How To Earn Mega Bucks As A Database Administrator, By Priye Maxwell

It has been called the happiest job in the world.

While that assertion is debatable, what is not debatable is that you will definitely be smiling to the bank.

Database administrators (DBAs) are in high demand right now and companies are willing to pay handsomely for qualified hands.
According to a recent poll, database administration is listed as the 4th best technology job in the world. It is also ranked as the 15th best STEM job as well as the 30th best job overall.

In reaching these conclusions, the research took into account several factors such as remuneration, the potential for growth and the work/life balance.

How Much Can You Earn As A Database Administrator?
According to salaryexplorer.com, the median monthly salary of Database Administrator working a nine to five job in Nigeria is #318,000.

The lowest average salary is #176,000 while the highest average salary is #428,000 (note that the actual maximum salary is higher than the highest average).
Allow us to do the math for you on what that translates to in terms of a yearly salary. Excluding bonuses, the median salary for a Database administrator in Nigeria is #3,816,000 per annum.

The lowest average is #2,112,000 per annum and the highest average is #5,136,000.
Should you choose to seek work abroad, your earning potential could increase exponentially.

For example, in the United States, the media yearly salary is $90,070 while the lowest and highest average salaries are $66,200 and $116,000 respectively.

We’ll let you do the math on that.

What Does A Database Administrators Do?
A database administrator is responsible for the storage, organization and security of a company’s most precious asset- its data. While keeping the data protected from outsiders, the DBA must simultaneously ensure that the data easily accessible and translatable to the people who need it, whenever they need it.

For example, the database administrators of your bank, while tasked with protecting your personal information, must also ensure that you have access to your bank account via your app at all times.

The basic duties of a DBA include the following:
The DBA is responsible for upgrading and installing application tools and the database server.

The DBA modifies the database structure when necessary.
The DBA handles licensing renewals and maintaining compliance with database vendor license agreements.

The DBA would be responsible for tech support for database systems.

As a DBA, you would be required to optimize the performance of the database.

The DBA secures user profiles and permissions within the database.

The DBA plans, executes and checks backup strategies.
The DBA migrates the database as is required.

The Future Looks Bright
As data needs grow across economic sectors, the demand for database administrators is expected to grow as well.

Experts project that employment in this profession will grow by 10% over the next decade.
Wages are also projected to increase over time.

With Nigerians companies’ ever-increasing adoption of digital solutions, the future looks bright for DBAs in this country.

How To Become A Database Administrator
Becoming a DBA requires the possession of certain personality traits such as problem-solving skills, proactivity, curiosity and logical thinking.

You will also need a solid I.T background and relevant Oracle or Microsoft certifications.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Academy offers a suite of Oracle certifications that will help prepare you for a future in database administration.

As our society moves towards a more tech-based orientation, database administration is becoming a more relevant and coveted profession and one you should strongly consider.

Visit nitda.gov.ng today and register for the NITDA academy to begin receiving online classes. It is absolutely free.

Priye Maxwell, a tech enthusiast wrote from Port-Harcourt

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Fani-Kayode’s Gaffe and the Rot in the Media, By Gidado Shuaib

Of late, the Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has come under heavy media flogging from various persons, journalism unions and top columnists, condemning his attitude towards a Daily Trust journalist, Eyo Charles, during a press conference.

Without attempting to belabour the issue, I wish to recall how the incident happened as well as the attendant media backlash. First, it is instructive to know that a press conference, in other words, is a platform on which a journalist and newsmaker interact through a question-and-answer parley. It is a form of drilling to which a newsmaker is subjected for onward transmission to the public.

However, Fani-Kayode, during one of such parleys, turned down a journalist’s question and, as if that was not enough disservice to the intent of the platform, this fellow had the effrontery to call this benign journalist all sorts of names. Well, thanks to Social Media. Fani-Kayode’s assault against the journalist would have been history.

An archetypal precedent has long been set. Although, it was not in our clime. At a press briefing in the White House last year, US President Donald Trump used somewhat unprintable adjectives to describe and ‘disparage’ the personalities of both the CNN and NBC White House Correspondents.

Both Peter Alexander of the NBC and his CNN colleague, Jim Acosta, were not spared the verbal ‘missile’ of the utterly-rambunctious US Number One citizen.

Mr Trump repeatedly blasted the two US reporters, reminiscent of the Femi Fani-Kayode and Eyo Charles’ ‘fiasco’ in Calabar penultimate week.

Trump never minced words in telling the CNN reporter, at a point: “You are very rude, and a terrible person. CNN should be ashamed of having you as their reporter.”

As for Fani-Kayode, who is a self-acclaimed activist, his reaction only exposed him as not being different from every other person he condemns.

On the heels of the sad incident, one of the foremost Civil Society Organisations in the country, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), came out to unequivocally condemn Fani-Kayode’s belligerent assault against the reporter, reiterating that press freedom and freedom to do journalism could not be joked with, especially at this time when COVID-19 had taken its toll on the journalism practice.

“While we are not unaware of the Fani-Kayode’s regular antagonistic reaction and response to issues, we uphold our position that Press Freedom and journalism must be respected and protected at all levels.

“We express total discomfort not only in thoughtless use of the word “stupid” but also reported threat and intimidation of the journalist during and after a press conference held in the state.

“We also find the reaction of the Former Aviation Minister worrisome and tantamount to silencing the media freedom; as he is known to hitherto leverage the media in expressing a personal view and opinion on issues without fear or intimidation,” CISLAC’s Executive Director, Comrade Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, had said in a statement.

Now, although Fani-Kayode has regretted and apologised for the public gaffe—an afterthought anyway; what remains befuddling is the fate of journalism in Nigeria. Remember that the journalist, after the incident, had come out bruised and tattered. Nobody was saying anything about him, not even a word of encouragement to make him stay put in the course of objective journalism pursuit.

Sadly, we live in a society where journalists are constantly killed, harassed and intimidated for doing their job, but little or no care has been shown to address this rising menace.

It should be noted that most journalists in the country are either unpaid or underpaid, leaving most of them to be bootlickers of one politician or the other. Until media owners pay journalists well and promptly, enforcing the ethics of the profession will remain a major problem.

As at this moment, only a few publishers constantly pay what can truly be described as a take-home package. Many Nigerians are now discouraged from joining the profession, thereby now exploring other sectors they find lucrative.

Recent reports have revealed that newsroom employment has significantly decreased. The COVID-19 outbreak has also led to a rapid scaling back of advertising spending, which has inadvertently led dozens of newspapers to cut budgets and furloughs.

Similarly, a dozen media think-tanks in the country like the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Enough is Enough, International Press Centre, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism had commissioned surveys, following perceptions that journalists were being exposed to danger in the course of covering the pandemic.

One of the surveys, filled by 463 journalists – correspondents, reporters, editors, freelancers, and presenters from 73 print, broadcast and online media across 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory – revealed that there had been poor attention to the needs, safety and welfare of journalists covering the pandemic.

