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Local Challenges And Global Economic Trend

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We live in an era of extra

            ordinary challenges and changes. Individuals and organisations need to undergo extra ordinary metamorphosis in order to sustain their relevance in the new paradigm. Surely, complacency remains the biggest risk in our world of uncertainties and wrenching changes.

If you are asked: what’s the greatest challenge facing you as an individual, your organisation, your community or your country? Most persons cannot provide an answer in a sentence showing that they are not concerned with developments and changes around them. They are content living on a day to day basis.

What’s the consequence of failing to understand these macro issues? They simply submit to the directions of the media and their interests, and what’s the interest of the media? They market bad news, because in the media ‘bad news is good business.’

A cursory glanc’e around us shows that myriads of negative traits are struggling for attention. These are evident from news headlines: stock market collapse, Niger Delta. crisis, widespread terrorism, exploding inflation eroding your savings, the gyrating price of crude oil, monstrous

corruption, bank failures, falling standard of education, ozone depletion, business closures and the attendant layoffs, skyrocketing crime rate and on a general note what appears to be a system breakdown.

What happens when an individual feeds himself with these mega doses of negative information without the ability to dig deeper, analyse and sift these information? Chances are that person might start thinking negatively, might make decisions based on fear, and that could dampen the persons spirit, and sometimes the spirit of the entire nation might start sinking., just as is happening now.

We will quickly take a cursory look at some of the news that has been making waves in recent times:

*Global Economic Meltdown

*Outbreak of Swine Flu

*Global Economic Meltdown

*Banks Averted Crisis

*Proposed Deregulation of Petroleum Product Pricing

*Ongoing Strike in the Nations Tertiary Institutions

*Niger Delta Crises

The purpose of this address is not to frighten the listener with cold statistics of failures, but to prove that it is no longer business as usual, that the current economic downturn has a cause, and not a mere historical cycle. Again, you do not need to be terribly smart to understand the trend and reposition. I also believe that the current trend does not portend massive business failure or total collapse of the economy, rather demands conscious effort to make visible difference in our lives and the organisations we manage.

It is within our powers to make positive changes because we have a duty to ensure that the mistakes of the past is not repeated. To do this, an insight into the root of the problem is a necessity.

The global economic meltdown

The United States of America, the Great Britain. Germany, France, Japan, the Asian Tigers and Africa are all experiencing economic crisis of varying degrees. The current crisis tagged ‘Global Economic Meltdown’ is native to America, and like a gangrene speedily spread to the rest of the world.

Beyond doubt, America steers the world, and somehow we have all consciously consented to the belief that ‘when America sneezes, the rest of the world must have pneumonia.’ This understanding unfortunately is behind our submitting to what is fundamentally American.

The current global crisis has an identifiable cause. It is not just a mere historical cycle. It is a product of financial recklessness on the part of the business people in a hurry to make profits, the weak regulators on the side of government and the consumers with unbridled taste fuelling a culture of ‘buy now pay later.’

The average America is guilty of false lifestyle. Their homes, automobiles, electronics, furniture, cooking utensils, wardrobes, marriages, funerals, even their own education and that of their children are all on credit. It has even extended to tourism and leisure activities . You can posses virtually anything .if you can make a little deposit.

All these are going on blissfully, while the productivity of the American worker was at its lowest. The factories cannot compete due to outdated technology and they have been heading to Washington for bailout one after another. Their serv.ice sector is accused of poor quality service delivery and unresponsiveness, rather than improve, they have been perfecting their cost-cutting strategies. Again America has always had the lowest individual savings average in the developed world, currently at zero minus. The Fortune 500 Companies have been silently shedding millions of job on the guise of restructuring. When suddenly the pyramid got inverted, they tagged it ‘Global Economic Meltdown, , to make us believe that they are not alone.

Amidst all these downward spiral, the Bush administration was focused on fighting unnecessary wars in Iran, Afghanistan and other parts of the world on the guise of fighting terrorism. An estimated $16 trillion U.S dollars went down the drain with lots of life gone.

