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Kano, Adamawa to Operationalize, Adopt FOI Act

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Kano, Adamawa to Operationalize, Adopt FOI Act

By Destiny Ugorji

Two Northern Nigerian States, Kano and Adamawa, have expressed their readiness to adopt and operationalize the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.

Kano State Head of Civil Service, Alhaji Mohammad Auwal Na’iya, made the state government’s position known while delivering a goodwill message on Thursday at an FOI Assessment and Awareness joint Roundtable of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Civil Society organisations in the State.

According to him, the Kano state government is in the process of adopting the Freedom of Information Act, with a view to empowering the citizens to participate actively in governance.

“Kano State government is committed to transparency and accountability and is in the process of adopting the Freedom of Information law in the State. The state government has initiated a number of processes to promote transparency, accountability and prudence in governance.

“The Kano State government has agreed to adopt and implement the Freedom of Information Act through the Open Government Partnership (OGP) process which the State has signed unto. The adoption of the FOI Act in the State is being subjected to wide consultation and will go through the legislative process and passed into law”, he disclosed.

Adding his voice, Executive Chairman, Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC) Alhaji Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado further highlighted the efforts of the present administration in the state to entrench transparency and accountability.

“The government of Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in Kano State is doing so much to ensure that governance is transparent. We are interested in the implementation of the FOI Act in Kano State and the government at the highest level in the state is committed to it, since it will promote openness in governance. The State has signed up to the Open Government Partnership, which is a transparency initiative. Access to Information is one of the pillars of the OGP and we are committed to it. The present administration created the Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission, among other reformatory initiatives. The present administration is sincere and wants the citizens to participate actively in the business of governance.”

The Roundtable was a 3-day event, organized by the Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria (FOICN) and Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC), with support from the European Union, through the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, managed by the British Council.

The event which took place at Tahir Guest Palace Hotel, Kano, had participants drawn from state and non-state actors in the state. The primary objective was to assess the level of awareness and implementation of, and compliance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 in the State.

In his presentations on: Understanding the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and Making Requests for Information Under the Freedom of Information Act, Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, Dr, Walter Duru described the Freedom of Information Act as a veritable tool for the entrenchment of transparency in the state, even as he called on stakeholders to collaborate to ensure its effective implementation.

He commended the Kano State government for committing to FOI implementation, even as he urged Civil Society organisations in the state to take advantage of the development to participate actively in governance, by testing the Act in the state.

Also, in his presentation on: What is Freedom of Information and its importance, Secretary, Board of the Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, Ayode Longe described freedom of Information as the bedrock and foundation of all human rights, urging citizens to participate actively in the drive towards the operationalization of the FOI Act in the state.

Earlier in his presentation, Anti-corruption Programme Manager of the ROLAC programme, Mr. Emmanuel Uche described the Freedom of Information Act as central to every anti-corruption initiative, even as he commended the Kano State government for embracing the Act.

He reiterated the readiness of the ROLAC programme to support further steps that will enhance FOI implementation in the state and beyond.

The roundtable recorded various sessions, comprising presentations, situation assessment through administration of questionnaires, feedback through questions and comments and viewing of a video on how members of a rural Indian community called Rajasthan successfully used the country’s FOI law to hold their elected officials to account for funds that they administered, and the ripple effect it had in the State which entrenched transparency.

Other highlights of the Roundtable are the development of Action Points, outlining next steps, interactive sessions, advocacy visits and a Communique issued at the end of the event. Other important persons at the event are: Anti-corruption programme officer, Pwanakei Dala, head of ROLAC Kano Office, Ibrahim Bello, among others.

Kano is one of the four focal states of the RoLAC programme. The other three are: Adamawa, Lagos and Anambra states.

Similarly, the Adamawa State government has expressed its readiness to operationalize the Freedom of Information Act in the state.

Adamawa state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Bala Sanga disclosed this while delivering a goodwill message during a similar Roundtable for Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as Civil Society Organisations in Adamawa state, recently.

He affirmed that the FOI Act was germane to democracy and good governance, even as he described the present Adamawa state government as transparent. He emphasized that government officials serve the people and should therefore be accountable to them.

“The present Adamawa state government is transparent and willing to do things right. We are in total support and willing to operationalize the Freedom of Information Act in the state. Apart from the FOI Act, public officials have a responsibility to be transparent. If public officials have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear about an access to information law.”

He further promised to advise the state Executive Council to ensure the operationalization of the Freedom of Information Act in the State, even as he urged the organisers of the event to transmit the Action Points from the meeting to his office for necessary actions.

The next port of call for the FOI Assessment Roundtable is Anambra State, expected to hold in the next two weeks. The FOI Assessment Roundtable is a prelude to further interventions aimed at pursuing the vigorous implementation of the FOI Act, with a view to entrenching transparency in governance, while empowering citizens to take advantage of the Act to hold the government accountable.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Drug Trafficker Conceals 23.55kg of Heroin in Baby Food

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drug integrity test

By Adedapo Adesanya

A suspected drug trafficker has been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for concealing  22 blocks of heroin weighing 23.55 kilograms in packs of baby food at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos.

According to a statement issued on Sunday by the agency, the consignment with a street value of over N4.5 billion came from Johannesburg, South Africa on board a South African Airways flight on Wednesday, June 29 as part of a consolidated cargo that arrived at the SAHCO import shed of the Lagos airport.

After a series of follow-up operations that led to the arrest of two freight agents, the actual receiver of the drug consignment, Mr Chike Okeke Eweni, who allegedly distributes the substance for his South Africa-based partner, was arrested the following day, Thursday, June 30 at a logistics warehouse in Ajao Estate, Ikeja.

