do not bank with. The banks ask them to apply for loans.

For instance, in 2015, Amecom investment, a marketing company based in Abuja approached staff of a government agency to solicit patronage for  its goods. In spite of not supplying goods, IPPIS deducted sums from the salaries of persons who showed interest.

Mr Livinus Ugochukwu, a former employee of Nigeria News Agency said that in  August 2018, IPPIS deducted N10,158.33 from his salary and credited Full Range Micro-Finance company, an organisation he did not know.

Ugochukwu said IPPIS also deducted N8,784 from his salary in May and credited Brain Integrated System, another organisation he did not know.

Another public sector worker, Mrs Hadiza Aliyu, said she received a text message from CreditWallet, a micro-credit company, telling her that she had been pre-qualified for N500,000 loan.

On enquiry about how the loan would  be re-paid, a desk officer with the company said the group  was working with IPPIS.

In all cases, the data of the prospective subscribers are compromised by organisations and individuals they had been entrusted. And so  many worry about the security of Nigeria’s cyber space.

This is more so as Nigeria works toward establishing a digital economy  with the re-christening of Ministry of Communications as  Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Cyber security or information technology security is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, devices, programmes and data from attack, damage or unauthorised access.

Highly beneficial to government, the military, corporate institutions who store unprecedented, sensitive information on computers and other platforms, such data require protection.

According to Deloitte, a multinational network company that provides audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services, countries, including Nigeria, are facing cyber security breaches.

The most recent case was the Facebook data scandal that affected up to 87 million users, while there were cases of phishing attacks, malicious software embedded at the point of payment and ransomware that affected unsusceptible citizens.

Central Bank of Nigeria’s Cyber Security Framework and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  raised awareness on cyber security in the country in 2018.

An ICT security expert, Mr Kenneth Okereafor, said there were serious cyber attacks on public, private sector targeting vital operations and assets.

Okereakor said the attacks were organised, disciplined, aggressive, well resourced with perpetrators as nations, terrorist groups, criminals, hackers or people with intention to   compromising internet security.

“Currently, there is effective deployment of malicious software causing significant potential disruption of critical information systems and services, as well as over commercialisation of cyber security skills and the exploitation of citizens’ ignorance.’’

The expert said a survey reported that 60 per cent of Nigerian firms suffered cyber attack yearly.

He claimed the Federal Government lacked guidelines and standards for the acquisition of technology infrastructure and solutions across  systems as well as risk management processes.

“The mechanism for cyber incident response is not standardised in agencies, government enforcement of compliance to existing cyber security legislations is weak and there is no prioritisation of cyber security capacity development in federal agencies.’’

Okereafor urged government to adopt a single Technology Risk Management Framework supported by legislation to incorporate  internet security as part of information system acquisition and implementation.

“As an oversight, the Federal Government can create a single Technology Risk Body to provide a consistent framework for protecting information at all levels.’’

He said with cyber risk management framework, citizens and the country would have enabled strategic, long- term and short-term cyber security and consistent management of technology supply chains.

The expert said the framework would bridge the gap between technology and business and provide realistic support for existing, future regulation requirements.

Dr Vincent Olatunji, the Chairman, Data Implementation Committee, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), also acknowledges the threat to Nigeria’s cyber space.

Olatunji said:  “Individuals own their information. Data collected on a consumer cannot be sold to third parties.

“Companies must protect an individual’s Internet Protocol (IP) address or cookie data with the same rigor as a name, address, national identity number and bank verification numbers and also request for data transfer.’’

He said if cyber security must be applicable to systems in the country, privacy of data must  be designed in respect of the data subject and policies and procedures for managing security breaches put in place.

“Businesses need to review their data protection policies, technology for compliancy; they should encrypt data in their possession and be up to date with security solutions.

“Personally obtained data and collected by a data controller with consent from the subject should be used for the specific purpose and not for the promotion of businesses or distributed without authorisation,’’ Olatunji said.

