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Stakeholders hail President Buhari’s financial autonomy order for states legislature, judiciary

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Some stakeholders in Kaduna State have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing into law the Executive Order for the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary.

The stakeholders, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Saturday, described the development as a “milestone” in the efforts to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions.

Mr Yusuf Goje of Coalition of Association for Leadership, Peace and Development (CALPED), noted that democracy was practically not working at the state level.

Goje, who is the organisation’s Head, Leadership, Governance and Advocacy, explained that the legislative arm at the state level were incapacitated by financial dependence on the executive arm.

“Their budgetary allocations are released at the beg and call of the state governors, who uses the financial dependence as a key to manipulate the House of Assemblies.

“As such, the governors, in the long run, determine what the House Members do and what they should not do, at the detriment of the people they represent,” he said.

He said that the financial autonomy, if well implemented, would enable the states legislature to stand on their ground and play their legislative role without fear of financial deprivation.

He added that most times when the executive arm sent budget, all they do was ‘rubber stamp’ and pass it for assent.

“But with this development, the state legislative arms are now empowered to adequately scrutinise the state budget and boldly engage the executive arm where there are disagreements.

“The autonomy will equally empower the legislative arm to carry out their oversight functions and ask the right questions as independent institution of governance.

“I am confident that we will be seeing more checks and balance from the representative of the people by holding the executive arm accountable,” Goje said.

Similarly, Mr Panan Philemon, a legal practitioner with Elisha Y. Kurah and Co. Chambers, Kaduna, said that the development would position the state judiciary to function independent of the executive arm.

“With the financial autonomy, the state judiciary would have the needed confidence to discharge their legal duties without influence from any arm of the government.

“They will equally carry out renovations, construction of new courts and improving the general facilities and infrastructure in the judiciary,” Philemon said.

On his part, Dr Elisha Auta of Economics Department, Kaduna State University, described the development as “victory for Nigeria”.

According to him, the implementation of the order will free the states legislature and judiciary from the chains of manipulation by state governors.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

General news

Why illicit drug trade persists in Nigeria– Stakeholders

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Some stakeholders in  criminal justice administration have identified dearth of personnel in prosecuting agencies, unemployment, obsolete laws and compromise among security agents as factors responsible for the thriving illicit drug business.

The respondents told the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews on Monday in Ibadan that cases of illicit drug trade had continued to surface in courts in spite of frequent arrests, prosecutions and convictions by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

Mr Ayokunle Morakinyo, an NDLEA counsel, who had served as a prosecutor in many states of the federation, said that the agency lacks adequate human and material resources to execute its work properly.

He said that government had so many responsibilities that it was contending with, adding that this had made it difficult to meet all the needs of the NDLEA.

“Sometimes, we don’t have enough support to do a thorough job.

“When I was in Niger State as an NDLEA prosecutor, many people who were convicted and sentenced to years in prison soon went back into drug dealing after completing their jail terms.

“It is the same story when I got to Kebbi State, and the situation was the same when I was in Oyo State.

“In fact, some defendants who were granted bail also went back into drug trafficking and were arrested and arraigned for fresh offences when they had not been discharged from previous crimes.

“Unfortunately, state governments don’t seem to be interested in drug-related matters because they believe that the NDLEA, which is a Federal Government Agency, is there to handle it.

“There is also a psychological angle to the issue of drug dealing in Nigeria because some of the criminals feel that unless they buy and sell cannabis and the likes, they cannot survive.

“Socially, there is wide-spread unemployment where idle hands engage themselves in dealing in the  illicit trade,” he said.

The NDLEA counsel expressed worry that the situation might worsen if something urgent was not done to curtail the rising cases.

Mrs Oyinkansola Odebunmi, a counsellor and Founder of Oyin Counsel Concept in Ibadan, said drug trafficking was on the rise because the punishment attached to the commission of the crime remained light among other factors.

“This problem has also remained because some influential persons are out there encouraging the criminals.

“Another reason why drug dealing has persisted is that it is the only means of livelihood for some people and there must be a strong alternative before the dealers can stop peddling it,” Odebunmi said.

Also speaking, an Ibadan-based lawyer, Mr Stephen Raji, contended that some security operatives involved in investigating drug dealers sometimes compromise.

