Wednesday, 20 September 2017
News & Stories

News & Stories (1578)

The President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has reiterated his and the commitment of the Zambian people to developing strong bilateral ties and exploring areas of co-operation with Ghana, under the leadership of its President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to the mutual benefit of the two countries.

According to President Lungu, the margin of victory chalked by President Akufo-Addo in the 2016 election “was a true reflection of the confidence the people of Ghana have in your vision, and for that reason, we look forward to working closely with you during your tenure of office.”

The Zambian President noted further that “there are a lot of things you (Ghana) are doing in mining, agriculture, infrastructure development, amongst others, which can benefit Zambia, by being emulated. It is about common, good practices, Mr. President, and what you do better, we should not hesitate to emulate.”

President Edgar Lungu made this known on Tuesday, July 27, 2017, when he held bilateral talks with the Ghanaian President and his delegation, at the commencement of the 3-day official State Visit by President Akufo-Addo to Zambia.

With the two countries having signed an agreement for the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission on Co-operation (PJCC) to serve as the legal framework to address their trade and investment concerns, President Lungu bemoaned the non-implementation of this commission.

He, however, indicated that the PJCC will be given a new lease of life under his and the tenure of office of President Akufo-Addo, so as to ensure that “our Ministers will begin co-operating, and, henceforth, make the PJCC a living document.”

On the Ezulwini consensus, a position on international relations and reform of the United Nations agreed by the African Union in 2005, President Lungu was confident that the pioneering role played by President Akufo-Addo, then Foreign Minister of Ghana, in the fashioning of the document will be of invaluable to the cause of the AU.

“You were a pioneer, you were there. So as we go to the UN General Assembly in September, I am sure that Africa can count on you as an anchor,” he added.

President Lungu stressed that, “We want a prosperous Africa, which is integrated, united, peaceful and secured, and influential, not only in Africa but in the UN family.

“Regional integration is one aspect which will lead us to the Africa we want. Zambia is proud to be a member of SADC, and we are equally proud of the role that you (President Akufo-Addo) are playing in ECOWAS, in terms of peace keeping in the region, and trying to find common ground in improving co-operation and development of the African people we are privileged to look after.”

Strong relations between Zambia and Ghana

On his part, President Akufo-Addo thanked President Lungu for inviting him to visit Zambia, and thanked him for attending his inauguration on 7th January, regardless of the political upheavals that existed in Zambia at the time, as a result of a closely fought election.

With Ghana-Zambia relations spanning nearly six decades, President Akufo-Addo stated that “in our time we must continue to build on it”. The coming into full effect of the PJCC, he said, will be the means to strengthening the areas of co-operation in trade, agriculture, mining, investments, amongst others, between the two countries.

On the Ezulwuni consensus, President Akufo-Addo noted that “it is not right that we (Africa) continue to be marginalised on the Councils of the world. If, today, we make the decision to bring UN reforms back to the centre of the global agenda, I think it is an important thing to do. The G4 countries (Japan, Brazil, Germany and India) are ready to support the African position on UN reforms – the consensus that was fashioned in Ezulwini, some 12 years ago.”

To the Zambian President, President Akufo-Addo assured that his visit is to reciprocate the hand of friendship that you extended to Ghana, “and to be able to say that we are ready to go side-by-side with you in developing this new paradigm for our continent – democratic accountability, more rapid economic growth, focus on stimulating and empowering our various private sectors.”

This, in the view of President Akufo-Addo, “is the way forward for us to generate prosperity for our peoples in our time. That has to be the overriding concern – what we need to do to banish poverty on our continent. It continues to be an anomaly that we, who sit on the wealthiest resources, continue to be the poorest people in the world. That anomaly cannot continue.”

The co-operation and collaboration of African countries with each other, President Akufo-Addo, said is the way to overcoming Africa’s developmental hurdles and, thereby, bettering the lives of the African peoples.

Posted On Saturday, 01 July 2017 01:59 Written by
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s nominee for District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) Administrator, Madam Irene Naa, has proposed borrowing from financial institutions to pre- finance the activities of district assemblies. 

This, according to her, would help ameliorate the challenges some districts go through due to delays in the released of the funds.

The former Member of Parliament (MP) for Tema West Constituency, made this known on Tuesday when she appeared before the appointment committee for vetting.

The District Assemblies’ Common Fund is a pool of resources created under Article 252 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana. The pool is provided with at least 5% of the national revenue, set aside to be shared among all District Assemblies in Ghana with a formula approved by Parliament.

