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Godswill Akpabio: The mistake new Akwa Ibom governor should not make

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Akpabio

By Solomon Johnny

On Tuesday, June 13, 2023, Akwa Ibom State recorded a great feat when former Governor Godswill Akpabio emerged the tenth President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

That was an outcome of well calculated politics by Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District that even had to jettison zoning while voting just as key players in the race like Rt. Hon (Bar) Emmanuel Enoidem, PDP Senatorial candidate, after losing his bid to the red chamber, conceded defeat and would therefore not challenge Chief Akpabio at the Tribunal.

Such precision by the Annangs and rare act of sportsmanship by Enoidem as an individual, spared Chief Akpabio the distraction occasioned by appearances at the Tribunal and made time available for him to lobby and win the top seat.

Akpabio’s victory as President of the tenth Senate is a pride to Akwa Ibom State which perhaps explains why His Excellency, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, dropped his party garb, congratulated and paid a solidarity visit to him on behalf of the government and the good people of the state. That again is rare. The line of politics in Akwa Ibom State (actually from Akpabio’s era) has been such that government and opposition saw no good in each other. They never collaborated for development and the people have always been at a loss.

Pastor Umo Eno just proved the point that politics, party politics and governance can be complimentary instead of being antagonistic, destructive and that the time is ripe to actually build on the foundation of peace and reconciliation that his predecessor, ex-Governor Udom Emmanuel laid.

I have read a number of persons commending Pastor Umo Eno for reaching out and acting differently. What if this is why ex-Governor Udom Emmanuel went for him as his successor from the array of aspirants who jostled to take over from him?

Udom Emmanuel, it can be recalled, had laboured on the podium to talk about peace and reconciliation explaining that development cannot really take place in an environment of rancour. Many threw darts at him. Some picked offence and drew battle lines. He held his grounds. The steps that Pastor Eno had taken upon assumption of office, the latest being his embrace of Chief Godswill Akpabio, an Akwa Ibom made Senate President, who ironically stoutly rejected his (Umo Eno) choice as governor, shows God really guided Deacon Emmanuel on his succession path.

Chief Godswill Akpabio, the new Senate President, lost the spirit of the moment which was that of peace, unity and reconciliation as a state led by no mean person than the governor himself.

Chief Godswill Akpabio made comments intended to paint the immediate past governor of the state, Deacon Udom Emmanuel in bad light and advised the new governor not to inherit enemies he did not create.

He also created an impression of being slighted by his successor and suggested with subtlety that it will be a bad idea for Pastor Umo Eno to show loyalty to the man who paved the way for him to emerge as governorship candidate of the PDP and waded the haze to make him governor of Akwa Ibom State against strong forces like Senator Bassey Albert and John Udoedehe of the Young Peoples Party, YPP and New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP respectively.

Journalism records history in a hurry and when human faculties are fainted leading to wrong judgement of the past and less appreciation of fact, the press naturally helps to refresh it and thus correct the records. The public should not forget so soon or be cajoled to forget the role that ex-Governor Udom Emmanuel played preserving the good image and name of Chief Godswill Akpabio to become the Senate President.

We may not know exactly what were the issues that led to Governor Udom Emmanuel parting ways with Chief Akpabio. We, however, are witnesses to how Udom Emmanuel, then a sitting governor, completed projects started by his godfather and stoutly resisted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC from probing him (Chief Akpabio) over multiple petitions alleging fraud and embezzlement of state resources.

Udom Emmanuel broke the record as the first governor in Nigeria to challenge the powers of the EFCC as a federal agency to investigate state finances just to make sure his boss is safe. How else would a godson show fidelity to a godfather?

Had Udom Emmanuel gone petty, released records and corroborated the EFCC to try and convict Chief Akpabio as intended by his traducers, would an ex-convict be elected a Senator to become a Senate President?

If there is one man that should be celebrated in the emergence of Chief Godswill Akpabio as President of the 10th Senate, it is ex-Governor Udom Emmanuel, his godson it seems he still holds in disdain.

