Lekan Paul

UBA Foundation Celebrates International Day Of The African Child, With Special Reading, Mentoring Sessions

UBA Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, on Monday, joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of the African Child.

The day which has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate children in Africa, recognises the courage of students who marched for their right to better education in Soweto South Africa, and is marked annually on June 16th.

UBA Foundation brought together students from various secondary schools in Lagos to the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre in the UBA Head Office, where they were educated on various issues, ranging from financial literacy, importance of reading culture and nation building.

Some schools which were represented at the event included Akande Dahunsi Memorial High School, Lagos; Government Senior College, Maroko, Aunty Ayo International School Ikoyi and Wahab Folawiyo Senior High School, Ikoyi.

UBA’s Group Head, Human Resources, Mrs Patricia Aderibigbe who welcomed the students, said that UBA Foundation centres on three key pillars: Education, Empowerment and Environment.

Throwing more light on this, she explained that the bank, through its foundation, recognises the huge role that education and indeed a good reading culture has to play in the lives of the youth.

She said, “The UBA Foundation is committed to impacting the lives of the African youth across the continent. As a pan-African institution, we believe that the future of Africa lies in her youth. For this reason, UBA Foundation is actively involved in facilitating educational projects and bridging the literacy-wide gap on a pan-African scale.

“The UBA Foundation is helping rekindle the dwindling reading and literacy culture amongst African youths as they pursue their education. Over time we have worked with various schools and educational institutions across the continent to ensure that the UBA Foundation continues to traverse the continent, contributing positively to the development of African youth, especially in the area of education,” she added.

She explained that the bank through its foundation, aims to make sustainable improvements in the lives of the needy and under-privileged by supporting entrepreneurship programmes, such as social entrepreneurship schemes which benefit the community at large.

On his part, the Chief Credit Officer, UBA Africa, Mr. Franklin Erebor, who spoke briefly on financial literacy and the need to plan for the future, told the pupils that it is important for them to manage their funds and finances.

He said, “You are not too young to start to plan for the future, as what you do now when you are young will impact greatly on you later in live. So it is essential that you have an account which should be well monitored to ensure that it fulfils the purpose.

“You need to be financially literate, as this will help to open your eyes to the opportunities inherent and help you make wise decisions to benefit from the investments,” Erebor said.

The UBA top officials had a brief reading session where they read to the students and engaged them in reading a number of passages from select reading materials.

As a Pan African Institution, UBA is in the forefront of promoting Africa and African values, especially in the areas of economic development for the continent.

Recently, the bank also held its UBA Conversations, an annual event commemorating the Africa Day, where African icons contributed to discussions around changing the African narrative and growing the continent.

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Tradermoni, Marketmoni Win Africa’s Most Impactful Financial Inclusion Award In Equatorial Guinea

TraderMoni and MarketMoni, two of Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes have won the Most Impactful Financial Inclusion award in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The programmes under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme, GEEP was described as most impactful financial inclusion programme in Africa.

The award was given to the Bank of Industry (BoI) at the African Bankers Awards, which was hosted by African Banker magazine in conjunction with Business in Africa Events and held during the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. 

According to the award organisers, the African Banker’s Award, the financial inclusion award is for the organization, product or program that has best succeeded in delivering financial products and services to wider parts of society, particularly to the most disadvantaged and low-income segments, ultimately contributing to financial inclusion, development, and growth.

The Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP) which was launched as a product of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) has benefited over 2 million local entrepreneurs across the 3 GEEP projects: MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, and TraderMoni; this makes it the largest government-led microcredit program globally. These 3 programs empower micro-enterprises with interest-free and collateral-free loans to grow their businesses. 

MarketMoni targets small businesses with soft loans from N50,000 to N100,000 while FarmerMoni targets local smallholder farmers with loans starting at N250,000 and a buy-off guarantee on there produce. TraderMoni having the widest reach due to the target demography has given loans starting at N10,000 to over 1.8 million beneficiaries. 