We must however not forget that America has gone beyond seeing themselves as the police man of the world. They see themselves as the world, thus, a Boxing or Wrestling context between two states in America is tagged World Championship. It is not therefore not surprising that when they pulled down their economy, it was tagged Global Economic Meltdown.

The good news now is that America is no longer talking about economic meltdown, they are talking about recovery, and they are really recovering fast courtesy of Presidents Obama’s recovery package.

But why are we affected? The twin factors of Globalization and Information Technology is behind this. First, Information travels today at the speed of light owed to the explosive developments and technical convergence in the sector. Second, globalisation has meant the free movement of capital, people, finance around the world. This, in effect creates a common tie. It was in the late 1990s that we got the first taste of financial globalisation downside:

Thailand’s 1997 financial crisis set off another in Korea the same year, and in early 1999, Brazil was forced to abandon its fixed exchange rate policy. These countries has little in common, yet the financial crises propagated from one to the next like a virus because of the links created by the new global economy.

The reason was simple: although the destinations of foreign direct investment were far flung and diverse, the source of the capital was not The Western bank that held Thai baht also held Brazil real. The fund that owned Korean bonds also held Russian bills. In the belief that the IMF, with the United States behind it, was willing to bail out economies that ran into short-term trouble, many of these institutions has loaded up on these assets. Once a crisis started, however, these institutions has to reassess the risk of their entire emerging market portfolios. Such a reassessment would precipitate a progressive sell-off, with assets in the weaker countries going first.

This accounts for why in the face of the meltdown of the US economy, they had to dump their investments in the Nigerian Stock Market. Further, the factory and business closures that greeted America meant less demand for Nigeria’s crude oil, thereby reducing our crude export amounting to less revenue for our country.

The global economic order

Its commonplace to say that we live in a period of unprecedented change. Today, sweeping economic change threatens older industries, traditional ways of living, and social and national cohesion by exposing economies and societies to new and powerful competitive forces.

Emerging nations and former communist countries, once only loosely connected to the global commercial and financial system, feel the shock waves of periodic economic crisis resulting from the rapid exodus of foreign capital and sudden adverse shifts in international trade flows, which lead to large numbers of lost jobs and bankruptcies. Some individuals, groups, and regions initially benefit greatly from expanded opportunities like the ability to sell more abroad, work for foreign companies in their own countries and overseas, or obtain foreign capital [or their business. Others, however the least educated and least skilled, feel left behind, and disenfranchised.

The global trend today appears to have headed for a disorder which is opposed to first President Bush idea of a ‘new world order.’ That order was largely based on two assumptions: first, that a healthy economy and sound financial system make for political stability, and second, that countries in business together do not fight each other.

U.S. foreign policy number one priority was clear: to encourage the former communist countries of Europe and the developing nations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa to adopt business friendly policies. Private capital will then flow from the developed world into these countries, creating economic growth and jobs. The argument is that when free enterprise takes hold, traditional grievances, resentments, and hostilities would fade.

This policy was backed with lots of money, in the form of direct aid, loans and multilateral lending institutions such as the IMF, and a liquid market for governments to issue bonds to international private-sector investors. The message from the D.S to the developing nations was adopt economic reforms, and we will be there to bail you out if your economy gets into trouble.

This reform path, often called the ‘Washington Consensus, involved fiscal discipline, trade liberalisation, privatisation, deregulation, and expanded property rights through legal reforms. Promoters of these reforms hoped the changes would make developing countries more attractive to foreign investment and would integrate these countries even further into a competitive, but peaceful, global economic network. In its most extreme form, the vision became one in which these developing countries become part of a liberal, open world economy that promoted western values such a democracy.

Amidst protests from our elite class, Nigeria keyed in like most of the developing countries, hence the several reforms in terms of deregulation, privatisation, liberalisation etc. It seemed more dangerous to stay out of the trend than to plunge in. By August 2000 the member nations of the WTO has risen to 139.