Drawing from these responses, media proprietors were urged to prioritize the welfare of their reporters.

The media, especially in Nigeria, and at this particular juncture, must step up its game by doing everything necessary to protect the inalienable rights and privileges of members of the fourth estate in the country.

Against this backdrop, it is my humble submission that media owners should come up with innovative ways to generate revenue for their platforms as the present advertising model can no longer work, in as much as such finances are needed to sustain the business.

Also, as far as I am concerned, it will not sound too ambitious for politicians and other elites in the country to emulate the best practices of developed nations and begin treating journalists like kings and not dregs.

Only then, will the media and Nigerian journalists take its pride of place in the heart of the masses, and even become society’s true watchdog.

Gidado Shuaib, a media researcher, is the editor of The News Digest. He can be reached on giddyshuaib@gmail.com.

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Yet On The Meaning, Import Of Stamp Duty Administration By The FIRS, By Ayuba Ahmad

June 30, 2020, the Federal Capital city of Abuja witnessed the formal inauguration of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back Years Stamp Duties as well as,  the Launch of Federal Inland Revenue  Service Adhesive Stamp. The theme of the event was:” Stamp Duties Act: Repositioning Nigeria Towards Greater Revenue Generation.”

Before that event,  a huge smog of haze had somewhat, blighted a clear understanding of the meaning and the essence or, significance of the campaign by the FIRS for a reinvigorated regime of  Stamp duty in the country.

In retrospect, some of the grey areas would now seem as a web of obfuscations deliberately woven by those who, ordinarily, should know better, but  who, for pecuniary reasons, refused to do so. There were of course, some of the controversies that arose from genuine misconception by some key players and the general public thereby, resulting in  different prisms of perceptions and attendant misgivings and innuendos.

The calibre of the guests that attended and spoke at the event was the first bust of light over the had shrouded the subject all along. There were, for instance,  the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila who, as leaders of the nation’s highest legislative houses, demonstrated by their presence and speeches,  the support of the lawmakers to the FIRS in its bid to take control,  nurture and midwife the new focus on Stamp duty collection.  The presence of the duo also shattered talks that had been making rounds in the rumour mills to the effect  that, the leadership of the National Assembly were not attuned to the program and would as such,   stay  away from the event.

From the Executive arm of government, the presence and address of Abubakar Malami, Attorney General and Minister of Justice,  explicitly highlighted the legality of the 2019 Finance Act, its provisions  on Stamp duty and, the legal status of the FIRS as the sole statutory agency charged with the supervision and collection of all revenues derivable from Stamp duty. Malami pointedly clarified:”It follows therefore that on the strength of the provision of FIRS Act, it is conferred with powers to administer (including perform audit exercise) and collect all taxes and levies due to the federal government”.

Still from executive arm,   the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF,  Boss Mustapha and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, also, variously buttressed the legal status of the FIRS in the administration of stamp duties. The two as well, stressed on the significance of Stamp Duty as, ” a tax type that serves to open untapped revenue sources for increased revenue collection.”

In a summary of all the enlightenment he had done in media interviews and other public fora on the FIRS and the reinvigorated regime of Stamp Duty administration, Mr Muhammad Nami, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS,  used the occasion to further elucidate on the philosophy, logic, essence and benefits of the commitment of his agency on stamp duty as the latest thrust  in delivering on  its mandate of gingering up the nation’s revenue profile through robust tax administration and collection mechanisms.

At the end of the day, all the grey areas were cleared, with stakeholders, key industry players and the general public much better informed on all the shades of  the Stamp Duty. Just what is stamp duty?  

In a layman’s language, it is the token of levy or tax paid for certain commercial services, exchange or transactions between persons, groups or corporate entities.  In spite of similarities on.the surface, stamp duty is however, fundamentally different from postal stamps or signage which universally  is the responsibility of postal agencies. Therefore, the controversy between the Postal service agency and the FIRS,  should never have arisen in the first place.

The FIRS Executive Chairman defined stamp duty  as, “essentially a duty chargeable on instruments physically or electronically.” The Stamp Duty Act defines “duty”, to mean, “any stamp duty for the time being chargeable under any other Act and also includes any fee chargeable hereunder. “Stamp”, according to the Act, is ” an impressed pattern or mark by means of an engraved or inked block die as an adhesive stamp or an electronic stamp or electronic acknowledgment for denoting duty fee”

Pointing out that Stamp Duty in Nigeria dated back to 1939,  Mr Nami said the 2019 Finance Act was merely, the latest in the series of amendments the Stamp Duty Act had gone through over the years. In tune with contemporary trends, he said,  the Finance Act appropriately, “recognizes technology, economic realities, e-commerce and cross border transactions” in the administration of tax collection from stamp duties.

While pointing out that dutiable items under the 2019 Finance Act have been expanded to include bank deposits or transfers, Mr Muhammad Nami also drew attention to the upward review from N4.00 to N50.00 in bank customers’ deposits of N10,000.00 and above per transaction.

Giving a window into the potentials of the new drive on Stamp Duty administration, the FIRS helmsman told the gathering that about 66 Billion Naira had been netted by his agency between January and May this year.  The figure is against the total sum of 18 Billion Naira collected for the entire year 2019! He attributed the “significant leap” to the “dynamism triggered by the Finance Act 2019, sums warehoused by the CBN in respect of prior years, deployment of technology and, stakeholders collaboration” among other mechanisms now in use by the FIRS.

At the of the day, the public is much more enlightened on what Duty Stamp is and what it is not. We now know for instance that, it is not as such,  a newly invented  concept but,  one that goes back to  colonial days. Stamp Duty is also a universal taxational standard found in most economies of the world. What now seems to appear unsettling about stamp duty is the reinvigorated buoyance given to it by the 2019 Finance Act and, the manifest diligence and single-minded commitment to its administration by the new management at the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.

People all over the world pay taxes to the public treasury on  rent or,  over sales of properties just as, bank transactions on certain sums are dutiable. Under the new regime of Stamp Duty in the country, citizens are being demanded to do that which is done in other countries by paying taxes. Understandably,  this cannot be a piece of good news to a people who  are not used to paying taxes and what they pay in the few areas that they pay, amount to one of the lowest in the world. The strident message is: buckle up, the long holiday is over.

Yes,  the payment of tax by citizens is a civic responsibility that has  been a component of human civilisation from time. According to the Christian scripture, while citizens should of duty,  “give unto God what is God’s,” they should also obligatorily, ” give unto Ceaser , what is Ceaser’s,” through  payment of tax even as they fulfill their spiritual obligations. Mr Muhammed Nami at the occasion put it another way by quoting an American President, Benjamin Franklin “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”.