Madam Addo told the Committee that she would use a combination of lobbying and borrowing from banks to ensure that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) got what was due them for the development of their areas.

“I will be knocking on your doors; you have to help, if given the nod to make sure the money comes in and the right amount comes in. That is very important… If I’m given the nod, once we have the power to be able to invest some of the money to be able to accrue some interest, I’m looking at, with the permission of my minister, bringing certain proposals like this to Parliament to find out whether or not in certain circumstances, just to keep the timelines so that there is no disappointments so that they can plan and manage their areas…I’m thinking about innovative things like that, maybe being allowed at certain times to borrow money for them and pay when the fund comes in,” she said.

Madam Addo also informed the committee that the formula for the distribution of the Common Fund could be affected due to government’s one million dollar per constituency programme.

“It will not affect the formula but as time goes on, it could affect the formula. When you look at basic needs, the districts that have more schools and hospitals are given less, while those who have less are given more. So with the coming in of this money, if people build more schools, hospitals, among others, they get less of the DACF. But that is not to say that they should build more schools. It could affect it in the long-term”, she said.

When approved by Parliament, she will replace Kojo Fynn, the former administrator.

Posted On Thursday, 29 June 2017 01:05 Written by

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has charged stakeholders in the Cosmetics and Condiments distribution channel in the country, to ensure that only wholesome products were on sale.

This is as the agency donates over 100 pieces of chairs each to the five south-east state secretariats of NYSC.

The Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde Oni gave the charge during one day sensitization workshop in partnership with Christable Consultants for members of the Association, Cosmetics and Condiments dealers held in Onitsha, Anambra state.

Represented by the southeast Zonal Coordinator of NAFDAC, Pharm. Fori Tatama, Oni said members of the cosmetics and condiments dealers were crucial to the actualization of sanity with various NAFDAC sensitization programmes were made to achieve in the fight against fake and substandard products in the country.

The workshop tagged “Health and Hazard implication of fake and substandard products” she said it could not have come at a better time than now as regard the importance of condiments in our daily living especially as it concerned the human body.

The Acting DG stressed that most listed but unregistered products normally found their ways to the shops and markets in the country and called for a stop to such illegalities.

In his remark, Anambra Coordinator of NAFDAc, Dr. Christiana Esenwa warned the participants of the consequences of dealing on counterfeit products, saying that the agency has reviewed its law with a view to making the penalties stiffer to ensure that the business of fake and substandard products came to an end in the country.

He said in the new draft bill, NAFDAC proposed life sentence, confiscation of assets of offenders and use of the proceeds to compensate victims, stressing that the only way to avoid it is by trading on genuine products.

In her speech, the Managing Director of Christable Consultants, Mrs. Christable Okoye commended NAFDAC on its consistent fight against unwholesome products and urged the participants to join the fight, stressing that the job of combating counterfeit should be for all while she enjoined them to report fake to the agency.

The chairman of the Cosmetics and Condiments Dealers Association, Onitsha branch, Mr. Nonso Ihejiagwu pledged to partner NAFDAC to ensure that the agency’s regulations are strictly observed.      

Meanwhile, the agency has disclosed that the donation of chairs state secretariat of National Youth Service Corps is part of its corporate social responsibility to the NYSC due to its strategic grass root mobilization.

 

Posted On Thursday, 29 June 2017 00:50 Written by

NIGERIA: About six months away to the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled for November 18, 2017. Ogbonna Onyekachukwu examines the preparation and the political horse-trading ahead of the d-day. 

In spite of the fact that the commencement of campaigns by political parties as stipulated by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would begin on August 18, 2017, a clear one month after publishing of the notice of the election according to section 10(1) of Electoral Act 2010 which stipulates 90-day gap, politicians have been overtly and covertly campaigning to gain acceptance among the electorate.

In their frenzy to make their marks, four months before the collection of forms by political parties from INEC for issuance to their candidates, some political parties seem to have already chosen their candidates without primaries.

In the meantime, only six political parties are in the governorship race while others are still in there holes. The parties in contention are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the All Progressive Congress (APC), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) and the United Progressive Party (UPP).

As the National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie would put it; “the governorship election in Anambra State will be a direct encounter between two political parties of the same DNA.

