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Nigeria Must Beware of “Backdoor Colonialism”

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By Joel Popoola

More than 60 years after our independence, Nigeria once again, must be wary of colonialism – this time in a very different shape.

At the end of August, Nigeria and Russia signed a military cooperation deal involving the supply of equipment, the training of troops and “technology transfer”.

Given our need to tackle the simultaneously insurgencies of both Islamists and Separatists, there is no doubting that Nigeria needs this sort of support, not least with historic allies such as the United States currently unwilling to sell military supplies to our nation due to concerns over human rights abuses.

But there is also no doubt that this also increases our dependency on a foreign power, whose interests are not always going to be aligned with our own. The phrase “technology transfer” could mean anything – from the sale of hardware to allowing another country access to our national security infrastructure.

Then there’s the growing influence of China on our growing technology sector.

Again, the need for their involvement is unquestionable. But their motivations are not.

The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei already operates more than 70% of Africa’s telecommunications network – even though concerns about its links with the Chinese government have led to countries like Britain and the United States banning it from their mobile and internet networks.

Their concern is that Huawei’s dominance could allow the Chinese government to use state-sponsored hackers to spy on Nigeria or disrupt communications – something only likely to become more important as we move towards the era of self-driving cars and virtual domestic technology assistants such as Alexa and Siri.

The Wall Street Journal has already alleged that Huawei has helped Ugandan and Zambian authorities spy on political opponents.

A report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies even claimed that Huawei’s activities could “provide Chinese authorities with intelligence and even coercive leverage.”

This may not be the traditional form of colonialism, which arrived on our shores baring weapons but a new sort of colonialism baring investment in vital infrastructure, but at it is heart it remains remarkably similar – an overseas power with undue influence on our way of life.

This form of international interconnectivity is inevitable in the twenty-first century, and I am no nativist or economic nationalist – and it is of course unrealistic at the present time for Nigeria to develop an independent cloud infrastructure, for example, not least when it is exactly what we need to maximise the potential of our booming fintech sector.

We can also not allow foreign dominion over our emerging digital sector. According to one report, no less than 14 of the 20 most exciting tech start up are Nigerian – and the entire top 10! We must ensure that the benefit of this ingenuity and innovation is felt at home.

Huawei has also announced plans to train up to 3 million young Africans in digital skills, including artificial intelligence. Make no mistake; we need this – not least because as a nation we have failed to provide this for ourselves.

But we also need to be cautious of becoming over-reliant on overseas powers.

The first step towards achieving this is to built a more united Nigeria, and in particular we must bridge the divide between our people and our political class. And ironically, it is technology that can deliver that.

At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we are also working to bring electors and elected closer together.

We’ve created a free smartphone app – Rate Your Leader – to use mobile technology to let elected officials to interact directly with confirmed voters in the divisions they serve – in a way where insults are impossible and dishonesty is undesirable.

This way politicians and people can use Rate Your Leader to connect person-to-person, understanding each other’s needs and positions. This way, leaders immediately ascertain what matters most to the people who vote for them, and join forces to tackle those topics. And voters can even rate local leaders for transparency and accessibility.

And that in turn fosters trust, sadly lacking in so much of our political process. .

Opening up our economy to the rest of the globe is unavoidable, and opens up Nigeria to a world of potential. But we must face the inevitable risks and challenges as a united nation.

To create that united nation we need greater co-operation and communication between people and the political class, both of which can be delivered at the touch of a button.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app. He can be reached via @JOPopoola

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CP Alabi Confirms Lagos on Lockdown over Security Threats

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The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abiodun Alabi, on Wednesday said that there was a partial lockdown of the state by security agencies due to the threats of attacks by unknown gunmen.

Alabi disclosed this in Lagos during the Lagos State Stakeholders’ Forum on Police Accountability quarterly meeting and awards.

Alabi gave a keynote address on ‘Police Community Partnership: Panacea for Effective Police Performance’ at the event supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Alabi said that the partial lockdown was for a purpose, stressing that the police and other security agencies in Lagos were ready for any intruders.

He said that there were stop-and-search points at different places that had become part of the security architectures in the state to combat any likely intruder.

The Lagos police boss who said that though the number of police personnel in the state were inadequate, added that with community/police partnership, the current number could tackle all crimes and criminality.

Alabi said that the force was committed to accountability, where those with excellent performances would always be rewarded amongst the personnel, and sanctions would be meted out to erring and unprofessional ones.

He noted that all the statutory duties of the police were about the protection of lives and properties.

He called on the various community stakeholders: traditional rulers, community leaders, religious leaders, and transporters to always engage the police in their areas for better policing.