Udom Emmanuel ensured that his image of a good man remained intact. It does not matter whether Mr Emmanuel supported Akpabio’s Senatorial bid or continued to pay obeisance to him as the man who brought him to power, after all, the history of Nigeria is replete with how godsons and godfathers relationships have crashed and turned sour. What matters is the maturity which a godson displays to a godfather after their relationship has crashed.

Ex-Governor Emmanuel demonstrated that high level of maturity in dealing with both Akpabio and other past holders of the office including Obong Attah, father of modern Akwa Ibom State. It is too early therefore to use innuendo to create the wrong impression about the man who has made Akwa Ibom proud and should be prepared for something big in the future.

On inheriting an enemy in the field of politics, may I say that no one ever succeeded in his ambition except there is a man who incurs enemies on his behalf. Those enemies are not really enemies that should suck blood.

Chief Godswill Akpabio became Governor of Akwa Ibom State through popular struggle after being rejected by Obong Attah and the system in favour of Dr. Udoma Ekarika. I am not sure Chief Akpabio has forgiven Obong Attah till date for not adopting him then as his succession plan neither is Obong Attah very happy with Senator John Udoedehe who led the plot that made Akpabio Governor against his son in-law.

Chief Akpabio later on adopted Governor Udom Emmanuel as his succession plan against his SSG, Obong Umana Okon Umana; his Deputy, Obong Nsima Ekere and I can’t tell whether these two and others who lost out are very happy with him. Somebody must make enemies for others to succeed.

In this year’s poll, Pastor Umo Eno, a relatively unknown figure became the “golden boy” of the era because his leader, Deacon Udom Emmanuel took him as his preferred successor. Udom Emmanuel not only incurred the enmity of Senator Bassey Albert for instance, he incurred the wrath of even his party who felt Eno was yet to invest in the structure like some of the homeboys he shelved. He pleaded and negotiated with power blocs and the public to secure victory for Eno. No one ever succeeded in politics except there are men who either created for themselves or inherited enemies that those they are trying to help have created.

It is equitable, just and fair that we encourage loyalty and discourage that avarice that politicians exhibited and forget so soon how they got to power. I like the smiles that Chief Godswill Akpabio beamed at Governor Umo Eno. I encourage that if he sets out to wine with the “enemy” of his Oga, he holds a very long spoon. There is a plot that he certainly is the target. He will fall prey if he takes things for granted especially when it has to do with giving out his master to those who think he betrayed them. Pastor Eno must operate with caution, to inherit Governor Udom Emmanuel’s “enemies” because whatever killed the father, would like to kill the son so that the bloodline is exterminated.

I congratulate Chief Akpabio on his emergence as Senate President. He worked very hard for it and has the capacity to lead the highest legislative Assembly in the land. I love the steps Pastor Umo Eno has taken to blend and balance the politics. He is setting a new order which if properly managed will be to the greater benefits of the state. Everything must be done to ensure that Mr Udom Emmanuel is not painted in a bad light for any reason and that he benefits from his investment in the Umo Eno governorship project.

Udom Emmanuel has a big positive chapter in the Akwa Ibom history yet unwritten. May we not forget so soon and thus join to seek to diminish him. Politics in Nigeria today is played by past governors and as much as we can, we must protect Mr Emmanuel as a past governor for future politics and defence.

Johnny, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos

 

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Opinion

In Ayedatiwa, Ondo finds proverbial “Omoboriowo”

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In a letter of commendation sent to me in 1996 for returning an overpayment of Five Hundred Thousand Naira( N500,000.00) to the First Bank,

By Gboyega Amoboye

In a letter of commendation sent to me in 1996 for returning an overpayment of Five Hundred Thousand Naira( N500,000.00) to the First Bank, Abuja Main in the course of my duty at NOA, Governor Olusegun Agagu said: “Your commendable act of honesty has once again brought to the for, the age- long quality for which a typical Ondo State indegene is noted for. You have not only written your name in gold as an honest Journalist, you have done our Sunshine State proud through your singular act”.

