CBT: JAMB Supervisor Allays Candidates’ Fear over Missing Results

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Read Time:1 Minute, 14 Second
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) yesterday said candidates who sat for the Computer Based Test (CBT) and were yet to receive their results should check the internet.
 
Supervisor, Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech) CBT centre, Lagos, Mrs. Ebere Okeke, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
 
Reacting to complaints of missing results, Okeke said wrong or incorrect GSM number might cause the delay or missing result. The supervisor also said in most cases, the delay could be caused by delay in processing of the result or network problem, but noted that it was nothing to worry about.
She said the problem might also be caused by individual negligence and candidates who did not carefully fill their numbers during registration.
 
Okeke said the CBT mode was devoid of missing results, adding that the computers will mark immediately the candidates start writing the examination. She said candidates who sat for the CBT examination would receive their results within 48 hours through their phone Short Message Service (SMS).
 
According to Okeke, during registration, candidates fill GSM numbers that the results of their examination will be sent to, but some candidates submit wrong numbers in the process.
“Some candidates are experiencing delay or have not received their results because they submitted wrong or incorrect GSM numbers.
 
Some candidates have either misplaced their numbers or changed them; as such, the computer could not deliver the result after the examination,” she said.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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FMC Resident Doctors Begin Indefinite Strike over Salary Arrears

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For the second time in less than six months, the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri have shut down indefinitely the health services at the hospital.
 
The latest action follows the expiration of a two-day warning strike two weeks ago that yielded no positive reaction from the management over the non-payment of their September 2013 salary, removal of teaching allowances, deplorable working conditions and non-promotion of staff, among others.
 
The strike, which did not take the Medical Director of the health institution, Dr. Angela Uwakwem by surprise, has paralysed activities of the hospital as patients are left unattended to while relations of other patients have no other option than to transfer their sick relations to Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia and other private institutions, since the resident doctors have decided to deal with the consultants found on duty in the hospital.
 
Uwakwem, in her reaction, denied receiving money to that effect; instead she laid the blame on the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) whom she accused of not remitting such money for that purpose, stating that there was nothing she could do until the money was remitted to the accounts of the institution.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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FrieslandCampina Celebrates World Milk Day

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Read Time:52 Second
FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, makers of Peak, Three Crowns and Friso brands, is celebrating the 2014 World Milk Day with the theme ‘World Class Nutrition’.
 
As the leading dairy nutrition company in Nigeria, FrieslandCampina WAMCO is passionate about milk and is committed to ensuring that Nigerians get the best dairy nutrition every day, said the Public and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Mrs. Ore Famurewa.
 
As experts in milk production, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has been working with various communities across the country to build capacity in dairy farming, through Dairy Development Programme (DPP).
 
The DDP currently boasts of four highly equipped Milk Collection Centres in Fasola, Alaga, Maya-Eruwa and Iseyin communities in Oyo State and Milk Bulking Centres with about 72 farming communities actively engaged in dairy farming.
 
It is a strategic sustainability initiative for the company’s business and a key Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) priority amongst others like, Health and Nutrition and Sustainable Value Chain.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Steer Clear of Politics, Sultan Warns Traditional Leaders

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Read Time:1 Minute, 11 Second
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday urged traditional leaders in the country to steer clear of politics.
The monarch gave the advice when he turbaned three new District Heads and two traditional title holders in his palace in Sokoto.
 
He maintained that traditional rulers should be fathers to all irrespective of any religious, ethnic or political differences. “Leadership in any form is a trust and all leaders will be accountable for their stewardship,” he said.
 
The monarch said the new traditional rulers and title holders were selected based on merit and their wealth of experience. He urged them to give priority to the welfare and comfort of their followers.
The Sultan lamented that greed, moral decadence, corruption and other vices were the bane of the contemporary Nigerian society.
He noted that the required respect for the traditional institutions in the country had also been down-graded, adding that the earlier this was restored in Nigeria, the better for the peace and unity of the nation.
 
The Sultan appealed to Nigerians to pray fervently for the sustained peace and unity. Those turbanned include the state Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Bala Abubakar III, who was turbaned as the Durunbun Sokoto, and the immediate past Director of Information in the state Ministry of Information, Alhaji Sa’idu Maccido  as Dan-Buram Sokoto, among others.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Amaechi Swears in 21 LG Caretaker Chairmen

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Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi last night swore in 21 local government caretaker chairmen to pilot the affairs of their councils.
 
Rivers State has 23 local government areas but Degema and Ogba /Egbema/Ndoni Council Chairmen still have their tenures running, so were not affected.
 
The 21 caretaker chairmen were sworn in after screening by the Rivers State House of Assembly as the tenure of the former council chairmen came to an end yesterday.
 
At the brief swearing-in ceremony at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House, Port Harcourt, the Caretaker Chairmen took their oath of office and allegiance, and five were former council chairmen. They are those of Abua/Odual, Ogu/Bolo, Gokana, Asari-Toru and Eleme Local Government Areas.
 
Amaechi in his remarks congratulated the caretaker chairmen on their appointment, and urged them to make judicious use of council funds to benefit people in their areas.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Test Your Popularity, Contest for Senate, Wike Dares Amaechi

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As the verbal political war in Rivers State rages, the supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, has challenged Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi to contest for the Rivers East Senatorial election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election to test his perceived popularity in the state.
 
