Thursday, November 15, 2018

Video - Nigeria seeks extradition of former Oil Minister

Nigeria's Anti-graft agency, the EFCC says it is starting a process to extradite former Petroleum minister Diezani Alison Madueke from the UK. Madueke is accused of money laundering and stealing huge sums of petroleum money while in office.

2019 Forbes Under 30 list includes eight Nigerians

Eight Nigerians have been listed, among other global influencers, in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Forbes 30 under 30 is a set of lists issued annually by Forbes magazine and some of its regional editions to recognise business and industry figures.

This year, the list featured 300 trailblazers from 20 industries with average age of 26.8.

Over 55 per cent of them are founders or co-founders.

Also, 19 per cent of them include immigrants from 57 countries, and 38 of them identify as first generation Americans.

Nigerians who made the list include Taofeek Abijako, Kayode Ojo, Obi Omile Jr, Adegoke Olubusi, Tito Ovia, Dimeji Sofowora, Olaoluwa Osuntokun and Emmanuel Acho.

Taofeek Abijako is a 20-year-old designer who started his men's streetwear brand when he was a high school teenager.

Kayode Ojo is a 28-year-old photographer who has had solo shows in Paris, Berlin, New York and Dallas.

Communication expert, Obi Omile Jr. is the co-founder of the Cut, a technology platform that allows users and barbers to schedule and manage appointments.

Meanwhile, Adegoke Olubusi, 25, Tito Ovia, 25, and Dimeji Sofowora, 26 are founders of Helium Health a platform used by 5,000 doctors, with data from 500,000 patients across West Africa.

Olaoluwa Osuntokun, 25, is the co-founder of Lighting Labs which has raised $2.5 million to turn bitcoin into a more viable form of payment by making smaller transactions more cost-effective.

Also, Emmanuel Acho, 28, serves as the youngest national football analyst for ESPN and runs a charity that has built a hospital in Nigeria.

NAN reports that the list also features Ghanaian, Shadrack Frimpong, who founded Cocoa360, a 'farm-for-impact' model that uses revenues from community cocoa farms to fund educational and healthcare services.

International musicians Post Malone, 23, 21 Savage, 26, photographer Tyler Mitchell, 23 who photographed Beyonce for her Vogue September 2018 cover, and actor Storm Reid, 15 made the list.

NAN also reports that the 2019 class have raised over one billion dollars in funding and work an average of 67 hours per week.

Seventy-seven per cent of honorees consider being under the age of 30 an advantage in their career, 89 per cent are optimistic about the U.S. economy for startups,

Thirty-one per cent decided what they wanted to do for a career during university, 22 per cent decided as a child, and 10 per cent are still deciding.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Video - Nigerian workers set to benefit from minimum wage increase

The lowest-paid Nigerian worker could benefit from a 66 percent pay rise should lawmakers approve the controversial tripartite committee report on the minimum wage. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam takes a look at what a higher salary means to a minimum-wage earner, as well as the overall impact of the policy on the economy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Video - China offers Nigeria's internally displaced persons relief items

The Chinese Government has donated relief items worth sixteen thousand dollars to internally displaced persons in Jos, Plateau State, North Central Nigeria. The Chinese Embassy, in collaboration with the Civil-Military Relief Initiative and the Nigeria Army, is providing the items worth sixteen thousand dollars to an IDP camp in Plateau. Violent conflicts between nomadic herders and farmers in North Central Nigeria has displaced about forty thousand people between June and October. Most of the displaced persons are living in deplorable conditions drawing the attention of the Chinese embassy in Nigeria.

Monday, November 12, 2018

President Buhari declares state of emergency in water sector

In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared the country's water supply crisis a state of emergency. He made the declaration at the launch of an action plan to revitalize water supplies, sanitation and hygiene.

Video - Baseball in Nigeria

A local baseball academy based in Nigeria's capital Abuja, is working hard to take the sport to greater heights. Despite a lack of facilities for the sport in the country, the academy is raising young players between the ages of 6 and 18 years in the hope that they will become future talents for Nigeria.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Video - Prince Charles speaks Pidgin English during speech in Nigeria

Prince Charles broke into Pidgin while delivering a speech in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday. The Prince of Wales said it was particularly special to be in Lagos after nearly 30 years, saying the only words to describe it were '"God don butter my bread", a term in Pidgin meaning "God has blessed me.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Video - Nigeria labour unions call off nationwide industrial action

Nigeria's organized labour unions have called off the nationwide industrial action meant to press home workers' demand for a new national minimum wage. The National Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress says all parties have agreed on an $83 minimum wage deal.

