Each year, la Francophonie is celebrated on 20th March among populations who share the French language in about 84 countries scattered on the five continents. In Ghana, the 10th to the 24th of March, 2018 was earmarked for the “Quinzaine de la Francophonie”, during which a number of symbolic events were organised by the francophone embassies in conjunction with the Alliance Française Accra and the Institut Français Ghana.
“Let the festivities begin!”
On what was a night to savour at Alliance Française Accra, a spectacular opening ceremony took place on 10th March in the presence of many guests drawn not only from the Francophone community but the Ghanaian society at large. From state officials to ambassadors, civil society representatives to the ordinary population, people from all walks of life gathered to witness the commencement of this year’s edition of la Quinzaine de la Francophonie, which is celebrated annually to showcase the French language and the diversity of francophone culture.
The occasion set the stage for the convergence of a number of high profile personalities including Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, Deputy Minister in charge of Basic & Secondary Education and Dr. Eric Adja, Director of the West Africa regional headquarters of the International Organisation of La Francophonie. Also present was Ghanaian-born former French international Marcel Desailly, as well as members of the diplomatic corps in Ghana representing Burkina Faso, Belgium, Benin, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Egypt, France, Niger, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and Switzerland, including the ambassador of France to Ghana, François Pujolas.
In his opening address, Dr. Adutwum reiterated the government’s commitment to broaden access to the French language in Ghana and used the occasion to announce the beginning of the “bilingual class” project which is currently being run at the pilot stage in collaboration with the French Embassy. Afterwards, Dominik Coco and his Kako band from the West Indies island of Guadeloupe took over and treated the audience to a composite of zouk, reggae and dancehall music. If anything, there was definitely no shortage of dancing on the night!
When learning French is fun
On 14th March, the finals of the “budding ambassadors” competition for West and Central African zone took place at Alliance Française in Accra. The occasion put to test the oratory and public speaking skills of the best students selected from various French High schools within the two sub-regions, who were competing for the five available slots at the International grand finale to be held in Paris later this year.
Later that evening, oration took a more relaxed posture as students of the Lycée Français Accra Jacques Prévert mounted the stage one after the other, to show off their prowess in poetry during a spoken word concert. The show was crowned off with a superb freestyle act by the witty-wordy tongue-twisting slam champion Maras, coming all the way from France.
French language and career development
French, like any other language is obviously largely appreciated as a vector of culture. Beyond cultural dissemination however, the French language, ranking third among languages for business, has proven to be a very vital skill on the global occupational scene and it is this facet of the language that was brought to the fore during a job skills application workshop organised on 21st March at Alliance Française Accra.
Students and workers alike came to be part of a very enlightening seminar that sought to shed light on job application procedures in French or Francophone work settings. In view of the fledgling number of French companies now based in Ghana, this job skills seminar focused on French-tailored job application procedures, CV presentation and cover letter writing. Facilitators also used the opportunity to clearly delineate the differences between Francophone and Anglophone recruitment processes, by pointing out certain errors made by anglophone candidates while seeking jobs in French companies.
Speaking at the seminar were the Executive director of the France Ghana chamber of commerce Delphine Adenot-Owusu, Cooperation attaché for French language at the French embassy, Julie Fournier-Angelo, French Educational advisor at the University of Ghana, Nina Duval and Deputy head of the Economic Unit of the Embassy, Virgile Satge. The second part was devoted to one-on-one simulated job interview sessions with participants in order to help them improve chances of gaining employment with French companies.
French and the Arts: It’s Showtime!
On 17th March, guest artiste at last year’s Francophonie festival opening concert, gifted Beninois diva Fafa Ruffino, was once again involved, this time around as a vocal and music coach for the “French Touch” concert. For several months, she dedicated herself to training a group of 12 children to perform French and English songs. These future musical prodigies rose to the occasion and produced some very melodious tunes, delighting their proud parents and audience.
The Swiss embassy, on 22nd March, also welcomed movie lovers at Alliance Française Accra, for the screening of the intriguing romantic drama Le temps d’Anna which was introduced by Mr. Matthias Feldman, the Swiss Chargé d’affaires in Ghana. The film show had been preceded by an inter-tertiary French language quiz won by the Ghana Institute of Languages who beat Accra Technical University, Alliance Française Accra and University of Ghana.
