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Why Hurry And Kill The Child Prodigy?

“My child is mature, big in body size, old enough to face pressure, brilliant.” These are some reasons a couple of ladies I met in a store gave for encouraging their children to skip certain classes in primary or secondary schools.

I believe a lot of parents want to be celebrated like the parents of the 14-year-old Nigerian prodigy called Joshua Beckford who graduated from the University of Oxford at a very young age, but I can’t but wonder how he would manage his educational achievements, taking into consideration his age.

Some of these young children end up being stuck in a situation they aren’t ready for or mature and experienced to handle. Some parents decisions are based on financial consideration. But for the parents, it’s just based on what I call “PARENTAL PEER PRESSURE”.  A lot just want to brag about what young age their children attained their educational achievements and are not concerned about how the children feel or if they actually understand what they are up or in for.

A single mum, who does menial jobs to cater for her two sons, shared how she was encouraged to allow her son skip a class but declined. She was told that her son was brilliant and would do well if he skipped to the next class. If a mother with little or no education and a meagre source of income could take the decision to ensure her son stayed back for the full 6 years in primary school, what’s happening to those I believe should know better.

Does anyone truly understand the pain, struggles, confusion these children have to deal with?  Is every child suddenly a prodigy or genius like Joshua Beckford?

In a bit of research on prodigies, how they grow and turn out when they eventually become adults, I took a particular interest in the violinist and conductor, Julian Rachlin. Rachlin said, “Being told you’re a genius at 11 years old can wreak havoc on a child’s mind. It’s very dangerous to be portrayed as that sort of prodigy because 99 percent of those prodigies don’t last very long. I have never been treated by my friends and family as a prodigy. I have been treated as little Julian who loves making music, so I never felt a prodigy. The life of a child prodigy can either go one way (the bad way, in which all the pressure leads to failure and a lifetime of misery) or another, in which you’re Mozart and people still buy your music 200 years after you die”

What happened to all the motherly love, instinct, affection, bond? I know a father would most times give consent to the mother when it comes to taking a decision on the child but how does a mother feel sending off a child at such tender age to face pressures that are not related to this age.

Another parent who pleaded anonymity shared her frustrations on how companies request that job applicants should not be more than 21 years with a minimum of 3-years experience. I couldn’t help but wonder at our system and policies. I encouraged the mother to positively engage her children. This they could achieve by finding out what the child is passionate about. Overtime, requisite experiences would be gained and documented.

In as much as I don’t support the age limit that some companies request, in terms of experiential requirements, I believe they are asking for individuals who can think on their own, who are solution-oriented with the tenacity and ability to function on their own with little or no supervision.

But parents need to understand that it takes time to nurture a child and by hurrying them, they are grooming half-baked children. It is important for parents to critically examine the effects of putting their kids under pressure before taking steps about pushing their children forward early; because the childhood of these children are stolen all in the name of wanting them to be competitive or to finish at a young age.

We should encourage our children to study, play and generally enjoy their childhood and grow up gradually and systematically. Those who are prodigious will stand out not one-eyed kings in the class of the blind. We should recommend, recognize, appreciate the laws and policies other countries practice and put in place. We should continue to yearn for a nation where such orderliness is observed and practiced. But with this attitude of racing the child down in education are we making or breaking the educational system in our country.

We have policies guiding and stating what age a child is supposed to start school. It is necessary for the relevant authorities in our educational system to ensure strict enforcement of those policies and punish defaulters. At the end of the day, children and their future is ours to protect. God help us to help our children and promote the greater good of our country and humanity.

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NDDC: As The Pandora Box Opens

In his hey days of superlative penmanship through the pages of the now rested ‘Newswatch’ magazine, the late Dele Giwa once wrote that Nigerians had become ‘unshockable’ in the face of daily cascades of imponderable developments in the public space which often defy reality. Given that he lived in Nigeria when the country was considered apparently saner than now by many, it remains a matter of speculation, how he would have addressed some of the new-age outrages and the current state of the nation.

With today’s routine playout of high caliber impunity in abusing public trust, what would Dele Giwa have said of the country? For instance, what would he have said about the rather outlandish scenario of a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (name withheld), collecting as in trophy-hunting, as many as 300 contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)? 

It is required by law that Senators and other public officers who are elected to serve full-time in the service of the country, should resign from any other full-time engagement, in order to concentrate fully on their designated duties. Hence they are accordingly remunerated.