Olatunji said the implementation of National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR)  would generate revenue for the country and reduce cyber attacks on Information Systems.

He noted that UN Conference on Trade and Development put the value of digital economy at over seven trillion dollars with an annual  growth rate of 30 per cent.

The director said regulation would attract investors, create employment, increase Gross Domestic Product, create positive image for the country, make businesses competitive and ensure adaptation to regulation processes of EU GDPR easily.

He added that NDPR would impact organisations and individuals by reducing cost, IT time, maintenance expenses, slower backup and data centre costs.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said there was increasing use of digital technologies which were continually exposing sensitive information and critical systems to risks and threats in the cyberspace.

Inuwa said cyber criminals accessed  government and individual data to mislead the citizens.

According to him, the growth in digital economy is also equating threats that can  bring organisations and countries down through financial and reputational losses.

He said government and industries need to enhance cyber security mechanisms in the wake of evolving threats to online activities.

“The growth and potential of the digital economy depends on the trust on the internet and in cyberspace.

“The digital economy is estimated at 22.5 per cent of the world’s economy and yet has not been fully exploited.

“Digital investments have growth multiplier effect in national GDP, where it increases the national economic output.

“The Nigerian digital economy is known to account for up to 13.8 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

“It is, therefore, obvious that the digital economy is a platform to increase the growth of the national economy.

“The digital economy leverages on cyberspace, characterised with evolving cyber threats.’’

The director-general said that security on privacy and trust were critical issues for a thriving digital economy and that government and industries must deploy measures to repose trust in the IT system.

Inuwa, however, said NITDA was responding to the challenge through  cyber security trainings for network administrators in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as the security agencies.

“NITDA has conducted cyber security Sensitisation Awareness Campaigns in the six geopolitical zones which started in 2018 and is continuous till 2020.

“NITDA has also established a multi-stakeholder platform called Nigeria Cyber Security Alliance for coordinating cyber security activities for the private and public sector in Nigeria.

“We have collaborations with national and international organisations for the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy.’’

He said to ensure the regulation kept pace with rapidly evolving technological trends, NITDA also introduced NDPR, National Information Systems in addition to reviewing  Network Security Standards n line with  its  Rulemaking Process.

He said MDAs had a shared responsibility to build resilience, trust and confidence in Internet System.

“We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that we keep government information, services, networks and infrastructure secure.

“We have to work together if we are to increase our resilience against malicious cyber risks and threats.’’ 

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UN: World food prices surge in November, big jumps in meat, vegetable oils

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World food prices rose strongly in November, lifted by big jumps in prices of meat and vegetable oils, in spite of slightly lower cereals prices, the UN food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oil seeds, dairy products, meat and sugar hit a 26-month high in November.

This averaging 177.2 points, up 2.7 per cent on the previous month and up 9.5 per cent year-on-year.

FAO also predicted that cereal production would reach an all-time high of 2.714 billion tonnes in 2019, up 0.4 per cent from its last forecast.

The cereal price index fell 1.2 per cent to 162.4 points, with large export supplies and strong competition among world producers weighing on wheat prices.

Rice prices fell to six-month lows as new crop arrivals added pressure.

The vegetable oil price index rose 10.4 per cent to 150.6 points, reaching its highest point since May 2018, led by firmer palm oil prices, which strengthened on robust import demand, increased biodiesel use and concerns over possible supply shortages.

The meat price index registered its largest month-on-month increase since May 2009, rising 4.6 per cent from October to 190.5 points, with beef and sheep meat rising most strongly, lifted by demand from China and year-end holiday demand.

The sugar price index averaged 181.6 points, up 1.8 per cent from October, led by expectations of higher demand.

The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 192.6 points, only marginally up from October, after two months of declines.

The agency raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by 0.4 per cent, estimating world cereal output at 2.714 billion tonnes, compared with 2018 levels.

Wheat output was seen up 4.8 per cent at 766.4 million tonnes.

