Children in Remote Communities Must Have Access to Education—Ogunsanya
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The chief executive of Airtel Africa Plc, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, has made a case for vulnerable children in remote communities on the continent, saying they should have access to education and be given an opportunity to learn.
He said this was why the leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services pledged to invest $57 million into educational programmes during a five-year partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Last week, executives of Airtel Africa and UNICEF were in Nairobi, Kenya, for a two-day conference to discuss the implementation of the landmark partnership across 13 out of Airtel’s 14 markets.
Mr Ogunsanya acknowledged the challenges faced in implementing the partnership in some of the 13 African countries and urged the governments of the affected countries to support this important initiative.
He reflected on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in Africa, leading to school closures, and charged the participants to continue to work closely with stakeholders, especially the governments and educational authorities, to ensure that children, especially vulnerable children in remote communities, are given the opportunity to learn.
As a leading telecommunications company in the region, Airtel Africa uses its unique insights to stand up for the children of Africa’s right to education and equality of opportunity.
The Airtel Africa chief reiterated Airtel Africa’s corporate purpose of transforming lives and pledged that the organisation would continue to champion the quest to bridge the digital divide and promote financial inclusion.
On her part, the deputy regional director of UNICEF, Ms Lieke van de Wiel, described the Airtel Africa/UNICEF partnership as an important collaboration of private and public sectors aimed at putting children at the heart of their learning and changing the narrative in education after years of loss during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She commended Airtel Africa for coming on board and encouraged the participants to seize the moment by sharing experiences and exchanging ideas and learnings on implementing the initiative.
In 2021, Airtel Africa and UNICEF signed a landmark partnership committing to provide access to quality education for more than one million children by connecting schools to the internet and providing access to zero-rated educational platforms in 13 African countries.
Airtel Africa is the first private sector company on the continent to partner with UNICEF to support programmes focused on accelerating digital learning, with access to education as one of the key goals of Airtel Africa’s sustainability strategy.
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Airtel Renovates 12 Blocks of 37 Classrooms in Gombe
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The 12 blocks of 37 classrooms of Government Day Primary, Pantami, Gombe State, have been renovated by Airtel Nigeria as part of its Adopt-A-School corporate social responsibility initiative.
The facility is the 7th adopted school of the leading telecommunications network and was commissioned on Friday, March 24, 2023, by the Emir of Gombe.
While handing over the project to the school leadership, the State Business Manager for Airtel Nigeria, Mr Moses Adejo, said 17 toilets were also revamped for the pupils and teachers.
“Airtel is committed to improving the education system in Nigeria, and we love to identify with basic school education where the nurturing starts. This is because we truly believe that children are the future of this country,” he said.
Also speaking, the Emir of Gombe, represented by Falakin Gombe, Mr Kabiru Tshon, applauded Airtel for the support towards education in Gombe, noting that he is a subscriber of Airtel Network.
“Thank you to Airtel Nigeria for this wonderful intervention which is the first of its kind in Gombe state. I am delighted to find out that Airtel can do so much to support education in our state. I am one of their subscribers, so I am pleased to say that my Airtel is making an impact in Gombe,” the monarch said.
According to the Head Teacher of Government Day Primary School, Mr Sani Abubakar, Airtel is the first to carry out such intervention in the school and the whole of Gombe state.
“This is the first historical event in our state in respect of intervention by any NGO or other organizations. Government Day Primary School is the biggest school in the whole of Gombe state, and Airtel did all it could to upgrade the classrooms and convert all the pit toilets into modern water cistern toilets. All the children now use a water cistern toilet, courtesy of Airtel.” he said.
Government Day Primary School is said to be the largest primary school in Gombe state, with a total population of 7,119 pupils registered under the school for basic education and 135 teachers who cater to their educational needs.
Since the inception of Airtel’s Adopt-A-School initiative, Airtel Nigeria has adopted dilapidated schools in rural areas and rehabilitated them for at least four years. This is in line with Airtel’s commitment to improving the standard of education in Nigeria, and since its inception, Airtel has remained committed to the development of these schools.
