Uber Hires Ex-Us Attorney General To Probe Sexual Harassment

Uber Technologies Inc has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a review of sexual harassment claims at the ride-hailing service made by a former employee.

Holder and Tammy Albarran, who are partners at the law firm Covington & Burling, will look into the complaints about a manager at Uber, as well as general questions about diversity and inclusion, Chief Executive Travis Kalanick told his employees in a memo on Monday that was seen by Reuters.

Last year, Airbnb hired Holder, who served under former President Barack Obama, to help craft a policy to combat discrimination occurring through the online lodging service’s platform.

Arianna Huffington, who joined Uber’s board last year, Liane Hornsey, Uber’s chief human resources officer, and Angela Padilla, the company’s associate general counsel, will also help conduct the review, Kalanick said in the memo.

Huffington, Kalanick and Hornsey will meet on Tuesday, the memo said.

Susan Fowler, the former Uber employee who complained of being the target of sexual harassment by her manager, wrote in a blog post on Sunday that when she reported the offense to human resources officials and management, they declined to punish the alleged offender because he “was a high performer” and that this was his first offense.”

Fowler also said, after speaking with other female employees, she realized that both HR and management had been lying about this being the manager’s “first offense.”

In a statement sent to Reuters on Sunday, Kalanick called Fowler’s allegations “abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.”

Fowler’s tale prompted a backlash, including calls for a revival of the #DeleteUber movement. Some protesters urged a boycott of the ride service over allegations it sought to profit from the chaos at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport last month, after President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry to people from seven Muslim majority countries.

Many women working in Silicon Valley, particularly in highly technical roles, say they have experienced misogyny and harassment in the male-dominated field. Technology companies are under mounting pressure to make their workforces more diverse by hiring more women, blacks and Latinos – but progress has been slow.

“There have been many questions about the gender diversity of Uber’s technology teams,” Kalanick said. Uber will publish a broader diversity report for the company in the coming months, he said.

“I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do,” Kalanick said. “Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time.”

 

Source: Today.ng

Mimiko: A Man Who Failed To Lead Ondo To The Promised Land By Adewale Giwa

This article of mine is designed to wish the outgoing governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, ‘goodbye’ for years of failure to lead the people of Ondo State to the promised land. In the history of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimko remains the first governor who has completed two terms in office. Unfortunately, the governor used his years of service to manipulate the minds of his people. William Shakespeare said, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” In the case of ‘Iroko’ of Ondo State, he focused all his years on pure politics, selfishness, egocentrism, malice, iniquity and spite.

Permit me to quickly take you to the scriptures. As Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace, he learned all the wisdom of Egypt. In spite of growing up in the palace, he loved his people of Israel and did go to free them whenever they encountered challenges. One day, when he was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, God appeared and told him to rescue the people of Israel from the Egyptians and to bring them out of Egypt to a spacious and pleasant land. God knew that the people of Israel were suffering and appointed Moses to lead them out of Egypt where they were being used as slaves.

Above all, Moses did as God commanded and led the people of Israel out of Egypt despite challenges he faced before he could get his work done. At the desert of Zin, the people of Israel were thirsty, begging for water to drink. They gathered themselves against Moses and the Lord later spoke to Moses and told him to take the staff and speak to the rock and it will pour out water for his people to drink. Moses and his brother Aaron gathered the people together in front of the rock and said, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then, Moses raised his arm and angrily struck the rock twice with his staff and water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. For Moses to have done this, the Lord was displeased with his actions, saying “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” One may ask why did Moses warrant such a severe penalty from the Lord? The answer is simple, because he disobeyed the commandment of the LORD.

How could it have been so good for a man to start a journey and end it well? Dr. Mimiko started well, but it is unfortunate that he fails to end his journey well. Just eight days from today, Mimiko will cease to be attending a meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum in Nigeria. It will be added to the history book of Ondo State that Dr. Mimiko is the governor who left his workers unpaid for about seven months compared to his predecessors. Presently, the Ondo State House of Assembly members dominated by PDP are at loggerheads with one another, following the interference of Governor Mimiko over the impeachment of their speaker, Jumoke Akindele. The Assembly was later sealed off by the order of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. The crisis over Jumoke Akindele has left the Assembly in shambles, and demonstrates the governor’s failure to keep order in his own state.

Should we now say this is a good development for Mimiko? The answer is ‘no’! Fourteen PDP Lawmakers are away in Ibadan waiting for Mimiko’s tenure to end. Is this not a sign that Governor Mimiko’s eight-year tenure is nothing but a ruse? The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. 2009, when Dr. Mimiko came into power, feels just like yesterday but he has forgotten that things cannot continue to be the same. To Rahman Mimiko, it is as if he could try to hold on to power like Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia but time is no longer on his side as the incoming governor Rotimi Akeredolu has concluded arrangements to take over the mantle of leadership. One must surely pity Dr. Mimiko for not producing a successor as governor who he can easily control. What good is the achievement of a person who leaves an office without having a successor?

Of course, it is glaring to the people of Ondo State that the word ‘achievement’ is being used to console themselves. Deep inside them, it is a total failure. If not for the sake of desperation, the outgoing government would have sponsored different groups to call for the postponement of last year’s governorship election just to perfect plans to allegedly rig the election. Recalling that he has failed to transform the state around, it is on record that governor Mimiko’s eight-year tenure in government has caused a major setback among the comity of states in Nigeria.

