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Leah Sharibu: The Prisoner of Conscience

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Anikulapo Macmillan

 

Her story has been like the story of Daniel in the den of terror. In the face of captivity her captors kept her just because she refused to call another faith. She is the mercurial of her own conscience. One of the first in the history that never denies her religion and She is Leah; but powerful than her co-mate in the scripture.

Leah Sharibu is our daughter. One of the girls that have brought our country to her kneels. Not just a martyr of faith but a girl whose spirit has driven us all to her struggle since she was abducted in Dapchi. And that abduction was historic.

It is seemingly a thought of a cohesive expression to the government. I see her than the way Nigerians see her. She is the girl that has made us to understand that religion is fate and faith is faith— in time of obstacle. Someone who doesn’t compromise her principle rather beseech in the spirit of prayer. That voice of Leah begins to come to us than it echoes to her captors. Meanwhile, she is supposed to be in school.

While some of her colleagues are intensely studying for the school certificate exam but she is here dying to be rescued. And Prof. Wole Soyinka has compared her to the late apartheid fighter, Nelson Mandela. In Soyinka’s poem titled: ‘’ Mandela’s Earth’’ the poem has a conjectural meaning that Mandela reverted to those who jailed him. ‘’ NO! He said’’

These particular words came out to Leah Sharibu as well. When she said— No! And perhaps in Wole Soyinka’s poem: ‘’ I am the rock, this Island. I toiled’’ this is what our own Leah stands for. However, the poem says: ‘’ in and out of time wrap, I am that rock/ in the black hole of the sky’’ truly, Sharibu has become the rock of human.

She has made us to understand that her release is important to us. That her struggle is to end bigotry and fanaticism in our country and perhaps to let everybody has the right to believe in faith. To have been in captivity for this time is terribly bad for a sixteen years old girl in her own country.

Recently, she celebrated her sixteen years birthday. In the den of terror, just because she is not ready to deny her own faith— meanwhile, if Jesus were to be alive he would have seen that Leah Sharibu loves him than her own life. And this means a lot for sacrifice. To a girl who has hope for her beloved country.

Probably, had it been her mother knew that such would happen, she would have been like the character in Toni Morrison’s novel: ‘’ Beloved’’ where the mother kills her own daughter because she doesn’t want her to face racism. Is this not a religion manhunt? — For Leah’s mother to cry helplessly for her beloved daughter to be released.

And I believed that the day she was abducted in her school with her other abductors, she would have recited the national anthem and pledge. That she was serving Nigeria with all her strength and now; is Nigeria serving her back? Or has the government forgotten that Leah is a citizen?

This means her life matters to every single Nigeria. And it is the duty of President Buhari to let her come back to her parent. Still, her life is not enmeshed, with wrong faith rather she has been the quintessential girl that knows how to identify her own right. Her life means a lot to all of us. Not that she is just a mere girl child, she is our daughter.

Therefore, it is the ability of the government to provide for her needs in captivity. To rescue her is even the major concern of all Nigerians. What is the point to the military if she can’t be rescued? Is it that our military are scared to fight the insurgency? All I know is that if Leah Sharibu is not being rescued that means her parent will lose hope in Buhari’s Administration.

However, she is the prisoner of conscience. She is the prisoner that has not failed to know her God.  She has indeed believed in her faith like one of the character in James Joyce’s short story, Dubliners. And, still her colleagues were released but she was held back because she refused to deny her faith. This is a simple meaning of a cultured girl. And she strongly believes in the article of faith.

Leah is an affable girl that knows that her right is to be freed from the thraldom of dooms. In a society of ours, because what she has done do not deserve this kind of maltreatment she is receiving. If truly, we have a government that understands the people— the Leah Sharibu of our time won’t spend these hours and days in captivity.

To make the system function, let us all know that, what happens to Leah Sharibu, could affect anybody. And prior to her abduction, we knew the Chibok girls’ story. Yet, the government has not found measure to liaise with the insurgent. And what I expect the government should have done is to take the military serious than ever. And the military needs to deploy tactics and strategy because this is like a fratricide.

For every life, it matters to us that, we should never forget to know that Leah Sharibu is still a piquant subject that can never be forgotten. Thus, her abduction is cumbersome. Perhaps, I expect the government to know that Nigerians want Leah Sharibu alive.

Her parent has cried for too long; to the extent that, they talked like the English poet, Andrew Marvel, in his poem: To His Coy Mistress, which says: ‘’Had we but world enough and time/ this coyness, lady, were no crime.’’ With truism, she has no crime. But, if Buhari forgets to do the needful, Leah Sharibu’s spirit won’t make Nigeria rest just because she is innocent.

Let us know that a sixteen years old girl has decided to hold on to her faith; and this makes her to be the prisoner of conscience. Even with a conscience heart, we pray for release.

