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Sadiya Farouk’s Fresh Impetus For N-Power Programme

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N-Power Programme commence on Friday

Sadiya Farouk’s Fresh Impetus For N-Power Programme

Many unemployed graduates, as well as their parents and guardians, are bound to heave a sigh of relief following the announcement, by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, that enrolment into Batch C, of the N-Power Programme, will commence on Friday, June 26, 2020.

This is coming against the backdrop of the concerted effort by the ministry to resolve some of the knotty challenges that have dogged the implementation the programme. Besides, It is gratifying to note that the two underlying issues, the exit dates for batches A and B participants and the issue of outstanding payments have been substantially sorted out. As a matter of fact, the only issue left to be resolved, as admitted by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, during last Tuesday’s press brief of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, is the outstanding allowances to 12, 000 participants, out of 500, 000 beneficiaries. The minister’s admission was a bold demonstration of transparency, given her earlier position that all the beneficiaries had been paid. What cannot be dismissed is her explanation, that the disconnect was created by the migration, from the original platform in use, to the Federal Government’s IPSSIS platform. These are indeed familiar problems in Nigeria and until recently customers of banks suffered untold disruption each time any of the banks embarked on any type of upgrading or change. Be that as it may, we can take consolation in the knowledge that the issue is being resolved.

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It is cheery news that the 500, 000 graduates of batches A and B of the N-Power Programme, since it was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016, under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) will now exit into entrepreneurship schemes on June 30 and July 31.To appreciate the significance of this development, one needs to understand the rationale for the programme in the first place. As clearly stated from the beginning, the Buhari Administration initiated the N-Power “to reduce youth unemployment by providing a structure for large scale and relevant work skills acquisition and development. In addition, its core outcome was to be linked to fixing inadequate public services and stimulating the larger economy. Thus, while there has been some predictable mischief among some critics of the program, there is no denying that, in some cases, apprehension caused by the delayed exit of the beneficiaries has been genuine and justified.

That the minister and her team have successfully dismantled the roadblocks that had posed a huge cog in the wheel of progress; obstacles that effectively undermined the attainment of the lofty objectives of the scheme, hold her up as a tenacious and focused strategist whose often subdued countenance should not be misjudged for indolence or weakness. If anything, it is obvious that she is a calm and calculated manager who understands how to effectively deploy men and materials to achieve the vision and mission of the Buhari Administration.

With the imminent enrolment of 300 graduates under Batch C, the Administration will be on course, in its pledge to empower Nigerian youths with life-long skills in order to become solution providers in their communities both locally and internationally. Little wonder President Muhammadu Buhari commended the programme in his Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, 2020. Appreciating the great efforts put in by the Ministry, President Buhari said “our Social Investment Programme has continued to be a model to other nations.”

Obviously, the minister and her team deserve a pat on the back for the decisive steps taken to ensure that Batches A and B exit the program. It is a known fact that many of the participants never wanted to exit the programme, perhaps, due to the inherent benefits attached to N-Power. This has been one of the major challenges facing the scheme.

However, the truth remains that the programme was not intended to be an open-ended avenue for people to colonise endlessly while denying others what, in local parlance, has come to be known as “dividends of democracy”. So the minister was right when she asserted that the imminent enrolment of Batch C participants is in in furtherance of the President’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, by creating opportunities that will enhance the productivity of the Nigerian youths for entrepreneurship.

In retrospect, it is regrettable that, despite the immense benefits of the programme which was initiated with all the best of intentions, the huge problems that were later to be inherited by the minister, the first to occupy the position, were not really anticipated or provided for.

Be that as it may, it is reassuring that the Buhari administration, with Minister Sadique Umar Farouq as the arrowhead, has been able to unhinge that protracted lock-jam, and now pushing for a sustainable template. Obviously, this could not have been possible without the patience, diligence and dedication of the minister and her team. It is, therefore, pertinent for Nigerians to be patient. The need to support and encourage those at the driving seat, as they strive to do a thorough job, cannot be overemphasized.

