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#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS: 100 DAYS – THE NIGERIAN CITIZEN WILL NOT BE SILENCED July 22, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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Wednesday, July 23rd will mark 100 days since 276 girls were savagely abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State. 57 escaped and 219 remain in captivity. The families and community have suffered deep anguish seeking effective rescue to end the peril that befell their daughters who had gone to school in search of knowledge.

In those 100 days, the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign has focused on creating awareness of the abduction to ensure that it is a priority issue requiring action and compelling the right sets of action for a positive outcome. We have engaged various stakeholders – the Presidency, the National Assembly, the office of the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defense Staff, the Borno State Government & other State Governments, ECOWAS member countries and UN agencies to name a few.


Through our various meetings, our singular message has been to demand that the Federal Government perform its fundamental duty of ensuring the security and the welfare of its citizens. As we denounce the wave of terror and insecurity across the country, we continue to demand that the Federal Government deploy its resources to ensure that the missing girls are brought home, and the errors leading from three-weeks of delayed action are remedied.

Citizens who have insisted on standing with our girls and ensuring they are not forgotten are heartbroken that our daughters and sisters are about to spend 100 days with their evil captors.
To amplify our voices in demanding that these girls be brought home now and alive, on the 100th day, there will be a variety of activities around the world. These include:
• Ibadan: Press Conference at the BRECAN Centre at 10 am

• Abuja: Special sit-out ceremony at the Unity Fountain at 3 pm

• Lagos: Remembrance service at the Wall of Missing Girls at Falomo Roundabout at 4pm
• New York: Candlelight vigil at the Nigerian Consulate at 5.30pm.
There will also be events in India, Pakistan, the UK and most world capitals where there are teachers’ organisations in partnership with the UN Special Envoy’s Office of Gordon Brown. Organisations participating are World at School, Girls not Brides, Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free, Educational International and ITa.

The continued pattern of intolerance to the activities of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign is at variance with our effort to promote healthy civic engagement by citizens to strengthen the resolve of government to rescue the girls.

As days become weeks and months and our girls are separated from their parents and their community, our singular focus remains on their safe return in the shortest possible time.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed:
Hadiza Bala Usman, Abuja
Oby Ezekwesili, Abuja
Aisha Oyebode, Lagos
Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, Lagos
Betty Anyanwy-Akeredolu, Ibadan
Amina Hanga, Kano
Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi, Enugu

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#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS: DEMEANING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT July 16, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY.
1 comment so far

Dear Mr President,

I am compelled to write given the recent spate of attacks and spurious statements by your media aides and security operatives alleging the hijack of the BringBackOurGirls movement – a citizens collective effort to stay vigilant on the kidnapped girls. I belong to this movement in my capacity as a citizen of Nigeria, and I feel deeply insulted that some of your aides have either acted in their own capacity or succeeded in misleading you through deliberate misinformation about the movement.

Last week, Ms Marilyn Ogar, in her characteristic manner, called this movement a franchise; a statement which I consider highly derogatory and unsavoury. Unfortunately, she cast serious aspersions on the integrity of those who constitute the movement in Nigeria and worldwide. The leadership of the Abuja chapter of the movement has clearly disproved these allegations but I keep wondering why you allow such untold misrepresentation to go on under your watch.

Only recently, precisely 15th July, 2014; one of your senior media aides Dr. Doyin Okupe alleged that Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili instigated the families of the kidnapped girls from attending the meeting you scheduled, whom you had only recently deemed fit to meet after 92 days.  I am quite sure Ms Ezekwesili, who remains one Nigerian with incorruptible integrity and who desperately wants these girls rescued, will never resort to such act as portrayed by Dr Okupe. Moreover Mr President, history bears witness that it took you 3 weeks before you acknowledged these atrocious kidnap; and all of us are aware of the arrest that befell members of the movement after the scheduled meeting they had with your wife, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Patience Jonathan. Personally, it is not far-fetched why they will ignore your meeting: the precedence of denial, intimation and arrests of members of the movement is telling.