Nigeria will benefit from Google Artificial Intelligence lab in Ghana

By Prince Osuagwu (Hi-tech Editor) reporting from Netherlands Amsterdam—Head Google AI, Ghana, Moustapha Cisse, yesterday revealed that there are ongoing plans to see that Artificial Intelligence, AI, helps in managing Nigerian and other African economies, particularly in the areas of flood, disaster management, technological inn ovations, and health among others.

The Senegalese born Research Scientist, made the revelation at the Google Making AI event in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

According to him, a lot of collaborations between Google and some higher institutions of learning, Research centres and some professors in Nigeria are ongoing and will help drive down the benefits of AI and other new technologies to the country. 

He said although Google is building an AI lab in Ghana, Nigeria was also in pole position to benefit because science and technology do not create barriers. 

He advised African countries to design a common collaborative template so that the continent doesn’t play catch up with the wave of technogical innovations sweeping across the globe. 

He said: “There are a lot of Google tech initiatives in Africa, from Nigeria to Ghana and the rest, partnerships and collaborations are needed to exploit potentials” Reacting to the development, National Coordinator, Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Dr Amina Sambo- Magaji who also participated at the forum, said government was ready to absorb the outcome of the collaborations and use same for common good of Nigerians. She said: “The National Information Technology Development agency is developing technology hubs in collaboration with the NSIO, where over 80 digital job creation centres are annually deployed across the country. 

“NITDA has empowered its two subsidiaries, Office for the Nigerian Content (ONC) and Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) to ensure the enforcement of the local content policy and create an enabling environment for the Nigerian Technology Entrepreneurship ecosystem respectively.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The 'Mona Lisa' of Nigeria returns back home

The Nigerian Mona Lisa, a painting lost for more than 40 years and found in a London flat in February, is being exhibited in Nigeria for the first time since it disappeared.

"Tutu", an art work by Nigeria's best-known modern artist, Ben Enwonwu, was painted in 1974. It appeared at an art show in Lagos the following year, but its whereabouts after that were unknown, until it re-surfaced in north London.

The owners - who wished to remain anonymous - had called in Giles Peppiatt, an expert in modern and contemporary African art at the London auction house Bonhams, to identify their painting. He recognized Enwonwu's portrait.

"It was discovered by myself on a pretty routine valuation call to look at a work by Ben Enwonwu," said Giles Peppiatt, director of contemporary African art at Bonhams. "I didn't know what I was going to see. I turned up, and it was this amazing painting. We'd had no inkling 'Tutu' was there."

How it got there remains a bit of a mystery, Peppiatt said.

"All the family that owned it know is that it was owned by their father, who had business interests in Nigeria. He traveled and picked it up in the late or mid-70s."

The family put the portrait up for sale, and it was auctioned for 1.2 million pounds ($1.57 million) in February to an anonymous buyer. The sale made it the highest-valued work of Nigerian modern art sold at auction.

"Tutu" was loaned to the Art X Lagos fair, held from Friday to Sunday, by Access Bank, the organizers said in a statement. Peppiatt said Access arranged the loan but is not the painting's owner.

"'Tutu' is referred to as the African 'Mona Lisa' by virtue of this disappearance and re-emergence, and it is the first work of a modern Nigerian artist to sell for over a million pounds," said Tokini Peterside, the art fair's founder.

The original Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, eventually took it to Italy, where it was recovered and in 1914 returned to the Louvre.

The Nigerian painting is a portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi, a grand-daughter of a traditional ruler from the Yoruba ethnic group. It holds special significance in Nigeria as a symbol of national reconciliation after the 1967-70 Biafran War.

Enwonwu belonged to the Igbo ethnic group, the largest in the southeastern region of Nigeria, which had tried to secede under the name of Biafra. The Yoruba, whose homeland is in the southwest, were mostly on the opposing side in the war.

Enwonwu painted three versions of the portrait. One is in a private collection in Lagos, while Peppiatt is hunting the third in Washington D.C., the expert said. Prints first made in the 1970s have been in circulation ever since and the images are familiar to many Nigerians. Enwonwu died in 1994. ($1 = 0.7649 pounds)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Nigeria reaches agreement with Labor union's 66% minimum wage demand

Nigeria’s biggest labor union reached an agreement with the government to increase the minimum wage by 66 percent, adding to inflationary pressures and reducing state funds for infrastructure.

