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Skal International Lagos Celebrates Diamond Jubilee, Honours Deserving Practitioners

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By Eric Elezuo

The Lagos arm of Skal International, a professional organization of tourism leaders around the world, saddled with the responsibility of promoting global tourism and friendship, has celebrated its 60th year anniversary with pomp and pageantry.

The all important event which took place at the Red Carpet Hall, Oniru, Lekki, Lagos, brought together the who is who in tourism, travels and hospitality industry in a warm atmosphere of networking, exhibition and class.

Mr Ikechi Uko receiving his award

Kicking off the well-attended event, the President of Skal International Lagos, Mrs. Rita Obidike, gave a warm welcome to all members, who are better known and recognized as Skalleagues, as well as clients, friends and family members present, noting that without their support, little would have been achieved.

“Without the encouragement and support from members and friends of this great club, today wouldn’t have happened…In Skal, we are foremost friends before colleagues or skalleagues,” she said.

Isaac and Nneka Moses collecting their award

She applauded every member for the landmark achievement of hitting 60 without blemish while specially thanking past presidents, officials, members and even those on ‘sabbatical’ who have made the club’s continual existence a reality.

The never a dull moment programme was further enlivened with soulful performances by the Lady of Song, better known as the Elegant Stallion, Onyeka Onwenu. She literarily got everyone present on their feet as the sing and dance along with her in rapturous estacy.

Members of Skal

Giving their keynote addresses, the two special guests of honour; Director, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Prof. Anthony Kila, and Founder, Akwaaba African Travel Market, Mr. Ikechi Uko, shed extreme light into the tourism and travel business as the next frontier in foreign earnings.

The body, in its usual of rewarding excellence, honoured distinguished members of the club and public who have contributed immensely to the development of travels and tourism as well as hospitality in general.

Among those honoured and presented by plaques and certificates were the President of NANTA, Mr. Bankole Bernard; Lagos State Commissioner for Arts and Tourism, Mr. Steve Ayorinde; CEO, Akwaaba African Travel Market, Mr. Ikechi Uko; Mr. Efetobe Awanga, Mr. Olufemi Adefogbe and the Goge Africa Creators, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac and Nneka Moses.

Julie Skol delivering the President’s Goodwill message

Rounding off a programme filled with glitz and fanfare, the President of Skal International, Mrs. Lavonne Wittmann, who was represented by Mrs. Julie Skol, presented a goodwill message. She regretted her inability to be present and urged all Skalleagues to keep up networking as that is the only way to remain relevant in the industry.

“The African continent with its 54 countries urgently needs to have a bigger footprint in Skal International and a concerted effort by each member in Africa must be implemented as soon as possible as tourism in most African countries is their most important economic activity,” she noted.

The event was graced by the presence of very important personalities including a handsome representation of the Lagos state government.

The Skal Club Lagos was formed on February 4, 1959 as the 182nd member of the International Skal Club.

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2023: Sam Ohuabunwa Gets Abia PDP’s Nod on Presidential Ambition

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Convener of the New Nigeria Group (NNG), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, has taken his quest to contest the presidency in 2023 a notch higher following his recent interaction with chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State.

Ohuabunwa at the party’s Secretariat in Umuahia, and conscious that charity begins at home, held talks with members of the State Working Committee and the State Executive Committee, in a deft move described as ‘political alignment’.

Those privy to the meeting said the presidential hopeful shared with his home chapter, his vision to transform Nigeria to a first world country, and his aspiration to contest the presidency during the 2023 general elections.

Insiders at the meeting said Ohuabunwa’s message was well received by the party stalwart, who encouraged him, while also extolling his personal qualities as a ‘sellable candidate.’

The party’s top wigs, it was also learned, confirmed that Ohuabunwa is the first, and so far the only aspirant, who has notified them of his ambition.

On that basis, the party leaders resolved to give Ohuabunwa – President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and former Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) – the support he deserves.

Ohuabunwa had declared his intention to contest the presidency in 2023, promising to cure Nigeria of despondency by implementing the policies articulated through the NNG.

Interestingly with the NNG, Ohuabunwa has amassed an unprecedented followership cutting across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), so much that he is being courted across political divide.

On a regular basis, he gets invited from different parts of the country to share his vision for Nigeria amid large audience.

At every turn, his message resonates hope among the citizens from all walks of life, hence he is continually being encouraged to vie for the highest office.

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Why Shutting Down Internet to Fight Kidnapping is Wrong

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By Joel Popoola

Nigerians may not object to internet shutdowns to stop kidnapping. But did we object to SARS being set up to stop robbery?

No-one would object to the government doing everything in its power to stop the kidnapping gangs terrorising Nigeria’s northern regions and tarnishing our international reputation.

That’s why the residents of Zamfara seem to be broadly supportive of the week-long internet shutdown, initiated as part of a recent security crackdown.

More than nine million Zamfarans were cut off from the internet for several days, as security forces hunted for the kidnap-for-ransom squads who have been plaguing the areas.

“I’m in full support of the ban” one resident told CNN. “Before now, everyone has been living in fear because of the bandits.”