“The impending defeat of APGA should be a surprise to any who is closely monitoring the progressive and revolutionary agenda of UPP which deeply rooted in Self Determination, Restructuring, Referendum, Fiscal Federalism, Devolution of Power etc. There is no other Political Party in Nigeria that parades such Social Contract. Like the great Zik would say, UPP will be magnanimous to APGA in victory while we expect the party to accept DEFEAT gallantly. After all it will be a family affair.”

But despite the fact that there are political heavy weights in Anambra state  in PDP as well as in APC, Chief Okorie declared that the two political parties are not in the race in Anambra State for all ‘intents and purposes’. 

The heightened schemes by various interest groups, including political parties and godfathers, are giving the impression that the election is a matter of days even as such calculations would continue through September 18, 2017, which is the final day for the submission of forms CF001 and CF002, for governors and deputy governorship candidates.

Going by the history of governorship elections and decisions as to who becomes the governor of Anambra State; it is usually taken to Abuja the seat of power, but with the new wind of change in the political landscape in the country, especially the continuing improvement in the electoral system, some political parties have begun to readjust to realities in a bid to make their platform competitive and compete favourably in the election.

The APC in its quest to wrestle power from APGA has assembled some political eggheads in the Southeast into a committee to deliver Anambra to the party on November 18. The Anambra State Gubernatorial Election Planning and Strategy Committee of the APC chaired by Senator Jim Nwobodo, the first civilian governor of old Anambra State, is charged with  monitoring the political environment and report to the party leadership, evaluate the aspirants in the party, raise funds and advise on zoning, a measure in ensuring the party’s victory at the polls.

Other members of the committee are the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, vice chairman, Senator Emma Agboti, secretary,  Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Senator Nkechi Wogu, Chief Madugba Cosmas and Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu.

Though there were reservations about the caliber of persons in the committee; mainly those who defected to APC as a way of testing their relevance to the party, some believe that the committee may recommend a candidate on the basis of the highest bidder.

Apart from APC’s scheme; the Chief Willie Obiano Support Group, led by Sir Jude Emecheta, has traversed every nook and cranny of the state selling the governor’s candidature.

Even as the PDP is not relenting in its bid to re-capture power, with former Governor Peter Obi the campaign machinery, PDP aspirants have been moving round the state to sell themselves to the people. The party lost power to APGA in 2006, but the crisis in the PDP has been a major blow to the aspirants and their followers. Indeed, the PDP is divided in Anambra State.

As a result, many PDP chieftains have either defected to the APC or the APGA, while Prince Ken Emeakayi, the chairman, is fighting hard to reposition it.

However as people are defecting to APC to contest Anambra governorship election on November; they should remember the event of 1979 mini-convention of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) at Igumu, National Arts Theater, where a motion was moved by Alhaji Dr. Umoru Dikko, that Chief Mko Abiola having not stayed in the NPN party for six (6) months cannot seek the presidential nomination under the NPN, and that the party ticket is not for sale.

“Let political defectors, and cross-carpeters know that you do not join a political party for contesting public office as a primary objective. This is the trouble with Nigerian ambitious politicians who do not want to build anything”, a political pundit said. 

Mr. Godwin Ezeemo is already a candidate of PPA without any primary; while Dr Stephen Obiorah Mbah is expected to emerge as the PRP candidate. The APC has eight aspirants. The PDP has four. APC aspirants are the National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu, Dr Obinna Uzor, Hon Tony Nwoye, Sir Paul Chukwuma, National Youth leader of the party. Others are Barth Nwibe, an engineer, Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo, Senator Andy Uba and Dr Chike Obidigbo.

In the (PDP), Chief Osita Chidoka has indicated interest; but it appears that he is yet to make up his mind on which political platform UPP or PDP to try his luck. Also in the race are Dr Alex Obiogbolu, Mr. Oseloka Obaze and Zeribe Ezeanuna. In APGA, the incumbent governor Chief Willie Obiano is expected to fly the flag, although other people like Elo Aforka is interested.

An activist, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo is expected to fly the flag of United Progressive Party (UPP) in the governorship election. Although there are persons like Chudi Ofordile who is also eying the flag of the party.

Profiles and chances of all the candidates in the election

Willie Obiano (APGA) 

He became the governor through the instrumentality of Obi, his predecessor, through zoning arrangement which played to his advantage in 2014. The Aguleri borne shortly he became governor turned his back on his political mentor.

Though, since he came to power he has not really faced any opposition as the power brokers have rallied round his government.