It is on the basis of this universally acknowledged integrity the Sunshine State is noted for that I predicted that Governor Ayedatiwa would win the contest on the basis of integrity. I described him and his Deputy, Chief Olayide Adelami as men of impeccable character. In allusion to the the great Dr. Namdi Azikiwe during his face off with the then Administrator of the East Central State shortly after the Civil war, Dr. Upabi Asika, “I remember the inscription, ‘Toju Iwa re’ on the body of a Mammy Wagon plying Owo to Ibadan”. Iwa ( manner) is the essence of “Omoluabi”. The Yoruba places a high premium on character.

Even in the Bible, Character is the essence of salvation. In Revelation 22:11-12, the Lord said ‘he that is unjust, let him be unjust still and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly,and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
The Lord visited Ondo State last weekend and gave to every aspirant accordingly. It was easy for me to predict Ayedatiwa’s success after reading and hearing what people were saying about him.

As I had analysed, to reconcile his group and that of the late Governor Akeredolu, he picked his running mate, Chief Olayide Adelami a personification of integrity, from Owo, Ondo North. By this noble act, Ayedatiwa has already secured the confidence of the people of Ondo North in addition to his own Ondo South which is expected to be a walk over.

The news about him from Ondo Central is that of commendation for ensuring continuity of Akeredolu’s suffering projects. He was said to have promptly mobilised contractors back to sites while unpaid salaries for months were cleared. He embarked on peace mission to communities to restore hope and confidence in the people. Magnanimously, he reappointed some Commissioners who had served under Akeredolu apparently as an olive branch and demonstration of continuity.

By these, he had secured some points ahead of virgin competitors aspiring to take over from a tested and trusted incumbent. Above all, there is a law of natural justice. Ayedatiwa has just started the first year to conclude the second term of his predecessor. True democracy should have dictated that Ayedatiwa should be given the right of first refusal.

But the APC leadership understands that politicians are incurable optimists and therefore were aloud to hear directly from voters that “there is no vacancy” as I had predicted.
W

hen some jittery aspirants were sponsoring malicious propaganda to discredit the electoral process, I said the essence of a direct election is to ensure fairness and justice to all aspirants. It is unfortunate that some aspirants who scored zero all round the 18 local governments organized a protest for the cancellation of the results as if they could win even if the election were repeated 100 times.

If the APC leadership has allowed for a free and fair election, it is because they are working towards the 2027 Presidential election for whatever might happen now would determine how far the Presidential candidate would go in 2027 in the state.

If the APC is ready to repeat its victory in the November Governorship election, the leadership knows that reconciliation would be easier when all optimists, curable and incurable were allowed to slug it out , though some had contested simply to attract political appointments.

With the Primary now over, all aspirants are advised to in the language of Prof. Humphrey Nwosu Chairman of Babangida’s regime National Electoral Commission, “bring the ball back to the center” and work together as a team to win the Governorship election in November so as to deliver the state to the President in 2027. As for Ayedatiwa, it is God’s speed.

*Amoboye is a journalist popularly called, “Governor”

 

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FIRS’s New technological drive for tax collection, leakage block

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An efficient tax drive system inarguably, would always serve as the most run-of-the-mill and important government intervention to redistribute income among the population of any society such as Nigeria, with over 200 million people.

Aside from oil, which remains the major revenue source for Nigeria, tax revenue continues to impact the nation’s economy, building government’s fiscal capacity at both national and the sub-national levels to provide the public goods and services that citizens need for growth.

Despite being a veritable alternative system for raising government revenue for development purposes however, not many people are disposed to willful payment of taxes due to a lack of public confidence, official corruption, embezzlement, infrastructure deficit, high levels of evasion, and rising public debt among other issues. Several citizens are still oblivious to the fact that taxation is the key contribution they make towards national development. According to the chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation And Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mohammed Shehu, less than 40 million Nigerians are presently captured in the tax net and paying taxes.

Like in many African countries therefore, available reports indicate that Nigeria has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at approximately 10.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), well below the African average.