The awards event featured financial institutions and projects from all 54 countries in Africa, as well as the international community. Other award categories and winners at the event include: Investment Bank of the Year (ABSA Capital), Best Retail Bank in Africa (Ecobank ETI), Innovation in Banking (KCB – Kenya), Regional Bank of the year (East Africa – KCB, Kenya; West Africa – Orabank; North Africa – Banque de l’Habitat (Tunisia); Southern Africa – Mauritius Commercial Bank; Central Africa – BGFI, Gabon), Central Bank Governor of the Year (Tarek Amer, Central Bank Governor– Egypt) among others.

Of the over two million beneficiaries of the GEEP, the vast majority of these micro-enterprises are petty traders, merchants, enterprising youth, and agricultural workers in over 1600 clusters and markets across all 36 states of Nigeria, and the federal capital. These traders and artisans are financially marginalized, having no access to corporate financial services like a savings account, mobile banking, loan facilities, and the likes. The GEEP, especially the TraderMoni programme, is designed to adequately cater for this majority of the nation’s economy by simply using their mobile numbers as simple means to access all the above listed financial facilities. 

Apart from easy access to these loans, TraderMoni beneficiaries are given a proper and convenient payback plan. For example, beneficiaries of the first tranche of the loan, which is N10,000, are given a payback plan of N430 weekly for 6 months. This repayment does not necessarily have to be done in a commercial bank. The Bank of Industry has designed repayment vouchers sold by TraderMoni agents across all markets listed on the programme. 

So far, thousands of impact stories have been recorded from with beneficiaries narrating how the GEEP has empowered them to expand and sustain their businesses while significantly increasing their incomes.

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This Country Recently Became Africa’s Largest Economy. Now It’s Too Big for Businesses to Ignore, By Melissa Cook

From a market on Lagos Island, Nigeria, the skyline of the city of Lagos is visible. Among many companies, there is a great deal of nervousness around investing in Nigeria.

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. And with over 200 million people, it is the largest market in the continent, its population nearly twice the size of Ethiopia (110 million) or Egypt (102 million).

Yet among many companies, there is a great deal of nervousness around investing in Nigeria. One business development officer of a large company told me recently: “We’re not in Nigeria; one of our guys heard you can’t go there.”

This kind of second hand hearsay is a risky way to make proper business decisions. When firms make what we refer to as accidental decisions—those based on media reports or anecdotal evidence—it is hard to effectively quantify and manage risks.

Nigeria is definitely a challenging place to operate. But ultimately, the nation is too important to ignore.

Investment by the United States in Nigeria is Growing

Foreign direct investment stock from the United States into Nigeria was $5.8 billion in 2017, up 32.8 percent since 2016, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. However, a significant chunk of U.S. FDI in Nigeria and the continent goes into the resources sector.

The Commercial and Investment Dialogue with the Nigerian government, originally recommended by President Obama’s President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, is now in full force, and earlier this year, the U.S. Commercial Service hosted the USA Trade Fair in Lagos, Nigeria—attended by more than 4,000 delegates. Many of America’s biggest firms were out in force, as were smaller names in the agribusiness, aviation, consumer, energy, industrials, and security sectors.

Now, other countries are starting to catch America’s lead—notably the Chinese.

China’s Africa Strategy Presents a Formidable Challenge

China is using all of its political, industrial, and financial might to build deep connections in Africa. Engagement is strategic, multilateral, and well-organized under the biennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese construction firms are building road, rail, port, communications, mining, and energy projects funded by loans from The Export-Import Bank of China or state-owned banks, using Chinese machinery, and with Chinese operators often operating the asset after completion.

Source: UNCTAD World Investment Report 2018
Chinese business development teams visit Africa’s toughest neighborhoods to establish relationships—often long before most American executives have even considered an investment in the country in question. Headlines trumpet Chinese “investment” in Africa, but much of this is actually lending, rather than equity investment. International experience is helping Chinese firms improve their product quality, service delivery, and technological capabilities every day, making them ever-stronger global competitors.