In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, succinctly summarised it all: ” The significance of Stamp Duty as a tax type is that it serves to open untapped revenue sources for increased revenue collection. The adhesive stamps make voluntary compliance by tax payers a lot easier since they can now have easy access to the stamps…. In many jurisdictions, just as the Executive Chairman of the FIRS observed, Stamp Duties have become a major revenue.”

Against the backdrop of receding earnings from oil and the havoc of  the corona virus pandemic on global economies,  the Minister rationalized that, ” due to the precarious funding situation we are experiencing,” the government must put in place, “innovative and efficient tax administration in order to reverse the dwindling revenue trend”. In other words, hard and discomforting as it is, the resort to the panacea of the Stamp Duty is a therapy that we critically need to survive as a nation.

The Federal  Inland Revenue Service has, since the coming on board Muhammed  Nami as it’s Chief Executive,  come under the searchlight and scrutiny of the general public and, of course, several interest groups. Aside the additional tasks thrust on it by the 2019 Finance Act, including administration of the Stamp Duty, Mr Nami has initiated a number of innovations  in tax administration. He has as well, been talking of many lofty ideals which on the surface, are capable of taking the nation from her present economic doldrums.  He owes it  to himself,  to go beyond rhetorics by walking his talk.

While at it however, fact is, not a few believe that Nigerians are already over burdened with multiple taxations.  That is, in spite of the palliatives or reliefs contained in the 2019 Finance Act on a number of bank charges on transactions as well as,  reduction in taxes paid by new and small scale entrepreneurs. Thus, while digging deep and wide into the Stamp Duty as, “a gold mine”,  the people who literally, are the goose that lay the golden eggs must not be over tasked through excessive taxations. It is a “Catch 22” situation of sorts because, only the living pay taxes.

By: AYUBA AHMAD, A Kaduna-based Public Commentator.

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The Rape Pandemic: A Declining Dark Route For Society, By Muhammed Muazu

In Ibadan, Oyo State, 18-year-old Barakat Bello, a student of Department of Science Laboratory Technology (SLT), Federal College of Animal Health and Production in the state capital was gang-raped and murdered by unknown assailants. This is a sadly tale of one of the many incidents of rape occurring in our society today which is becoming not only alarming but outrageous.

Rape has been and still an issue of great worry through centuries and probably millenniums. The situation appears to have increased in proportions. A recent report by the Nigerian Police reveals that over 700 rape cases were reported between January and May 2020. This has created worry in the minds of many.

What possibly could lead to this increasing surge is the zero understanding of the word ‘Consent.’ It’s a known fact that sexual intercourse is an act that requires mutual consent between two adults. A toddler or underage cannot give consent as they are not deemed mentally capable of making sexual choices or even biologically fit to engage in such acts. It is also impossible to get consent from someone who is unconscious, mentally unstable or an intimidated subject. Anyone who rebuff these known fact is a potential violator and should immediately seek help wherever he or she can find.

The rape culture in this country and other parts of the world has seen a surge since the inception of the COVID 19 pandemic which has exposed us to two pandemics. While one attacks our body cells and restrict our movements, the other leaves survivors with trauma and possible health risk.  

The same ugly scenario floods the media, particularly new media channels with tons of stories of girls and women sexually molested, with victims left in both physical and psychological trauma without possible help especially in the face of apparent enabling laws against such dastardly and inhuman crimes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the consequences of sexual abuse as “Gynecological disorders, reproductive disorders, sexual disorders, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy complications, miscarriage, sexual dysfunction, acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, mortality from injuries, increased risk of suicide, depression, chronic pain, unsafe abortion, unwanted pregnancy and more. The list is longer.

So worrying is the fact that victims are unwilling to report the incidents basically because of the stigma attached to victims of such incidents by the society. They remain silent because of fear of stigma and social discrimination in the society. The continued cover-up by families for fear of stigmatization is encouraging predators to move on to their next victims. The shame culture which should be dealt with covertly tolerates rape and also serve as an excuse for unreported cases.

There are other factors that encourage rape in the society which include unnecessary delays in the judicial system; Lack of due process; Family ties (where cases of are committed against victims by their close relatives);Intimidation and fear of attacks indecent dressing by girls and carelessness on the part of parents.

How then do we put an end to this surge?

I believe the society can work towards curbing the spread of this rape virus. In doing this, sex orientation should be introduced in schools and in the family. Young boys should be trained to understand the meaning of consent. Basic questions like: What is deemed as consent? Who can give consent? When can consent be withdrawn? What’s the importance of consent?’ As basic as these questions look, many people don’t understand the intricacies and how they can be mistaken for each other.

For the purpose of learning and clarity, let’s treat the questions.

What is deemed as Consent?

Consent is said to be an affirmation. An informed approval indicating freely given agreement to sexual activity. It may not be verbally but overtly implied by actions.

Who can give consent?

Consent can only be given by an adult and willing sexual partner.

When can Consent be withdrawn?

Anytime. Either the man or woman can withdraw consent at any point of intercourse.

More so, the society can work towards building institutions that aids and support rape victims. Survivors of these despicable act deserves better than stigmatization and what the society offers them. Survivors should be able to access psychological support and medical care at zero cost. This will rebuild their confidence in the society and encourage them to speak out and shame their perpetrators.

More importantly is Nigeria authorities should deal more effectively with rapists through the strict enforcement of existing laws and promulgation of tougher sanctions. Violators names should be publicly displayed for the public to see. The more severe the punishment, the less appealing it looks to the criminals. It shouldn’t stop at that, a state of emergency should be declared on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria.

We all have a duty in the society to keep our young girls and women safe, more so the male child from sexual predators. Don’t cover for a rapist if you know one. Report to the authorities. Let us also teach our close family members the importance of consent and ability to make informed decision. Let us do what we can in our little way to help alienate this pandemic of rape in our societies.

Muhammed Auwal Muazu is the Founder of Hausa Fulani Blog

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NSCDC’s Scorecard Under Abdullahi Gana, By Segun Adeyemi

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, is presently an institution in a league of its own years since its emergence as one of the paramilitary institutions in Nigeria.

The NSCDC has attained a series of milestones in recent times as one of the leading paramilitary institutions in the country. However, these were made possible with the relentless effort of the Commandant General, Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, who has been at the helms of affairs in ensuring a smooth running of the security agency. It is important to note that, the NSCDC, before its establishment in 2003 operated as a voluntary organization established in 1967, then as Lagos Civil Defence Committee to protect the then Federal Capital Territory of Lagos and assist victims of the civil war at the time.

Interestingly, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps has continued to embark on reforms and training strategies, contributing to national security, while preserving and maintaining peace in the country. Over time, the NSCDC under the helms of Commandant General, Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu has racked up a series of accomplishments, a feat which has made NSCDC to be perceived as a top dog in paramilitary affairs.