President Bola Tinubu appears to be worried about this trend. His decision in July 2023, to set up a presidential committee on fiscal policy and tax reform, is indicative of the government’s readiness to enhance revenue collection efficiency, ensure transparent reporting, and promote the effective utilization of tax and other revenues to boost citizens’ tax morale, foster a healthy tax culture, and drive voluntary compliance.

The current executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr. ZacchAdedeji who served on this presidential committee, then, as a Special Adviser on Revenue to the President, believes strongly that the administration of President Tinubu is on a mission to reform Nigeria’s tax system and tackle some of the challenges hampering tax collection in the country.

These challenges include multiple taxes and revenue collection agencies, a high prevalence of tax evasion, a complex tax system, and poor accountability in the use of tax revenue. There is the aspect of revenue leakages. Obviously, lack of data in the oil sector for instance has made it difficult in the past to determine the exact number of vessels of crude that is brought into the country and the amount of tax that should be adequately paid.

“Our aim is to transform the tax system to support sustainable development and achieve a minimum of 18% tax-to-GDP ratio within the next three years without stifling investment or economic growth,” Adedeji told reporters at the presidential villa in July, 2023.

The choice of Dr. Adedeji, a consummate tax expert, by President Tinubu to pilot the affairs of the nation’s top revenue agency, may be one of putting a round peg in a round hole. While serving as Presidential aide, Adedeji undoubtedly also played critical roles in the formulation of the economic direction of the new administration.

One of the earliest promises of the FIRS chairman, was therefore, to build a tax administration that enjoys the trust and confidence of all stakeholders. Along this line, the FIRS boss acknowledges that having a data-driven system that makes revenue targets predictable is a precondition for the realization of the fiscal projections of the government for economic development.

This is imperative for the revenue agency, if it must achieve the mandate of collecting a record N19 trillion in the 2024 fiscal year as set by President Tinubu and legislated for in the budget.

To achieve this huge task, the FIRS boss in February this year, during a management strategic retreat in Abuja, declared that working with his team, the agency would be embarking on a structural transformation, to make the country’s tax collection system more tax-payer-centric, seamless, and to encourage voluntary tax payment by both members of the public, as well as, corporate organizations.

A systematic implementation of this reform, would obviously place the agency in a vantage position to raise the unprecedented N19 trillion revenue target, within 12 calendar months.

“The cornerstone of this paradigm shift is the establishment of a customer-centric organizational structure designed to streamline processes and enhance efficiency in our tax operations. We are not merely adapting to change; we are leading it. The forthcoming structure, set to kick off from February 2024, embodies our dedication to modernize and digitize the tax administration landscape in Nigeria.

“In our pursuit for a more efficient and contemporary tax administration methodology, we are embracing an integrated tax approach, leveraging technology at every step. This approach positions FIRS at the forefront of innovation, ensuring that we meet the evolving needs of our taxpayers in a rapidly changing world,” Adedeji told his staff members at the retreat.

The FIRS chief executive is also worried that aside the agency’s innovative strategies including the deployment of technology, the challenge of multiple collection of taxes by several government agencies stares in the face. A well-structured fiscal policy is really essential to provide many of the necessary infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and social services for the country.

While appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Adedeji explained that the present structure where the collection of tax revenue is done by over 60 government agencies is a major cause of leakage in funds.

Although, the Federal Government is considering a legislation to ensure that every Nigerian gets the one single identification number (NIN), the harmonization of revenue channels using technology to view all government revenue-collecting agencies in real-time, is seen as a welcome development that could enhance increased revenue collection.

These are the words of the FIRS executive chairman in this regard, “the law is very clear as to how to collect revenue. In Section 162 of the Nigerian Constitution, it is clearly stated that there shall be an account called the Federation Account and all government revenue must be put into that account.

“When we talk about harmonization, we are just saying integration of all collecting agencies, that on one platform, we can know what is happening in NIMASA, NPA, NCC, Customs, Federal Inland Revenue (Service)…We will make use of technology to know everything going on in real-time.”

It is heartwarming getting to see the FIRS go the way of technology. Technology deployment as promised by the executive chairman can effectively assist the revenue agency to ramp up tax collection.