Anyway, a lot has been said in the past, but I just want to wish ‘Iroko’ goodbye and say that people of the state will forever remember you, either for the good or the bad.

Andrew Yakubu Was A Country By Emmanuel Ugwu

Truth is not always absolute. Sometimes, it has layers of correctness. For example, it’s a self-evident truth that Andrew Yakubu was a klpetocrat. But that’s a lower layer of truth. There is a higher and more relevant layer of truth about Andrew: He was his own country.

The former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was an avaricious plunderer of the commonwealth. He stole a fabulous fortune while on the job and hid a treasure trove in his house to guarantee himself a happily-ever-after bliss after his incumbency.

However, to portray Yakubu as just another face of Nigerian corruption is to minimize his evil genius. He was not a puny treasury looter. He amassed 9. 8 million dollars and 74, 000 pounds: he had his personal ‘external reserves’!

A whistleblower claims the staggering find is only a quarter of the whole picture. He suggests that Yakubu had moved three cash-packed safes to an unknown hideaway before the EFCC raid. This implies that we may yet grapple with the reality that this one man managed to enrich himself in ‘external reserves’ more than other countries on this planet!

A vital fact that emerged from this scandal is that the house Yakubu repurposed as the bank of his ‘external reserves’ is located in the midst of a squalid slum in Kaduna.

The Nation reported that the slum dwellers, awakened to the hugeness of the dark money, cursed their ‘neighbor’. They were bitter that they were left in the dark all along. Without the EFCC shakedown, they would never have known that the otherwise forgettable building in their neck of the woods was a veritable Ali Baba cave.

But the annoyance of the slum dwellers had nothing to do with the impropriety of the looting. They were vexed by the element of hoarding. Their ‘neighbor’ did not find it in himself to make them partakers of the unsearchable riches of his heist.

They were outraged that Yakubu cornered all of that ‘government money’ and kept it while they lived hand to mouth. Had he been generous with a modest fraction of the loot, they would not have felt hard done by their ‘neighbor’. The memory of the crisp feel of two or three bills he happened to hand them some time in the past would have made them feel indebted to him. It would have moved them to defend his innocence and to accuse government of politically motivated witch-hunt.

Yakubu’s neighbors felt betrayed. They thought that, as the host community of his ‘external reserves’ bank, he was supposed to know that he owed the slum and the people something. They were mistaken.

Yakubu did not steal on behalf of the collective. He stole for himself and by himself. He stole for his exclusive betterment.

Yakubu was a cheerful taker. His worldview had no accommodation for ‘corporate social responsibility’. His philosophy was averse to charity.

Yakubu’s neighbors abused him for being content to maintain a barn of fallow cash in an area where children go to bed hungry. If he had extended a little of his surplus to the destitute in the vicinity, they would not have taken a dim view of his ‘external reserves’. His unmitigated stinginess did not permit him to rid himself of his surplus spoils.

They didn’t know that Yakubu could not have kept the lion share of the loot and democratized the remainder. He was solely interested and invested in his own affairs. He was incapable of subtracting from his wealth to make a dent on someone’s poverty.

BudgIt, the vibrant civil society organization fighting for the institutionalization of transparency and accountability in Nigeria, published an infograph that illustrates the opportunity cost of Yakubu’s ‘external reserves’. The diagram shows that 3.09 billion, the naira equivalent of his hard currency loot, would suffice to fund certain capital projects in federal government’s 2017 budget: construction of Suliya-Chaza-Babuni road; building of an Off-grid solar micro utility; building of a 700 megawatt Zungeru hydro power project; provision of 800 pieces of 11 KV transformer; repair, asphalting and provision of drainage on Mohammed Idrissa way, Potiskum, Yobe state.

That is to say, Yakubu arrested and locked two federal roads and two power projects in that single safe. He stole deliverables of development that could have improved the lives and livelihood the Nigerian people. He spoiled Nigeria to furnish his own niche.

Yakubu practiced the ultimate Nigerian looting. The highest ambition of the average corrupt public office holder in Nigeria is to steal enough from Nigeria to distinguish themselves from other Nigerians. They attain the peak of success when they salt away sufficient public funds to individuate themselves from other miserable Nigerians.

This is secessionist looting. The thieves steal so they can become discrete, independent one-man states. They steal to become nation entities unattached to and unaffected by Nigeria.

Yakubu made a country out of himself when he began to build his individual ‘external reserves’ to the detriment of Nigeria. He didn’t hoist a new flag but he effectively declared his own independence when he diverted Nigerian petrodollars to his personal warehouse.

By looting secessionally, he drew an invisible border around himself and his household. With his ‘external reserves’, he protected himself against Nigeria. He is unaffected by rising food prices. He will always have forex to pay the tuition fees of his kids studying abroad. If he took ill, he won’t be liable to fall a victim of Nigeria’s healthcare system.

If EFCC had spared Yakubu sleuthing, he would have lived a very exotic, un-Nigerian life. He and his ilk impoverish Nigeria on staggering scales because they want to exempt themselves from the tragedy that is Nigeria. They want to live as alien Nigerians. They want their ‘case to be different’.

The presence of Yakubu’s ‘external reserves’ in a slum epitomizes the proclivity of selfish Nigerian officials to construct an island of enjoyment in a desert of deprivation. It speaks to the depravity of their life of the internal exile. They hate the country and purport to serve it while they are actively undermining it.

