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14 States, FCT Schools Risk Bandit’s Attacks – FG

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Federal Government has said schools in 14 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are at risk of attacks by bandits and insurgents.

The National Coordinator of Financing Safe Schools in Nigeria, Hajia Halima Iliya, confirmed that the data of at-risk schools had been collected for intervention.

Iliya declined to identify the states, but the Commander of the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, Nigeria Security, and Civil Defence Corps, Hammed Abodunrin, said they included Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Yobe, Katsina, FCT, Kebbi, Sokoto, Plateau, Zamfara and three others.

No fewer than 465 pupils, teachers, and women abducted in the past week are still in the custody of their captors.

Fifteen pupils of an Islamiya school in Sokoto State were kidnapped in the early hours of Saturday, less than 72 hours after 287 schoolchildren and teachers were abducted from the LEA primary school and the Government Secondary School both at Kuriga, in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

However, 28 of them were on Sunday reported to have escaped 259 in captivity.

A few days before the Kaduna incident, 200 female Internally Displaced Persons were taken away by terrorists in Borno State.

The women were kidnapped in Ngala, the headquarters of Gambarou Ngala in Borno state while fetching firewood in the bush.

On Sunday, there were reports that nine of them had regained freedom remaining 191 in captivity.

Penultimate Thursday, bandits abducted an undisclosed number of people in the Gonin-Gora community in the same Chikun LGA of Kaduna, prompting residents to barricade the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway in protest.

As a response to the April 2014 abduction of the Chibok school girls, the Safe Schools Initiative was launched by the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, alongside the Nigerian Global Business Coalition for Education and private sector leaders at the World Economic Forum Africa.

The initiative entails a combination of school-based interventions, community interventions to protect schools, and special measures for at-risk populations.

The Federal Government inaugurated the Safe Schools Fund with a $10m contribution and another $10m pledge from the private sector.

In further support for the programme, the Federal Government budgeted N15bn for the SSI in the 2023 fiscal year.

Speaking on the programme in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, Iliya explained that the implementation of the SSI had started in several states.

Responding to questions on what was being done to fortify schools against bandit attacks, she said, “The project has taken off. We commenced implementation in 2023 with the flag off of the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, which we intend to replicate at state and local government levels.

“The states have selected most at-risk schools in each senatorial zone for the implementation of National Plan on Financing Safe Schools Programme (2023-2026).’’

In response to the development, the coordinator explained that state governors had expressed plans to provide funding for the SSI for the protection of pupils and teachers in the identified locations.

She added, “Some states have made provision for the Safe Schools Programme in their 2024 budget in line with the National Plan. We intend to engage the states to guide them through the implementation.

“We’ve communicated to all the states; letters have been written for inclusion of Safe Schools in their budget and for them to select the most at-risk schools. More than 11 states have responded. The budget from states is for them to work on physical infrastructure such as fencing state schools and put other control measures.’’

Iliya further disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Education and the NSCDC had conducted some training for their men, adding that the Nigeria Police had trained senior officers, including all divisional police officers across the country on Safe Schools.

According to her, the security forces have commissioned equipment that would be deployed to various state commands for the operations.

“Data of at-risk schools from 14 states, including the FCT have so far been collected for intervention. The Defence headquarters and DSS (Department of Security Services) are expected to mainstream Safe Schools through capacity building of their officers. N15b was provided and released as takeoff in 2023; utilisation is still ongoing,’’ she stated.

The Commander of the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, NSCDC, Abodunrin, said the four-year project was being implemented simultaneously in all the states but in phases, adding that it began with the sensitisation and training of security personnel late last year.

He condemned the latest abductions of school pupils, noting that the attackers operated in locations with poor telecommunication service.

Abodunrin said, “The attacks are unfortunate. What the attackers do is to look for soft targets. They now go to villages where they feel they can quickly operate before help can come. They also target when communication networks are bad. The cases in Ekiti and Kaduna are examples where community members could not quickly call for help. There is also the need to raise more awareness in the communities.

“There is a need for more cooperation. Schools are to register on http://www.nssrcc.gov.ng detailing their addresses and at least a phone number. Registration is free. Any registered school will automatically be on a database with their coordinates for easy accessibility.

“There are patrols. Global standards do not allow security operatives to be in schools for various reasons. Those who want to target them may kill or injure students and other members of the school communities in the process. There will be more patrols.’’

The commander also said that since security requires personal attention, students and teachers would be given training on personal safety and protection.

“Equipment and platforms are also being developed to facilitate easy communication even without a network. They will be trained on this too. Capacity of various communities are being built in the areas of personal security and information management for effective preventive and response efforts,’’ he disclosed.

 

 

 

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Disparaging Dangote Uncalled For, Creating Bad Waves For Nigeria – AFDB President, Adesina

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The president of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has spoken out in defence of the Dangote Refinery, addressing concerns about potential monopolistic practices.

In a statement shared by businessman Femi Otedola on Tuesday via X, Adesina expressed his shock at the controversy surrounding Dangote’s operations, warning that it is “creating bad waves for Nigeria globally.”