Global rice production was seen at 515 million tonnes, up 1.6 million tonnes from the previous forecast, implying a 0.5 per cent fall from the 2018 all-time high, the agency said.

Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
(NAN)

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Ensuring safety of journalists via stakeholders’ collaboration

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Ensuring safety of journalists via stakeholders’ collaboration

, Nigeria News Agency

As part of efforts to end impunity against journalists, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Dec. 18, 2013 adopted a resolution, to tackle all forms of threats and attacks that hinder the practice of journalism.

The resolution led to the declaration of Nov. 2 of every year as International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

UNESCO National Office in Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and other stakeholders, commemorated the day in Abuja, with the theme: ‘Keeping Safe.’

UNESCO’s Director General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, restated the organisation’s commitment to ensure that perpetrators of injustice against journalists were punished in order to provide safer media space.

Azoulay, represented by Mr Lamine Sow, a Senior Education Specialist, said that the number of journalists molested while performing their duties, was alarming, stressing that the masterminds must be punished.

“In the last 10 years, at least 881 journalists have been killed around the world for simply telling the truth. Forty-four have died so far in 2019, and in almost nine out of 10 cases, these crimes have gone unpunished.

“UNESCO seeks to prevent these tragedies by promoting safe environment for journalists and media workers, notably through the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

“However, when the worst happens, UNESCO calls for those responsible for journalists’ deaths to be held accountable.

“It fights impunity in the field by training judges and members of the judiciary, cooperating with human right courts and working with government to create national prosecution mechanisms,” she said.

The D-G further said measures to end impunity on journalists were also supported by a new Global Media Defence Fund, created by the UK and Canada which would be implemented by UNESCO.

According to her, the fund complements the initial work by the organisation, including multi donor programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, and the International Programme for the Development of Communication.

The director general emphasised that this year’s celebration focused on local journalists, working on corruption and politics in less conflict prone areas, who represented 93 per cent of journalists’ deaths in the past 10 years.

She said: “UNESCO holds to account all those who put journalists at risk, who kill journalists, those who do nothing to stop violence because the end of a journalist’s life should never be the end of the quest for truth.’’

As a result of the complex nature of reporting migration, Azoulay advised media practitioners on the need to be schooled on their safety requirements.

Describing information as key to freedom, she said UNESCO places emphasis on the `human face’ of migration, which addresses the implications of people’s movement within its fields of competence and aligning interventions in a human rights framework.

She stated that the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the organisation were supporting member states to empower young people in Africa through the media to address the challenges of irregular migration.

Mr Christopher Isiguzo, the President of NUJ, said that safety of journalist was very dear to the union.

“The safety of journalists for NUJ is sacrosanct and we will continue to pursue policies to guarantee safety of journalists.’’

He stressed that the Constitution empowers journalists to hold the government  accountable to Nigerian people.

According to him, NUJ is being persistent in ensuring fair reportage and holding the government accountable.

He, however, said that it was important that the union and relevant stakeholders explored other ways of ensuring that journalists were   safe while performing their duties.

Mr Gbemiga Bamidele, Convener, Society for Safety and Welfare of Journalists, said the Code of Ethics of the journalism profession is guided by five values- honesty, independence, fairness, productiveness and pride of work.

According to Bamidele, the code of ethics in most parts of the world are reviewed regularly, but that of Nigeria had remained the same since 1998.

Bamidele also stated that the safety of journalists needs collaboration by stakeholders, starting from the government, to media actors and the journalists.

He said such roles include, developing capacity in safety mechanisms for risky assignments and environment, such as covering conflicts or operating from conflicts zones.

“Media organisations are also required to equip their journalists with requisite tools that allow them to professionally cover such assignments without over exposing themselves to violence.

“Both journalists and media organisations need to develop relevant contacts and links with appropriate security agencies to facilitate timely rescue operations when journalists are confronted with trouble, particularly in conflict zones.

“Above all, it is important for journalists to earn the confidence, trust and support of the populace they serve, so as to have them as allies and defenders at all times.’’