In the austerity days of President Shehu Shagari, the federal government seized the airwaves with an ingenious jingle. An antsy Andrew character, lugging his baggage and excited about his prospect overseas, was in a hurry to leave Nigeria. At the last minute, he cancelled his travel plan. He was persuaded that Nigeria was on the threshold of recovery and so he didn’t need to abandon the country.

Andrew Yakubu was a different Andrew. He fled Nigeria. He was neither a patriot nor an optimist. He believed Nigeria could only get worse. He stole from an already failing country both to catalyze its bankruptcy and to insure his own future!

Yakubu would not concede that he is a thief. He said his ‘external reserves’ represented a stockpile of ‘gifts’. He reaped cash gifts upon cash gifts during his time as GMD of NNPC.

The Jonathan administration sacked him for ‘insubordination’. Only heaven knows how impressive his ‘external reserves’ would have been if his tenure was not abridged, if he had been obedient and compliant to Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, then Minister of Petroleum.

Ironically, a few days after the exposure of Andrew’s ‘external reserves,’ EFCC discovered a 37.5 million dollar mansion owned by his former boss in Banana Island, Lagos. This is in addition to a Port Harcourt hotel and an 18 million dollar Abuja house recovered from the ultra-corrupt oil goddess last year.

Allison-Madueke is unarguably the most audacious thief of her gender to have ‘served’ Nigeria. Today, she is a cancer patient in UK in part because she stole herself free from Nigerian health facilities.

Her five-year tenure as minister of petroleum saw the highest turnover of GMDs of NNPC. She sacked 5 GMDs, averaging a dismissal every year. NNPC is the biggest cash cow of Nigeria. It’s possible they dared to prove a competition in larceny and it rubbed her the wrong way.

While Allison-Madueke was minister, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Emir Sanusi Lamido, alerted President Jonathan that 20 billion dollars was missing from NNPC coffers. The president invited him and demanded his resignation!

During the 2015 presidential campaign, Jonathan wooed South-West monarchs with million dollar bribes. After his defeat and departure from office, EFCC found 15 million dollars in his wife’s bank account.

She claimed that the amount she could not have earned legitimately, given her pedestrian career history, was her savings for her overseas medical treatment. A group of sycophants swore that her ‘external reserves’ were ‘gifts’ brought to the First Lady by Santa Claus visitors!

The biggest problem of Nigeria is separatist individualism. Those who are supposed to build Nigeria are preoccupied with the business of self-aggrandizement.

Nigeria is an epic disaster because of the preeminence of the Andrew Yakubu demographic. Public officers prioritize the building of their ‘external reserves’. They usurp the wealth of the citizenry and even covet the slums –the very sanctuary of the poor!

Sierra Leone President Set Date For General Election

Under pressure, Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has finally announced March 7 as the date for the general election next year.

The country will be conducting presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.

“The parliamentary and local council elections will be held a little over one year from now, on March 7, 2018,” President Koroma said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Having consulted with me, the National Electoral Commission will also announce that the presidential elections shall take place on the same date,” he added.

The announcement comes on the back of a relentless campaign by the civil society and opposition political parties for the election date to be declared.

According to the Constitution, the NEC chairman has the mandate, in consultation with the president, to declare the date of the presidential election a month or two before the vote.

But the opposition and civil society groups say the delay in the making the announcement disadvantages prospective contenders by leaving many political parties unprepared.

Speculation had also been rife that the president could have been planning to extend his term in office, fuelling tensions.

The third largest political party, the Alliance Democratic Party, had already threatened to stage mass protests across the country if the poll date remained unknown by February 23.

A nationwide voter registration exercise is scheduled to start in March this year. The listing will be carried out by the newly established National Registration Commission, alongside NEC.

President Koroma also said his government was on the final stages of producing a White Paper for a new constitution, a draft of which was presented to him last month, bringing to an controversial end a review process that took over two years.

The White Paper is expected to be tabled in Parliament, which should call for a referendum.

The president said the referendum is expected to be conducted before the end of September this year.

President Koroma urged citizens to turn up for the voter registration exercise.

He however warned against early political campaigns saying the time to do so will be announced by NEC.

“When that time comes, we expect every party and every individual to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the appropriate authorities. Political activity is no excuse for breaking the law,” he said.

Sierra Leone holds presidential elections every five years.

Toshiba Chaiman Quits As Firm Post $6.3bn Loss

The chairman of Japanese electronics and nuclear giant Toshiba is stepping down after the firm said on Tuesday it would book an estimated 712.5bn yen ($6.3bn) loss in its US nuclear power business.

Toshiba chairman, Shigenori Shiga, will step down to take responsibility for the losses in connection with its US nuclear business acquisition, while other executives, including President Satoshi Tsunakawa, will take pay cuts, the company said in a statement.

The huge write down means Toshiba expects to end the current financial year in the red for the second straight year with a net loss of $3.4bn, compared with a net profit of $1.3bn estimated in November, according to its preliminary results.

The company also predicts an operating loss of $3.6bn, although it forecast an operating profit of $1.6bn three months ago. Sales are estimated at $48bn, up from $47bn.

Toshiba said, however, these numbers might change as it had decided to postpone the release of its quarterly earnings for a month for further investigation into its US nuclear power business.

Shares in Toshiba plunged eight percent in Tokyo trading on Tuesday after falling as much as 9.4 percent following the report of the delay.

