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Nigerian Students Need Free Data for Educational Resources, Not Price Cut in Five Years



By Joel Popoola

We called on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, to give our children free data; he offered us a price cut in five years!

The British government recently promised a “New Deal” to kick-start its economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling to mind the vast investment in jobs and infrastructure designed by former American President, Franklin Roosevelt, to save America from the Great Depression.

When details of this “New Deal” arrived, it turned out that the people of Britain (649,000 of whom have lost their jobs due to COVID-19) were being offered £10 (4000 Naira) off restaurant bills for 14 days in August.

Not so much a New Deal as a meal deal – it would be like the Nigerian government trying to rebuild our economy with discounts in a fast food joint!

It was hard for me not to feel the way the people of Britain must have felt when they heard this as when I heard Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami announce government ambition for a 40% cut in data prices by 2025.

Two weeks ago, I called on Dr Pantami to require telecommunication firms to exempt educational resources from data charges to save a generation of Nigerians from having their education permanently disrupted by COVID-19.

Data is a luxury many Nigerian families cannot afford. Education is a necessity. A 40% price cut in five years time will not help Nigeria’s lost generation one little bit.

In the same speech Dr Pantami announced that government plans to “promote digital economy and improve the living standard of the citizenry” with an emphasis on “skill acquisition”.
This is music to my ears, but during the speech, the minister also boasted that broadband penetration in Nigeria has risen to 40.18%.

Dr Pantami spoke of targeting a rapid rollout of 5G capability across Nigeria – but we have yet to achieve significant 4G penetration! Indeed, with government projections stating that by 2025 only 70% of Nigerians will have any sort of internet.

The youth of Nigeria will never develop digital skills if less than half of them are able to access the internet, and those who are cannot afford to.

Dr Patami’s goals are the right ones and I genuinely applaud both his efforts and ambitions. And there is not getting around it – universal broadband takes time to deliver.

But our children need action now, especially those unable to access education.

One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is Nigerian. 10.5 million of our 5 to 14 year-olds are not in school. This is a national disgrace. And that was before COVID-19 robbed so many more children of months of education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised digital and online education as lessons move online across the world.

But in Nigeria, many homes are not equipped to adapt to these new methods of learning. This means children who have fallen behind will never catch up, and Nigeria will continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus for long after the pandemic is over.

About 170 million Nigerians have a mobile phone subscription, but many of those with smartphones cannot afford the data fees to make the most of the opportunities of the digital age. Many Nigerian parents will be burning through data trying to use online resources to help with their children’s schooling. When the data ends, so does the learning.

As head of the Digital Democracy campaign, Rate Your Leader, I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to tell our telecommunication companies that this isn’t good enough.

Our app allows registered voters to directly contact their local politicians – building trust, transparency and accountability, and allowing a two-way flow of information which educates and benefits both parties. We know Nigerians want this – so tell your local leaders!

All of this is done with the touch of a smartphone button from the comfort of the home. It would take next to nothing for children otherwise unable to access education to learn the same way. But while Rate Your Leader requires minimal data, online educational resources do not.

As for the telecommunications companies themselves, free data for education should not be seen as an act of charity, but a sensible business decision. It is companies like them who stand to gain most from a more digitally-skilled workforce and wider internet access. For any of our telecommunication companies with consistent modest, profit after tax for decades, this modest investment would pay for itself many times over.

Nigeria’s lost generation needs free data for education now, not a price cut in five years

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

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Court Slams N50m Fine on Senator Abbo for Assaulting Woman at Sex-Toy Shop



The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday, awarded N50m damages against the senator representing Adamawa North, Elisha Abbo, to be paid as compensation to a female attendant at a sex-toy shop, Osimibibra Warmate, whom he assaulted.

Justice Samira Bature gave the order in her judgment on the fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Warmate against the senator.

The video clip of the alleged assault of the woman by the senator had gone viral.

The police had in 2019 charged before a magistrate court in Zuba, Abuja with one count of assaulting Warmate at a sex-toy shop in Abuja.

But the presiding magistrate, Abdullahi Ilelah, had dismissed the case after upholding the no-case submission filed by the senator.

Warmate, through her legal team including Esosa Omo-Usoh and Nelson Onuoha, went on to sue Abbo in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed before the FCT High Court and marked FCT/CV/2393/19.

Justice Bature upheld the plaintiff’s case in a judgment on Monday by ordering the senator to pay N50m to the applicant.

The Punch

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Boko Haram Ambushes Zulum’s Convoy, Kills 15 Officers



At least 15 security personnel comprising eight policemen, three soldiers and four Civilian-JTF personnel died today after suspected Boko Haram gunmen ambushed a convoy of Borno officials travelling to Baga town.