Wike, who spoke at the weekend, at the Obiri-Ehie, Apara Kingdom Secretariat Complex in Eligbam, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area while addressing traditional rulers, elders, men and women of Ikwerre ethnic nationality, said Amaechi would be thoroughly defeated to show that he was not popular even in his Ikwerre homestead.
 
He said he would forgive Amaechi of whatever wrong he might have committed if he takes up the challenge to contest for the senatorial seat in the district made up of four Ikwerre speaking areas: Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre and Emohua local government areas, as well as Etche, Omuma, Okrika and Ogu/Bolo areas.
 
He said the only reason Amaechi defected to the APC was because he lost control of the PDP structure in the state.
 

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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As Nigeria Marks Another Democracy Day

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At a time like this, Nigerians should spend more time reflecting on the kind of future they want for their country rather mourning the past, writes Vincent Obia
 
Thursday was another Democracy Day in Nigeria, an important event to mark the country’s return to civil rule after several years of wandering in the wilderness of military dictatorship. Anniversaries like this are a time for stocktaking and sombre reflection on where the country is, where it is coming from, where it ought to be, and where it is headed.
This year’s Democracy Day, the 15th since the return to democracy in 1999, was naturally low-key. It was held under the shadow of a national apprehension about the conditions and safety of some innocent schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram, on April 14. The girls had been abducted from their hostel at Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, as they prepared to write their School Certificate examinations.
 
The abduction of the schoolgirls occurred amid sloppy security arrangements in an area many said bore all the hallmarks and warnings of a terrorist target. And when the attack happened, an unsavoury rescue effort by the authorities allowed the terrorists to consolidate their hold on the girls whose only offence was their eagerness to learn to better the future of a country that Boko Haram hates so much.
Undoubtedly, Nigeria failed the Chibok girls. It was only after the world had risen up and reacted angrily that some form of seriousness was forced on the authorities.
 
 
But President Goodluck Jonathan remains optimistic that the over 200 kidnapped schoolgirls would be released hale and hearty. He reiterated this in his Democracy Day speech on Thursday. The whole country and the world are waiting and praying to see the girls free and unhurt.
Looking back, Nigeria has, no doubt, made some progress. On the political front, the country has broken the jinx of civilian to-civilian transition. Today, the issue of handover from one civilian government to another is settling into a way of life and everyone now knows when to expect it.
 
 
However, political debates are still heavily tied around individuals rather than issues; and devotion to dangerous primordial sentiments remain high. Politics in the country remains largely unprincipled, with filthy lucre as the core objective for most politicians.
On the economic front, a milestone was attained in April when Nigeria rebased its economy after nearly a decade and a half. Nigeria moved to the position of Africa’s largest economy following a recalculation of its Gross Domestic Product by the National Bureau of Statistics. The exercise nearly doubled the country’s economy to an estimated N80 trillion ($488 billion) for 2013, pushing GDP up to $510 billion from $270 billion.
 
 
There is a general belief that the rebasing and the noted economic expansions are merely theoretical, as they do not affect the quality of the lives of most average Nigerians. There are also insinuations in some quarters that the timing of the launch of the size of the Nigerian economy on paper was for political expediency in view of next year’s crucial general elections.
Be that as it may, there are some indicators of positive change in the economy highlighted by the rebasing, which cannot be ignored. Before the rebase, oil and gas accounted for 32 per cent of the economy, but under the new calculations, oil and gas contributed 14 per cent. Much of the balance came from previously unreported, consumer-driven sectors, such as the Nigerian firm industry (Nollywood), music, and mobile phones.
 
Analysts say the rebasing would increase the competitiveness of the country’s economic landscape, as investors begin to appreciate the size of the economy, the market, and areas of potential investment.
Certainly, the story of Nigeria on its 15th Democracy Day is not all gloom and doom. There are things to cheer. But there is enormous room for improvement.

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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POLITICAL NOTES: Still on the Chibok Girls

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Read Time:49 Second
Last week, a statement by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, that the location of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram at Chibok, in Borno State, had been found grabbed national and international headlines. It sounded like cheery news, especially for parents of the girls. But it also attracted sharp criticism from those who believed it was a needless expose capable of endangering the lives of the girls.
 
 
The fact, however, remains that Badeh is an experienced officer who cannot be said to be flippant. His remarks may be part of a well thought out strategy to confuse and destabilise Boko Haram with the aim of freeing the girls. His emphasis might perhaps not be that the girls’ location had been ascertained, but the fact that force would not be used to free them. That may be the assurance the abductors need to keep the girls from harm.            

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Rowdy Sessions over Religion, Environment

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Read Time:11 Minute, 33 Second
The debate on the reports of the national conference committees on religion and environment was a really rowdy affair. Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo report
 
The debate on the reports of the national conference committees on religion and environment was a really rowdy affair. Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo report
The national conference last week deliberated on the reports of its committees on religion and environment. But the delegates could not reach resolve some of the controversial issues and recommendations of the committees. Specifically, two items stood out in the plenary session as the delegates from the North and South remained divided on the issue of “resource democracy” and the call for the abolition of the pilgrims welfare boards for both the Christians and Muslims. This was because of the recommendation that government had no business in the sponsorship of pilgrimage to either Mecca or Jerusalem.
 