Trump Is Delusional, He Lies All The Time – Bernie Sanders

US Senator, Bernie Sanders has called President Trump “delusional” and a “pathological liar” Sunday, who is using his outrageous statements to distract from economic issues.

“We have a president who is delusional in many respects, a pathological liar,” Sanders, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding that will make it very difficult for Congress to work with him.

“I know it sounds — it is very harsh. But I think that’s the truth.”

Also, in a series of tweets via his personal handle (@SenSanders), Sanders say: ”I disagreed with President Bush all the time. I never called him a pathological liar. He was just conservative. But, Trump lies all the time.”

Osun Model in Tackling the Scourge of Cancer

Pathetically, research and studies conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other non-governmental health related agencies revealed that 10 Nigerians die of cancer every hour, with attendant implication of average of 240 citizens of the most populous black nation dying daily.

Statistical information indicates that globally, in 2008, 7.6m people died of cancer and the figure rose to 8.2m in 2012. In analyzing this unpalatable and heartbreaking figures, medical statisticians allocated 13 per cent to the 2008 figures and 14.6 per cent to the 2012 with more disastrous revelations that 32 per cent of deaths to be recorded will be as a result of cancer related disease. This is indeed an international disaster looming.

Unfortunately, 70 per cent of cancer patients who eventually lost their lives are residents of middle and low income countries, often termed developing/emerging economies, with Nigeria leading the pack where over 250,000 new cases of cancer are discovered annually. More damaging is the fact that Nigeria cannot boast of a national cancer centre where diagnosis and treatment of this prevalent disease can be attended to at the advance stage, hence the need to seek medical attention abroad. This often results in medical tourism where $1billion, which should have been used to stimulate or buffer our economy, is spent outside the shores of Africa in European countries with Germany, India, United Kingdom topping the list of beneficiaries.

Osun State government has scored many firsts in many areas of its creative style of governance: the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) has become an internationally-acceptable and sustainable model towards addressing the menace of youth unemployment. The ingenuity of Rauf Aregbesola in the last six years has liberated 40,000 youths and middle-aged citizens via this OYES model; a remarkable attainment which was emulated in neighbouring states, even beyond the shores of the south.

The Osun school feeding programme, O – Meal, is a well-designed concept for elementary school pupils wherein they are nutritionally taken care of by the state government everyday. It is an assemblage of adequate nourishment in balance diet to, among other things; boost the knowledge and mental capacity of the children towards education which has increased the school enrollment in Osun by over 50 per cent.

Today, the path-finding and trail-blazing initiative of the Aregbesola administration has found its way into our national life where the school feeding programme has been entrenched into the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its implementation has commenced in 18 states of the federation in the 2016 budget.

Now, the Aregbesola – Osun model in tackling the scourge and unbearable menace of cancer which will teleguide the debate on national platform is unfolding; another first, another feat, another concept of participatory governance in fulfilling the six integral action plan of the Oranmiyan module.

In commemoration of this year’s Cancer Day, Mr Rauf Aregbesola invited a 3-man team of professionals, seasoned academics and practising oncologists from the Institute for Operative Medicine of the Otto-yon Guericke University, Germany to partner with the state in reducing to the lowest minimum this ugly trend, having discovered that the average perception of Nigerians is that cancer is a disease of the wealthy and the elderly; creating a robust platform to reach out to all the 30 local government areas, nine federal constituencies and three senatorial districts through a thorough and vigorous technique of massive enlightenment, well publicised awareness on the causes and preventive measures for cancer and stages of treatment from the primary to the tertiary level. The 3-day visit, led by Professor Hans Lippert, created an avenue to access the background information, state of equipment and facilities, medical personnel and other likely interventions of the German institute. 30 health care practitioners, 10 drawn from each of the three senatorial districts, were subjected to intensive interaction on cancer management, raising their consciousness on the awareness and sensitisation campaign as pilot coordinators, setting machineries in place as trainers of the remaining health workforce to undertake the task. The discovery of the visitors revealed a grand design to make the project a sustainable one by involving all the primary health centres which are always the first point of call by rural dwellers with a certainty that 70 per cent of cancer victims, detected very early, can survive.

The motives and objectives of the visitation climaxed with a commitment from the Germans to build a state-of-the-art cancer registry, combining administrative and technical functions, in creating a central online database for data collection and collation, statistical analysis for research to pattern an accessible link for both the Osun State government and the institute in Germany for the exchange of modern-day solutions in managing the commonest types of cancer in Nigeria — breast, cervical and skin cancer as prominent in women, prostrate and lung cancer in men, with emphasis on detection, management, treatment and appropriate referrals when and where necessary.

So also, telemedicine concept with infrastructure and equipment components, already installed by the state government at the state hospital building complex at Asubiaro, Osogbo, the state capital, will be activated in a matter of days for the smooth take off of the initiative; a collaboration to attract international organisations/governments for studies and educational research.

The collaborative support of Seri Care Foundation (SCARF), a pet project of Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, the wife of the state governor, also cushioned the positive response, as she has, over the years, intervened in critical areas of concern on cancer related issues, sponsoring and financing the free screening of women, orientation and educational enlightenment programmes on risk factors like tobacco intake, obesity, harmful use of alcohol, eating of carcinogenic products, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, exposure to ionizing radiation and environmental pollutants which result in cancer symptoms like lump discovery, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss with preventive and precautionary measures of daily and routine exercise, regular medical check up. This three-in-one solidarity will make available machines to screen thousands of women in Osun State annually.

