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Op Ed

OPINION: The True Story Of Nigeria – By Dr Olu Agunloye

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Nigeria

The trending video of fake cement blocks, courtesy: Editor Abashi Luka, has caught my attention. The video shows how newly delivered blocks were crumbling at site.

The word “fake” is appropriate here because the “concrete” blocks were produced to conceal their defects in order to deceive or to trick the consumer and to extort his money, not minding the consequences for the consumer.

This tells the story of where we are now in this our country. Most things are fake and we are all being exploited, stressed and oppressed.

In fact, the cement block faking is because of the substandard way in which it has been prepared. This could be deliberate by well-trained but fraudulent workers or by an act of incompetent or nonchalant workers.

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There is no difference anyway as the results is same, substandard product meant to deceive and extort and can lead to destruction.

In truth, it was not entirely like this before. When I set out to build my only two houses respectively in Erusu-Akoko and Ibadan in the late 1980s, the block makers at these two far apart locations tested the quality of the blocks by dropping them to assure you that they will not break.

There were some poor block makers then, but they were not commonplace.

Now, the degree of faking and the varieties of fake products or fake circumstances have increased exponentially over the years and of course, to the grave detriment of our people and our country.

There have been cases of fake drugs, fake fuel, fake tyres, fake roads, fake bridges, fake water, fake certificates, fake news, fake clerics, fake political Manifestos, fake taxes, fake leaderships, fake legislation, fake Constitutions, and fake governments.

Faking is a manifestation of injustice. It is usually accompanied by or associated with extortion, exploitation or oppression or subjugation and always leads to the collapse of the house or (infra)structure and eventual breakdown in social order, which in turn gives rise to widespread insecurity, violent unrests and chaos.

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These breed agitations for self-determination, self-government and separationist moves and may end in unwarranted anarchy or undesired civil war.

This is why, as a country, we need to pause and take a look at a “Plan B” to consider rebuilding a new model of Nigeria based on principles of social justice to evolve a homegrown confederation of nations within Nigeria where all regions or zones have equal opportunities for economic growth and sustainable economic development and where access to resources, equity, participation, diversity, and human rights are guaranteed for everyone and all.

Enough of bickering, provocations, exploitation, bloodletting and war mongering. Certainly, enough of wringing of hands or waiting for divine solutions.

Arise, let’s embrace a National Discourse to restructure and remodel.

Source: Theunionnigeria.com

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Op Ed

Joe Igbokwe: When It’s A Crime To Love Buhari, Nigeria And Igbo Land – by Femi Adesina

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There are millions of us round the country who follow Muhammadu Buhari passionately. Some got enlisted in 1984 when the man was military head of state. Others joined along the line as the principal was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the Gen Sani Abacha years, or when he joined partisan politics in 2002, ran for President a year later, also in 2007, 2011, and 2015, when he eventually coasted to power.

Over the years, some of the Buharists (as we are called), have fallen off, and even joined the opposition. Yet some others have stood sturdy, steady, resolute, as constant as the Northern Star. Stand up and take a bow, Engineer Joe Igbokwe, the man from Nnewi, in Anambra State.

President Buhari is possibly the most credible politician we have seen in the country in contemporary times, with a magnetic pull that draws people to him in droves. That was the point I was making last week in this column, but which an illiterate journalist with an online medium twisted to say I claimed Buhari was better than Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano etal. He succeeded in his mission: generating hateful comments against me, but I leave him to God. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God to answer for what we have done, including all forms of lie against a fellow man. Our profession, or political and ethnic affiliations would no longer matter then.

We were talking of Joe Igbokwe before the brief diversion. Yes, this man loves Buhari to bits. He loves Nigeria, and he loves his native Igbo land. And you know what? That is now a crime in our country. Igbokwe’s life has been severely and severally threatened, his family hounded, and on October 3 this year, his county home in Nnewi was set on fire.

Igbokwe is a nationalist. His education, primary, secondary and even university he had in the Southeast. But since he got posted for national service in Ogun State in 1985, he had remained in the Southwest, identifying with the people, their politics, their ways of life, while not repudiating his love for his roots in Nnewi, and the Southeast generally. No wonder he is popularly called Agbalanze, after that Onitsha cultural association.

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Op Ed

Rethinking 2023 in the light of Good Governance

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Good governance

2023 is by the corner and as expected, certain assumptions have arisen regarding the suitability of aspirants for the coveted seat of the Governor.

What many have failed to consider in the ensuing agitations for who succeeds the current Governor is that government is a vehicle through which democracy is delivered to the people. And so, those who desire public offices must have been tested and trusted to deliver democracy dividends to the people.