UNN Confers Doctorate Degree on Zenith Bank’s Ebenezer Onyeagwu
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The chief executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has added another feather to his highly colourful cap as he was conferred with a doctorate degree over the weekend by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
It was gathered that the respected and brilliant banker was conferred with a doctorate degree in Business Administration in recognition of his immense achievements as the head of the tier-1 Nigerian lender and his contributions to the growth of the financial services sector in Nigeria and across the African continent.
At the 50th convocation ceremony of the school on Saturday, March 25, 2023, the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Charles Igwe, congratulated Dr Ebenezer Onyeagwu for distinguishing himself in his career and for his service to humanity, which made him worthy to receive the prestigious Doctorate Degree from Nigeria’s first indigenous University.
In his acceptance speech, the banking executive expressed his gratitude to the institution for finding him a worthy recipient of the Doctorate Degree in Business Administration, considering the very rigorous process of selection of awardees by the school.
“For me to have been considered and to have passed through the meticulous selection process makes it the more dignifying because I have no connection with the university,” he said, noting that the award represents a validation of the outstanding corporate governance, ethical leadership, and overall outstanding performance that Zenith Bank is recording.
Dr Onyeagwu dedicated the award to the board and management of Zenith Bank, especially the founder and Chairman, Dr Jim Ovia, who he said has remained a mentor, a leader and a source of inspiration to everyone at the bank and beyond; the staff.
He praised him for being the shoulder and proverbial base of the pyramid upon which his achievements and success as CEO of the leading financial institution in Nigeria rest.
The Zenith Bank chief also commended Zenith Bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the brand; and to his family for their unceasing love and support.
Presenting the citation of Dr Onyeagwu to the assemblage at the 50th convocation ceremony for the conferment of the degree, the orator of UNN, Dr Ikenna Onwuegbuna, noted that the banker is an alumnus of Auchi Polytechnic, the University of Oxford, England and Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, United Kingdom, Delta State University, Abraka.
Also, he is an alumnus of Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School of Columbia University, and the Harvard Business School of Harvard University in the United States.
Dr Onyeagwu is a Fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Institute of Credit Administrators (ICA) and Senior Associate Member, Risk Management Institute of Nigeria (RIMAN).
He is also the Chairman of the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers, Nigeria and Chairman of Zenith Pensions Custodian Limited and Zenith Nominees Limited. He is also on the Board of Zenith Bank (UK) Limited, FMDQ Holdings Plc and Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF).
Dr Onyeagwu is a member of the International Monetary Conference (IMC), the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, member of the African Trade Gateway Advisory Council of the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and member of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
He also served on the board of Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, Zenith General Insurance, Zenith Securities Limited, Zenith Assets Management Company, Zenith Medicare Limited, and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
His track record of excellence has also seen him win several individual awards, including being named Bank CEO of the Year (2019) by Champion Newspaper, Bank CEO of the Year (2020, 2021 & 2022) by BusinessDay Newspaper, CEO of the Year (2020 and 2021) – SERAS Awards, and CEO of the Year (2022) – Leadership Newspaper.
Other recipients of Doctorate Degrees at the 50th convocation ceremony were the former Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was conferred with the Doctor of Public Administration, and the Chairman of Hobark International Limited, Dr Obiora Fubara, who received the Doctor of Business Administration. A retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Mary Odili, was conferred with the Doctor of Law; however, her conferment was deferred to a later date because she was unavoidably absent at the ceremony.
The Okeho Exodus: A Review
By Akeem Akinniyi
Playwright: Olutayo Irantiola
Publisher: Peo Davies Communications
Year of Publication: 2022
Reviewer: Akeem Akinniyi
Olutayo Irantiola’s The Okeho Exodus is a historical play set in 1916 but written in a modern-day language and filled with elements that will not alienate a reader in these present times. The play revisits the past of the descendants of Okeho, who resettled among the hills along with ten villages to stem the tide of invasion by the Dahomey and Fulanis. What follows are intrigues of betrayal and bastardisation of culture by colonialists, which eventually leads to the tragic end of not only the king but the loss of the town’s sovereignty to the colonial masters.
The theme of betrayal dominates the play, and the only character who survives it is Oba Arilesire, who built a harmonious home of settlers which sets the tone for successive kings before the turn of Onjo Olukitibi.
The emergence of Captain Ross and his fellow conquerors in Okeho with their laws and subjugation of the people leads to distrust among the chiefs and sets the plot to oust the king, Onjo Olukitibi.
