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Returning Nigeria’s textile sector to good old days?

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Returning Nigeria’s textile sector to good old days?

, Nigeria News Agency

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills.

The Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) sub-sector, employed close to 450,000 people that translated to more than 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.

But today, only 25 textile factories are operating, and they function at below 20 per cent installed capacity and engaged less than 20,000 people.

The fortunes of CTG sub-sector started dwindling in the 1990s, as a result of  some challenges faced by cotton farmers, ginneries and textile firms.

Farmers and processors were confronted with low quality seeds, high  cost of production, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile materials into the country.

Statistics recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), showed that textiles worth four billion dollars were smuggled into the country annually.

But there is renewed vigour by the present administration, to revive the CTG through CBN’s intervention.

In order to boost the CTG sector, the Federal Government had given directive to some agencies and uniformed organisations to patronise local textile industries.

The present administration through the CBN is targeting engaging 300,000 farmers to achieve 450,000 metric tonnes of cotton in 26 states in the next three years.

The bank is to achieve this through its Anchor Borrowers Programme, which had already commenced with the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton seeds to be distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states.

Part of the strategy is also to import 6,000 metric tonnes of improved cotton seeds, while additional 2,000 metric tonnes of cotton seeds had been sourced locally.

The data released by the bank indicates that “total expected yield at the end of the current season is 302,440 metric tonnes. The distribution of inputs to cotton farmers was launched in Katsina on May 6.

Twenty ginneries in seven states- Borno, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Zamfara were selected to participate in the CBN’s financed cotton project.

According to CBN, ginners are to sell their lint to textile factories with the ultimate objective of producing textiles to meet the needs of the members of the uniformed services.

The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the funds to operationalise the ginneries, had

been approved and to be disbursed through the Bank of Industry.

Emefiele said about N19.18 billion had been approved by the bank to fund nine ginneries across the country.

The approval is to enable them retool their processing plants, while they are to

access the funds at single digit interest rate.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, lamented the closure of textile factories especially in the North, and

assured that his administration would revive the sector.

“We promoted policies that will support local industries such as import restrictions.

“We introduced programmes that provided affordable and accessible capital for both large and cottage industries.

“We also introduced Executive Orders that encouraged the procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services.”

According to him, his administration will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items,  which can be produced locally.

He said: “We will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items which can be produced locally. We owe this to the over 200 million Nigerians.”

According to the President, the textile and garment sector has the potential to create millions of jobs, and will therefore, remain one of the priority sectors for the administration.

Referring to his recent directive to all government uniformed institutions to use locally produced garments, President Buhari said unbelievable number of jobs will be created when the military, police, para-military organisations, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), fully patronise local industries.

He, therefore, urged state governments to key into this policy for their schools, hospitals and other institutions.

In the same vein, Mr Isa Aremu,

the General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), lamented the closure of hundreds of textile factories, which used to employ “millions of workers, more than the workforce of the Federal Government in the 70s and 80s.”

He, however, commended the textile-friendly policies of the Buhari-led administration, such as the interventions by the CBN and the Executive Order on the use of local garments by uniformed organisations, among others.

Aremu stressed the need to tackle the high incidence of smuggling of textiles, in order to protect the sector as well as boost job creation.

The activist said the recent signing of MoU between the CBN and some major stakeholders was a gradual effort of lifting the sector from the state of hopelessness to hope.

Aremu noted that the effort made by the CBN was commendable and would be supported by his union, and appealed to other relevant groups and indeed all Nigerians to do the same.

Alhaji Salman Abdullahi, the President,  Cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria, commended the CBN for its commitment to  revive CTG sub-sector.

Abdullahi said when the stakeholders’ meeting was convened sometimes to work out ways to revive the sector, he thought it would be like similar gatherings in the past, that did not yield any positive result.

He pledged that members of his association would live up to expectation, by ensuring quality production.

Dr Arome Salifu, an economist, said the step taken by Federal Government was a welcome development.

According to him, for any economy to thrive, a critical component like manufacturing sector must be given priority.

“The CTG is a critical component in manufacturing sector, therefore, the apex bank has taken the right step in the right direction by choosing this component to support.’’

Salifu said that this kind of investment was needed at this time because of its jobs creation potential.

He called for involvement of critical stakeholders, like civil society organisations, in the monitoring and evaluation of the project to ensure judicious use of funds.(NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency 

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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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Features

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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