Resource Democracy
Crisis started when delegates started considering the environment committee’s report that there should be resources democracy. But the northern delegates, not satisfied with this, queried to know what the term “resource democracy” meant. A former minister, Basher Dalhatu, asked the chairman of the conference, Justice Idirs Kutigi, that some of the delegates would want to know what resource democracy was.
Though, the conference referred Dalhatu to the chairman of the committee, Senator Florence Ita Giwa, for explanation on what resource democracy was all about, this caused suspicion on further deliberations on the report of the committee, as the northern delegates felt that the term resource democracy was an attempt to bring back the controversy on resource control and derivation. This was the background to the rowdy session of Tuesday and the abrupt adjournment of the conference.
 
Issue of Pilgrimage
In continuation of debates on the national conference committee on religion, delegates rejected state sponsorship of pilgrimages for both Christians and Muslims. But at the plenary, at a time when everyone thought that everything was going on as planned, delegates, especially from the North, opposed a motion that sought to abolish all pilgrims’ boards for Christians and Muslims.
A motion moved by a delegate from Kogi State, Sola Akomode, to the extent that the pilgrim boards for both Muslims and Christians should be abolished because government had not business with sponsorship of pilgrimage did not go down with many Muslims. They argued that it would be unfair to allow thousands of Muslims perform their religious obligations in foreign lands without any diplomatic care. This was also in view of the fact that Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the pillars of Islam.
 
 
The deputy chairman of the conference, Bola Akinyemi, who was presiding, had earlier put the matter to a voice vote and ruled in favour of those that wanted the pilgrims boards abolished. But some Muslims rejected the outcome of the voice vote and became rowdy. It was at this stage that Akinyemi said that the matter would be subjected to voting. By the conference rules, the matter would be decided on a 70 per cent consensus.  The conference deputy chairman moved that votes for the abolishment of the pilgrim boards should be taken Wednesday.
Before then, the delegates had also rejected a recommendation that Fridays should be work-free. They also rejected religious discrimination in job appointment and sponsorship of hate campaigns, stating that offers of appointment must be based on merit. The delegates stated clearly that Nigeria was a secular state and rejected the continued sponsorship of pilgrimage affairs.
The conference in a landmark resolution, recommended that churches and mosques should henceforth be subjected to payment of taxes.
 
 
Though, it agreed on the secularity of Nigeria as a sovereign, some of the delegates canvassed that Nigeria should be seen as a multi-religious country. Contributors to the debate were polarised alongside their religious beliefs. The delegates approved the recommendations that conversion to any religion was the constitutional right of all and nobody that converts to any religion should be victimised. It also approved the recommendations that hate speeches should be criminalised.
 
 
The conference rejected government sponsorship of mass weddings, stating that any governor that engaged in the act shall be banned from politics for 10 years and should be impeached.
Though, majority of the delegates said that there was no need for the creation of a commission to manage the religious differences between the Christians and Muslims, as there were already bodies like the Inter-religious council, the Public Compliants Commission and that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). They argued that the creation of a body to be known as the Religious Equity Commission was   a waste of public funds, especially in this era of clamour for devolution of power from the centre to the states as the federating units.
Also some of the delegates called for a legislation to regulate the building of places of worship to avoid it constituting nuisance to some residential areas.
 
 
While condemning the role of political leaders and the elite in mixing religion with politics, a delegate Dr. Mayram Abdullahi, representing the civil society organisations, said that the relationship between Christians and Muslims took a nose-dive  when Nigeria was admitted as full member of Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
Abdullahi specifically attributed the bad blood to the role of the former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), who pushed for Nigeria’s full membership of OIC, alleging that he did that to manipulate religion in order to perpetuate himself in the office.
She said the arbitrary manner in which the membership was arranged led to the mistrust between the two faiths because of mutual suspicion of possible Islamisation of Nigeria.
The delegate who spoke to the applause of her colleagues, said: “The relationship between Christians and Muslims deteriorated when Nigeria was admitted as full member of Organisation of the Islamic Conference. This made Christians to start resisting any move that would portray Nigeria as an Islamic state.
 
 
“Mr. Chairman, the then Head of State, that pushed for the admission of Nigeria into OIC did not do that in consultation with the Muslims. He did that in order to manipulate religion as a political tool to perpetuate him in office and now Nigeria is the worst for it. Consequent to this, there is the prevailing mistrust and disharmony between the adherents of the two religions in the country.”
In his comments, Senator Femi Okuroumu from the South-west said that he was worried about the status of Nigeria as a secular state, explaining that government   should not have anything to do with state sponsorship of pilgrimage. He opposed the recommendations for a new body to be known as the Religious Commission.
Awwal Yadudu advocated for a marriage between the Inter Religious Council and the National Religious Council for more efficiency instead of creating two establishments that would be a duplication of agencies.
Former governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aleiro, described state involvement in religious affairs, especially the sponsorship of pilgrim affairs, as a waste of public funds. He called for the establishment of consular affairs to help Nigerians perform their religious obligations.
 
 
A Rivers State delegate, Atedo Peterside, said Nigeria as a secular state did not need the creation of Religious Commission. He also spoke against state sponsorship of pilgrimages, describing religion as a personal affair between man and his Creator. According to him, the creation of the Religious Commission is to bring religion above the question of the fundamental human rights.
A civil society representative, Festus Okoye, called for a legislation that would ban governors from delving into issues of organising marriages, stating that the governors should concentrate on issues of governance. Okoye said the mere act of government sponsorship of pilgrim affairs and paying less attention to governance contributed the problems of the country.
A Plateau State delegate, Prof. Dakum Showun, described religion as a personal affair between God and man, saying the involvement of government in religious affairs is a complete waste of public funds. He opposed the proposed religious commission, due to what he called “the Nigerian factor”, as it is still the government that would appoint members of the commission.
 