How then could this contract-swallowing Senator been able to combine his functions as a Senator with the impossible task of executing such quantum of contracts, given all the due process imperatives that remain inherent in such an exercise. Yet this is just one of the several instances of brazen looting of the public largesse, which has been the rule rather than the exception in the operations of the agency, since its inception in 2000.

Crime busters know that one of the most effective ways to dismantle a crime syndicate is to set the members against each other. Given the course of recent developments in the Commission, many wonder if the crime busters’ scenario is not playing out in the NDDC. Not a few observers acknowledge a similitude in the few developments there.

For instance, there is a growing consensus that the Presidential marching order on the forensic audit of the agency, may have triggered a widely spreading state of unease among some of NDDC’s culpable beneficiaries of past and present scams. These include implicated former and current contractors as well as consultants. Others are staff who had compromised their positions to defraud the system along with accomplices on the outside.

And it seems that the day of reckoning is already claiming casualties in the establishment. Indeed, is the NDDC’S Pandora’s box about to be uncovered?

For instance, the recent revelation about the contract swallowing Senator, came to light simply as a result of an ‘uncommon shaking of the table’ in the agency.

Although the affairs of the Commission had traditionally attracted controversy at every turn, recent hike in public interest in the NDDC followed a spate of misgivings expressed in several quarters over the nomination of members of a new board for the agency. The situation led to a meeting between governors of the Niger Delta region with President Muhamadu Buhari, where they actually called for a change in the way the affairs of the Commission were handled.

In response, the President directed the forensic audit to precede whatever remedial action he would take in respect of the agency. However, even before the Presidential audit has fully commenced, the agency is once more living up to its billing as a cauldron of intrigues.

This writer had in a a previous article, called on the President not to be deterred by any delay from the run of the audit, but continue with whatever measure he deemed fit to execute in respect of the agency, and which the audit would not impair. Hence the screening of the new board members by the Senate could be seen to be in order.

However, before the conclusion of the Senate screening of the nominees, came a development where Godswill Akpabio – Minister of Niger Delta Affairs (where the NDDC is now domiciled from the Presidency) appointed a three-man Interim Management Committee, to take over the affairs of the agency pending the resumption of the newly confirmed board members.

Apparently implied in the brief of the Interim Management Committee is the conduct of the presidential audit exercise. Meanwhile as the public is still contending with the Akpabio intervention, the cascade of the Commission’s in-house scum started hitting the public space, with the tale of the contract swallowing Senator, in the lead.

While it may have been out of place for the recent dispensation of convolutions in NDDC to fester, the resultant effervescence is nevertheless, unearthing interesting secrets of the agency with positive value for public interest. The mere oddity of the convolutions, has unearthed the culpability of the contract swallowing Senator, with the promise of similarly exposing other culprits whose identities as well as nefarious activities in respect of the mindless rape of the Commission, may soon hit the public space.

The question now is, what implications will the present run of events have for the future of the agency, especially in respect of the concern of the region’s governors as well as the various dispossessed communities there. This consideration qualifies for as much attention as can be mustered over it. After all, this is Nigeria where disorder often trumps over order in defining trending circumstances in the public space.

For one, the situation signposts the onset of a fresh round of power play, the vey syndrome that brought the NDDC to its ignoble degenerative state which requires the presidential audit and subsequent surgery. In the present circumstances, the Minister Akpabio intends to hold the driving seat firmly and may have proceeded to isolate and eject interests that reflect present or future hostility to him.

Incidentally, protests have come from some circles over Akpabio’s appointment of the interim management of NDDC even as the statutorily designated and now confirmed board designates are billed to resume. So offended are some of his critics that they have called for his sack by President Buhari.

Incidentally that too may not happen soon if it is the Buhari of present day Nigeria.

Hence Akpabio may remain to call the shots in NDDC for some time to come and as the beat goes on. Meanwhile this is a prayer for more shaking of the table and equally more revelations from the NDDC’s Pandora’s box please…

Courtesy Daily Trust on Sunday.

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Front PageNews

Rivers Pensioners Fast, Pray …Over Unpaid Arrears

Many retirees in the Rivers State Civil Service from 2015 have resorted to fasting and prayers as they are yet to be paid their pension and gratuity even after completing their biometrics which is the major criteria for payment by the state government.

Our correspondent who is monitoring activities of the retirees gathered that the aged senior citizens who have served the state for 35 years meritoriously in one capacity or the other seem to have been ignored by the state government.