Yet, even as the minister’s effort is acknowledged, it is also hoped that the mistakes of the past have been taken care of. As the saying goes, once beaten, twice shy. It will be a sad day if, after this time out, Nigerians wake up again to tales of delayed payment or inadequate plans for the exit of Batch C beneficiaries on completion of their programme. From all indications, there is need for greater synergy between the Ministry and various stakeholders including state governments, the organised private sector and other development partners whose input and support form integral parts of this novel development architecture in the history of Nigeria. For maximum success, it is imperative to now mainstream all these stakeholders, into the new implementation mode of the scheme, even as the Batch 3 participants are being enrolled. The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) model whereby participants are put through mentorship in life skills as artisans, professionals and entrepreneurs should be deliberately cultivated to upscale the competences and confidence levels of the N-Power graduates. With such synergy, it will be very easy for the graduates, to gain requisite entrepreneurial skills necessary for transiting to either employers of labour or highly needed skilled manpower in the local and global markets.

In addition, the ministry should incorporate regular capacity-building seminars for peer group review by the participants within contiguous areas. Such for should also be used to attract successful entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders who would mentor the participants, not only in their various areas of specialisation but on citizenship issues.

Overall, it is indeed noteworthy that the n-Power programme is well on course. Despite the huge interest, by both admirers and adversaries, in the performance of the ministry, the minister and her team should not be discouraged. Public service is akin to living in the dust bin: every conceivable thing can be dumped inside it. What matters is to remain focused, to be able to make a difference and overall, to impact on lives. I want to say, without any fear of contradiction, that the imminent enrolment of Batch C, of the N-Power programme may be seen as one little step, but it is in reality, a giant leap towards sustainability of the programme.

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NSCDC Arrest Suspected Human Trafficker In Enugu

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NSCDC Human Trafficker In Enugu

NSCDC Arrest Suspected Human Trafficker In Enugu

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) Command in Enugu has arrested a suspected human trafficker, Mrs. Okafor Chioma, who specialize in recruiting under-aged girls to run prostitution cartel.

CSP Danny Iwuchukwu, the spokesman for the command, said this in a statement on Thursday in Enugu.

Iwuchukwu alleged that the suspect was recruiting underage girls aged between 12 and 16, and sending them to brothels in different states for prostitution.

He said that she was arrested in Enugu on June 18 following intelligence report on her nefarious activities.

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Iwuchukwu said that the suspect, a widow who hailed from Nsugbe community in Anambra State, confessed to the crime and said she had been in the business for over four years.

“On their method of operation, she confessed that she works with a syndicate that brings the girls to her.

“And that her job is to give the girls out to different brothels where they would be prostituting and be remitting proceeds to her.

“She confessed that before giving the girls out, that she normally enters into an agreement with them.

“She said that the agreement varies from person to person putting into consideration how beautiful a particular girl is, while some pay her N50,000, others pay as much as N100,000.

“She further said that the agreement usually last for six months after which the girls will be freed.

“She, however, pleaded for forgiveness promising to stop the business,’’ he said.

Iwuchukwu said that the command has made contact with some of the girls (victims) recruited into the business by the suspect and they were willing to testify.

He, however, said that investigation was ongoing to track down some of the syndicate working for the suspect.

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Conducting WAEC Examinations Amidst COVID-19 Spread

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WAEC Examinations

Conducting WAEC Examinations Amidst COVID-19 Spread

The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has announced dates for the commencement of its annual examinations. In this report, JOY YESUFU looks at the modalities put in place in Nigerian schools to avert the spread of COVID-19 among candidates taking the examinations.

The West African Examination Council (WAEC) recently announced that 2020 West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for school candidates will commence by August this year, and end by the first week of September.

According to the body, there will be modalities attached to the writing of the examination, in accordance with the guidelines of the federal government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The information released further revealed that the timetable for the examination would be released by the second week of the July.

Also, the results of all candidates will be released on the 45th day after the last paper has been taken.

The information further explained that all the five countries of Africa taking the examination (Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia) will start the examination together. Based on the instructions, candidates are to arrive at the examination center an hour before the commencement of the day’s papers, as lateness will not be tolerated.

To prevent further spread of the virus, candidates will not be allowed into the examination hall without wearing a facemask.

The federal government last Monday announced the reopening of schools as part of modifications to the COVID-19 lockdown, the phase two of which it extended for another 30 days.

The resumption was, however, limited to graduating JSS 3 and SSS 3 preparing to write their final examinations.

Chairman of the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force (PTF), Boss Mustapha, announced this during a briefing by the Task Force in Abuja.

Mixed reactions have however trailed the announcement. While some opined that the federal government had not adequately prepared the schools for resumption, in view of the reality of challenges thrown-up by COVID-19, others say it is a welcome development as students tend to study more when in classroom and that online study is not effective.