The following day saw various senior high schools meet in the final of the senior high school French drama tourney held at the Regional Centre for Teaching of French (CREF) in the Accra High School. The five senior high schools that made it to this final were Chemu Senior high school (SHS), Nalerigu SHS, T.I. Ahmadiyya Girls School, Kanton SHS and Akwamuman SHS. All the sketches were written and directed by Ghanaian French teachers and their students from the participating schools. At the end of the day, T.I. Ahmadiyya Girls put up a splendid performance to be crowned champions. Among the prizes awarded were screen projectors, home theatres, laptops, dictionaries and school bags. Each student and teacher also received a certificate of participation.
“Francophonie” on display at closing ceremony
In keeping with what has over the years become a popular highlight of the festival, a food fair and artefact exhibition came off at Alliance Française Accra on Saturday 24th March, the final day of Francophonie 2018. Apart from country-specific stands, there was the notable presence of sponsors and partners, namely, Blue Knights Bookshop, Société Générale, Decathlon, Accra City Hotel and the Canadian Embassy. Other sponsors for this year’s programme include the Belgian Consulate, French Embassy, Institut Français Ghana, Total, Bolloré, Ibis Styles, the Daily Guide newspaper and the International Organisation of la Francophonie.
There was also time for winners of the French language writing competition to receive their prizes. Gnoigle Kolani Lambombik, Eric Konlanbik and Isaac Quarshie Ayertey won the first prizes for the “Tout public”, “étudiants spécialistes” and the “étudiants non-spécialistes” categories respectively. The jury’s special prize for “jeune talent” went to Laurdi Sala-Diakanda, a student of Lycée Français Jacques Prévert Accra. The prizes were presented by Madam Julie Fournier-Angelo of the French Embassy and Mr. Robert Atsu Davor, the National Coordinator for Regional Centre for Teaching of French (CREF).
This year’s closing ceremony and indeed the festival as a whole, would certainly have not been complete without the august presence of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who delivered his entire speech in French, much to the applause of an audience captivated and inspired by his command of Molière’s language. “We find ourselves in a global climate where the study of [foreign] languages is becoming more and more important.This is one of the reasons why my government has decided to place particular emphasis on the study of the French language across the educational system” he affirmed.
Congolese stand-up comedian, Phil Darwin, then took to stage, relating tales of his numerous adventures across the globe in typical jocular fashion to bring the curtains down on yet another marvelous Quinzaine de la Francophonie.
LASG URGES LEKKI PROPERTY OWNERS TO COMPLY WITH MASTER PLAN OR FACE STATUTORY ENFORCEMENT
The Lagos State Government has urged property owners and developers in Lekki, Ajah and Eti-Osa environs to comply with the Masterplan of the area or face statutory enforcement.
The Honourable Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako disclosed this on Thursday at Lekki, during a stakeholders’ meeting with property owners and developers in the axis to discuss seamless processing of Planning Permits, adding that owners and developers of property in the area must ensure voluntary compliance with the Master Plan for the area.
He explained that it is through compliance that the sanctity of the Revised Ikoyi/Victoria Island Model City Plan and Lekki Comprehensive Master Plan could be guaranteed, being the Operative Development Plan covering the area.
“You are to please note that the Approval Order of the Plans, as applicable, remain the only valid references for any developmental activity that can be carried out in this area until another review is conducted”, he said.
He warned that the deliberate contravention of the Approval Order, Extant Law and Regulations must stop as the Ministry would not allow the ugly trend of haphazard and illegal development to continue unabated.
While calling for the cessation of illegal dealings concerning the authorisation and documentation of buildings, the related sanction of which include demolition and prosecution, the Commissioner reiterated that the observed underhand deals in respect of building construction include non-adherence to Planning Permit; deliberate falsehood in the design drawings and construction of buildings after submission, prior to the grant of Planning Permit and the mandatory Stage Certification.
“Others are falsification of documents such as Mandatory Statutory Clearances, payment receipts and LIRS Tax Clearance as well as Fake Approvals in connivance with third parties, some of whom are staff of the Ministry who are illegally engaged to provide ‘Administrative Protection’ instead of dealing with us directly through our formal channels”, he said.
He emphasised that the mentioned sharp practices among others were criminal offences liable for prosecution, saying that “This meeting is another golden opportunity for you to right the wrongs that had been done in order to avoid any public embarrassment which the statutory enforcements may cause to you and your distinguished personalities”.
“In this regard, you are enjoined to always endeavour to comply with all statutory requirements for the construction of your building, including obtaining Planning Permit from the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) and Stage Certification from the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA)”, he said.
He advised property owners and developers to apply for Planning Permit from the LASPPPA District Office within the jurisdiction of their proposed development and explore the website https://epp.lagosstate.gov.ng for all necessary information and guidance in this regard.
