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Balance Of Rights During A Pandemic: Enforcement Of Lockdown Regulations And Law Enforcement Brutality

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Mary Izobo and Folasade Abiodun

Since January 2020, COVID-19 pandemic, has held the world to ransom and has posed a threat to public health.  It has put a lot of pressure on available medical facilities with a record of over 2,500,000 persons infected and 170,000 deaths globally with numbers set to increase.

In order to stop the spread of the disease, several countries are taking such measures as the closure of airports, ports and land borders, isolation and quarantining of persons, banning of religious gatherings, closure of schools, restaurants, public spaces and a complete “lockdown” or partial lockdown of countries. 

Some of these  measures as well as the implementation, have implications on the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of assembly. 

Almost all countries in Africa have been infected by the coronavirus. Most of the affected African countries have invoked restrictions highlighted above. The police, and in some case the army, have been called upon to compliance by citizens. However, the enforcement of these regulations by these law enforcement officials have generated a lot of controversies and public outcry as there have been severe violations of human rights.

As former colonies with long and difficult histories of war, several countries in Africa have had a history of violation of human rights and brutality by law enforcement officials. Two countries of note are Nigeria and South Africa. The arbitrariness and lawlessness perpetrated by law enforcement agents in these countries are not new nor peculiar to the present pandemic.

This can be traced to the culture of militarism in Nigeria and South Africa as both have long histories of military regime and apartheid rule respectively. It is safe to say that these law enforcement officials are locked in an aggressive mode where they suspend the rights of citizens whenever they are called upon to promote and defend national interests at the detriment of the citizens they are supposed to protect.

Thus, law enforcement officials in these two countries are used to forceful and violent means in enforcing the law and have adopted a muscular approach to alledged violators of the lockdown regulations.Nigeria is experiencing its longest uninterrupted democratic rule since it gained independence in 1960. From 1966 to 1979 and 1983 to 1999, Nigeria was led by the military junta who used the military as a tool to ensure and mandate cooperation from citizens by the use of force. 

These periods were marred by gross violation of human rights by the military in Nigeria. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria took measures to contain the spread by making laws and policies to restrict movement in order to contain the spread. Laws were made to restrict movement in several states, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (NHRC) received 105 complaints and eighteen people have been killed between 30 March 2020, the commencement of the lockdown and 15 April 2020 from law enforcement officials, more than the number of persons who have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria.

South Africa experienced a system of apartheid that upheld institutionalized racial segregation and white supremacy from 1948 to 1994. The military was used as a tool by the government to forcefully remove black South Africans from areas designated as “white” to the homelands, terrorised and violated the rights of Black South Africans with impunity.

The Apartheid period gave the military excessive powers and carte blanche to torture citizens. In South Africa, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster and a complete lockdown of the country. The lockdown started on 27 March 2020, and three days into the lockdown, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) registered 21 cases of police brutality complaints and over nine people have been killed by law enforcement officials. 

The law enforcement officials in Nigeria and South Africa have assaulted, tortured, denigrated, unlawfully arrested, seized and looted properties, extorted and carried out corrupt practises in the enforcement of the compliance of lockdown regulations. Citizens going about their legitimate businesses without flouting the lockdown regulations are not exempted from the ruthlessness of these law enforcement agents. These law enforcement officials have abused power, deployed disproportionate use of force, and have blatantly undermined national and international laws. It is apparent that after years of military rule in Nigeria and Apartheid in South Africa, violence by law enforcement officials remains a confirmed way of treating the populace – a  sad reality of both countries’ bitter, barbaric, and dark past. 

Undoubtedly, those citizens who go against the lockdown regulations should be punished, but in the enforcement of the law, state actors must ensure compliance with the national and international standards. 

There is the need to strike a balance in human rights and the public interest that the restriction regulations seek to protect. This is in order to cause the limitation law to be effective and achieve the aim it seeks to achieve. 

With Nigeria and South Africa’s past, there should be a better way to deal with the populace. Reasonable and proportionate use of force should be used in7 ensuring compliance without having to violate the human rights of citizens.

Better accountability mechanisms should also be put in place in the event of an erring state actor who violates human rights. In addition, there should be transparency in the punishment of such state actor, as an avenue for reportage is not enough without an assurance of penalty that will serve as a deterrent of such acts.