The key to China’s success on the continent is that designing “good enough” equipment for the price their customers will pay. A Chinese-made truck starter will fail after a fraction of the starts a North American truck operator considers normal—but it will also cost a fraction of the price. Likewise, a Chinese-designed smartphone will work on local networks, enjoy long battery life, run the right apps—and come at an affordable price. Despite recent political hiccups, Huawei is the dominant supplier of communications and networking equipment on the continent. Africans benefit from the firm’s low-cost vendor financing, ultra-advanced technology, and turnkey service for modern network installations.

In Nigeria, Demand Exceeds Supply

Nigeria is famous for its power shortages. With only about 5GW of grid power available (on a good day), it’s no surprise that there is an estimated 20GW of captive, backup, and household-level power installed by the private sector.

But this isn’t just a risk. It’s also a business opportunity.

In 2011, Nigeria privatized the power generation and distribution portions of its electricity industry. Performance is well below expectations so far, thanks to gas supply shortages, below-contract tariffs, and poor cash collection. The opportunity? Most manufacturers run their own captive power plants—and they’re investing in advanced gas-fired turbines, high-efficiency production equipment, and renewable energy capacity. Households need prepaid electric meters, energy-efficient appliances, and more cost-effective standby generators.

The continent is becoming a big beneficiary of China’s large-scale investment in renewables—which are now vastly cheaper than they were just a decade ago. In Nigeria, solar, wind, and mini-hydro are rapidly filling in the gaps where grid power is unavailable. Local micro- or mini-grids can deliver power to light homes, charge phones, refrigerate medicines, preserve harvested produce, and bring the internet to schools.

In Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, the financial services sector is undergoing a transformation. Mobile money accounts are increasingly popular, led by M-PESA in Kenya. Mobile money has boosted economic activity and brought millions into the financial services sector.

African financial-technology entrepreneurs are testing innovative—and potentially disruptive—services. Where regulations allow, entrepreneurs and mobile operators are introducing low-cost mobile payment, investment, insurance, savings, loans, and cross-border money transfer services using the latest technology.

According to the World Bank, small- and medium-sized enterprises create an estimated 4 of every 5 new jobs in emerging markets, yet traditional corporate banks are still focused on serving large corporate customers.

Can You Create Long-Term Shareholder Value Without Africa?

This isn’t a simple question, but it has to be asked as part of any long-term growth and risk analysis.

Public capital markets are relentless in pushing for short-term earnings and returns. Set aside today’s imperative to meet quarterly earnings expectations, ignore for a minute the potential for activists to disrupt your investment programs because they don’t see an immediate ROI on your long-term strategic investments.

The long-term survival of a business depends on its ability to adapt, grow, and participate in the global economy of the future—and countries like Nigeria are part of this story.

This article was culled from https://www.brinknews.com/this-country-recently-became-africas-largest-economy-now-its-too-big-for-businesses-to-ignore/

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BMO Cautions PDP On Improper Conduct

The Buhari Media Organization (BMO) has described Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) statement on June 12 as a cacophony of lies.

According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), the declaration and actualization of June 12 as democracy day is a watershed in the history of our democratic journey and the PDP government did not play any role in shaping that history.

In a statement signed by the group chairman Niyi Akinsiju and its secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group says that the most significant factor that differentiated APC Government from PDP’s is the fact that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has played a pivotal role in administering Justice to correct the errors of the past which was the annulment of June 12, 1993 election.

“June 12 is not just a day to remember the struggles of our past but a day that triggers a new hope and a new dawn with a substantive direction for a greater Nigeria.

“On May 29 this year PDP released a statement saying President Muhammadu Buhari did not deliver a speech at his inauguration for second term, but the opposition party forget that the symbolism of democracy day was shifted from May 29 to June 12. 

“What Nigeria needs at the moment is a conscientious opposition not a reckless narcissistic opposition who, rather than show some remorse for their previous apathy, tried to make June 12 about themselves and their loss at the presidential polls. 