Indeed, technology can play a significant role in improving tax collection processes and increasing revenue in several ways. One of which is digitalization of tax administration. Transitioning from paper-based to digital systems can streamline tax collection processes, making them more efficient and less prone to errors. Online platforms can be developed for taxpayers to file their returns, make payments, and access relevant tax information easily.

Another is data analytics: Advanced data analytics tools can help identify patterns, trends, and potential tax evasion cases by analyzing vast amounts of data. This enables tax authorities to target their efforts more effectively, resulting in increased revenue collection.

Automation is another: Automating certain tasks, such as data entry and document processing, can significantly reduce the workload of tax officials, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks that require human expertise. Automation can also help minimize errors and improve overall efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML technologies can be employed to analyze and interpret tax-related data, predict potential tax evasion cases, and even suggest audit strategies. These technologies can also be used to develop chatbots and virtual assistants that provide instant support to taxpayers, making the process more user-friendly.

Integration with other systems: Seamless integration with other government databases and systems can help in verifying taxpayer information, detecting discrepancies, and preventing fraudulent activities. This can result in better compliance and improved tax collection.

Digital payment options: Offering digital payment options can encourage taxpayers to make timely tax payments, leading to increased revenue collection. This can be facilitated by integrating tax systems with online banking, mobile wallets, and other digital payment platforms.

E-invoicing and real-time reporting: Implementing electronic invoicing systems and real-time reporting mechanisms can help tax authorities monitor transactions more closely, reducing the likelihood of tax evasion and improving compliance.

If these technological solutions are utilized by the FIRS, they could help modernize its systems and create a more efficient, transparent, and taxpayer-friendly environment, ultimately leading to increased tax revenue and better fiscal management.

What is most exciting is that the FIRS under Adedeji has since realised the enormous benefits and the efficacy of effective deployment of technology to drive taxation. Nigerians therefore, do expert impressive outcomes in revenue collection especially giving the huge target for the 2024 fiscal year, as many await to monitor events in the nation’s tax industry.

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Opinion

Betta Edu: Jungle justice and where is her father and mentor President Tinubu?

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A few days ago I wrote an article entitled “Betta Edu; the continuity of the President’s courage”. Where I stated that inter alia, that there

A few days ago I wrote an article entitled “Betta Edu; the continuity of the President’s courage”. Where I stated that inter alia, that there must be continuity in the President’s courage. It takes courage to suspend your minister, it takes courage to investigate her, it takes courage to declare what the investigation has found with her actions as minister and it takes courage to reinstate her.

It was as if I got an immediate response to that piece. Someone must have taken my piece as Betta’s attempt to lobby for reinstatement and they considered it strategic enough to counter. The very next day it was all over the internet that the EFCC said they have recovered 30 Billion Naira (some reports said dollars) in the suspended minister’s bank account.

Several persons tagged me to the viral report. I went to EFCC’s page, there was nothing like that there. I told myself, well, at least the awkward silence has been broken. Something is being done. But, alas, the report was false. Dr Betta Edu’s lawyers have written to BBC demanding a retraction and apology, otherwise they will sue for defamation. Nearly, all the news channels which published the false report have taken it down for fear of a lawsuit knowing that the report was not correct.

What is really going on? Who sponsored that viral false report? I think we know the answer but we are all, consciously or unconsciously, victims of a political jungle justice. Sadly, I think even the President is a victim of this emotional whirlpool witnessing a jungle justice evokes. I’m surprised that the President could be a victim of this jungle justice. I will tell you why presently.

Jungle justice.

It is the annihilation of an accused person or suspect without giving him the benefit of a trial or fair hearing. They just want to kill the suspect because they are afraid that if you give him a chance to defend himself he might be set free. Proponents of jungle justice are intoxicated with only their own evidence, they don’t want the accused to supply his; most times they want the accused destroyed because they are afraid they don’t have enough evidence to convict him.

Media trial is jungle justice that went to school.