 
Mike Ozehkome from Edo State also proposed that the government should not engage in the support of any religion. He also disagreed with the planned setting up of religious equity commission, saying that existing commissions are already too many. He said the National Human Rights commission should be made to perform the roles of monitoring the compliance to constitutional provision with regards to religious practice.  Magdalene Dura from Benue State supported the recommendations.
Justice Bilkisu Aliyu canvassed for a social factor of religion, especially with regard to the vulnerable and poor. She said that poverty remained the basic root of religious crisis in the country.
 
Clark on Niger Delta Environment
The Niger Delta environment was topical in the discussion on the report of the environment committee. Former Minister of Information and Ijaw leader, Edwin Clark, argued that there was nothing new in the report of the Conference Committee on Environment. He said the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) had in 2011 submitted a report which showed that it would take 30 years to clean up the oil spills in the Niger Delta region.
“I would like to say that there is really nothing new in the report compared to the environmental report of 2005. The problem is the implementation of the report. Three years ago, the United Nations submitted a report to the federal government for the cleanup of Ogoni land. The report said it was going to take about 20 years to clean the area and that $20 billion was needed. It was only last year that a committee was created to look into it,” Clark said.
Clark told delegates to look beyond what the country got from the region, but ponder on the level of degradation oil exploration had caused the area.“If we do not do something, one day, we will be wiped out, while the rest of the people will be enjoying the things from the area.”
 
 
According to Clark, “Our environment has been polluted. We sit on top of water in the Niger Delta, yet we do not have water to drink. When I was small, we used to put calabash outside and fishes will jump in. Now, my people eat ice fish. There are no more farm lands, no fruits. We have lost everything in the Niger Delta.
“Recently, Chevron had their equipment burnt. For three months, it was burning and there was nobody to put it out. Chevron has refused to compensate communities affected.
“The people are suffering. I am pleading. Do not think of what you get. Think of the area where these things are gotten. We need compensation. We need re-greening in our area.”
In a similar note, Nnimo Bassey, a South-south delegate and an environmental activist, called for the entrenchment of resource democracy in the country.
 
Land Use
Meanwhile, the special committee to address the deadlock among delegates on whether the land use act should be removed from the constitution was stalemated as the delegates were still divided on the retention of the land use act in the constitution. The panel is still expected to meet to resolve the issue.
The conference recommended that environmental issues be moved to concurrent legislative list, while agreeing for an introduction of environment in the education curriculum.
The conference rejected the recommendation on the setting up of a special court on the environment; it recommended that the federating units should be given powers to legislate on environmental issues while NESREA and NOSDRA should retain their supervisory role.
It rejected an amendment which sought that all matters relating to environment be in the exclusive list and also rejected a proposal for the establishment of ecological commission. The committee upheld the recommendation to ensure a resource democracy and proposed that the NESREA Act be amended to include powers to regulate and monitor compliance to environmental standards in the oil and gas sector.
It also adopted the recommendation on the need to establish regulation on noise pollution.
 
Death of Kutigi’s Wife
Proceedings at the plenary session of the national conference were mournfully adjourned on Wednesday following the news of the death of Maryamu, the wife of the chairman and retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi. Maryamu, aged 70, died at the National Hospital in Abuja about 2am on Wednesday and has since been buried in line with Islamic rites.
Deputy Chairman of the Conference and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, who presided over a brief session of the conference said it was only proper that the Conference be adjourned to enable delegates participate in the burial.
Delegates readily and unanimously agreed to the proposal for adjournment expressed shock at the death and the fact that Conference Chairman could still preside over proceedings until the last day of sitting while the wife was in the hospital.
The deputy chairman described the late Maryamu as a pillar of strength to the chairman and regretted that she had passed on at a time the retired Justice was handling a critical national assignment and needed her closeness and wise counsel.
Akinyemi said it was in demonstration of his deep sense of patriotism and commitment to the affairs of the country that Kutigi continued to preside over the conference throughout the period the wife was lying ill in the hospital.
It was agreed that proceedings at the plenary will resume on Monday with deliberation on more of the committee reports.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ahmed: At a Time Like this, Nigeria’s Strength Lies in Her Heterogeneity

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Read Time:28 Minute, 27 Second
Fifty one-year-old Abdulfatah Ahmed, an ex-banker and former lecturer, is the governor of Kwara State. A graduate of Chemistry from University of Ilorin, where he also earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Ahmed, who has been running the affairs of this North-central state since 2011, had previously served as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development and Commissioner for Planning and Economic Development  under the regime of former Governor Bukola Saraki. In this interview with Tokunbo Adedoja and Hammed Shittu, he speaks on the state of the nation, how to overcome the current security challenges facing the country, how he has been administering the affairs of Kwara in the past three years, and why Kwara remains the only North-central state that is not facing security challenges, among other issues
 
 
May 29 is another Democracy Day, as an active player in politics and governance both at the state level and national level, what would you say has changed since the last celebration of Democracy Day, in terms of politics and governance?
Thank you very much, the last one year has been quite fulfilling for us as a state. Yes, it is also a year that is quite challenging. But be that as it may, one thing that comes to the fore is that we have been able to successfully deliver the dividends of democracy we promised our people. Firstly, we strengthened their confidence in democratic governance, we made them to see the importance of continuity. Because at inception, it was difficult to get people to understand that. Our slogan of continuity has to be seen to be truly transforming into dividends. And that saw us ensuring that all projects we met on ground that cut across human capital development, health water, energy, road, agriculture and so on were taken into consideration. And in the process were used as platforms to jumpstart new ones.
 
