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Nigeria Gets First Ever Emmy Nod with ‘Sweet, Sweet Codeine’

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Nigeria Gets First Ever Emmy Nod with ‘Sweet, Sweet Codeine’

By Adedapo Adesanya

Award-winning Nigerian investigative journalist, Ruona J. Meyer’s documentary, which investigated Nigeria’s struggle with codeine addiction titled ‘Sweet, Sweet Codeine’, has been nominated for an international Emmy – marking the country’s first ever nomination for the prestigious award.

The programme, which explores the horrors of an opioid endemic and exposes the corrupt agents responsible, has led to Nigeria imposing a total ban on the production and importation of codeine cough syrup.

The documentary titled ‘Sweet Sweet Codeine’, was produced by the BBC World Series under their BBC Africa Eye division and also marks its first ever nomination for the award since its formation in 1932.

Ruona Meyer, the Nigerian reporter behind the programme, is studying for a PhD in Media Discourse and African Investigative Journalism at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, England said that she pitched the idea to the BBC after witnessing the devastating effects that codeine syrup addiction can have first-hand.

She said: “It was personal for me; and I thought – if someone else’s brother is going to watch this and it helps that one person it would be enough for me but the fact that we destroyed those cartels, I still don’t even believe it.”

Ruona’s own brother battled with codeine syrup addiction following the assassination of their father, Godwin Agbroko, who was an investigative journalist in Nigeria.

Ruona said: “It was always in the back of my mind that my father was killed for doing something like this – for what he wrote about Nigeria.”

Working with Nigerian BBC reporter Adejuwon Soyinka, the report features raids by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), undercover drug deals with corrupt pharmaceutical executives and harrowing footage of rehabilitation centres for addicts.

Ruona said: “It was emotionally and mentally upsetting; you had to watch people just like you struggling with addiction and come to terms with the fact that this could easily be you next week.”

After the release of the documentary, Nigeria’s upper house of parliament voted in favour of a total ban on the drug saying that the cough syrup trade profited the insurgency of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in the country’s northeast.

Since this decision, Nigeria has recalled more than 2.4 million bottles of cough syrup containing codeine to also tackle products already present within the country.

The documentary was so impactful that it prompted a swift response from people across the country, including Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, who said in an Instagram post that she was ‘deeply saddened’ by the rise of the problem, especially in Northern Nigeria.

“I call on all security agencies, lawmakers, judiciary, drug manufacturers, civil society, regulators, teachers, parents, neighbours and you to take this as a personal war and halt the menace,” she added.

The BBC Africa Eye documentary features alongside nominees from Brazil, Sweden, Qatar, Russia and the UK in the race for a News or Current Affairs International Emmy; with the winners receiving their awards in New York on Tuesday September 24.

To see the list of all nominations for the Emmy visit: https://www.iemmys.tv/2019-international-emmy-awards-nominees-for-news-current-affairs-announced/

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Nigeria Inaugurates Mini Grids Programme to Expand Clean Energy Access

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Mini Grids Programme

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has inaugurated the Africa Mini Grids Programme (AMP) to support access to clean energy in Nigeria.

Mr Ayang Ogbe, the Director of Promotions at REA, said this in a statement in Abuja, noting that the four-year project was being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria.

He said that the programme aims to increase the financial viability and promote scaled-up commercial investment in renewable energy mini-grids, focusing on cost-reduction levers and innovative business models.

According to him, the renewable energy mini-grids are with a focus on cost-reduction levers and innovative business models.

“The programme is active in 21 African countries, and the Nigeria national project implemented by the REA is the first to commence implementation following the official inauguration at an inception workshop.

“The workshop was hosted in collaboration with representatives from the UNDP, GEF, Federal Ministries of Power, Environment and Agriculture as well as other key stakeholders in the rural development space,” he said.

Mr Ogbe said that the Africa mini-grids programme in Nigeria was designed as an enabler project of the REA’s Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP).

He said that EAP aims to advance one of REA’s strategic priorities of focusing on the unserved and underserved to increase economic opportunities.

”Through agriculture and productive sectors in rural communities across the country, this objective is in line with the mandate of the REA to catalyse economic growth and improve the quality of life for rural Nigerians.