However, trouble started when Obi defected to the PDP because of their disagreement over the purported 75 billion naira bond the former governor said he left in the state purse when his tenure expired.

Obiano’s sins, according to the people, are many. Although he has some good works to his credit, some people want to have a pound of flesh during the election.

Some opposition politicians believe he runs a government of deceit. But, he is not cunning. He is a honest politician.

His strength lies in his support base. The people of Anambra North are behind him. He has been accused of concentrating his projects and appointments in the area.

The governor is shielded by a cabal. Although he is a good administrator, he is surrounded by hawks.

Observers are of the opinion that if he is a politician, he would have win, but despites elders of the state are with him; they don’t vote in an election. Many progressive in Anambra who are adherent believer of APGA, they are not happy with him and it may work against his ambition.

Tony Nwoye (APC)

He is a former Chairman of the PDP in Anambra State. He was the party’s governorship candidate in 2014. Nwoye is a member of the House of Representatives representing Anambra East and West Constituency.

He hails from Nsugbe, Anambra East. He is from the same local government with Obiano.

His experience in National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) is an added advantage. As a dogged fighter, he is also a great mobiliser, the former student union leader is determined.

The only obstacle to Nwoye’s is that he hails from the same council area with the incumbent governor Willie Obiano. The recent rumors that he participated in the burning down the Anambra government house when Sen. Chris Ngige was governor.

His major strength is his age and contacts across the state as the former chairman of PDP. His ambition is backed by Prince Arthur Eze, an oil magnet.

Stephen Obiorah Mbah (PRP).

He is has said that his main objective is the reconstruction of Anambra State. Dr Stephen Obiorah, an Awka born industrialist, he is a greenhorn in the politics of Anambra. He may not make any head way during the election.

Besides, the PRP has no footing in the state even as he had told his traducers that the party has given him a platform to pursue his ambition. He was briefly in the APGA, but found the party too tough and dumped it last year; his reason is that APGA does not give people chance to lead. He also alleged that the party does not believe in the ability of any other person, except those around the government.

Osita Chidoka (PDP)

His ambition is sorry because he is from Anambra central that produced Peter Obi and Ngige; if zoning is anything to go by, his chances slim.

The former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and former Minister of Aviation is confused on which political platform to contest as currently, he is romancing with the leadership of UPP even while in PDP.

His only strength is the position he held and his romance with members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

He hails from Obosi in Idemili North local government area and stands a chance of defeating other contestants at the primary if he vies in PDP because it is believe that the Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu is backing him.

Those who knew him in FRSC described him as a good man, but the world in road safety is deferent from the world of politics. But, the primary of the party will tell.

George Moghalu (APC)

Moghalu is the National Auditor of the APC. He hails from Nnewi North council area.

Having contested the governorship position on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), in 2003; he went into political oblivion after his gruesome defeat in the election. He was the only face of the ANPP in Anambra.

What nobody can take from Moghalu is his simplicity and maturity, which had endeared him to the people, despite his lack of a deep purse.

Some APC members are saying that he should be given the ticket for his loyalty and steadiness. He is somebody that can call you by your name any where he sees unlike those who see themselves as demigods. 

Oseloka Obaze (PDP)

Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Selonnes Consult Ltd; a management and strategic policy advisory entity. 

He is the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under the administration of Obi. Obaze is simple, intelligent and easy going. Despite his position, he was in the shadow of his younger brother, Dubem Obaze, who is the former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. He is seen as Obi’s favourite in (PDP), but his greatest undoing is his selective and discriminatory attitude.

The Ogbaru born politician relies on Obi and his younger brother Dubem for relevance and victory.

Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo (UPP)

He hails from Nnobi in Idemili south local government area. He contested election in Anambra state for governorship 27years ago. In 2003 when he contested the governorship election with Obi, his name and party was conspicuously removed from ballot paper. The Supreme Court described Okonkwo is an intelligent man after he addressed the full panel of the Apex-Court in the land for 45 minutes. He is a layman but he knows the law more than the lawyers, judging by his references to the law at each turn. No wonder he defeats Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SANs) in court up to Supreme Court.

Okonkwo is an anticorruption crusader, right and environmental conservative activist. He is mentor of other leaders. He knows the problem of Nigeria political system; he is an adherent caller for total restructuring of Nigeria. He knows the problem of Ndigbo is lack of visionary and purposeful leaders. He is the man to look for if he emerges candidate of his party. Though, he may not have the kind of money other candidates’ parades, but none of them can match his intellectual hue in debate. His party banks on the backing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other agitator.