The CP urged communities not to be afraid of giving information about crimes and criminality in their areas to the police and other security agencies.

He also implored them to always be interested in the activities of the police and see the police as their family members and not mere friends.

Earlier, the Coordinator of SFPA, Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, said that the forum was established in 2018 as an outcome of CSOs and other stakeholders’ engagement with police command in Lagos on issues of police accountability.

Nwanguma, who is also the Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, said the forum had been and would continue to offer formalised and structured engagement with the various complaints and disciplinary units in the society.

He added that it would also stand as the liaison between the police and communities in Lagos state.

“Accountability is not an easily acceptable issue in the NPF. This is why we are happy that the current police leadership under I-GP Usman Baba has embraced and priotised accountability as an essential means of rooting out corruption and abuse in the force,” he said.

Nwanguma commended the Inspector General of Police for punishing those involved in various unprofessional conducts in the past, stressing that this action was an indication that the IGP was ready to combat corrupt practices and unprofessional conducts.

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Navy Personnel Accused of Sodomy Dismissed

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A Nigerian Navy personnel, SLT VN Ukpawanne, has been dismissed for allegedly committing sodomy with a teenager (name withheld).

Ukpawanne was arraigned before a court-martial set up by the Nigerian Navy in Delta state on four counts.

He was said to have been found guilty of disobeying standing order, attempting to commit sodomy; disgraceful conduct and wrong use of drugs.

The offences were said to be punishable under sections 57, 95; 93; 65 (1) of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

In a memo sighted by our correspondent on Tuesday, the officer was awarded one-year loss of seniority, six months imprisonment, another six months imprisonment and lastly one-year imprisonment for all four offences.

The memo with Reference: NHQ: 08/68/93/A/Vol.XVIII/399 was titled, ‘Confirmation of court martial punishment -SLT VN Ukpawanne NN/4440’.

It read, “Sequel to Reference A regarding NHQ approval and Confirmation of Court Martial Punishment for the officer named above who attempted to commit Sodomy amidst other offences on 27 Oct 21 with one teenager, (name withheld), close to Sapele Stadium, On 15 Aug 22 at about 1035, the officer was officially paraded and his sentences were read accordingly.

The charges against the officer include the following:

2004: Disobedience to Standing Order – punishable under section 57 of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

2004: Attempt to Commit Sodomy – punishable under section 95 of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

2004: Disgraceful Conduct – punishable under section 93 of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

2004: Wrongful use of drug/Controlled Substance – punishable under section 65 (1) of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

Accordingly, the officer in violation of all sections listed above was awarded one-year loss of seniority, six months imprisonment, another six months imprisonment and lastly one-year imprisonment for all four offences.

Pertinently, all imprisonment sentences are to run concurrently.

“The dismissed officer is currently awaiting medical clearance from the Naval Medical Centre before handing over to Sapele Correctional Center for commencement of imprisonment term.”

The Punch

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First Set of Winners Emerge in Union Bank’s Save & Win Palli Promo 2 

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Leading financial institution Union Bank of Nigeria has rewarded the first set of winners in the second edition of its Save & Win Palli promo. 

The first live draw of this season, which took place at Union Bank’s Head office in Lagos, saw 50 customers win cash prizes of ₦105,000 each. The winners were selected randomly through a transparent, and electronically generated draw supervised by relevant regulatory bodies.

Save & Win Palli Promo is a nationwide campaign aimed at rewarding customers with cash prices and other exciting gifts worth over N55,000,000. The goal is to encourage and promote a healthy savings culture. The promo is open to new and existing customers who save a minimum amount of N10,000 monthly.

Savers who qualify to participate in the monthly draws stand a chance to win N105,000 each, while 5 winners will go home with N500,000 each in two of the quarterly draws. One lucky customer will snag the star price of N5,000,000 during the grand finale set to hold in December alongside other consolation prices.

Speaking concerning the draw, the Head of Retail Deposits at Union Bank, John Obichie, said: “Union Bank is pleased to reward our customers through initiatives like this that encourage them to save. This promo was introduced to support our customers during these trying times and to reward them for being consistent with their saving habits.

The savings promo which kicked off in July will run until the end of the year and will see more winners emerge during the monthly, quarterly and end-of-year draws so there’s still a chance to participate and win!

If you are an existing Union Bank customer you can continue to top up your savings in multiples of N10,000 monthly to increase your chances of winning.

Prospective customers can download the UnionMobile app on their mobile phones to open an account or they can simply walk into any Union Bank branch. To reactivate existing accounts, returning customers can call the 24-hour Contact Centre on 07007007000 or also visit any of Union Bank’s branches across the country.

For more updates on the Save & Win Palli promo, follow Union Bank on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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