@Babatunde_Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COLUMNISTS

Mindshift Advocacy Unveils Powerful Initiative to Create a New Nigeria

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In its determination and resolve to foster a new mindset among Nigerians, the Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative has unveiled a new blue print to get Nigerians to think differently, believe differently and to act differently, so as to generate a mindset geared towards development. The event which was attended by dignitaries and the media held Thursday, October 17, 2019, at the prestigious Benue Hall of the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

In his address Mr. Joko Okupe, the Founder and Board of Trustee member of the Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative said that “the bane of Nigeria and by extension Africa’s problems is the mindset of Africans as individuals, communities and nations, about themselves and the mindset of the rest of the world about Africa. The wrong mindset of Nigerians and Africans in general which influences the way we do things, has created problems such as lack of visionary and purposeful leadership, bad governance standards, erosion and loss of good value systems, corruption, poor understanding of global issues and how it impacts their lives; unprecedented never-ending poverty, heavy debt burdens, over dependence on international aids, endless conflicts, inadequate education etc.” According to him, the Initiative was incorporated on November 28, 2016 as a non-partisan, non-governmental organization aimed at re-directing citizens’ mindsets from negative mindsets in private lives, societies and nations to positive mindsets that foster meaningful holistic personal, social and national development. The initiative also seeks to activate a radical and positive change in the mindset of the Nigerian youth – and by extension, African youth.

According to Mr. Okupe, the Mindshift Advocacy is actually focused on shifting mindsets from negative to positive. The movement is focused on redirecting the mindset of Nigerians from negative, unproductive and unprogressive mindsets to positive, productive and progressive mindsets. A destructive person has a destructive mindset and a destructive thinking pattern. There is so much capacity in the power of the mind that the way and manner that the mind is directed, determines the outcome of a man’s action. When you look at the great nations of the world, you will discover that their people have mindsets of greatness. The average Nigerian’s mindset is anti-progress and anti-development. How can we have progress and development when majority of our citizens have the wrong mindset? We cannot achieve any meaningful transformation without a re-orientation of the citizens’ mindsets.  Even when Government decides to run a campaign on changing attitudes, the success will depend on whether the mindsets of the citizens have changed or not. We cannot but pay attention to how people think. We must have that clear understanding. That essentially is the crux of the Mindshift Advocacy.

 

He stressed that every effort geared at re-orientating the citizens with a view to making them develop positive and progressive mindsets as individuals, society and at national levels, would put us on the road to meaningful and effective transformation of the continent for sustainable growth and development. This is why: “The changes we wish to make have more to do with how we think than what we actually do, because thinking patterns ultimately influence actions. We need to get our citizens to embrace positive mindsets that can impact thought and action for our progress and development. We must also lead by example by thinking and acting differently.”

He cited Mr. Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, who once said that Africa’s transformational change will first happen at the level of mindsets before it is translated into concrete actions. Okupe firmly believes that Africa’s journey of transformation starts with changing how people think. “It is vital for citizens of all ages and social classes to have the right mindset because they are the ones who would be actively involved in the day-to-day actions that bring about sustainable transformation.”

In order to achieve these, the initiative has in place well-articulated key focus areas toward its agenda. These areas are: family and society, government and politics, education, business and economy, media, arts and entertainment, innovation and technology, religion, culture, and health and wellness. Additionally, it will approach this systematically through social research, targeted issues campaigns, action-oriented initiatives, knowledge sharing, events, and public discourse platforms.

Fielding questions to reporters at the launch event on what methods Mindshift Advocacy will deploy to achieve its goal, Joko responded, “It is all a matter of approach and method. Our initiatives would be determined by research and insight. There is a reason or rationale behind every mindset. How much have we researched into why we behave the way we do?  Why do we think the way we do? We will make efforts to dig into the foundation to understand the issues and gain necessary insights before we develop initiatives.  A man whose mind is conditioned to darkness tends to acclimatise to the situation and live in it. People’s eyes can only be opened through enlightenment which will serve as an illumination to the thick, engulfing darkness and ignorance around us. Adequate exposure to realities will compel them to see and think differently. If we continue at the current pace, we are definitely on a suicide mission as a nation, though we may be fully aware of this”.

Earlier in her welcome address Mrs. Debo Onabowale, a core member of the Mindshift Advocacy for development Initiative said that “Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative is set to do a new thing in Nigeria by approaching the Nigerian problem from a different perspective. We believe that Nigerians, both leaders and followers, rich and poor, young and old need a different orientation to be able to chart a new direction and behaviour to propel peace and development.”

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COLUMNISTS

FIRSTBANK HOSTS FINTECH SUMMIT 3.0

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited hosted the third edition of its annual Fintech summit themed “Banking + Tech = Solving Real Problems”. The event held on Wednesday, 16 October 2019 in Lagos with a conference and panel sessions comprising tech experts, start- ups, regulators and other stakeholders to deliberate pressing issues, trends and upgrades in the application of technology in the financial services industry. Victor Asemota, Founder, Swifta Systems & Services was the Keynote Speaker at the event.