Most recently, it was announced that the NSCDC generated a whooping N800 million in revenue. This latest achievement was because of their activities in issuing applications and licenses to Private Guard Companies. Over 250 applications were issued to prospective Private Guard Companies as 87 were licensed by the NSCDC. The NSCDC also generated Personnel Database for Private Guard Companies and, Vigilante Group of Nigeria.

Also, as one of the key players in the fight against insurgency, the Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu-led administration of the NSCDC deployed over 5,000 well-trained personnel to the north-Eastern part of Nigeria to protect IDP camps, and also help to reclaim territories annexed by the Boko-Haram sect.

Similarly, the NSCDC has carried out joint task operations with the military to curb insurgency, herdsmen attack, banditry, and a host of others.

Since the appointment of Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu as NSCDC boss, a total of 300 convictions were secured. At the moment, at least 150 inmates are serving jail terms, while over 500 are awaiting trials. These convictions come as a result of their operations in the fight against criminals engaging in illegal refineries, pipeline vandalization, oil theft and other illegal activities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

The Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu-led administration also signed an MoU with the Nigerian Communication Commission in a bid to enhance telecom facilities, and to also upgrade security-telecom infrastructure.

Following the signing of the MoU, the Commandant General ordered the deployment of Corps to all 774 local government of the country, thereby providing adequate security for NCC facilities like the Emergency Communication Centre (ECC).

The NSCDC boss Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu also place a great premium on the welfare of the Corps. He has the perception that “The ability of the Corps to handle its mandate can be likened to the existence of well trained and highly motivated workforce”.

Particularly, the NSCDC under Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu has initiated a significant number of workshops, seminars, intensive training, and development programs both at home and abroad. As a result, over 40,000 personnel has benefited from these developmental reforms.

Prompt payment of salaries and allowances have become a norm since the emergence of Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu. Provision of new kits, insurance against accident, death, and other disability during the course of duty has been a top priority. Additionally, the activities of the Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu NSCDC led administration has not gone unnoticed as he was recently enlisted among the 20 people to be honored by the United Nations at the United Nations Public Service Awards in New York.

The NSCDC boss also bagged an award in Geneva at the Knight of the International Civil Defence Organization (ICDO) Award for his contribution to civil defence earning him a nomination as the Knight of the International Order of Civil Defence. The ICDO award was for his efforts in creating the Agro-Rangers initiative which over 3,000 personnel were trained to protect farmers and their investments from reoccurring criminal attacks.

Likewise, the Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu led administration at NSCDV has embarked on numerous capital projects. Some of the projects have already been completed. The completion of six units of a three-bedroom apartment in Sauka, Abuja. Construction of an administrative complex with inbuilt cells and armoury in Ebonyi command, Abakaliki; completion of an administrative complex with inbuilt cells and armoury in Ogun State, and Niger State, respectively.

These and many more are some of the progressive reforms of C.G Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu. Thus, it is evident that since the appointment of C.G Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, the NSCDC has been magnanimous in carrying out reforms, activities, and responsibilities in ensuring the NSCDC upholds its mission in maintaining national security, protect lives and ensure a civilized approach within the civil populace and workforce.

Segun Adeyemi Writes from Abuja

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Edo 2020: Why APC’s Ize-Iyamu Trumps Obaseki, By Segun Tomori

The Edo State governorship elections scheduled for 19th September, 2020 promises to be interesting and keenly contested for many reasons. There has been a swap of roles by the two major candidates – Pastor Osazie Ize-Iyamu has switched allegiance to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and is running as its candidate, while the incumbent, Gov. Godwin Obaseki formerly of the APC, is running on the platform of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Backtrack to 2016, Obaseki won as APC candidate, while Ize-Iyamu lost as the PDP flag bearer. Therefore, it is understandable that the forthcoming elections will be a battle royal between the two leading candidates.

Between 2016 and 2020, a lot has changed and it is important that the Edo electorate get issues in proper perspective. Gov. Obaseki was disqualified based on discrepancies in his credentials by the screening committee of the APC, of course the then National Working Committee (NWC) endorsed the report, alongside two other aspirants also disqualified. The party had swallowed the bitter pill after losing Bayelsa State which it won at the polls to the jurisprudence of the Apex court based on purported discrepancies in the credential of its Deputy Governorship candidate. Who would have thought a sitting Senator’s credentials would in anyway come under the hammer of the Supreme Court? But as we know, the Supreme court judgment is final and the APC preferred to err on the side of caution on Obaseki instead of backing him and risking the “Bayelsa treatment”. The same opposition party now fielding Obaseki raised eyebrow about his qualifications in 2016, and would have done same if he had emerged as APC candidate.

Most analysts have reduced the disqualification of Obaseki to his disagreement with the immediate past APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, but his ordeal transcends such insular conclusion. For reasons best known to Obaseki, 14 out of the 24 Edo House of Assembly members have been surreptitiously shut out of the State and prevented from being inaugurated, over a year after their election despite interventions from the National Assembly, Party hierarchy, Presidency amongst others. The incumbent thumped his nose at the party that brought him into power, not only preventing elected legislators from serving their constituencies but also carried on as “lord of the manor” riding roughshod over party leaders, and at a point threatened the National Chairman for not getting his permission to land in the State. Such was the rabid display of power by Obaseki that alienated him from party faithful across the State and even resulted in the resignation of his Chief of Staff and top aides at some point. It would have been counter-productive for a party worth its onions to field him, even if he had scaled through the screening process.

After receiving an estimated N350bn in three and half years, nothing on ground suggests that his performance is commensurate with the resources. In the words of the Edo PDP Chairman, Dan Orbih, late 2019, “Obaseki brought agony and deprivation to the populace, denying them the benefits expected from democracy. For instance, the 200,000 jobs he promised youths have remained a mirage, infrastructural development for schools have been nothing to write home about, roads and other indices of developments across the State have not fared better.

Now that Obaseki is running under the party of the kleptomaniacs, where all they do is loot, Edo’s future will be mortgaged, God forbid PDP takes the State. If Obaseki can purportedly fritter away N8bn of Edo resources to purchase the PDP ticket, how much more will he need to cater to “fat cat godfathers” in PDP for 4 years? There is a saying that if we don’t look at where we are coming from, we won’t know where we are going to. Edo people must cast their minds back to the “8 years of the locust” of former PDP Governor Lucky Igbinedion where the state resources were turned into a slush fund. He was eventually convicted for defrauding the State.

Pastor Ize-Iyamu like any human might have imperfections, but running under the platform of the APC – a party with progressive ideology led by President Muhammadu Buhari will make Edo State fare better. We have seen the yeo-man’s job of the Federal Government with the National Social Investments Programme (NSIP), infrastructural renewal that has seen Lagos-Ibadan, Warri-Itakpe railway spring up, 2nd Niger Bridge, agricultural revolution in local staples production amongst other laudable, on-going initiatives. A Gov. Ize-Iyamu will be able to synergise with the Federal Government to hasten development of the State. Just recently, Gov. Wike of Rivers, though a PDP Governor, showered encomiums on President Buhari for returning N78bn spent on Federal projects in the State. If he can do that for an opposition State, how much more a State controlled by his party?