The Nigeria Labour Congress called off its threat to hold a nationwide strike from Tuesday in the wake of the accord, spokesman Benson Upah said by phone from Abuja, the capital. A report on the agreement will be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday afternoon.

The accord comes before Buhari seeks a second term in presidential elections scheduled for February.
Raising the minimum wage to 30,000 naira ($83) a month adds to inflation pressures at a time when the government is being urged to stop capping the cost of gasoline and curb spending on subsidies. Price-growth, which has been above the authorities target of 6 percent to 9 percent for more than three years, has led the central bank to keep the benchmark interest rate at a record high of 14 percent since July 2016.

Buhari has already set aside 160 billion naira to provide for wage increases next year. That will weigh on the state’s ability to sustain its pledge of increasing investment in roads, ports and power that’s needed to spur growth, according to analysts including Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based risk advisory SBM Intelligence.

“An increase in the minimum wage may provide a temporary lift to spending, but as we saw in 2011, it rarely brings about a sustained improvement in the economy,” said Razia Khan, head of macroeconomic research at Standard Chartered Bank Plc. “If anything, the risk is that it will serve as an additional drag on public finances.”

Monday, November 5, 2018

Video - UN condemns recent violence on Borno communities in Nigeria

The United Nations has condemned an attack on villagers in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram militants. The spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke appealed to the authorities to ensure the safety of vulnerable communities. On Wednesday, Boko Haram attacked several villages in Maiduguri, killing at least 15 people.

Video - Nigerian labour unions threaten strike reject $62 minimum wage offer

Nigerian labour unions have rejected the 62-dollar minimum wage offer by a forum of governors and have threatened to launch an indefinite strike next week. The current minimum wage is 18-dollars a month. Governors are worried about the impact a higher offer could have on the budget.

Trump's words used to defend killing of protesters by military in Nigeria

The Nigerian army appears to have used the words of President Trump to justify the killing of Islamic protesters.

On Friday (Nov. 2), the Nigerian army's official Twitter account tweeted a snippet of Trump's Thursday (Nov. 1) speech on immigration where he stated that the U.S. military should consider migrants throwing rocks as they would a rifle. The Nigerian army then went on to explain that they released the video to say "if President Trump can say rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?"

This came in response to growing scrutiny from human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, who've criticized the Nigerian government for its "horrific use of excessive force" when dealing with Muslim protestors. Days prior to the tweet, the Nigerian army fired bullets and tear gas into a crowd of Shai Muslims killing six protestors. This is not the first time conflicts between demonstrators — who routinely take to the streets to protest the imprisonment of Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky — and armed forces have turned deadly.

"This violent crackdown on IMN protesters is unjustified and unacceptable," Amnesty International Nigerian Country Director, Osai Ojigho, said of the attacks. "They were perfectly within their rights to hold a religious procession and protest and there was no evidence they posed an imminent threat to life."

However, Trump is popular in Nigeria's Christian population for his talks against Islamic extremism. Using his controversial speech to justify their persecution of the IMN may help further sway the Nigerian popular opinion and invalidate the authority of Amnesty International.

The White House has yet to issue a response to the use of the president's comments.

Nigeria arrests 400 Shia Muslims after deadly clashes

Using technology to tackle corruption in Nigeria

In 2012, Nigeria witnessed the worst flood in nearly five decades. Two million people were displaced and around 363 killed. Crops, homes, and entire communities were destroyed.

The central government swung into action and disbursed around $110m to affected states in October that year. Additional funding flowed from a public-private relief fund and the international community, including Canada, the European Commission, Japan, Norway and Sweden.

Back in Lagos, the team at BudgIT, a civil society organisation founded in 2011, watched closely. In September 2013, it sent a small research team to tour 12 affected states for a period of five months to find out whether the funds released were put to good use.

"We discovered that these funds went into the wrong hands and people never benefited," says Uadamen Ilevbaoje, who was part of the team.

Several decades of corruption have slowed progress in Nigeria, which is the largest oil producer in Africa. Public funds allocated for projects and services often go unaccounted for; mismanagement and corruption have fuelled inequality and poverty.

By the end of May, Nigeria became host to the world's largest population of people in extreme poverty with some 87 million in crisis, overtaking India's 73 million.