The minister of state for education, Mr Emka Nwajiuba, during a subsequent briefing of the PTF said WAEC had approved August 4th for the commencement of their annual Senior Secondary School Examinations (SSCE) for students in senior secondary three.

Nwajiuba said the examination would end on September 5th adding that NECO and NABTEB examinations will also commence immediately after the WAEC examinations are over.

The minister further said all states had the option of either resumption for day or boarding students as long as they follow the basic rules and regulations to contain the spread COVID-19.

He also said that the federal ministry of education would on Tuesday hold conclusive stakeholder’s meetings with the NCDC and Nigerian Union of Teachers on new examination dates urging final year students who are yet to register for SSCE to do so as soon as possible.

Nwajiuba said private school owners must keep to the regulations of the pandemic as they reopen for the examination.

“All schools will be decontaminated before resumption dates with chemicals that will not long lasting but will also disinfect the school environment,” he added.

However, nothing much was said about the examination of students in junior secondary school 3 who were supposed to also resume same time.

The Lagos State government amongst other states had earlier announced August 3 for the resumption of students in transitional classes in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who made the announcement said the resumption applies to only students in Senior Secondary 3 (SS3) and Technical College 3 (TEC), while dates for JSS3 and other classes will be announced later.

The governor disclosed that the decision was made by stakeholders in the state.

He said no boarding activities will be permitted and all schools are expected to open strictly for day schooling.

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“However, students in transitional classes, who have mandatory Public exams ahead of them are permitted to resume at only day schools as soon as possible for revision classes and examination. All educational establishments are to follow established public health guidelines and protocols for re-opening the schools for these categories of students”

He added that tertiary institutions are to continue their online academic activities which are at various advanced stages.

In a telephone conversation with LEADERSHIP, the advisory director, White Plain British School, Dr Francis Chukwumah Nwufoh, said reopening of schools was a welcome development as online schools were not as effective.

According to him, students are oftentimes not attentive during online, but are more concentrated while in class. He however advised the government to ensure adequate hygiene within and around the classroom environment and ensure that candidates observe social distancing to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

“It is a welcomed development. We tried online school but it was not effective. Children are not serious. You will be talking to them before you know they will say I want to go to the toilet. They are more serious and concentrated in the class room. What should be done is seriousness concerning social distance and hygiene of the class room. Interaction between teachers and students is very important. It is very important that they open school because if children are not engaged, they might start forgetting what they have learnt,” he said.

Nwufoh further noted that experimental sciences like physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics needed serious physical interaction between students and teachers for more clarity. This according to him will help during their practical examinations.

Also speaking to LEADERSHIP, the director of press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Gong, said the ministry was currently holding meetings to tie all loose ends before students can go back to classes.

He said both private and public schools would have to work out their details as it suits them.

According to him, all schools must be fumigated before resumption, students will be divided into two for each class and those with boarding facilities will have to space the bunks.

“We have to do fumigation, we have to decongest the bed in the dormitory, so that we can space them well. We have to subdivide the classes, so that if you have a class of 50, you break it into two. Divide them into two since it is only the examination classes, the final year classes that are resuming.

“Every school will have excess classrooms so that social distancing can be observed. It is the same way we will split them in the hostels. If the bunks are close, we can leave three bunks in between two people. Fumigation will also have to be done in the hostels. There will also be a notice going to parents on what is expected from them as their children go back to school, face mask, hand sanitisers and so on. The private sector can also take a cue from that.

A parent, Lucy Bateh, who has a daughter preparing for the SSCE expressed fears as her daughter is in a boarding school in Benue state while she and other members of the family live in Abuja.

She said if most adults had been seen not to observe social distancing as shown in some online videos, then how these young ones will adhere to it while alone in hostels at night.

“There may be guidance and strict adherence to rules of Covid-19 during the examinations hour in the day times, but who will guide them to do the right thing when they return to the hostel?” she asked.

She called on school authorities all over the country to ensure those with boarding facilities are properly guided so the returning student won’t have any chance of contracting the disease while writing the examination.

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Meals Skipped, Passengers With Temp Above 37C Turned Back As Flights Resume

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Flights Resume

Meals Skipped, Passengers With Temp Above 37C Turned Back As Flights Resume

After about three months of restriction due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, four local airlines yesterday started domestic flight operations from the Lagos airport.

The airlines include Air Peace, Arik Air, Max Air and Ibom Air.