He urged the government to train security agencies on press freedom and adherence to professionalism.

According to him, the government should create a mechanism for specifically tracking, investigating and punishing crimes against journalists and further empower regulatory agencies to enforce sanctions as required by law.

Bamidele said that media actors should organise regular general safety training for journalists, including safety training for women journalists, online safety and collaborate with other stakeholders in organising programmes to build the capacity of journalists on safety precautions and practices.

He called on journalists to be “front-liners in advocating for the implementation of internal safety of journalists’ policies by media organisations.’’

Mrs Dame Okah-Donli, Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), reiterated that migration was not a new thing and according to the World Bank fact sheet of 2017, over 266 million people globally were estimated to live outside their countries of origin.

She recalled that out of the figure, over 20 million people from sub-Sahara Africa, were compelled by circumstances to leave their countries.

She noted that many Nigerian professionals like doctors, engineers and journalists have migrated to other parts of the world, which she said affected the economic development of the country.

The director general also said that covering migration issues expose journalists to a lot of risks, ranging from emotional effects that can lead to insomnia, personality disorder, eating disorder, headaches and moral injuries, among others.

Stakeholders at the interactive session recommended that journalists should protect themselves as well as protect victims of migrants and human trafficking; and take into consideration codes of ethics and human rights, while reporting human trafficking issues.

They agreed that journalists should be trained on how to investigate trafficking issues, as well as be protected by law, and also strive to protect themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

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Violence against women and girls: Can Nigeria tame this monster?

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Violence against women and girls: Can Nigeria ever tame this monster?

, Nigeria News Agency

In Nigeria, a common counsel to girls about to marry is the need to keep her family’s secrets secret. She is told to avoid bringing in a third party into her marital quarrels so that her home’s dirty linens would not be exposed to the outside world.

Stripped of all diplomatic niceties, it simply means that the young girl is now alone and on her own. It means she should silently accept and tolerate whatever comes her way, including abuse and violence, as just part of what she must live with as a married woman.

To affirm that stance, parents, in most cases, chase away daughters fleeing from abusive homes. The poor woman is dragged back to the husband’s home and forced to live with whatever is thrown at her.

Condemned into this sordid arrangement by an unfeeling society, most a hapless and helpless woman surrenders to fate, certain of nothing except misery and a bleak, blank and black future.

Dr Danladi Bako, former NTA Director and information commissioner in Sokoto State, who spoke recently on this age-old counsel and the culture of forcing women to stoically endure violence and abuses just to remain in a husband’s house, said that it was at the root of the worsening violence against women and girls.

“That crude culture is a major impediment to tackling gender-based violence in the country,” Bako said at a media dialogue organised by Spotlight Initiative, a global partnership between European Union and UN focused on ending the violence.

Bako’s views were captured in a paper titled: “Changing the Narrative of the Rights of Women and Girls – Creating a New Social Order in Nigeria”.

“Women go through a rough time in their homes, but cultural, religious and traditional factors have made it difficult for her to rise and shout.

“From day one, the woman is told to accept her fate and learn to tolerate and live with it because she is not the only one in that shoe.

“She is told by even her mother that what she may find in her marital home is the fate of every woman,’’ Bako, a development communication specialist, said.

He regretted that even educated women were not voicing out their plight, saying that such silence was worsening the situation and frustrating the search for solutions.

Bako particularly condemned cultures that exploit and demean women, especially the girl-child, who is always denied education, thrown into early marriage and forced into the streets to hawk.

“From my findings, half of the girls that hawk are victims of rape. Girls that hawk groundnuts make an average gain of N200 daily, but they could get N5,000 just by `entering’ the room of a `customer’. This is where the real trouble starts because N5,000 is too tempting for a girl from a poverty-stricken family,’’ he said.

He called for the right political will to tame the menace, and lamented that groups and individuals trying to enlighten women to stand up for their rights in his native Sokoto are often accused of mobilising women to revolt against cultural norms.