It was gathered that only about 864 retirees in the said period have so far been paid their monthly pension with effect from June 2019, while over 3,000 others captured by biometrics are yet to receive their pension.

The development is making life unbearable for them as they could no longer afford their children school demands, resulting to most of them being drop outs while some engage in street trading to make ends meet in assisting their parents.

Our correspondent also learnt that most of the retirees have become prayer warriors as they called on God Almighty to touch the heart of the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike to pay their entitlements as retirement is a time to reap or enjoy the fruit of their labours.

Prayers are being observed every Wednesday as retirees gather at the secretariat complex, Port Harcourt in black attires to sing and pray to God to deliver them from their predicaments.

Speaking with our correspondent in Port Harcourt, the coordinator of the retirees, Comrade Lucky Ati said it is worrisome that government promised to pay the second batch of retirees who have completed their biometrics since July 2019 from October, but have not kept to their promise.

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Front PageNews

Supreme Court Ends 2019 Polls …Confirms Buhari’s Victory …Atiku, PDP, APC React

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar’s appeal for lacking merit.

“We have examined all the briefs and the exhibits for over two weeks and we agree that there is no merit in this appeal,” Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad said at the judgement. The appeal is dismissed,” he concluded, in a unanimous decision with six court justices.

Abubakar challenged the presidential election tribunal judgment which affirmed the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 2019 poll. The tribunal in its judgment delivered by its chairman Justice Mohammed Garba dismissed Abubakar’s petition in its “entirety.”

Abubakar approached the Supreme Court shortly after the September 11 tribunal’s ruling with 66 reasons why the Supreme Court should upturn the tribunal’s five-man panel decision.

The Supreme Court, however, convened a seven-man panel to hear PDP and Abubakar’s appeal.

On the panel were the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Justice Bode Rhodes -Vivour, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice John Iyang Okoro, Justice Musa Datijo Muhammad, Justice Ejembi Eko and Justice Uwani Abaji.

But after the panel apportioned a maximum of 15 minutes to the counsel to argue his appeal, admonished him to go directly into the main appeal since such matters also formed part of the main appeal.

The counsel stood his ground, causing the court to adjourn for 15 minutes to enable the appellants’ defence team to decide on what to do with their time.

On resumption of the hearing, the seven-man panel unanimously dismissed Abubakar’s appeal because it lacked “merit.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for their victory at the Supreme Court.

The ruling party hailed the apex court’s dismissal of the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, against their February election victory.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, congratulated Nigerians, the President, Vice President, party leaders, members and supporters on the Supreme Court’s verdict.

The statement reads, “Following the earlier judgement of the 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which dismissed in its entirety the PDP and Atiku’s petition, the Apex Court was apt in dismissing the appeal for lacking merit.

“The Party hails the judiciary for standing firm in the face of the PDP and Atiku’s subterfuge and for siding with the Nigerian electorate who, through their votes, decided to do away with PDP’s ignominious past and re-elect the President Buhari-led APC administration which has ushered in a new era of progressive growth for our country.

“With the ruling of the Supreme Court, which has finally affirmed President Buhari’s election victory, we enjoin the PDP and Atiku to jettison their destructive and disruptive agenda against Nigeria, which they have made up their minds to pursue for the next four years.

 “The PDP and Atiku should not confuse opposition politics for their unpatriotic agenda. Democratic politics cannot be practised in the state of anarchy, confusion which the PDP and Atiku wish to achieve. Such diabolic plan will definitely fail.Going forward, the President Buhari-led APC government will continue to focus on delivering our Next Level plans for the country.”

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, on Wednesday said though the Supreme Court had dismissed the appeal of the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, the final judgement comes from God almighty.

He stated that Nigeria is in such an untidy state that only God can

bail her out.

He spoke in a statement by his media aide, Ike Abonyi, while responding to the judgement of the Supreme Court dismissing their

appeal against the victory of Buhari and the All Progressives Congress in the February 29 election.

He urged Nigerians to remain resolute in their prayers to God, adding that the country is in such “an untidy state that only God can bail” her out.

Secondus commended Nigerians of all divide for their commitment and support to the party and to democracy.

He said the commitment of Nigerians to democracy and its tenets,

“despite inhibiting factors,” is worthy of emulation and highly

commendable.

He said, “We thank you for your support for PDP, for your commitment to democracy.

“Nigerians know that you voted PDP, even APC knows that you rejected them on February 23, 2019.