FCT Markets To Open 3 Days In A Week

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Joel Ajayi

The FCT Minister Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has disclosed that markets in FCT can now operate for three days in a week With effect from Monday, May 25th, 2020

The days of the week include; Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8.00 Am to 3.00 pm.

Minister who chaired a joint meeting of the FCT COVID-19 Emergency Response Team and the FCT Security Committee, as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the FCT.

The Meeting deliberated on the second phase of the ease of lockdown guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 generally and as they affect the operations of markets in particular.

 Consequently, the meeting came up with the following guidelines which will guide the operations of markets in the FCT from Monday May 25th, 2020.

According to the minister, With effect from Monday, May 25th, 2020, the number of days that markets are allowed to operate in the FCT has been increased from 2 to 3 days a week. Accordingly, all markets will now be opened on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 8.00 am to 3.00 pm.

“In addition to the sale of foodstuff the following additional sections of the market will now open;

“Agricultural inputs for farm activities such as the sale of  fertilizer,  herbicides, seeds and agricultural implements.

“Also, Building and construction materials; Electrical items specifically for construction

“Neighborhood selling points managed by the Abuja Markets Management Ltd which are restricted to selling the only foodstuff is to operate daily; 

“All new sections of the market to be re-opened as indicated above must ensure decontamination of their premises prior to commencement of business.

 “Market operators and customers must also observe all already established protocols of handwashing, facial coverings and social distancing;

All other measures at curtailing COVID-19 in the FCT as contained in the guidelines issued by the FCTA on the 2nd of May 2020 still subsist.

Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’ 50th birthday celebration: A Man from Grass to Grace and a “Laissez Faire” advocate

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By Olaoluwa Aro

Few years ago, May 23, 1970 was a day off for people residing in the area where a King of Grassroots football development in Nigeria was birthed. This was the moppet that became Comrade Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’, which I nicknamed as “Jesu ti oni igee”, meaning Jesus without big a chest.

Upon his arrival into this miasmal world, herald angels went around the nation to announce the arrival of this small king and of course, his news was therapeutic for everyone in that community, as it created atmosphere of endless joy whilst receiving the news. 

In fact, eye witnessess confirmed that even witches and wizards, naysayers and other unauthorized messsgers bowed because Fresh came into this with heaven’s factory- fitted anointing of greatness. In other words, Ahmed Yusuf was behallowed by almighty Allah, so nefarious beings had to be “Still” because his case was thou shalt not touch my anointed Man; reason Fresh has been a mystery for evil plotters from gestation period.

Is Ahmed Fresh a Man from Grass to Grace? Oh yes, he’s, base on his life’s  journey(s) thus far:  

He hails from a family that values proper Education thus, it would be immature for people to postulate, Fresh didn’t go to school as I consider it Bunkum. Authoritatively, Ahmed fresh passed through the Pedagogy of quality Education, from Chiroma primary school to Government day Secondary school- both in Minna, Niger state . Fresh is someone with foresight, he didn’t hesitate to further more on his Education, as he attended Kaduna State Polytechnic where he acquired knowledge in “Quantity Surveyor”

Ahmed Yusuf in football industry :

The “F” in his alias stands for Football, this is connected to why he derives pleasure in developing football Talent(s) at the grassroot level. The Golden Jubilee Ahmed Yusuf became Niger State Football Association outset of Millennium (year 2000). Prior to this period, Football administrators and stakeholders in the Power State have besieged his home countless times where people continuously bespeak him to come pilot the affairs of football structures in Niger State. 

Ahmed Fresh was having inertia towards such request but it was not as though, he is paranoia agent, however he believes God does his wonders accurately; Hence, he decided to leave his Cocoon and those with inalienable Rights-enthroned him as the State’s football chairman. 

Little bit of  Fresh Air in Niger State Football Association:

Ahmed Fresh moves about with Pod that contains action in motion. He understood that, becoming the head of football house means, you must be a Supreme thinker. So, he set up a Committee that was charged with identifying the encumbrance(s) of Niger State Football Association and its structures. 

Having explored what truly went wrong, this Committee of deep thinkers came up with their findings and of course, Fresh as a critical thinker agreed to work on what was given to him and even added his own magistral solutions for the maladies discovered in Niger State Football environment. 