No sooner did economic watchers and analysts discover that the package and promises sounded too good to be true and so it proved. The new world order of Bush which Clinton sustained were soon replaced by the ‘new world disorder’ of the second Bush.

From order to disorder

It was in 1990 that we got the first taste of financial globalisation downside: Thailand’s 1997 financial crisis sent off another in Korea the same year. The economic virus spread to Russia the following year, and in early 1999, Brazil was forced to abandon its fixed exchange rate policy. These countries had little in common, yet the financial crisis propagated from one to the next like a virus because of the links created by the new global economy.

The reason was simple. Although the destinations of foreign direct investment were far flung and diverse, the source of that capital was not. The Western bank that held Thailand also held Brazil. The fund that owned Korean bonds also held Russia. The belief is that the IMF supported by the US was willing to bail out economies that ran into short-term trouble.

At first, the IMF stepped in to help, but the costs of repeated multilateral bailouts became less and less affordable. Eventually the Russian government defaulted, rendering worthless the almost $40 billion in domestic government debt held by financial institutions and more than having the $100 billion value of Russian equities. The bailout to Russia by the IMF managed to provide just a month solvency, and people began to question the ability of developed world to supply economic support to the developing nations. The developed world on their part began turning off the tap.

The second President Bush put the final nail on the coffin of the new world order. Even before September 11, the administration was signalling that it has a very different vision of international engagement from its predecessor’s, one based on security, not economic concerns. And security was now defined not just in the narrow Cold War terms of  safety from attack from a hostile, though stable, superpower, but very broadly to include safety from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, as well as vital economic inputs such as oil.’

In May 2001, President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s national energy policy stated, ‘Energy security must be a priority of the U.S. trade and foreign policy. We must look beyond our borders and restore America’s credibility with overseas suppliers. In addition we must build strong relationships with energy-producing nations in our own hemisphere, improving the outlook for trade, investment, and reliable supplies.

The implication was clear: security in this case, energy security, was now the foremost consideration in US trade and foreign policy. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America published in September 2002 shows that the thinking developed from there. It then became clear that the Bush administration defines international engagement in terms of bilateral relationships with strategically important allies  and unilateral confrontation with almost anyone else.

This understanding is behind the war in Iraq, the removal of Afghanistan’s Taliban, and urder of Saddam Hussein, hoping that this will murder to a stable Middle East which will in turn ensure a steady supply of oil especially if Iraq’s reconstruction goes well. This is also responsible for Russian government under Putin aligning with America for economic and diplomatic interests.

With this new stand of the United States, there is no more encouragement for developing countries to pursue reforms.

The nigerian experience

The major challenge before our political and business leaders is to identify where our competitive advantages lie and create an enabling environment for us· all to build on it. This is exactly what other developing countries have been doing.

What we have witnessed in Nigeria in the past few years is an addening misallocation of scarce economic resources to the financial sector. It all started with 9/11 which prodded the US Congress to enact the Patriot Art with its panoply of anti-money laundering structures. Suddenly, the Bin Laden dividend reached Nigeria’s shores. Thieves who stole from both the public and private sectors could not easily wire their stolen funds outside, meanwhile, the EFCC was watching over their shoulders. As a result, they have no place to easily hide their stolen loots except in the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Real Estate. That explains the meteoric quantum rise in stock and property values in Nigeria in recent times. Those who followed the case of the disgraced former boss under Obasanjo’s Administration may recall that he invested his stolen loot in the Nigerian Stock Market and Real Estate.

Meanwhile, oil revenue flooded Nigeria, and banks conducted several rounds of public offerings and raise huge sums, first to satisfy the new mandatory recapitalisation requirement by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and went again and again to raise huge sums for the balance sheets. And while all these were going on, weak stock market regulation added to the speculative frenzy as bankers who also doubled as investment bankers engaged in self dealing and hyped up stock market investing. The fix was on and our stock market was blasting in full throttle. Everyone was investing in the stock market.

Suddenly the stock market capitalisation that was in excess of 15 trillion naira fell to a little over four trillion, and because no condition is permanent, the market is gradually bouncing back, and our enthusiasm is gradually being rekindled, then the news of the averted bank crisis.