The attacked officials, according to sources familiar with the attack, were heading to Baga town ahead of government’s planned return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Maiduguri to the camps.

A battery of armed soldiers and police officers, as well as Civilian-JTF personnel, were deployed to provide escort to the officials.

The convoy ran into an ambush by Boko Haram at a spot called Korochara, which is about 2km away from the base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force on the way to Baga from Monguno.

“Seven policemen, four C-JTF members and three soldiers died instantly as the insurgents rained bullets on the unsuspecting members of the convoy,” an official of the Borno state government who wouldn’t want to be named told our reporter.

The source said the attack happened at about 2 pm

Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum, who is expected to supervise the arrival of the IDPs at Baga, had left Maiduguri earlier in the day via a military chopper.

The Borno State government and the security agencies whose personnel were affected are yet to officially comment on the attack.

The attack happened four days after a colonel, D.C. Bako, died after another ambush by Boko Haram terrorists.

Mr Bako was until his death the commander of 25 Task Force Brigade in Damboa. He died in a military hospital where he was receiving treatment after the ambush.

Premium Times

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Food for Living: Listen to Your Inner Voice



By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Friends,

In today’s contemporary world, we have many interests battling for our attention, especially with the advent of social media. Staying focused can therefore, be a challenge. As rational minds, we all have different thoughts and feelings, but what makes the difference is what we see and hear in our inner minds. For example, we all sit in the same classroom, but our level of comprehension and articulation is different. As a team working on a mission, your vision might be different from what others see, some might be there just to get paid while others might be there to transform the world. Even pain has a different feeling, some people might scream when they feel pain while another person might endure.

As a progressive on a journey to transform the world with your ideas, innovations, and personality, it might be difficult to get a team that believe in not only you, but also in your vision. Whether you are an entrepreneur, politician, student, religious leader, etc., you can challenge and change the status quo. Changing the world is not easy, in fact, it is not easy to change the world; it takes a lot to change a tradition that has been in place for decades, but it is interesting to know that it is easier to influence people than to change them, this is because human beings generally are resistant to change.

Question: Do you have a dream, vision, idea, or plan to bring a change in the society or government? Please bear in mind that it is not going to be easy. However, your concern should be on focusing on the reason it should work and not why it is not going to work. You may be wondering how you’ll achieve this feat when faced with glaring challenges. A great way to remain focused in the face of adversity is to listen to the still small voice in your inner mind. Your inner voice is the greatest strength you can muster when all other options fail. For instance, if you have a strong belief in your network, mentor, friend, parent, associate, or relation to support your work and they disappoint you, what will you do? Will you perish your idea?

Again, you may have strong networks, but they may not see hope in what you are doing. What then will you do?  If you strongly feel the vibe and urge to continue in your vision, please listen to your inner voice. A good way to know if your voice is leading you aright is the presence of peace of mind.

For instance, if you need to make a decision at the moment, but can’t figure out what to do, take a moment to take a deep breath, relax and meditate on the pros and cons of the idea. It’s called the law of mental transformation. Success is not a product of what you do alone, it is as a result of who you are becoming than what you are doing. True success is a product of who you are. It should be noted that the mind is like a garden. A garden won’t stay fallow. It either grows flowers and vegetables or weeds, depending on the seeds you sow on it. Your mind will either manifest success or failure depending on the thoughts you feed with it.

Furthermore, it is normal to complain when the line doesn’t add up. For instance, when you lose your biggest clients; feel cheated in business, or even lose a loved one, there are many voices that will give you cogent reasons you shouldn’t continue in that line of business or see the loss of the loved as the end of your vision, especially if the person serves as your biggest supporter or inspiration. But if you are able to think out of the box, you may realise that there are forces or circumstances that may work in your favour without you knowing due to the demise of the person.

Let me share a personal experience with you; three years ago, I quit a good job with no prospect of another job insight because I felt the urge to see my late grandmother, promote my book and get married. Amongst these three reasons, my grandmother has a bigger role and influence because I constantly see her in my dream pleading with me to see her. I didn’t know why, but maybe because I was one of her favourite grandchildren if not the most favourite grandchild. I took the bull by the horn and resigned and traveled to see her, not only did she bless me, she prayed for my book and professional career. I have no iota of doubt that her blessings and prayers have continued to play a huge role in my life. There is a saying that when you lose a loved one, don’t grief much because they have gone to prepare a better opportunity for you. In fact, they are seen as guardian angels.

In conclusion, just so you know, just like your greatest supporter can be your family member, friend, network or stranger, in the same way, they can serve as detractors. Your primary concern is how you can listen to your inner voice and dare to succeed.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. 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 He can be reached via  

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