“International community knows you voted for PDP. If Supreme Court of seven justices says otherwise, leave it to God, the ultimate Judge.”

He also commended journalists for their commitment to democracy and good governance in Nigeria and urged them not to relent in their

roles of holding politicians accountable to the people.

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Military Budget and the Fight Against Terror

The statement that “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well”, is a universally accepted aphorism. Another saying that shares same connotation with the above is that associated with the legendary Socrates who said, “Man know thyself; the unexamined life is not worth living”.

The above sayings are central to the roles expected of every Nigerian in the current war on terror. We must recall the coincidence of this reflection with the news about the killing of one of the World’s terror masterminds and indeed the most prized terrorist after Osama Bin Ladin, Abubakar Al Baghdadi who presided over the murderous caliphate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Al Baghdadi was killed by the United States Special anti-terror somewhere near the Syrian/Turkish borders. Recall too that ISIS has in the last two years assisted the Nigerian based boko haram terrorists who pledged allegiance to the now killed terror kingpin.

The question that calls for introspection and immediate actionable plan is what is the logical rationale of “starving” the military of operational fund in the 2019 budget with the allocation of a paltry N100 billion in the budget presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari who has an illustrious military background as a former General in the Army who led troops to fight off insurgents that invaded a part of Nigeria has not set out to undermine the war on terror.

President Muhammadu Buhari has made it clear that he is determined to clinically ensure a quick end to the war and the eventual defeat of the terrorists. Even with his best of intentions, the presentation of a budgetary allocation of N100 billion has understandably triggered debate on the necessity of doing what is most critical to ensure that the war on terror is not undermined.

It is pertinent to state that Mr. President and the National Assembly should think out of the box and work out a healthy budgetary package for the Nigerian Military which must be transparently deployed in combating once and for all, the war on terror.

It is instructive to note that the institution which is suffering the heat of the terror due to the approach being deployed in tackling it is the Nigerian military. While it is agreed that one special role of the military is to support the State’s internal security apparatus in quelling internal insurrection, its traditional role remains protection of the nation from external aggression in defense of sovereignty. The implications of over utilizing the military internally are diverse including grave consequences.

Illegality, human rights violations, lack of popular support by the people and even the likelihood its mode of operation robbing off on other civil security agencies in the light of inter-agency collaboration.

This association has ability to influence the police to become brutal or increase the sophistication and aggression of the terrorists or terror groups who ordinarily should be weakened by intelligence of the police or other trained civil organizations in collaboration with the people with whom the criminals ordinarily associate and sometimes live among.

This, however, can be corrected by return to the legal foundations and basis for these organizations and legality in operation; only intelligence with the public support and not use of brute force and brutality, can win the war on terror. There is urgent need to demilitarize the domestic counter-terrorist approaches.

If the public is terrorized in the war on terror, the government will lose support in the war and that will complicate matters. The objective of the war should be well defined to be the people’s interest for the security and safety of the public. Often times the essentials to the success of the war are lost in the heat of emotion and stress occasioned by the havoc of the menace resulting in callous raids, arbitrary arrests due to lack of credible intelligence.

One option available to the USA during the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden was to bomb his hide out at Abbottabad in Pakistan but it was not utilized to avoid casualties of other occupants of the building. The lesson is very clear.

Even the attack on the world’s terror leader and most wanted man was not callous or reckless to avoid hurting the innocent.

Although a system founded on might has propensity for abuse, the root cause or aggravating factor of criminality is inequality which largely stems from government irresponsibility and  in responsiveness. No nation can successfully win a war on terror when its most active class are either unemployed or grossly underemployed and underpaid.

A youthful unemployed population is a threat to peace, stability and security. There is therefore a need for urgent steps to reduce cost of governance and increase employment.

Peaceful co-existence and security are the desire of all; this fact is evident in the communal nature of man. Crime is an alternative that some members adopt in response to the social malfunctions of the systems of society. It presupposes that any program meant to ensure the safety of that society would always be supported. The vulnerable percentage will also support the scheme if well implemented.

This is why it is disturbing that the budgetary allocation given to the military in the new budget circle is grossly insufficient. Already diverse sections of the news media are running with the news that there is disquiet in the horizon about this paltry allocation.

Understandably, the National Assembly Joint Committee on Army met with the leadership of the Army to discuss ways of improving the figure before the Budget is finally passed by the end of the year. The delegation led by the Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume met with the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai and other senior Army officers behind closed doors.

Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, it was gathered that how to source funds for the Armed Forces topped the discussion. However, before the commencement of the closed session, Senator Ndume, said the visit was in continuation of the oversight functions of the Committee.

Ndume, who had condemned the N100 billion budget proposal for the Armed Forces as insufficient, stated further that following the leading role played by the Nigerian Army in the war against insurgency, “the Committee embarked on a fact finding mission and NEEDS assessment across military units and formations to know what is going on. “After our tour, we decided to come to the center so that we can talk especially now that the budget of the Nigerian Army is out for consideration”

It is expected that President Muhammadu Buhari who loves his primary constituency which (military) will hearken to the calls and upgrade the funding portfolio of the military just as the National Assembly should support this worthy call.

A less peaceful environment cannot produce economic progress and may continue to suffer retrogression and underdevelopment. One sure way out is for the government to channel more resources to ensure the military is adequately funded to counter insurgency.

Also, it is important for the military to cleanse its house and ensure the effective utilization of its funds and provide security to Nigerians. Too much consumption of office and procurement funds cannot help the Nigerian military win the battle. It is important to state that military budget and procurement must be more transparent as the Boko Haram insurgency seem to be eating deep into the finances of our nation and the country cannot watch or raise their hand in submission.

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Front PageNews

Rivers Abandoned Projects Beg For Completion

Abandoned projects have become a common feature in various parts of Rivers State.

Our correspondent who visited some of the projects reports that weeds and dangerous reptiles have taken over many of them, while some completed ones have had their installed features damaged or removed.

The Highrise buildings at Rainbow Town in Trans Amadi embarked upon by the Amaechi administration in compunction with First Bank PLC, has remained uncompleted. A large crane hanging on top of the  buildings is the sign of long abandonment.

Model Secondary School Sakpenwa in Tai LGA embarked was completed with hostels and other educational facilities.

The schools which an indigene of Ogoni, Barisua Bebe described as one of the best in the country that time, operated for a few academic years under an Indian management before it was abandoned. The magnificent buildings and other installations are laying waste, as grasses have taken them over.

Another magnificent secondary school, Nne Kuru Kurubo Model Secondary School, Ebubu Eleme which boasts of modern educational facilities also operated for sometime before it was abandoned.

The shopping mall at GRA Junction close to Kilimanjaro Fast-food started by the Omehia Administration is laying waste, although the mall was almost completed.

As at the time of filing this report, walls of the buildings had depreciated. It was learnt that former Governor Rotimi Amaechi who took over after Omehia declared the mall as having structural defects and abandoned it.

Songhai Farm in Tai Local Government Area which was producing various agricultural products during Amaechi’s days is now moribund.

Legborsi Yamaabana an indigene of Khana local government area said if the farm had been sustained it would have greatly boosted food production in the state.

It is the same story forBuguma Fish Farm which was into large fish farming in the past. The farm, our reporter gathered was producing fish in commercial quantity, but now the fish ponds have dried up.

The Amaechi Administration acquired a number of trawlers for deep sea fishing. The trawlers, we gathered, went into deep sea fishing several times, bringing with them various species of fish. The remains of some of those trawlers abandoned were stationed at the Admiral Porbeni Jetty at Borokiri.

The Fire Service building at Borokiri had long been abandoned, and is now used as residential houses.

There is an uncompleted over head bridge referred to as Amaechi’s Flyover at Igwuruta close to Salvation Ministries new site. The pillars had been erected, but the bridge itself had not been mounted. That was the level it reached before it was abandoned.

The Mono Rail, a project Rivers people have described as a white elephant had allegedly gulped more than N45 billion.

Executed with fanfare by the Amaechi administration, the monorail now stands as a monument in the pantheon of abandoned projects in the stake.

Although, Governor Wike has completed some projects, particularly roads that Amaechi left behind, the monorail is said to be considered no go area because of its cost.

Rivers indigenes who spoke to our correspondent said the abandoned projects were a waste of Rivers money and resources.

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#OurStateOurResponsibility:The Vortex Takes The Lead

Former Singapore minister of state Bernard Chen in his analysis on the function of the media in any society opined that, “the media may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about. It is from this that the society looks different to different people, depending not only on their personal interest, but also on the map that is drawn for them by the writers, editors and publishers of the paper they read”.

Chen’s view clarified that the media through its publications determines public perception on issues in the society and determines how people react to the issues.

