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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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UBA Partners LCCI for 2019 Lagos International Trade Fair

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Pan African financial services institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry(LCCI), have partnered to organize the 2019 edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair.

 

The Fair, which holds between November 1st and 10th, 2019, is the 33rd edition and is expected to provide an avenue for networking and other business opportunities that will assist to catapult business activities in Africa’s largest and busiest city, Lagos and in Nigeria.

 

UBA, which is the headline partner will be working together with LCCI, to provide a veritable platform that is intended to grow both domestic and international trade. It further presents participants and visitors with opportunities to seal medium and top business deals.

 

In line with UBA’s unflinching support to the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the bank is giving a 20% discount to its Small and Medium business customers who register to attend the fair.

 

UBA’s Group Head, Marketing, Mrs Dupe Olusola, who expressed excitement at the partnership, noted that the bank, with its extensive spread across Africa and other major economies of the world, is always on the lookout for partnership opportunities that will benefit the business environment and the economies where it operates.

 

Olusola noted that the Bank is delighted as this year’s Lagos International Trade Fair is coming after a very successful organisation of UBAmarketplace by the Bank in Abuja, where over 120 SMEs from 20 African countries exhibited their products, attracting over 50,000 footfalls.

 

She said, “UBA, the Pan African financial institution, has branches in 20 African countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France and has always been involved in activities that aim to strengthen business connections and networks across key economies.

 

“Thus, we have decided to partner with LCCI to promote this year’s fair which is in its 33rd edition because the Lagos International Trade Fair has become a genuine avenue for both domestic and international trade through business to business meetings, product launches, enlightenment opportunities for government agencies’ programmes, and international trade partnership deals across borders” she explained.

 

She added that the partnership will also offer the bank the opportunities to showcase its array of products to its teeming and new customers, adding that the bank will set up stands at various points to serve its customers and attend to various concerns.

 

The Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf who praised the collaboration between both institutions, noted that it is a partnership that is expected to yield great benefits, owing to the fact that the LITF hosts an average of 2,000 exhibitors annually, with over 200 foreign exhibitors from 16 countries.

 

He also added that arrangements have been put in place to make this year’s fair even bigger and better than the previous editions, adding that already, existing and potential exhibitors have been responding positively to register and participate at the Fair.

 

“We at LCCI believe that this is part of the bold initiatives of the bank with a corporate culture founded upon strong organizational values and performance-driven operating standards”, Yusuf said.

 

Yusuf stressed that the Chamber would maintain the brand promise of the Fair, with the theme ‘Connecting businesses, Creating value’, adding that this will be sustained this year in all its marketing campaigns.

 

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CABINET TO BE INAUGURATED THIS WEEK – SANWO-OLU

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Lagos State Executive Council will be fully inaugurated on Tuesday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said.

The Governor said he would not delay the swearing-in of Commissioner- and Special Adviser-designates already cleared by the State House of Assembly. He spoke at the weekend while receiving a body of retired top civil servants under the aegis of the Association of Lagos State Retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries (ALARHOSPS).

Sanwo-Olu said that the wheel of governance would be in full gear before the end of the coming week, in fulfillment of his campaign promise to inaugurate his cabinet within 90 days. He added that new Permanent Secretaries would also be sworn in on Monday to complement the activities of Commissioners and Special Advisers.

He said: “Next week, by God’s grace, we are swearing in all other complements of cabinet and also Permanent Secretaries to have the engine of governance on full swing. At that point, we believe that all the campaign promises we made can come to reality and Lagosians can benefit more from the choice they made at the last election.”

The cabinet members are expected to be allocated their individual ministries during the inauguration ceremony, scheduled to start at 9am.

The Governor described the body of retired civil servants as “valuable assets” to the state, noting that their actions while in service contributed to the “enviable height” Lagos attained among states in the nation.

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YAM FESTIVAL: OONI CHARGES FARMERS, HERDERS TO EMBRACE PEACE TO ENHANCE PRODUCTIVITY

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The Arole Oodua & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II on Sunday played host to thousands of Ile Ife natives and guests from other parts of the country to celebrate the 2019 edition of the annual yam festival.

While addressing the multitude at his Ile Oodua Palace in the town, the Ooni who was flanked by his beautiful queen, Olori Naomi Silekunola Ogunwusi, Ife High-Chiefs, priests, farmers and traders across the land noted that peaceful coexistence is the secret to economic prosperity.

The foremost African traditional ruler who lamented that the country has suffered economically from the clashes between farmers and herders charged the two groups to embrace peace as a tool to enhance productivity.

“Both farmers and herders are two critical stakeholders in food production, I want to advise them to use peace to boost productivity.

“The government has been trying and has even promised to step up the fight against insecurity in the country. So I call on all stakeholders in food production especially the farmers to be patience with the government’s approach towards stabilizing peaceful coexistence across the country.” Ooni said.

On the motivation behind the recent economic boom across Ile Ife markets, Ooni described the ancient city as the one prominent for countless economic activities earlier before modern civilization.

“The abandoned Ile Ife market also known as Oja Ejigbom’ekun which is the first market in the world and others like the Itakogun and Ajifowobaje markets as well as Oja Tuntun have been revived to bring back the lost economic glories of Ile Ife.” The Ooni noted.

Afterwards, he offered prayers and sliced a tuber of yam which is a declaration that farm produce can now be consumed across the land, after which tubers of yam and other farm produce were shared among the excited participants.

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