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Rebuilding Borno via Resettlement and Family Reunification: The Zulum Style

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Rebuilding Borno via Resettlement and Family Reunification: The Zulum Style

By Zagazola Makama

For the past five years, families in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and other towns across the North-East region have been struggling to rebuild their lives from the devastation caused by the Boko Haram insurgency. This insurgency threatened the social fabric and economic life of the people.

In 2009, Boko Haram terrorists intensified their attacks on people, government officials, and institutions. From 2013 to 2014, at the peak of the insurgency, the terrorists controlled large areas of the North-East region and extended their attacks to border communities in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger Republics.

This caused large-scale displacement and destruction of public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, markets, businesses, religious places of worship, and financial and government establishments.

The terrorizing effect of Boko Haram’s activities on the social and economic life of the people was so devastating that schools, hospitals, businesses, government, and financial institutions closed down in many areas of Borno State. According to official statistics, the damage caused by the insurgency was over $6 billion as of 2015.

To fast-track recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the war-torn region, the Federal and Borno State Governments initiated and implemented viable programs, including economic empowerment, reunification of missing persons, and deradicalization of repentant insurgents to foster sustainable social and economic development.

According to official records, the Borno Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development empowered 325,000 women and girls through its skill acquisition training program across 18 local government areas of the state. The ministry also reunified separated families and provided food and non-food items to 152,000 households in 2023, and 162,000 households in 27 LGAs under its family tracing and reunification scheme.

On reintegration of ex-combatants into their communities, the ministry created forums for peace, reconciliation, and community engagement in 27 LGAs and neighboring countries. Some 66,000 ex-combatants returned to their communities in 2023, and 40,042 transitioned into civilian life in 2024.

In 2023 alone, the ministry created safe and comfortable spaces for 982 victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) seeking support in 13 LGAs of the state. To promote child rights and protection, the Borno State Children Parliament was established, with 30 delegates representing the state at national parliament conferences and participating in conferences held in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The state also enacted the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP Law), renovated the International Women Centre in Maiduguri, and extended outreach programs to enhance advocacy for women’s participation in leadership.

Under the administration of Babagana Zulum, the Borno government has successfully resettled thousands of displaced persons in their ancestral homes to hasten rehabilitation and resettlement of those affected by the insurgency.

Highlighting the extensive rehabilitation project, Zulum said the state government plans to construct 85,000 houses to fast-track the resettlement of two million displaced persons in 66 communities across the state. This statement was made in March during a meeting with the North-East Ambassadors’ Group, chaired by the British High Commissioner, Richard Montgomery. The group comprises High Commissioners, Ambassadors, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to Nigeria, Defense Attachés, and other humanitarian partners.

Zulum further explained that the state government would construct schools, clinics, police posts, marketplaces, water points, secured farmlands, and vocational training centers in each of the 66 communities. He added that the government would commit 15 percent of its annual budget to fast-track the resettlement of displaced persons while expanding Maiduguri metropolis along six axes to accommodate people who choose to integrate into the city. According to the governor, the state requires about $2.7 billion to achieve sustainable solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

“I am committed to resettling our people into decent homes in secure areas, supporting them to reintegrate into communities or relocate to another place as they wish, respecting their choices and dignity. Implementing the durable solutions pathway for IDPs will also significantly reduce the recruitment of jobless young men by the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), which is a threat to national and international security,” Zulum said.

The governor emphasized the importance of his administration’s Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, and Resettlement (RRR) program to mitigate internal displacement and pledged to build on the achievements in security and peace restoration. He praised development partners for their support of the Regional Stabilization Facility and the one UN offer, noting that it has significantly impacted the lives of people affected by insurgency in the Lake Chad region.

For the deradicalization and integration of repentant insurgents and their families into society, the federal government set up a center in Gombe to reform and change the radical mindset of ex-insurgent fighters. Meanwhile, the Borno government established a rehabilitation center for the rehabilitation and skills acquisition training of the clients.

Importantly, more than 160,000 Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters, adherents, and their families have surrendered to Nigerian authorities. Many of them have completed their deradicalization process, rehabilitation, and skills training programs.

Some resettled families praised the initiative for accelerating the recovery and stability program of Borno State and the North-East region in general.