Efforts by the Rivers State government to showcasing a positive image of the state was among the issues discussed when the #OurStateOurResponsibility team led by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim visited the management and staff of The Vortex Newspaper in Port Harcourt to endorse the campaign for responsible citizenship.

Speaking, Nsirim congratulated the management of The Vortex for maintaining professional competence in its operations at a time newspapering is becoming very challenging in the face of the onslaught by partisan politics and the new media.

Nsirim pointed out that the #OurStateOurResponsibility initiative was a sincere desire to change the false narrative of Rivers state by some section of the media, adding that the media and media practitioners must partner with the state government to protect the collective interest of the state and positively project Rivers State on the National and Global stage.

He said, “There is a calculated attempt to project a negative image of Rivers State in the media and when we join those who perpetrate this, it affects our families and businesses. Our responsibility must be to protect the collective interest of the state”.

The Permanent Secretary charged The Vortex and media professionals to remain objective and ensure that they verify all information before presenting them to the public, adding that, all media programs should be geared towards reflecting public interest and the good of the state.

Nsirim said, “The time has come for the media to lay emphasis on development journalism. In your news, features, editorial and programs, we’ll want to see more emphasis on Our State Our Responsibility campaign. The words, thoughts and actions of our people must reflect the interest of the state”.

He congratulated The Vortex for being the first newspaper to identify with the campaign, and assured of the ministry’s support.

Speaking, publisher of The Vortex Newspaper, Dr. Alpheaus Paul-Worika noted that The Vortex is a patriotic and vibrant newspaper committed to making Rivers State better for all through the reportage of balanced, accurate and unbiased news.

He pointed out that the principle of democracy and civic responsibility enjoy relevance because of a vibrant newspaper culture adding that, The Vortex is determined to raise the bar in newspaper publishing and become the most authoritative newspaper in Rivers State and the South-South.

Paul-Worika said, “We all owe a responsibility to our state to make it better for ourselves and posterity. And as citizens and journalists, it is part of our responsibility to be patriotic. Our mandate in The Vortex is to do things differently in such a way that we stand out as the best newspaper in Rivers state and the South-South”.

He assured of the readiness of The Vortex to partner with the Ministry of Information and Communication it its campaign to protect the interest of Rivers State, and declared; “We are available to support every noble and worthy course. You can count on The Vortex for honesty and brutal frankness. We’ll keep showing we’re responsible in the discharge of our duty without fear or compromise’.

In his remark, Director of Publication, Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communication, Sir. Valentine Ugboma congratulated The Vortex for setting the pace in objective reportage of news and information in Rivers State.

Ugboma described The Vortex as a force to be reckoned with in newspaper publishing in Rivers state, adding that in a short time, The Vortex will be a household name in the state.

He charged the management of The Vortex to remain committed to changing the narrative of Rivers State, assuring of the ministry’s preparedness to partner with the press in ensuring that the collective interest of the state is protected.

The delegation included, Mr. Kenneth Okujagu, Director, ICT. Mr. Fiberesima Oruwari, Director, PRS. Mr. Obu Obele Isaiah, Director of Public Enlightenment and Sir. Valentine Ugboma, Director of Publications.

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Front PageIssues

Youth And The Crisis Of Unemployment

With developing countries facing acute unemployment in the formal and informal labor markets Youth unemployment is a global concern. In Nigeria young people account for two thirds of Nigeria’s unemployed and underemployed. According to the 2016 Global Youth Development Index, Nigeria ranked 158th out of 183 countries in the domain of employment and opportunities.

One unique feature of the economic growth problem in Nigeria is its inability to create more jobs. Considering the growing youth population, estimated to reach 135 million by 2020, this is a significant concern. The current growth rate of the population, which outpaces rate of employment generation, is indeed a policy consideration in addressing youth employment and productivity as  recent downturn of economic activities further exacerbates the wage employment deficit amongst the youth.

In a nutshell, in Nigeria, thousands of graduates are produced every year but there are no jobs for majority of them. The streets are full of youth hawkers who ordinarily would have found gainful employment in some organizations/government parastatals/ or be self-employed with seed capital from government or finance houses.

With insecurity and electricity, youth unemployment is the third biggest problem confronting our nation today. It is the root cause of poverty, youth restiveness, gangsterism, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassinations, and all sorts of deviant behavior. Among this band of unemployed youths, over three million young boys and girls with NYSC discharge certificates roam the streets of the country in search of jobs that do not exist. Our tertiary intuitions churn out over 200,000 graduates into the job market every year thereby, exacerbating the situation.