There are over 22 Local Government(s) in Niger State with Eight (8) Emirates council. As an intelligent person, he created chain(s) of football developmental programs for all the 8 Emirates in the Power State and that gave birth to different football talents in his State. He uses football to preach Unity all over Niger State because he’s a Freshman with toga of Peace. 

Jagaban of Nigeria Football Federation :

Ahmed Yusuf is one of the three star General(s) in Nigeria Football Federation hierarchical structures. We have renowned Football administrator, Chief Felix Anyasi Agu from Abia and also Honorable Yahaya Suleiman Kwande representative of Jos. Historically, these are the three Musketeers in Nigeria football systems chronologically.

Comrade Ahmed Yusuf has been nominated for appointment at Confederation of Africa Football ( CAF), as a member of Technical and Development Committee for sixth term, 12 years of serving African Football. 

He had Served as Chairman in various Committees at Nigeria football federation: inter Alia;  Committee of Youth Development in NFF. Referees Appointment Committee, Match Commissioners Appointment Committee,  Technical and Development Committee and as a Strategist at one point, he was the Vice Chairman Strategy Committee et al. 

My aim is not to bore my readers, football administrators, stakeholders and Ahmed Yusuf (Fresh) community  of friends but to make his 50th birthday celebration a fulfilling day; which should allow the whole world to know Fresh’s personality. Let me say this, to those who know Fresh remotely, and have illegitimately deduced his personality. For the record, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh is not a proud person neither is he infallible. 

He’s a Self effacing personality, not a Sociopath but a Socializer. For his persona, he’s a patriot, and very passionate about moving Nigeria football systems forward, sufficient to say, Fresh is not a Psychopath.  

Today is your birthday, I wish you well, a complete Nigerian who never stopped exhibition of his altruistic nature to people from different Ethnic groups, Religious beliefs in Nigeria and globally. 

Unknown facts, Fresh is “Laissez -Faire” kind of person. He minds his business and wants everyone to succeed. You are celebrating your 50th birthday in good health condition, I know the wind of life is changing you from who you are but don’t let the society configure you wrongly. 

You are a Freshman, you should be in control of Air, I want you to be the Airbender. No doubt, the responsibility of being a leading figure can be staggering but every great man has tripped. This is not a problem but it becomes a permanent challenge when you remain on the floor. 

Remember that, Every king was a crying baby Boy and every Queen was a crying baby Girl. bear in mind that, my note of Eulogy is not a Syrupy.

Happy birthday to SARDAUNA KWALLON of Nigeria Football.

Use EID-EL FITR To pray For Quick End Of Covid-19, FCT Minister Charges Muslim Faithful

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… Thanks Frontline Workers For Dedication to duty

Joel Ajayi 

The Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa has congratulated Muslim faithful across the Territory for the successful completion of the Ramadan fast and wishes them a pleasant and joyous Eid-el Fitr celebration. 

Malam Bello who said this as part of his Sallah message to FCT residents also urged them to intensify their prayers for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, while the Holy month of Ramadan was no doubt used to pray fervently for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative consequences on the society. 

“I must urge the Muslim Ummah not to relent in their prayers but rather intensify them even after Ramadan, because in times of tribulations, true supplications to the Almighty indeed yields positive results.”

The FCT Minister also used the occasion to express his appreciation on behalf of the FCTA and all residents of the FCT to health and other essential workers in the frontlines of the battle against the Coronavirus disease.

He praised them for their dedication to duty and the sacrifices they are making in ensuring that there are no dramatic spikes in the number of positive cases in the FCT and keeping the numbers within manageable limits.

Minister also thanked individuals, corporate, religious and non-governmental organisations as well as some government establishments for their contributions in the provision of medical equipment and facilities as well as palliatives for the less privileged members of the society who are being negatively impacted by COVID-19. Their generosity, he said underscores the significance of the FCT as Nigeria’s Center of Unity.

He equally advised residents that while enjoying the festivities, they should obey all laid down protocols of hand washing, face covering, staying at home and social distancing. He reminded residents that these measures were put in place for the safety and wellbeing of everyone.

COVID-19 does not discriminate on whom it affects and there is therefore the need for residents to take personal responsibility for their health. If you observe any symptoms associated with the virus, please, contact the relevant health authorities.”

The Minister continued, “Remember that COVID-19 is not a death sentence and there is the need to avoid stigmatizing anyone who has been infected. Defeating it will require the cooperation and collaboration of all”.

