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Security: Comforting thoughts at Christmas

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By Femi Adesina

We are not fully there yet, but anyone that is honest and not filled with bile against the government of the day will agree that very significant advances have been made in the past year against the insecurity that had beleaguered the country for more than one decade.

Is the Eid-el-Kabir not behind by many months? Is Christmas not ahead by a couple of days? There were years we used to approach those festivities with trepidation, sepulchral feelings of death and doomsday. Because that was exactly when evil people chose to bomb mosques, churches, markets, schools, crowded bus stops, and other public institutions, sending hundreds to gruesome deaths, spreading sorrow, tears and blood (dem regular trademark, as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang).

But we are thankful to God that things have improved with us security-wise, and would still get better. The name Ekwueme in Igbo, I am told, means someone that promises and fulfills. Someone who pledges and delivers. President Muhammadu Buhari came in 2015, vowing to secure the country, and sustain her unity. He has equally promised to bequeath a more secure country to his successor than the one he inherited in 2015. The President is Ekwueme. He has delivered, and will yet deliver more on his avowals.

The National Security Adviser, Major General Mohammed Babagana Monguno was recently our guest at the weekly State House Press Briefing, to give updates on the security situation in the country. And what a revelatory, assuring, and comforting session it was. And that is why we can approach Christmas, not with the usual sense of foreboding, but with the joy of the season kindled in our hearts, and a sense of security and well being in our good God.

What did the NSA tell the media and the country? A lot.

“As you are aware, Nigeria was at a critical period of its history in 2015 when President Buhari’s administration commenced work. In the North East, Boko Haram Terrorists were in control of a sizable portion of territory with the intention of establishing dominance to spread their extremist ideology. Relatedly, the North West was characterised by activities of bandits which drew persistent concerns from the citizenry, while conflicts involving pastoralists and farmers in the North Central were rife and aggravated already existing tensions between communities.

“In the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria was declared a high-risk area, due to high incidents of piracy and kidnappings of seafarers. In addition, separatist agitations in the South East emerged, with the irredentists adopting guerilla tactics against security forces and law abiding citizens. Thus, it is against the backdrop of these aforementioned issues, that Mr President made Security one of the core pillars of his administration.”

Bull’s eye. Gen Monguno painted a perfect portrait of the situation in the land, making you wonder how much troubles a country can cope with. The Good Book talks of the days of Jacob’s troubles. Was this it? But that hasn’t come. Not yet. However, what subsisted was quite akin to it. Trouble, trouble everywhere. North, South, East, West. You could only pity whoever was leading the country at such a time.

It was daunting, enough to distract, dissuade and discourage any leader. But President Buhari was up to it. Was he not the young army officer who fought a war of unity between 1967 and 1970, not leaving the battlefront for a single day? Hadn’t he served in Congo before then, surviving close shaves with death? And as a military commander, hadn’t he resisted an incursion on Nigerian territory by Chadian troops, chasing the invaders several kilometers into their own country, before he was called back by the then President Shehu Shagari? “We gave them bloody noses,” he once recalled of that encounter, while speaking to us about it at the Federal Executive Council meeting.

So, when Buhari came as President in 2015, Nigeria was in good hands. But it was no tea party. Not by any means. For almost eight grueling years, the old warhorse has been at it, knocking sense into the heads of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, secessionists, and other violent criminals, speaking to them in the language they understand.

How does the NSA analyse the security situation in the land now?

“Let me state that the security situation in this country has significantly stabilised, especially in the last one year, notwithstanding isolated cases of attacks by various categories of criminals across the geopolitical zones. This stabilisation was largely achieved through strengthening of inter-agency collaboration among the intelligence and security agencies as well as engagements with our regional and international partners.”

What were the measures taken to pull the chestnut from the fire, and restore confidence and hope in Nigerians? Many measures, particularly what the Security Chief called “Whole of Government, and Whole of Society Approach.” More about that later.

For the challenge of insurgency in the North East zone, hear the NSA: “Counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations have continued to record appreciable successes based on sustained offensives in the theatre. Operation HADIN KAI in conjunction with the Multinational Joint Task Force has significantly degraded the insurgents’ capability, and many key terrorist leaders have been neutralized, while there has been surrender of terrorists and their sympathizers… On October 1, 2022, the Borno State Government celebrated Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Anniversary for the first time in 12 years.”

Separatist agitations? “The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its militia wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN)have emerged as a very potent separatist group in the country, and equally a major threat to national security. However, their activities are being significantly curtailed as there is now a marked decline in the number and scale of attacks, due to increased security operations. Apart from the reduction in attacks, some of the group’s key commanders including IED experts have been arrested, while major camps have been destroyed. Overall, security forces are gradually stabilising the socio-economic landscape in areas where IPOB terrorised law abiding Nigerians in the past. These efforts are being sustained by the Armed Forces and other security agencies.”