Mr Chike who hails from Anaocha LGA, Anambra State, claimed during a preliminary interview that he’s also into fish farming.

Before his arrest, NDLEA officers at the airport had on Monday, June 27 arrested a former driver with a public transport company, BRT, Mr Muyiwa Babalola Bolujoko, for ingesting 90 pellets of cocaine. He was arrested at the screening point before boarding a Qatar Airways flight en route from Doha to Sharjah, with his trip expected to terminate in Dubai, UAE.

The 39-year-old from Ijebu South LGA, Ogun State, was placed under excretion observation after body scan results confirmed drug ingestion. While in custody, the suspect excreted all the 90 pellets in four excretions.

He claimed he left his N60, 000 per month job as a BRT driver in February and decided to work as a drug courier to raise funds to buy a shuttle bus popularly called Korope in Lagos to continue his transport business.

Operatives also on Thursday, June 30, intercepted an inbound consignment of khat leaves, which arrived at the NAHCO import shed of the Lagos airport on a Royal Air Maroc flight from the Middle East. A total of 71 cartons of dried khat leaves with a gross weight of 2,434.3 kg were discovered in the cargo.

In the same vein, anti-narcotic officers of the Agency also last Thursday seized 36 parcels of Colorado, a variant of cannabis with a total weight of 19.30kg which arrived at the NAHCO import shed from Los Angeles, US on a Delta Airlines flight.

After a series of follow-up operations in which four persons were arrested, the alleged owner of the drug consignment, Mr Abibu Afis Sola was eventually nabbed on Friday, July 1 in the Gbagada area of Lagos.

Meanwhile, in Rivers state, NDLEA operatives on Wednesday, June 29 arrested a 68-year-old woman, Mrs Celina Ekeke at Obunku community, Oyigbo LGA with 231.2kg cannabis, while one Mr Shedrack Eze, was arrested the following day Thursday, June 30 at Yankarfe, Zaria, Kaduna state with 250,000 tablets of Exol 5, weighing 75 kg.

In Borno state, Mr Usman Haruna, 27, was arrested at the BCG checkpoint in Biu on Saturday, July 2 with 19.7kg of cannabis.

In his remark, the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Mr Mohamed Buba Marwa expressed satisfaction with the exemplary performance of the officers and men of the MMIA command in the past week while also commending those of Rivers, Kaduna and Borno for being vigilant.

He charged them and others across the country to remain steps ahead of the tricks by the desperate drug cartels.

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Council Approves Board to Manage Power Sector Liabilities

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power sector liabilities

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has approved the board composition and proposed governance framework for the sustainable management and payment of post-privatisation power sector liabilities transferred to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) Board.

In a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the council also approved the fast-tracking of the work plan for the concession of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP).

On the board of the NELMCO board are the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who is the Chairman; while members will comprise the Minister of Power, Mr Abubakar Aliyu; Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh; Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha; Managing Director, NELMCO, Mr Adebayo Fagbemi; and all its Executive Directors.

It was also resolved that two key members from the private sector be included on the board.

Also at the meeting, it was noted that the key objectives of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant concession include leveraging private sector access to finance and reduce the reliance on government budgetary allocation to fund the China EXIM Bank loan; and leveraging efficiencies and better facility management (maintenance) culture of the private sector for long-term preservation of the asset.

The Council had, in its December 2020 meeting, approved the concession of the ZHPP.

Similarly, the team was briefed on the performance assessment report of the nine Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), which has been forwarded to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the sector regulator, for further review and action.

At the meeting, it was noted that a thorough performance assessment revealed that most of the set performance targets were not met by the nine electricity distribution companies.

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Google Organises Residency Programme for Young Non-mainstream Creators

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Google Accelerator Programme

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Some young non-mainstream creators were recently gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a two-day residency programme organised by a tech giant, Google.

The bootcamp took place from Tuesday, June 28 to Thursday, June 30, 2022, and helped participants learn how to better connect with their audiences and move the culture forward through platforms like Google Arts & Culture, YouTube and YouTubeShorts.

The program will see the first batch of 25 young Alté creatives from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa attend the residency and be equipped with entrepreneurial skills on how they can enhance the visibility of their brands.

Google explained that it came up with the idea to upskill and celebrate the young creatives, who are normally not given a chance on mainstream media, which resulted in many of them taking to YouTube and others to tell their stories.

“It’s exciting to see creators that identify as non-mainstream find community on our platform. This comes just a few days after we announced a call for applications for the YouTube Black Voices Fund for 2023 aimed at elevating marginalised voices.

“The aim of the residency is to amplify the impact of the Alté movement in Africa and the world. We also want to showcase how products like YouTube and YouTube Shorts and platforms like Google Arts & Culture can help drive the culture forward,” the Communications and Public Relations Manager for Google West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, said.

Though it started in Nigeria, it has strongly taken root across the continent. Recent Google Search trends from across Africa show an increase in `Alté’ related searches from 2020, with questions like ‘What is alté?’, ‘Who is an alté?’ and ‘How to dress alte?’, being the most searched alté related questions.

Other top searches in Africa on Alté include alte’ music, alte’ songs, alte’ suit designs, top alte’ vibe, alte’ kids, alte’ Nigeria, alte’ in Ghana Music, and alte’ food.

Google has also invited Alté creatives that have global brands such as Tshepo The Jeans Maker to give career talks to the young creative entrepreneurs on how to further build and monetise their brands.

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