“PDP was in power at the centre for 16 years and the PDP-led administration, over that period, did not deem it fit to correct the injustice meted out to the clear winner of the June 12, 1993 election, and Nigerians generally.

“We wish to admonish the PDP, for its role as opposition, to be introspective and not be reckless with their statements. The election has been won fair and square so they should focus on the business of an opposition party.”

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Men Must Honour Women, Treat Them As Equals, Says Vice President Osinbajo

The responsibility of fatherhood in families and society is very crucial in setting good examples for future generations, as it would guide them in the right path to lead exemplary lives, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Sunday after a special Father’s Day service at the Aso Villa Chapel, Abuja.

On the Next Level agenda of the Buhari administration, the VP said power and infrastructure would improve, and there will be progress in the economy, security, and in the fight against corruption.

Speaking to the press, the Vice President wished every father in the country a Happy Father’s Day.

While noting that men should honour and love their wives and recognize their roles as partners, not just in families but in society, he said that it was equally important for them to teach young men to also honour and respect all women.

The Vice President said, “Fathers, as you know, have very important role to play in any human society or setting. I think it was (former US) President Barack Obama who said that it’s not the ability to father a child, or the ability to have a child that makes you a father, it is the courage to raise one. That’s really what makes you a father.

“I think that the responsibility of fatherhood is absolutely immense, whether one is a biological father to children or one who wants to take care of other children. All of us have a role to play, not just in the lives of our children, but so many others; those who have no fathers, even some who have fathers; to whom we have a responsibility to set examples to lead exemplary lives. And to bring them up, as the scriptures says, in the way of the Lord.

“So, the responsibility of the father is incredible indeed. One of the most important things is to teach our young men growing up that they must honour women, not just their wives. Of course, you must honour and love your wife, but I think it is also very important that we honour women. We shouldn’t treat them as subordinates; they are not. They are created equal to men. But most importantly, we must honour them and recognize their roles as partners, not just in families, but in society as well.”

Also present at the Father’s Day service at the Aso Villa Chapel were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; other senior government officials and private sector chieftains, including the President/Chief Executive Officer, Coscharis Group of Companies, Dr. Cosmas Maduka.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
16th June, 2019

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Presidency Welcomes EU And Other Suggestions On Improving Elections In Nigeria

The Presidency has welcomed the report of the European Union (EU) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, promising to analyse it fully and act on the recommendations.

The Presidency notes that the EU observers had been invited to the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and welcomed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

This was a clear indication of the administration’s good intentions, commitment to a pure democratic process, and desire to improve for the next elections.

The EU noted in their report that there were marked improvements from previous elections, although stating that more work needed to be done.

The administration of President Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that the improvements recommended by the EU are implemented, and that these areas of concern are addressed.

It is noteworthy that INEC is in receipt of a number of recommendations that form a part of the EU report.

The Presidency assures that the Commission is in safe hands and happy that they are currently engaged in root and branch reviews of the 2019 general elections and will input lessons learned into its recommendations for electoral and constitutional reforms.

We believe that the commission conducted a good election and will continue to improve on its processes and procedures.

While it is regretted that the elections in a few parts of the country witnessed some violence, among other shortcomings highlighted by the EU, we note however that none of these hitches affected the overall outcome of the elections.

Thankfully, EU did not question the results of the presidential election.

This is further proof that the polls reflected the overall will of Nigerians, and that the world is solidly behind the election of President Buhari for a second term.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 15, 2019

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BMO To OBJ: Your June 12 Tirade Is Petty, Puerile

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is just being petty and mischievous with his latest tirade against President Muhammadu Buhari on the occasion of the maiden celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day in the country, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has said.

The group is of the opinion that the former President is bitter that President  Buhari took measured steps to immortalise the late Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 1993 election.

BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that it was a major reason the former President opted to launch another attack on President Buhari to coincide with the celebration.

“First, it was his infantile Islamization agenda claim, now Chief Obasanjo who, many Nigerians agree, was the biggest beneficiary of the democracy that Abiola paid the supreme sacrifice for, has opted for a disjointed attack on Buhari mainly to divert attention from the celebration of the man he probably hated more than the President.

