Friday, March 22, 2019

Video - Nigeria grapples with water shortage

It's estimated that about 69 million people in Nigeria lack access to clean water. That's according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics. Worst affected are said to be the rural communities in northern Nigeria.

#ThisIsMyHustle trending in Nigeria

A hashtag called #ThisIsMyHustle started trending in Nigeria in mid-March after Sadiq Abubakar, 30, a small-business owner from Abuja, organized a Twitter chat for his entrepreneur friends.

"I said, 'Let's do a hashtag and let the world know what we do,' " he says. "Young Nigerians are very determined to succeed. What we hear about young Nigerian people is that we are lazy. But we are hardworking. We want to make it."

He was just expecting a couple of dozen people in his network to tweet — but within an hour, he says, the hashtag went viral in Nigeria, prompting thousands of responses.People started sharing posts that promoted not just their side hustles but also their main gigs, from coding to baking to making art.

The hashtag has garnered the praise of Bashir Ahmad, the personal assistant of President Muhammadu Buhari, who wrote on Twitter: "Spent over an hour reading every tweet under #ThisIsMyHustle hashtag, every single tweet made me happy genuinely ... I am super proud of you all."

Jobs are hard to come by in Nigeria, says Abubakar, so many people have to "hustle" to earn money — starting their own businesses or finding side jobs to supplement their main income. According to Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in the country was at 23 percent as of the third quarter of 2018.

"Young people finish school and then are not able to find a job," he says. "So they start selling anything they can to make an income. They don't want to burden their parents."

Abubakar knows what that's like. He graduated from the University of Leeds in the U.K. in 2013 with an MBA but says he has not been able to find a white-collar job in his homeland.

So he decided to start his own company. In 2014, he launched Beta Business Forum, which helps small-business owners with marketing and sales. He's also earning money as a real estate agent and a farmer. And he plants cash crops like sorghum and corn.

"This hashtag actually opened my eyes. I had no idea that there were this many Nigerians hustling out there," he adds.

A number of the tweets are about agriculture, which has been hard to sell to youth in sub-Saharan Africa as a viable career.

"Young people [in Africa] face particular barriers that often lead to skepticism about farming as a viable future," wrote Kanayo F. Nwanze, former president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, in 2018. "Youth and other marginalized groups do not see farming as a business, as an economic enterprise."

Sadiq Muhammed Kabir, 24, runs his own import-export business selling ginger root in Kaduna. He was proud to share photos of his work on #ThisIsMyHustle. "Most young people in my country don't really see [farming] as something good," he says. "They forget that farming is very, very lucrative."

Abubakar says he has received a lot of positive feedback over the last few days from business owners who have been tweeting on the hashtag. "They're telling me that they have been getting more clients," he says.

Kabir says that his post has brought in some business too. After he posted his tweet, he says, "my life has never been the same. I got buyers around the world, like Canada, Dubai, even North America."

As with many other hashtag campaigns, some people on Twitter had hilarious responses to the tweets.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Video - Nigeria election outcome puts hopes for democracy in doubt

Nigeria's general election may have ended weeks ago but the outcome has left many wondering if the country's democracy is growing at all. More than half of the newly elected members of parliament have no previous legislative experience. That has left many Nigerians worried about their performance.

Bill Clinton praises 8-year old Nigerian chess prodigy seeking refugee status in the U.S.

Tani, an eight-year-old Nigerian chess champion in New York, may be living in the United States as an immigrant but he could be meeting a former American president soon.

When the story of his witty exploits was shared on Twitter, the 42nd US president Bill Clinton reacted to the fact Tani had defied all odds to win his category at the New York State chess championship.

Here is a youngster who was introduced to the game a little over a year ago. “Refugees enrich our nation and talent is universal, even if opportunity is not,” the president wrote.

“This story made me smile. Tanitoluwa, you exemplify a winning spirit – in chess and in life. And kudos to your hardworking parents. You all should stop by my office in Harlem; I’d love to meet you,” he added.

Incidentally, Tani’s three-hour weekly chess practice is in Harlem whiles he practices more often on his father’s laptop.

Full name, Tanitoluwa Adewumi, the chess whiz kid, has been widely covered by international media and local portals back home. His story was first broken by a New York Times, NYT, columnist, Nicolas Kristof.

Tani, his brother and mother currently live in a New York City homeless shelter as immigrants awaiting refugee status. Their next hearing is slated for later this year.

The Adewumis – whose name denote they hail from Nigeria’s southwest according to reports arrived in the United States in 2017 having escaped Boko Haram insurgency – meaning, they must have been living in the northeast, be it Borno, Adamawa or Yobe states.

Mr Adewumi, works as a licensed real estate salesman and doubles as an Uber driver as his wife and sons await asylum request hearing scheduled for August.

The NYT piece that set Tani’s story on a media blitz was achieved after an interview with the family at their shelter in Manhattan. “I want to be the young grandmaster,” Tani told Kristof.

Whiles his biggest achievement yet is as New York State Primary Chess Champion (Top Players K – 3rd Grade), he has won a handful of trophies playing the game.

His mother Oluwatoyin Adewumi was a pillar in his love for chess having backed him in the early stages when he expressed interest in a game that was entirely new to him. Her appeal to Tani’s programme patron had his fees waived.

His patron and tutor spoke highly about Tani’s abilities and grasp of the game. Shawn Martinez his tutor said, “He is so driven. He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better.”

A GoFundMetext page set up by NYT readers has far exceeded the target set. As at midday March 20 (GMT), 3,588 contributors had raised $188,253 despite the initial goal being $50,000.

Africa News

Nigeria selling stakes in joint oil assets in order to boost coffers

Nigeria plans to cut its stake in joint oil ventures with multinational oil companies to 40 percent this year, its budget minister said, as the country seeks to boost revenue to grow an economy recovering from recession.

Oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil, operate in Nigeria through joint ventures with the state-owned NNPC.

NNPC owns 55 percent stake in its joint venture with Shell and 60 percent stakes with others.

The government has considered reducing its majority stakes in these joint ventures for more than a decade but was under little pressure as higher oil prices boosted state coffers.

Budgets under Muhammadu Buhari, who starts a second term in May, have been Nigeria’s largest ever and the government has been seeking to boost revenue after it emerged from a 2016 recession two years ago.

Budget Minister, Udoma Udo Udoma, said the government will intensify efforts to improve its finances including the “immediate commencement of the restructuring of the joint venture oil assets so as to reduce government shareholding to 40 percent,” he said in a statement.

He added during a presentation to lawmakers that Buhari wanted the oil restructuring completed this year.

Buhari won re-election last month for another four years, defeating his pro-business rival Atiku Abubakar, who had touted selling the state-owned NNPC as one of his key reform policy.

In 2017, the debt office said the government wanted to raise 710 billion naira ($2.32 billion) via restructuring its equity in joint venture oil assets and that it had captured the proposals in the 2018 budget.

In the past, Nigeria has held talks with oil companies regarding financing agreements for joint ventures after it struggled to fund its portion of such partnerships through cash calls which have often been delayed in parliament.

The government has asked the petroleum regulator to collect past-due oil license charges and royalties, within three months.

The country has also ordered oil majors to pay nearly $20 billion in taxes it says are owed to local states.

Buhari has presented an 8.83 trillion naira budget for 2019, laying out plans to drive growth. He has directed NNPC to take measures to achieve the targeted oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day this year, the minister said. ($1 = 306.3000 naira) (Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)