“I challenge you to watch court trials involving drug traffickers, you can hardly find big guys like barons being tried.

“The people you will find being made to face prosecution are ordinary smokers and sellers because the real dealers would have bribed their way through,” Raji said.

The legal practitioner called for a department to be established to supervise the day-to-day operation of NDLEA officers so as to forestall any compromise during arrest and investigation of suspects.

He also advocated regular training and retraining of the officers to boost human capacity development and productivity.

(
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

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Oil & Gas

Stakeholders mourn ex-NNPC GMD, Baru

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Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, including Mr Ndu Ughamadu, on Saturday mourned the passing of a former Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru.

Ughamadu, a former Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, described Baru death as a great loss to the oil and gas sector.

Baru died on May 29 and the development was confirmed by the current spokesman of the NNPC, Dr Kennie Obateru.

Ughamadu described Baru as his good boss and a pillar in the industry.

Dr Maikanti Baru was a nice and hardworking boss that discharged his official responsibilities with professionalism laced with fear of God.

“He achieved a lot for the oil industry and Nigeria at large and was one of the best GMDs of NNPC and one of the best bosses l worked with.

“A good man is gone! An intellectual library is gone beyond. May God rest his soul,” Ughamadu said

Also, the Gombe State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Muhammad Magaji, said on his twitter handle that the late Baru would be remembered for his commitment to nation building.

“We truly have lost a pillar and a devout Muslim. He served Nigeria meritoriously and did so much for his community.

“We pray that Allah grants him the highest level in Jannah, aameen.”

In his tribute, Prof. Wunmi Iledare, former President of the Nigerian Association of Energy Economists, said that Baru would be missed deeply in the energy sector.

“This world is a stage and everybody is a player. He has played his part to the best of his ability.

“May the good Lord comfort his family,” Iledare.

Baru was born in July 1959 in Misau, Bauchi State.

He died at the age of 60 years, after serving at the highest echelon of the NNPC from July 4, 2016 to July 7, 2019.

He attended Federal Government College, Jos, and graduated in 1978.

Baru obtained his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University in 1982.

He obtained a doctorate degree in computer-aided engineering from the University of Sussex in England.

Edited /Silas Nwoha

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Politics

Stakeholders urge Enugu Assembly to review state urban, regional plan law

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Planning

Enugu, May 28 Some stakeholders in Enugu State have urged the state House of Assembly to do everything possible to restore the original master plan of the state capital.

They made the call in Enugu on Thursday during a public hearing on a bill for a law to make provision for Urban and Regional Planning in the state.

In his submission, the state Commissioner  for Lands and Urban Development, Mr. Victor Nnam, commended the Assembly for the bold step of repealing the old Urban and Regional law guiding the state.

Nnam however, faulted the composition of the proposed Urban and Regional Planning Board without any representative from the ministry.

The commissioner further observed that some functions of the Board were conflicting with functions of other agencies and asked the lawmakers to address it to avoid unnecessary litigation in future.

Also, the representative of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), Mr. Chinedu Akilo, drew the attention of the lawmakers to the law establishing the agency in 2009.

Akilo said the law empowered the authority to solely approve any structure within the metropolis.

He expressed fear that the bill might not be effectively implemented, if the 2009 was not repealed.

The Traditional Ruler of Etiti Obeleagu Umana and former Director, Town Planning in Enugu state, HRH Igwe Charles Ude, stressed the need for the state to have a new and updated Urban and Regional Planning law.

According to him, Enugu state is still operating with the urban and regional planning law of 1946. This is unacceptable for Enugu state that was the former capital of the Eastern region,” he said.

Declaring the hearing open, the Speaker of the assembly, Chief Edward Ubosi expressed its determination to assist the state government in the Urban and Regional Planning of the state.

The Speaker said the public hearing had afforded the stakeholders an opportunity to contribute their quota in shaping the pace of legislation aimed at organising the state’s urban centres.

Ubosi noted that the public hearing was in line with the process “of passing critical bill into law”, stressing that the bill on would benefit every residents of the state.

He assured the stakeholders that the seventh Assembly would not hesitate to engage the public on matters that required their contributions.