The involvement of the state House of Assembly in supporting legislation will not be undermined as the Vice Chairman of the Osun State House of Assembly Committee on Health, Honourable (Dr) Olaolu Oyeniran who is a seasoned gynecologist, has given a concise affirmative statement on the readiness of the people’s representatives to give commensurate backing. We must also commend the Federal Government for giving executive reaction to the bill passed in August 2016 by the Senate on an Act for the establishment of the National Institute for Cancer Treatment and Research which is the desire of the present Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, to establish six internationally-recognized cancer treatment centres in the existing geopolitical zones of the country, with funding from private initiatives. This will reduce drastically the increasing rate of cancer uprising just like we have combated Ebola virus, polio, HIV, malaria, children mortality rate, tuberculosis. And this is a clarion call for selfless service to other state governments to replicate the Osun model in their strategy to disarm cancer from killing the great potentials of our citizens.

Oluremi Omowaiye writes from Osogbo

The Reality And Absurdity of Trumps Muslim Ban

Donald Trump made good one of his electoral promises (at least in the meantime) by issuing an Executive Order banning many Muslims from entering America, Less than a week into his presidency.

The timing of the order itself coincided almost with the anniversary of the World Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 26) set aside to remember the victims of Adolf Hitler’s World War II misadventure. Whether like Hitler, Trump intends to hand to Muslims their own holocaust episode is a matter for conjecture. However, something is strikingly similar in Trumps’ posture. As it happened in Hitler’s Germany, an ‘enemy’ figure, nay a scapegoat has to be ‘manufactured’ and looking at how post-Cold War conflicts have been predicted (and worked towards), the ‘enemy’ has to wear not an ideological ‘garb’ this time around, but a ‘religious’ one.

Reading the Executive Order, Trump did not name the countries by himself. From other spokes organs of the U.S. government, however, the names were learnt to include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria, all Muslim majority countries. To be sure that his target was Islam, he emphasized his willingness to accommodate Syrian refugees of the Christian faith.

The real factors which compelled (and condemned) Trump and his entourage of Islamophobes to a nativist, nationalist and protectionist mode is not found much in ‘religious’ factors to rationalise a ban of individuals based on their religious beliefs. But like previous episodes typical of certain individuals who became nervous about the dwindling prominence and fortunes of their nations and races in international sphere and desired a total shift to redress such situations, recourse had always been taken to scapegoating. Just as Pope Urban II found in the Saracens (as Muslims were known at the time) an ‘enemy’and initiated the Crusades; Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain found in Jews in 1492 and in Muslims seven years later and initiated the Inquisition and the Expulsion; and just as Hitler found in the Jews in World War II, Trump may have found in ‘Muslims’ his own scapegoats. Besides, Huntington’s (pseudo) intellectual legacy of a world saturated with ‘wars’ of religion tends to conceal much of the undercurrents of conflicts especially where the antagonists share different faiths!

To be precise, the real ‘difficulty’ encountered by the middle class in America the bulk of which constitutes the support base for Trump is basically economic. These difficulties were the outcomes or contradictions of two principal agenda forced upon the world by none other than America and its European allies. These principal agenda were neoliberalism (which was the wheel upon which globalisation rode and is still riding), and capitalist democracy (which rode on the back of gun boat diplomacy). Since Thatcher and Reagan conspired to push neoliberalism as the dominant ideology on the international scene in the late 70s, virtually every sphere of life and everything on earth became ‘commodified’; profits became the yardstick of everything; the sphere of social services and support hitherto provided by governments became hijacked and condemned to ‘private’ sphere for further profits; the rich get tax holidays while the poor are ‘sliced’out of employment as inefficient burdens; and the warmth of commonality which hitherto kept societies together became frozen by the cold calculations of gold and coins. If Third World Countries (TWCs) were the immediate sufferers of these agenda, the middle class citizens of the industrialized nations were soon to follow.

The much hallowed, fast-paced interdependence of nations and individuals for which globalisation was praised came with increasing mobility of virtually every factor of production. Resources, especially capital (or finance) from the advanced nations were moved to the TWCs where cheap labour would add to the amount of profits to be made as there are no talks about medicals, pensions or holidays, in addition to closeness to markets and raw materials sources. In fact, this was the context within which many starkly backward TWCs had little breath of life; this however resulted into job flight/loss from the citizens of the metropoles.

In order to enhance the global ‘resource-conquest’ agenda of ‘global-neoliberalism’ or globalisation, subtle violence through the IMF and the World Bank were deployed which conditioned assistance to nations in dire economic strait upon their adoption of neoliberal policies. To complement the subtle violence of the Bretton Woods institutions was the unleashing of the second agenda of capitalist democracy in waves, as a mantra which all nations must embrace. If democracy, (the American capitalist brand) provided the moral end for belligerency, gunboat diplomacy provided the means. Through gunboat diplomacy, wars of regime change have been orchestrated and fought ostensibly in support of democracy but to remove unfriendly governments with the devastation of the countries involved as it happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya recently. This does not however confer any sanctity on democracy as it can also be ditched and truncated if the outcome(s) would constitute a threat and a hindrance to the penetration of private capital into such nations. This was the experience in Chile (with the deposition of Salvador Allende by Augusto Pinochet through American support on September 11of 1973); Algeria (with the truncation of the victory of FIS and the subsequent criminalisation of the party); Palestine (with the economic suffocation of HAMAS by the EU and the U.S. following its electoral victory as well as the encouragement of Israel to continue its genocidal ambition on the people); Somalia (as in the termination of the Union of Islamic Courts which was overwhelmingly supported by the people) and recently in Egypt where puppet Abdul Fatah El Sisi was armed to the teeth to destroy the people.