The bank crisis

The recent revelations by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the debt portfolio of 5 major commercial banks in Nigeria is a pointer to the irregularities in the system as it affects the private sector. The almost one trillion naira non-performing loans by these banks within a few years of recapitalisation and repeated rounds to the stock market for fresh IPOs has exposed their inefficiency in managing large sums. Their response has been attempts at raising fresh deposits through aggressive marketing, road shows and many innovative packages.

Thanks to the discerning leadership of President Yar Adua that quickly responded with a bail out of N420 billion. While the EFCC stepped in to assist with the recovery of the bad loans.

It is also worthy of note that Nigeria is not alone in the issue of failed banks. In the past one year, the United States has lost about 89 banks to bad loans, and some more are joining the cue.

The Niger Delta Crisis

The militancy in the Niger Delta, and the failure of successive administrations to manage the situation successfully has added them conspicuously in the list of the nations problems, especially with the effect on the revenue generation capacity of the country. Interestingly, the amnesty which is currently in force has made it possible for our crude oil quota to increase from 1,200 bpd to 1, 700bpd .

All stakeholders must make frantic and sincere effort to stem the tide and find lasting solution to the crisis.

The striking Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Ideas have been described as the currency of the 21 st century economy. This is because business has moved from the hierarchical Ford Motor Corporation of the 1920s which employed a large number of people to perform repetitive tasks in precise rapid ways to achieve a consistent objectives. This was the operational style of all organisations in the industrial age. Sad to say, decades into the information age many organizations including our tertiary institutions still carry on with the operational styles of earlier glorious but no longer relevant generation.

The essence of authority of ideas can be best appreciated if we understand the role of learning institutions. If we take Harvard University for example. At Harvard, we consider it an extremely important accomplishment when a 25 year old student who has been there for just 18 months makes a discovery that disproves the pet theory of a 55 year old professor who has been there for 30 years. Indeed, the professor whose theory has been disproved might be the first to congratulate that graduate student.

The notion that of the community’s most junior members would be applauded for upending the life work of one of its most senior would seem exceedingly strange in many organisations and countries. Yet it is fundamental to what Harvard and other American universities are about. And if you look at the organisations in the economy where the greatest value is being added, they are increasingly the organisations that share the values and character of universities.

Organisations that foster an environment where creativity is rewarded, that prepare themselves to respond to challenges and execute their strategy in a nimble way, and that discourage rigid adherence to hierarchy will best be able to meet with the challenges.

To be contd

Godswill C. Onyekwere

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Issues

Challenges Of Reporting Nigeria’s Electoral Process

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The Institute for Media and Society (IMS) in conjunction with the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria, Component 4A (Support to Media), recently organised a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on “Trends And Challenges In Fair, Accurate and Ethical Coverage Of the Electoral Process In Nigeria” in a bid to strengthen the media houses. Here, our reporter, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, attempts an analysis of the main discourses at the one-day event held in Port Harcourt. 