Where do we go from here? Youth unemployment will continue to grow unless we turn job seekers to job creators and this is why all stakeholders should join hands to reduce the unemployment rate in the country. Our higher institutions should endeavor to produce employable graduate and those that can create jobs in order to compete favorably with their counterparts around the world. We should go back to technical education and encourage farming. There are so many arable lands across the federation readily available for farming, government can facilitate these land for people to farm.

Nigeria’s youthful population should be an advantage to the economy if well harnessed. In addition to constituting dynamic workforce to produce goods and services, they should also make up the entrepreneurial class to drive the economy. Youths are not assets to waste, and as such strategies and measures should be put in place to ensure that the skills, strength and ideas of our youthful population is harnessed.

Nigeria must see unemployment as a monster debilitating our collective existence. Instead of amassing military arsenal against kidnappers and robbers etc, it is time to fight the root cause which is unemployment. Youths of a nation are the trustees of its posterity and the last line of defense in times of wars and emergencies. They are indispensable human capitals that should be nurtured and preserved for national development.

Many countries have tackled the issue of unemployment using different strategies and methods. China has used the massive manufacturing and export approach, while India is using the service industry to meaningfully engage her massive population.

That youth unemployment in Nigeria is endemic is stating the obvious. Its consequences on both the youth and the entire country cannot be relegated to the background hence the waning of agricultural practices, lingering poverty, hunger, social vices and insecurity

It is worrisome that youths and graduates willing and able to work cannot find a job and as such earn nothing. Such individuals are frustrated, vulnerable and can be used by scrupulous elements in the society to perpetrate all sorts of crime, which they would abhor if they were productively engaged or gainfully employed.

Youth empowerment and development are the magic wands that can change the story, yet it has not been duly explored. It has been and observed that corruption also increases unemployment and that government have a role to put in place measures to salvage the unemployment situation of the country.

Some of these measures should include an audit of the policies and programmes of youth development and empowerment to avoid duplication and streamline spheres of operation. Programmes should not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, rather, they should be judged by their abilities to accomplish the objectives for which they were created. Government should get credit institutions to spread their activities beyond the “comfort zones” in which they currently operate, such as local government and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Importantly, a sustained education and enlightenment program on job creation opportunities in the country should be put in place.

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Front PageNews

‘How Fraudsters Steal With ATM Cards’

A new sophisticated method of defrauding bank customers through ATM cards has emerged and a sizeable number of people have fallen victim to this.

How does it work? A fraudster collects your ATM card and before you realized you had lost it, the money you had in your bank account is gone.

Our correspondent gathered that the last two digit numbers on the ATM card are what the fraudsters manipulate and use to empty victim’s account.

According to the information, after performing their magic on the two numbers, the fraudster would then slot the card into the ATM machine and the money would come in quick successions. The defrauded customer would not receive alert for the transactions. In the event that he receives an alert, it would only show the amount withdrawn and not the transactions.

The Vortex editor, Polycarp Nwaeke who related his experience said that N60,000 (sixty thousand naira) was withdrawn fraudulently from his Diamond, now Access Bank account in June when he lost his ATM card.

“It was a credit alert for N5000, which somebody paid into my account on June 6, and which showed wrong balance that alerted me that something had gone wrong”, he said.

He said he had written to managers of the bank demanding explanation on what happened to his money placed under their custody, but had not received tangible reply.

“I even personally confronted the manager of the Bank at the Rumuokoro branch on the issue, but she told me they had no means of discovering that kind of fraud.

She said the bank had repeatedly advised customers to keep their ATM cards secured and not to disclose their pins to anybody.

She even asked me the kind of people I was living with in my house, insinuating that they may have done that to me”.

A middle aged woman, who gave her name as Emily told our correspondent that she lost N300,00 to fraudster through the loss of her ATM card.

The woman said she does not use her ATM card regularly which was why she did not discover the loss and was unable to report to her bank on time.

“They used the ATM card and withdrew N40, 000 seven times from my account”, she lamented.

Barr Awama OT, narrated to The Vortex how his friend’s wife lost N180,000 as a result of the loss of her ATM card.

He said alert showing the transactions for the money was not received, adding that he had instructed the woman to demand for her bank statement, so he could use it to institute a court case against the bank.