The chairman of the Joint Committee on Urban and Regional Planning, Mr. Ibenaku Onoh, reiterated that the bill when passed, would go a long way in restoring the original master plan of the Enugu Metropolis.

Onoh representing Enugu North Constituency added that more urban centres would be created through the implementation of the bill, thereby opening the state for more local and foreign investment.

Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

 

 

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Science & Technology

NITDA presents national outsourcing strategy to stakeholders

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on Thursday presented its draft on National Outsourcing Strategy for Nigeria (NOSN) to stakeholders in an online engagement workshop for a better service delivery.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said at the workshop in Abuja that the aim was to ensure the effective implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) of the Federal Government.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the strategy is a follow up to the Nigerian National Outsourcing Policy, which was launched in 2007.

Inuwa said that in 2019, Grand View Research had valued the global business process outsourcing market size at 221.5 billion USD and at a compound annual growth rate of eight per cent from 2020 to 2027.

He said that outsourcing market due to COVID-19 had forced organisations to cut cost by leveraging on the benefits of outsourcing for some business processes and focus on core competencies.

“Business process outsourcing offers services such as administration, supply chain management, sales, paralegal, marketing and customer care services.

“Players in the business compete by providing reliable and cost-effective services across industries and sectors such as government, healthcare, manufacturing, IT and telecommunications.

NITDA embarks on this journey to accelerate digital economy and transformation targeted at creating over a million jobs in Nigeria by 2025,” he said.

The director-general added that the strategy was in line with government initiative and priority projects such as the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and digitisation of government services.

According to him, the strategy will lift Nigerians out of poverty and transform the country to a knowledge-based economy in the wake of the current global pandemic.

He stated that the strategy implementation processes focused on seven pillars, which included development of infrastructure, skill and human capital, branding and promotion, digital finance and incentives.

He said others were innovation and entrepreneurship, trust, privacy and security, as well as multi-stakeholder governance engagement.

Inuwa called on the stakeholders to synergise with the agency to make Nigeria a better place and a force to reckon with in the global business outsourcing market.

“We have our competitive edge in the market, but to create and capture value in the global market we need to own this strategy and make it easier to implement by all,” he said.

Mr Ben Ewah, the Deputy Director, e-Government Development and Regulations Department of the agency, while elaborating on the expectations of the strategy, said it was designed as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.

Ewah said the strategy would target the onshore and offshore outsourcing markets and promote local, foreign direct investments in digital outsourcing infrastructure development.

“The outsourcing strategy will develop an export-oriented digital product and service industry with improved funding of Research and Development.

“It will develop a globally competitive Information Technology Enabled Services sector in Nigeria toward making the country a digital outsourcing hub globally,” Ewah said.

Edited By: Joe Idika/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Environment

Menstrual Hygiene Day: Stakeholders want misconceptions, myths removed

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Stakeholders on Thursday called for collective actions toward ending the misconceptions about menstruation by women in the country.

The stakeholders spoken an Nigeria joins the world to  commemorate the 2020 World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Dr Ebele Okeke, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Ambassador, in a statement said there should be joint effort at ensuring women had access to menstrual hygiene facilities even during the COVID-19.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that May 28 was set aside to help break the silence and create awareness on good menstrual hygiene management in enabling women reached their full potential.

This year’s theme: “It’s Time for Action” highlights the urgency for the collective work needed to change the negative social norms surrounding menstruation.

It is also to speed up progress toward empowering women and girls to unlock their educational and economic opportunities.

Over 800 million women and girls menstruate every day, yet across the globe they face barriers to properly managing their periods.

“The social stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation often prevent women and girls from attending work and school, especially in the case of current COVID-19 pandemic, access to menstrual collection materials.

In Nigeria, about 47.3 per cent of the physically challenged and marginalised women and adolescent girls consider sanitary pads expensive for them to buy,” she said.

According to Okeke, this has led to the adoption of improvised materials like old wrappers and toilet rolls to manage menstruation.

Okeke said that menstruation was a human rights issue which needed increased public awareness and education at the grassroots level.

He said increased awareness would also improve the knowledge of individuals on myths and norms that segregate women during their menstrual periods.