Speaking during his open
ing address, the Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Mr. Akin Akingbulu, stated that the mandate of his Institute was to see that the Media provides fair, accurate and ethical coverage of the electoral process in Nigeria, adding that since the project started they have been working on this mandate and have recorded tremendous results.
He explained that the Nigeria Component, which is also called Support to Media, has four components, namely: To enhance professionalism of the media; To help to strengthen institutions to deepen and diversify the delivery of voter and civic education; To help strengthen the capacity of the regulators, especially the broadcast sector regulator, as to enable it do better on its mandate; and To drive the focus and attention of the media on marginalised groups in society such as women, youths, persons with disabilities for input participation of these particular groups in the electoral and broader democratic processes in Nigeria.
Akingbulu noted that, so far, there has been tremendous progress, adding that they have recorded these tremendous results through forums such as this over the past few years.
He further explained that the media is a critical stakeholder in the Nigeria Component for which reason they have come to Port Harcourt to engage in this activity, which falls under the sub Component, and is working on strengthening media platforms for improved delivery of voter and civic education in the electoral process.   
“We have brought together conscious and strategically important stakeholders to be part of this discussion as we believe that focus group discussion should be small, but qualitative; hence our choice of selection, noting that it is expected that those selected for the focused discussion will do a step-down at their various media houses.
“We trust that we will get the best out of the conversation that we are going to have here. To ensure that activities run well, we have put in place a timber-and-caliber facilitator, a Professor of Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Ifeoma Dunu,” Akingbulu announced.
In her presentation, the facilitator of the group discussion, Prof Dunu stated that it was expected that the discussions would suggest ways to move forward, adding that, for her, it was not just conversation and discussions, but the way forward.
Dunu emphasised that this year is the electoral period in Nigeria, using Anambra State as an example. Looking at democracy and governance in Nigeria, she wondered where Nigeria’s Democracy is today. Is it progressing, retrogressing or stagnated?     
She added that IMS was in Port Harcourt to ensure that all the institutions responsible to the smooth running of the electoral process in Nigeria get it right, remarking that the discussion must find lasting solutions to some of the problems confronting the electoral process in the country.
The varsity don also noted that journalism challenges are part of the core challenges confronting the electoral process as journalists working in both the private and public media houses are faced with poor remunerations which forces them to give biased reportage.
In her contribution, the Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter, Mrs. Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, drew attention to the meaning of democracy as a system of government in which power is vested with the people and exercised by them directly.
She, however, pointed out that in Nigeria the reverse is the case as this power is vested in the legislature, noting that democracy is not being practised in the country.
A staff of Radio Nigeria, Purity FM Awka, Dr Adaora Arah, who also spoke at the event, stated that there were many young broadcasters who engaged in broadcasting without possessing the requisite qualifications to do so. She, therefore, urged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to beam its searchlight on television and radio stations, especially those operating in remote areas.
Arah stressed that many of them have not gone to communication schools, nor acquired the needed training on what broadcasting is all about before embarking on full broadcast activities, thereby bringing embarrassment to their stations, NBC and the general public.
In his speech, a member of the International Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN), Charles Maraizu, stated that the only way forward for the electoral process in Nigeria is for it to be centralised as there were many incidences that bedeviled Nigeria’s democracy.
He stressed that there were also voters’ apathy, in which the people were no longer interested to go out and vote as many of them have continued to express fear that their votes no longer count in elections. 
 Maraizu commended IMS for organising the programme and for always being gender sensitive as well as bringing serious-minded people on board for the focus group discussions saying, ‘whenever they do things, they always do it well’.
He advised everyone to generate ideas on the trends and challenges of the media “because, to me, it is not enough to produce gender sensitive media lens glass without representing it by putting it to action”, adding that IMS was always walking the talk and not just talking.
In his turn, the Director of Broadcast Monitoring at NBC, Dr Tony Anigala, informed that his Commission does not deal with an individual when a broadcast station violates the ethics of broadcasting.
He commended the IMS, which has been there over the years, helping NBC a lot during elections, adding that recommendations gotten from IMS platforms help the Commission to do better.
Anigala charged participants to produce positive results from some of the materials which NBC had given out to them and their organisations, while also adding that at any point in time people should tell NBC whatever it needs to do to improve, especially during the electoral process.
Chief Constance Meju, in her goodwill message, stated that marginalisation has been one of the challenges women go through, adding that her group has been pushing for more women to be included in all spheres as long as politics was concerned.
She was of the opinion that, as a way forward, both the private and public media, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), among other institutions should be financially autonomous so that they can independently operate under the ambit of the law without fear or favour.
Meju also appealed that the training be extended to politicians and Nigeria leaders as they have allowed the security system to be too tight to the politics, remarking that governance is not about party. She advocated the retention of the multi-party system in Nigeria.
In summary, the main resolutions reached at the event include:

  • The institutions responsible to drive the electoral process in Nigeria are not strong. 
  • Structures needed for such drive, not in place. 
  • Individuals, journalists in both private and public media houses and relevant institutions should be financially well equipped, so that they can operate independently and within the ambit of the law, among others.
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Issues

Checking Sex Trafficking Of African Women

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For thousands of years and even up to the present, African women have been subjected to acts of slavery, including sex trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.
Slavery has, therefore, become a daily happening each and every year, particularly among Africans. Now it seems some persons have turned it into a huge business from which they make large sums of money with no intention to let go any soon. This criminal act towards these victims is mostly perpetrated by their relatives, friends, men or women who pretend to mean well but who harbour evil intentions toward their unsuspecting victims.
The world is increasingly being blinded by the truth so much so that we don’t get to face the reality when a young girl is being trafficked. During the invasion of slave traders, women were used to satisfy their sex needs because such females were deemed to be of little or no importance unlike the men who were forced to perform the harder duties. These ladies were used anytime, any day thereby robbing them of their dignity and self esteem. Unfortunately, this trend has endured till date, more especially among African women.
Let me share the story of a young lady who was once a sex traffic victim. Her name is Ngozi (not real name). I met her in Moscow, the Russian capital, four years ago. She and her baby caught my attention. I was so curious to know who she was because, from every indication, she didn’t strike me as a student.
We started off by exchanging pleasantries after which she asked to know if I was a student, to which I responded in the affirmative. When she said she wasn’t a student, I then realised that my instinct was right, after all.
She was like, I need to tell you about myself unashamedly; an experience that has become a lesson to me and which might serve as a warning to any young girl who clamours to travel out of Nigeria in search of a better life.
Ngozi started narrating the story of how she was taken from Delta State, lured with the offer of travelling to Russia to assist a certain nursing mother from Uganda who was resident in Moscow. Her duty would entail taking care of the lady’s children in her absence.
The woman who travelled down to pick her from Nigeria happened to be a friend to her aunty whom she was staying with then. The two friends had a lengthy discussion together during which the woman assured Ngozi’s aunty that her niece would be well paid and have a good life. In turn, the aunty pleaded that Ngozi be properly taken care of and given the best of life as promised.
Fast forwarding a little, she narrated how her travel documents were processed based on the understanding that she was going for study as claimed by her lady companion in order to avert suspicion.
Ngozi said she was barely 17 years old as at when the woman came to pick her up. Everything sailed through for her at the entry points and they were able to arrive Moscow. But life took a different turn for her in a space of three days. The woman really made her feel comfortable in those few days, but on the fourth day, two hefty men wearing masks came into the apartment at night and whisked her away.
According to the lady, she was not the only one in such a mess as she could hear other girls crying and pleading for help from another cage where they were held. All she did was to cry quietly knowing the uselessness of any loud wailing. Soon, they were given new clothes by the masked men and told to get ready for work.
A new but harsh life began for Ngozi such that she got thoroughly beaten and starved whenever she declined sleeping with her assigned clients. She was forced to sleep with an average of 10 men each day and the money paid directly to the madam in charge of them. All her attempts to escape proved futile. Ngozi’s child came from a Russian man who bought her off from her madam. On the possibility of returning to Nigerian, Ngozi vehemently rejected the idea, claiming that she was ashamed of herself and nothing good could come of her life anymore.
