Hate Speech bill misdirected – NDI

…we don’t want regulation that would restrict media – Arogundade

-By Funmi Falobi-

Experts have described the ongoing debate on the social media and hate speech bills at the National Assembly as unnecessary saying that Nigeria already has existing laws that have addressed the issues which rather should be enforced.

Many have argued that hate speech does not come to the public space by the media but from the politicians. They said that most hate speeches are from adverts not generated by the media but from political parties especially from the two big political parties with heavy harmful content from them.

Acting Country Director, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Barrister Raymond Esebagbon said that the anti-hate speech is misdirected that those canvassing for it are not aware of the existing laws which have addressed the issues.

“People talking about anti-hate speech don’t know what we have. We have enough legislatures on it. There is the Cybercrime law, Electoral Act. They have addressed a lot of things – misinformation, fake news and others. The current debate is unnecessary. We can strengthen those existing laws and not just talking about anti-hate speech commission.

“The anti-hate speech at the National Assembly is misdirected. Existing laws should be enforced and where inadequate should be strengthened. We need to create more awareness, people don’t know there are existing laws on it,” he said.

While stressing that freedom of information is not at large, he said there is need for national re-orientation in the country to salvage the society saying, “the media have huge role to play to educate rightly, sensitise the people, reorientate the public as a very powerful tool for engagement.”

Similarly, Executive Director, International Press Centre, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said there is no need for any regulation that would restrict the media.

According to him, the legislature in primitive measure is not the best saying that government should work with stakeholders rather than legislature.

“We do not accept the hate speech bill. We don’t want a legislature that would incriminate the media. We should think more of self-regulation. Media is a big player on social media, we don’t want any regulation that would restrict the media. There are also gains of social media but we don’t want harmful use.

“We have trained ourselves on hate speech, government should use the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitise and enlighten the society on it,” he said.

While urging the media to come together and oppose the bills, he also called for dialogue between the government and the media charging that media must remain ethical and prevent violence through fact checking of reports.

However, on his part, the Chief Press Secretary, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rotimi Oyekanmi, backed the bills saying, “I support the regulation of the social media but it must be done in partnership with the media.”

On the sabotage of bail given to Omoyele Sowore, Arogundade said the excuses by the Department of State Security (DSS) are not acceptable to IPC. He also condemned the ill-treatment on Agba Jalingo stating that it is the onus of the state government to prove that the report by him is not correct and that he should be granted bail.

Similarly, Esebagbon on Sowore said if a court gives an order. It does not behooves the executive to keep him there. The government has the duty to obey the law.

2019 World mental health day: Lagos extends services to primary healthcare level

By sdnonline

As the world commemorates the 2019 Mental Health Day on Thursday, Lagos State Government said it will extend Mental health care services to the primary health care level in furtherance of effort to increase access to mental health care in the State.

Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi who disclosed this during a recorded broadcast to commemorate this year’s World Mental Health Day said that the state government recognizes the need to strengthen mental health care delivery and eradicate the difficulties in accessing mental health services which occur as a result of reluctance in seeking medical attention and lack of knowledge  of where to access adequate care.

“And this is why we are incorporating mental health care to the primary health care level across the State,” he said.

He noted that the promotion of mental health and well-being of Lagosians are priorities within the state’s development agenda for health which is to ensure that every citizen has access to effective and sustainable health care delivery models.

Abayomi said that the inclusion of Mental Health Care delivery at the Primary Health level will reduce the difficulties in assessing adequate health care and will go a long way in reducing the alarming suicide rate in the society.

He added that the state is working and collaborating with other sectors to create a strong network of facilities that will address mental health needs.

“We recognize the difficulties in accessing mental health services which can occur because we are afraid to come forward and seek help, or are unaware of where to get it or the existing institutions and resources that provide these services are few and far between.

As a government, we are working to ensure availability of mental health services at the primary healthcare level. We are also working to partner and collaborate with other sectors, to create a strong network of operations, facilities and programmes that will address mental health needs,’’ he said.

He stated further that the state has set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health care programs and services that will ensure improved health outcomes in the long-term which will also enable the state to become one of the forerunners in the delivery of sustainable, efficient and effective mental health services to its citizens in Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.

‘’We have set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health care programs and services that will ensure improved health outcomes in the long-term. This will enable the State to become one of the forerunners in the delivery of sustainable, efficient and effective mental health services to its citizens in Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa as a whole,’’ he said.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to mental health which is symbolized by the development of the Lagos State Mental Health Policy and Lagos State’s New Mental Health Law which was passed earlier this year. He said that the law which provides for the protection of those suffering from stigmatization because of their illness will go a long way in setting the framework for developing an effective and robust Mental Health Service for all Lagosians.

