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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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NEWS

OONI LAUDS AREGBESOLA @ 63, CALLS HIM AN EPITOME OF LOYALTY

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Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has described the Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as a great icon of public service and epitome of loyalty that must always found worthy of celebrations.

Ooni Ogunwusi who doubles as the permanent chairman of Osun state council of Obas and Co-chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria(NCTRN) spoke in a press statement released by his Director of Media & Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare congratulating Ogbeni Aregbesola on his 63rd birthday.

“Congratulations from The Arole Oodua Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi to the Minister of Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Ogbeni Adesoji Rauf Aregbesola on his 63rd Birthday Anniversary.

The statement reads; “Ogbeni Aregbesola as a comrade, you started with student’s right activism over four decades ago. As a proponent of democratic rule, you in the 90s participated in the several pro-June 12 struggles which led to the enthronement of civil rule in 1999.

“You have since 1999 lived for the people through your sterling public service performances, first as Commissioner For Works and Infrastructure in Lagos state from 1999 to 2006, followed by your emergence as Governor of the state Osun from 2010 to 2018 and your current position as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Interior through which you oversee very sensitive sections of Nigeria’s internal security like Immigration, Civil Defense, Fire service, Correctional service among other responsibilities.

“RAUF, you are indeed a great descendant of Oduduwa and a Nigerian patriot with incorruptible Pan Africanism for which you are always worthy to be celebrated. You are an Omoluwabi per excellence, a down-to-earth grassroot politician with incredibly huge followership, a great promoter of our cultural values and heritage, an icon of people oriented public service and an epitome of loyalty.”

Ooni, the foremost African monarch and Yoruba’s Natural leader prayed for good heath and longevity for Aregbesola who is the immediate past of the state of Osun.

“My dear Ogbeni, may the Almighty Olodumare keep upholding your entire household as you gloriously clock 63 today.

“We also pray the rest of your journey on this earth shall be characterized by sound health, meaningful long life and immeasurable prosperity.

Igba odun odun kan

Afon a gbo ko to wo

Happy 63rd Birthday!!!” Ooni prayed.

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EID-EL FITRI: OONI CONGRATULATES MUSLIMS, SAYS THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON TO CELEBRATE

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The Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II has congratulated Muslims in Nigeria and across the world especially those of Yoruba origin as the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end with the annual Eid-el Fitri celebration.

In a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare, the Ooni who is the Co-Chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers explained that there are reasons to celebrate and thank the Almighty Allah for His goodness and mercies in every situations.

“Celebration here is not the conventional merriment of social gathering as we all know that there is an order against that especially in this situation we are all face with globally. The Ooni says we should celebrate in our various homes with our families by remembering Allah and why we should not give up in our hope of a better tomorrow.

“God in His infinite mercy shall accept our fasting and prayers including those we said against the rampaging coronavirus and other enemies of humanity. We’ve been through a lot together and we can’t but be grateful to God for keeping us.

“Although it is regrettable to realize that we cannot gather like before especially for the annual congregational prayers but we must make the best out of what we have while we hope and pray to be part of the brighter future.” The Ooni said.

In the same vein, the Natural leader of the Oduduwa race worldwide urged Nigerians to keep supporting the government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic by observing the laid down precautionary measures including maintenance of social distancing, personal hygiene, regular hand washing and others.

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African Guarantee Fund Announces Response to Economic Impact of COVID-19

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African Guarantee Fund  for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF), has today announced its COVID-19 response aimed at reducing the uncertainties facing financial institutions in Africa as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. AGF’s COVID-19 response is built on the imperative need for commercial solutions over and above the regulatory efforts already provided by the various central banks and governments in the continent.

African Guarantee Fund’s response sets the platform for economic stabilization, followed by an economic revival through AGF’s newly developed COVID-19 Guarantee Facility that will, firstly, provide more comfort to financial institutions to restructure facilities that become non-performing because of COVID-19 and, secondly, provide commercial stimulus to the financial sector with the aim of mitigating the deterioration of SMEs’ perceived risk.

Commenting on the announcement, AGF CEO, Mr. Felix Bikpo said, “The consequences of COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have escalating negative effects on SMEs in Africa both on the supply and demand sides. Consequently, we must assume that there follows a deterioration of these SMEs’ creditworthiness. This is likely to increase the cost of credit for the financial sector which will surely increase their reluctance to finance the SME sector if there is no external stimulus. It is because of this that we must develop a commercial response in addition to the regulatory responses given by the different central banks and governments in the continent. Therefore, in line with our mandate we have launched the COVID-19 Guarantee Facility.”

AGF will also continue to use its technical assistance support to increase the capacity of financial institutions in their risk assessment of SMEs during the crisis period. This will allow analyzing the impact of the pandemic on the financial institutions, so as to forge the best possible responses to adapt effectively.

The African Guarantee Fund recently received a third time AA- Rating by Fitch, which was first assigned in November 2017, a first for a guarantee fund in Africa.

“This exceptional rating is a sign of confidence and trust in AGF’s operational excellence, particularly now that financial institutions are in need of cushioning to continue lending to SMEs, who hold the key to the economic recovery of their respective countries,” concluded AGF CEO, Mr. Felix Bikpo.

Since inception, AGF has boosted SME lending in Africa by issuing guarantees to financial institutions thereby unlocking loans worth USD 2.5 Billion.

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