Across the country, but especially in remote areas, abandoned projects dot the landscape.

Citizens live without basic amenities like roads, housing, schools, potable water, hospitals and sanitation facilities.

In Maito village, in central Nigeria's Niger state, residents continue to use a dilapidated health centre with a roof covered by bats, despite the National Primary Health Care Development Agency having approved 22 million nairas ($60,600) for a better facility.

In the rural village of Akere, in the southwestern state of Ogun, schoolchildren learn under the shade of a tree and sit on bare floors in overcrowded classrooms, despite funding of $82,000 provided for refurbishment.

According to a UN report, roughly $4.6bn is spent on bribes in Nigeria each year.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission reported that 60 percent of corruption cases in the country take place in procurement.

Poor transparency and accountability have allowed corruption to flourish, and a few civil society groups are trying to change the opaque environment.

Pressuring the government

In June 2014, BudgIT started the Tracka initiative to follow public projects and help communities ask serious questions that would enhance efficiency.

Tracka staff extract capital projects from the budget and design a pamphlet containing the project title, amount and phone number of public officials for each of the 22 states where it operates.

Armed with these details, tracking officers who have been recruited and trained visit the communities, hold town hall meetings with communities and help them ask government agencies and legislatures to complete projects which have either been abandoned or yet to start.

Tracking officers also take photos and upload them on Twitter and Facebook, adding pressure on government ministries to act transparently.

Through its work, Tracka was able to speed up the construction of a school in Iwoye Ilogbo in Ogun state, a primary healthcare centre in Delta state and boreholes in Edo and Anambra states.

In addition to Tracka, there is the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), which is working to promote citizen participation in governance.

It uses radio and social media to monitor public procurement processes and push for greater access to information on public projects following the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in 2011.

"As soon as the FOI Act was passed, we jumped on it and began to use the provisions of the law to advocate and litigate for improved disclosure of public information," said Nkem Ilo, head of PPDC.

"With more use of the FOI, we began to receive more responses to our requests, which meant the availability of datasets."

In 2015, using data acquired from procuring entities over the years, PPDC worked with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and the School of Media and Communication at the Lagos-based Pan-Atlantic University to develop a web-based platform known as Budeshi, which means "open it" in the Hausa language.

Budeshi links budget and procurement data to public projects in a structured format, opening up publicly funded services for scrutiny.

Citizens can now look up public services by searching for the procuring entity - usually government ministries and agencies - as well as the project title, the state where the initiative is being implemented, or the year, and even pick from a list of contractors.

So far, Budeshi has data on 6,571 contracts in Nigeria from more than 100 public institutions. Budeshi is now fully deployed in Uganda and plans to start the platform in Kenya and Malawi are under way.

Every year, on the International Right to Know Day, September 28,- PPDC ranks government ministries, departments and agencies based on their responses to freedom of information requests mostly on public expenditure; the corporate affairs commission is currently first.

Much of the funding for these organisations comes from institutional and private donors, including the UK Department for International Development, the MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar network, Indigo Trust and National Endowment for Democracy.

Hamza Lawal, a tech-savvy activist, started the Follow the Money campaign in June 2012, following the deaths of hundreds of children from lead poisoning in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara.

Though several villages had been cleaned up by late 2012, one - Bagega - caught Lawal's attention because, by January 2013, money released still hadn't reached the victims.

Using the hashtag #SaveBagega, the campaign was able to get clean-up operations started in the village, helping hundreds of children to receive care.

In December 2013, Lawal started a full-fledged movement known as Connected Development (CODE) with Follow the Money. With a team of nearly 40 people and community reporters in Nigeria 36 states, CODE's campaigns are driven by hashtags connecting the name of community and the project that needs to be tracked.

"The idea of using hashtags is to be able to document projects and track them on social media," said 31-year-old Lawal, now the CEO of CODE, "and this repository would be online so that other young people can learn from it."

Follow the Money now has over 2,000 members and this year expanded to Kenya and The Gambia. Last year, it won the One Africa award which came with $100,000 to support their work.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP, meanwhile, which is concerned with promoting transparency and accountability in government, including public expenditure.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, SERAP requests information on contracts awards and has even sued ministries and agencies that refuse to release information.

Through a partnership with BudgIT, it was able to get the public procurement agency in Lagos to make available the Lagos State Procurement Journal from 2012 to date.