 
And I will let you know that today, it has been a success story for us. Not only have we been able to put a lot of these infrastructure to use, we have also renewed our confidence in expectations for the new ones that will be taken to completion level before the end of this tenure.
We have also succeeded in making our people see that governance is well anticulated and well managed and we always give people dividends of democracy by ensuring that the process for giving out these things are largely transparently carried out i.e. we sit with our people to let them see what we have on ground interms of job creation. We have succeeded in looking at the fact that Kwara State is made up of largely youths who are unemployed and our statistics have shown that we have between the ages of 15 and 65 making up the majority of people in Kwara. Of course, the next level will be, how do we engage these groups of people to drive the economy? That saw us employing over 5,000 youths since 2011, and about 2,000 had been recruited into the civil service. We have also seen how youth development programmes have come to play, to ensure that our youths do not continuously look at government as source of employment, rather as enabler, to create enable environment to support government business.
 
I am happy to let you know that we have succeeded in creating platforms for youths through micro-finance banks where our youths are compartmentalised into cooperative groups that are founded through various schemes. We have also created relationship between entrepreneurship training in the state and our youths development programmes. All these imply that we have looked at skills ascquisition centres in the state that stand on their own, and we have up to 10 minimum, that were encapsulated into a data platform in the ministry of Human Capital Development. These have seen them creating curriculum for skills and about 23 skills have been identified. So, all these 23 skills are now registered at Entrepreneurial Development Centres, most importantly it will see the graduates of these entrepreneurial centres being compartmentalised into cooperative goups and also made to benefit from the micro-credit scheme.
 
 
We have also looked at all those who have graduated that did not have funds, we raised over N640million and made available to them through micro-finance banks. This was given to them in a cluster of cooperatives into revolving schemes. I am happy to inform you that cumulatively, about N640million have been disbursed to SMEs including N100million micro credit for Kwara artisans congress and N100 million for transporters. Over 41,000 small businesses have benefitted from this revolving micro credit scheme to ensure that we are able to drive the economy. And of course, a lot has been done on roads, water and energy. So far, I will say we have success stories in all the areas we have identified for development and support for our people.
 
Kwara State is considered a civil service state. What are you doing to change the status?
We have been able to do three key things. The first one, we are showcasing our capacity to be supportive of any would be investor coming to Kwara by making land acquisition and other documentation process easy. Secondly, we take the advantage of what we know best and that is agriculture. It has to do with how to make our local farmers to be supportive of food production for prospective businesses that will be agro based. The typical example of this is the setting up of rice processing mills that have taken advantage of rice growing farmers across the state and more is still coming in the area of cassava and other value addition in terms of agriculture. The third one is that we re trying to get our local farmers to understand commercial farming by not just engaging in subsistence farming, as it were, to support their families and immediate needs. So, by and large, I am happy to let you know that it is yielding fruits to the extent that, Kwara State is no more that state that was purely a civil service state.
 
There are banks here now and they have brought a lot of commercial activities that have been sources of inspirations for driving the state economy because bank is a sign of commerce, is a sign of lendable funds and also a sign of usable funds for commercial businesses. So far so good, it has been an upward movement since we took over in terms of making the place a lot more enabling for businesses activities. A few small-scale businesses have cropped up in plastic, large manufacturing industries and of course we begin to see more that will be centered on agro processing. However, the environment is more enabling, creating platforms for prospective investors, especially those who came to take over the advantage here. Part of what we will be funding in the next few months is the setting up of our agricultural laboratory. It is sad to find out that there is no any standard agricultural laboratory in Nigeria today. So, it means that we don’t have empirical approach to look at what an input should be in terms of doing agriculture on commercial basis because if you look at this, generically, we used generic fertilizer for all crops and quality of our soil has not been checked to look at how we meet a specific cropping system.
 
So with the setting up of the agriculture laboratory, we will be able to create a platform that will see our farmers taking this advantage of the laboratory and of course that will be matched with processing because the bane of agriculture in Nigeria is largely the inability to match up with demand and supply, hence, there is a huge gap. Huge gap in the quality of what is acceptable. That is what we are trying to do to bridge the gap and taking advantage of our demand-driven commercial agricultural scheme which the state is currently carrying on with about 10 farmers as a model to jumpstart this and ultimately grow up from organic perspective to make it a state-wide practice, to imbibe commercial agriculture.
 
What are you doing to revive industries like Kwara Paper Converter at Erin-Ile and Noble Breweries in Ijagbo?
The biggest challenge facing industrialisation in Nigeria is not different from that of Kwara State. One huge challenge is power which has to be overcome before we can talk about this. The second one is our tax policies, that is importation policies. These things have to be worked on before we can begin to see genuine growth for local industries because, don’t forget that industries used to exist, then gradually because the cost of production became high and we took the advantage of the imported substitutes.
 
