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Ekiti: Many polling units inaccessible to people with disabilities, says group

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The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities has complained that a large number of polling units were not accessible by people with disabilities.

The group said this in a preliminary statement on the ongoing Ekiti State governorship election signed by its chairman, David Anyaele.

It also complained that the Independent National Electoral Commission displayed minimal commitment to the implementation of the Electoral Act during the election.

Part of the statement read, “EVAPWD is impressed to observe that marginalised populations – the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women and persons with disabilities were offered priority voting in most of the polling units observed. We commend Polling Officials for their efforts in this regard.

“EVAPWD observers observed that the promised Braille Ballot Paper by INEC for easy access for the Blind voters were scarcely available as it was only observed at PU 003, Ward 10, Afao/Kajola and PU 001, Ward 11, Odese in Ikere Local Government Area.

“EVAPWD Observers did not see any magnifying glasses at the Polling Units observed. When Adhoc Staff were asked about this material, they told EVAPWD Observers that it is not available.

EVAPWD also observed that Information, Education and Communication materials such as Election Day instructions and guidelines to assist the deaf or persons with hearing impairment understanding of voting process were not available in all the polling units visited.

“EVAPWD observers report shows that large numbers of the polling units were not accessible to physically challenged persons. These polling units were sited in difficult places such as buildings without ramps/handrail, across gutter, staircase etc.

“The worse we observed was locating of a Polling Unit in a basement at PU 004, Ward 002, near Odo-Ado market, Ado-Ekiti LGA with no provisional elevators nor ramp to assist physically challenged voters.

“EVAPWD observed massive vote buying and selling, in particular PU 001, Ward 10, Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA, PU 002, Ward 10, Odo-Oye / Ayedun 1, Gbonyi LGA, and PU 039, Ward 11, Ado-Ekiti LGA.

“With the above stated observations, the Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities, a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities is pleased that INEC granted PWDs priority voting during the 2022 Ekiti State Governorship Election.

“Provision of assistive devices (Braille Ballots, Magnifying Glasses and location of Polling Units in accessible environments) were not observed nor sighted by our observers.

“By this singular act, INEC has displayed minimal commitment to the implementation of the Electoral Act, INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the Electoral Process and the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.

“We urge INEC to address these issues as observed by EVA4PWD observers, especially as we move towards Osun State Governorship election next month.”

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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