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Best Gift For Amaechi At 50

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Governor Chibuike Amaechi

Governor Chibuike Amaechi

I have never written an
article about any individual. I’ ve rather been used to issuing press releases, commenting and analysing national issues in the media, particularly on issues bordering on good governance, political space, the environment, et al. But I am honestly persuaded to write about Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.
I think that for someone I have known and watched his roles and rise in the political arena in the last quarter of a century or so, surviving the breath taking risks in the sharks infested waters of our home-made political environment, and remaining alive to clock 50 years is marvelous in our eyes.
50years of intuitive drive, navigating through poverty and deprivity of the good things of life in comparison to his peers who attended the Sea Shell Nursery School, Port Harcourt Primary School, Enitonia High School, Baptist High School, Stella Marris College and  Comprehensive High School, all in the industrial city of Port Harcourt where the children of the elites and the middle class of the 70s had not just the privilege, but the right to attend these schools, as their parents were the commissioners, permanent secretaries, directors, management staffers in the oil companies, principals of grade “A” secondary schools and Headmasters/Headmistresses, captains of industry, bishops and senior pastors, senior public servants like in the army, customs, police, immigration, prisons, big traders etc. Those were the days you would see your mates hopping into Citreon and Mercedes cars, only to ask God some questions in your milky hearts and only wishing.
Well as children of the underprivileged, while you would hawk “Akamu and Akara” and plantain early in the morning to help parents raise money for your upkeep and school fees, you would see the world as above narrated with its divisions and where each belonged. You would finish your morning sales, get home, prepare for school, may be some distance on foot, may be often times get to school after 8 O’clock for the Headmaster’s cane for coming to school late.
For the likes of Gov. Amaechi like many of us, the circumstance of our diverse poor background imbibed in him the culture of hard work, resilience, street wisdom, native intelligence, creativity, courage etc.
Attending rural secondary schools in today’s Omuma in Rivers State and Imiringi in today’s Bayelsa State tells of the mobility of this young ebullient mind in search of a better berthing point to mould him for the future.
After college, Amaechi’s drive for universal knowledge saw him in Nigeria’s premier science and technology university, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology from where he hopped out when he was offered a course he preferred better than the one he had started studying at the UST. This saw him in the English department of the University of Port Harcourt.
At the University of Port Harcourt, the activist in the young Amaechi would see him join the aluta crusade, rising to the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) activism, from where he and the likes of Labaran Maku, the former eloquent information minister plied their zeal in the fighting for the better welfare of the Nigerian Students and a better Nigeria as well. And that was like thirty years ago.
Having graduated with an Honours Degree in English in 1987, Amaechi proceeded for NYSC and finished in 1988. As a corper, Rotimi Amaechi taught English in a secondary school. Those Amaechi taught English are today women in their forties. This is contribution to national development.
As a young graduate with a Degree in English at the time only government television media operated in Nigeria, Amaechi with his John Momoh-like voice tried to get a job in the Nigerian Television Authority- NTA. But destiny would not allow him succeed there as God knew that he would have been tied down there.
Trying other openings, he also sought to have one mentor him politically. By this time the Babangida’s political jingoism was on. Amaechi along the line met Dr. Peter Odili in whom he found one to follow. Odili employed him in his Pamo Clinic and gave him appointment as Public Relations Officer-PRO.
Rotimi Amaechi was not just only a PRO, but also served Dr. Peter Odili as a political assistant. Odili saw in Amaechi a veritable political son, in  whom he was well pleased, and Rotimi served Dr. Odili diligently and intelligently.
To cut the long story short, by the time Chief Rufus Ada George secured the National Republican Convention-NRC ticket to run as governor of Rivers State and chose Dr. Peter Odili as running mate, the young Amaechi added so much value to the fortunes of Chief Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili to the extent of almost losing his life at the hands of party men and women at the NRC Secretariat  at Isiokpo, save for a lorry laden with heavy cargo which he outran his chasers and clung unto and escaped to Elele. I was an eye witness as the vehicle I was travelling in to Owerri stopped because of the number of assailants chasing him with machetes, clubs and stones. For Odili’s political interest, Amaechi took all sorts of risks for the person and cause he believed in. Nobody believed Ada George and Odili would win the election.
Chief Rufus Ada-George having become the governor of Rivers State, wanted to make Chibuike Amaechi a commissioner but for his very young age. He was asked to nominate any person of his choice to represent Ikwere LGA in the state executive council. Amaechi nominated his first cousin, Barr. Celestine Omehia who was given the education portfolio in the  Ada George administration.