So for this to come back, we need to create a reversal, where the imported substitutes are first controlled at the point of entry to the market and create a source of power that would enable it to be cheap for the local industries to be more productive and there is no rocket science other than this. The market is huge, don’t forget Nigeria has close to over 200 million people that are in Nigeria alone. The West African sub-region is also huge and so the market is given but the biggest challenge is the import policy that will ensure import substitutes are managed at entry and most importantly, making the cost of production to be cheap. Why did this paper converter die? Why did Bacita Sugar Company die? Why did Noble Breweries Ijagbo die? They all died because cost of production was growing higher and could not compete with import substitutes that were not controlled. It is very simple. If we want these things to come back, we need to reverse that process gradually, a phase reversal, we will begin to see encouragement for all these industries coming back gradually. It is that simple.
 
Going by what the nation has gone through in the last one year in terms of challenges of insecurity, unemployment, an all that, many people are of the view that these challenges have overshadowed all that could be listed as achievements at all levels. Would you agree that there is cause for celebrations?
I don’t subscribe to that view to that extent and it depends on the kind of celebration. Celebration serves as a source of encouragement. It serves as a purpose of letting you see how far you have gone within a time scale of what you hope to achieve within a specific period. The mode of celebration is what we should look at today. Honestly, we can see how far we have gone within an agreed achievable platform, most importantly here we are faced with challenges – the security challenge we have never seen before. We have read in the national newspapers, we have seen other parts of the world; this is something that is foreign to us. Unfortunately, it is coming at a time when we need each other most and it is going to take advantage of where the strength of Nigeria lies.
 
The strength of Nigeria should lie in its heterogeneity, in its multi languages, multi religions. It should be a robust platform for having an articulated way forward for a good Nigeria in the future. Because you see , variety is a spice of life. Unfortunately, our own variety is being taken upon by some level of insurgency that is trying to see that differences break us apart. As Nigerians, we must see this as a trying period for us in Nigeria. We must see this platform as an opportunity to regroup and redefine our strength and redefine our focus. Nigeria will be a great nation but it will take hard work, it will take steadfastness, it will take cohesiveness, it will take shelving our various differences by taking the advantage of strength it comes with. It is not enough to have raw rice, raw tomatoes, groundnut oil and have the stove, it will not be converted to food until it is cooked. So that efforts to cook is what we must do now and it will not come automatically, we must come with deliberate efforts and we should not assume that the efforts would be given because there are people who may be benefiting from the differences and not allow us to cohesively use this as a growing platform. We must be ready to fight this people, we must be ready to fight this system that will stop this and cohesively come together to move the country forward to give hope to forthcoming generations in Nigeria.
 
I want to assure you, for me we are facing a challenge today, the challenge we have never seen before. But we should recognise it as a platform for redirecting our strength for growth and development, not to begin to see our differences and not to see reasons that we should not be together. Strength in diversity is better than strength in homogeneity. Let us look at it, you know because every system has its own strength, so a process that can sensitise the various strengths will give us the strength which Nigeria needs for our future. However, we need to take that advantage collectively because the moment we allow our differences to be sources of worry to us, we begin to find out whether we really need to be together. But deliberate efforts have to be made to make us stay together. That is why the constitutional conference should look beyond just the immediate political solution, they should look at those things that had stopped us from coming together as a country, those differences that people had always drummed in the area of would- be secessionist, those things that people had always looked at and saying look, ‘why have we come together.’ What are those strengths that come with it. You see for every action, there is an opportunity, there is strength. So, it is your choice now to look at the opportunity or look at the strength.
 
For us, I think as a country, we will move forward, if we keep looking at the opportunity that comes with each of this situation we find ourselves, using the opportunity to galvanise stronger positions to move the country forward. I think that is what the conference should be pursuing. Yes, we are going through a lot of challenges today and the challenges are even questioning the very basis of being together as a country but I think the question is how much of our strengths have we been able to put together to work as a nation. Our path to nationhood must be strengthened beyond just ethnic nationalities. How do we create a Nigeria that will come first in our hearts before our ethnic nationalities? What are those things we need to take us to that level? That is what should be coming out of that conference and I hope they would do that. We should start to look beyond selfish interests, we should start looking beyond satisfying immediate cronies, we should begin to look at a bigger picture of Nigeria. Nigeria has hope and this hope can only be made available by those of us in leadership positions in this country, to create that sense of hope for average Nigerians by allowing the concept of transparency, allowing the concept of equity, justice to take the rightful course in the Nigerian polity. Nigeria will be great.
 
The conference committee made some recommendations. Now what will be your view on the structure and system of government. I am talking about federalism, regionalism, presidential system and parliamentary system? Also, what do you think of the debates over revenue allocation formular?
Between me and you, firstly, I do not see anything wrong with the current political system, the current presidential system of government, nhether do I see anything wrong with the parliamentary system of government. No matter what kind of system we practice in Nigeria, as long as we do not check the way and manner in which we practice it, we will continue to have problem. There is nothing wrong with the system. Yes, there are few things that need to be adjusted. In the current system for instance, presidential system where we have federal/state/local government, there is nothing wrong with the system. Some people think that, it is expensive, who allocates resources to it? Who remunerates it? We did it. We could have made it cheaper if we wanted it to be so. So, it is not that system. It is not about system but about us. If we decided to have that cut today, so be it. But the most important thing is that, we must look at how policies are being made and how policies are being implemented. I think that, this is the big challenge. We need to look at the federal system, the federal system clearly understands its role in policy formulation, in helping sub national and the local government levels to be able to implement these policies.
 