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) should also be prioritised to ensure women and adolescent girls manage their menstruation periods effectively for improved productivity,” he said.

The ambassador however called on private sector to partner to make sanitary pads more affordable and accessible to menstruating women, especially during this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

On her part, Dr Elizabeth Jeiyol, the National Coordinator, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) said her organisation considered girls’ ability to manage their monthly menstruation important.

She said it should be done with dignity and safety as an integral part of their human rights.

She said such rights included rights to safe and adequate water, sanitation, health, education, decent conditions of work, shelter and wellbeing.

Jeiyol said that the organisation’s approach to Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHHM) combines policy changed at national and sub-national levels with trainings to create a cadre of skilled practitioners.

She said that such facilities adapted for MHHM innovations on management and disposal and action research to fill evidence gaped and influenced more holistic and sensitive global action.

The national coordinator said the partnership with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs was toward the institutionalisation and development of the MHHM National Action Plan in Nigeria.

“Finally, let us take action to change negative social norms and practices to catalyze progress on Menstrual Hygiene Education; and to ensure every woman and girl has access to menstrual hygiene products.

“We need more action from governments, funders, UN agencies and the private sector because together we can end period stigma.

“Together we can make sure all girls are educated about menstruation. Together we can ensure all women and girls have access to hygiene products.’’

Edited By: Josephine Obute/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

 

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Metro

Building infrastructure, key to aviation industry survival – stakeholders

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Stakeholders in the aviation industry, on Thursday, identified building of infrastructure as key to the sector’s survival in the postCOVID-19 pandemic era.

The stakeholders held this view at the just concluded second edition of the aviation webinar, organised by AELEX partners in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the discussion was “Flying into Turbulent Skies, Safely Navigating COVID-19 Headwinds – Survival Strategies for Nigerian Aviation”.

The conversation centred on economic policy, state support and finance issues affecting airlines, airports and other stakeholders in the industry.

Mr Bismarck Rewane, the Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Derivatives, said the aviation industry had been the worst hit since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rewane, therefore, recommended that friendly policies should be put in place, to kick-start the operations of the airlines.

According to him, the government’s focus should be on building aviation infrastructure to attract investments, rather than pursuing a national carrier.

Corroborating Rewane’s submission, Capt. Dapo Olumide, CEO, Ropeways Transport Ltd., described the development of infrastructure in the industry as the way forward.

Olumide, however, pointed out that the government “is not in the best position to make that provision’’, hence the need for privatisation.

He suggested privatisation or concession of the airport, as a long term solution to the survival of airports because of the profit-oriented nature of private businesses.

Mr Chris Aligbe, the CEO of Belujane Konsult, said there was the need for government intervention.

He said that the government should stimulate the entire industry to restore it back to what it was before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Aligbe also proposed the provision of the long term soft loan facilities to stabilise the industry.

He said the loan should be spread between eight and 10 years, at a low-interest rate of three to four per cent with a two-year moratorium, for all players in the industry.

Aligbe kicked against the idea of the government owning an airline, except in a public-private partnership.

Mr Aminu Ismail, Executive Director Operations of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), said the focus should be on reviving the Nigerian aviation.

Ismail noted that AMCON, over the years, had played a significant role in strengthening the industry by providing intervention funds of over N50 billion since 2012.

Ismail, just like other panellists, was of the opinion that the government should not own or run airlines.

He noted that the government should rather limit itself to policy formulation for the development of aviation.

According to him, there is a need for the industry to re-calibrate and implement solutions to be able to come out stronger after COVID-19.

Ismail suggested the government’s support for the industry through tax relief, suspension of payment of air passenger duty, access to forex, expansion of the aviation academy and provision of training and development facilities.

Ismail also called on airlines to refocus their network, resize, restructure and place a priority on cash management.

Mr Olumide Bolumole, Head of Listing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), identified high cost of operations, the dominance of foreign operators and uncompetitive regulatory framework as factors militating against the survival of the aviation industry.

Bolumole highlighted lack of cheap and long term funding, inadequate infrastructure and safety issues as challenges facing the Nigerian aviation.

He called for proper business regulations and concessionaire of airports and other related infrastructure.