 

With the evolution that has taken place in the financial services industry in recent times, especially through the advent of technological inclusion in business operations across all industries, this year’s event focused on how technology can aid the solving of large scale societal problems within the context of financial services in Nigeria. The event cuts across multiple panel sessions to deliberate issues and prospects in the business management across the financial technology ecosystem with a view to having participants exposed to the trajectory of current and future opportunities in the Fintech ecosystem.

 

According to Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “Our Fintech Summit 3.0 was convened to set the tone for discussions that promote disruptions in the digital space, especially in the financial industry, as we recognise the opportunities for inclusive growth and influence of FINTECH not just in banking but also business operations across all industries. The 2019 edition of our FINTECH summit would build-up from the successes achieved in the last two editions.”

 

He added, “FirstBank, in the last few years, has used technology to deliver solutions to promote financial inclusion. With over 33,000 Firstmonie Agents in 36 states doing over N2 trillion worth of transactions, we are reducing poverty with our Agency Banking footprint. Our Firstmobile application has become the foremost mobile banking application in the country with over 3 million users doing over 14 million transactions monthly. It is one of the major gateways for Financial Inclusion where everyone can download the app and open an account at their own convenience! This was not the case a few years ago. Our USSD channel, *894#, is also solving Financial Exclusion problems for those who do not have easy access to internet data. With over 8 million users today, transactions worth over N4 trillion have been consummated using this channel.’’

 

The panel sessions comprised experts with over two hundred combined years of experience in the Financial and Technological Industry space to deliberate on topical issues in today’s technologically driven business world. Topical issues to be discussed are: Solving Business Problems; Solving Regulatory, Security & Legal Problems and Solving Lifestyle Problems.

 

Amongst the FirstBank team of speakers and moderators are Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications; Olayinka Shittu, Chief Transformation Officer,

Oluwatoyin Aina, Group Head, Energy Downstream & Int. Oil Trading; and Taiwo Shonekan, Head, Customer Experience & Value Management.

www.securenigeria365.com

Callistus Obetta, Group Executive, Technology & Services, FirstBank; Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, FirstBank; Victor Asemota, Founder, Swifta Systems & Services and Keynote Speaker at the event (FirstBank FinTech Summit 3.0); Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank and Abdullahi Ibrahim, Executive Director, Public Sector FirstBank at the FirstBank FinTech Summit 3.0 held in Lagos

Debo Odunlana, CEO, Doctoora Health; Damilola Emuze, COO/Co-Founder, Scholarx; Edward Popoola, CTO/Co-Founder, Cowrywise and Chinedu Azodoh, Chief Technology Officer, Max.Ng are the panelists in the Solving Lifestyle Problems session.

 

The Solving Business Problems panel session include Victor Asemota, Founder, Swifta Systems & Services; Lola Ekugo, Head, Digital Innovation Lab, FirstBank; Akindele Phillips, CFO/Co-Founder, Farmcrowdy; Deepankar Rustagi, CEO/Founder, Vconnect & Omnibiz and Dayo Ademola, Head of Innovation, EFInA.

 

The panelists in the Solving Regulatory, Security & Legal Problems are the Sam Okojere, Director, Payment System Management Dept, CBN; Tosin Faniro-Dada, Head, Startups (Lagos Innovates), LSETF; Odunoluwa Longe, Co-Founder, DIY-Law & The Longe Practice; Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO, Venture Garden Group and Harrison Nnaji, Chief Information Security Officer, FirstBank.

 

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COLUMNISTS

FIRSTBANK PARTNERS NESG, HOST 25TH NIGERIAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT

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As part of its continued commitment to create an enabling environment and opportunities for the promotion of sustainable growth and development of the Nigerian economy, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) to host the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#25), its annual flagship event. The Silver Jubilee edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit is themed “Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears” and scheduled to hold on 7 – 8 October 2019 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, would speak on “Gender Empowerment” at the plenary.

 

The Nigerian Economic Summit is the foremost credible platform for public-private dialogue which enables policy makers and influencers to deliberate on issues, proffer policy options with a view to a better understanding of our national economic policy direction and growth strategies. National leaders and policy influencers billed to attend the event include His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Hon. Minister for Finance, Budget & National Planning, Nigeria.

 

Other dignitaries are Senator Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan PhD, CON, President of the Senate; Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. The Chief Host of the event is Mr Asue Ighodalo, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

 

Panelists at the event include Alhaji Aliko Dangote President/CEO Dangote Group; Mr Godwin Emefiele Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Bishop Matthew Kukah, Founder, The Kukah Centre; His Excellency Dr Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum; HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II, The Emir of Kano; Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Hon. Mrs Hannatu Mohammed, Board Member, ICPC; Mr. Chidi Ajaere, CEO, GIG Group; Mrs Juliet Anammah, CEO, Jumia Nigeria and Mr Mauricio Alarcon, MD/CEO, Nestle Nigeria Plc .

 

The event is billed to comprise plenary sessions, exhibitions, design workshops, dinner and the anniversary lecture as well as the presentation of awards and prizes to winners of the NES #25 essay competition and start-up pitching event.

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