The long term effects and contradictions of neoliberalism in the advanced nations came in the form of ‘opportunities’ ferried away, since profit is not ‘skin-sensitive’ as to have shielded the whites. Major and traditional industrial centres like Detroit became ghosts of themselves; locally produced goods have to struggle against imports from Japan, Europe, the Asian Tigers, and now China, even with all manners of protectionist policies; this is beside the influx of refugees uprooted from their home by ‘wars for democracy’ in search of survival with America as the place of choice as encouraged by another mantra, that of ‘open society.’ All these and many more effectively put the middle class in America in jeopardy and the American dream which guaranteed a life of economic security became severely threatened.

The contradictions produced by gunboat diplomacy came in the form of smoldering theaters of war around the globe both by insurgents and against them as in the ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) campaign. Social security suffered with about $3 trillion spent on the invasion of Iraq the second time. In fact, this could be said to be the genesis of the ‘Global Financial Meltdown’ of 2008 and onward, the effects from which America has not and may not fully recover.

Parts of the absurdities are in seeing Muslims as threat to American security and in seeing Latinos, Blacks and other colored people as nuisance. Much of the perception of Muslims as threat came from other countries

Trump is clear enough in his head not to trouble the Saudis as this may have many implications for his government, part of which will include a cold shoulder from multibillion dollars arms and construction deals; an end to the continuous availability of ‘soft’ funds taken away from Saudi and other Gulf Countries’ soils and stashed in un-official American vaults.

In reality, Trump and his followers have a ‘grudge’ against a system that is mortgaging their dream; however, doing a wrong diagnosis presupposes a wrong prescription. No one prefers the other man’s land to his home if he could have his peace. But when out of greed the world is rendered a blazing bunch, everyone including those who started the fire must feel the heat. Let America, nay the West stop destroying others so that its citizens can at least have their peace.

ALERT: Nigerian beans causes liver cancer – UN expert

Written by Adeeko Ademola

Dr. Heiner Lehr, the National Expert on Value Chain, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, on Wednesday linked a percentage of liver cancer cases in Africa to aflatoxins.

Lehr made the assertion while delivering a keynote address at the 1st Nigeria Food Safety and Investment Forum in Lagos.

The expert, who spoke on: “Nigeria Value Chain Improvement,” said the presence of aflatoxins in beans and other food products pose serious danger to consumers of such product.

Lehr said: “If a lactating mother is exposed to aflatoxins, the breast milk is also contaminated with aflatoxins.

“Cows that eat feeds contaminated with aflatoxins also will produce contaminated milk.”

Lehr noted that 70 per cent of beans exported from Nigeria to Europe were rejected and Nigeria incurred a ban from the European Union because of the presence of aflatoxins and pesticides in such food products.

He said: “Seventy per cent of all shipments of beans that came to Europe were filled with pesticides; and subsequently trade with EU was suspended.”

The expert said that a conduit of excellence was required to ensure that local products meet international requirements with zero rejects.

He said: “A conduit of excellence is a dedicated supply chain around key quality infrastructure elements embedded in a full chain quality and safety management.”

Lehr said when the process of the conduit of excellence was observed, food could be exported without any issues in the international market.

According to him, this will breed success through long term access to high value markets.

Lehr said: “When the conduit of excellence is followed through, we become role models to others to follow.”

The expert said that following the conduit of excellence required good agricultural practice, proper record keeping and a clarification on the roles of extension services.

He said that the foods passed through NAFDAC laboratory in Kaduna and Technology Incubation Centre in Lagos are certified okay by the global community.

Lehr said that meeting the quality and safety needs of foods meant for export required inputs from the private and public sectors.

He said that there was the need to make a case for investment and a national awareness that would meet national and foreign demand.

Lehr said: “The inter-ministerial committee had adopted the conduits of excellence as a key methodology to achieve the goal of zero rejects.

“Nigeria needs to be perceived in the international community as a deliverer of quality and safe food.”

Osun Is Under The Siege Of Disinformation, By Inwalomhe Donald

There is a partial media blackout in the State of Osun. There is almost no reporting on positive developmental strides taken by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

Instead, the reports that make it to the media appears to be a huge smear campaign of Aregbesola’s character by paid ‘bloggers’, who use smear headlines like ‘Osun Pensioners IDP Camp’, ‘Islamizing Osun’, ‘Osun Debt’, and others to smear the character of the Governor. A section of Osun media is curiously silent on more than 300 kilometers of roads constructed across various local government areas of the state and the East-West bypass in Osogbo. Interestingly, Osun has one of the longest road construction records in Nigeria, which enhances easy access for residents, but this is never reported by the media in Osun. They have simply refused to report it.

In addition to the roads earlier mentioned:

*The Eastern bypass axis of the intracity ring road in Osogbo is being completed, with work rounding up on the three link bridges connecting the roads;

*A strategic trumpet interchange at the ever busy Gbongan junction of the Ife-Ibadan highway is also nearing completion;

*The Trumpet interchange bridge further connects another dual carriage road construction that links Gbongan town to Osogbo;

*Also, there are a number of intercity and other major road constructions linking Osun to other neighbouring states, including-

*A 74km boundary highway connecting Osun and Lagos through Orile-owu, Ijebu-Igbo;

*A 47km highway connecting Osun and Kwara States; and several other road maintenance and repairs projects across the state are being handled by the Osun Road Maintenance Agency.