Those who witness jungle justice are also victims. They know it is wrong but they are afraid to lift a finger to protest. They are afraid that they will be accused of being accomplices. This was my fear a few months ago. If you look at the documents in the public domain including the regulation she purportedly breached, you will see grounds to question the legality and morality of the accusations levelled against Dr Betta. But you can’t. You are afraid they will label you a supporter of corruption. So, you sit down and watch the media trial rage on.

We are all victims of this jungle justice and understandably so, but the President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has no excuse for being a victim of this saga. This is Tinubu for God sake. Tinubu who is a legendary mentor and godfather. Here is the same Tinubu throwing his protege, the youngest member of his cabinet to the jackals.

This is Betta Edu who was the face of Tinubu’s campaign as far as mobilising the women and youths were concerned. When she became the youngest member of his cabinet, the whole world saw it as an opportunity for Tinubu to mentor another world class leader. I mean this is one of Tinubu’s bragging rights: mentoring leaders.

Dr Betta never took this for granted. She easily became the face of the Tinubu’s administration, especially when it comes to poverty alleviation. She was going into slums, nooks and crannies no minister in living memory has ever gone to… This is the same Betta that Tinubu has turned into a pawn in the chessboard of political whoremongers.

Asiwaju is a cabal all by himself, so, I don’t believe any narrative that a cabal is playing the music he is dancing to. Which cabal? Jagaban? Tinubu is not Buhari na. And talking about Buhari and Tinubu, it is interesting to see that we have moved from a Buhari who was over protective of his ministers to a Tinubu who is throwing his ministers under the bus. Tinubu’s ministers look afraid and cagey. No one is bold enough to speak for the Government or you will be the next target. I wonder why those pushing this from within can’t see that it will make the President unpopular among women and youths.

Now, this is not a Betta Edu image laundering piece. Betta and her supporters can do that for her, even though we have not heard from Betta since her suspension. The point of this piece is to point out the dastardly media trial, with concocted falsehood, that Betta is being subjected to. It can happen to anyone. All we want are answers to simple questions: did Betta do anything not approved by the Villa? If no, and if nothing incriminating has been found against her, when will the president find the courage to reinstate her?

As for Betta and Tinubu, na them sabi themselves. Betta used to brag that Tinubu is her father. Na so father dey treat pikin? Will Tinubu treat Seyi like that? She has been left all by herself, for 3 months she has been in solitude, emotionally bastardized, not engaging with anyone, possibly battling mental health issues, with her young career in the balance and her tattered reputation as a legacy for her children… One would expect her “father” to protect her from all these jackals and media trial but it seems Asiwaju, the mentor, isn’t bold enough to stand up for her. Or will he find courage at some point to protect his daughter and end all these media trial?

Young Nigerians who she inspired are watching, women all over the world are watching. This is not the President, Father, Mentor, Jagaban this young woman almost lost her life for during election campaigns. In the end, we will find out if young people are simply cannon fodders for political aggrandisement.

– First Baba Isa (FBI) is Legal Practitioner and write from Abuja.
meandisa@gmail.com.

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Why Kwibuka matters to Nigerians

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Why Kwibuka matters to Nigerians

In a few days, Rwanda will mark 30 years since the genocide against the Tutsi. “Kwibuka”, which means to remember, is an annual period of solemn reflection when we come together to honour the victims, unite in our collective grief and renew our commitment to continue to build a better future for Rwandans.

This important act of preserving memory, and ensuring the accurate re-telling of history, matters to Rwandans. The international community played a part in the tragedy while the world watched it unfold. Every nation can benefit from reflecting on the lessons from this preventable genocide borne of division and hatred.

Thirty years ago, in 100 days over one million Tutsi were murdered just because they were Tutsi. Hutus who opposed the genocidal government were also killed. This ‘crime of crimes’ happened in plain sight. The international community was, at best, indifferent to the horrific violence, with some countries being complicit in the killings.

No one came to Rwanda’s aid. The slaughter was only halted when the Rwandan Patriotic Front took Kigali and defeated the genocidaires. The genocide showed what can happen when an ideology built on hatred is allowed to flourish unchecked by those with the power to intervene.