Discussions on how people had lost their hard earned money entrusted to the custody of banks through the loss of their ATM cards and handsets is rampant not only in Rivers State, but other states of the federation.

At a relaxation spot, our correspondent heard how a man who misplaced his phone had N80, 000 removed from his account. It was gathered that the fraudster saw his account number on the phone and used it to withdraw the money.

Why are banks keeping mute over these onslaughts on their customers? Why have they not factored this kind of fraud into their security net work?

People take their money to banks for security, but banks are becoming more insecure, especially in Nigeria.

If this trend continues, banks may lose customers, which may result to closure of some of them.

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Front PageIssues

Election Tribunal Judgment And Echoes Of Restructuring

As the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar file their appeal at the Supreme Court, the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal judgment on the petition against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 Polls will linger.

To supporters of Mr. President, that simple decision has provided answers to thorny electoral questions and laid to rest the controversy surrounding the 2019 presidential election. To his opponents, however the judgment has created more question than answers- a state of affairs that qualify it for further legal scrutiny.

From commentaries, instead of the judgment to unite Nigerians and promote positive national political discourse, it has succeeded in separating neighbors, and redirect focus on primordial political conversations.

The most frightening paradox about the decision is that while it, in the estimation of some Nigerians announced the arrival of a new opportunity for Mr. President and his team to build a better Nigeria, the tribunal’s pronouncement on the academic qualification requirement marks a departure from our values for hard work and quest for academic excellence. The judgment actually made nonsense of the time-honored belief that education is the bedrock of development.

From all that was observed during this period, it is obvious that the people’s frustration was not only nourished by the ‘seeming timidity’ of the judgment but was fed by several worries.

First, is the belief that the marriage or forceful amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern protectorates on the 14th February 1914, by Lord Fredrick Lugard set the stage for this appalling situation in the country. Some Nigerians, from all spheres put the blame for country’s woes in Lugard’s decision to lump such a huge conglomeration of districts tribes and history.

This notion is further fueled by the inability of successive administrations to recognize that public order, personal security, economic and social progress, and prosperity is not the natural order of things that they depend on ceaseless effort and attention from an honest and effective government that the people must elect.

It is true that sometimes we get discouraged and disappointed with the slow pace of development in the country. At times we talk about how the amalgamation of the North and south has badly impacted us. But Lord Lugard’s ‘mistake’ may not be the only challenge confronting our nation.

We need to study the theory of why some nations are prosperous while others fail remain poor. Nigeria was not the only nation where the British overlords colonized with historical, ethnic and religious differences. India and Sudan are two examples of countries colonized by the British and administered with the same governance model.

The difference is that every nation or institution develops a culture of their own. And the success or failure of such an institution is closely tied to that culture. India upon attainment of independence discovered that such an arrangement maybe more of a burden than goodwill looking at their cultural and particularly the religious differences of the amalgams, so they unbundled the union. Today, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are three separate countries.

In like manner, apart from splitting into two(North and South), Sudan confronted a challenge that impedes national rebirth, in the person of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, founder of the National Congress Party who served as the seventh President of Sudan from 1989 to 2019 Omar al-Bashir had been in absolute power for three decades. But his implacable palate for power sought more days in office. The citizens disallowed him and when he wouldn’t leave in peace in the face of worsening economic woes, a popular uprising took over.

On our part, the British colonial overlords probably intended the protectorates to operate in a symmetrical manner with no part of the amalgam claiming superiority over the other. This arrangement conferred on the fledgling country the form of the Biblical trinity. So, at independence in 1960, Nigeria became a federation, resting firmly on a tripod of three federating regions-Northern, Eastern and Western Regions. Each of the regions was economically and politically viable to steer its own ship, yet mutual suspicion among them was rife. In fact, regional loyalty surpassed nationalistic fervor with each of the regions at different times threatening secession.

While many who believe in the unity of Nigeria may not agree with the campaign of any group or ethnic nationality to dismember Nigeria like India or Sudan, the truth must be told to the effect that neither Lugard nor the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s decision is our problem. Rather, the whole gamut of restiveness of youths, whether in the Southeast, South-south, North or Southwest, and resurgence demands for the dissolution of Nigeria stems from mindless exclusion, injustice and economic deprivations?

Even as it’s certain that ‘things are falling apart’ with the country now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war, leaders have refused to muster the courage to lead toward a better future by studying the different calls for the restructuring of the nation and adopt the already existing template for solving these problems-the report of the 2014 National Conference.

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