by Harrison Arubu
New York, June 25,2019 Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday in New York said the huge development challenges facing Nigeria and the rest of Africa were “excellent opportunities for groundbreaking investments and innovation”.
He stated this as a guest at an interactive session hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a think-tank.
In his opening statement on the topic “Nigeria’s Economic Prospects”, the vice president hinged his discussion on four areas including population, and environment with respect to climate change.
He identified the other two areas as production especially agriculture, manufacturing and technology as well as security, and the challenges of terrorism, violent Islamic extremism, social exclusion and resource conflicts.
Osinbajo noted that what happened in the four areas in the continent in the coming years would impact positively or negatively on the fortunes of the world.
He said, “The doomsday scenario is as follows: Africa’s population grows exponentially, food production is not able to match population growth, a rise in transhuman conflicts due to shrinking vegetation and water.
“Lack of jobs and opportunity for a large poorly educated youth population, leading to aggressive illegal migration, vulnerability to extremism and, the creation of a convenient breeding ground for extremist groups and a terrorist launch pad to the rest of the world.
“A horrifying situation indeed, and possible if in the next three decades Africa drops the ball on these four indicators.
“Neither Africa nor the rest of the world can afford to have these scenarios playing out.”
Osinbajo stated that being the most populous nation in the continent, Nigeria had a critical role to play in those four areas.
According to him, it is not an exaggeration to say that as “Nigeria goes, so goes Africa”.
The vice president said although the challenges were huge, they were excellent opportunities for “ground-breaking” investments and innovation by both local and foreign players.
“So take population, the mere fact that we will become the third most populous nation in the world by 2050 and the 14th largest economy, means a huge market.
“When we opened up our telecoms sector for private investment 18 years ago, many thought, ‘yes, they have a large population but not a large enough middle class to buy and use mobile phones’.
“They were wrong. MTN and Econet took the plunge, and today market penetration for mobile phones is 114.9 per cent, which technically means almost everybody has a phone,” he said.
The vice president said Nigeria was trying to replicate the same feat in the power sector by opening it for investment in end-to-end power supply.
According to him, Power Africa, a USAID project, has made a commitment of 110 million Dollars between 2018 and 2023.
The fund is meant to provide transaction support to the entire electricity value-chain covering gas supply, distribution, transmission and generation activities, he explained.
“With our population, and a market-driven power sector, the next few years promise exciting prospects.
“This is also the case with other infrastructure. We are embarking on the largest investment in infrastructure in our history, welcoming private investments in concessions and projects like rail, roads, airports, and other infrastructure.”
In agriculture, Nigeria boasts of the ninth largest stock of arable land in the world, and has become a world leader in cassava, yam, sorghum, and millet production, he said.
He added that the country was on the verge of self sufficiency in paddy rice production, seeing greater interest in agriculture and the agro-allied value chain.
Osinbajo emphasised that besides the export market, the country’s population presents a massive and lucrative domestic market.
“Carlos a major Mexican vegetable farmer came to Nigeria to do vegetables for export and found he was making far more money servicing the domestic market,” he said.
According to him, challenges in other areas such as manufacturing, environment, climate change and security were investment opportunities waiting to be explored.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Fashola rewards 50 productive, diligent staff
The Minister of Works and Housing (FMWH), Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Tuesday rewarded 50 most outstanding members of staff of the ministry for productivity and diligence in service delivery.
Fashola gave the awards at the 2018 Recognition and Reward Ceremony for staff of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Abuja.
“The award being the maiden edition included the members of staff from the ministry of power, because the selection of the awardees was carried out in 2018 before the separation of the ministries,’’ he said.
He said the award became necessary so as to encourage better productivity from the staff.
The minister said the ministry deemed it fit to reward members of staff who were outstanding in doing their jobs.
“We should always look after our environment; let us own the environment and space we work in so as to improve it not only for ourselves, but for all Nigerians.
“There are so many people you will never meet, whose lives we must have affected through the work you do such as hospital or road you helped to build.
“So if we commit ourselves we will make them happier people,’’ he said.
The minister said that the success of any government depended on the input of civil servants.
He said if civil servants were committed to carrying out their duties diligently it would impact positively on productivity which evolves the economy.
Fashola added that civil and public servants were one per cent that decided what happens to the remaining 99 per cent of the large population.
The minister, therefore, advised that all civil servants should do all necessary things to ensure that injustice, inequality and poverty were eliminated from the country.