He however appreciated the enthusiastic participation of mental health professionals and stakeholders in areas of health policy, service planning, implementation strategies and advocacy; and therefore assured the continuous support of the government to the development and implementation of a mental health system that will improve the mental health of individuals and communities through evidence-based interventions and services.

WSCIJ invites entries for investigative reporting award, introduces online application for select categories

By sdnonline

The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) invites entries from Nigerian professional journalists or team of journalists, full-time or part-time, for the 14th edition of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting. The centre has introduced online application option for some categories of the award for this edition.

The award, which is an annual programme of WSCIJ, seeks to honour journalism works with focus on public and or corporate corruption, human rights abuses, or failure of regulatory agencies, published or aired between 4th October 2018 and 3rd October 2019.

This year, applicants for the Television, Radio and Online categories of the award can put in their entries through an online application process. The other three categories requiring hard copy submission given the nature of entry processing are the Print, Photography and Editorial cartoon.

Received entries will be collated using the award coding system and assessed by a panel of media experts and related professionals with good understanding of investigative reporting. The judges’ board would broadly score submitted stories based on quality of investigation, evidence, human rights elements, ethical reportage, courage, individual creativity, public interest, impact and quality of presentation.

The deadline for the submission of entries is Thursday, 24 October 2019 by 4pm. All hardcopy entries must be submitted to the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism office, Second Floor, 18A Abiodun Sobajo Street, Off Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos. More details of the criteria for the call for entries can be found on the WSCIJ website – http://www.wscij.org.

The WSCIJ has since October 2005, rewarded, promoted and encouraged the development of the culture of investigative reporting in the Nigerian media through the award, which has had thirteen editions and ninety-one finalists.

Nigerian selected for global sports mentoring program

By sdnonline

Dr. Oluwaseun Nariwoh, a sports administrator at the Lagos State Sports Commission, has been selected to attend the U.S. government’s flagship professional development exchange to empower women through sports.

Dr. Nariwoh is one of the 16 participants from around the world who have been chosen for the U.S. Department of State’s Global Sports Mentoring Program based on their exemplary leadership skills, experience, and impact in the sports sector.

The Global Sports Mentoring Program is the product of a partnership between the Department of State, espnW, and the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace & Society.

From October 10 to November 19, leading American female executives in business, education, media, non-profit, and sports sectors will work side-by-side with emerging sports leaders from around the globe, sharing valuable business and leadership skills.

The American mentors will assist the participants in the creation of strategic action plans that will be used to create specific sports opportunities for underserved women and girls when they return home.

Nariwoh’s participation in the program will include travel to Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Indianapolis. She will be mentored by the Director of Inclusion at the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Jean Merrill, and her deputy, Shay Wallach, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

All of the participants will engage with U.S. government officials and high-level figures in both the sports business as well as grassroots associations. They will also take professional leadership courses and learn about American culture, the American sports structure, and the history of disability sports and women’s sports in the United States.

United States Consulate Public Affairs Officer Russell Brooks congratulated Dr. Nariwoh on her acceptance into the prestigious program.

He noted that the Global Sports Mentoring Program advances the goal of empowering emerging female leaders to serve their local communities by increasing the access of women and girls to the opportunities available to them in the world of sports.

“The U.S. Department of State believes that sport is a vehicle to advance the status, liberty, and well-being of women, girls, and marginalized people throughout the world. The Global Sports Mentoring Program is based on the growing body of evidence that women and girls who play sports are increasingly likely to excel on both the playing field and in life.”

“We are confident that Dr. Nariwoh will further hone her skill-set and make a significant contribution towards gender equality in the sports community upon her return to Nigeria,” Brooks said.

Since 2012, alumni from 75 countries have participated in the program, forming an international network of sports administrators, athletes, coaches, educators, and advocates promoting equality and inclusion through sports.

Previous Nigerian participants of the program include Tega Onojaife, sports producer/presenter at Smooth 98.1 FM (2018); Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke of SuperSport TV (2017); AdaMark Ogbole, CEO AdaMark Foundation for Girls (2013); and Nneka Ikem of Radio Nigeria (2012).

U.S Consulate launches academy for women entrepreneurs

-By sdnonline-

United States Consulate General in Lagos has launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a State Department-led initiative that supports women entrepreneurs around the world.

During a week-long program, a diverse group of 100 women selected from a pool of over 6,000 applicants, will receive lessons on business management, network with like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors, and learn the practical skills required to create successful and sustainable businesses.

Declaring the workshop open, U.S. Consul General Claire Pierangelo, explained that the goal of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is to teach women around the world to become successful entrepreneurs. She noted that women’s empowerment will be key to Nigeria’s long-term economic development.

“One of the U.S. government’s goals is to promote entrepreneurship worldwide.  Through the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, we are doing just that by giving these ambitious businesswomen the skills they need to take their ventures to the next level,” she said.