According to Otedola’s post, Adesina argued that monopolies often arise in industries with high entry barriers or capital costs, citing railways and large-scale refineries as examples.

He was quoted as saying, “Monopoly often exists where there are high barriers to entry or high capital costs. How many individuals or companies can do railways? How many can do refineries of the scale of Dangote Refineries? In a nation that has been importing refined petroleum products for several decades, the abnormal simply became very normal.”

The AfDB President emphasised the significant investment made by Dangote, stating, “No smart investor would make a $19.5 billion investment and want it to be undermined by importers.”

He highlighted manufacturing challenges in Nigeria, describing the business environment as fraught with policy uncertainties and reversals.

“To manufacture is extremely expensive and risky. This is even more so in Nigeria, given the very challenging business and economic environment, fraught with policy uncertainties and policy reversals, and where the self-defeating default mode of “simply import it” is always so easily rationalized and chorused to solve any problem,” he said.

Addressing concerns about anti-competitive practices, Adesina said, “Competition is good for everyone. But is Dangote refineries anti-competitive? What is the evidence? Has Dangote Refineries prevented any other company from setting up refineries? Why have others not done so? How come they have not done so for several decades?

“Was it Dangote that held them back? But Dangote refineries surely cannot be asked to ‘compete’ with importers of petroleum products. That is not competition. Let the importers set up local refineries and compete by refining in Nigeria. That is fair and justified competition.”

Adesina stressed the broader economic implications of the refinery, stating, “We cannot and must not undermine, disparage or kill local industries, talk less of one that is of this scale — a jewel of industrialisation in Nigeria. It is more than simply delivering the cheapest product to the market.

“It is about domestic supply security, driving (and yes, protecting) globally competitive industries, maximising forward and backward linkages in the local economy, job creation, reducing forex expenses and shoring up the Naira. We must not be myopic.

“This whole disparaging of Dangote is uncalled for. It is self-defeating. And it is very bad for Nigeria. Who will want to come and invest in a country that disparages and undermines its own largest investor? Investing is tough. Pettiness is easy. It sadly sends a signal that the price for sacrificing for Nigeria is to get sacrificed.”

 

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BBC To Cut 500 Jobs As It Attempts To Save £200m For ‘Transformation’ Of The Corporation

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The BBC has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as it attempts to save £200 million to drive the “transformation” of the corporation.

Chief operating adviser, Leigh Tavaziva said it is making the changes to improve its premium video offering and digital capabilities.

It comes as the BBC is already attempting to save £500 million as part of a plan announced two years ago.

Tavaziva said “significant activity” is already underway to make the corporation “more flexible”.

She said: “In March this year we announced a requirement for an additional £200 million of savings and reinvestment plans to drive the continued transformation of the BBC.

“This will support greater investment into premium video content and further develop our digital capabilities.”

She added: “To further build our digital capabilities, whilst targeting efficiencies, over the next two years we will continue to close and transfer roles in some areas and create new roles in growth areas.

“This will result in a forecast net reduction of 500 roles in the public service by March 26, with further growth in targeted areas planned in our commercial group.

“To support these changes we will today be launching a new voluntary redundancy scheme for staff.

“Our priority remains to protect and champion the BBC’s fighting role as the UK’s public service broadcaster, for all our audiences both local and global.

“I would like to thank all colleagues for their continued efforts and commitments over the past 12 months.

“I am immensely proud of the exceptional content creativity, delivery, and innovation that our teams both provide and support every day.”

The BBC announced in March 2023 that it was to cut 1,000 hours of TV in order to save money, with half of that coming from sport.

In the same year, the corporation announced it was scrapping its in-house chamber choir, the BBC Singers, and reducing salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

In December 2022 it said that it was making £11m worth of cuts in local radio, which saw its 39 stations required to share content and broadcast less localised content.

Back in 2016, the BBC said it needed to cut £800m worth of costs, with £80m of that coming from news.

The move saw the Andrew Neil Show axed in 2020, along with 450 jobs in English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news.

 

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I Have No Blending Plant Outside Nigeria, NNPC Boss Kyari Replies Dangote

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The Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari has said he does not own a blending plant outside Nigeria.

Kyari stated this on Tuesday, July 23, while reacting to claims that some officials of the NNPC have blending plants in Malta.

Reacting in a post on his X handle (formerly Twitter), Kyari said he had been inundated with calls from family members and friends, asking if he truly owns a blending plant in Malta.

Kyari stated that he does not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world except a local mini-agricultural venture.

He also said he is not aware of any employee of the NNPC that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“I am inundated by enquiries from family members, friends and associates on the public declaration by the President of Dangote Group that some NNPC workers have established a blending plant in Malta thereby impeding procurements from local production of Petroleum products.

“To clarify the allegations regarding the blending plant, I do not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world with the exception of a local mini Agric venture, neither am I aware of any employee of the NNPC, that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“A blending plant in Malta or any part of the world has no influence over NNPC’s business operations and strategic actions.”

The NNPC boss threatened to sanction any official of the NNPC involved in such acts if they truly exist.

 

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