“How else can anyone describe a situation where a former President who literally rode to the Presidency on the back of millions of Nigerians who were relentless in demanding a return to civil rule, but could not as much as acknowledge President Buhari’s efforts to atone for the damage done to the polity with the annulment of that election.

“But even as Obasanjo chose the day to launch another puerile and incoherent attack on the President, Nigerians, from all indications, are united in praising Buhari for going beyond the investiture of Abiola, his then running mate Baba Gana Kingibe and the foremost human rights crusader Gani Fawehinmi with national honours few months ago, to renaming the Abuja National Stadium as Moshood Abiola Stadium.

“This incidentally is one act that the former President bluntly refused to do in office even after the Senate, in 2003, unanimously passed a resolution for the just constructed stadium to be named after the national icon.

 “It is on record that he once stunned the nation by declaring that the late Abiola was not the messiah that Nigeria needed. This more than anything spoke volumes about why Obasanjo failed to grant official recognition to June 12 or honour the memory of the man who personified the day that has since 1993 been described as a watershed in Nigeria’s democracy.

“So it cannot be a surprise that he attempted to water down the celebration of a man he hated, by another one that he equally hates, for not allowing him to have his way.”

 Urging Nigerians to expect more attacks from the former President Obasanjo in the coming months, BMO posited that Obasanjo would not be able to contain his frustrations on seeing the Buhari administration doing better than he expects.

“We at BMO were really not surprised to read yet another doomsday prediction from a former leader that thinks and acts like the repository of knowledge on everything from politics to the economy.

“In that interview that expectedly went viral, he questioned ‘ a situation where three top officials of government would be from only two northern zones(North West and North East), perhaps in furtherance of his Islamization agenda claim.

“We wonder if he would have raised the same poser if Senator Ali Ndume who was the choice of his friends at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Senate Presidency had defeated Ahmad Lawan.

“And on the acting Chief Justice being from the North, Is Obasanjo, by any chance, suggesting that President Buhari should have ignored hierarchy in the Supreme Court after the former occupant of the seat ran afoul of the law? Yet, he claims to be a democrat!

“On the economy, the former President claimed that the Buhari administration had ‘wasted the gains of the past administrations’ but we also know that the self-acclaimed father of the nation said similar or worse things about the past administrations of the late President Umaru Yar Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan when he fell out with the two men he literally hand-picked for that position.

“We however need to remind him that Nigeria under Buhari has witnessed eight quarters of positive growth in the economy and our GDP is projected to grow by 2.7 percent this year. Since Obasanjo believes he knows far more than anyone, he is free to compare these figures with that of South Africa with better infrastructure!

“In terms of security, we cannot recall at any other time in the country than under Obasanjo that a serving Attorney General of the Federation was brutally murdered right in his bedroom.

“ And nothing could be more preposterous than his claim that Buhari had ‘corrupted’ the fight against corruption, when it is common knowledge that the former he, Obasanjo, used the anti-graft agencies as his attack dog in his two terms in office to whip errant state governors  in line. He may also reel out statistics of high profile convictions, if any, on his watch,” BMO added.The pro-Buhari group said it was fitting that Obasanjo again reminded Nigerians of his true feelings about MKO Abiola by attempting to divert attention away from the June 12 celebrations with his sanctimonious attitude.

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Democracy Day: Show Of Shame By Past Presidents, Heads of States, By Ladidi Mohammed

Shunning June 12 Democracy Day celebrations is the clearest indication that most of our past Presidents and Heads of States were only about their selfish goals and not about Nigeria. They will do everything possible to make Nigerians know they are sulking; this includes shunning Democracy Day celebration.

The skewed thinking of many Nigerians and their joy that former Presidents and Head of States did not attend the Democracy Day celebrations is a pointer to our problems. Not only is their joy misplaced, it is very ridiculous.

As past Presidents and Heads of States who have claimed at different times that the June 12 election was wrongly annulled, one would expect that even if they failed to declare June 12 as Democracy Day, they will at least grace the maiden celebration.