The NSA spoke on piracy, and how the country reversed the infamous reputation she had suffered. The battle against oil thieves. Some policy frameworks and key establishments placed by the Federal Government to address insecurity in the country. The battle to enhance cyber security. Establishment of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and many more.

What are the key drivers of insecurity in the land? The NSA should know. And he gave them as menace of drug trafficking, which the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency under Gen Buba Marwa is battling robustly, illiteracy, porous borders, influx of illegal arms and ammunition, and many others.

How did he wrap up?

“I must mention that dealing with the drivers of insecurity requires a ‘Whole of Nation Approach’ which will entail a ‘Whole of Government’ and a ‘Whole of Society Approach.’ The Whole of Government Approach will include the sincere efforts of all arms of government (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary), while the Whole of Society Approach will include the combined efforts of all members of the society such as the Civil Society Organizations, parents, traditional and religious leaders, youth and the populace at large.”

Now, the question is; do we have the Whole of Society Approach yet? By no means. You hear so-called activists, talk show hosts and commentators on TV, radio social media, running down our security agencies, talking daily of ‘worsening insecurity,’ when things are in fact improving. Most of them think they are running down the Government of the day, not knowing that it is, indeed, the country they are weakening and pulling down.

As I said at the beginning of this piece, the job is not fully done yet. But it has been accomplished to a large extent. And because with God, nothing shall be impossible, it may yet be fully done before the Buhari Administration weighs anchor next May 29.

I end with the positive words of Gen Monguno: “I am optimistic that as we sustain the current tempo of intelligence-driven kinetic and non-kinetic operations, we shall achieve the desired degree of peace, security and prosperity for the nation.”

Amen and amen. May we have a peaceful and quiet season. Merry Christmas to all.

 

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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AfDB hosts consultation with African government to equip workforce

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has hosted consultations with African governments to promote its blueprint to equip Africa’s workforce with in-demand skills.

The Bank disclosed in a statement by its Communication and External Relations Department on Tuesday in Abuja, that the virtual meeting was held to gather views on the implementation of the bank’s skills for employability and productivity in Africa Action Plan for 2022-2025.

It listed the participants to include African government ministers, representatives of the African Union, government officials and academics

The statement said that the first session held on April 12 focused on countries in East and Southern Africa, while the second held on April 13 targeted countries in Central, North and West Africa.

The Bank is seeking regional member countries’ endorsement of the Action Plan and inputs on how the plan can support investment in higher education, science and technology, technical and vocational education and training, also known as TVET.

“It is another milestone in the Bank’s partnership with our regional member countries to forge partnership in equipping Africa’s labor force with in-demand skills.

“African youths have the potential to become the world’s largest resource for productive and innovative labour, if they are equipped with quality and relevant skills,” said Beth Dunford. Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, according to the statement.

It added that the Action Plan comes at a critical juncture, when Africa is ramping up efforts to enhance scientific and technological capabilities for a more productive and innovative society.

Malawi’s Minister of Education, Agnes Nyalonje, said the Action Plan was in line with her country’s aspirations in education and skills development.

“We will benefit every inch of the way in the investment focus that the Bank wants to bring to higher education and TVET,” she said.

The skills for employability and productivity in the Africa Action Plan is anchored in the bank’s jobs for youth in Africa strategy (2016–2025), which seeks to create 25 million jobs and equip 50 million youths with relevant skills.

Public financing of TVET and higher education across the continent has not kept pace with demand. Infrastructure gaps, like shortages of classrooms, libraries and laboratories, are negatively impacting access, quality and equity in the sector.

Pascal Gatabazi, the Chief Technical Advisor in Rwanda’s ministry of education, said, “The government of Rwanda has put human capital development on the top of its development agenda, with technical and vocational education as a top priority.

“The government has been putting significant investment in TVET, and that’s why we have a dedicated ministry in charge of IT and TVET,” he said.

Martha Phiri, the Bank’s Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development, said the Bank would leverage its partnerships to boost investment in education infrastructure.

He said that it would result in substantial increases in the number of African graduates studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or pursuing technical and vocational education and training.

“Our Action Plan places special emphasis on digital skills, online learning and entrepreneurship,” Phiri said.

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Cameroun seeks to model Nigeria’s E-Government success story

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By Ogaga Ariemu

Cameroon government is seeking to model Nigeria’s E-government success story.