The choice before Edo people is crystal clear. It is between choosing a party renowned for its welfarist and pro-people ideology and another whose stock in trade is feathering the nest of its bigwigs with State resources. In this race, you cannot seat on the fence. Don’t be deceived that Obaseki is the candidate of the people, he is actually the candidate of PDP godfathers who are already aroused by the aroma of Edo treasury. We must stop them in their tracks by voting APC’s Pastor Osaze Ize-Iyamu (POI). Yes, we can!

Segun Tomori is a Member of the Media and Publicity Committee of the APC National Campaign Council (NCC) for the Edo Gubernatorial Elections.

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Defying The Negative Northern Stereotype: Aside What The Media Tells You, By Muhammed Muazu

The issue of stereotype has been a damning factor in human interaction for as long humans exist and every ethnicity, race and culture have had their fair share. In as much as some of the stereotypes are laughable and easily shrugged off, the bigger chunk of it is used to promote prejudice and sometimes, derogation.
 
Being a Nigerian northerner automatically comes with the high tendency of being the butt of culturally demeaning jokes and it has lingered for decades. These stereotypes and negative perceptions ranges from attaching the northern identity with illiteracy, violence, under development and more. At some point, it was even normalized as northern migrants outside the north have to accept these terms. The media has a part to play in this misinformation just like the African identity is misrepresented outside Africa. In this vain, it is left to us with platforms and reach, to demystify these perceptions.
 
Northern Nigeria, like any other region thrives and progresses alongside contemporary innovation and global growth, while being in complete cognizance of the societal ills and where we fall short. The diversity of the Northern entity is barely communicated in terms of sub ethnicities from Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Nupe, Gbagyi and a whole lot more that varies in cultural values, language and norms. Realizing the size of this diverse web of cultural differences while sharing a geographical settlement is one of the north’s unsung gifts.
 
Education: One of the biggest misinformation about the north is our laxity with learning. Formal education have had its blow back from ‘factions’ and conspiracy theorists but the resolve to educate the northern child never waivers. This is evident in all the major pioneer educational institutions on all levels. Kaduna/Zaria alone accounts for a chunk of it ranging from Queen Amina College, Command Secondary school, Barewa College, Alhudahuda, Government commercial college, Kufena on the secondary level in which all these schools are over 5 decades and many of them precede our independence as country. Which also cites evidence of educational acceptance on a large scale many decades ago. On the tertiary part, Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna State University, Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, College of Aviation, FCE, College of health and science and more. The combined influential Alumni list of these institutions is beyond remarkable as they have produced head of states, Premiers, Prime Ministers, Military rulers, Traditional rulers, Governors, Senators, Journalists, Judges, Medical experts, Scholars and more. And this is just one state. Without these insights, one wouldn’t know the extent of educational growth and impact the region has on the country.
 
Business: Now, aside the renowned northern Forbes listers like Dangote, Abdul Samad Rabi’u, Muhammed Indimi, Dantata and their likes, there’s an overwhelming amount of northerners that have been bred with an entrepreneurial mindset and have infused their exploits into various industries from import and export, trading, farming, Jewelries, real estate, textile, fashion, food, media, publications, aluminum and steel, automobiles and a whole lot more. Every northern state, regardless of the economic downturn is a business hub and it is evident with growing number of young entrepreneurs on a daily. The IGR of states like Kano is evident to these claims.
 
Tech and Media: Tech and Media have been identified as the pilot industries for other ventures right now and it has been recognized in the north. There’s media and tech summits organized on a regular by private groups/organizations and even Kaduna State government where investment and prospects are discussed. There are wide range of northern publications both online and offline. Social media platforms that are influential and portals to keeping up to date with happenings in the north.
 
Politics: Politics has always been a tricky venture and route on a general as our cultural differences takes a big part in where our allegiances lie but the north has contributed a whole lot to the steering of our political range as a country. This involves policy makers, technocrats, industry experts and more.
 
This is my reality as a northerner who’s running a media platform, contributing my quota to societal literacy, entertainment, entrepreneurship and social awareness. I am one of millions and this is our reality. We don’t discard the fact that we have a long way to go as a region which we are working towards fixing but it doesn’t do any good to fix me into a box of that stereotype regardless of what I do as a thriving Nigerian.
 
At the end of day, we yearn for unity and to operate as an entity void of the derogation. Let’s thrive on unity and quit the stereotype.

Muhammed Auwal Muazu is the Founder of Hausaa Bulanii Blog

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Lagos-East Senate Race: Why Ikuforiji Is The Best Man For The Job, By Oyewole Muideen

Political gladiators are already jostling for the coveted position of Senator representing Lagos-East, made vacant by the unfortunate passing on of Sen. Bayo Osinowo popularly called “Pepperito” due to complications from COVID-19. Amongst the political juggernauts slugging it out, one name stands out, boasting an array of impeccable credentials and vast experience – Rt Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the erstwhile Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly (2005 -2015).

Rt.Hon. Ikuforiji, a banker, lecturer and businessman with a Bachelors degree and Masters in Economics from Babes-Bolyai University and Bucharest Academy of Economic studies has added other feathers to his cap – bagged a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) in Leadership, John Moore University, England and was recently called to the bar in 2019, after his tenure in office. This shows that the Ex-Speaker, unlike his ilk is in relentless pursuit of knowledge despite attaining enviable political height.

He began his political odyssey as the General Secretary of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). In 2003, he contested and was elected to represent his constituency, Epe constituency 1 at the Lagos State House of Assembly under the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD). His leadership skills and astute representation was not lost on the House as he was elected Speaker in December 2005, re-elected for a second term on 4th June 2007 and continued for a third term as Speaker of the 7th Assembly from 2011 till 2015.

An alumnus of John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a cybernetics and computer networking technocrat, Rt. Hon Ikuforiji has effortlessly combined being a consummate political leader with being a technocrat of repute, renowned for his intellectual sagacity, extraordinary administrative and leadership skills, and dedication to public service.

Some analysts, sponsored to diminish his chances have touted the so-called Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) case against the veteran lawmaker as the reason why he should not emerge as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial candidate in the forth-coming bye-election. Unfortunately for them, Hon. Ikuforiji has not been convicted of any crime, by any court. He is presently defending himself against allegations of malfeasance and until proven guilty, he remains innocent and can run for any office in the land. Rt Hon. Ikuforiji has maintained and nurtured an unblemished record of integrity and accountability all through his professional years, spanning decades, his stint in the House of Assembly cannot be an exception.