Speaking on the project, Mr Mohamed Yahya, the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, said that the UNDP was delighted with the inauguration of the Africa mini-grids programme in Nigeria with the REA as the project’s implementing partner.

He said, “access to reliable, sustainable, affordable energy is a catalyst to socio-economic development, and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

“By scaling up solutions such as renewable energy mini-grids, we will be able to close the energy access gap and unlock opportunities for people in Nigeria and across the region,” he said.

On his part, Mr Jonah Stanley,  GEF Operational Focal Point at the Federal Ministry of Environment, emphasised the significance of the programme, which he sees as central to issues.

“Such as security, climate change, food production and strengthening economies while protecting ecosystems.”

The statement quoted the Managing Director of the REA, Mr  Salihijo Ahmad, “commending the collaborative spirit of the agency’s partners and stakeholders that enabled the activation of the programme.”

Mr Ahmad said that the Africa mini-grids programme would serve as another catalyst for improved access to sustainable energy and equitable and inclusive impact on livelihoods by unlocking agricultural value addition opportunities from electrification.

He said, “this sectoral approach is in line with the agency’s focus on programmes to advance the electrification targets and broader social and economic development objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

The statement also quoted Mr Sanusi Ohiare, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund (REF) at the REA as saying, “there is the need to enhance the viability of mini-grids and the impact of electrification”.

“To this end, the programme will deploy pilot mini-grids to achieve the electrification of rural communities and agricultural value chain.”

Mr Ohiare said that the project would also establish the most appropriate solutions and business models while amplifying the knowledge gained to catalyse private investment.”

The AMP in Nigeria will contribute to SDG 7, which is  (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 13 (Climate Action) and  Goal 5 (Gender Equality), with an estimate of 70,063 direct project beneficiaries, out of which 34,559 are women.

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IBEDC Assures Customers Prompt Response to Complaints

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IBEDC directors suspended NERC

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Plc has expressed commitment to contributing its best to national development through excellent service delivery, improved power supply, prompt response to customers’ complaints and bridging the metering gap across our franchise.

The interim managing director of the energy firm, Mr Kingsley Achife, gave this assurance in a message to congratulate Nigerians on the 62nd anniversary of being an independent nation.

To celebrate the day, October 1, the federal government declared Monday, October 3, as a public holiday. Because of its desire to make the work-free day enjoyable, he assured excellent service delivery.

“We are aware that our customers are looking forward to enjoying power supply during the holiday, so our technical crew are available to rectify any faults that may arise during this period, and our customer care line 0700123999 will remain active to respond to complaints and reports promptly,” Mr Achife was quoted as saying in a statement issued by IBEDC.

He implored customers to take advantage of the company’s hassle-free payment channels such as Quick teller, Payarena, Jumia, Watu, Buypower and ATM to pay their bills and vend.

“Our payment centres are also open during the holiday from 9 am-3 pm to attend to customers,” he further said in the statement, noting that IBEDC has put stringent measures in place to ensure good service delivery.

As for the Independence Day celebration, Mr Achife urged Nigerians to ensure that the founding fathers’ sacrifices and ideologies remain the watchwords for a united and peaceful country.

He also appealed to them to continue striving for the country’s development, saying electricity is one of the catalysts that drive the growth and development of any economy.

While wishing the customers of IBEDC a happy Independence Day, the MD advised motorists to avoid driving under the influence of alcohol and observe traffic rules to prevent collisions with electric poles and other accidents during the independence celebration.

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Buhari Urges Leaders to Tackle Slow AfCFTA Integration

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China Africa AfCFTA

By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would succeed if African governments demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation, and tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

He made this disclosure while addressing the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference on Friday in Abuja, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the President decried the low-level trade among African countries.

He said, “As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.

”We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

”I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.

”Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people,” the President said, urging the Conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills.

The conference, he said, should also seek and advance innovative solutions to support our common quest for the expansion of intra-Africa trade opportunities for our people.

He commended the conference organisers for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, lauding the President of Afreximbank, Mr Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing $250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.

He acknowledged that the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimizing the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.

“This opportunity, if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up.

“This will undoubtedly complement broader programmes such as the AfCFTA which remains one of the most strategic pan-African agenda to deliver inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.

The President also recognised the support of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and the role of its Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, in organizing the conference in Abuja.

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