Delegation from the Ministry of Public Service and Administration Reforms in Cameroun stated this when it visited Nigeria recently to inspect the depth of the E-government implementation in Nigeria developed and implemented with the assistance of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Managing Director/CEO Galaxy Backbone, Prof Mohammad Abubakar who received the delegates led by the Country’s Inspector General for the Cameroonian Ministry of Public Service & Administrative Reforms, Ms. Tabod Jacqueline Mejand at the Galaxy Backbone Corporate Headquarters said the tour will further accentuate the achievements recorded in the agency so far.

He expressed delight in the great work KOICA has been able to do in Nigeria and looks forward to the work they will be doing in helping the Cameroonian nation raise the level of e-Ggovernment in their country.

According to him, “I am delighted that the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reforms is taking this giant step towards actualizing e-Government in Cameroun with the support of our friends and partners in KOICA. While I advise you to anticipate challenges along the way, there will be a lot of success you will record with this engagement.”

He further admonished the delegation to try as much as possible to be firm in their resolve and continue to seek new ways of implementing e-Government strategies in their country because of the huge benefits of e-Government to any nation.

In his words, “We all know the benefits of e-government platforms. We have already started seeing the benefits in Nigeria.”

The Delegation visited the National Shared Services Centre (NSSC) which is managed by Galaxy Backbone and is home to GBB’s world class Tier III Datacentre. They were initially taken to the old Datacentre before visiting the Uptime certified Tier III Datacentre and Network Monitoring and Management Centre.

The Cameroonian delegates were very impressed at the level of investment and work the Nigerian government through Galaxy Backbone has put into ensuring that e-government in Nigeria is made a thing of the past.

On her part, the head of the Camerounian and KOICA delegation on the visit Ms. Mejand, stated that Cameroun has a plan around e-government but lack the coordination and exposure hence this visit.

Mejand expressed her thanks to GBB for the warm reception and time taken to take them through. “We want to thank you for the opportunity given to visit your infrastructure because we realise that for e-Government to effectively take place in a country and go operational, we need infrastructure and the people to help train their decision makers to have interest in e-Government.”

Galaxy Backbone through its Chief Executive has promised the Camerounian delegation that the organization will do all within its power to partner, advise and help train the Camerounian people in the development of e-government in their country. GBB’s vision is “to become the leading enabler of digital inclusion in Africa,” hence they organization sees this as a path towards enabling digital services in other countries in Africa.

Galaxy Backbone, the digital Infrastructure and Shared Services provider and an agency under the Federal Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy has been the focal Agency implementing the e-government Masterplan for Nigeria. It was in this light that they paid a visit to the organization to inspect the infrastructure and get more knowledge on the Nigerian E-government level of implementation.

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TotalEnergies celebrates African Customer Week 2021

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From November 22nd to November 26th, TotalEnergies will hold its African Customer Week.

As part of activities to mark the week, TotalEnergies Marketing Nigeria Plc will make appearances on several radio stations across Nigeria, in an effort to further reach its teeming customers.

The TotalEnergies Africa Customer Week provides a veritable platform for the company to engage customers, actively listen to them, and receive valuable feedback on ways to  add value, with our services.

As part of the activities marking the week, officials of the company  will talk about the bouquet of products and services offered by TotalEnergies during the visits to the select radio stations.

The company has also scheduled  to embark on surprise visit to select TotalEnergies service stations and customer sites all over the country where customers will be rewarded  with surprise “thank you” gifts.

The company said the year 2021 has been a challenging one for all companies due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the statement if TotalEnergies Nigeria PLC, “Regardless of the challenges, our customers have remained loyal and committed to us.  As a result, we consider our customers to be more than just consumers. They are, in fact, our partners!”.

The company added  in the statement that the main goals of the Africa Customer Week is to enlighten its customers about strategic evolution into a major player in the transition to new energies. “The change cannot be successful if we do not get the support of our customers,” it asserted.

TotalEnergies described  attention being giving to customers as a step GREAT SERVICES START WITH SMALL DETAILS. Our customers choose TotalEnergies because we promise to give them more than just fuel; we provide them excellent service.

The statement explained that at TotalEnergies

“We prioritize our customers’ and staff safety.

We have made a commitment to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

“We have committed to offer cleaner energy products and services using our Solar and CNG offers.

“We take responsibility for our sales and service actions across all our sales channels.

We have an increased level of cleanliness/hygiene in our service stations to ensure our customers’ buying experience is always pleasurable.

“We commit to offering convenience and one-stop offers to our customers and have backed this up with the introduction of Touchpoint financial services across the country.

“We prioritize our stations and facilities’ proximity to ease access to our customers.

”We urge our customers to take advantages of our offerings by visiting any of our service stations and/or share their feedback about their experience in our stations on services.totalenergies.ng/acw  and social media handles @TotalEnergiesNigeria (FB) | @TotalEnergiesNG (TW) | @TotalEnergies_NG (IG)”, it concluded.

 

 

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