It isn’t going to be all partying under Otoge

By Rafiu Ajakaye

Change was never going to be rosy or flamboyantly flowery the way we knew it.  Things weren’t going to remain the same. There isn’t going to be free money to throw around. And there definitely wouldn’t be a chance for anyone to throw their weight around to oppress fellow human beings in the name of serving in government. Government house bazaar of old can no longer hold. But there was going to be some pushback. Humans are mostly averse to change. But that is what Otoge means: change. Or did people ever think those chants of Otoge were just sloganeering? Did a whole lot of people actually think that the defeat of the old order birthed a new one where the only difference are just the persona? No, this is certainly not a perception shared by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

The administration, given the prudent orientation of its head, has definitely stabilised, considering the economic and COVID-19 turbulence of the past few months. This is particularly true when one considers the low turnover of appointees so far. Coming from diverse professional careers and various socioeconomic backgrounds, the appointees are weathering the storm. Much as everyone  desires a good life, the ethos of this Administration is service first. Given the Kwara journey, many expected the appointees to own new houses and fleet of expensive cars by now. But so frugal is the administration that the only set of vehicles the government has procured thus far are those used for service delivery to the people especially in the civil service. No appointee has received government funds to purchase personal cars. None has got public funds to procure houses. In the years past, appointees got as high as N16m each of public funds to buy themselves good cars. How do you demand for such a luxury under an administration headed by a man who drives a car he bought with his own money? While it is not a crime or abnormal for government to make its appointees comfortable, the thinking of the Governor is that the people have for too long been deprived of things as basic as water. He thinks they deserve a better deal this time in fulfillment of his promise to them, thus rewarding their choice of a new political direction.

But the truth is that this was not the norm in Kwara. Surrounded and constantly derided by some persons, probably even some in the family, whose expectations and perception of public office were shaped by the old order where sudden wealth was the hallmark of public office and where public appointees paid the exorbitant tuition of their children in foreign schools or lavishly funded the wedding of their children and so on, it is natural for some persons to feel deflated following a man whose conception of Otoge is for things to be done differently.

Faced with the prospect of ‘our people’ saying they risk coming out of government poorer and without status cars in their garage, it will not be unusual to see some appointees taking a walk. The noise of ‘enugbe’ in the political and social circles of Kwara sums up this thinking.  Enugbe does not mean that the government is not performing. Everyone agrees the Governor is doing excellently well, particularly at the level of infrastructural development and promptly providing basic amenities of life to the underserved segment of the society. Even the opposition grudgingly agrees that he is making unprecedented socio-economic impacts in the state — regardless of their occasional tantrums. That is expected.

Whatever the shock, pain or grumbling that is happening to and in the new administration is perfectly normal. That is akin to the pangs of childbirth, the birth of a new Kwara. The new order may seem a tad stormy at the beginning as the people and various actors gradually adjust to the new normal. It happens everywhere a change has just occurred. Those insinuating a lack of direction miss the point. There is nothing in the economic outlook of the state that suggests a lack of direction. Kwara has just posted one of the lowest unemployment figures. It recently recorded Nigeria’s lowest inflation rate. That did not just happen. It happened because the administration worked for it. The state has had one of the finest showings in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its social spendings in time of economic downturn were one of the best in Nigeria today, with locally sourced palliatives shared to the underprivileged, hundreds of thousands of face masks produced for the people and by local artisans. Add all of those to its prompt payment of salaries even when civil servants have been asked to work from home to limit human contacts and flatten the curve of the pandemic, provision of financial support to thousands of people hard hit by the lockdown, waivers on tax payment, and a strategic decision not to totally shut down industrial production. When the country initially went into full-scale lockdown, Kwara exempted the agriculture sub-sector and a few others. That kept the economy moving even if at reduced capacity.

At the end of the day the pace and punch of the Administration will regrettably come with casualties as this race to birth a new Kwara is for the strong and the inspired; not for the weak nor the meek. We cannot all resign to our fate or circumstances; we must take the fate of Kwara in our hands to bring positive change. The expectations of public servants and political appointees in the new Kwara can no longer be self-aggrandizement; they would have to align with the Otoge philosophy of a man who carries his own bag, often personally drives his own car, and lives under his own roof. The emerging system would not be near perfect but it would be closer to that ideal public service we all desire: one where public officials truly serve the people.