Has the media in Osun State collapsed? This question is germane because Osun makes leading headlines for negative reasons, but when there are positive developments in Osun, the media will be silent. Since 2012 when Governor Aregbesola started the Osun school feeding programme, a section of the media has been silent on it. When Governor Aregbesola took sukuk bond, a section of the media said that Aregbesola wanted to Islamize Nigeria. Now that sukuk projects are being commissioned, the media is silent. The media is silent on the six completed High Schools built with sukuk fund: Ilesa High School, Osogbo High School, Ataoja High School Osogbo, Fakunle High School, Osogbo, Wole Soyinka High School Ejigbo and Seventh Day Adventist High, Ede.

Given these evidences, the credibility of the media in Osun has collapsed because the same media who reported that Governor Aregbesola wanted to Islamize Nigeria when he was taking sukuk bond can not tell Nigerians that Governor Aregbesola has used sukuk bond to build 792 classrooms, 66 laboratories, 22 ICT halls for the 11 High Schools across Osun State. The media can not tell Nigerians that Osogbo High School, Ilesa High School and Iwo High School are built with steel, not cement blocks and these are first of their types in Nigeria.

From 2012, the news organizations have suggested over and again that they can never be believed on anything in Osun. They have proven that, if given the chance, they will deliberately withhold important information from their readers while knowingly publishing false, defamatory hit pieces that are engineered solely to misinform the public and subvert the democratic process in Osun.
In essence, the mainstream media in Osun is so desperately biased and unfair in its exasperating effort to destroy Governor Aregbesola that it has obliterated any illusion of credibility it once had. Journalism has utterly collapsed across the entire mainstream media in Osun.

From the inception of his administration in 2010, Aregbesola has been in the eye of the press storm, often for the wrong reasons. His energy and drive; the openness of his government; and his outspokenness attracted the attention of his political detractors and the press. To complicate matters, his enthusiastic embrace of people-oriented policies and programmes generated a lot of debate. This was particularly true of the revolutionary education programme, featuring school reclassification, school mergers, school feeding and uniforms; a social welfare programme for seniors; and an ambitious infrastructure development programme, featuring a ring road around Osogbo and the construction of a modern airport with a hanger.

To be sure, a number of these developments have been reported and discussed in the press. Unfortunately however, it appears that the press can hardly pass off an opportunity to drop a negative line or two about Aregbesola. This was evident in how quickly he was made the scapegoat among the 26 or so governors owing salary arrears for their workers.

The false reports began as soon as Aregbesola assumed office in 2010. He was falsely accused of moving Osun towards secession from the Federal Republic, by styling his state the State of Osun. Later, in an editorial, one newspaper listed Osun as one of the states which purchased exotic cars for their traditional rulers, when not even a bicycle was purchased for any traditional ruler.

In 2014, a newspaper also published a feature article, with a headline which suggested that controversy still surrounded the state’s free school feeding initiative, while in reality, parents, farmers, and caterers were thanking the governor for it. Not done, the newspaper went on, almost a year later, to publish another false story, indicating possible cancellation of the school feeding programme, when no such plan was ever contemplated.

In none of the fabricated school feeding stories were the health benefits of the meal programme highlighted nor was there a mention of the multiplier economic benefits to the farmers, who produce the foodstuffs; the local traders who sell fruits and vegetables; and the caterers, who cook the food, many of whom were simultaneously empowered to service their local communities.

The intensification of the crisis surrounding the delayed payment of salaries was the motive behind another false story by the same newspaper in which a chairman of a pensioners’ forum was cited as calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop the bailout for Osun. The fellow cited in the story claimed that he never spoke with the said newspaper.

These false reports raise a major question. First, why would a reporter habitually publish false stories, and against the same target? There are three possible answers. One, the newspaper has a hidden agenda against the target of the false stories. Two, the reporter is being rewarded for publishing the stories by the sources of the false information. Three, the reporter is ethically challenged.

Today, the media in Osun State could not tell Nigerians that Federal Government school feeding is not different from the operation of the school feeding programme embarked by the Aregbesola administration and now it has been taken over by the Federal Government. Osun State, the first to provide free meals for primary school children, has had marked progress in school enrolment, retention, and performance but the successful programme has been under-reported by the media. From 2012-2016, Osun State was the only state in Nigeria that sustained the Nigerian school feeding programme and the media under reported it.

Today the media in Osun State could not tell Nigerians that the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme now known as O-MEALS is the only surviving school meal programmes in the country. It was formerly known as the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Programme (HGSFP) . This has now been restructured and enhanced by the administration of the State of Osun, to reach a larger number of students (254,000) and to empower over 3000 community caterers.

The programme was initiated by the Federal Government in 2004 through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act but on assumption of office, the Aregbesola administration undertook a comprehensive review of the inherited school feeding arrangement and came up with an overhauled and rebranded programme that was officially launched on the 30th April 2012. Implementation in primary schools is ongoing throughout the State. The key areas of improvement undertaken by the current administration are, inclusion of elementary year 4 , thereby increasing beneficiaries to 254,000, Capacity Development and Empowerment of 3007 Community Caterers , Backwards Integration to Local Markets and Process Improvements.