Though, there are other aspirants in UPP; people like Obumneke E. O. and Chudi Ofordile but, Okonkwo are eloquent, more popular and accepted.

Godwin Ezeemo (PPA)

He wants to governor of Anambra state at all cost. In 2014 dumped the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) because of the disagreement he had with the party leader, Sen. Ngige, over governorship ticket.

Ezeemo who hails from Umuchu community joined the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) to pursue his ambition. He came fourth. Since then, he has not looked back in his bid to be governor. He has made PPA stronger in Anambra with his philanthropy.

The aspirant is perceived as a gentleman by all standards; he is ‘meek and humble of heart’. His major problem is that his party is a small party. It can hardly compete with the APC, the PDP, and the APGA in the state, but he has the wherewithal to prosecute his ambition. But, a major obstacle he is facing now is that he has another aspirant from the same Umuchu community in another party. He is loved by the people for his philanthropic guests. 

Barth Nwibe (APC)

Barth Nwibe is a strong contender in the APC. He has been in the political family from the days of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

He contested for House of Representatives under the (ACN) and lost. He is a close associate of Ngige. The Igboukwu-born politician is not only a party financier; he is also humble, intelligent and he is a good listener.

If the APC holds a free and fair primary, the Igboukwu-born politician may make a statement.

He is wealthy and his closeness with Sen. Ngige make people believe he is preferred candidate of APC. 

Elo Aforka (APGA)

Dr Elo Aforka may be a jester in the race. He cannot withstand the Obiano machinery. According to observers, it will be difficult for him to get the ticket at the primary where the governor is the strong contender.

He is one-time Special Assistant to Obiano on Political Matters. He is believed to be Chief Victor Umeh’s apogee. But, one thing is clear; he is in the race to spoil the fun for Obiano.

Andy Uba (APC)

The three-time senator from Anambra South was once elected governor of Anambra State in 2007 in error. He spent 17 days before the Supreme Court booted him out. The verdict was that Obi’s tenure had not expired.

Uba was in the PDP from where he defected to the APC. He said he left the PDP because of its protracted crises. He is a disciple of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Recently Uba has been battling to save his face from allegation certificate forgery.

The Uga born politician, he need to defeat the opposition in his family. His younger brother, Chief Chris Uba, regarded as the political godfather, is bitter that his brother deprived him of the opportunity to be a senator in 2015.

Across his constituency, he has not done enough in the Senate to warrant being a governor. Some have even agitated for his recall.

Uba may not get the APC ticket, having joined the party recently. 

He a wealthy man but his activities in office as governor of Anambra state is still fresh in the mind of many Anambran. Despite his closeness to Obasanjo, many said he would never be governor in Anambra state no matter his money.

John Bosco Onunkwo (APC)

 He is a rich politician. The young politician hails from Umuchu in Aguata local government area.

His father was Ngige’s teacher and that closeness with the family has made some people believe it is his turn.

Onunkwo’s philanthropy has endeared him to the people, especially the youths who believe that there is the need for a generational shift. He is a loyal party man, who has shown commitment from the days of the ACN. He has stronger contenders, including Moghalu and Nwibe, to contend with at the primary.

Paul Chukwuma (APC)

He hails from Umeri, a neigbouring community to Obiano’s village in the Anambra East Council Area.

Not much is known about the young man with tremendous wealth. He is the Southeast Youth leader of the APC.

Nobody knows where he draws his strength, but he is close to many APC big wigs.

Zeribe Ezeanuna (PDP)

 He is an unknown quantity. The only time his name was heard was some years back in a protest.

Zeribe Ezeanuna is not a serious contender.

Though from Aguata local government area, he is based in Onitsha. He does not possess that political clout like other contenders.

He is in the race for business. 

Alex Obiogbolu (PDP)

The people of Anambra believe that Dr Alex Obiogbolu will behave like Obi, if he becomes the governor.

He is a loyal party man who has been in the PDP swimming through thick and thin; unlike others who jump from pillar to post each time one appointment or the other elude them.

Obiogbolu is a former Chairman of Anambra State Local Government Civil Service Commission and also a former chairman of Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA).

He is an orator and a gentleman.

He comes from Onitsha North Local Government Area in Anambra North. The zone has been protesting its marginalization from the scheme of things. The aspirant is close to Obi and Senator Stella Oduah. He is the man to beat in PDP primary if there are free and fair contest.

