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FG Can Use New Loan Opportunities to Turn Lives of Nigerians Around

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By Joel Popoola

Latest loans can turn an unprecedented crisis into an unprecedented opportunity, and this is if we make sure the money goes to the right place.

We all know the challenges facing Nigeria. But seeing those challenges laid out in black and white still has the power to shock.

This week a report from the International Monetary Fund pulled no punches in its assessment of our nation.

“Half of the student-age population is enrolled in schools.

“Healthy life expectancy is 49 years, placing Nigeria among the bottom six countries in the world.

“Some 54% of the population is connected to an electricity grid that collapses about once a month.

“Roads are in precarious condition.

“Less than four per cent of the population have access to safely managed water.

“Overall, Nigeria’s indicators of human and physical capital are worse than countries with lower GDP per capita.”

The IMF estimates public spending will need to go up by 18% to fix these problems.

As William Shakespeare put it; ‘when troubles come, they come not as single spies but whole battalions’. And these troubles have been compounded by the COVID-19 crisis, which has crippled Nigeria’s economy while demanding extraordinary increases in public spending.

But this crisis has brought with it unparalleled financial assistance too, and not a penny of that assistance should be wasted.

In April, the IMF approved a $3.4 billion package of emergency financial assistance for Nigeria to support the government’s efforts to stabilise our economy in particular in the face of the dramatic slump in world oil prices.

This is likely to be followed by an additional $3 billion dollar loan from the World Bank, which will be used to fund to restart and re-energise our economy.

As I write, the World Bank has also agreed a $750m package of investment aimed at ending power cuts across Nigeria, which are estimated to cost our economy $2.8 billion a year and reduce economic growth by at least 2%.

This is exactly the kind of infrastructural investment I have repeatedly called for. But that investment can only be delivered with transparency and accountability.

It is something of a cliché to say that the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as ‘opportunity’. But this unprecedented crisis has created an unprecedented opportunity to put Nigerian on the path to a better future.

But based on bitter experiences, many Nigerians may worry that some of these funds will never be used for their intended purposes. Cronyism. Misappropriation. Downright theft. Many of us have a depressing story to tell.

This time things could be different.

The IMF’s mission chief for Nigeria, Amine Mati, has already highlighted what measures the government is taking to enhance transparency and governance of the emergency financing.

These include independent oversight of the spending of the loans and the procurement processes related to that spending, and the publication of procurement plans and notices for all emergency response activities including the names of companies awarded contracts and the owners of those companies.

And most important of all, these reports will be published daily on Nigeria’s treasury website for everyone to see.

Every penny must be accounted for.

As the head of the Digital Democracy campaign, created to use technology to bring people and politics closer together, I welcome these announcements. But we need to go a little further.

Our politicians need to be as transparent and as accountable as these accounts. That’s why we created the free Rate Your Leader app.

The free app puts registered voters in direct person-to-person contact with their local decision makers, forcing them to justify every decision they make and every penny they spend, and making them truly accountable to the people they serve.

And if their voters don’t like the answers they get, they can rate their politicians appropriately for everyone to see.

Generations of underwhelming and underperforming government has brought Nigeria to where we are today. Many Nigerians do not trust their leaders. To many, they are self-interested and self-serving. This is not true in my experience, but like it or not, many think this way.

The first step to addressing that lack of trust is to build better relationships between electors and elected and using the technology you might be reading this on – that can very easily be achieved.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and is creator of the free Rate Your Leader app. You can reach him via Joel@rateyourleader.com or @JOPOPOOLA

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Food for Living: Design Your Destiny

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By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Destiny Friends,

One of life’s most misconstrued concepts is destiny. If you ask a thousand and one persons what destiny is, they will give you a thousand and one definitions based on their understanding. Some might relate it to the spiritual, some might define it from the educational perspective, while other schools of thought might see it from an inspirational or motivational perspective. For the purpose of this article, I shall focus on the transformational perspective.

No doubt destiny means many things to many people. The question we should be asking ourselves is how we can design our destiny? To a reasonable extent, we can design our destiny because we have the power of choice to decide our fate. For instance, one thing is certain in life, and that is we must all make a choice either directly or indirectly. Your choice will definitely define you; if you make the right choice, you will excel, but if you make the wrong choice, you will pay for it. However, paying for it doesn’t make one a failure because you can still turn your failures into a friend, and thereafter unleash your potentials.