I find it utterly disrespectful that consistently, Dr. Okupe’s characteristic name-calling, character assassination and pedestrian outbursts keep mocking the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The letter, which was widely distributed in the media, was attributed to have been written by you; but I am certain the person of the President of Nigeria will never write such.Whatever the grievances Dr. Okupe has with Ms Ezekwesili, the office of the President should not be reduced to such dance of shame in the media. Honestly, I keep wondering how you will allow yourself and your noble office to be such ridiculed by such dramatis personae as aides.

Regardless of the constant attack and publicity strategy of the establishment to frustrate, derail and divide us; we stay strong and committed to demanding that the girls be brought back alive. I am aware of the complexities that may be involved in securing the release of these girls, which consequently may have prevented an open and transparent citizens interaction. However, the fact that we disagree with the secrecy involved in the attempts at rescuing these girls that does not give any of your aides the right to castigate us and demean our persons using all of the channels of manipulations it has.

Mr. President, you swore an oath to the security and welfare of the Nigerian people. Not only have you consistently failed in this regard, but Nigeria’s security incompetence during these trying times have occurred despite appropriating the highest resource in the budget to security (about N3tn in 3 years). Mr. President, based on the sustained captivity of the past three months following these girls kidnap, based on the insecurity challenges of the past years under your watch; no other institution of government has terrorized Nigerians psychologically than the Federal Government of Nigeria.

 

 

ANOTHER FLASH IN THE PAN? @MedviewAirlines July 12, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in MOTIVATION.
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The first time I heard about Medview Airline was Wednesday 9th July, 2014. My return flight had been booked for an EbonyLife TV event in Lagos. My first reactions were of disbelief and fear, ones which are not totally different from Nigerians who either have a regular airline or those who have experienced constant disappointments from Nigerian airlines with peculiar penchant for not keeping to time. Besides, owing to my slight phobia for flying, I was a bit disappointed I would not be using my accustomed airline but trying another one. I shrugged off my fears, packed my bags and prepared for my trip the following day.

Thursday. I arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport 2 hours before time, and checked in. It was a bit comforting to see my brother Japheth Omojuwa at the airport; apparently we travelled for the same event and we were booked on the same flight. Having missed each other for months, we quickly settled in to serious discussions about our society and the huge challenge before our generation. Our flight was scheduled for 9am, and the airline surprisingly announced our boarding on time.

By 9am, we were on our way to Lagos, refreshment was light but tasted good. We arrived as scheduled in the flight details. We went for our event, finished and left for the airport for our 5pm return flight to Abuja. By 4:30pm, exhausted, hungry and definitely looking forward to the snacks served while airborne; we were checked in and we waited patiently for the 5pm flight. This is where the problem started.

The 5pm flight was delayed for 45 minutes, which left us a bit worried. It is understandable when we had other engagements in Abuja, and besides; we were seriously hungry. By 5:45pm, another announcement explained “Medview flight to Abuja has been delayed for another 45 minutes”. At this point, Japheth and I decided we would get some food before we die of hunger. We left for KFC, met some friends over lunch and chatted about 30 minutes away. Before this, we realized there was a Medview plane around and wondered why we were not boarding already.

On our way back in, we noticed some angry voices from the Medview stand and so we made an approach. We found confusing messages from apparently distraught passengers “the flight had been cancelled” “the flight has been rescheduled” “funds will be refunded”. Since we could not get an official information from the airline, I quickly sent out tweets asking friends for a link to Medview Airlines. I got responses and quickly sent tweets to the airline. I was pleasantly surprised to see the response from the airline within minutes where they reassured us the delay was due to technical challenges with the available plane. Many passengers threatened fire and brimstone whilst others asked for a refund as they had appointments. Only one pressured for and got a refund, others waited.

By 7pm, we were told and promised that the other plane would arrive by 8pm. However, to my utter surprise, (as this is not customary with similar Nigerian airlines with delay peculiarities), we were all taken to a restaurant where passengers were treated to sumptuous meals. Mixed feelings. Japheth and I had just had lunch some 2 hours earlier, but we took time and had some drinks with snails. (smiles).

As scheduled, the plane arrived by 8pm wherein we were informed and consequently prepared to board. By 8:40pm, we were all on board and the flying crew took turns in apologizing about the hitch and delay caused. My interview with other passengers revealed that Medview ALWAYS fly as scheduled and that they, as regular customers, were surprised of the disappointing delay they experienced that day. Online commentaries also revealed the same opinion about Medview. Although this is peculiar with airlines commencing new services in Nigeria, I hoped that Medview airlines would actually set out to make a serious difference in the aviation industry where constant disappointments with scheduled flights and bad customer service was a normal thing. The following day, they checked up on me and apologized again for the delayed flight; whilst appealing to me to always “fly with us”.

