By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A group of political parties in the country under the aegis of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has said the nationwide broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday night on the unrest in the country came rather too late.
The group, in a statement issued on Friday, disclosed that the President was warned earlier about the tragedy that could befall the nation if he was slow to react to the burning issues.
For nearly two weeks, youths in the country cried out to the federal government through protests across the nation calling for an end to the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force because of its impunity.
Though the police authorities announced the scrapping of the unit, the demonstrators said they were not convinced because it was not the first time such pronouncement was made.
Despite calls from many quarters, including from the international community for the President to speak to the nation on the matter raised by the youths, he did not oblige.
On Tuesday, things turned bloody after soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos, allegedly leading to the death of some of them.
However, the army has denied involvement in the shooting and the Lagos State government has maintained that no fatality was recorded in the unfortunate incident.
Yesterday, Mr Buhari addressed the nation in what many observers have claimed was pre-recorded and in the broadcast, he never made a specific mention on the Lekki shooting, sparking outrage on social media.
Today, CNPP reacted to the presidential broadcast, saying it came too late because the government was warned: “ahead of the ongoing carnage but never listened.”
In the statement signed by its Secretary-General, Mr Willy Ezugwu, the group noted that “if the President had made this statement last week, the ongoing carnage may have been averted.”
“While we continue to condemn acts of violence under whatever circumstances, what is the use of the charmer after the snake has bitten?” it asked.
“CNPP intelligence that led to the plea that President Buhari should address the nation to calm ruffled nerves fell on deaf ears.
“Equally, the warning that any attempt to shoot at the #EndSARS protesters would be catastrophic was also ignored. But today, it is hoped that the government is wiser and be more proactive in the future.
“It must be noted that CNPP as led by Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the National Chairman, is on the ground in all the states of the federation and in touch with the ordinary citizens. We feel their mood and clearly understand their feelings.
“It was an error on the path of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to have ignored the CNPP’s warnings.
“If the President’s broadcast was made a week ago, the carnage may have been prevented but it is now coming too late in the day.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us. The ruling APC must stop seeing the voice of the opposition as the voice of enemies.
“Right now, Nigerians are tired of propaganda and mere promises. We, therefore, urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure justice is done by punishing adequately all SARS officers who extrajudicially killed citizens in the past and match words with actions by immediately reforming the Nigeria Police Force.
“The government must ensure that there is no cover-up in an investigation of the Lekki shooting and other investigation by the state governments. This is the only way to assuage the protesting youths.
“Nigeria must know that a well-funded police force will perform its internal security duties creditably. To this end, we call on the federal government to immediately begin the process of minimising the involvement of the Nigerian military in internal security operations, including the war on insurgency.
“A well trained, properly equipped, and well-motivated police force will provide first-class security for the country as the Nigerian police have proven to be among the best during foreign peacekeeping operations. A word is enough for the wise,” the CNPP said.
Shell Reaffirms Support for Research, Development in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Shell has reiterated its commitment to its research and development strategy, which, according to the Managing Director of the deep-water business of Shell in Nigeria, Mrs Elohor Aiboni, aligns with the country’s 10-year strategic roadmap for local content being implemented by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
According to her, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) would continue to explore opportunities for collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders to enhance in-country capabilities in research and development.
Mrs Aiboni made the commitment at the just concluded second edition of the NCDMB Research and Development Opportunity Fair in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State Capital. “Research and Development have always been a very important activity in our industry and, it is a business imperative for SNEPCo both for solving problems – whether technical or operational – and for the potential for import substitution.”
She said, “Collaboration is particularly significant because, without an effective and sustainable collaboration framework that keeps all stakeholders well connected, it will be near impossible to deliver results from R&D, particularly sustainable results.”
She noted that for over 40 years, Shell Companies in Nigeria deliberately and strategically established strong relationships and partnerships with the academia for building and growing in-country R&D.
She listed some of the areas of partnership to include the annual Sabbatical and Research Internship programmes in Shell for Nigeria academics.
According to Mrs Aiboni, Shell companies in Nigeria have continued to expand their research and development initiatives to reposition the Nigerian oil and gas industry as an exporter of innovations.