As human beings, we are always torn about how we can succeed. Some of us imitate other people, some see success in education, some see true success in talents, gifts, or even skill, while many others see success as financial stability. All these schools of thought are right depending on the the lens of a particular viewer. However, one fact is certain, a true and authentic success must be planned, and that success is the definition you give to yourself to achieve “authentic fulfillment” as opposed to the one the world expects from you. Regardless of how you might look at it, if you are not prepared for success, you’ll lose when it arrives. Even God in his infinite knowledge encourages us in Proverbs 4:13 thus: “Your education is your life, guard it very well’. This literally means you need to continually improve yourself.

Genuine success is not only about taking first, but the bigger picture is maintaining the first position. In our contemporary society, sometimes, we look to other people for our success without knowing that success lies inside of us. For instance, instead of looking for a job, look internally to discover your talent/gift. Instead of looking for a soulmate to love you, how about you practicing self-love which can attract your authentic love. Instead of reading different materials to understand how human beings reason, you can look internally to know what’s unique about you by reaching out to your creator to know the purpose he designed you.

I have always shared this story; if you want to know how Facebook works, you need to ask Mark Zuckerberg who is the founder. If you want to know how Microsoft works, you need to ask Bill Gate who is the founder, if you want to know how a product works, you also have to look at the manual to decipher the functions. In the same way, if you want to know your purpose you have to ask your creator. It is quite unfortunate that many of us settle for less, while some consider other secondary ways like settling for a job that’s not meant for them just because it pays the bills. Some even identify with human beings they are not compatible with just because they want to get married, get loans, get a political appointment etc.

This set of people fail to understand there’s more to life than vested interest and that it is only when they work on their authentic purposes that they will realize how far they can go in life.

It is on this note I wish to inform my tribe that I will be organizing Design Your Destiny Masterclass, which will be focused on helping progressive minds to unleash their potentials. The two-day Masterclass will run from January 31 through to February 1 via Zoom. The whole idea is to help adults who need clarity, self-discovery, and transformation in both their personal and professional lives.

The Masterclass will position every attendee towards re-evaluating his life, business, friendship, family, and perception to life. Discovering one’s purpose can be hard, but with the right tools and guidance, you can unravel it. Some people discovered their purpose with mentors, some through meditation, and others through making themselves available by being vulnerable.

The Masterclass will also focus on helping you to know what’s unique about you; it will guide you on how to make the right choices, and how to use meditation to discover your true being in addition to attracting opportunities by practicing gratitude and appreciation. This is a must-attend Masterclass. If you love yourself or know anyone that will benefit from this program, please do them a favour by either paying for them to attend or recommending the Masterclass to them. The fees are very affordable. For details about the payment, please see Design Your Destiny Masterclass. If you have any questions, please send an email to info@gloemi.com.

According to Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone is taken” As human beings, we are all unique and endowed with different gifts. Your gifts will announce you before kings, queens, and captains of industries if you use them very well. Your gifts have been resourced for value because humanity needs your talent. In Designing your destiny, it’s important to ask yourself critical questions, such as why some people stress and work hard to succeed while others merely network in a smart way. Everyone is different, therefore your ability to know the thin line where destiny, wisdom, and intuition cross, will make you understand that our destiny is literally in our hands because regardless of what anyone says or do to us, we are responsible for either accepting, rejecting and or reacting to it.

In conclusion, I urge you to take some time to ask yourself some salient questions by way of soul searching to know more about yourself. If you will like to know more about how you can Design Your Destiny, you can read my book: Design Your Destiny- Actualizing Your Birthright to Success.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a mindset coach and transformational coach. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Peace Building: Ikeja, Emmaus Rotary Clubs Partner to Train West African Women

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Rotary Club of Ikeja, District 9110 , Lagos , Nigeria is teaming up with Emmaus Rotary Club, District 7430, Pennsylvania, USA and the Mediators Beyond Borders International, (MBBI) to organize the MBBI  International Peace  Training Institute  (MBBI- IPTI) in Lagos, Nigeria.

The training will involve 30 women- participants in peace building, conflict prevention and transformation skills to serve as peacebuilders in their own communities in some countries in West Africa.

