Monday, 29 February 2016

Save us from eviction, blind students appeal to Ambode

His Excellency,
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode,
Executive Governor of Lagos State.

Your Excellency,

The disability community in Lagos state humbly draw Your Excellency's attention to the message below for your kind and urgent action.

72 BLIND STUDENTS FACING EVICTION SEND AMBODE SOS

Seventy-two blind students of Bethesda Home for the Blind (BHB) may be on their way onto the streets of Lagos, unless something is urgently done by the Lagos State government, if threats by the Executive Secretary of Surulere Local Government, Mrs. Aduke Hussein are anything to go by.

The visually impaired inmates, who have found a safe haven in the Mrs Chioma Ohakwe founded boarding school, would be losing their home, school, freedom, hope, dreams and sanity if verbal and written threats coming from their host local government are carried out.

The home located at 31, Agege Motor Road, Moshalasi, Surulere, is the brainchild of Ohakwe, a deeply religious social worker, who started the humanitarian home in 2005, to prepare these special students to face the world challenges adequately through formal education-reading  and writing-  and vocational skill acquisition  such as music, hand craft, moral teaching and philosophy.

By Monday, February 29, 2016, according to a quit notice served them, dated December 14th 2015, and signed by Fasuyi K.A for Executive Secretary (ES), Surulere LG, the students would be thrown to the streets, as they ceased to be legal tenants of the LG.

According to the BHB director, verbal warnings have come before the written one in December. “Before we got this quit notice, they have sent people from the LG, acting on the orders of the ES to talk us into vacating the only place we call home. I did not think much of it, then the letter came and since then it’s been constant harassment from the LG. One morning in January, a Police vehicle just came to the home and their leader, an Assistant Superintended of Police (ASP) said they were ordered to eject us. They went through the whole house and when they saw the students, the ASP took pity on the children and even gave us money, adding that he pitied our condition.”

The quit notice reads in part: ‘We acknowledge the tremendous impact and contribution of the home to the less privileged over time…I am to add that the home is a non-governmental organization, hence, it is expected that the home should and must sort out its accommodation not relying on government structures and facilities even if support may or not come from the government.’

It adds: ‘The body language of the present administration speaks clearly, thus the need to ensure due process and accountability of government properly. Consequently, the authorities of the local government have resolved that the property accommodating the home be vacated on or before the 26th February, 2016 as a tenant at will.’

Not done, one Oladapo Motolani Williams on 4th of February 2016, filed a suit of compliance with pre-action protocol, against the home.

The claimant claimed to be a trustee and executor of the estate, claimed that the BHB forced itself into the site in 2014 without the support of the LG, then, under the chairmanship of Hon Tajudeen Ajide.

The Nation’s investigation, however find this to be untrue. Hon Ajide, during our investigation said; “The LG is very much aware of the presence of BHB on that land and we in-fact gave them permission and support to make the place conducive for learning and habitation. One of the responsibilities of the LG is to cater for the physically challenged in our community. They allegedly claimed that I was there in 2014 for renovation and if you care to know, BHB has been there since 2013. “

Mrs Ohakwe corroborated his claim; “We moved to this site in December 2013 with the full support of the LG, that has been doing all it can to make the place conducive for us. We also have the greater support of Senator Oluremi Tinubu, her husband and leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, including the country’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and his wife. They have donated in cash and kind to the home and it is because of them that we are able to send these children to tertiary institutions.”

When contacted, the ES said she was only carrying out the mandate of government since the issue was filed in their office by the claimant.

Should the 72 blind students be forced into the streets, the reality is that it portends untold hardship on them. It would also truncate their dreams, as 12 of them have gained admission to into the universities and more have applied. Samuel Olusegun, who is currently an undergraduate of The University of Lagos said:  “I have found peace among my friends here and to be thrown out would be like going back to ground zero. Please help us beg Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to come to our aid.” — with Emmanuella Mercy Agboje-Akinola and 19 others.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

My muses over my encounter with Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho




Since Monday 22nd of February 2016 when the Spokesman of Irede Community Developers Association Chief Raymond Gold was invited for questioning and detained by Area L Police Command in Lagos, my life has never remained the same.
My first encounter with Chief Gold was on the 5th of February 2016. He is a passionate and committed leader who has the development of his community at heart. What was his pain? That the Former Minister of Interior and Executive Director of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho bought a land bordering Irede community. He told the community residents that he plans on building a mini-refinery and jetty. He started dredging towards the last quarter of 2015. This dredging operations Chief Gold said started impacting the community negatively with cracks on buildings and gradual structural defect by the shorelines. Chief Gold wanted to know if Captain Ihenancho has the requisite environmental impact assessment EIA before he started dredging.
I produced two radio reports and one online news story after my investigation. Afterwards Chief Gold was invited for questioning as a result of a petition written by Captain Ihenancho who claimed he was been blackmailed by Chief Gold and others. This others included myself and a colleague from Vanguard Newspaper.
Since Monday Chief Gold has been in detention and transferred to Ikoyi prison. Because he dared to ask questions about an operations that is impacting on his community? Is that a crime?
In the past six years I have reported on climate change and environmental issues. While in the last three years I have consistently reported on communities in Lagos. I have visited many communities where my joy comes from sheding light on how they are affected by socioeconomic disparity, with the view to make government prioritize development in such communities.




I have rode on boats on stormy waters with my heart in my mouth as I go in search of communities to share their stories with the world. I have used my money, time and energy, day and night in consistent reportage of these people and places. These group of people classed by the rich and powerful as weak and uneducated. Who in their struggle have refused for sweet porridge of today to blind them into selling their inheritance to their oppressors.

I was given a blank cheque by a Good Samaritan in January 2015 with the question. “What do you want me to do for you?” And I request no wealth for myself but for money to start my dream of a weekly radio program “Community Diary”. For 13 weeks, I took my listeners on journey to different communities many never knew existed in this megacity called Lagos. Discussing issues affecting these communities. Even though NOBODY or ORGANIZATION has paid me salary since the past six years. Even though I derive more joy in telling great stories that will cause change in such communities. Even though the sound of my byline at the end of my radio reports is worth more than GOLD. I have continued to persevere in the face of obstacles!! 
Why do I have to bore you with this citation? I was shocked to my bones with reactions and questions, I am been asked since I started investigating the negative impact of the illegal dredging affecting Irede community!!!!!
How much were you paid to do this story? Where you promised a land in Irede community? Who is sponsoring all these noise you are making? Do you have an NGO on environmental issues and want to collect grant? Are the political enemies of Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho using you to bring him down? These were the barrage of questions I was asked by a senior colleague, who I thought should have known better. I wept!!

Or the remarks that have killed my body but never my spirit, for this cause for the right thing to be done by the likes of Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho!!!
Dear Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho who did you say asked you for #40 million? Is it me Augustina Armstrong-Ogbonna? 
I stand till the end and hereby state that I STAND BY MY REPORTS AND EVIDENCE! I am asking again Where Is The EIA for the dredging close to Irede community?

Monday, 22 February 2016

Ugandan farmers call on United Nations to sever ties with Bidco Africa

The company deforested more than 7,500 hectares (18,500 acres) of rain forest and smallholder farms on Bugala Island on Lake Victoria

 

Lake Victoria farmers cite Bidco land-grabbing, environmental destruction and human rights violations

The Bugala Farmers Association has called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to sever its ties with Bidco Africa, a Kenya-based edible oil producer accused of land-grabbing, human rights violations and environmental disasters in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Over 100 farmers lost their land to Bidco when, in partnership with the local government, the company deforested more than 7,500 hectares (18,500 acres) of rain forest and smallholder farms on Bugala Island on Lake Victoria to make way for one of the largest palm oil plantations in Africa. 

In a petition delivered to the UNDP Kampala office on 28 January, the Bugala Farmers Association called on the UNDP to investigate the organisation’s recent announcement that Business Call to Action (BCtA), a UNDP offshoot, concluded an agreement with Bidco Africa.

“For those who know the real business practices of Bidco Africa and its CEO Vimal Shah, the embrace by BCtA of Bidco Africa is a tragedy for smallholder farmers and a major stain on the reputation of UNDP,” the petition says.

The petition cites Bidco Africa’s failure to comply with court orders to compensate the farmers for their land; the company’s labour practices in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya; alleged tax evasion in Kenya; and the deforestation of land for its palm oil production in Uganda. The deforestation has become so bad that the World Bank, originally a sponsor of the project, had to withdraw its support.

“The Bugala Farmers Association calls on UNDP and its senior leadership to examine the morally questionable association of such a distinguished U.N. organisation with such a blatant violator of human rights that is Bidco Africa,” the petition says. “The evidence of Bidco Africa’s poor business practices is well documented, and UNDP must immediately disassociate itself with such a company.”

The petition continues: “Bidco Africa, which claims to adhere to the U.N. Global Compact, is in fact in violation of all U.N. Global Compact principals, from human rights to protection of the environment. Against the backdrop of such repeated violations, the UNDP/BCtA’s partnership with Bidco Africa is a violation of UNDP’s core mission and principals.”