Lagos-East Senatorial district has had the privilege of sending its best foot forward to the Senate – those with cognate Legislative experience. Senator Mamora was a product of the Lagos Assembly where he was Speaker before becoming Senator, same as “Pepperito”, who served for 4 terms in the Lagos Assembly before advancing to the apex legislature. Only Rt Hon. Ikuforiji dwarfs the experience of late Sen. Osinowo, and this gives him an edge among those lobbying to replace the deceased legislator.

This is the time for Lagos-East Senatorial district to throw its best foot forward. This is not the time to test an upstart, it is the time to hit the ground running and build on the legacy of late Sen. Osinowo. The only one the cap fits is Rt Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and that is why he is the best man for the job. Let’s send him forth!

Oyewole Muideen is a member of APC from Lagos

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JUNE 12: That The Sacrifice Of Our Heroes Past May Not Be In Vain By Segun Tomori

Today’s 2nd commemoration of democracy day on June 12, courtesy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s foresight and political will is unfortunately tempered by the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying safety protocols. The Eagle Square usually the venue of such celebrations would have been regaled with dignitaries from all walks of life and enthralled with a potpourri of activities ranging from march past by the Nation’s Armed Forces, cultural displays and above all, the much anticipated Presidential address. But unusual times indeed – we could only make do with watching the Presidential address from the confines of our homes.

June 12, 1993, now a watershed in the annals of our history was the day Nigerians set aside their differences, buried ethnic jingoism, closed their eyes to proclivity for religious and tribal sentiments and elected M.K.O Abiola, a Yoruba Muslim and his Northern running mate, in an unprecedented Muslim-Muslim ticket, as President. The rest is now history as the then powers-that-be would have none of it. They conjured unscrupulous reasons and with the stroke of a pen annulled Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections till date. Of course, the ghost of June 12 never died, it continued to haunt both its killers and successive leaders until the incumbent President gave it a pride of place by reverting the hitherto less significant May 29 democracy day to June 12.

The victory of late President Abiola, inspired by the “Hope 93” campaign was hinged on better life for the downtrodden and average Nigerians, enthronement of an egalitarian society in which the welfare of the people will be the cornerstone of government.

The advent of democracy in 1999 seemed like a breath of fresh air. We thought we would have a semblance of “Hope 93”, but alas, down the years, we saw the then ruling party and its kleptomaniac administration surreptitiously superintend over electoral and money heist, quite unconscionably – spitting on the grave of June 12, and the ideals it portend for Nigeria and its citizens. It was the concerted effort of progressives to rescue the country from drifting to the precipice that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC was lucky to have a pathfinder and mobilizer in Asiwaju Bola Tinubu – himself a renowned June 12 activist as National Leader, as he, in collaboration with other leaders cobbled up a coalition of parties, that led to the first successful merger in our nation’s history. Riding on the crest of “Change”, similar to “Hope 93”, APC defeated an incumbent President in 2015, another first, by an opposition party in our democratic odyssey.

Though “Change” by it’s definition is a “process through which something becomes different”, the administration swiftly laid a foundation for progressive governance. Of particular significance is the National Social Investments Programme (NSIP) unarguably the most ambitious in sub-Saharan Africa. It gave “hope” to tens of millions through the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) – Soft loans to artisans, farmers and market people, Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) – an integral part of the campaigns, N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable.

The profligacy of the past that was responsible for short-changing the people has also largely been plugged with the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – through which tens of thousands of ghost workers were weeded out, and billions of naira saved monthly. That is why despite earning significantly lesser, the administration is making giant strides in infrastructural renewal amongst others.

The campaign for the revalidation of the June 12 elections gave rise to agitation for addressing the National question and shot up calls for restructuring. Not many know that this administration has been silently restructuring. Modalities for establishing Community Police is currently being worked out – decentralization of the Nigeria Police being a key component. Just recently, the President moved to give teeth to implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and Judiciary by signing an Executive Order for their funds to be released on First line charge. Though the constitution was earlier amended to that effect, bottlenecks to its implementation gave rise to the order, representing in itself a political will to enthrone fiscal federalism – also an integral part of restructuring.

But despite our best efforts at leading differently, we are not yet close to the promise land. Nigeria with a population of over 210m people and an annual budget hovering between $30bn -$35bn in recent times is abysmal compared to South-Africa’s 2018 budget which was $116bn for a country of less than 50 million people! We need to generate more revenue if we must have the capacity to lift our people on the extreme poverty index put at about 95m by the World Poverty Clock, out of poverty.

Policies to spur industrialization, provide incentives for manufacturing to thrive and ultimately be an exporting nation, rather than a largely import dependent one will suffice. The Buhari-led administration is already leading efforts in this regard in Agriculture with the revolution in local rice production and other staples, policies geared to ensure we produce what we eat like the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the recently launched “Green Imperative Programme”, amongst others. These feat should be replicated in other sectors.

No matter what we do, the security of lives and property is a “ sine qua non” to the prosperity of the nation. The recent resurgence in banditry in the North-west, and insurgency in the North-east is alarming and must be tackled radically. The capacity for Intelligence gathering by our security services should be improved and synergy among them must be fostered. Indeed, the community policing initiative should be fast-tracked so that we can nip most of these mindless attacks in the bud.

As citizens we must put aside ethnic and religious inclinations, and let our diversity be a source of strength and not division. Indeed, by harnessing our diversities and uniting for nation building is how Nigeria can become an exemplar of progress in the comity of Nations, it is how the sacrifice of our heroes past will not be in vain.

Happy Democracy Day, Nigeria.

Segun Tomori is the Executive Director (Communications), RedPole Media, and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) young stakeholders.

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Re: Nasiru El-Rufai’s Lockdown And The Spoilers At The Door, By Salihu Tanko Yakasai

I was highly surprised when I came across a piece with the above caption that appeared in the online edition of the Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday 3rd June 2020 pseudonymously penned by Rotimi Fasan.

Apart from the blatant misrepresentation and misinformation contained therein, the article is pregnant with sheer blame-game, opprobrium and aspersions against Kano State, its government and its good people aimed solely at hoodwinking the unsuspecting reading public.

What is more painful is that in all intents and purposes, the 19-paragraph article is an exercise in futility aimed at politicizing a serious health issue, it also shows lack of in-depth factual knowledge of the realities on the ground.

The “writer’s” politicization of the already uncoordinated fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is a clear disservice to the nation.

While Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State has been making efforts to contain the pandemic without making any public fuss and is averse to apportioning any blame to others, others have resorted to using the pandemic to cast Kano State and his person in poor light in order to score a cheap political goal as if their future political success hinges on this. To say the least, this is unjustifiable, indefensible and arrantly unjust!

Why the “writer” has singled out Kano State out of the other 34 states and the FCT as a spoiler has baffled every discerning and unbiased reader to the core. In short, this article is a public relations stunt that has clearly failed to hit the target and this rejoinder is not aimed at paying the “writer” in the same coin but to clear his misrepresentation and misinformation for the sake of the present and posterity.