Till date the media in Osun State has not told Nigerians that this scheme has gained international endorsement as well. In November 2012, Partnership for Child Development (PCD) United Kingdom and the Government of the State of Osun signed the Osun Elementary School Feeding Transition Strategy Plan Document to further strengthen the programme. O-MEALS aims to reverse the very low academic performance of pupils, given that good nutrition is necessary for development of cognitive skills. The daily feeding allowance for each pupil has also been increased from ₦50.00 to ₦250.00.

For effective service, a total number of 3,007 food vendors/cooks were trained and are currently employed to serve midday meals for pupils of classes 1, 2 , 3 and 4 in all primary schools in the State of Osun. For easy identification, each of the food vendors was provided with uniforms free of charge.

Till date the media in Osun State has not told Nigerians that the programme has helped increase school enrolment by a minimum of 25% since the commencement of the revised programme.

When one considers the gross underreporting of developmental strides by the State and the frequent lies published as truth against the current administration, there is only one valid conclusion: Osun is indeed under a media siege.

Inwalomhe Donald, a public affairs analyst writes from Benin City ([email protected]

By Inwalomhe DonaldOpon Imo: Real Reason WAEC Honoured Aregbesola, By Inwalomhe Donald

Governor Aregbesola has been honoured by WAEC for taking the lead in digital education in Nigeria. This truly is a tremendous opportunity for Aregbesola to help more Osun students get access to quality education. In the new global economy, digital education is an increasingly important part of education, and Aregbesola looks forward to guiding efforts to further expand the reach and breadth of digital education and its courses throughout Nigeria.

No country can develop where merit and excellence are not sufficiently recognized. 2012 t0 2017 provided a period to assess Governor Aregbesola. WAEC’s endorsement of Aregbesola Opon Imo is an award for excellence and good governance which is a sober effort to recognize and fete merit and excellence in education in Nigeria. Today, Governor Aregbesola lays no claim to sainthood or any special Solomon wisdom but it could hardly be denied that his passion for educational excellence, commitment for human development singled him out for recognition of merit and make him a model for emulation by many because he laid the foundation for digital education in Nigeria.

Governor Aregbesola has proven that when there is palpable decline of faith in Nigeria, his sheer energy and imagination represent beacons of hope. WAEC endorsement of Opon Imo is a veritable reward for excellence and recognition of integrity in governance. The endorsement is a celebration of AREGBESOLA’S innovation and creativity in Nigeria.

Last week, West African Examination Council, WAEC, endorsed Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s policies, especially in the education sector. Delivering a frame of endorsement to the governor on Friday, 3rd February, 2017, Head of the Nigeria National Office of the council, Mr. Olutise Isaac Adenipekun, who led a delegation of the national management of WAEC to the Governor’s office in Osogbo, said Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s interventions in education is “second to none” in Nigeria.

Adenipekun said, “The ongoing revolution in the infrastructural re-engineering of the school complexes in the state of Osun has also caught the attention of all stakeholders in the education sector in Nigeria and beyond.

“The immense contribution of the state government in the development of infrastructural facilities in schools, in particular, the “Mega Schools Project” is remarkable. It is in fact second to none in Nigeria”, he stressed.

Adenipekun said Osun has contributed significantly towards enhancing Information and Communication Technology, ICT required in education sector which according to him remains the prerequisite to development of quality education in the country. Adenipekun, who recommended the Tablet of Knowledge to other states of the federation said the initiative had contributed towards educational development.

He described the innovation as a tool of educational revolution, breakthrough aimed at enhancing and encouraging the process of teaching and learning through the use of innovative technology.

“We are particularly proud of the landmark achievement and the major breakthrough of the current administration in Osun most significantly in education sector by the introduction of the ground breaking ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ also known as “Opon Imo” to students of the state at secondary level.

“As we commend the efforts of Mr. Governor on the landmark achievement and major breakthrough of his administration in education most importantly on the widely applauded ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ which had improved and encouraged teaching and learning, we equally recommend other states to key into this initiative so as to improve the education sector,” he added.

Governor Aregbesola who described “the Tablet of Knowledge” as a panacea to education revolution, said the state had recorded national and international awards on the initiative. Commending WAEC for maintaining education standards in the country, Governor Aregbesola said the examination body had contributed tremendously in raising the standards of education in the West African sub-region.

Whether critics like it or not, Governor Aregbesola has laid foundation and remain the pioneer of digital education in Nigeria and he represents agent of change as far as digital education is concerned in Nigeria.

History of Digital Education will remember Governor Aregbesola as the first Nigerian to implement UNESCO 2011 recommendation on digital education. Nigerians need to visit Osun Sukuk Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools. Governor Aregbesola has undertaken to build and equip schools with computer classrooms and training teachers to use digital media in education.

In this line, Opon Imo “local content’’ in digital education has allowed teachers to use tablets to teach students. In the history of Nigeria, Governor Aregbesola will be remembered to be first leader to introduce digital education. Like India, Osun State is working to improve on Opon Imo. Truth is, years to come Governor Aregbesola will be remembered as part of digital education in Nigeria.

About 33 states in Nigeria are presently working on how to introduce digital education by using Osun model of Opon Imo. Through Opon-Imo, all books, laboratories and study materials needed by students have been catered for.

Governor Aregbesola promised that there would be no need of students buying books and other study materials. The tablet of knowledge, indeed, serves this purpose.

[email protected], www.inwalomhedonald.com.ng