When the farmers presented their petition at the UNDP office in Kampala, security officers blocked them at the compound gate and confiscated video filmed by accompanying media. UNDP officials refused to meet the farmers, and suggested that the petition – which is addressed to UNDP Administrator Helen Clark – could only be delivered at the organisation’s headquarters in New York City. Only after a four-hour wait was the petition officially received by a UNDP receptionist in Kampala.

In addition to Administrator Clark, the petition is addressed to Peter Liria, Chief Ethics Officer, Director of the Ethics Office; Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Director Regional Bureau for Africa; and Mila Rosenthal, Director of Communications; among others.

The UNDP has not responded to the farmers’ petition since it was presented on 28 January.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Advocacy for Inclusive-Education in Lagos state by Dr. Adebukola Adebayo

LAGOS STATE PLANS ALL INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. This was one of the news headlines contained in today's edition of The Punch newspapers.

Reading further I discovered that the report was simply making reference to the 360 Degrees Initiative of the Lagos state government; intended to ensure that the quality and functionality of primary and secondary education in the state meets global standards and best practice.

The 360 Degree Initiative is a very good initiative and the disability community in Lagos state commends the Lagos state government for this innovative idea.

However, I wish to remind Her Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Lagos state that:
1. there are over 40 inclusive primary and secondary schools in Lagos state lacking in teachers, teaching and instructional assistive aides, mobility aides, etc;

2. virtually all public primary and secondary schools in Lagos state are not accessible to Lagosians with disabilities;

3. children with disabilities constitute more than 50% of out of school children in Lagos state.

In view of these challenges, The disability community in Lagos state implores the Lagos state government to:

1. implement the Lagos State Policy on Inclusive Education;

2. Provide budgetary support for the Task Committee on Inclusive Education Policy;

3. declear a state of emergency in attending to the development of the over 40 inclusive primary and secondary schools;

4. recruit special and regular teachers for the 40 inclusive schools;

5. procure relevant teaching and learning aides, assistive technologies, mobility aides, etc for the 40 inclusive schools;

6. design strategies for the designation and rehabilitation of more public primary and secondary schools in Lagos state to be come inclusive and accessible to children with disabilities in Lagos state;

7.  Organize an Annual Lagos State Conference on Inclusive Education to regularly gather ideas for the improvement of inclusive education in Lagos state.

Until these steps are taken, even if the "360 Degrees Initiative" succeeds, and even if all schools in Lagos state meet global best standards, children with disabilities will still be left out of schools.

Children with disabilities have the rights to education...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

NIDO-Qatar signs MoU with Ethiopian Airlines

Nebiat Hailemichael, Area Manager of Ethiopian with Amadi Nwokocha, NIDO-Qatar President during the signing ceremony in Doha on Thursday.

 

The Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO-Qatar), representative of the Nigerian community in Qatar has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ethiopian Airlines, for cooperation, mutual usage of services provided by both entities and promotion of special offers and discounts from Ethiopian to the Nigerian community in Qatar.

 

The agreement, which was signed on Thursday, is for an initial period one year, with the possibility of extension. Terms of the MoU include a special offer by Ethiopian to the Nigerian community, of 15% discounts on existing/applicable passenger fares from Qatar to Nigeria, 2pc/23kg baggage allowance and cargo rates that are more attractive to all Nigerian destinations. 

NIDO-Qatar will provide an avenue on its social media platforms and sponsored community events to distribute Ethiopian Airlines brochures and fliers to its members.

 

The agreement was signed in the presence of the HE Enoch Pear Duchi, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Nigeria, Qatar, HE Shiberu Mamo, Deputy Ambassador, Embassy of Ethiopia, Qatar. Amadi Nwokocha, NIDO-Qatar President and Nebiat Hailemichael, Area Manager of the Ethiopian.

 

Talking to Qatar Tribune, Duchi said: “It is quite encouraging to witness this kind of occasion because it helps our cooperation to be our brother’s keeper. Both parties have to be faithful to the agreement. Am sure Ethiopian will do their best to honour the terms of the agreement while NIDO should also take this advantage. I, therefore, encourage NIDO to reach out to the Nigerian community and tell them about this laudable agreement with the airline; encourage them to patronize the airline. I am sure the Enugu route would have many passengers during the festive period and am sure Ethiopian will enjoy the relationship.”

 The Ethiopian envoy congratulated the airline and the Nigeria community for the agreement; he emphasized the safety, customer service and effective air service of the airline.