Before I address some of the issues raised in the article, it is very apropos to highlight that the Covid-19 virus surfaced in Kaduna State on 28th March 2020 before the index case was recorded in Kano State on 11th April 2020, an interval of two weeks, and the state government did not blame any state or individual for the spread of the virus.

Just as the index case in Kaduna contracted the disease elsewhere, so also the index case of Kano, along with the majority of the cases in Kano. As Muslims, we consign our affairs to the Almighty Allah Who decrees whatever will happen to His servants.

The “writer” should have been dispassionate enough to have consulted his friends in Kano (if he has any) in order to get firsthand information on the numerous measures taken by the state government to curtail the spread of the virus even before the first index case was recorded in the state after the patient had visited Lagos State and Abuja.

In Kano State, the government had taken all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the state even before the index case was recorded which included the closure of all public schools, establishment of a Taskforce Committee on Covid-19 under the chairmanship of the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the Appeal Fund Committee (the first State to do so) headed by the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano to assist the victims and provide relief to the poor, the closure of all public offices, closure of all schools, the banning of passenger buses coming to the state even before the federal government banned inter-state travels, the 1-week lock-down of the state which was subsequently extended many a time, the provision of isolation centres for the quarantine and treatment of the patients, the closure of markets and banning of religious congregations in mosques and churches, the setting up of several mobile courts to prosecute violators, among others.

Even before the federal government took additional strict measures including the banning of inter-state travels, Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje personally spearheaded the interception of some vehicles with passengers coming into the state including, from Kaduna State.

How did these vehicles pass through the state in broad daylight or did they emanated from the skies to land at the borders of Kano? Do they expect Gov. Ganduje to go to Kaduna or any neighbouring State to enforce the ban?

In fact, tens of vehicles laden with passengers were intercepted at Kano State borders and many were turned back or later fined by the many mobile courts established by the state government to prosecute the violators of the lockdown order. Is Ganduje expected to police all the borders of other neighbouring States as well? If as the ‘writer’ claims that Ganduje has failed to enforce the lockdown in Kano preventing people from going out or coming in, is Ganduje also expected to go to Kaduna and other neighbouring States to prevent people from going in or coming out of those States?

The “writer” should have done his homework well to have realized that the violation of the lockdown order is a nation-wide phenomenon in view of the nature of our society and interstate borders. I have seen many crowds of people in Lagos, Abuja and other states in violation of the lockdown, but they were not castigated by the “writer.” It seems what is good for the goose is not good for the gander! The football match in Kano state mentioned by the “writer” was a one-time thing, neither organized nor sanctioned by the state government but by some youth and security agents promptly arrested some people for the violation of the lockdown.

On the issue of almajirai, the “writer” was also off the mark by a wide margin. It should be recalled that the 19 northern state governors agreed to ban street begging especially by almajirai and to repatriate them to their respective states of origin.

It may interest the “writer” to know that Kaduna State is the first to repatriate 30,000 almajirai to their states of origin and it did so without adherence to protocol, neither were they tested for Covid-19. For example, Kaduna State did not officially hand over any almajirai to Kano State government officials but dumped them at motor parks and out of the almajirai dumped in Kano State some later tested positive of the coronavirus.

However, Kano State government did not publicly blame Kaduna State government over this which shows the maturity, decorum and foresight of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Unlike Kaduna State, Kano State officially hands over all repatriated almajirai to the officials of their states of origin after making sure that they do not have any Covid-19 symptoms. In fact, the would-be repatriated almajiris are usually camped, fed and treated for any diagnosed ailment before they are repatriated to their states of origin. So the argument that Kano State government intentionally or knowingly repatriates almajirai infected with Covid-19 virus does not hold water a bit.

Why should Kano State play the role of a spoiler as alluded by the “writer” still beats my imagination for in what way will we profit from this.

Harming any fellow human being especially a neighbour is against the injunctions of all divine religions and His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje will be the last person to intentionally sanction the spread of a debilitating disease like Covid-19.

It is pathetic that despite all the measures taken by the federal and 36 state governments, the Covid-19 cases have increased to about 11,166 cases as at 4th June 2020 with Lagos State, Kano State and FCT Abuja having 5,440, 970 and 763 cases respectively while Kaduna State occupies 7th position with 297 cases.

If Kano State or any other state for that matter had been a spoiler as wrongly alleged by the “writer”, the Kaduna State figure might have been much higher. In this respect, His Excellency, Malam Nasir El Rufai deserves our commendation for his efforts to curtail the spread of the virus in Kaduna State.

Lifting of the ban by Kano State government on religious gatherings was not arbitrary but after due consultations with stakeholders and the state was not the first in the country to lift the ban. Even in countries like the US, Italy, Spain, Britain and Brazil, to mention but a few, where the highest number of cases and mortalities due to coronavirus are being recorded, the strict lockdown and banning of social gatherings, the authorities in these countries have to relax these restrictions.

So, to blame Kano state for not enforcing full restrictions on religious or social gatherings is not only mischievous but unfounded, because for the duration of the lockdown in the State, almost all the mosques and churches suspended holding religious gatherings.

What the country needs at this trying period is not passing the buck and politicization of serious issues like the current pandemic but concerted and coordinated efforts to save humanity from this serious health challenge.

If we did not blame the Italian citizen who was the first to bring the virus to our shores or Ogun State, does not blame its neighbourly sister, Lagos State, for the spread of the disease, then there is no basis to accuse anybody or government of being a spoiler for this is an unnecessary diversion which will not augur well for the country. This unwarranted and unnecessary blame-game needs to cease forthwith for the sake of humanity. Let me end this piece with a quote by George Washington Carver who says “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”

Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor of Kano State.

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Dolapo Osinbajo: A Lesson in Humility Amidst Much Influence, By Alwan Hassan

Sometime in 2014, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo launched an aptly entitled book, ’They Call Me Mama.’ The book, which told the story of Mrs. Osinbajo’s decade of working with street boys in Lagos, gave the public an insight into the persistence, forthrightness and benevolence of the woman that would later become Nigeria’s ‘Second Lady.’

Like many of her subsequent public engagements, the book was a product of Mrs. Osinbajo’s deliberate connection to disadvantaged Nigerians. However, when the book was written, the young boys and men that called Mrs. Osinbajo “Mama”, had no idea that she would be called upon in a greater capacity to be an even greater ‘Mama’ to millions more.

Quiet and unassuming, not many outside Lagos knew who Dolapo Osinbajo was until she emerged as Nigeria’s Second Lady — following the emergence of her husband, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the Vice President in 2015. Since then, Mrs. Osinbajo, who radiates candour and unbridled self-discipline, has carried herself with so much poise and brilliance — leading many to believe that the spirit and the teachings of her late grandfather, the sage and leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, still resonates in her.

