By Joel Popoola
During the first coronavirus lockdown, I appealed for the government to insist that telecommunication firms make educational resources exempt from data charges to save a generation of Nigerians from having their education permanently disrupted by COVID-19.
With a new and more contagious strain of the coronavirus apparently identified in Nigeria, and infections rising across the nation, that appeal has become even more urgent.
In the past week, Nigeria has reported a 52% increase in cases of the coronavirus.
The head of Africa’s disease control body, the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has also confirmed that new and more contagious variant of the disease seems to have emerged in Nigeria.
When the emergence of such a highly-contagious mutant strain of COVID-19 was confirmed in the UK, it was a matter of weeks until the government once again closed down schools to control the spread of the disease.
Even if widespread school closures do not become necessary in Nigeria as a result of our new variant it is highly likely that more and more Nigerians will keep their kids off school in order to keep them safe in the coming weeks.
And our nation cannot afford future generations to experience yet more disruption to their education.
A couple of weeks ago, the internationally influential British newspaper, the Financial Times published an editorial calling Nigeria “a failed state”.
The newspaper wrote:
“Africa’s most populous country is teetering on the brink.
“Extortion is a potent symbol for a state whose modus operandi is the extraction of oil revenue from central coffers to pay for a bloated, ruinously inefficient political elite”.
“Nigeria has more poor people, defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day, than any other country…
“In non-COVID-19 years, one of every five children in the world’s out of school lives in Nigeria.”
The World Bank has also warned that Nigeria’s economy is “at risk of unravelling”.
Across the World, the COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised work, business and education as commerce, communication and classrooms move online.
But in Nigeria, countless homes are not equipped to adapt to these new methods of learning. Although more and more homes have devices in which to receive online learning – although many do not – many parents can simply not afford the data they need to access it.
As a result, kids who currently can’t keep up may never catch up. And Nigeria will continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus for long after the pandemic is over.
Nigeria’s economic diversification and future prosperity depends on a skilled future workforce. We will not achieve this if a significant proportion of our children go without education indefinitely.
Many Nigerian parents will be burning through their meagre data allowances trying to use online resources to help with their children’s schooling. When the data ends, so does the learning. We must help them.
At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we want the Nigerian government to grasp the opportunity to become Africa’s first truly digital democracy and deliver universal broadband.
Although broadband penetration in Nigeria has risen to a little over 40%, this will take time. Government projections state that by 2025 only 70% of Nigerians will have any sort of internet.
Until then, telecommunication firms must make exempt educational resources from data charges.
And if they won’t do that in the public interest, the government should force them.
As founder of the Digital Democracy campaign, I know the impact digital connectivity can have when it come to improving our political system.
Our free Rate Your Leader app is designed to allow 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.
All of this is done with the touch of a smartphone button from the comfort of the home.
The Rate Your Leader app is designed to work with low levels of data. But online educational resources cannot. Data is a luxury many Nigerian families cannot afford. But education is a necessity neither they nor the nation can progress without.
As I have said in the past, free data for education should not be seen as an act of charity – or even good publicity – for our telecommunication companies, but a sensible business decision. It is companies like them who will gain the most from a more digitally-skilled workforce.
For a telecommunication company, who reported post-tax profits of 51bn Naira last year this modest investment would pay for itself many time over.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner, political commentator and is the creator of the free Rate Your Leader App. Follow Joel on Twitter @JOPopoola
Food for Living: The Principle of Giving and Receiving
By Henry Ukazu
Greetings Destiny Friends,
We are familiar with the saying; givers never lack, and the giver’s hand is always on top. Isn’t it true that you can’t spray fragrance on somebody without leaving a trace on your palm? Just like succeeding in life follows laid down principles, receiving in life also follows principles. In law, a Latin maxim, says, ‘you can’t give what you don’t have”. This is a fact of life, if you don’t have love, you can’t give love, if you don’t money, you’ll be limited in what you can give, if you don’t have empathy, you can’t feel the pain of someone, if you don’t have knowledge, understanding and wisdom, you can’t share, teach and create impact.