As early as 5am, passengers were seen driving into the Lagos airport terminal to commence boarding formalities.

There were rigorous checks by airport officials, even as social distancing was strictly enforced.

On arrival, all passengers were made to sanitise their hands, just as their temperatures were checked and their baggage disinfected before going into the terminal to queue for boarding.

The restart commenced with Arik Air’s 7am Lagos-Abuja flight with about 50 per cent load factor.

Although the flight was scheduled for 7am, it actually took off at about 7:16am. The passengers boarded from the General Aviation Terminal 1 (GAT) under the supervision of officials of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other airport officials.

Assessing the level of compliance, spokesman for Arik Air, Mr Banji Ola told LEADERSHIP that he was satisfied with the passenger traffic, the orderliness and their cooperation.

Mr Banji also disclosed that, the last two flights of the day would have more passengers than the numbers recorded in the morning, based on the number of tickets sold so far.

Meanwhile, Air Peace had urged its customers to embrace online booking and check-in, employing its user-friendly Mobile App, as a means of minimising physical contact.

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Speaking on the restart, the airline’s spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, disclosed that Air Peace has put in place reliable measures to protect both passengers and staff pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight, adding that the flying public need not worry but comply with all health protocols.

He said the airline has thoroughly disinfected all its aircraft and the flight crew are current as well as COVID-19 conscious.

“If your temperature reads above 37 degrees, you’ll be denied boarding. No loitering on the aisle of the aircraft. Hands must be sanitised and no more meals on board. This is to reduce crew-passenger contact. Flying will be somewhat different but we can guarantee your safety”, he added

Although Dana Air was not part of the flight restart that commenced yesterday, the carrier stated that it will resume its domestic flight services today, 2020.

The airline further assured that it will operate three daily flights from Lagos to Abuja and back, while the date for the addition of Port Harcourt and Owerri will be announced later.

The chief operating officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo, while speaking on the preparedness of the airlines said, “Dana Air is ready to fly safely again from the 9th of July. We have worked round the clock with the NCAA to achieve this safe resumption of flights and we are introducing other initiatives soon in line with the present realities and the need to minimize contacts at the airport.

”We have disinfected all our aircraft, provided all our staff with the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been made available at our check-in, boarding gates and onboard the aircraft for guests and we have an optimised cleaning protocol in place as recommended by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

We have also created a boarding strategy which will give our passengers some sense of safety onboard our aircraft.

”We are distinctly positioned to reduce the impact of the concerns you might have, starting from proper maintenance schedule, pre-flight cleaning and boarding, to in-flight service and disembarkation — all aspects of our flights have been optimised for the safety and well-being of our guests.

”To stay ahead, our guests are advised to book their tickets online, use our self-service at MMA2 or download the Dana Air app for booking and reservation. Also in line with the new health protocols at the airports, we have advised our guests to arrive at the airport at least three hours to their flight. They are also required to wear a face mask at the airport and onboard our flights.”

Similarly, Nigeria’s oldest carrier, Aero Contractors said that it scheduled to start flight operation also today.

The airline said that it chose to resume flight service a day after the official restart date in order to stagger flight schedule to ensure that airport facilities were not stretched beyond COVID-19 protocol guidelines.

The management of Aero explained that contrary to some media reports that indicated the airline was denied approval to operate, it has received its approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and it would start operations today.

“Based on the protocol and NCAA regulation in cognisance of the new airport facilitation and COVID-19 protocols, we decided to restart our operation today in order to stagger the flight schedule. So we are inviting our esteemed customers who have enjoyed our service over the years to fly with us from today”, Aero management emphasized.

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#COVID19NIGERIA Situation Report

http://news.ncbn.ng/2020/06/04/coronavirus-and-the-adversity-of-the-asymptomatic-bala-ibrahim/

@Africa CDC

The African Union and Africa CDC will virtually rollout the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) in Africa tomorrow 4 June, 2020 at 11.00 am Eastern Africa Time.

The African Union and Africa CDC will virtually rollout the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) in Africa tomorrow 4 June, 2020 at 11.00 am Eastern Africa Time.

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"Also found worthy of honour was Bashir Abubakar, an Asst Comptroller-General of Customs, who rejected a bribe of $412,000 per container offered him by drug traffickers seeking to bring 40 containers of Tramadol into Nigeria. A fine example of incorruptibility, worthy of emulation"

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