He said that the Ministry would endeavour to continue its stride to accelerate and intensify continuous public enlightenment and advocacy for the achievement of the T.H.E.M.E.S. Agenda.
Speaking in the same vein, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Mr. Ganiyu Adele Ayuba added that the role of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development was to ensure adherence to planning and bring about orderliness and sustainability in the built environment and urged the stakeholders to always do the needful by embracing the due process.
The Chairman, Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr. Hamzat Subair reiterated that it was part of LIRS’ mandate to make income tax assessment on applications for Planning Permit, adding that the essence of taxation was to finance development.
The General Manager, LASPPPA, Tpl. Funmi Oshifuye; General Manager LASBCA, Engr. Biola Kosegbe and General Manager, Lagos State Urban Renewal Authority (LASURA), Tpl. Ajibike Shomade took turns to make presentations on the processes involved at their respective agencies.
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NDDC N40b Probe: No Kobo Is Missing, Misapplied by the IMC…..Ojougboh
THE Acting Executive Director, Projects, Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh has said that no single Kobo has been misapplied by the Committee since it came on board.
Speaking in Abuja Thursday when he appeared before the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi ( APC, Ekiti North) led Ad-hoc Committee probing into alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the IMC, Ojougboh said that since the interim management came on board, it has not awarded any contract, except the recent one of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 Pandemic where Palliatives were given to people.
Ojougboh who is presently addressing the Committee has accused both the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and his House of Representatives counterpart as the problem of the interventionist agency.
According to him, if they remain as chairmen of the Committees, Niger Delta region will never develop.
Meanwhile, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has told the Ad- hoc Committee that a total of N281 billion has so far been released to the NDDC from 2016 to May this year.
Giving a breakdown, he said that in 2016, N41billion was released; in 2017, N64 billion was released; in 2018, a total of N71 billion was released; in 2019, N71 billion was released and from January to May this year, N34 billion was released.
Recall that the Senate is probing alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Against this backdrop, the Senate had set up six-man Ad-hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation into all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N40billion by the commission.
The Committee, which had four weeks to report back at plenary, was asked to look into all procurement and financial transactions of the commission in this fiscal year (2020) and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provision of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.
In a related development, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has assured the National Assembly of his utmost cooperation in the ongoing probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Recall once again that the Senate is probing alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Against this backdrop, the Senate had set up a six-man Ad-hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation into all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N40billion by the commission.
Appearing before the Senate ad-hoc Committee on Thursday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Olusade Adesola who stood in for the Minister regretted the absence of the Minister due to circumstances beyond his control.
Mr Adesola assured the Committee that the Minister held the Panel in high repute and would appear on any other date that the Committee would extend an invitation to him.
GROUP CAMPAIGNS AGAINST “RAPE CULTURE” IN OGUN
Disturbed by the alarming rate of rape and other sexual and gender-based crimes in the country, a foundation and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Oyenola Oluwole Foundation (OOF), in partnership with some stakeholders, has intensified its efforts through outdoor exercise and awareness campaign against rape and other gender crimes.
The outdoor exercise tagged “Walk Against Rape and Female Genital Mutilation”, also known as Female Circumcision, was aimed at campaigning against rape, which has tripled in number since Covid-19 lockdown, held at Abeokuta, the State capital.
Convener of the exercise and founder of the organization, Asiwaju Oyenola Oluwole (Wole Papa) appealed to the Nigerian government to exercise its political will and legislative powers to eradicate rape and other gender crimes, especially Female Genital Mutilation which has become embarassing cultural practice in the country.
While narrating his personal ordeals with his family, he said “apart from the denigration of human dignity and existence, the stigma that follows this despicable act is always a lasting scar, difficult to erase or wipe away, because of the continual psychological trauma.”
Oluwole said that according to the Nigeria Police, between January and May this year, there were 717 reported cases of rape, as UNICEF statistics confirmed that one in four girls experienced sexual violence before the age of 18, adding that sometimes this despicable acts involved murder of the victims in the process.
He said that they were unable to do much at this time than to campaign against rape and other sexual crimes, through means that they would be safe and also accessible to everyone to hear their voices at this time, noting that they decided to hike with few people under strict observation of the social distancing rules for outdoor events.
“Indeed, rape is a crime, it is traumatizing and we called on the Federal Government for stricter measures against rapists in Nigeria,” Oluwole said
He said that women were more vulnerable to sexual crimes than men, noting that sexual violence reflects and reinforces existing gender inequalities.
It would be recalled that Oyenola Oluwole Foundation was established with the objective of campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation, Rape, Domestic Violence and every form of Social Vices that devalues human dignity.
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