That is where the challenge of Nigeria’s government system is. Because we keep having policy somersaults and this has not allowed us to reap the gains of any single policy. Take education for instance, from when those of us here today were in primary schools, policies have changed. We have not reaped the benefit of any particular policy and this has not allowed us to bring into fore our need for human capital development programmes. So that disconnect has not allowed our educational system to be supportive in driving the economy and most importantly again our informal education i.e entrepreneurship training and other areas have not been given rightful positions because if you look at the 70s and 80s, the quality of entrepreneur then was better than what we are having today because there was proper training. But today there is heavy reliance on people from within the West African sub-region to come and support us in our manpower requirement. Where are those training grounds? What happened to them? Nigeria is expanding, the construction industry is expanding, where are those training grounds for entrepreneurs that will fit into feeding the construction and oil and gas companies, the large manufacturing in those areas. So these are areas we should have given a boost and that is why you see huge numbers of unemployed and unskilled manpower.
 
How do we convert that into use? How do we begin to train them to structure the economy such that they will have a role to play and that takes us to taking advantage of what we know how to do best. We must look for the value chain that will accommodate a lot more people and that is why agriculture seems solving that problem. Because if we look at agriculture, it is a long huge chain that can accommodate a lot of people. A typical example of this, let us take textile for example, from the sourcing of the cotton-seed to the planting of the cotton, to ginning of the cotton, to the spinning of the cotton into yarn, to moving the yarn into baft, baft into coloured textile, textile into the market, market into garment, this is a huge chain and it is human capital intensive. What do we need to do to make us the biggest player in Africa? How do we make Nigeria one of the biggest garment manufacturing countries in the world market? Who says we cannot produce for Mark and Spencer, St. Michael and others here in Nigeria? Who says we cannot do that? These are all human capital intensive platforms. We can take advantage of the plethora of unemployed youths we have in this country.
 
But you see, it boils down to being able to make the environment enabling for the economy. To make it enabling, firstly, we need power, security, infrastructure. So these are all things we need to look at and be formulated at the federal level, implemented at sub-national level, and complemented at the local government level. So by and large, the system is perfect. Provided we redraw who should be involved in what and how the relationship between the three tiers of government can optimally give us the result we want. But you think because we are running a federal system of government in Nigeria and we say you should abolish it and give us regional government, and so what happens? It has not changed the way by which we do our business. That is our problem. It is not an institutional framework. So, until we change our paradigm and begin to understand that firstly, equity and justice must take a front role, good governance that would allow for good policies that are implementable, formulated at federal, implementable at sub-national levels and local government levels. These are the things that will make Nigeria to move forward. These are the platforms that will move Nigeria forward too. We should take advantage of this platform that will accommodate more people and this must be human capital intensive e.g agriculture.
 
A lot more hands is required to bring agriculture from the farm to the industries and that will take us out of that platform of poverty or idleness for our youths. Nigeria as it is, going back to the main issue, Nigeria – our major challenge is how to begin to see how to improve our implementation strategy. And we must bring whatever we are doing to a specific target because without target, we would not be able to drive ourselves towards achieving good results. We must agree on the set targets and put all machinery that will make our targets achievable. For instance, what stops us from being the biggest garment manufacturer in Africa? We have the population, we have soil to grow cotton, the weather is good, our population is a working population between ages of 15-65.  So, what is our problem? Our problem is organization, simple. Organization will require us to look at our strength, your weakness, the opportunities; sensitize it into a working platform and take it to the next level. So Nigerians have potentials for taking advantage of their current strengths in population, current strengths in other natural resources to articulate a strong economy based on the strengths of the people and what they know how to do best. It is doable and we can do it.
 
Kwara State is a gateway to north-central states, ironically, virtually all the north-central states have security challenges, with the exception of Kwara, what is the secret?
It is by virtue of providence. There is no other secret other than providence. There is no other secret other than the fact that God in His infinite mercy has allowed us to have a peaceful environment in Kwara and not because we have a better security, not because our people are acting differently. Yes, we agree that we have multi ethnic environment but we have learnt to live in peace. The presence of peace is largely due to choice of providence and I will continue to pray to Almighty Allah to sustain this peace for us to enable us to give the dividends of democracy to our people and improve their hope for good governance.
 
How has the state government been able to cope with the influx of people from other states of the federation?
Yes, it is a continuous thing, don’t forget that it is about the provision of infrastructure. You continue to improve on what you have on ground, you have to do more roads for instance, we have had about 38 new asphalted roads which we started in this current administration, taking into consideration the fact that we had to complete the ones by the past administration, 28 of this had been completed. We have quite a few of them in the Kwara central senatorial district, some in the southern senatorial district and some in the northern senatorial district of the state. Of course, don’t forget that most of our people live in rural environment, so we have taken advantage in ensuring that road development gets to our people and we have over 41 rural roads that we have done by this administration.
 
Energy which is very critical, we are trying to see that people do not necessarily settle in the urban environment. Every tendency is to move to Ilorin where you have these infrastructure. But we are trying to deploy infrastructure to local environment that is why you see 189 communities that have been supported with energy and the street light have been improved upon to support security. Of course, for water which is also critical, we sunk over 400 boreholes across the length and breadth of the state and we have rehabilitated over 17 water works that each of them will serve close to about 15 or 20 communities in the state. These are all infrastructure requirements that is expected to support growing population and the government will continuously put that in place as a priority.
 
