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How Green Is The Grass On This Side?

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Recent statistics have pointed to the fact that many young Nigerians, over the past few years, have been leaving the country in alarming numbers. The search for better living conditions and an enabling environment to fulfil their dreams drives the youths to seek more financially stable economies.

It is no secret that the economic condition of the country has plunged many into poverty. Although Nigeria is rich in natural resources, its economy is unable to meet the basic needs of the populace. Alarmingly, the population continues to increase at a fast rate. The disparity between the snowballing rate of poverty and the growth of the GDP shows that distribution of wealth in Nigeria is slanted.

32% of households in Nigeria have testified to their economic situation worsening over the period of a year while 64% consider themselves poor. National statistics reveal that poverty is declining, but in a slow manner. Lack remains a critical challenge for the youths. Many have dreams that need to be fulfilled. Others desire to go to school. Jobs are hard to come by and businesses need financial backing to thrive. The plight of the youths is worsened by the indifference of the government.

These factors, therefore, create the mentality that life in Nigeria is not worth living. The belief is that countries outside Nigeria and Africa, in general, have better standards of living. Although, this may be true, and migration might be the answer to the financial situation of many Nigerians, there is need for the youths to be aware that a conscious and thought-out migration plan is more important.

Choice destination countries for most migrants include Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Russia, Greece and Spain. All mentioned countries already have organized and established guidelines and laws for their citizens and immigrants. This is to ensure that everyone registered legally in the system gets the basic amenities and support from the government. In addition, it is to make certain that crime is brought to the barest minimum, ensuring the safety of everyone in the country. Their borders are open for migrants, but only via regular means. However, the bulk of Nigerians migrating into Europe do so via irregular means, with no plans as to how they would better the economy of the destination countries they plan to get into.

The mentality is to simply get in, and the rest would take care of itself. They end up being on the run from the police, struggling with decent jobs and accommodation, working twice as hard as they would in Nigeria, and finding themselves being exploited, sold into slavery by traffickers and smugglers and engaging in crime. The journey alone, via the desert and through the Mediterranean Sea, has claimed the lives of thousands and left many more in slavery and debt to traffickers.

Women are sold into prostitution while men are used for hard labor and crime. The freedom to live and work as one desires here in Nigeria is taken from them. They are then left to grapple with worse financial difficulties than they had previously had, and added hardship. Some are killed and their parts harvested for organ trade.

This is the reality of illegal Nigerian migrants on transit to Europe and even for those living there. Very few of them make it into comfortable living conditions. Very few significantly turn their situation around enough to lift others back home out of poverty. Little wonder you hear scores of stories of family members disappearing abroad and never being heard of again. You hear of many traveling and abandoning their families back here.

What then is the solution to this? How can young people be encouraged to look within themselves and their immediate environment to lift themselves out of their current struggles and to create an oasis in the middle of the desert?

The answer lies within the youths themselves. A change in government policies would go a long way, but while we wait for that, it is imperative for the youths to seek enabling environments and programs within Nigeria that can push them forward.

Certain non-governmental organizations have risen to the occasion to better the economic condition of young Nigerians via empowerment initiatives. Notable amongst them is Dare 2 Dream. Founded by Kinabuti, it engages the youth and women through empowerment and economic development, using various initiatives such as the “Dare2Dream” initiative. It is a youth empowerment platform set to channel young creative talents with opportunities that can help them achieve their dreams and design their lives the way they want.

Suleiman Danladi Lukman from Kwara State is a beneficiary of one of Dare 2 Dream’s programs in conjunction with OIP Computer Institute in Lagos. Unable to further his education due to financial constraints, he picked a form that helped him register for basic training in ICT. Subsequently, he attended a class that spanned over the course of four months, which had him falling in love with computers. He now tutors others with the same knowledge he had learned.

His motivation is seeking a life that is better than what his parents had. He is now the breadwinner of his family, and hopes to do much more for them in the near future. Suleiman believes that Nigeria brings the best in all of us. “Even those who are fleeing away, the best in them is hidden. They will go abroad and have to adjust to the way of life there, killing their talents and dreams, just so that they can survive.”

He believes the hardship in Nigeria doesn’t have to kill you. It can rather drive you into pursuing hard after your dreams. He advises youths to start planning for the future and not seek for quick cash that won’t last long.

Suleiman emulates what Dare 2 Dream has done. He plans to pay it forward by empowering young people with knowledge on information technology.

Yusuf Lukmon Olawale has similar dreams, and is already living them. Dare 2 Dream had given him the boost he needed to kick off his career in ICT. Because of the free training he gained, he passed his final exams from Yaba College of Technology with an upper credit, and today he is a junior instructor in OIP.

Yusuf is certain that the Nigerian situation has pushed him to be dogged. He believes he has the die-hard Nigerian spirit, and every Nigerian has it as well.

“When you open a particular book, each page gives a different story. I don’t see the Nigerian problem affecting my own success. My plan of the future is how to have my own company and not work for anyone.”

Counseling Nigerian youths, he tells them never to let any challenge weigh them down.

“Keep moving, be focused and be prayerful. Things would get better.”

Millions of Nigerian youths remain skeptical about the improvement of the state of things in the country. However, one must divorce oneself from wallowing in a perceived reality and accept reality, and work hard at accomplishing what one desires to have. The journey through the Sahara desert and Mediterranean has not produced great minds. Instead, it has robbed a beautiful nation of dreams, youth, brains, labor, creativity and innovation. It has made many parents childless and left young people traumatized and haunted by nightmares.