Malam Bello once again wished residents a happy Eid-El Fitr celebrations and encouraged them to enjoy the festivities from the safety of their homes.

NYSC at 47: The Unique Trajectory of Africa’s Leading Light in Youth Mobilisation

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By Emma Obeni

Globally, over 75 countries have some form of voluntary, compulsory, military or paramilitary national youth service including African countries such as Eritrea, Gambia, Burundi, Morocco and Nigeria.

Nigeria’s national youth service which is mandatory for graduates of tertiary institutions not above 30 years was established on 22nd May 1973. With current annual mobilisation of about 300, 000 participants, Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is the largest youth mobilisation agency in Africa. It is remarkable and an irony that NYSC which attracted protests against its establishment by the youths earmarked to drive the Scheme has grown to attract protests from same youths over exclusion or delay in mobilisation to partake in the programme. Some at present even go to the length of procuring fake documents to get mobilised into the Service Corps. Such has become the attraction of the NYSC. The allurement of the NYSC may not be unconnected with the accomplishments of the Scheme over the years.

These achievements can be better distilled from the testimonies of stakeholders, ample services and infrastructures across the country credited to the Scheme. The underlying reason for the birthing of NYSC is to engender national cohesion which the country was (and still) in dire need of after the thirty month civil war resulting from deep ethnic and tribal divisions in the country. The Scheme was therefore established as a deliberate public policy to ensure the realisation of the Government’s post-civil war therapy of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. It aims to raise a new crop of disciplined and detribalized Nigerians by allowing the youths to undergo a one year national service in States other than theirs for the purpose of promoting national unity and development. And these among others the Scheme has relentlessly pursued in the past 47 years with Corps members deployed in all the 774 Local Government Areas of the Country.

Inter-ethnic marriages which no doubt have reduced prejudice amongst Nigerians are evidence of what the Scheme has accomplished in promoting national integration. Many cross cultural marriages owe their foundation to NYSC. The wife of the Ondo State Governor Mrs. Betty Anyanwu- Akerodolu attests to this. “NYSC is a tool for fostering national unity. I am one of the beneficiaries of the Scheme because it was through it I met my husband,” she said. Governor Akerodolu met her wife while undergoing the national service in Enugu. The paramount ruler of Yenaka Community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, His Royal Highness Ovie Omeleh, Omo Ubie Aka II also benefitted in this regard. He confessed meeting his wife when she came to serve in the State. The Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who served in Benue State testified to the unifying role of NYSC. “NYSC is one of the few programmes that have helped in keeping Nigeria as one indivisible entity”, he said.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar also subscribes to this position insisting that, “we shall continue to advocate the sustenance of the NYSC…we still believe in its relevance, especially in bringing Nigerians of various ethnic and religious backgrounds together under one roof as a country”. Many participants have also settled in their State of deployment having secured permanent employment or are engaged in thriving private enterprises, there by deepening national integration. Examples include, Afolabi Oluranti, who served in 2004 in Bauchi and owns Compusoft, a thriving ICT firm in the State, Olatunbosun Tolulope served in 2003 in Enugu and is managing a flourishing enterprise called RFISHERIES and Samuel Orjiakor who served in Kebbi State in 1997, has since remained there practicing journalism. Apart from its impressive record in propagating national integration, the Scheme has become a force to reckon with in other areas of development in Nigeria such as health care delivery. Many rural health centres owe their continued existence and functionality to the NYSC medical corps who manage some of them.

The Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers (HIRD) is a new programme designed by the Scheme to fill the gap imposed by limited public healthcare facilities. Under this programme, a quarterly nationwide medical outreach is carried out where beneficiaries enjoy free medical services including consultation, administration of drugs and other medical consumables. The Scheme has also donated hundreds of wheel chairs to physically challenged individuals through the programme. Collaborative activities with local and international agencies, have enabled the NYSC to further advance the nation’s healthcare delivery. The Scheme’s active collaboration with UNICEF, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the Federal Ministry of Health and other agencies played significant role in halting and reversing the menace of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The over 1.8 million Corps Members sensitised and provided with life skill training have in turn trained over 10 million students of secondary schools nationwide as Peer Educators. The Scheme was also fully involved in combating the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease and continues to play prominent role in immunization and vaccination campaigns. In the current battle to contain the Corona virus pandemic, the Scheme promptly suspended the 2020 Batch ‘A’ Orientation Course exercise nationwide to protect the Corps Members and prevent spread of the disease. It went ahead to mobilise and deploy its Corps Medical Team to assist their senior colleagues in the field and also engaged others in producing and supplying face masks and hand sanitizers to Federal and State Governments for the medical personnel in the frontlines. Corps members also demonstrated their capacity to drive the country’s technological development, given adequate support, as they pooled their knowledge to come up with various innovations and fabrications to enhance the fight against the spread of the virus. A group of Corps Members in Akwa-Ibom State constructed a disinfection chamber while their colleagues serving in Kano, Kwara, Oyo and Plateau States among others fabricated machines dispensing water, liquid soap and sanitizers for hand washing to assist in containing the pandemic. In addition, the Scheme prepared and made available its Orientation Camps across the country for use as isolation centres for COVID-19.

Education is another area the Scheme’s footprints are indelible. With over 70% of Corps Members deployed to teach in schools, especially in the rural areas, NYSC has made significant contributions to the development of education in Nigeria. Indeed, the school system in some parts of the country depend considerably on Corps Members to complement their manpower needs. There are equally a number of States where special arrangements are in place for all Corps Members deployed to such states, apart from Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers and Para medicals to be posted to schools. Through its community development service programme, NYSC has complemented government’s effort at addressing the nation’s infrastructural deficit. In the course of their assignment, many Corps Members have embarked on development projects and programmes to uplift their host communities.

It is therefore not surprising that all the local governments in the country (if not every community) have one form of landmark legacy project or another executed by Corps Members, including public conveniences, water boreholes, culverts, bridges, school buildings among others. The Scheme has equally contributed significantly in boosting the national food security policy of government through its farms located across the country. The Service Corps ventured into farming in 1984 and by 1992 the Scheme was cultivating large hectres of land in many States of the federation. The farms produce variety of crops including maize, rice, guinea corn, millet, sorghum, cowpea, plantain, cassava, pineapple and palm fruits. There were also livestock farms in addition to the arable farms. The success recorded in the farms spurred the NYSC into establishing some agro-based ventures to process farm produce. They include animal Feed-Mill located at Ipaja Lagos, Garri processing factory at Afon Kwara State and Rice mill in Ezeillo, Ebony State.

NYSC through it ventures initiative also established Garment factories in Minna, Niger State and Mgbakwu, Anambra State as well as Bottled water factory and Bakery in Abuja, FCT. The farms and agro-based enterprises have thrived over the years helping particularly to feed Corps members during Orientation Camps and contributing towards achieving food sufficiency in the country. The Scheme has gone ahead to reinvigorate and reposition its ventures and farm operations with the establishment of integrated farm settlements in the six geo-political zones of the country. They are sited in Ezillo, Ebonyi State in the South-East, Iseyin, Oyo State in the South-West, Obubra, Cross River State in the South-South, Dangulbi, Bauchi State in the North-East, Kebbi in the North-West and Leleyi, Kwali in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Each project line in the various farm centres is designed to develop a value chain to create globally acceptable products and generate jobs and create wealth. Apart from contributing to the national economy and generating revenue for the Scheme, the farms and ventures also serve as centres for skills acquisition and entrepreneurship training for both Corps Members and youths of the community where they are located.

In recent times, the Scheme has become an indispensable part of the conduct of general elections in Nigeria. The collaboration between NYSC and the electoral umpire INEC, for the use of Corps Members in election duties was mainly aimed at improving the credibility of the process. The collaboration started with the use of Corps Members as Polling Clerks in the conduct of Kogi State re-run Governorship election in 2008. The success of the experiment culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the INEC and NYSC for the use of Corps Members as ad-hoc staff in conducting elections in the country. The professional conduct and patriotism exhibited by Corps Members involved in managing elections since then took a notch higher the integrity of elections in Nigeria. In separate reports, domestic and international observers acknowledged that the 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections were successful mainly due to the immense contribution of Corps Members. Indeed, the European Union Observation Mission for 2019 General Elections specially recognised and rewarded seventy-five (75) Corps members across the country for their outstanding performance during the elections.