He, however, congratulated the awardees and admonished them to keep on the hard work, saying the reward called for more work.
Fashola also called on all civil servants to always dress well to their offices as such would project the office in a positive image.
The Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission, Dr Bello Ingawa, said the award was in line with Civil Service Rules and should be sustained and emulated by other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Represented by Mr Fatai Adebayo, Federal Commissioner, Oyo/Osun, Civil Service Commission, Ingawa noted that it was imperative to commend and motivate efficient and effective civil servants to encourage productivity.
Alhaji Mohammed Bukar, Permanent Secretary, FMWH, said that the aim was to motivate deserving staff to encourage better service delivery.
Represented by Mr Ahmed Abdul, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Bukar commended the ministry for such initiative, saying that it would challenge other members of staff to sit up.
“It is my pleasure to be part of this rewarding exercise of some deserving staff of the ministry, whose performances have been assessed and indeed they were outstanding,’’ he said.
The awardees included one from the directorate cadre, 33 from the senior cadre and 16 from the junior cadre.
The awardees were given cash, plaques among other things.
Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Chukwudi Ekezie
Group calls for more awareness on ‘killer robots’ among ECOWAS members states
The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), has called on relevant stakeholders to create more awareness among ECOWAS member states and promote political commitment to stop ‘killer robots’.
The made the call in a Communique signed by the Coordinator of IANSA, Ms Mimido Achakpa, at the end of a one-day roundtable in Abuja on Tuesday on the Campaign to Stop ‘Killer Robots’.
Nigeria News Agency reports that fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots,” were made to select and engage targets without meaningful human control.
“The involvement of African States, Media, Civil Societies and other relevant stakeholders can play a pivotal role in enhancing the protection of civilians and other citizens from the harm caused by fully autonomous weapons in a time when armed conflicts are increasingly fought in population centres.
The group said the ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ was an inclusive and diverse coalition across the globe comprised of NGOs, community groups, and professional associations that support the campaign and the call for a ban on Fully Autonomous Weapons.
It stated that activities in support to ban Killer Robots currently had membership of 93 organisations in 53 countries.
“Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles globally has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges.
“Now rapid advances in technology are resulting in efforts to develop fully autonomous weapons (Killer Robots).
“These robotic weapons would be able to choose and fire on targets on their own, without any human intervention,” the Communique said.
It also stated that giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield was an unacceptable application of technology.
The group said fully autonomous weapons systems would fundamentally destabilise nations around the world.
“History will note which political leaders recognised the gravity of this threat and took legislative action and those that did not.
” We must avoid the human sufferings that will occur if killer robots are deployed. The participants acknowledged the need for further actions to address this issue at national, regional and international levels,” it said.
The group, however, called for the collection of data and information to increase awareness and enhance knowledge about the impact of fully autonomous weapons on humans and avoid the use of fully autonomous weapons with wide area effects at all levels.
It stressed the need to fully support the process that would lead to the negotiation and adoption of an international political declaration on the use of killer robots.
The group said there was need to promote bilateral and regional cooperation through sharing experiences, goodpractices and expertise on reducing the harm caused by killer robots to humans.
“Constructively engage in discussions and initiatives at international level that could effectively provide greater protection to humans in armed conflicts.
“Foster deeper and further engagement from ECOWAS States and facilitate increased involvement as a group of States.
“Continue and strengthen cooperation and partnerships with international organisations and civil society organisations to draw upon their relevant expertise and support.
“Channel contributions to the draft international political declaration on the matter, as well as engage in advocacy, at national, regional and international levels,” the communique added.
Edited by Felix Ajide
Observer group says Kogi elections marred by thuggery “but generally fair”
A Coalition of 15 INEC-accredited Civil Society Observer groups has decried the violence that characterised the governorship and senatorial elections in Kogi, but said that the process was “generally fair”.
Mr Peter Nwokolo, National Coordinator, Citizens Right and Leadership Awareness Initiative, at a press conference on Tuesday in Lokoja, decried the anomalies but said that they were not enough to justify calls for the cancellation of the polls.
He decried the incidents of thuggery and associated violence, but praised INEC for identifying and evaluating the overall impact of the incidents on the electoral outcome.
“INEC was right to have taken remedial decisions, including cancellation of votes or scheduling of outright re-runs, in some constituencies,” he said.