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was compensated with the post of special assistant on students affairs to Gov. Ada George. His master the deputy governor never considered any other person capable for the post of personal assistant but Rotimi. I do not know where also this has happened  in Nigeria, one person serving a governor and deputy at the same time. And he did it very well. No leakage. Rotimi was also appointed to the Board of Risonpalm Ltd, the largest oil palm and milling company in the whole of Africa. These three positions he held same time at the age of 25 years or thereabouts.
Gov. Rotimi Amaechi was at a time state secretary of a political party in River State. Dr. Odili’ interest in Ikwere and indeed the rest of the state was managed by Amaechi and very well to the chagrin of many. The point I’m trying to make here is that once Amaechi believes in a cause, he stakes his all for it. Amaechi believes in success through hard work, strategic thinking and planning.
By 1998 when the Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar regime lifted the ban on political  activities, Gov. Amaechi joined his oga Odili to wrestle power from the other contenders in the People’s Democratic Party – PDP contest for the Government House Port Harcourt.
While Dr. Peter Odili won the governorship election in Rivers State, his godson Rotimi Amaechi who contested elections for the Rivers State House of Assembly lost the election in the ballot box and not convinced with the loss at the polls, headed to the election tribunal and won. As member of the House of Assembly, Amaechi’s colleagues  were convinced in his capacity and ability to lead them and elected him speaker.
As speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi shown like a million stars to the admiration of his colleague speakers in Nigeria who went on to elect him to chair their conference of speakers of Nigeria’s Houses of Assembly. Amaechi’s confidence among his colleagues soured to the extent that he was re-elected to lead them for a second term.
As speaker of the Rivers State Legislature, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi caused a fantastically cordial relationship and harmony between the legislative and the executive arms of government in River State.
His dogged fighting spirit was to be put into test again after he won the PDP gubernatorial primaries and a k-leg, a mysterious political “disability” emerged from the blues  and Amaechi’s mandate to fly Rivers State PDP gubernatorial  flag was  terminated and his cousin Barr. Celestine Omehia was handed the mandate to run the election. This the Rt. Hon. Amaechi challenged in court and the Supreme Court of Nigeria in its landmark judgement of 25th October 2007 retrieved Amaechi’s mandate and ordered his immediate swearing in as the authentic governor.
As governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – CON even when nobody including his followers ever believed he would perform at all, went on to shock the peoples and inhabitants of the state with his delivering of the goods of democracy. This owed to the fact that the government that ruled the state from 1999 to 2007 was bereft of ideas of how to put the state in the right pedestal of growth and development.
Gov. Amaechi’s government transformed the state infrastructuraly in  every sector, from education, roads, flyovers, bridges, health, agriculture, housing, sports, urban renewal, design and creation of a new model city, power etc. But did Nigerians not see what he did with regards to the security of lives and  property?  His stance on militancy and other forms of criminality which earned him the sobriquet of “ Island of stability in the Niger Delta Region during the Late President Umar Yar’Adua’s regime. Amaechi went into the den of Ateke  Tom in his Okochiri forest and chased him away and built a hospital and school there.
On education, not only did Gov. Amaechi build the model primary and secondary schools, he went on to employ a mammoth thirteen thousand teachers to fill the almost empty teaching spaces in the primary and secondary schools  in the state. As a National President of a college alumni association, I am a witness as to the recurring request of my Alma mater each time we went on our annual home coming to our school.
In Rivers State today, the Amaechi’s administration has awarded more than 500 model primary school buildings with about 300 completed. The children of the poor today are attending Amaechi’s model secondary school free of charge, while the parents of their peers in private secondary school cough out between six hundred thousand to one million naira per term.
Gov. Amaechi has built more than 200 model Health centres in Rivers State, with free medical programmes for pregnant mothers even up to government picking up the bills for caesarian sessions. Children up to five years and  senior citizens also enjoy free medical programme.
On agriculture, Amaechi imported the modern integrated agricultural farm called the Songhai farm. The farm in Sakpenwa Tai in Rivers State also has integrated in it a hospitality resort and facilities for conference and retreat. This is indeed a sight to behold. This is aside the modern fish farms in kalabari and other places in River State.
On roads, there is hardly any state in Nigeria that has in the last seven and half years of Gov. Amaechi’s reign built more roads with drainages, bridges, fly overs. A visit round Rivers State will attest to the extent of work carried out in this area.
Talk about sports, not only did the administration of Gov. Amaechi support youth development through sports, he took a giant stride in developing sports infrastructure. He went on to build a 45,000 capacity stadium   with games village in the new Greater Port Harcourt. The state hosted the National sports festival there.