Although foreign governments and international institutions failed Rwanda in our greatest hour of need, there were many brave foreigners on the ground who made heroic contributions: For example, Mbaye Diagne, a Captain in the Senegalese Army who was part of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda. During the Genocide, Capt. Diagne broke UN rules to carry out missions to save those in need, rescuing over 1,000 people before being killed. Rwanda posthumously awarded Capt. Diagne the Umurinzi honour – the Campaign Against Genocide Medal.”

Internationally, New Zealand, Nigeria and the Czech Republic used their positions on the UN Security Council to press for the institution to take action. Permanent Representative Colin Keating (New Zealand) and Chief Delegate Prof. Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria) put forward separate resolutions calling for greater troop deployment and for the troops to be given a mandate to save civilians. Ambassador Karel Kovanda joined the calls for greater action and was also the first person to use the term genocide within the security council when describing what was happening. These few voices did what they could to raise the alarm with a world that was choosing not to listen.

Beyond remembering the individual stories, this significant commemoration provides an opportunity for the world to reflect on the lessons of the genocide and the battle to preserve the integrity of the historical accounts of it.

There has been a concerted effort to deny the genocide happened in the way we know it did. These genocide deniers use various tactics, ranging from questioning the numbers of victims – despite having no evidence to contradict the verified figures – to blaming the victims for causing the genocide. They even go as far as creating false equivalences by suggesting a double genocide took place.

These tactics are not new. They have been deployed by perpetrators and deniers of other genocides such as the Holocaust. But if we are not careful, this distortion of historical facts – supercharged by social media and AI tools now in the hands of deniers – could be deployed across the world turning true history into contested debate.

Rwanda’s history has shaped Rwandan shared identity – this is why the historical clarity about the genocide against the Tutsi is of national and international importance.

The memorials Rwanda maintains (four of which have been designated UNESCO world heritage sites) are vital to anchoring the truth, and truth is essential to reconciliation and renewal. The artefacts we preserve are our evidence, and the stories we tell are witness testimony.

Our collective memory also provides the world with a warning that the ideology which drove the genocide must not be allowed to flourish and spread ever again. This is unfortunately still happening today in different parts of the world.

How many times must we say ‘Never Again’ before it becomes real? We must learn from past atrocities and apply these lessons to prevent future tragedies.

Rwanda’s transformation, based on unity and reconciliation, offers hope. By investing in infrastructure, education, and women’s empowerment, Rwanda demonstrates the resilience that leads to sustainable development.

On this April 7 and beyond, we ask that Nigeria stand in solidarity with Rwanda. We ask that you do this to honour the memory of all Rwandans who lost their lives, and acknowledge Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and others who did their best to help during Rwanda’s darkest hour. And we ask for your solidarity in preserving the true account of Rwanda’s history so that the world can match the words ‘never again’ with tangible action to prevent history from repeating itself.

 

Source: PUNCH NEWS

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How plant-to-grid coordination can help Nigeria’s industrialisation quest

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How plant-to-grid coordination can help Nigeria’s industrialisation quest

As Nigeria grapples with an overwhelming energy demand that has skyrocketed beyond 98,000MW for a population tipping over 200 million, the stark reality of the nation’s energy crisis is laid bare—over half of the population is ensnared by the lack of reliable electricity. In stark contrast to the formidable installed capacity of 12,522MW, the reality is a power infrastructure crippled by rampant outages and grave inefficiencies. Despite the infusion of resources into ambitious initiatives like the National Integrated Power Projects and sweeping privatisation efforts, the anticipated surge in energy provision remains an unrealised dream. However, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas on Bonny Island paints a different picture—one of self-sufficient power generation and substantial community contributions, pointing to the latent potential of a decentralised energy generation approach. A replication of this model, bolstered by comparable incentives, could propel an array of Nigerian industries to the forefront of the energy sector, satisfying their consumption needs and supplementing the national grid.