Similarly, the NYSC is engaged in numerous collaborations to execute governmental and non-governmental programmes/projects which is a testimony that the Scheme has not only been in the forefront of national response to issues/programmes that are of immense importance to the well-being of Nigerians, but is key to the success and implementation of same. In league with many agencies and organisations NYSC has played significant roles in advocacy campaigns in agricultural development, employment generation, fight against polio, malaria, guinea worm etc. Others include active participation of Corps Members in afforestation, promotion of environmental sanitation, road safety and anti-corruption campaigns. The Scheme continues to attract requests for collaboration as a result of the realisation that its pool of skilled manpower and active presence in all the Local Governments Areas of the country puts it in a better stead to domesticate any programme or project at the grass roots level. NYSC has equally continued to renew and make itself indispensable through evolving policies and programmes in response to prevailing needs of the country. One of such is the introduction of skill acquisition and entrepreneurship training into the service year programme to complement government’s effort in tackling youth unemployment. It is designed to develop the spirit of self reliance in Corps Members by equipping them with essential skills and capacities for self employment and wealth creation. Successful partnership with funding institutions such as the Bank of Industry and the Central Bank of Nigeria on the provision of start-up capital for Corps entrepreneurs has resulted in the disbursement of N1.84 billion to 14,428 beneficiaries.

Sensitisation of over one million four hundred thousand on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship with over six hundred thousand receiving various levels of training in skill areas such as agro-allied, food preservation and processing, culture and tourism, cosmetology, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), environment, beautification, construction, education, power and energy, film and photography and automobile technology. The construction, equipping and handover by Access Bank of a mega Skill Acquisition Centre for the North East Zone in Gombe and that of the South West Skill Acquisition Centre which is nearing completion in Ekiti State are part of the efforts by the Scheme’s Management to enhance the implementation of the programme. The plan is to replicate these centres in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country. Apart from the above impressive accomplishments, perhaps, one of the Scheme’s critical functions at present is saving the Nigeria society from a possible social upheaval arising from thrusting psychologically unprepared thousands of youths into the burgeoning labour market right from the ivory towers with little prospects of employment for many. Exposing to the sudden reality, youths who have just left higher institutions of learning with lofty dreams, expectations and ideals of what the society is or should be, could be devastating and ominous. The one year NYSC programme serves as a buffer and prepares the youths to embrace the society in its reality as it enables them, during the period of the assignment, to gradually learn how the Nigerian system, institutions and society operate and come to terms with the reality vis-à-vis their expectations. Indeed, in its 47 years of existence the NYSC despite teething challenges has justified its establishment. In addition to delivering on its core mandate of promoting national cohesion, it has extended its frontier of relevance, making inestimable contributions in all areas of development of the country.

Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi sums up the relevance of the Scheme thus, “There is no gainsaying that the Scheme has fulfilled the objectives of engendering national unity and integration of the country which is the core vision of the founding fathers. It has also harnessed the potentials of our graduate youths as models for defining credible and quality leadership, economic regeneration and true patriotism”. Given the necessary support by stakeholders, the Scheme is on the path right to not only surpassing the visions of the founding fathers, but also becoming an indispensable catalyst for Nigeria’s socio-economic development aspirations.

NICO Solicits More Funding For Nation’s Creative Sector

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The National Institute for Cultural Orientation, NICO, has called for more funding of the nation’s cultural industry to fast track the diversification of the economy.

The Director Overseeing Office of the Executive Secretary of NICO, Mrs Brigitte Yerima made the call in Abuja while speaking with Radio Nigeria on this year’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Mrs Brigitte Yerima who described culture as a veritable means for national economic development identified inadequate funding as one of the factors hindering the growth of the sector over the years.

According to her, this year’s edition of the event is coming at a time when necessary attention should be paid to other sector that could contribute to the development of the nation’s economy.

Mrs Brigitte Yerima said NICO would continue to embark on programmes that would harness the country cultural heritage for national peace and economic development.

She therefore called for more public private sector collaboration towards repositioning the sector.

“World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a day set aside by UNESCO to appreciate cultural diversity of various ethic groups to foster peaceful coexistence in the society” she stated.

The Director therefore stressed the need for Nigerians to always appreciate one another in the area of values and culture to further enhance corporate existence of the country.

FRCN

Why Places Of Worship Cant Be Re-open Yet In FCT-Minister

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Joel Ajayi

The Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has identified the guidance of the medical experts and consultations with highest authority, the Presidential Task Force as reason why places of worship cannot yet re-open in the Territory.