The same principle is literally applicable in receiving. There’s a direct relationship and correlation between giving and receiving. Before you receive you must have given in one way or the other. When you give, you are opening doors of blessing to come your way. However, you will have to understand the applicable principles and dynamics that are associated with giving, and how you can receive gladly. For instance, you can’t give with the intent of receiving, no, if you want to give, you must give with no expectation of receiving. You have to give because you know it is the right thing to do.
If you want to attract blessings from God, be kind to those who do not deserve your kindness, in fact, give to people who can’t pay you back. Be informed, if it is done without love, it makes no sense and gives no value, neither does it add value and as such doesn’t attract blessings. Anything that is of value only multiplies when it is freely given and received with gratitude.
You can scale up your giving habit by giving to even your enemies, this might sound foolish and difficult, but then, that’s how you attract uncommon blessings. When you do this, God will see that you are mature enough to receive wealth and power!
Every relationship takes the form of give and take because giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. The law of giving and receiving is simple: If you want love, learn to give love; if you want attention and appreciation, learn to give attention and appreciation; if you want material affluence, help others to become materially affluent. If you want to be blessed with all the good things in life, learn to silently bless everyone with all the good things in life. The more you give, the more you will receive. In your willingness to give that which you seek, you will keep the abundance of the universe circulating in your life.
Giving takes different shapes and forms. When you give your tithe cheerfully, you receive bountifully. When you work hard and smart, you’ll receive a consummate reward. While many people think giving entails only money, they fail to understand that you can give your time, words, actions, touch and services. Sometimes, people are not concerned about your money; at that moment, their greatest concern might be your time, this is because money can be limited. For instance, money can’t buy fulfillment, and money can’t buy happiness.
While some people may think money gives happiness, there has been testimony of great people who have money and not happy. For instance, a successful career lady who has strong family values and orientation might be happy because she can comfortably take care of her needs, but if asked if she’s fulfilled in life, she might say no, because she’s not yet married. There have been stories of my many great men and women who have money in life, but they are not happy. There are stories of couples who have money but are not happily married. If you take a cursory look of all these examples, one thing is lacking and that is fulfillment.
There was a story by Billionaire’ Femi Otedola in a telephone interview, was asked by the radio presenter, “Sir what can you remember made you a happy man in life?”
Femi said: “I have gone through four stages of happiness in life and finally I understood the meaning of true happiness. The first stage was to accumulate wealth and means. But at this stage, I did not get the happiness I wanted. Then came the second stage of collecting valuables and items. But I realized that the effect of this thing is also temporary and the luster of valuable things does not last long.
Then came the third stage of getting big projects. That was when I was holding 95% of diesel supply in Nigeria and Africa. I was also the largest vessel owner in Africa and Asia. But even here I did not get the happiness I had imagined. The fourth stage was the time a friend of mine asked me to buy a wheelchair for some disabled children. Just about 200 kids.
At the friend’s request, I immediately bought the wheelchairs. But the friend insisted that I go with him and hand over the wheelchairs to the children. I got ready and went with him.
There I gave these wheelchairs to these children with my own hands. I saw the strange glow of happiness on the faces of these children. I saw them all sitting on the wheelchairs, moving around, and having fun.
It was as if they had arrived at a picnic spot where they are sharing a jackpot winning.
I felt real joy inside me. When I decided to leave one of the kids grabbed my legs. I tried to free my legs gently, but the child stared at my face and held my legs tightly.
I bent down and asked the child: Do you need something else? The answer this child gave me not only made me happy but also changed my attitude to life completely.
The child said: “I want to remember your face so that when I meet you in heaven, I will be able to recognize you and thank you once again.
To get what you don’t have, you have to do what haven’t you done. The universal law of gravity teaches us the incontrovertible principle of life that whatever goes up must come down. To cause change and progress in your life, certain principles if applied well can catapult you to the next stage in life and one of them is the principle of giving.