This presents a golden opportunity for policymakers in Nigeria to recalibrate the role of the industrial sector within the national energy agenda. The landmark ratification of Nigeria’s Electricity Act (Amendment) of 2024 marks a legislative milestone, offering new powers to states, businesses, and individuals for electricity generation, transmission, and distribution. The earmarking of a portion of GENCOs’ operational expenditures for the uplift of host communities is indicative of a seismic shift towards a more equitable and community-centric energy generation model.

Nonetheless, the forward-leaning posture of the Act doesn’t mask the looming challenges. The persistent shortfall in energy access, the underutilisation of Nigeria’s abundant renewable resources, and deep-rooted sector inefficiencies necessitate a strategic re-evaluation. This legislative backdrop amplifies the urgency for a more cohesive, sustainable, and decentralised approach to energy generation. Policymakers are now poised to steer the industrial sector towards embracing plant-to-grid systems, incentivising the amalgamation of renewable energy solutions that could significantly tighten the energy deficiency gap. This strategy ushers in alignment with the national vision of a robust, sustainable, and industrialised future, charting an essential trajectory towards energy sovereignty and economic fortitude.

Plant-to-grid coordination is conceptualised as a revolutionary industrial strategy that recasts manufacturing plants as both energy consumers and producers. It advocates the integration of renewable systems, such as solar PV or wind turbines, into industrial operations. These installations not only cater to the plants’ power needs but also have the capability to contribute surplus energy to the national grid, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between industrial productivity and energy provision.

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What Airpeace’ Lagos-London Gatwick Routes Mean To Nigerians

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What Airpeace' Lagos-London Gatwick Routes Mean To Nigerians

In a historic moment of pride and achievement, Airpeace, Nigeria’s leading airline, defied skeptics and naysayers by launching its own Boeing 777 aircraft for its inaugural Lagos-London Gatwick flight. Amidst the buzz of wet-leased campaigns, Air Peace showcased its commitment to excellence by fielding its own aircraft, bearing registration number 5N-BVE.

The successful landing of the Airpeace Boeing 777 at Gatwick Airport marked a monumental occasion for Nigeria, with the airline making headlines both at home and abroad. What set this flight apart was not just the aircraft itself, but the all-Nigerian crew on board, including the pilots, a senior first officer, and a captain.

With a capacity of 274, the aircraft accommodated 260 passengers on its maiden voyage, symbolizing the eagerness and enthusiasm of Nigerians to connect with the world. Among the distinguished passengers was the Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo SAN CON FCIarb (UK), whose presence underscored the government’s commitment to supporting local operators while upholding best industry practices.

On the inaugural flight were also the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, distinguished Senators, House of Representatives members and prominent celebrities spanning all walks of life.

The journey to London Gatwick was not without its challenges, but the dedication and determination of both the Airpeace management and government officials, led by the Honourable Minister, ensured the success of the venture. Minister Keyamo’s unwavering support during the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) negotiations exemplified his dedication to fostering growth and innovation within Nigeria’s aviation sector.

As the minister emphasized during his speech aboard the inaugural flight, the commencement of the Lagos-London route signifies the dawn of a new era, promising increased connectivity and economic benefits for Nigeria. Furthermore, the minister pledged to facilitate the opening of more BASA routes for airlines demonstrating capacity and consistency, signaling a brighter future for the industry.

Beyond its economic implications, the launch of Airpeace’s London route carries cultural significance, as it reintroduces authentic Nigerian cuisine to international travelers. Passengers can now savor the flavors of home with dishes like Nigerian pepper soup and jollof rice, offering a taste of nostalgia at 30,000 feet.

However, the true measure of Airpeace’s success lies in the support and patronage of Nigerians, both at home and abroad. By choosing to fly with their national carrier, Nigerians can contribute to the airline’s growth and affirm its position as a symbol of national pride.

In conclusion, the inaugural Lagos-London Gatwick flight marks a significant milestone for Airpeace and Nigeria as a whole. It represents not only a triumph of innovation and determination but also a testament to the nation’s potential on the global stage. As Airpeace continues to soar, it carries with it the hopes and aspirations of a nation united in its pursuit of excellence.

Tunde Moshood is the SA Media and Communications to the Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

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