After hearing Ngozi’s story and comparing with other accounts I had heard previously in the media, I was so broken and asked myself questions that might appear unexplainable but which definitely have answers: Why are young ladies in their early ages of 15-40 years, still being trafficked every year? What measures are being applied to stop the rise in sex trafficking cases in Africa? Why is the government not paying adequate attention to human trafficking? Why are there no seminars or platforms created to educate and possibly discourage the average young lady who wants to risk her life by travelling to such countries? And lastly, why are they mostly trafficked to Middle East countries?
Now, let’s start with the first question. Like stated in the first paragraph of this article, young ladies have always been victims of sex traffickers and also major targets because they are young and energetic.
Also, most of the girls trafficked are either orphans, people from poor homes or those who are desperate to have a better life by all means and who do not care about what happens to them afterwards.
On the second question, it can be said that the men and women who take these women overseas from Africa are most likely to have connections with a human trafficking syndicate. Just like the narcotics business, it is extremely difficult to identify those in charge. In the event that something goes wrong and a leader is apprehended, a fresh link is created immediately for the business to continue.
For the third question, we understand the fact that the government has a lot of responsibilities to handle; but regardless, women trafficking is an important issue too. It is a threat to society, trafficking is an important issue too. It is a threat to society, a threat to Africa and also to the girl-child. We appreciate the role being played by the Nation’s Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) but such monster as this deserves utmost attention and should be critically followed with all amount of seriousness.
The fourth question harps on the need for platforms to be created to discuss and enlighten potential victims of such illicit trade. We now live in a world that has gone digital and where information on any topic is readily accessible. But unfortunately, most of the less privileged young women still need to be properly taught about the so-called ‘countries with great opportunities’ which they hope to travel to and make quick money.
They should also be schooled on how to easily identify any person(s) who is coming around with the aim of deceiving them into travelling abroad for good jobs and better living standards.
On the frequency of trafficking women for sex in Middle East countries, I want to believe that it is as a result of the handsome monetary reward. Ladies who are trafficked to Arab countries often end up in wealthy families where they are mostly maltreated by their bosses and the entire household. These young women are usually placed on faulty contracts which subjected them to such households for life. They are bought from their traffickers with huge sums of money and forever remain as slaves or sex objects in which ease they are sometimes used to also generate revenue from pornographic video productions. And whenever these girls attempt to escape, having had enough, they are either killed or some other tragic fate befalls them.
Some of the effects of sex trafficking on African women who had been victims include, but are not limited to: loss of self worth, misery, self pity, living in fear, hunted by past experiences, loss of confidence in society and psychological trauma.
Sex trafficking can be checked if young women look out for early danger signals as already stated. Other measures that can be taken are as follows:
Young ladies should take note of false appearances and suspicious behaviours. Most fraudsters appear to be decent while some even belong to the same religious or ethnic group with them. They may even be the people such girls see daily who usually look harmless.
Parents and guardians should not just give out their daughters to people they barely know on the claim of providing them a better life elsewhere.
Government should ensure that once caught, tried and sentenced, any perpetrators are adequately punished if only to serve as deterrent to others.
And finally, the country’s borders should be under constant watch because these traffickers can always improvise means of transporting their victims out of the country or locally without the awareness of security officials. Some even pay their way through.