SERAP has been published several reports on health, education, electricity and water sectors.

It has also partnered with CODE and the Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, which was started in 2016 to help citizens track and report development projects in their communities.

Some citizens are happy that things are changing, albeit slowly.

"Tracka, Udeme and Budeshi are checking public expenditure which over the years have been full of excesses, misappropriation and greed by inflation of contracts," says Olajide Oluwaseun, an architect in Lagos.

"These initiatives are the future for a good governance drive and I appreciate they all do in this risky political space. We need and must build an alliance, not a political party, an alliance of voices that want and need to be heard."

But some challenges remain.

Access to information on public expenditure is not always available upon request. Some ministries, agencies and departments either do not respond to freedom of information requests or completely ignore them.

In addition, despite the presence of a procurement law passed in 2007 to ensure contractors follow due process, public procurement has been dogged by contract splitting; the use of fake documents by bidders, some of whom have multiple companies; government ministries and agencies collaborating with contractors to siphon money; and, importantly, delays in investigating and prosecuting cases of misappropriation or graft.

"We don't have a culture of punishing offenders," says Ike Fayomi-Awodele of the public administration department at Obafemi Awolowo University in Osun state.

To solve this, Uadamen Ilevbaoje, now the project lead of Tracka, believes more awareness is needed.

"We need more and more sensitisation and awareness. If there is awareness, citizens would ask more questions and politicians would be forced to do the right thing."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Video - Nigeria's Shi'ite Protests - death toll rises to 24

Cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria remains in jail as his supporters continue to face security forces in protests for his release. Protestors claim that 24 people have been killed in the latest confrontation but the army has refuted this saying only three people died. Hundreds of Shia Muslims were stopped from marching into the city centre where most government offices and the presidency is located.

Video - Nigeria's missing General

The Nigerian army says it has found the body of one of its retired senior officers. Army General Idris Alkali, has been missing for almost two months, which sparked a search operation around his last known whereabouts.A number of arrests have been made as the army tries to uncover the cause of death.

Boko Haram insurgents kill 15 in Nigeria

Suspected members of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency have killed at least 15 people in an attack on a group of villages in northeast Nigeria, residents have told Reuters.

The villages lie on the outskirts of the militarised city of Maiduguri, the heart of government in the northeast and the headquarters of efforts to defeat Boko Haram and the related Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) insurgency.

The conflict has lasted almost a decade.

Despite the Nigerian government's statements since late 2015 that Boko Haram has been largely defeated, the militancy is still able to attack in and around Maiduguri and throughout much of the northeast.

In the village of Kofa, a Reuters reporter on Wednesday counted five bodies burned inside the remains of their house.

A village chief in nearby Dalori said one person in the camp for displaced people had been killed, while two residents of Bulabrin said nine people had died there.

Nigeria's military said in a statement one civilian was found dead, after Boko Haram had ransacked Dalori's market, setting buildings ablaze and fleeing when soldiers approached.

Nigeria arrests 400 Shia Muslims after deadly clashes

Nigerian police have arrested 400 members of a Shia Muslim sect after days of deadly protests in the capital.

The pro-Iran Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesters demanded the release of their leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, in custody for 34 months.

The army admits that three people were killed in clashes in Abuja on Monday, but the IMN says that dozens died.

In 2016, a judicial inquiry found that the army had killed more than 300 Shia Muslims during clashes in the north.

It accused the army of using "excessive force" when trying to head off an alleged attempt to kill army chief Gen Tukur Buratai in Zaria, Kaduna state, in December 2015.

IMN leader Sheikh Zakzaky was arrested in the aftermath and held without charge until April 2018 when he accused in court of inciting violence.

No soldiers have been arrested, despite the judicial inquiry advising prosecutions.
'Dangerous weapons'

The army, which fired live rounds on Monday at the protesters, said the deaths came after the demonstrators tried to overrun a checkpoint.

The security forces also accuse the Shia protesters, who took to the streets of the capital for three days, of having 31 petrol bombs as well as other dangerous weapons.

. Shias are minority in Nigeria but their numbers are increasing
. The IMN, formed in the 1980s, is the main Shia group led by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky
. They operate their own schools and hospitals in some northern states
. They have a history of clashes with the security forces
. The IMN is backed by Shia-dominated Iran and its members often go there to study
. Sunni jihadist group Boko Haram condemns Shias as heretics who should be killed.