As someone who had experienced serious delays from Nigerian airlines (with my worst with Aero contractors which took me to Lagos around 1:30am for a 5pm flight), I was pleasantly surprised at the professional disposition, and responsive customer service relation from Medview Airlines. It will be totally unjust not to write about my experience with Medview Airlines. I do hope this attitude will continue for a long time and perhaps help build their brand as a reliable airline to always fly with.

Time will totally justify Medview Airlines – if truly this is a new beginning to  a sustained customer friendly service or just another flash in the pan.

John Kayode Fayemi – Spearheading Ekiti’s Renaissance July 12, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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It is easy to wear the deportment of detachment when Ekiti State is mentioned. Well, that used to be the state synonymous with pandemonium and violence; and until recently very bad road networks and stunted growth. Home to about 2.6million Nigerians, Ekiti state is located deep in the heart of Western Nigeria, a hilly state (from where its name is reputedly derived) and is home to some of the nation’s most prominent and eminent Professors.

It is humus ground for rumour mongering as well as active political awareness amongst citizens. Ekiti citizens know their rights, always have a point to prove, always have a say; and their political sagacity cannot be underestimated. In other words, they are politically opinionated and socially republican. Besides, historically, you will do well to remember that the sweeping tide of 1966 and the downward turn of Nigeria began in 1964 during the Omoboriowo crises of Ijero (then in Old Ondo State).

Ekiti State has passed through years of turbulence. That is no longer news. Any avid follower of the political terrain in Ekiti State will easily recount the number of Governors (elected and imposed) and Administrators that have since occupied the exalted leading position since its creation as a state in 1996. What is not news too, is the years of economic pillage and erosion of values that has confounded the state, and in turn worsened the social value fabric that once stood the state up as an ideal model of respect, love for elders, industry, amongst many others.

It is my duty to visit my state every quarter, an act much necessitated by my parents living in my country home. During these days, I take time to go around the communities and see firsthand the travails and experience under democratic rule. On these visitations, I have been engrossed with stories of unfulfilled promises by politicians (as is usual in Nigeria) and frustrations amidst growing apathy amongst the citizenry. It seems, after all, that settling with under-performing leaders seem to be the new turn in our democratic dispensation.

Year after year, I have seen deplorable roads; abandoned projects (sometimes from previous administrations), sub-standard white elephant projects, and above all, grand-scale cover up of corrupt practices. As a young Nigerian with deep interest in policy research, advocacy and social entrepreneurship, I became attracted to the administration of Dr. Fayemi (whom I found a breath of fresh air given his civil society foundations, political meteoric rise to leadership and undoubtedly his academic background).

However, my love for advancing development across Nigerian communities led me to criticizing him heavily in his first year of leading the ship in Ekiti State. It seemed there were several stumbling blocks towards development in those early days under Kayode Fayemi and my generation, being in haste, spared no effort at pointing them out in their colours and shades. The traffic delays caused by rocks being blasted while travelling the then Ifaki-Ado road during construction, and the lethargic handling of the road caused me much anguish and I spared no words in describing the administration of Kayode Fayemi as “slow, much unfocussed, and a leadership committed unfortunately to another set of construction jamborees”.

I am aware how long it may take a State as landlocked as Ekiti, and as cash-restrained to advance in the path of development as seen in other developed communities. My difficulties in understanding the mind of such a visionary as Kayode Fayemi was also compounded in the fact that he is not a showman who advertises what he does. After being frustrated with the hooliganism which Mr. Ayo Fayose’s administration heralded, I feared the worst in 2011 and most of 2012; thinking Dr. Fayemi was much disconnected with the travails of the common man in the state. I was wrong. I was invited to Ekiti state. My online vituperations, having caught the eyes of some of Dr Fayemi’s team, heralded my first visit to the state in 2013.