But not our past Presidents and Heads of States, they have their own agenda and they do not want to see Nigeria celebrate anything. What is more appalling is that some of them have claimed to be true democrats, how can this be?

Their actions and utterances show that they were never democrats, speak less, leaders. A leader is a person who defines and exhibits moral and ethical courage and sets an example for everyone else. What kinds of example have this lot set?

It is often said that true leadership is all about developing people and helping others reach their full potential, please how have our past Presidents helped Nigeria to reach its goals? The election is over, the case is in court, that does not mean that they should carry their hate and divisive embryo everywhere they go.

Nigeria is much more than an election and Nigeria is in dire need of true leaders, leaders who do not politicize everything. What is more painful is that African leaders graced the occasion that our own past Presidents shunned. What an irony, Nigeria who claims to be the ‘Giant of Africa’ displaying its problems in open glare.

I think it is a shame on all the past leaders save for General Yakubu Gowon who I believe was unavoidably absent. As for President Goodluck Jonathan who many applauded for his big heart in the 2015 election, I think he might be losing the plot. We know who Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is and we have seen how he is trying to drag Nigeria down because of selfish reasons.

Only yesterday Babagana Kingibe confirmed that Obasanjo was one of the architects of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
President Jonathan should not go down that route. He should not allow the same democracy that he preserved remember him in the negative. He is the reason why President Muhammadu Buhari can declare June 12 a Democracy Day.

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Kogi Gov donates 104 patrol vans to Army, Navy, Police, others

The Kogi State Police Command has rated the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello high on issues of security in the state.

In a chat with members of the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ) in his office on Thursday, the Public Relations Officer of the command, DSP Williams Ovye Aya lauded the state governor for providing patrol vans and other logistics for security operatives in the state.

DSP Aya said Kogi state is relatively peaceful when compared to what it used to be before the incumbent administration came on board. He noted that although there is no perfect security in any part of the world but there is always room for improvement.

”The state governor has been committed to ensuring adequate security of lives and properties of Kogi residents by providing all needed logistics since inception of his tenure,” he said.

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Why Arc. Bulama Is The Best Man To Serve As Next National Secretary Of APC, By Engr Joseph Achebo

The parameters of what constitutes a nation goes far beyond population demographics, it transcends ethno-religious proclivities or other iterations of social stratification. A nation is a deliberate conurbation of people, who have chosen to come together for the betterment of all, and the detriment of none.

Our nation may have officially come into being in the decades leading up to independence in 1960. However, our intrinsic national identity has been spawned, shaped, and nurtured by great men of vision, our forbears, who have laboured tirelessly to forge our national identity, arriving today at what we call Nigeria, our fatherland.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, when our progenitors and founding fathers such as President Nmandi Azikiwe, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others negotiated our freedom from the British Empire with the promise to run a government of the people, uphold justice and maintain the freedom of the press.

As time passed on, and before the demise of our said founding fathers, they expressed their disappointment over the decay and loss of confidence in the government of Nigeria. They were shocked and astonished at the deterioration in the educational system, judiciary, legislative and the Executive systems of Government. They lamented and admitted that this was not the future they had anticipated for a country they fought so hard to liberate from the tyranny of our colonial masters.

However, although our great nation has weathered tumult and turmoil, shaking the sociopolitical and economic underpinnings of Nigeria to its very foundation, regardless, we remain undeterred. We as a people remain undeterred because even as other generations before us have produced leaders of renowned reputation to stir us back on course, there are still national warriors living in our generation, and Arc. Bulama is one such national warrior.

To forge ahead, and for Nigeria to take its proper place among the great nations of the world, unity is key. As a nation we must aim for and stick to a singular determination and goal of pulling our different parts together, drawing from the talents and the wells of human resource from each and every State, to ensure full representation across the board, and to strengthen our collective resolve.