By: Osepken Muzan
Miss Muzan is a Nigerian medical student in Russia.

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Issues

Customs And Dynamism At Seme Border

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The pains cum hardship believed to have been occasioned by the Nigeria‘s international land border closure seemed incomparable to the dynamism and operational progress that have characterised the reopening of the borders.
Enlightening Nigerians, through the media, on the positive exploits of his leadership team associated with border reopening to their progress, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Seme border area boss, Comptroller Bello Mohammed Jibo, stated that his area command situated at the ECOWAS Joint Border Post, Seme-Krake Borders, has since the pronouncement of the reopening of land borders to date by the Federal Government, performed creditably.
He maintained that during the course of its sustained tempo in the fight against smuggling, the Command intercepted a total of 232 (Two Hundred and Thirty Two) parcels of cannabis sativa. In line with the dictates of the Service towards promoting inter-agency collaboration, cooperation and its unequivocal zeal towards the fight against drug trafficking, the Command  handed over the aforementioned seized drugs with duty paid value of N2,933,358.40 (Two million, Nine Hundred and Thirty Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty Eight Naira, Forty Kobo) only to the Commander, NDLEA Special Command Seme.
According to Jibo, officers and men of the Command had in their various operations taken the full advantage of the Service’s renewed strategies to continue the fight against smuggling, leading to remarkable interception of 705 (Seven Hundred and Five) items, with a duty paid value of N409,851,533.14 (Four Hundred and Nine Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty Three Naira, Fourteen kobo).
The Area Controller itemised the seizures as 5,568 bags of foreign parboiled rice (50kg each); 3208 jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit (25 liters each); 79 units of smuggled vehicles; 294 cartons of frozen poultry products; 131 parcels of cannabis sativa; 798 cartons of tomato paste; 3 cartons of sugar; 6 cartons of slippers; 305 pairs of used shoes; 30 cartons of Nescafe; 19 cartons of non-alcoholic wine; 10 cartons of cigarettes; 12 cartons of herbal soap; and 2 sacks of condoms; adding that the  landmark achievement was an indication that officers and men of the Command were not losing their guard in detecting and streaming the tide of the nefarious activities being perpetuated by daredevil smugglers.
“In the wake of Federal Government pronouncement on the reopening of land borders, the Command harnessed all revenue compounds in line with the new operational guidelines with a view to projecting revenue base of the Command and facilitation of legitimate trade,” he said.
The Customs comptroller disclosed that in export, the Command recorded a trade volume of 348,827,775 (Three Hundred and Forty Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy Five) metric tons of exported goods with the free on board (FOB) value of N4,277,047,153.92 (Four Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy Seven Million, Forty Seven Thousand , One Hundred and Fifty Three Naira, Ninety Two kobo) and a NESS value of N21,384,443.67 (Twenty One Million, Three Hundred and Eighty Four Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Three Naira, Sixty Seven kobo).
Jibo explained that a whopping sum of N80,774,807.22 (Eighty Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy Four Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seven Naira, Twenty Two kobo) was raked into the Federation Account (federal government coffers) during the period under review emanating from 0.5% ETLS, 1% NESS, Baggage assessment and  reassessment of  trapped trucks;  stressing that the Command was yet to receive imports from third countries, as there are  clearance procedure disputes to settle between importers, agents from Nigeria and Benin Republic authorities, including the shipping  companies, declaring that the Grand Total for the seizures and revenue stood at N490,626,431.36 (Four Hundred And Ninety Million, Six Hundred And Twenty Six Thousand, Four Hundred And Thirty One Naira, Thirty Six Kobo).
The comptroller explained that in line with the Comptroller-General’s  reform agenda which sees the welfare of officers as paramount, the Command benefited from different welfare initiatives from the management of NCS, including the construction of 32, 30 and 16 man ranks and files barracks accommodation to cover the inadequacy of accommodation in the Command; pointing out that there was also ongoing renovation of Deputy Comptroller’s quarters as well as the new upgraded terminal to accommodate consignments, in the event that the private bonded terminal cannot handle the volume of consignments coming into Nigeria.
“In a bid to sustain the existing cordial relationship with the host communities, the Command through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, constructed a modern convenience at the International Park, J4, in Seme Badagry West Local Government to assist travellers both local and international. The convenience was handed over to the Chairman of the Local Government Council for effective utilization,” he stated.
The Seme Customs boss stated that the Command was partnering with an NGO named Community Football Foundation for the establishment of a football club named Badagry United; which has already been registered with the Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Oba Akran of Badagry, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi 1, was also presented with the Certificate of Grand Patron while the new team was accorded royal blessing and support.
Comptroller Jibo who personally led media practitioners on an inspection tour of some multi-million naira worth of trade facilitation equipment put in place by the NCS at the Seme Border also maintained that effective and efficient community relations was being maximally fostered by his leadership, leading to a befitting collaboration with traditional leaders as well as representatives of other sister government agencies.
On whether the Command has the operational capacity to contend with effective implementation of the new government directives that imports into the country must be fully containerised henceforth, Comptroller  Jibo explained that it was only goods imported from developed countries that were to be received in containers while ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme products generally referred to as ETLS goods were still receivable in  trailers and trucks; stressing that more uitra-moderm scanning machines have been acquired and installed for the command to boost its examination capacity and efficiency.
The well attended media briefing which was co-ordinated by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Hussaini Abdullahi took place recently at the Seme conference room of the Service.
Ikhilae is a Lagos-based public affairs analyst.

 

By: Martins Ikhilae

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