Ajakaye is the Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara Governor.

JFC: Making case for managing internal displacement crisis in Nigeria

By Funmi Falobi-

Nations of the world face one crisis or the other which have left many people to flee their homes. While some of these crises could be as a result of conflict, ethnic clash, terrorism, insurgencies, political and religion cconflict, others could be as a result of natural disasters like flooding, volcanic eruption, tsunami and the like; all these have adverse effect on the people and many have been displaced within their countries while others have become refugees in another land. While the West faces the challenge of migration, Africa on the other hand faces the challenge of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.

In Africa, more than 24 million people were forced to flee their communities, as at Deember 2017. This includes 6.3 million refugees and 14.5 million IDPs. The numbers increased, with some 170,000 new refugees and over two million new IDPs, in the first half of 2018, mainly from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

According to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) assessment by the International Organisation for Migration )IOM), over1.9 million individuals have been displaced in Nigeria between 20 October 2018  to 20 January, 2019 as a result of Boko Haram insurgency and related violent crisis across six states –  Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

In Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the displaced population tracked by DTM as of November 2018 puts the figure at 451,118 while Kenya had an estimation of 158,637 as displaced population as at December 2017.

Across Africa, people displaced, mostly women and children have had to resort to taking refuge in concentrated camps which are mainly un-used/abandoned facilities or open grounds with tents as shelter. There are few basic amenities, with concerns on social/health related issues. Welfare; food, proper shelter and health needs are a significant concern. Sanitary conditions are generally poor.

Unfortunately, these shortcomings are not often reported in the media, and so needed actions on the plight of IDPs are not brought to the front burner for stakeholders’ intervention or policy formulation.

In order to ensure global best practices in guaranteeing the rights of IDPs through the media, Journalists for Christ (JFC) International Outreach has launched a report titled “Managing Internal Displacement Crisis in Nigeria” – Making a case for IDPs through advocacy. The research report presented at a media roundtable in Abuja was with the support of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and Waldensian Church’s Otto Per Mille (OPM), Italy.

In his address, JFC President, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin explained that the organisation had carried out a study on the media portrayal of Internally Displaced People in Africa. The monitoring covered Nigeria, Kenya and The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Represented by Mr. Gbenga Osinaike ,a JFC Board Trustee,  Otufodunrin said that  at the end of the monitoring, the organisation, came up with a publication titled, Muffled Voices adding that the latest research report is a follow up on it.

“From that report, it dawned on us that the issue of internal displacement is no longer what we can take with a pinch of salt.

We have been able to put together a report on how to manage internal displacement crisis in Nigeria. We are here today to brainstorm on the outcome of the presentation and create a working template for officials that are directly concerned with the issues of IDPs in Nigeria and also sensitize the media the more on how they can help in projecting IDP issues to the public,” he said.

Consequently, the research Consultant, Mr. Francis Abayomi declared that the study reveals the depth to which violent conflicts have contributed overwhelmingly to a huge number of IDPs in Nigeria.

According to him, this also points to the possibility of worsening humanitarian crisis in future if the menace of violent conflicts and proliferation of small arms and light weapons is not addressed.

The study shows that there is no proper legislative framework to guide the management of IDPs in Nigeria. There is inadequate capacity of the media to properly interrogate issues related to the management of IDPs in Nigeria. There is no formidable network for stakeholders’ collaboration to demand improved legislative and institutional frameworks reflecting concerns about IDPs situation. There is inadequate responsiveness on the part of State institutions to the plight of IDPs. There is no holistic national database on displacement and resettlement of IDPs in (camps, host communities, and other non-governmental resettlement camps. There is no guarantee for the safety of journalists and press freedom to perform constitutional roles in line with relevant international instruments relating to management of IDPs. Hunger remained one of the biggest challenges in most IDP camps. Many resettlement camps are set up by philanthropists, NGOs and faith-based organizations who are not officially acknowledged, and so do not receive any form of government assistance.

Abayomi said, “There is need for strengthened legislative and institutional frameworks with commitment to enforcing global best practices in line with international standards to ensure greater sense of responsibility and accountability amongst actors concerned with the management of IDPs in Nigeria. The welfare and security of IDPs depend on the extent to which legislative and institutional frameworks are strengthened and enforced in response to the prevailing inhumane situation.”