An epitome of decency, Mrs. Osinbajo has inspired countless Nigerian youth to ask how a woman of power and influence, can exude so much warmth and humility in every engagement with the public. Her charm consistently demystifies the whole razzmatazz around the power that her husband’s office commands — a key trait that has endeared her to everyday Nigerians.

Indeed, Mrs. Osinbajo portrays and embellishes the rich Yoruba culture, especially those bordering on good manners and decency. She’s no doubt one individual who embodies the age-long saying that ‘character is everything’. This is why, by observing Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo at her public engagements and on her social media handles, you begin to appreciate a leader that understands the transient nature of everything — especially something as ephemeral as political power.

Anytime one sees Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo, what comes to mind is the Biblical saying that: ”When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” I have been a witness to the excitement that pervades the air anytime the Vice President’s wife steps out to attend public functions. Undoubtedly, people find it easy to give all due regard to a woman who, despite the allure of power, has continued to live her life with so much simplicity. This is because she regards everyone with so much respect and treats no one with contempt.

It is often said that when you see a bird dancing alone on the bush path — it’s drummers are somewhere in the bush. So when we in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) hailed the ingenious and dexterous manner with which Professor Yemi Osinbajo carried out his public assignments before becoming the Vice President, we no doubt ignore to praise the woman who contributed to his success. After all, it is often said that beside every powerful man is a woman of strong will and inestimable character to keep him grounded at all times.

When the history of this era is written or told in stories, it is clear that Mrs. Osinbajo, the wife of the erudite ‘Star Boy’ Professor, will be remembered fondly. This is because as the partner of a frontline political office holder, she has shown Nigerians — especially future generations of political spouses — that respect, decency and humility can exist alongside power. She has demonstrated by her consistent actions that it is ‘God who gives power’, consequently, when you are blessed and fortunate to find yourself in a position of authority, it is necessary to always endeavour to approach everyone with the mindset that influence is a transient occurrence — that must always be treated as such.

We thank Mrs. Osinbajo for the lessons learned by observing the content of her character, and for showing the next generation that people’s actions are everything, in a world that is governed by too many words.

Alwan Hassan is a public policy professional and social commentator who serves as the CEO of Greycube Dynamics and Alsad Integrated Resources. Alwan is a politician and works in developing and sustaining strategic partnerships between governments and internal and external non-governmental organisations.

Email: alwanhassan91@yahoo.com

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Quality Tertiary Education Is Expensive, Nigeria Must Accept This Reality To fix Her Education System, By Ademuyiwa Taofeek

One of the most difficult truths I have reconciled myself with as a Nigerian is that: it is extremely difficult to have free QUALITY TERTIARY EDUCATION.

A lot of Nigerians, in the past and present, have argued that corruption and embezzlement of funds are the biggest issues preventing the country from parading world-class public institutions, but I am of a completely different opinion.

The current education system isn’t working as it ought to and this is saddening, especially when the transformative powers of education as a vehicle to move from a social class to another are considered. While other factors such as the circumstances of birth and divinity may mean that not everyone gets the same start at life, or enjoy same conditions and access to need material and immaterial items, education serves as a bridge that allows people ‘migrate’ from the poor zone to the rich one.

It is the most powerful tool that offers a man access to opportunities to attain success and rub minds with the Kings, irrespective of his background or whether or not he hails from a shanty, ghetto or slum. Examples abound to make this point.

However, a distinction we must make, and a truth we must awaken ourselves to, is that this can only be made possible through the acquisition of quality tertiary education, not just enrollment in tertiary institutions that produce half-baked or unbaked graduates with neither skill nor imagination.

Although arguments could be made that Nigeria is a rich country that should be able to devote large sums to tertiary institutions, the reality, as seen in other countries with accepted better models, is that the government alone cannot provide the funds needed as the things we associate with good universities here, such as building classrooms and regular payment of lecturers’ salaries, though important, are not enough to bring our tertiary schools to the required level.

Research alone, an organized inquisition for new knowledge, not the routine final year ‘project’ work we do here by buying and injecting guinea pigs or asking people to fill questionnaires, gulps a lot of money that the government alone may not be able to muster. I am referring to funds needed to fund a University to the point where the nation is certain that when there is an outbreak of a particular disease, it can rise to the occasion and produce a potent, breakthrough vaccine that will save millions of lives in the country and across the globe.

For example and to further illustrate the point, Cambridge University’s endowment fund (which can loosely be interpreted to mean its ‘budget’) is about £7bn while Oxford University is within the same region. MIT (a specialized institution) spends about $3bn as operating expenses. These funds are not sourced from the government. Outside of private organization donations, students desirous of quality learning pay the sum equivalent to the value the institution is offering. There are some courses in MIT that go for as high as $48,000 (N16m/session). As an international student, you pay as high as £30,000 to study law at Oxford University.

Conversely, Lagos State University, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin and a couple of other tertiary institutions in the country believed to be top Universities to consider for a Law degree in Nigeria charge a tuition fee that’s lower than N80,000 a session. This glaring disparity accounts for the reason our University undergraduates fail to produce drones, electronics and telecommunication devices, the likes seen elsewhere.

I think 2020 should be the last time we consider building new schools. What we need to do is abolish the subsidy on education in Nigeria, especially at the tertiary level, and channel the funds to primary and second school education because as sources of foundational learning, they are jointly the most important schools as we restructure.

I propose that we select 10 of our Federal Universities across all regions of the country and use them as pilot schools to learn important lessons for expansion and adaptation. There will be more suggestions on the methods to adopt but one thing is clear: we need to start running our tertiary institutions with utmost seriousness. We have to involve like never before the private sector. We also need to start using our institutions to create indirect wealth by ensuring that 90% of our graduates are ready to create wealth and jobs no matter how difficult it is. These changes will come with a huge cost that will directly mean that people will pay more to get the best.

I know some may ask: how will a son of a poor man or daughter of a ‘nobody’ afford the fees? This is where we need to look into grants, scholarships, academic loans, etc.

Institutions can be charged with the creation of tangible income to create jobs. As an undergraduate of food science, my department runs a bakery and water factory which supplies the host community with delicious bread and well-treated, safe water. Faculties and departments can employ this model which will mandatorily create part-time jobs for students of such departments and also serve as a platform to learn the real-life applications of what they read in their books. They get a percentage of their income while the larger percentage goes into the school’s pocket for their school fees.

Foreigners will come from far and wide to have a taste of our quality tertiary education and be made to pay more than citizens to help the school meet its financial obligations.

Civil servants and parents from the private sector can be granted soft educational loans for their children for any of the 10 selected universities. This will drastically reduce corruption in Nigeria given that the desperate acquisition of wealth through illegal means by most parents is motivated by the desire to secure a good future for their kids through quality education considered expensive and beyond reach as a legitimate worker.

The revolution doesn’t have to start with all our Universities, I believe we can start small and let the successes recorded entice other actors, including state universities into adopting the system.

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