According to a statement signed by the President of Rotary Club of Ikeja, Rotarian Dotun Lampejo, the training session which is themed, ‘Women in Peacebuilding: Enhancing Skills and Practice’, the participants for the two-week training are drawn from the host country, Nigeria as well as Sierra Leone, Ghana , Liberia and Cameroon and it would run between January 25th till February, 5th, 2021.

Rotarian Lampejo added that the training which would be virtual would help the women to learn with other peace builders from West Africa, develop their skills in restorative practices, mediation, trauma-informed conflict resolution, leadership and group facilitation as well as help them to connect with organizational and political leaders.

According to Lampejo, ‘’Our objective during the Peace and Conflict Resolution Month is to help build vibrant and more inclusive societies and we know that, that can only be possible in a society devoid of crisis. We are therefore collaborating with the Emmaus Rotary Club to organize the Rotary-MBBI International Peace Training Institute to make this possible.’’

While lending his voice, the Rotary Foundation Director of Emmaus Rotary  Club, Jim Palmquist said the club joined forces with Rotary Club of Ikeja to organise the Peacebuilding training session to make the world a more peaceful one.

Palmquist added that, ‘’Clearly the whole world desperately needs many more peacebuilders.  I believe we are building the experience within Rotary to spread peacebuilding skills and successes everywhere.  I see Rotary becoming one of the premier peace building NGOs.  Though Rotary has been leading in peace work since its beginning, we are going to expand its peace-making markedly and bring peace to the world.’’

While commenting on the choice of women as participants, the Managing Director of MBBI, Prabha Sankaranaraan said that, ” When you ask people about mediators people know, often the names mentioned are recognized globally and usually men. And yet some of the most complicated agreements in the world such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, or the Philippines Peace process have had women at the center of the process.

‘The reality is that  women comprise only 2% of mediators of armed conflict in the whole world.

” The participation of civil society groups, including women’s organizations, makes a peace agreement 64% less likely to fail.

” When women participate in peace processes, the resulting agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years. Higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. All this points to the clear need for increasing the capacity of women.’’

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Accept COVID-19 Vaccines, TB Joshua Tells Nigerians

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The founder of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), Temitope Joshua, has appealed to Nigerians to accept the approved COVID-19 vaccines as a way of ending the pandemic.

Mr Joshua, in a video made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, said he has received thousands of emails concerning the safety of the vaccines expected in the country by the end of January.

“Concerning the ongoing situation in the world, I have received thousands of emails on the COVID-19 vaccine,” Mr Joshua said in the message broadcast on his Christian channel on Emmanuel TV.

The video and its content was sent to PREMIUM TIMES by a freelance journalist, Ihechukwu Njoku.

Mr Joshua noted that many conspiracy theories are surrounding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

He, however, said federal authorities are only making efforts to put an end to the pandemic which has claimed millions of lives worldwide.

“No doubt, there are many conspiracy theories surrounding this vaccine. However, my belief is that our governments are only trying to look for a way out of this very challenging situation, although there may be bad faith in certain quarters,” he said.

“Many people have complained of some negative reactions but this is always the case with vaccines of this nature. I remember I used to have such reactions whenever I took chloroquine,” he continued, citing his personal experiences.

“That does not mean chloroquine is bad. It works positively for many. At this time, our governments need our support and our cooperation – because the world is in a dilemma,” he said.

The Nigerian government said it is expecting at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January through the COVAX co-financing public-private facility.

Evidence on ground at the country’s vaccine facility showed that there are three Ultra-cold freezers needed to store the vaccines when they finally arrive the country.

But health authorities have expressed fears over growing vaccines hesitancy caused by misinformation which leads to doubt of the efficacy of the vaccine.

One of such was recently demonstrated by a Nigerian governor discouraging people from taking the vaccines.

“…They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid!” Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State said in a video circulating on social media.

Aso Rock officials said both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will take the COVID-19 vaccines live on TV to allay the growing vaccine hesitancy among Nigerians.

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, who addressed journalists in Abuja after meeting with President Buhari recently said he and his colleagues will also take the vaccines on live television. “We too will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that vaccines would work,” he said.

“Don’t forget, we have a lot of experience on this. Governors Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience,” said Mr Fayemi, the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum

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