Ms. Adama Ali, one of the resettled family members, expressed joy over the program, saying she was reunited with her son lost in 2014 when insurgents attacked her village in Bama. Ali, a mother of three, said that the insurgents killed her husband and separated her from her son for the past ten years. “I’m happy to be reunited with my son; I have my family now,” she said.

Mr. Bukar Kime, a resettled farmer in Konduga, commended the state government for the support extended to them. He said the government distributed fertilizers, seeds, and inputs to enable them to cultivate their farmlands. “This will enable us to feed ourselves and stop relying on food handouts from the government,” Kime said.

Mr. Ahmed Shuwa, a civil society activist, said the RRR initiative by the Borno government would build resilience, provide livelihoods, and encourage sustainable social and economic development in the state.

Zagazola Makama is a Counter Insurgency Expert and Security Analyst in the Lake Chad Region.

Rebuilding Borno via Resettlement and Family Reunification: The Zulum Style

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NAPTIP Promises Improved Strategies to Tackle Evolving Trend of Human Trafficking

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NAPTIP Promises Improved Strategies to Tackle Evolving Trend of Human Trafficking

By: Michael Mike

The Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi has pledged that the Agency will continue to develop new strategies, expand cooperation, and foster more collaboration to keep pace with the evolving trends in human trafficking.

She gave the commitment in Abuja while unveiling the activities planned for the 2024 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, themed “Leave No Child Behind in the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons”.

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2013 to be observed annually on July 30th to promote comprehensive, coordinated, and consistent responses at national, regional, and international levels to counter trafficking in persons. It aims to promote a human rights-based, gender- and age-sensitive approach in addressing all factors that make people vulnerable to trafficking, and in strengthening the criminal justice response necessary to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators.

According to the United Nations, the 2024 World Day Against Trafficking urges accelerated action to end child trafficking, recognizing that children represent a significant proportion of trafficking victims worldwide, with girls being disproportionately affected.

On the activities lined up for the 2024 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria, Waziri-Azi disclosed that it is in collaboration with UNODC, IOM, ICMPD, and OHCHR and would be commencing from Saturday, July 28 to Sunday, August 4, 2024. She noted that the programmes have been carefully selected to reflect the theme of the celebration, insisting that: “These activities aim to create the needed awareness and impactful sensitization to address the concerns of all and reduce the vulnerability of potential trafficking victims.”

Wazir-Azi said: “I am pleased to state that our activities and interventions in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria are inclusive, involving various categories of stakeholders. For the first time, NAPTIP will commemorate the World Day together with the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP), our counterpart agency that would be visiting from The Gambia.”

She disclosed that the celebration will kick off on Saturday, July 27, 2024, with a female novelty match to “Kick Against Human Trafficking” involving NAPTIP officers and partners at the Wakanda Games Arena, Accra Street, Wuse Zone 5, starting at 8:00 am. On Monday, July 29, 2024, a Community Town Hall Dialogue will provide a platform for community stakeholders to voice their opinions and concerns, fostering engagement, transparency, problem-solving, inclusivity, and community cohesion. The Dialogue would be aired live on Radio Nigeria from 10.30am.

“On Tuesday, July 30, 2024, at 7:30 am, there will be an Awareness Walk from the Old Parade Ground through major routes in the Central Business District of Abuja, ending at the Unity Fountain. State Task Forces on Human Trafficking from 23 states across Nigeria will participate. From Wednesday, July 31 to Friday, August 2, 2024, we have planned a Bootcamp for all State Task Force members,” Prof. Waziri-Azi added.

Other planned activities include the Survivor’s Got Talent Grand Finale, sensitization and awareness creation in places of worship and public spaces, and a robust online awareness campaign.

Waziri-Azi urged everyone to join hands with the Agency to ensure a successful 2024 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons celebration .“Let us amplify our efforts, fortify our resolve, and work tirelessly to create a world where every child can thrive in safety and dignity. Together, we can and must leave no child behind in this crucial fight” the Director-General stated.

NAPTIP Promises Improved Strategies to Tackle Evolving Trend of Human Trafficking

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UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology Launched to Promote Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria

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UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology Launched to Promote Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria

By: Michael Mike

Nigeria’s plan to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) took a great leap with the official launch of UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) in the country.