Moreover, given the tempo of infrastructural and economic developments established by the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, only a leader with a foresight equal to that of the present administration will effectively fit into the shoes which will be left behind.

As such, the need to look critically before leaping becomes imperative.

Among the long line of contenders for the governorship race is Sen. Effiong Bob who has been in public affairs from time immemorial.

His credentials indicate an age-long experience in governance which beats that of every other aspirant, and his bevy of connections and intellectual intelligence makes him a top preferred choice for the office.

Sen. Bob is able and ready to serve conscientiously, and should be given the mandate to do so.

Source: Thebrigdenewsonline

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Business

Schools must lay the foundations to bridge Africa’s skills gap

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Dangote Refinery

As African businesses, including my own, seek to expand and boost prosperity across the continent, we face a hurdle that we and our governments must do more to overcome. The majority of those entering the workforce lack the skills required to meet the changing needs of the global economy.

Up to 20m increasingly well-educated young people are set to join Africa’s labour force every year for the coming three decades. As the World Economic Forum has argued, ensuring we have a strong ecosystem to offer quality jobs — and the skills to match — will be imperative if we are to fully leverage this demographic dividend.

By 2030, about a quarter of the world’s population under the age of 25 will be in or from Africa. So the economic prospects not only of Africa but of the world depend on the skills, capabilities and productivity of our youth.

Employers, including Dangote Group, need employees with a mix of strong cognitive and problem-solving capabilities, soft skills and 21st-century — often digital — skills. Yet there is a large gap in all three characteristics.

In a 2019 survey by PwC, 97 per cent of African chief executives said the lack of skills was affecting their organisations’ growth and profitability. We believe Africa will drive the future of the global economy, but if our youth do not have the skills, then how can they do so? This is one of the biggest problems facing African companies.

For Dangote, bridging the gap requires spending extra time, effort and financing on training and upskilling staff, building recruitment pipelines with investments in colleges and, in some cases, hiring from outside the continent. Such extra costs hinder the ability of the private sector and the economy to grow and diversify.

We have been providing vocational training for young Nigerians for a long time. We started the Dangote Academy in 2009 in our Obajana cement plant, where we train more than 2,000 technicians every year. More recently, in partnership with the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering (VDMA) and its Foundation for Young Talent, we have launched a technical training programme in engineering. Many businesses are taking similar steps, investing millions of dollars a year.

But relying on companies and postsecondary training programmes to address the skills gap is not enough. The problems begin earlier in the education system, and investments must go beyond upskilling adults. Government must take a larger role. Quality education relies on an extensive, interlinked, robust infrastructure and ecosystem.

Across Africa, nine out of 10 children do not achieve basic reading and numeracy skills by the age of 10, which creates wide-ranging ripples. A third of students do not complete primary school, more than half do not finish lower secondary school and almost 90 per cent do not make it to higher education. Local conflicts and wider insecurity in parts of Africa, with the attendant mass displacement, further reduces access. The pandemic has closed schools and affected families’ abilities to pay for education. This no doubt has led to an increase in the number of children out of school, estimated at about 15m in Nigeria.

Skills acquired early in primary school form the foundation for later learning and are fundamental to a productive, capable workforce and a strong economy

A large proportion of job applicants not only lack basic qualifications but also struggle with simple computation and comprehension. This hinders their ability to take up jobs we are desperate to offer and impedes those already in employment. Skills acquired early in primary school form the foundation for later learning and are fundamental to a productive, capable workforce and a strong economy. Gaining digital skills, or more rudimentary technical and vocational qualifications, is harder without basic learning.

Governments and business together need to look to the future and set policies and plans to focus on foundational learning. Investing in these basic fundamental skills would allow African countries to enhance productivity, promote greater inclusion and build a workforce that can adapt to the markets of the future and drive prosperity for all.

Policymakers and business should provide retraining and upskilling to the existing workforce, and offer these in areas with vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. They should work together to ensure investments are made in high-quality and effective interventions.

Governments and the private sector must also increase their investments in key infrastructure with an eye on the effects on education, from power to communication, water supply and housing, research and social amenities, and not discriminate by gender or disability. The private sector must give governments clear indicators of future work needs so schools can adapt. There must be increased focus on and investment in foundational literacy and numeracy so students can acquire the skills fundamental to employability.

Together, the public and private sectors have a strong responsibility to accelerate progress. They must work in partnership, make fixing the education crisis a top priority and commit to acting fast. Failure to do so risks perpetuating low productivity, instability in the workforce and poor socio-economic outcomes. Successful actions will mean greater prosperity for future generations, and are the only path to ensure a vibrant, prosperous, productive Africa.

Source: FT

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