For this lofty but achievable purpose, APC needs a national secretary of very high intelligence, intellectual exposure, ebullient personality, ethical predilection, and unique character to helm the secretariat of the party.
The best man for the job, who fits the iterated criterion is none other than Arc. Bulama. The nation and indeed APC is at the cross roads and at this stage in our journey as a nation and a party, we need a man of high educational credentials, and who is also possessed of exceptional amiability. A friend to all, a welcome personage in all gatherings in all the six geopolitical regions. A Godly man, with an exemplary family, sound in the Holy Scriptures and who inherently has a firm grasp of the importance of tolerance. That man is Arc. Bulama.

Everywhere he goes he represents the good face of APC and along with his modernist approach and open door policy, everyone feels comfortable and carried along. Having him as party secretary would go a long way towards achieving true party cohesion which is a badly needed attribute in APC today.

Not only is he already widely recognized in the party and the nation as a whole for these stellar qualities, there are feelers from all quarters that people want him at the engine room of the APC. The party leaders and members alike have unanimously chorused him as the next National Secretary of APC.

With Arc. Bulama as the national Secretary of APC, we can all be rest assured that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Providence has given us a man of his calibre for such a time as this. We must arise and answer the call of the people, they deserve the best of APC, and with Arc. Bulama as national party secretary today, we are assured of a greater tomorrow.

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Economics, Economist, Financial Times And Nigeria, By Garba Shehu

One would imagine that business papers like economic success stories; apparently not. Instead, they feast and thrive on negatives. Financial Times, for instance, is worried about a government policy that is enabling boom in rice production in Nigeria. And the Economist is panicky about toothpick manufacturers springing up following tariffs that protect local manufacturers to get off the ground and compete globally.

Both papers only see negatives. Specifically, Economist dwells on out-of-date statistics. Deliberately it turns away from the positives as it will complicate already tailored narratives. Some foreign correspondents keep the storyline simple: Africa is home for all bad things: poverty, disease and crime. And unremitting bleakness lives on the continent, and success is the aberration.

Since only negative reports on Africa make it to the international media, a backward picture of a nation is painted succinctly and efforts at growth in different ramifications, both investment and diplomacy are ignored. From the content of these stories, readers must be baffled that Nigerians know toothpicks, let alone be able to manufacture them.

The fact remains that with squeeze in media budgets there are not enough knowledgeable foreign correspondents based on the continent to report accurate news and uphold journalistic standards. And the parachuting style clearly defies ethics and quality. To cut cost, many media houses rely on the expedience of technology. The highly revered and sacrosanct fact-checking skill of journalism slips as a result. Anyone with a laptop is trusted as credible source. Cogent arguments no longer have a place, instead we have jumbled and emotive criticisms.

For instance, the Financial Times declares proudly that President Buhari failed to spur rice growing, whilst stating that production was at record levels up 60 per cent in 2018 from what we had in 2013. The Economist talks about overdependence on oil, yet criticises policies such as subsidies or financial incentives that allow local businesses to compete and diversify the economy. It frowns at power shortfalls, but turns around to attack Alhaji Aliko Dangote – the man building the world’s largest oil refinery and improving power infrastructure in Nigeria.

Fundamentally, the foreign correspondents fail to appreciate context – understandably if they have to cover a large “patch’’ with shoe-string budgets, but never-the-less it is impermissible as facts must remain sacred. The Economist states that the economy was “sputtering’’ when President Buhari’s first term began in 2015, and still concluded he made a “bad situation worse”. “Sputtering’’ sounds euphemistic. The reality is that the economy was on its knees. The overdependence on oil, paired with impending global commodity crash, made the entry into recession at the beginning of the term inevitable. Now, however, the first quarter growth of 2019 has been the strongest.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said analysts and onlookers must recognise “how deep the shock” was to the economy. As a famous American business magnate observed: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Indeed, Nigeria had been awash in oil dollars (over $100 a barrel), yet previous governments failed to add muscle to the economy.