“Thirty Nigerians from the academia joined Shell companies in Nigeria in 2020 for the Sabbatical and Research Internship programme which was the highest number of participants in the programme’s history,” she said.
“Since we are a global business organisation, we recognise that research thrives in world-class research institutions, intellectually rich and technology-enabled environments.
“Shell Companies in Nigeria, therefore, endowed targeted professorial chairs and two Centres of Excellence in Nigerian universities as key fulcrums in our drive to encourage R&D in Nigeria,” she noted.
Shell companies in Nigeria have Centres of Excellence for postgraduate studies at the University of Benin, for Geoscience and Petroleum Engineering, and at the Rivers State University, for Marine and Offshore Engineering.
There are also Shell-endowed professorial chairs at the University of Port Harcourt (Petroleum Engineering); the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Environmental Management and Control); the Obafemi Awolowo University (Geophysics); and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Mechanical Engineering).
She said Shell had commenced research to seek local alternatives to the importation of drilling fluids by exploring the development of Synthetic Base Fluids using materials that are available locally in Nigeria. “This is still ongoing and proudly nearing completion by the commissioned two Nigerian universities.”
The NCDMB R&D Opportunity Fair featured exhibitions and technical discussions by academics and stakeholders in oil and gas on strategies for generating demand-driven research that would solve practical problems and improve exploration and production activities.
9mobile Equip Journalists for Better Professional Practice
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
As part of its initiative and ongoing capacity building programme, Nigerian telecommunication giant, 9mobile, recently equipped some journalists with Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills to improve their professional practice.
The session, which was themed Responding to Emerging Challenges in Journalism with the use of AI-powered tools, was set up to acquaint journalists with emerging trends in journalism.
Widely attended by journalists across print and online news platforms, the program was facilitated by Mr Usifo Omozokpea, an experienced multimedia producer and social media strategist who is the current Audience Development Manager (West Africa) at The Conversation Africa.
Speaking at the training, Mr Omozokpea pointed out the specific application and tools of AI such as expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition, and machine vision can be explored by media practitioners to enhance their performance.
He said that some of these tools have been designed for some specific media needs to ease data processing and reporting, adding that journalists should leverage these various AI tools.
Commenting on the training, the Executive Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, 9mobile, Mr Abdulrahman Ado, said, “This clearly shows that learning is a continuum in order to stay relevant as media practitioners in this emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) era.”
Represented by 9mobile’s Public Relations Lead, Mrs Chineze Amanfo, Mr Ado noted that the knowledge gained by participants during the training will go a long way in working with their colleagues and approach to the noble profession.
“The need to consistently upscale skill-set in terms of modern technological tools remains crucial,” he added.
Sea Piracy in Nigeria Drops 80%—NIMASA
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has disclosed that sea piracy has declined drastically by 80 per cent on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
This was made known by the Director-General, Mr Bashir Jamoh, during a courtesy call by Executive Members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, led by the Chairman, Mr Adeleye Ajayi to the NIMASA headquarters in Lagos.
According to Mr Jamoh, $783 million had been lost to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said: “We have recorded a drastic reduction in piracy and this is enough for us to beat our chest and say that we are ready to return to the category ‘C’ of membership of International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“However, the year 2021 has witnessed a significant turnaround under my leadership as insecurity on Nigerian waters had reduced by 80 per cent.”
Mr Jamoh said that the last time the country had a drop in piracy attack in the nation’s waterways was in 1994, saying that Nigerian waterways were one of the top 10 safest glasses of water in the world.
He noted that this achievement was enough reason to sensitise and inform the international community that the Nigerian waterways were now safe than ever before, as Nigeria must take its rightful position among the comity of nations globally.
“We want the cost of the insurance premium paid by Nigerians as a result of insecurity to be reconsidered as insecurity in the country’s waterways had drastically reduced,” Mr Jamoh said.
The NUJ chairman, in his remarks, assured NIMASA of regular publicity as well as a robust relationship between the Lagos Council of NUJ and NIMASA.
He lauded NIMASA for the giant strides it had achieved in the maritime sector, which included safeguarding of Nigeria’s waterways, collaboration with sister agencies of government as well as donations worth millions of naira to the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps and victims of the disaster in the country.
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