According to him, the capital market offers opportunities for operations in the aviation space to raise capital, required for its smooth operations and growth.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Webinar panel of discussion was moderated by Mr Fubara Anga, the Head of Transportation and Finance Practice Groups, AELEX.  

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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General news

Stakeholders decry multiple check points on Lagos-Badagry Expressway

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Some stakeholders in Badagry  on Thursday decried the multiple Police check points along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, alleging that the security personnel were using the avenue to extort motorists.

 

They said this during the Joint Weekly Peace and Security Meeting organised by the three Local Government Areas held at the Badagry Local Government secretariat in Ajara, Badagry.

 

They decried the hardships most  commuters and motorists were passing through as well as the high rate of extortion by the security personnel along the road.

 

Hon. Setonji David, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Badagry Constituency 2, said that no business could strive in Badagry with the number of police check points on the road.

 

“While roadblocks are necessary, we will not ignore Badagrians who complain that government policies made to protect them have turned into oppressive conduct by those concerned.

 

“From the traveling experiences I had, it is only  thecLagos-Badagry expressroad that has numerous checkpoints within short intervals, this is an abuse of road checkpoints.

 

“No business can strive in Badagry with the number of police on the road, this is unbearable, we are under siege here,” he said.

 

David said that the security meeting was to tell the world what they were going through in Badagry, adding that they could no longer pretend that things were fine.

 

Also, Mr Solomon Bonu, the Special Adviser to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu  of Lagos state appealed to the police command in the state  that the road blocks should be reduced in the interest of peace.

 

Bonu noted that the increasing number of checkpoints had drastically affected tourists and tourism activities in Badagry.

 

Mr Governor has good intentions to boost Badagry tourism potential when he appointed me and Mr Babatunde Mesewaku as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

 

“But  the police personnel  on the road are causing stumbling blocks for tourists who often decry the number of checkpoints.

 

“I wonder what they are checking. The hardship they are causing is immeasurable. It is not just collapsing the businesses; it is wasting our time.

 

“Even the common man, and  drivers are protesting every day because of checkpoints, the economy of Badagry is going down every day. Kindly look into it for a lasting solution,” Bonu said.

 

Similarly, Hon. Ibrahim Layode, member LSHA Constituency 1, charged the security agencies to do their jobs in such a way that they will  not be detrimental to the residents.

 

Layode condemned the rude manners at which some officers talk to commuters and motorists on the road.

 

He alleged  that some police officers were fond of creating barriers on public roads to enable easy stopover by road users, which he said  was not proper.

 

Also speaking, Hon. Suru Avoseh, a member of Lagos State Civil Service Commission, said the Police were not always friendly on the expressway.

 

“I am from Erekiti, I personally have to challenge a police man who had his gun cocked and was harassing the people on the Mowo-Ikoga road.

 

“We are not against security, but restricting our people is what we are against.

 

“Police were our friends before, but now on the road, police are  no longer our friends,” Avoseh said.

 

Chief Tunde Giro, the representative of Akran of Badagry, disclosed that from Seme to Badagry there are no less than  13 police check points.

 

Responding, the Divisional Police Officer, Badagry Police Station, CSP Sunday Adeyeri, said his station had only two checkpoints situated at Iyafin, Badagry.

 

Adeyeri said that all other check points were not under his jurisdiction.

 

He, however, appealed to the public  that necessary measures would be taken to moderate the situation.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other political stakeholders that attended the meeting include:  Hon. Nuatin Genesis, the former Sole Administrator, Badagry West LCDA and Mr Moses Owolabani, a community leader.

 

Others are the  representatives of  the FRSC,  the NURTW, Customs Service, Immigration Services and Nigerian Army.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Peter Dada (NAN)

 

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Metro

COVID-19: Stakeholders plead for aviation industry bailouts in face of existential threat

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Stakeholders in the aviation sector have called for government’s urgent support to prevent complete collapse of the industry, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They made the plea at the AELEX Aviation Webinar II, tagged “Flying into Turbulent Skies, Safely Navigating COVID-19 Headwinds – Survival Strategies for Nigerian Aviation’’ on Wednesday in Lagos.

Mr Chris Aligbe, an industry consultant and CEO of Belujane Konsult, urged government to assist the industry through bailout to bounce back.