I got the ROADMAP TO EKITI RECOVERY, and began a tour of the state to verify the claims made by the administration. Ekiti state is taunted as having the most open and accessible leadership. I have that verified. Not only was I able to visit commissioners and query their policies, decision-making processes and projects; but I was given free access to take pictures, make my criticisms without any sense of trepidation or harassment. It is naturally difficult to have your say at “Men In Power” in Nigeria, especially where sycophancy and hero worship reigns supreme. Unlike previous administrations too, he completed the projects left over by the administration of Gov. Segun Oni.

It takes a visionary to understand that leading a poor state out of the doldrums require more than paying monthly salaries (which take an estimated 87% of monthly revenue) and drinking Alomo bitters by the roadside. Borrowing N25bn altogether from the stock market is not only commendable, the systematic monthly deductions towards repaying the loan has enabled the state pay about 60% of the total bond sourced from the stock market. Detractors are quick to point at this borrowing, but anyone adept at development will know it is a no-brainer.

That Dr. Kayode Fayemi is a visionary is no longer news to most of those who know him or those who have been unbiased in assessing his style of leadership. I had a 19 _ minute critical discussion with him around 2am and I must confess he is an amazing workaholic. It is admirable to see Nigeria still has men of sterling qualities in leadership especially one whose monthly allocation remains the 35th (out of 36 states in Nigeria. I have visited the roads, the hospitals have been refurbished (never touched in 18 years), the educational institutions wear new looks & new infrastructures where necessary, I have seen the ICT revolutions in Ekiti (which was foremost in Nigeria and quite unknown unlike Opon Imo), the tourism revolution, the revived industries (previously abandoned), the social welfare scheme, amongst many others.

Were the re-election to be based on compelling issues and critical reasoning alone, Dr. Fayemi would not have to campaign. Unfortunately, Nigerian politics currently run on propaganda and populism. Were he a populist, there are no reasons Ekiti people, and indeed the world should not be aware that Ekiti State operated and sustained the first ICT revolution in schools in Nigeria, nor are there reasons why the Ire Burnt Bricks factory’s revival and expected ROIs should not be much taunted; nor the world class tourist center at Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort much publicized; the Legacy projects, the unveiling plans to make Ekiti the “Bangalore of Africa” amongst many amazing projects.It was under Fayemi that I discovered that construction companies do have bonds with banks that require them to repair roads within a specified timeframe if such roads have cracks/flaws else the bonds can be revoked.

Commendable improvements under Fayemi include the social welfare scheme for elders, the revival of the Ire Burnt brick Factory (which will have an estimated N1bn yearly ROI), the massive agricultural projects (YCAD), the transparent spending mechanism (FoI, FRA) and several gender empowerment laws. There is huge disconnect of information amongst the citizenry in Ekiti. This should not be. This would all have made it easy for Governor Fayemi not to stress himself too much on reelection. Nevertheless, I can appreciate his reticence and his complete focus on the job while also taking into consideration the wear such PR efforts may take on the small budget Ekiti has.

The dream of EKITI RECOVERY towards “MAKING POVERTY HISTORY” is a laudable dream that cannot be realized in just 4 years of administration. If we must be honest, we need a sustained, completely competent team who understands what it requires to make this dream a reality at the helm of our affairs. This is why Ekiti state must never return to the hands of Alibaba and his thieves no matter the cost.This is why Ekiti sons and daughters, at home and abroad, must unite and do whatever is required, by all means possible to sustain the mandate of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

It will be disastrous to think that Ekiti state will find such peace, clarity of purpose, openness, transparent spending, and visionary leadership under Mr. Ayo Fayose – the much-touted spendthrift of Ekiti Politics regardless of whatever claim of repentance he may have. Governor Kayode Fayemi gives me hope, gives Ekiti State hope, and I daresay Nigeria as a whole. Going by Nigerian standards and expectations, there is no reason a state with such low income/revenue should have such advanced development like Ekiti does. States with much succulent income have no excuse for less! JKF, as he is now popularly called, revalidates my new found hope that social critics and civil society activists can combine ideological principles and idealistic leanings with the maneuverings that politics bring. June 21 will remain, for a time to come, the most memorable day in the history of Ekiti State when we eventually re-elect Dr. Fayemi, thereby sustaining the vision and pride of the South West region, and of Nigeria as a whole. That is my hope in this present democratic practice we are wading through.

7th June, 2014

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