But no-one would object to the idea of specialist police unit being set up to tackle robbery either.

And we all know what happened with SARS.

Internet and social media shutdowns are becoming a more and more pervasive tactic of African leaders stemming and suppressing the flow of information and opinion online – commonly during elections.

These shutdowns are self-defeating, leading to more – not less –unrest, not to mention human rights violations (and international condemnations), elections lacking in credibility at home and abroad, and as we have seen with Nigeria’s disastrous attempts at banning Twitter – economic loss.

We cannot fall into the trap of accepting dangerous measures when they are deployed to deliver desirable ends. This makes it more likely we will instinctively accept if they are used to destroy democracy.

Think of it as frogs in boiling water. If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out. If you put it in cold water and heat it to boiling it will do nothing until it is too late.

At the digital democracy campaign I lead we have previously called for Nigeria to show continental leadership and amend our constitution to guarantee that our citizens will never have their access to the internet unreasonably or unavoidably restricted.

We are doing that again now.
Nations such as Greece and Costa Rica have already taken this step. But we could be the first in Africa.

This simple move could have a profoundly positive impact on public trust in Nigerian democracy too – trust which study after study has shown to be worryingly low.

If you need proof, just look at the recently published results of a major survey conducted by the African Polling Institute.

The study found that 63% Nigerians scored Federal Government “poor” on fight against corruption and 53% of our citizens believe that impunity thrives in the current administration. 83% also believe impunity amongst government officials is ‘increasing’.

The survey also found social cohesion to be under average in Nigerian. And an internet-protection clause in our constitution could improve that too.

As I have previously said, just think of the impact if Nigerian politicians of all parties and ethnicities came together as one to say the same thing. In 2021, and beyond, internet access is a fundamental human right. And if we put that in our construction we are saying loudly and clearly this: Though we believe in different things, we are all committed to the same democratic values. And we are enshrining this value in law.

At the digital democracy campaign, our primary aim is to employ digital technology to improve Nigeria’s democracy.

We have created a free app – Rate Your Leader – which puts verified voters in direct contact with their elected leaders allowing them to build two-way relationships of trust and transparency and to work together to improve both our communities and our country.

Rate Your Leader lets politicians know what is happening in their areas and what matters most to the people who elect them. It also allows voters to get important information directly from local leaders.

If you have leaders that voters trust, feel connected to, believe share their values and who can demonstrate they are immediately responsive to the needs of the people who elect them, you can build a co-operative collaborative nation, united in the national interest.

This kind of two-way communication, built on honesty and transparency, is what unites us as a nation and let us work together to build a better future. This is the communication democracy needs in the digital age.

Not internet shutdowns.

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

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Army Apologises to Corps Member Molested by Commissioned Officer

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By Eric Elezuo

The Nigerian Army has apologised to a Corps Member, identified as Ezeiruaku Ifeanyinwa Fidelis, who was seen in a viral video being molested by female soldier, identified as Let Chika Viola Anele.

In a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the army notes that the actions of the said officer was ‘highly unprofessional and unacceptable’, adding that the erring officer has been ‘identified and sanctioned on the interim and would be made to undergo regimental orders (trial) in line with the extant provisions of the Armed Forces Act.’

The statement also denied rumours that the army intended sweeping the matter under the carpet, stressing that the Force has zero tolerance for indiscipline.

Read the detailed statement:

OFFICER DEHUMANIZING CORPS MEMBER IN VIDEO HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL AND UNACCEPTABLE

The Nigerian Army (NA) has taken cognizance of a video clip currently making the rounds on the social media, where a female officer was seen dehumanizing a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Calabar, Cross River State. This act is not only condemnable, but unprofessional and against established precepts of discipline in the NA.

The NA has remained undoubtedly the pride of the nation, a symbol of national unity that has consistently being in the vanguard of respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry. It is against this premise that the NA condemns this unimaginable level of infraction by a personnel in its ranks. The NA therefore, condemns in strong terms, this act of gross misconduct. Undoubtedly, the officer’s actions has caused the NA monumental embarrassment and is highly regrettable. This unfortunate act of indiscipline does not in anyway represent the NA and will not be condoned in its entirety.

For the records, the ugly incident happened in 13 Brigade, Calabar. The Brigade Commander immediately instituted an investigation and the officer involved has been identified and sanctioned on the interim and would be made to undergo regimental orders (trial) in line with the extant provisions of the Armed Forces Act. The submission that the Brigade attempted covering up was therefore misleading, as the NA remains a professional force that has zero tolerance for indiscipline amongst its personnel.

The NA wishes to reiterate and assure the general public that such infractions would not be tolerated from its personnel. The NA also reassures that the rights of the citizenry is sacrosanct and must be respected by all personnel of the NA, as any form of infraction will be severely dealt with. Therefore, the general public is enjoined to continue to report such infractions, as Human Rights Desks in all formations of the NA are emplaced to deal decisively with such erring personnel.

The NA further wishes to tender unreserved apology to the victim, her family members, friends, National Youth Service Corps and to Nigerians in general for the unwholesome treatment meted out to the Corps member.

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