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Rights group seeks political, economic solutions to Nigerian problems

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A human rights organisation, Pacesetters Movement, has sought alternatives to the socio-political and economic system of Nigeria, adding that the current arrangement no longer served the interests of the majority of Nigerians, particularly the working people.

In a statement titled, “State of the Nation”, signed by the Chairman and General Secretary of the organisation, Ebenezer Kayode and Abdullahi Onaolapo, they maintained that “the rate at which the leaders of Nigeria are making life unbearable for the masses and the working people is unimaginably alarming.”

The statement, made available to The PUNCH on Wednesday, partly read, “We warned in 2014 that Nigerians should not see both the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress or any other anti-poor political party as their haven or alternative to the already heightened economic poverty.

“The PDP has ruled Nigeria for bad sixteen years with corruption in every sector of the economy and the APC led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has continued to replicate the same policies that are making lives more vulnerable for the good people of Nigeria in the last seven years.”

Addressing the Democracy Day, the organisation also noted that June 12 was a remarkable day and it represented a victory for the masses against the political oppression of the rulers, saying “We believe this day should be used to intensify political actions to ensure the democratic dispensation is directed towards the emancipation of the oppressed people of Nigeria.

“We believe that June 12 should not just be seen as a democracy day got on the magnanimity of the APC/Buhari regime but rather it should radically and politically be a sober reflection to continue the struggle against the continuing economic crisis and austerity that will follow after the 2023 elections.

“It has been proven that both the PDP and the APC regimes have not served the interests of the poor masses but rather, they have continued on the same path of enriching their few 1% capitalist friends and the economic subjugation of the 99% hard-working people of Nigeria.

“This is a serious indication that neither the PDP nor the APC government has the interests of the poor masses at heart as we have witnessed in the last 23 years.

Addressing the ‘Not Too Young to Rule’ policy, the movement stated that the policy was used to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians.

“Again, we need no soothsayers to tell that the not too young to rule Act is a mockery of the oppressed people of Nigeria. This regime of the APC/Buhari is so smart at deceiving the people and should never be trusted. Whenever they concede to a demand from the people, they will come from behind, like a thief in the dead of the night, to take it back.

“A government signed an act that is supposed to make the political space much easier, less corrupt, transparent, progressive and to empower and embolden the youth massive participation in politics, but all we can see is a grand deception.

“In the just concluded party primaries, we saw how the PDP, the APC, and even Labour Party gave presidential nomination forms at N100 million, N40 million, and N30 million respectively. This only shows that the agenda of these parties are against the youths and the poor masses participating in the politics,” the statement said.

Citing way forwards, the organisation said the working people must be allowed to take part in decision-making in the critical sectors of the economy, adding that “the working people need to organise for a political alternative to compete with the recurring cycle of politicians.

“People can no longer have access to healthcare, electricity, water, and other necessary basic amenities even when they pay astronomical fees to get them.

“Against the backdrop of the 2023 general election, Nigerians should not build their hope around a Messiah or an individual but must be ready to take part in civic actions for a better Nigeria.

“Labour leaders should, as a matter of urgency, demand for an immediate end to the four month-old-strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, through the implementation of the Federal Government’s agreement with the lecturers, the replacement of the exploitative IPPIS with UTAS, and university autonomy, among other vital demands of ASUU.”

Conclusively, the organisation called for 50% reductions in electricity tariff, as well as costs of petroleum products, particularly petrol, diesel, and cooking gas.

“There should be provision of an enabling working environment for Nigerian youths and graduates,” the statement added.

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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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