A wave of betrayal rises among the chiefs who think Onjo Olukintibi has sold them out to the colonialists referred to as ‘Ajele’ (a Yoruba word for usurpers). The internecine fighting grows beyond the borders of Okeho and extends to other towns as Balogun Olele seeks allies from far and within against the king.
In the end, the king is captured and annihilated along with his family. Captain Ross avenges the death of the king, and attacks and arrests the unerring chiefs to bring law and order to Okeho, thereby establishing the sovereignty of the colonial masters.
The play deploys antithesis effectively to strike a balance in the events as well as the lives of the characters and the passing of the years. Oba Arilesire’s reign is filled with harmonious living and unity among the people. He would go on to die peacefully in his sleep. This is contrasting to the reign of Onjo Olukintibi whose reign ends in disarray with mistrust in the air and would later die agonizingly in the hands of his own people.
Another is the replacement of invaders; at first, it is the Fulanis and Dahomeys whose aggression make the people of Okeho flee to the new place. Little had they settled down when the colonialists invaded their space, and sadly, it will result in their return to the place they left earlier.
The challenges of colonialism to traditional laws and customs are symbolized by the emergence of Captain Ross whose influence and power conflicted with Onjo Olukintibi, thereby reducing his relevance before the people. His authority is challenged, and as Captain Ross’ influence grows, Olukitibi’s stature shrinks.
The people of Okeho begin to see him as the puppet of the white man. An example is the statement of Oladunni (41) “The reign of Olukitibi is already disheartening. We have never experienced this in Okeho Ahoro, I have been watching with keen interest, and I am getting to lose hope in his leadership abilities. People have been saying that Olukitibi was not the right person to be crowned, he was imposed on us by the colonial masters. But will the kingmakers and the oracle lie?”
The theme of betrayal echoes throughout the book, and it is expressed in many ways. Jinjin represents the modern, inquisitive, and courageous woman who believes in equality. She also represents the Biblical Eve, whose inquisitiveness led to the fall of man through her desire to partake in the Oro traditions. A Yoruba cult tradition that forbids the participation of women. She never hides her intent to break all patriarchal foundations (25):
Jinjin: My right to social equality, freedom of association and speech. I want to know more about Oro. If it was an entirely sacred thing, men should also stay out of the rituals.
To achieve her husband, Olojomo’s commitment to making her participate, she weaponises sex, and the poor man submits to her guiles: “Yes, my mind is at rest now. I am sure that I would soon partake of the ritual, and we would break all the limitations that have been set by many generations” ” (63). Olojomo would go on to get her involved in the ritual, a flaw that ridicules his legacy in the Oro cult leading to his disgrace from the group by fellow initiates who considered his actions a betrayal of trust.
Another female character of note is Oladunni, who challenges the status quo of the submissive housewife who must accept everything that her husband dishes out to her. She broke patriarchal norms by talking back at her husband Oga Akooda (37) who in a state of excitement and drunkenness about the Oro festival insults her father which she replied accordingly and disrespectfully. The husband chases her with the intent to beat her and, instead of being apologetic, tries to give reasons for his uncouth behaviour. (38)
Oga Akioda: She has to swallow those words if not, there won’t be peace any longer in this house. She thought I was tipsy and could not reason well.
Oladunni: I will go to the court of Ross. You will learn lessons. I cannot tolerate you any longer. You are a violent man. (He wants to chase her again, but Akoda holds him).
The court of Ross is the court of the white man which allows room for divorce. This can be seen as a breakaway from the cultural norm of family and community elders settling marital conflicts. It reflects a subjugation of traditional authority. Some of the little cracks that, bit by bit collapse the wall of traditions and customs.
The playwright makes use of songs to communicate and express the mood. The language, though direct, is sometimes riddled with too much Yoruba aided by code-mixing and translations that somehow belabour the point. Some scenes appear intrusive, as we have during the choice of kingship. Above all, the playwright achieves his aim of telling an ancient story to a modern audience by reflecting on the effects of colonialism and its attendant evils of erosion of cultures and abuse of power.
Akinniyi Akeem is an advertising copywriter with one of the leading PR agencies in Nigeria. He enjoys the art of writing, and in his spare time, he loves to delight the blank page with poetry and short stories.
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