Since the recession struck (crude oil went below $40 per barrel), the government has taken measures to redress weaknesses in our economy. The IMF goes on to praise the strong diversification in the economy and welcome the focus on public investment. For instance, the government has spent record figures on infrastructure in the past two years and capital expenditure is now around 30 per cent of the budget, rather than inadequate 10 per cent in 2015.

There has also been a drive to self-sufficiency where possible. It makes no sense for Nigeria to import rice, yet foreign shipments were dumped to maintain dependency. Farmers needed help: strategic tariffs were applied to allow for initial competition, whilst the Central Bank of Nigeria financial initiatives allowed growers to access capital for fertilizer and equipment. Over the past three years, production has risen year-on-year. Nigeria, as of 2018, is Africa’s largest producer of rice. Self-sufficiency has almost been attained.

From reading some foreign articles, you would be surprised to find these success stories mentioned; amazed that anyone would cheer the decision on tariffs to ward off desolation. And the failure to see or present any achievement perpetuates stereotypes that serve as disincentives to Foreign Direct Investment and partnership.

Granted, there are challenges in Nigeria. The country is a large and diverse nation with structural challenges that have been passed down through decades. But foreign reports ignore the complexity, and instead offer platitudes as solutions. This diminishes the difficulties facing those in governance: they must merely “stamp out corruption” or “improve governance” – common advice amongst those quick to criticise, but barren in tangible and measurable solutions.

Similarly, we are told to “harness the vim of Nigerians’’ – which is true. But this seems obvious as to even need mentioning. It is – to be sure – how you do that. We in governance have no illusion about this. Vim is harnessed when a nation has decent infrastructure that connects the economy, and thousands of miles of road have been constructed, as well as the expansion and upgrading of colonial-era railway network. When children have good education; we are currently ensuring 9 million free school meals daily across the nation and it has boosted enrolment and attendance. And when business reforms create enabling environment; already Nigeria has gone up 24 places in Ease of Doing Business ranking since 2018, and the country is currently one of the top 10 global reformers, which is good news!

Garba Shehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media & Publicity.

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Oscar Obi Foundation Gives Out Scholarship To Abuja Girl Child

A Non-Governmental Organization, Oscar Obi Youth and Children Literacy Foundation, has given one out-of-school girl child, Deborah Amos, full scholarships to go back to school and also gave out educational materials such as school bag, sandal, writing materials, and among others, to aid her learning.

The gesture, which was witnessed by Principal and teachers of L.E.A Primary school in Kubwa, Bwari Area Council of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Four (4) on ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Recounting his encounter with Deborah, Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Barrister Oscar Obi said: “I was driving through Gado Nasko road in Kubwa when I saw her playing with her peers in school uniform. I observed she wasn’t wearing one and has no sandal on her.

“I got off the car and walked up to inquire why she wasn’t in school uniform. After my enquiries, I got to know that she has never been to school at all because her family could not afford to send her to school.

“I then requested to meet with her family and she took me to her Uncle, Mr. Simon Joseph, who is also her guardian and gateman with one hospital in Kubwa.

“After a brief introduction and discussion with Mr. Joseph, he was glad at our decision to offer Deborah a full scholarship to cover both her primary and secondary education, including school materials and uniforms.”

Mr. Joseph, who expressed appreciation to the organization, said they have helped Deborah Amos, secure a bright future by sending her to school.

Also, Barrister Obi, in his remarks, stressed that the foundation was established to provide education opportunities for the less privileged.

His words: “The foundation has been in existence with many beneficiaries who cuts across tribes and religions.

“We want to see how we can help out-of-school children to achieve their dreams so that those who want to become doctors will still become doctors and those who want to become engineers will still become engineers.”

Barrister Obi further urged other well-meaning individuals to look around their immediate environment and see kids they can take off streets

“In our today’s society, aside efforts of the government, there are actually loads we can do as individuals to assist these innocent kids, from less privileged backgrounds achieve their life goals.

“Deborah is not among those ‘professional beggars’ that will never want to leave the trade. She’s a little girl so desirous to acquire knowledge. Many of her likes exist in our immediate environments. Please let us discover them and touch their lives,” Oscar said.

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