Giving is a powerful catalyst for spiritual and financial advancement. It should be noted, the very act of giving tantamount to the very act of receiving. For instance, human beings breathe in oxygen and bring out carbon dioxide, while plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. So, when you give, you put smiles on somebody’s face, heart, and life while attracting multiplication of blessings from the universe which comes in ways and manners you can’t explain.
The reason why some of us don’t get the blessings of giving is that we don’t give with love; we don’t give with the right cause and mindset. For example, try giving to your parents, the less privileged, a “widow” without a helper, or someone in need, and see the boomerang effect it will have on you.
When you give, it doesn’t mean you have it all together, it simply means, you know what it is for one not to have, you have the heart of giving, and as the saying goes, it is not the person that has that gives, but it is good people that give. It is not what you give that matters, but the heart in giving. That’s why it’s not advisable to reject any “gift” someone gives cheerfully.
Today, I charge you to give with love and allow the universe to visit you at the appointed time with your corresponding blessings. If I may ask, what are you willing to give in 2021?
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 email@example.com
Gunmen Kidnap former Bauchi Lawmaker Ningi
Some gunmen on Thursday night kidnapped a former member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abdulmumuni Ningi.
The Bauchi State Police Command confirmed the kidnap of the former lawmaker, who represented Ningi Constituency in the last Assembly.
The Bauchi Police Public Relations Officer, Ahmed Wakil, told our correspondent on the telephone Friday morning that the victim was kidnapped within Bauchi metropolis.
Wakil said, “Yes, it is true. A former member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly who represented Ningi Constituency was kidnapped on Thursday at about 8pm within Bauchi metropolis.
“According to the information we received, he was trailed by his abductors who were four in number in a gold coloured car. They trailed him to his house around the BSADP (Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme) area at Isa Yuguda Guest House within the metropolis.”
He said that the gunmen seized their victim and drove away with him in the car they brought.
He said, “As of this morning (Friday), they have not called yet. Our intelligence men are working hard to get to the root of the situation and rescue him safely.”
The Command’s spokesman called on residents to be more security conscious, and take note of vehicles and motorcycles that may be trailing them.
FirstBank Begins Year with Innovative, Convenient Virtual Payment Card
First of Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider has launched the Virtual Payment card, a Naira denominated debit card and digital representation of the plastic debit card. The card is designed to be linked to either a customer’s operative account or wallet account.
The FirstBank Virtual Payment Card is a suitable alternative to the use of cash and cheques, with its wide-range features which include the ability of cardholders to protect his/her card using the block and unblock capabilities; PIN Reset; Change PIN as well as view statement at one’s convenience. It also enables diaspora customers to spend from his/her FirstBank account within the spend limit advised by the bank without the need for a physical card.
The FirstBank Virtual Payment Card is a safe, convenient, and easy way of making e-commerce payments amongst other functionalities.
The Virtual Payment Card can be created via the Bank’s leading digital channels; FirstMobile or Firstmonie Wallet applications. Customers can download the card, activate the card and consummate transactions all at once from the comfort of their homes/offices. No branch visit is required. Customers are advised to update their mobile application to the latest version, then select Card Services on the FirstMobile App and My Virtual Card application to create a Virtual Card at the cost of N215 (VAT Inclusive).
Speaking on the launch, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said ‘the launch of our Virtual Payment Card is yet another secure and seamless way we promote electronic banking, whilst enabling customers to carry-out their transactions on the web”
“The Virtual Payment Card is also designed to guard against the spread of the COVID-19 as it does not require physical interaction between the customer and FirstBank Branches. We enjoin our customers to download the application and stay ahead in modern banking,” he concluded.
Similarly, FirstBank recently launched the FAST Track ATM, the next generation ATM and first of its kind in Africa, designed to promote financial activities on the ATM without any form of physical interaction with the machine.
For more information on the Virtual Payment Card, kindly click here for the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).