In the power sector, several sub-stations were built by the Amaechi administration. Gov. Amaechi also went ahead to expand the state independent power project. Today river state generates about 500mw of power.
Talk about housing the Gov. Amaechi regime’s partnership with First Bank is indeed a wow! So also is a peep into what the Greater PortHarcourt will look like in the next fifteen to twenty five years.
Space will certainly not permit me enunciate all my eyes have seen in the last seven and half years of Amaechi’s revolution in Rivers State.
On national leadership, Gov. Rotimi Amaechi’s colleague governors’ confidence in him to lead them after Gov. Bukola Saraki, threw him up more at the national stage who on their behalf of his colleagues advocated transparency in the management of the national treasury. This was the stage that created the frost relationship between him,  Pres. Goodluck Jonathan GCFR and the presidency.
Gov. Chibuike Amaechi’s national interest certainly is above primordial tribal interests and settlement. This is the stuff he is made of, which made the south-south people accuse him of betraying his brother, President Jonathan, and whichhis political opponents and adversaries in Rivers State capitalized to whip up hate sentiments in Rivers State and the South South and indeed the South east against him.
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum was later to re-elect him chairman when his tenure elapsed. As a matter of factly, observers did not believe he was going to be re-elected, but his eventual re-election as chair of the forum underscored his high regards among majority of his colleague governors.
To the utter consternation of all, Gov. Amaechi beat the trap to mess him up in the PDP when he lost the leadership of the party following the ouster of the Chief G. U Ake led PDP exco in Rivers state. He led other four governors to join the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) and thereby altering the whole political equation in Nigeria.
Speculations were rife that he wanted to contest the presidency. Political rumour mills also had it that he was eyeing the position of Vice President in the 2015 general elections.
The roles he played in the build up to the APC convention which saw the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, as presidential candidate of the party left no one in doubts that Amaechi is imbued with political wisdom and understanding of socio-political dynamics.
That Gov. Amaechi and Ashiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu would blend in symphony for the political future of this country left many wondering and imagining.
That Amaechi went on to accept to be the campaign manager of the Buhari Campaign Organization as Director General left many in conclusion that he was finished politically, and that he would be used and dumped as that position had no much useful relevance.
APC having won the 2015 presidential election, the issue of who gets what and how has now taken the center stage, with the issue of zoning political positions taking dimensions that have left Nigerians watching and wondering.
I believe that this time is very crucial in the life and existence of the new national party, the APC. It is the time to deligently considers every critical variables in order to compensate people according to their inputs and works. Political zones should also be allotted positions in the manner that people from the zones should feel carried along.
For us in the South South geo-political zone, we have a strong feeling and agitation that the only politically relevant position which is visible in the scheme is that of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
If Amaechi is given an office that will hide him away, it will certainly hurt his party’s fortune in River State and the South-South region. And this is critical. He is the now the South South leader in this dispensation. So he must not be diminished.
Amaechi’s detractors will usually use his strength against him and to disparage his personality. They say he talks too much, but it is a truism that he talks as too much of what he thinks not right and proper, like the East- West Road that was not moving at a time. Any person who does not wish Amaechi to be SGF does not wish the South-South well as he is the only one that has the capacity to fight for our rights and get it. If Gen. Muhammadu Buhari makes a choice of Gov. Amaechi as his SGF, his administration will certainly be better for it.
Amaechi’s age is an advantage. He is well educated and armed with a Masters degree in English. Having built bridges from Port Harcourt across every State capital in Nigeria is an immeasurable value. A Speaker for eight years and Governor for another eight years without break is a record.
Turning the golden age of 50 on this 27th May, and exactly 2 days to the inauguration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s 5th Republican Civilian president, the best birthday gift to His Excellency, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi-CON is certainly the gold medal of the office of the secretary to the Government of the Federation.
All hail Gov. Amaechi at 50
High Chief Chukumele is the convener and leader of the South-South Progressives Consultative Forum, and lives in Port Harcourt.

 

Sunnie Chukumele

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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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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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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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