Bako called for total commitment to the goal of ending the injustices against women, and regretted that not much had changed in spite of the creation of women affairs ministries and women development commissions

at the federal and state levels.

In her contribution, Hajia Hadiza Aminu, Coordinator, Spotlight Initiative, blamed the rising violence against women and girls on the lack of education, and called for more educational opportunities to

make women self-reliant.

“Most women remain in abusive homes because they are afraid of the economic consequences of being thrown out. Once they are educated and engaged in activities that will fetch them their daily bread, they will be economically independent and will not be afraid to walk away.

“Once a woman is sure of where her next meal could come from, outside her marital home, no one can force her to remain where she is not comfortable, appreciated or loved,’’ she said.

She condemned the discrimination meted out to the girl-child by a society that values male children more, and challenged the media to fight against that injustice.

“There are many media houses in Nigeria. There are television and radio stations, newspapers, magazines and online publications. These media houses must give more air time and pages to gender violence issues. Currently, all the attention is on politics !

“We must build a society that sees and treats everyone as equal. We must all support every child, male or female, to attain his or her dreams so that we can have a society with opportunities and hope for everyone.’’

Aminu decried the harassment and torture girls go through to secure admission, attend schools, get jobs and even grow in their careers, alleging that men are always asking girls for sexual gratification in exchange for grades, jobs, promotions and basic rights routinely enjoyed by the boys.

Dr Ibe Ifeakandu, Head of Department, Public Law, Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, who spoke on `safeguarding the dignity of women and girls’, was particularly concerned about early marriage.

“Marriage is a contract for consenting adults. A child that is 10 years old cannot enter into a contract because the law does not allow her to do so. Such a child is too young to understand and appreciate the consequences of doing so.

“What it simply means is that it is against the Nigerian constitution to force such a child into a union that she does not understand because the girl is not developed enough to understand the psychological and physiological implications  of being a married woman.

“There is even some double standard here. Men force their 10-year-old girls to marry, but will not allow their 10-year-old boys to marry. The girl is given out, but the son is protected. In most cases, a man gets mad if he suspects that an elderly woman is enticing his young son, but he encourages old men to entice his little daughter.

“They will tell you that a girl should get married immediately she reaches puberty, but will not accept that their little boys should do same on attaining that stage. This is unacceptable and we cannot continue this way,’’ Ifeakandu said.

Ifeakandu also spoke on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a very harmful practice that involves the removal of the clitoris in the vagina of young girls.

“FGM is a very humiliating practice. Its aim is to reduce the enjoyment of sex. That, certainly, is not fair to the woman because it violates her natural right to enjoy sex.

“When we do this, we are programming the woman to live miserable lives. That is unconstitutional.’’

For James Ibor, Human Rights Activist, the situation would only improve if women are allowed to decide what they want, including the right to have children.

“Sometimes, a woman may decide not to have children based on medical advice, but the man will not see things her way. He will not respect her views. Women should be allowed to have a say in what happens to them and the media must fight for them,’’ he said.

Ibor also spoke on sex-related abortion, and described that as “chilling’’.

“Some families abort babies when the child is confirmed to be a female just because the man wants a male child. It is a huge disrespect and disregard for the female child who has equal, if not better, capacities than the male,’’ he fumed.

Ibor called for more synergy among grassroots Community Society Organisations (CSOs), NGOs and the media, for effective advocacy toward ending the menace.

“The media must work a little harder. We must mobilise traditional rulers, community heads and religious leaders, to buy into our campaign against girl-child abuse.

“We must involve everyone around – the men at their drinking joints, the boys at their football-watching centres, and the women at the plating spots – just everyone, so that the message will reach everyone and everywhere.

“As an initiative seeking to end this menace, Spotlight Initiative must form a core group of journalists dedicated to sustaining social change toward ending violence against women and girls,’’ he said.

But some of the participants at the media dialogue, while acknowledging the role of the media, called for more attention to the Judiciary, noting that judges had often placed tough hurdles on the path of victims seeking to prove cases of rape and other forms of sexual-related misdeeds.