In his review, Dr. Theophilus Abbah, Director, Daily Trust Foundation maintained that the research has brought out the fact that the inadequate or poor reporting of the plight of IDPs is directly related to the lack of clear legislative framework which should have provided the road map for relevant institutions, civil society organisations and citizens on how to treat IDPs.

While emphasizing that laws and policy documents, though not an end in themselves, are however needed to chart a path that everyone must follow in dealing with every phenomenon in the society.

“Central to the objective of this research is the need for the media to engage in the kind advocacy that could influence government policies and lead to an improved living condition for IDPs. This kind of advocacy has the egg and chicken dimension in which advocacy could facilitate the development of a legislative framework and legislative framework could facilitate better journalism.

While encouraging journalists to focus on development journalism that would lead to better society, development journalist, Ene Osang, said that there is need to bring out gender issues while covering IDPs camps in the country.

On her part, the Executive Director, Participatory Communication for Gender Development (PAGED), Bilikisu Irama enjoined journalists to work with civil societies in order to be well enlightened on issues to look out for while reporting IDPs. she disclosed that such organizations have data that would help journalists in their reporting.

In her submission, the Executive Director, Centre for Children’s Health Education Orientation and Protection (CEE HOPE),  Betty Abah, charged journalists to report more of the challenges being faced by the IDPs in order to bring about positive change .

British-Nigerian entrepreneur makes waves on black pound day

-By sdnonline-

British-Nigerian, Shalom Lloyd is recognized and celebrated as United Kingdom (UK) kicks off ‘Black Pound Day’ for consumers to discover and support Black-owned businesses.

With natural ingredients sourced from Nigeria, Pharmacist and entrepreneur, Shalom Lloyd, combines her professional knowledge and African heritage to create a natural skincare line that has developed into a global premium skincare business- Naturally Tribal Skincare. The company was founded in 2016, when a need to improve her baby’s severe eczema led the mother-of-five to invent a formula using natural ingredients. The primary ingredient, which is ‘shea butter’, is ethically sourced from the Essan Kingdom in Niger State, Nigeria, where the company has a factory, and provides jobs and childcare for local women.

“After going through four cycles of IVF and giving birth to twins at 40, I was so desperate to find a natural remedy for my son’s eczema, which made his skin bleed. With no natural effective remedies available, I created one myself.

“I never intended to start a skincare business, but I am extremely proud that people of
all ethnicities love our products which infuse my British and Nigerian heritage; I hope
events like Black Pound Day give black-owned businesses the visibility they deserve.

“During the lockdown, we realised how vital e-commerce is for us and our international trade adviser at the Department for International Trade has been invaluable in helping us enter key markets,” Lloyd said.

Naturally Tribal is currently collaborating with the University of Bedfordshire on a project using new technologies to reduce waste production in their Shea processing facility in Essan, Nigeria, and recently launched a Nigerian e-commerce store, making plans to collaborate with retail stores and create more jobs in Nigeria.

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE said:
“Naturally Tribal Skincare’s success is a fabulous example of the positive power of
cultural heritage and the ability of the UK’s diversity to entrepreneurs to export.

“DIT’s support for the company in the UK and Africa, demonstrates how the partnership between government and business can help UK companies of all sizes
to identify new export markets and draw on DIT’s in-country expertise to expand  their businesses.
“Such activity has never been more important as our economies recover from the
impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is great to see recognition for the leadership
that Black and Black-British businesses are showing in driving enterprise and exports.”

The UK’s Department of International Trade (DIT) has provided support for sales across
Africa, Europe and the US. In 2018, UK DIT supported its Nigerian launch at the British High commission in Lagos, and its participation at the Beauty West Africa fair in 2019 and is now supporting further expansion across the continent into Kenya and Ghana.

Shalom Lloyd is a DIT export champion and has won the ‘Female Entrepreneur’
First-Enterprise 2019 award. Though Naturally Tribal Skincare is based in Milton Keynes, UK, the the company in March 2019 provided health and safety training to over 350 Essan women in Nigeria and is looking to create over 70 jobs there.