Pierangelo described the role of women as crucial for the progress of national economies. “Women are the backbone of society no matter what country you are in.  When women are working, the country is working,” she noted.

Leading local business leaders will help facilitate the workshop. They include: Ms. Inya Lawal, alumna of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program; Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, Academic Director, Owner-Manager Program at the Lagos Business School; Ms. Hansatu Adegbite, Executive Director at Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ); and Ms. Teju Abisoye, Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

In addition, participants will receive access to DreamBuilder, a blended business-training course developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.

The AWE is a component of the White House Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, designed to empower women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential, thereby creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.

Nigeria is among 26 pilot countries worldwide that were selected to participate in the AWE program. The other African countries participating in the inaugural AWE cohort are Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Women, youths have prime place in my administration – Agbedi, Bayelsa Guber aspirant

-By Funmi Falobi-

Honourable Frederick Agbedi, a governorship aspirant and member of the House of Representatives, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State, has declared that women and youths have prime place in his government when he eventually becomes the governor of the state.

He also said that there is agenda for the grassroots people where his administration would ensure social inclusion at the grassroots level and cater for the welfare of the people through robust economy.

The present political dispensation in Nigeria has relegated women to the background both at the federal and states levels without achieving the 35 percent affirmative action on political position to women. However, Agbedi, a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State stated that his administration would identify competence among women and youths to run the oil rich state effectively.

“If you have been following my campaigns, there is no time women are not at the forefront making comments, raising supports, speaking on political issues and defending the campaigns. It is a matter of identifying competence. If you identify competence and you know the competent women you bring them to play. It is not just women but it is a matter of identifying competence.

“The question you are asking is like the question of saying the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. They are not leaders of tomorrow, they are leaders of today. It is the ability and capacity of the leaders to identify the youths who have the capacity to deliver. That is why I tell people, look, at River State when Diete-Spiff was made the Military Governor, all those who worked with him as commissioners were all youths and nobody has broken that record.

“It is the ability of the leader to identify competent hands that he would bring into governance that will deliver with their knowledge, agility and with their educational background. For me women are in the prime place as well as the youths in our administration,” he said.

Agbedi, who has four decades of experience in politics stressed that the grassroots people as well as the Bayelsans in general, are yearning for infrastructural development and socio-economy that would raise their standard of living and that he is ready to listen to them.

“The grassroots people are not outside the state, they are within the state. The grassroots people want employment, they want something to do that will put food on the table and give them income. They also want things that will bring infrastructure in terms of roads, electricity, improving the education system. That is what they are looking for because once you have a robust economy everybody will tap into it and then the issues of environment will be improved,” he said.

The politician explained that he would run the state differently as an experienced hand in a way that would improve industrialisation and build refinery to enhance the business environment of the state.

US increases visa fee for Nigerians

By sdnonline

United States of America has increased visa fee for Nigerians and this takes effect from Thursday, 29 August, 2019.

With this, Nigerian citizens are now required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, for all approved applications for nonimmigrant visas in B, F, H1B, I, L, and R visa classifications.  The reciprocity fee will be charged in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application.  Nigerians whose applications for a nonimmigrant visa are denied will not be charged the new reciprocity fee.  Both reciprocity and MRV fees are non-refundable, and their amounts vary based on visa classification.

U.S. law requires U.S. visa fees and validity periods to be based on the treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by foreign governments, insofar as possible.  Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on U.S. citizens, the United States will impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country for similar types of visas.  Nationals of a number of countries worldwide are currently required to pay this type of fee after their nonimmigrant visa application is approved.

In a statement by the U.S. Embassies in Abuja and Lagos, said that the total cost for a U.S. citizen to obtain a visa to Nigeria is currently higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a comparable visa to the United States.  The new reciprocity fee for Nigerian citizens is meant to eliminate that cost difference.

The statement read, “Since early 2018, the U.S. government has engaged the Nigerian government to request that the Nigerian government change the fees charged to U.S. citizens for certain visa categories.  After 18 months of review and consultations, the government of Nigeria has not changed its fee structure for U.S. citizen visa applicants, requiring the U.S. Department of State to enact new reciprocity fees in accordance with our visa laws.

“The reciprocity fee will be required for all Nigerian citizens worldwide, regardless of where they are applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the United States.  The reciprocity fee is required for each visa that is issued, which means both adults and minors whose visa applications are approved will be charged the reciprocity fee.  The fee can only be paid at the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General.  The reciprocity fee cannot be paid at banks or any other location.”

The complete reciprocity fee schedule, organised by visa classification, can be found below.

Class                                     Reciprocity Fee

B1                                           $110

B2                                           $110

B1/B2                                     $110

F1                                           $110

F2                                           $110

H1B                                        $180

H4                                           $180

I                                               $210

L1                                            $303

L2                                            $303

R1                                            $80

R2                                            $80