Aligbe said that the interjectory for the industry to get up for business lies in government intervention.

He urged the government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to make soft funding facility available to airlines through its stimulants package at three to four per cent interest rates and spread over two years repayment moratorium.

According to him, government should make fund available for the airline so that business can pick up at the postCOVID-19 economy plans.

“Our airports need to be privatised or concessionaire to meet up the global standard.

“Infrastructural development of the industry is also key and government should fast track the growth of the industry through effective reengineering to attract investment,’’ he said.

Aminu Ismail, Executive Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) said that between 2012 and 2020, the corporation had injected over N50 billion into the aviation industry to stabilise airline operations.

Ismail said that AMCON’s intervention led to the purchase of about $1 billion of non-performing loans (NPL’s) from Nigerian banks owed by major Nigerian airlines including Aero Contractor and Arik Air among others.

He said that the aviation sector accounted for around eight per cent of AMCON’s restructuring portfolio.

He added that the loan restructuring loan of airlines operators protected a critical sector of the economy.

“The corporations are very much in support of the survival of the aviation industry and its commitment jobs within the sector and across its supply chain.

“For the survival of the industry in short term, the government would typically have more direct control over these measures.

“This could be by scrapping Value Added Tax (VAT) in the aviation industry, waivers on landing, parking and navigational for an extended.

“Also government should look into suspension or reduction of air passengers’ duty to reduce the cost of travel and encourage passengers to buy tickets,’’ he said.

For Mr Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives, said that there was need for investment in infrastructure and airport concession to reduce average cost and increase profitability.

Rewane said that due to the pandemic, exchange rate volatility would affect dollar dominated air travel services-spares, training and maintenance cost.

He said that in Africa, due to the effects of the pandemic, external imbalances and commodity fragility will persist.

According to him, in Africa, trade balances will slide into negative territory ($-15bn), while external debts burden will widen.

Capt. Dapo Olumide, CEO, Ropeways Transport Ltd., urged the government to ensure effective disinfecting of the airport and put all mechanism in place before reopening the domestic airports.

Olumide, however, raised question on how the management of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would ensure disinfecting the counter and sensitive areas of the airport at every 15 minutes to meet the best standard.

He agreed that airline operators needed bailout to bounce back into business.

He also suggested that taking away some of the multiple taxation by regulatory agencies and the provision of requisite infrastructure as well as the steady supply of fuel would assist them in the short term to stabilise, even faster that getting direct government funds.

“Plagued by a myriad of problems that tend to stifle efforts at efficient service delivery to passengers, investors in Nigeria’s domestic airline industry have called for an urgent government bailout to save the industry from imminent collapse.

“Government to, as a matter of urgency, come up with a strategy to bring all parties to the negotiating table to seek direct funding intervention, for the first time, for airlines to save the sector from collapse.

“Without the airlines, there is no aviation,’’ Olumide said.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Metro

Lockdown: Stakeholders decry challenges of online classes

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Some stakeholders in the education sector on Wednesday said the online classes occasioned by lockdown and movement restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic had presented a lot of drawbacks for students, parents and schools.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews on Wednesday in Lagos that though the classes had been beneficial, it had come with various challenges for them.

Mr John Folarin, a Teaching Consultant, said the online classes have some benefits, including better engagement for students because of the fun in handling devices, improved ICT skills, and ability to replay classes done via video or voice notes.

Folarin, however, noted that this method of teaching had experienced some drawbacks for both teachers and students.

“Some of these include: lack of facilities and resources such as inadequate devices, lack of data and epileptic power, which may cause students to miss real time classes.

“In some cases, topics are not properly explained as many teachers don’t have the patience to explain the content by typing.

“If a teacher solves a Mathematics question on a sheet of paper and post, it won’t be sufficient for the slow learners,” he said.

A Parent, Mrs Janet Onyewuenyi, said the classes, though engaging and impactful, came with some inconveniences for parents and guardians who were saddled with the task of supervising their wards.

Onyewuenyi, who is also a businessman, noted that if the schools don’t send the classes, parents won’t know what to teach the children.

“I can’t go out, especially between the hours of 10.00a.m. to 3.00p.m, because I have four children who are attending the classes, and I have to take them, one after the other.