 
He gave this explanation on Tuesday in Abuja during a briefing following a meeting between the FCTA and representatives of the FCT Christian and Muslim communities led by the FCT Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman, Dr Samson Jonah and the FCT League of Imams Initiative, Dr Tajudeen Mohammed Bello Adigun.

According to the Minister, the FCT is guided by advise from medical experts and guidelines from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which had directed that all measures approved two weeks earlier be extended for another two weeks and these include the restriction on religious gatherings.

 In the words of the Minister, “based on the guidance of the medical experts and consultations with highest authority, the Presidential Task Force gave a decision and communication on the fact that all the measures approved two weeks ago be extended for another period of time to enable organisations, individuals and all of us plan for a gradual opening up of the society”

“The meeting acknowledged that the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to save lives and this involves monitoring very closely reports from the health authorities which indicate that after 9 weeks of the pandemic and attempts to curtail its spread not much has changed”

 Minister  further explained that all actions on the re-opening of the society is hinged on the advice of medical experts who at the moment do not support it.

 
In the light of this, the Minister continued, the leaders of the religious organisations have agreed to work towards the eventual opening up of worship places at a time to be determined by the Presidential Task Force, based on medical advice.

 
In the interim however, Malam Bello explained, a team consisting of representatives of the religious organisations and their leadership, as well as the FCT has been constituted to  gradually look at what the modalities and protocols of operating places of worship will be  when COVID-19 lockdown of the FCT is relaxed.

 
He said that such modalities were not new considering that certain protocols were put in place at the height of insecurity in the country when religious places were the targets for terrorists.

 Therefore certain protocols such as use of face masks compulsory hand washing and social distancing will have to be adhered to when places of worship eventually re-open the Minister said.

 This, he continued, will also include the identification and placement of modalities for the decontamination of all places of worship adding that these protocols are necessary so that when eventually places of worship are re-opened, they will be done with minimal risks to the worshippers.

 However, the religious leaders in their comments appreciated the efforts of the FCT Administration in the fight against COVID-19 especially in the distribution of palliatives and the meeting agreed that whatever palliatives were available following the extension of the lockdown will also be re-distributed through the organs and structures of the religious organisations.

 
The meeting was called at the behest of the religious leaders who requested for the re-opening of places of worship in the FCT, following pressure from their followers.

 
Also at the meeting were the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary of the FCTA, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, the Acting Secretary of the health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr Mohammed Kawu and other leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities in the FCT.

Post COVID-19: I Foresees Brighter Future For Football-Abia Warriors Sporting Director

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Post COVID-19: I Foresees Brighter Future For Football-Abia Warriors Sporting Director

Joel Ajayi

The Sporting Director of one of the Nigeria Premier football League NPFL giants, Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia Mr. Patrick Ngwaogu has opined that the post pandemic COVID-19 period will augur well for football in Nigeria and the world in general.

Ngwaogu who was a Guest in an NTA network sports program on Tuesday said that the world has come to appreciate the important role Football plays in the society.

He said that he is for seeing a situation where the corporate bodies will embrace the sponsorship of football activities to launch themselves back to reckoning in global economy immediately after the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Ngwaogu who is also a Journalist, advised the organizers of the game to fully prepare themselves to embrace the boost that will follow the pandemic.

The former FCT FA Vice Chairman said he is yet to come to terms on how some of the new guidelines FIFA released recently will work effectively in our local leagues “increasing the team to 23 players per match is extra logistics on the clubs, quarantining the players before match, and traveling with two buses amounts to extra cost on the teams. Teams that are not financially buoyant will find it difficult to cope. Unless, FIFA would have to review some of the rules before the game will restart here”.

He insisted that his team Abia Warriors is ever ready to resume immediately the game of football returns to Nigeria “we are very much in touch with our players.

“The technical crew prepares weekly training programs for the players, and we monitor them to ensure that they follow it to the latter, so that they will be fit whenever the league will resume.

“Not only that, we advised them to keep to all the precautionary measures outlined by the Federal Government to ensure that they are healthy and safe, because Football is only for the healthy” he concluded.