Nebiat Hailemichael, Area Manager of the airline said: “Ethiopian airlines is the largest, fastest and the most profitable airline group in Africa serving more than 90 destinations & flying to four cities in Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Kano. As a pan-African airline, Ethiopian Airlines started the flight to Nigeria on 1960, Ethiopian airlines have been serving our Nigerian brother and sister for more than five decades without interruption, even at the time of crisis like Ebola.”

 “We have a convenient connection with less than two hours connection time in Addis Ababa for Abuja, Logos and Kano.  We are flying from Doha Monday, Wednesday and Friday our departure time is 03:30 am early morning from Doha and our passengers will get to Nigeria in the morning the same day,” he added.

 According to NIDO-Qatar, membership registration is required to access these special offers. Registered members of the community wishing to travel to Nigeria should obtain the discount code from NIDO-Qatar Executive Council members, go online to Ethiopian Airline website and make their booking to their desired Nigerian destination, enter the code and automatically receive the 15% discount on the fare.

Ethiopian Airlines is the largest and most profitable airline in Africa. Ethiopian commands the lion share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 85 international destinations across five continents. Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200 Freighter and Bombardier Q-400 with double cabin. In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate these aircraft.

Recently, NIDO-Qatar launched its new website and membership card, to assist both public and private entities in Qatar in sourcing for information and opportunities in Nigeria. The membership card is to create avenues for discounts on purchases and services.

The organization is the umbrella body of over 7,500 Nigerians in Qatar. Its aims are to promote unity, love and harmony amongst all Nigerians living in the State of Qatar, promote the image of our country and assist every Nigerian in Qatar to achieve their legitimate personal goals and aspirations.


Happy New Year!!!!!


How are you doing? How was the the Christmas and New Year celebrations? Have you made new plans and decisions that will shape your life and career this 2016?

How was 2015 for you? And how do you foresee 2016 to be?

For me many things happened in 2015 and more interesting ones towards the last quarter of 2015.
                                     
    
I had an encountered with a man left for dead on the street of Lagos, who I later followed up till date and glad to tell you his life has changed for the better. From a young man fighting with drug addiction to man willing to chart a new course for his life. As a I spoke with him some days ago, he has recently graduated from a computer school. Just imagined if I had walked away without giving a helping hand?
                                     
                                        
   

I covered the 2015 Presidential election in Akwa Ibom state and had a lots of fun exploring the city as I monitored the votes of Akwa Ibomites. I fell in love the fisherman soup and other delicacies from the Atlantic state.
        

Then in June, I went to Germany to attend and report on the Global Media Forum in Bonn organised by Deutsche Welle. Special thanks to the German embassy in Abuja who sponsored my trip.





I was finally able to start my radio program I had dreamt about with support from a wonderful Samaritan who paid for it upfront. My radio program titled Community Diary focused on under-reported communities in Lagos. I took my listener on adventurous trips across different communities in Lagos, that some agreed they had never heard about. Community diary provided a platform to amplify the voices of people and places in Lagos with the aim of making government prioritize development in such areas. It was weeks of fun and plenty of work. Producing and presenting the program. But the good thing was that the work paid off sooner than later.

For the first time in my journalism career, I decided to write a story proposal for climate stories. In October, I applied for a story grant that took me to some states in Northern Nigeria and as far to the border with Niger Republic. Where will I not go for the environment!!
                   


As the year was about rounding up and I was dreaming of how not to miss the United Nations Climate Change Summit COP 21. As I had missed two consecutive ones, I was finally among five journalist selected as a UNDP Media Fellow to Paris. My dream of not missing Paris became a reality. 

While still preparing myself for Paris, I got a MAIL!!! On the 17th of November at about 9:30pm, I received a mail from the United Nations Correspondent Association UNCA. The content of the mail, did not make me sleep that night. At first I replied to the sender, that it was a SCAM!!!

But no my dear, it was not. I was announced as the 2015 United Nations Foundation Gold prize winner for Development and Humanitarian reporting. And it was to be presented by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Me shake Ban Ki-Moon!! It was such an overwhelming feeling for me.

So from Paris to New York, I went. Though I had visited the United States twice before then, but it was my first time in New York. Yessiioo, a JJC.

Till today, all I can say is that the award has only fired me to do more work. Because I always applied for lots of program, it was on the award day that I knew the story I submitted for the award. 

The story was one of my reports on how climate change and urbanization was impacting on coastal communities in Lagos. So my program, community diary was not in vain.

This year promised to be much more of WORK! WORK! WORK!!! And some other side attractions that will move my ministry to the permanent site!!!! Don't ask me what they are, just watch and see!!!

Once again, Happy 2016 and follow me on Twitter: @FrauTinaa, Instagram: Teenaija. You will be glad you did!!!!....