Speaking at the launch in Abuja, the Head of Abuja Office and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Representative to Nigeria, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo said the event signifies a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards embracing ethical artificial intelligence practices.

Diallo said: “As we gather here at the UN House, we are reminded of the transformative potential of AI in driving innovation and sustainable development across our nation. UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) stands as a beacon of guidance, ensuring that our advancements in AI are not only groundbreaking but also aligned with global standards of ethics and responsibility.

“We are particularly proud that Nigeria is joining us as part of UNESCO’s custodial role in promoting the ethics of AI worldwide. UNESCO’s Recommendations on the Ethics of AI, adopted by 193 countries, provide a robust framework for the responsible and ethical development and deployment of AI technologies. These recommendations emphasize human rights, fairness, transparency, and accountability, and it is heartening to see Nigeria committing to these principles as we work together to build an inclusive and ethical AI ecosystem.”

He added that: “As we gather here today, we are reminded of the profound impact that artificial intelligence has on our society. AI permeates many aspects of our daily lives, and its ethical implications have become a focal point for all actors within the ecosystem. Recognizing this, in 2023, UNESCO launched the Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) as a pivotal tool for implementing its Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, which was adopted by 193 countries in 2021.

“The RAM, with its comprehensive framework consisting of five dimensions, serves as a vital instrument for assessing a country’s readiness to implement AI ethically and responsibly. It highlights strengths and identifies infrastructural, institutional, and regulatory gaps, enabling nations to address these challenges effectively and create an ethical AI ecosystem.”

On his part, the Secretary General, National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM-UNESCO), Dr. Idowu Olagunju said: “I firmly believe that today’s discussions will pave the way for significant advancements in our national AI strategy, aligning with UNESCO’s global mission of promoting ethical AI.”

He asked: “Let us embark on this journey together, as we work towards a future where AI is harnessed for the greater good, in alignment with our shared values and ethical principles.”

Speaking to journalists after inaugurating the Steering and Technical Working Committees and Launching the Project, the Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy: Dr Bosun Tijani expressed the country’s readiness to take advantage of the value addition of AI, noting that the youths have already been sensitized and mobilized to evolve the use of AI

He appreciated the support from UNESCO to ensure that AI is ethically embraced, noting that the government is working on making the country one of the top countries in Artificial Intelligence.

He noted that with the diversity of the committees constituted for the AI project, Nigeria is on an interesting ride to the very top.

UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology Launched to Promote Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria

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Dangote vs. NNPC: A Tale of Sabotage and Misrepresentation

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Dangote vs. NNPC: A Tale of Sabotage and Misrepresentation

By: Shina Adewoye

During major football events, every Nigerian acts like a football coach. Around the elections period, everyone becomes a lawyer analyzing both pre elections and post elections matters.

Throughout various discussions, Nigerians take on roles as journalists and economists. This active participation is the beauty of democracy. However, problems arise when uninformed individuals try to present their opinions as facts.

On the Dangote issue, it’s striking that Nigeria, a member of OPEC and the world’s 7th largest oil producer, lacks a functional refinery. The NNPC doesn’t even have a laboratory, yet it questions the quality of products from Dangote’s world-class refinery.

Elon Musk, a vocal critic of Joe Biden and a supporter of Donald Trump, faces no personal attacks from Biden. This makes it puzzling why Dangote, Africa’s richest man, faces sabotage in Nigeria. The U.S. embraces diverse talents like Elon Musk ( a South African) and late Steve Jobs ( a Syrian) emphasizing its reputation as a land of great opportunities.

President Tinubu, also serving as the Minister of Petroleum, oversees an NNPC that falsely claims a 20% stake in Dangote’s refinery, while Dangote maintains they only paid for 7%. No action has been taken against those responsible for this irresponsible misrepresentation and embarrassment.

Moreover, Dangote’s $100 million claim for land in Lagos raises questions about the use of US $ in Nigeria as a legal tender.

Nevertheless, as an entrepreneur, Dangote is prepared for challenges. He built his refinery in a free trade zone, constructed his own port, and he can thrive without the Nigerian market by focusing on exports.

Nigerians should identify their real adversaries. Dangote can source crude oil globally and export the by-products.

Time will reveal the truth, and history will vindicate the just.

Shina Adewoye
Public Policy Analyst

Dangote vs. NNPC: A Tale of Sabotage and Misrepresentation

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