They called for special courts to handle sexually-related offences to speed up the trials and provide such judges more experiences required to handle such delicate cases.

They also emphasised the need for more attention to the rural areas where such abuses are more common, but grossly under-reported, adding that all stakeholders must be proactive rather than retroactive.

Others also cautioned journalists against stigmatising the victims and making them feel guilty by raising “unnecessary questions” that seem to justify an abuse, instead of taking urgent measures to help them

from further trauma.

But, as Nigeria seeks an end to the violence against women and girls, a woman activist, Cecilia Biodun, believes a solution is only possible if women began to protect each other from violence and abuses.

“Go and check everywhere. Behind every woman’ misery is another woman. The FGM we all cry about is carried out by women. It is the women that shave the heads of widows. It is also women that force widows to drink the water used in bathing the corpse of their late husbands.

“In various homes, women get beaten because of their husband’s mistresses. Others go hungry because girl friends have cornered the monies of their husbands. It is also the mother in-law that makes life unbearable for young wives in every house.

“In the offices and even during elections, women prefer to envy, instead of supporting, each other. They look for every reason to bring down fellow women. We cannot make progress by running down each other,’’ Biodun declared.

With violence and other forms of harmful practices against women reported to be of epidemic proportions, and with World Demographic and Health Surveys ranking Nigeria 118 out of 134 countries on gender equality index, analysts say that quality education is the only way out.

They say that education is a total package that will empower the girl and woman to make informed decisions and choices which could include pulling out of abusive environments.

The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido, put it more succinctly.

“You cannot stop a rich man who wants to marry a 12-year-old girl, or a wretched man who wants to marry a fourth wife. All you need to do is to educate the girl to say no. That ends it.’’

Many analysts agree that the monarch is right on point.

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Equatorial Guinea launches first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility Book

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The book was distributed during the 2nd Gas Exporting Countries Forum International Gas Seminar

The publication highlights key achievements in corporate social responsibility projects within Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas sector; notable projects include the Bioko Island Malaria Elimination Project, Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program and former Program for Education Development of Equatorial Guinea; the book was distributed during the 2nd Gas Exporting Countries Forum International Gas Seminar and will be further distributed throughout the 2020 Year of Investment international events and roadshows.

Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons has launched its first official publication documenting the country’s key corporate social responsibility projects, spearheaded by public-private partnerships.

Equatorial Guinea: Achievements in Corporate Social Responsibility in Oil & Gas highlights the impact of investment in social projects on malaria reduction, healthcare, access to clean water and infant mortality rates. Notable projects include the Bioko Island Malaria Elimination Project – which recently received the P3 Impact Award at the 2019 Concordia Summit for its high impact and degree of success; the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program; the Baney District Hospital Project; the Ver Bien project; Tuberculosis Control Project and the construction of water wells throughout the country.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, the Department of Local Content is honored to create a publication that demonstrates the contributions of the oil and gas sector to the people of Equatorial Guinea, who continue to remain our highest priority. Furthermore, what we have done in the past 25 years, in terms of the elimination and prevention of malaria on Bioko Island, teacher training and access to education, the Program for Education Development of Equatorial Guinea, distribution of clean water to rural communities, the construction of schools and parks throughout the country, and more – speaks to what we can and will accomplish in the next 25 years,” says Jacinto Owono, Director of Local Content for the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons.

The book also focuses on efforts in education and sustainability activities, including training and giving scholarships to students in and outside of the country, as well as the construction of education infrastructure. Key projects include the former Program for Education Development of Equatorial Guinea; the construction of the National Technological Institute of Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea; the construction of primary schools throughout the country and the Books for Bioko project.

Under the official endorsement of the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, the book includes commentary from H.E. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima and Jacinto Owono, Director of Local Content for the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons.

The publication was financed by Kosmos Energy.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Africa Oil & Power Conference.

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