But most important thing is to create a peaceful environment among the people on ground and those still coming to join them in the state so that they can see how peace can lead to growth and development. Quite a lot is going into security, we have to give vehicles to police, army, civil defence corps, Air force, and also fuelling their vehicles as at when due and even supported them with other logistics to make them move easily within the state to ensure the full protection of life and property and that has since brought some level of calmness. For us in Kwara, it is a welcome development to see new people coming in and also a pressure on us to see how to support the growing population. We are up and doing in the task and I want to assure you that we will get there and this is what is making us to access funds outside the usual federal allocation to support infrastructure. Yes, there was a little trouble in the federal allocation and of course that has pushed our appetite towards the money or capital market for an additional funding to support infrastructure especially on the ongoing projects that are huge, to allow the people to enjoy the benefits of democracy.
 
An example of this is Ilorin water project which is a N7.5billion project. So far about N5.7billion has been invested, we only need about N2billion to take it to completion and that has been sourced from the capital market. We have Kaima -Kishi road that we wanted to jumpstart, it is a major linkage between the people of Kaima in the Kwara north of the state, we need N2billion to jumpstart that and hopefully, we will do second and the third section as we are moving on the project. We have quite a few things we are doing in the hospitals. We have renovated five General Hospitals and lot more will be coming on stream in the state soon. These are the areas where we hope to improve on the health care delivery. We know how much of it is required to drive workforce and I want to assure you that the Ilorin General Hospital which is a master piece has been completed and now ready for commissioning. These are the supportive things we have been able to do for the growth of the population that are coming to join us in Kwara, we want to keep begging God to continue to sustain the current peace in the state that is making it enabling for the people to come down to Kwara to join us.
 
Among your developmental programmes that you have pursued, which is the most important to you or that you would consider a top priority since you assumed office in 2011?
First and foremost, it is health sector. Each time I go to Ilorin General hospital, I am always very happy with it because I know that the health care service delivery is the most challenging in this part of the world. We have seen a lot of avoidable deaths. It is not unconnected with proper health care service delivery. Of course, that makes us to initiate Diagnostic center which is currently functional and one of the best in the country. Complementing that with the five renovated General Hospitals will give us a fantastic health care delivery system and this gives me a lot of comfort and hope that Kwara state will one day become tourism environment for health service delivery. The second area is the educational sector, with vocational training center at Ajase-Ipo, the first of its kind in the state and I am very happy and excited about it because it is an area of education that we are not giving consideration. You see, we concentrate on either building primary schools, universities and so on. Nobody has looked at the skill acquisition training centers, they have not been given the right platform for training. And that is why we are setting up an international one, international to the extent that the training programmes are cued to enable graduands to write external examinations like C and G and get certified to make them useable anywhere in the world. But, most importantly, they will be partnering with all the key service centers across the country both in the marine industry, oil and gas, the construction, electrical industries, ICT industries. That is why we have taken time to get the right things right, getting the right school in place, get the right programme running, get the right result that will support the kind of entrepreneurship training. Gradually; we will create incubation centers that will serve that school because the school will be like a training programme. We will have clusters of incubation centers in the three senatorial districts of the state where the incubation centers will serve as a preparatory ground for those who will go to that school and move from that school and move to entrepreneurship. These are the things we are very happy with.
 
 
Another most important area we are happy with is the youths employment. Don’t forget that the first thing we did when we came into office was to take the statistics of the unemployed youths in the state and immediately we got the data base of over 40,000 unemployed youths which is quite alarming. Even when on national scale it looks smaller than others but it tells us quickly that we must begin to put something in place to support these youths. Immediately, we set up Kwara Bridge Empowerment Scheme (KWABES) and we recruited 2,000 of them and I am happy to let you know that, 2000 have been fully moved into the state civil service now and other service engagement platforms in the state and have been replaced with others on that bridge. So we see it as a bridge to move the youths from idleness to empowerment. And on that scheme alone, from 2011 to date, we have been able to engage over 5,000 youths in the state. Only last week we upscaled to accommodate additional 5,200 unemployed youths because to me these are the working strength of Kwara state, these are the working force people between the ages of 15-65, they are very critical because before 15, you may not have much to do after 65, you are gradually winding down and the population of Kwara fits into these age brackets. It tells you that we must take the advantage of improved productivity for these class of people and that is why entrepreneurship is very critical and that is why we are engaging about 5,000 youths and hopefully by the end of the year, we want to employ about 8,000 youths. I don’t really want to celebrate infrastructure because I see it as given. We have done so many roads, water, energy among others but I don’t see that as what we should celebrate. I consider them as given.
 
Those things that should change people’s life i.e entrepreneurship training for our youths, institutional platforms we have put in place to accommodate entrepreneurship programmes, these are things that are so critical to our hearts, most importantly health service delivery programmes. Another most important thing we are happy about is the community health insurance scheme. I am happy to let you know that it is only in Kwara today that this kind of health insurance scheme is working in Africa. Over 80,000 people have enrolled in the state. It is operated in three or four local government councils of the state with just payment of N500 and you will enjoy all facets of health care delivery including surgical operations. You can access these facilities with ease and this has improved the health care delivery of the rural populace. We will ensure that before the termination of this administration, we will see that the scheme cuts across all the local government councils of the state.
 
What is your vision for Kwara in the next 10 years?
Yes, I want to say that, in the next 10 years, I want Kwara to be the agricultural hub of Nigeria and indeed of West Africa because we want to see our current drive to support commercial agriculture take the level where we would have imbibed value chain from planting to processing, and of course, to marketing. That will truly make us to be the agriculture hub of Nigeria.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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