Nwokolo particularly decried the violence, ballot box snatching and other forms of disruption by hoodlums some of them in Police uniforms, working for unknown principals.
According to him, “the severity of such incidences were more pronounced in certain areas, particularly Lokoja”.
He also decried “transactional practices” such as vote-buying and voluntary breach of secrecy in voting between voters and agents of political parties.
“Voters and political parties voluntarily exchanged money for votes with the voter contriving to reveal his thumb-printed ballot in order to receive payment,” Nwokolo said.
The coalition called on the Nigeria Police Force and other law enforcement agents to unearth the faceless individuals behind such criminal activities so as to save the nation’s democracy.
Edited by Ephraims Sheyin
INEC presents N1.9m cheque to family of deceased corps member
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented a cheque of N1.9 million to the family of Late Miss Kemisola Adeniran, a corps member who died in Oyo State during the electoral process.
Dr. Mutiu Agboke, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), said that the commission had acted in line with its life insurance policy for election officials, including Adhoc personnel before and during elections.
“We also express the sincere condolence of the commission to the family over this irreparable loss.
“Though the commission’s insurance policy makes provision for both permanent and Adhoc staff, nothing can be counted worthy for the life lost.
“This presentation of a token is just to cushion the effect of this irreparable loss to the deceased family,” he said.
He enjoined all stakeholders, particularly the media and security agencies, to collaborate with INEC to establish a violence-free electioneering process.
Agboke called on politicians to eschew both electoral and political violence, urging them and supporters to desist from fake news as well as hate speeches.
According to him, “We should all learn the culture of doing things right. I am passionate about this because we are losing our staff. Why will anyone be happy at the death of others?
“The media should partner with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC). Electioneering is not during election alone. Let there be a collective solution to these problems to have a better society.”
She described deceased’s death as very unfortunate, saying she would have passed out of service with her colleagues in October.
“God says we should give thanks in all situations and circumstances. Though it is hard to bear, we have to accept it as the will of God,” she said.
Edited by Wale Ojetimi
LASG to prosecute assailants of traffic officers
The Lagos State Government has vowed to prosecute anyone caught assaulting officers in the course of carrying out their official duties and responsibilities.
Mr Olajide Oduyoye, General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), in a statement on Tuesday, condemned the recent increase in reported cases of assault on Lagos State Traffic officers by unscrupulous members of the public.
Oduyoye recalled a recent incident of assault by a commercial bus driver at Costain, saying that the Lagos State Government would, henceforth, prosecute and severely punish offenders.
He said that the state would also prosecute and punish motorists and other road users who violated traffic laws.
According to him, the driver of a commercial bus with registration number FST 300 XV, now at large, plying the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor contrary to the law, was accosted by a Traffic Officer at Costain, Iponri, Surulere.
”The driver, however, knocked down the officer as well as the commercial motorcyclist and injured his passenger while trying to escape enforcement,” he said.
Oduyoye gave assurance that the commercial bus driver would be apprehended and warned members of the public to desist from attacking LASTMA officials in the course of their traffic control duties.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), has said that a five-count charge has been instituted against the wanted driver at the Special Offences Court of Lagos State sitting at Oshodi, Lagos.
The five-count charge includes willful obstruction, driving against oncoming traffic, physical assault of traffic officers, resisting arrest by vandalising LASTMA vehicle and use of restricted BRT corridor.
The Magistrate, before adjourning the case to Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, granted the two applications made by the prosecution counsel – Abiola Olateju, Kehinde Akerele and Aderemi Amu – that the vehicle be held in the custody of the Lagos State Taskforce on Special Offences until the defendant appears.
The Magistrate said that the vehicle shall be forfeited to government after the expiration of one month.
Edited by Wale Ojetimi
Niger govt. says N1.4bn for 5-star hotel project intact
She said that the money was still in the Zenith Bank account, adding that it was not given to any contractor to commence work.
The opposition party alleged that it left the money in an account for the continuation of the project.
The immediate past governor of the state, Dr Babangida Aliyu made this known during his 65th birthday celebration in Minna when he accused the APC government of misappropriating the fund.
According to him: “To my surprise, the contractor was invited by the government and given the whole amount. After two months he disappeared from site and has not returned to finish the job.”
Berje described the allegation as misleading and an attempt to win the sympathy of his “dying PDP” ahead of the forthcoming local government elections.
She said: “The present administration has not released any money to any contractor as alleged by the former governor.”
Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz
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