Like Yusuf and Suleiman who made green the grass on their own side, every youth must seek to build their dreams with their own hands.

Chyllian, a returnee from Libya, who now works in helping Nigerian youths pursue their ambitions here in Nigeria, has this to say:

“Travel for the right reasons. A lot of us travel because of finance. That’s not a good reason to travel. But how about building our country? It’s our responsibility. We don’t have to start running off because there is hardship. We have to look at what we can do to proffer solution to what we are passing through. If all the brainy and intelligent people in Nigeria should leave, who would build the country?”

 

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BE ACCOUNTABLE- LGs COMMITTEE CHARGED

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The elected Local Government Review Committee (LGRC) members from six selected Local Governments in Ogun State, have been advised on the need to be effective and be transparent in the discharge of their duties, for sustainable development in the State. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives, Mrs. Melutia Ogunremi, gave this advice during a one- day training for LGRC members, with the theme, “The Roles of LGRC in the Community Development Project (CDP) Formulation and Implementation’’, organised by the Community and Social Development Agency CSDA, at the Conference Hall, Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

Mrs. Ogunremi, charged the elected committees saddled with the responsibilities of community development projects to effectively coordinate and execute World Bank assisted projects, adding that this would aid government’s intervention in executing more projects. According to her, “by the time the projects would be completed, the less privilege in our communities would feel the impact of good leadership”, adding that, accountability, sincerity, as well as transparency should be their watchword. On his part, the General Manager Community and Social Development Agency, Engineer Sakirudeen Salam, said the training was organised for elected committee members on their roles to facilitate and fast track the process of the proposed projects. He disclosed that, eighty participants which cut across the six selected Local governments including, Abeokuta North Local Government, Odeda Local Government, Ipokia Local Government amongst others, were duly represented.

Reacting, the Chairman, Board of Director, Community and Social Development Agency (CSDA), Pastor Oladipupo Odeyemi, disclosed that the programme had been in existence since 2009 and the State was already involved in the second phase, while striving to be among the third phase if all projects would be done with all honesty, describing the programme as a measure for poverty alleviation in any society. One of the participants at the training, Honourable Bode Kusimo commended the International agency, as well as the State government’s effort at eradicating poverty at the grassroots, pledging to ensure the success of the project, thereby assisting in the socio-economic growth of the areas.

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SANWO-OLU: “MAKING LAGOS A SMART CITY NOT A RHETORIC”

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The plan to elevate Lagos to become a smart city is not a mere political rhetoric, but an agenda that is being supported by policies that will make the goal achievable, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said.

The Governor said his administration’s commitment to reinvigorate the state’s economy and make it a smart city was reinforced by its growth potential and profile as one of the top investment destinations in Africa.

The smart city agenda, Sanwo-Olu said, is on course, stressing that his administration would achieve the goal in partnership with private sector as key driver of development.

The Governor spoke on Wednesday at the 13th Annual Business Law Conference organized by Business Law section of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), at the Eko Hotels and Suites on Victoria Island.

To achieve the aim, Sanwo-Olu said his government had identified key areas to drive growth, stating that investment in infrastructure remained prominent. 

He said: “As Africa’s most populous city, with a population larger than several countries on the continent, but confined to a space that is less than 4,000 square miles in size, Lagos is confronted by problems that exert great pressure on its infrastructure, especially our transport infrastructure and public utilities.

“Lagos urgently needs to mobilize huge investments into these critical sectors by delivering new roads and bridges, expanding air and sea ports’ capacity, exploiting the potential of our vast waterways. And, very importantly, Lagos needs to deliver an intra-city rail network. We must have a city-wide rail system that will move people and goods faster.” 

Steady electricity, Sanwo-Olu pointed out, remains critical to delivering a smart city with a flourishing economy. He observed that Lagos, like other states, still had a huge gap to fill in the area of power supply to businesses and homes.

The Governor said a sustained but strategic investment in key infrastructure would have direct positive impacts on workers’ productivity, commerce and economy.

He said: “Provision of infrastructure creates jobs for artisans, engineers and other workers who will deliver these projects, and also for the contractors who supply raw materials. And by expanding our transport and power supply capacities significantly, we will succeed in unleashing the economic productivity long-constrained by these bottlenecks.”

Sanwo-Olu said the effort required private sector partnership and investment to deliver on the objectives. He urged local and international investors to leverage the government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy in facilitating collaboration, which, he promised, would be mutually beneficial.

While the Governor re-assured investors that his government would create “friendly atmosphere” for investment to thrive, he said the state had embarked on reforms in its business law to protect the interests of all parties when disputes arise in business.

He added: “By leading the way with these reforms, we are making the point that we understand the place of Lagos in the national economy, and we understand the connection between confidence in legal and regulatory systems on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a willingness by investors to invest.

“In terms of the business regulatory environment, we are fully aligned with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business reform agenda. I am pleased to note here that Lagos was in 2018 adjudged by the World Bank as one of the most improved states in terms of the Ease of Doing Business.”

Sanwo-Olu praised members of the NBA’s Business Law section for choosing Lagos as its choice location to discuss the objectives of the business conference.

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PhotoNews:The Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila with Chief Dennis Otuaro

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The Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila with Chief Dennis Otuaro at the reception party organized for the Speaker by the Lagos State Government at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Sunday, June 23, 2019.

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