“When the teachers send the work, parents explain and supervise, then ensure they do the homework and keep notes for when school resumes,” she said.

Onyewuenyi said further that the school had notified them that the classes were drawn from the third term scheme, but did not charge for the services being rendered.

Also, Ms Lamide Fajemisin, E-commerce Brand Professional, said she had to get a teacher to support to avoid her children losing interest in their work.

“The challenge is mostly with the internet use and the attention span of the children.

“I work from home and sometimes don’t have the time to attend to them, so they don’t lose interest, I got a teacher to support,” she said.

In his remarks, Mr Jason Idika, a Sales Engineer, said the classes had been beneficial, because it had kept his children busy and safe.

Idika added that though, the school was running the Third Term Scheme, parents were charged a token fee for the services.

“Initially, we didn’t pay because they used it to tidy up the second term scheme,” he said.

Idika, however, noted that apart from the challenges with power and data, the classes were done in a hurry.

Also, Mrs Elizabeth Omubo, said that her children’s school was not running the Third Term Scheme, but only engaging the students to ensure they don’t forget what they had been taught.

“We paid N2,000 for those ones in Nursery and Primary School, while we paid N3,000 for the one in secondary,” she said.

Omubo said she had to buy an Android phone to enable her children to partake in the classes.

Also commenting, Mrs Amaka Ukwedike, a parent told NAN that it was a good development to keep the children on track with academic activities.

Ukwedike said that the online lessons, though with good motive, had some shortcomings which did not allow it to be well embraced.

“It is a fair idea for some parents whose children are expected to participate in the lesson, but has some set backs.

“Some of these setbacks include: high cost of data, which is a major problem for an average family,” she said.

Ukwedike appealed to telecommunication companies to collaborate with school authorities to make data packages cheaper and affordable for the online lessons.

“Most schools have kept faith by ensuring that their students are observing major subjects like Mathematics and English in the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.

“But, the problem is that sometimes, the video containing the lessons being sent to the children through their parents’ phone consumed too much data and the telecommunication operators need to help,” she said.

A school Proprietor, Mrs Ifesy Nwagu, told NAN that the lockdown had subjected some families to hardship as they lacked food to eat, and could not afford resources for internet learning.

“It is only one who has eaten that can afford to recharge and have their android phone loaded with data; so, the challenges are there for parents this period,” Ifesy of Marymartins School, Ijegun, Ikotun, said.

She further noted that the whole process was more effected at the secondary and tertiary levels where their intellect could cope with system.

Ifesy then suggested that the primary and nursery levels should resort to alternative process instead of staying idle because most of them could not afford it.

“There should be an alternative to e-learning for those that cannot meet up, especially for the primary level, because only a few are benefiting from it, which is not fair,” she added.

Also, Mrs Doris Isaac, a private school supervisor, told NAN that few parents had resolved to teaching their children as they could not meet up with resources to key into the online lessons.

“Parents are passionate about their children’s education, and this is the reason some are also taking the advantage of the stay-at-home to personally teach their children,” Isaac said.

Angela Ogboo, a Chemistry teacher and House Mistress in Saint Francis College, Idimu, Lagos, told NAN that even where the system was in place, the teachers had challenges with working tools.

“Some teachers cannot meet up because of the state of their phones, network issues and the poor power supply even, when they were compelled to prepare the lessons for the students.

“Those combined subjects as Basic Science and Technology (BST) and Prevocational Study (PVS) with different teachers are not easy to coordinate online, as the e-learning demands that you must have steady power supply or a functional generator,” she said.

Commenting, Mrs Yomi Newton, immediate past
President, Federal Government Girls College, Kazaure in Katsina State, told NAN that the online and e-learning system was not meant for everyone.

According to her, those that could not meet up with providing the resources because of finance resorted to home lessons, adding that one must work within his means.

“Some do not have the same opportunity as others so they have to ask a teacher to come to take the lessons for their kids at home instead of remaining idle.

“This, of course is cheaper than getting an android phone for my son, loading it with data and ensuring that there is fuel in my generator,” she said.

Newton, a medical personnel, noted that there would have been a lot of advantages and benefits if certain amenities were provided.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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