Reinstates Sacked Workers Now, House Of Reps Tells WRPC

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The Nigeria House of Representatives has instructed the Warri Refining and Petro-Chemical Company (WRPC) to as matter urgency reinstate 0ver 300 sacked casual workers in the organization.

Green chamber made this known at plenary on Tuesday in Abuja, as part of its resolutions after a member.

Hon. Thomas Eveyitomi moved a motion that the sack of the over 300 workers be looked into.

Eveyitomi noted that the workers were laid off in spite of the Federal Government’s directives that no government agency or private establishment should sack or lay off any of its staff at a time when the world is battling a pandemic.

According to him, all the affected persons are indigenes of the host communities where the Refinery is located, which is made up of Itsekiri and Urhobo communities.

Speaking further, Hon Eveyitomi noted that sometime in 2019, Hon. Ben Bakpa had presented a petition to the House on behalf of the host communities seeking, amongst other things, a de-casualisation of the employment status of indigenous workers with the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company.

Also according to him, without respect for the House committee on public petitions, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation went ahead to recruit 1,050 graduate trainees against the resolution and recommendations of the committee.

“This recruitment did not reflect the principles of fairness as enshrined in Section 28(2) of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act which provides inter alia that “the Board shall ensure that the operator or project promoter maintains a reasonable number of personnel from areas it has significant operation,” he said.

Hon. Eveyitomi added that the WRPC went ahead to lay off hundreds of its staff, despite the fact that the casualisation of the status of the workers and the non-concession to the host communities in the recent recruitment of graduate trainees is a matter that was still before the House committee on public petitions and going against the government’s directives.

He, therefore, noted that if the House does not step in immediately to arrest the situation, there may likely be a breakdown of law and order and interruption of the smooth operations of the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company and its subsidiaries.

Consequently, the House reached a resolution to direct the NNPC and management of the WRPC to reinstate the over 300 persons affected by their actions pending the investigation by the House committee on public petitions.

Secondly, it said it would mandate its Committee on Petroleum Down Stream to carry out a forensic investigation into the recent recruitment of graduate trainees by the NNPC with a view to determining how many persons were recruited from the various host communities.

Obaseki’s re-run project: Chairman charges co-ordinators to work with state representatives

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Albert Akota

The Chairman of the Godwin Obaseki re-run project, Chief Nathaniel Momoh has charged the eighteen LGA Co-ordinators here in Abuja to work in harmony with state local government co-ordinators and ward officials at home for the return of Godwin Obaseki in the forthcoming Edo state gubernatorial election.

Momoh who stated this during the maiden meeting of the Zonal Co-ordinators and the eighteen LGA co-ordinators at it’s secretariat in Guzape District of Abuja, said the event was called to map out strategies, intimate co-ordinators, zonal co-ordinators, stakeholders as well set up various committees that will carry out necessary plans for Godwin Obaseki re-run project.

He said co-ordinators will be mobilise to Edo state to work with state local government co-ordinators and ward officials at the grassroot level to achieve the primary aims and objectives of the governor’s mandate.

He said Obaseki has performed beautifully well in his first tenure as governor of Edo State and we need to all come together to work for his re-election by mobilising Edo sons and daughters resident in Abuja and in the State with strategies and structures without confrontations.

“We must strategise and be fully on ground both in the FCT and at our various local governments at home. Our primary responsibility is to ensure that we all get Edo Sons and Daughters to vote for Governor Godwin Obaseki.

“Let’s me tell you, I might not be the best person here to lead but somebody must lead others that was what prompted me to this ideas.

“We must educate our people in the languages they will understand because the vote of our people for Obaseki must count, we will see how to help our people in relocating their voter cards to their various polling centre to have the require numbers,” Chief enthused.

Speaking earlier, Edo North Senatorial Co-ordinator who doubles as moderator of the meeting, Barr. Peter Dokpesi commended Chief Momoh for providing a befitting edifice to be use as secretariat for the project and urged the co-ordinators to liaise with their various state co-ordinators and wards officials for the re-run mandate.

Also speaking at the event, Edo Central Senatorial co-ordinator, Engr Emmanuel Obibhunun said the co-ordinators were carefully selected for the project with integrity and good characters, he implored them not to consider the position as avenue to make money but rather to serve for the development of the state as well betterment of all.

The high-light of the meeting was constitution of three Standing Committees which include, media and publicity committee; contact and mobilisation committee; research and development committee.