DR OBINNA UZOR (APC)

Dr Obinna Uzor is a man of many parts. He is a successful business man from Ihiala local government area.

He is not a pretender as his outspokenness, cut him many enemies. He describes Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration who hails from the same area with him as mess that needs to be cleared in 2003.

Uzor contested that governorship election on the platform of National Democratic Party (NDP) and lost.

He is a philanthropist, who has touched many lives, but he does not have the clout of a governor and it will be difficult for the APC to give him the ticket, despite his closeness to Ngige.

One thing is clear about Uzor; he is a good man with a good heart. But, he is perceived as a serial defector.

Chike Obidigbo (APC)

Dr. Chike Obidigbo is an industrialist. He joined APGA in 2013 for the purpose of contesting 2014 governorship. He gave Obiano and Obi a run for their money during the 2014 contest.

The disagreement and controversy that trailed the selection process made him to drag the party to court up to Supreme Court where he lost. After the court judgment, he decided to team up with the APC.

Obidigbo is from Umunya in Oyi local government area. He is not seen as a grassroots man. But, he has a deep purse.

Posted On Thursday, 29 June 2017 00:39 Written by

When Josephine Kiiza first moved from Kampala to Masaka, in southern Uganda, to flee civil war raging in the 1980s, she had no money, land or food in her name.

"My in-laws gave us two piglets, which brought us manure to farm a plot of leased land, crops we could sell at the market, and ultimately enough money to buy our own piece of land," she told Reuters, keeping an eye on her constantly buzzing phone.

Today she owns a dozen acres of land, where she has trained hundreds of students and farmers — among others — on organic farming practices as a means of adapting to Uganda's increasingly erratic climate.

Although most farmers in Uganda own or rent a plot of land, however small, many lack the knowledge and skills to cope with increasingly extreme weather events like longer dry spells and erratic rainfall, agricultural experts in the area say.

"In times of extreme weather many carry on farming the same way they've always known, and see their yields decline as a result," explained Deziderius Irumba, a learning coordinator at charity Care International.

"If the rains don't come, for example, they just wait, and by the time the rains do come, many of their crops will have already failed due to pests," he said.

Efforts to change that are under way, however, by training farmers — but also entrepreneurs, students and journalists — on climate change and efforts to adapt to it, and encouraging them to share that knowledge among their networks.

Since 2015, the campaign has trained over 1,000 people in partnership with Uganda's Makerere University. The most promising have been elected "climate champions" by their peers, and are then responsible for training others.

The initiative, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is called Uganda Education and Research to Improve Climate Change Adaptation Activity.

FILE - Women water seedlings at a small farm outside Lira, Uganda, March 2009.
FILE - Women water seedlings at a small farm outside Lira, Uganda, March 2009.

"The idea is to show people that climate change affects every one of us, but also to explain how they can do something about it, so they hopefully become inspired to take action and become a go-to person in their area," said Sarah Fortunate, a climate adaptation specialist who coordinates the project.

Smart farming

Kiiza, who became a climate champion in 2015 and whose five children are also champions, showcases a range of farming practices at her farm. Those include building underground water tanks to harvest rainwater while limiting evaporation, and planting herbs in jerrycans tied to wood boards to maximize farming space.

"I try to make the most of the resources I have, whether it's building a drip irrigator out of a plastic bottle or putting dirt in a used tire to grow vegetables," she said, bending to examine a patch of spinach.

Geoffrey Mabirizi, another farmer and champion from a nearby village, teaches his neighbors to do intercropping — growing two or more crops together so they have a crop to fall back on if one harvest fails.

He said it doesn't matter whether those he trains are farmers or others who can help spread the news about new ideas.

"Journalists or traders, for example can be just as influential as farmers by spreading the climate and farming advice they've received to their readers or clients," he said.

Although training sessions are open to people of all ages, the project has set up week-long "boot camps" for university students to help them learn about climate change and brainstorm ideas on how to adapt to it.

Fortunate said students at a recent boot camp decided to design teaching materials on climate change and smart farming for primary school students.

She hopes to get those educational aids approved by the government "so they are everywhere."

Show, don't tell

Key to the trainings, said Mabirizi, is teaching practice rather than theory.

"In my first training I talked about carbon dioxide, about adaptation, and I completely lost them," he admitted.

"They would ask questions like 'How do you know this is carbon dioxide'? Even I started to get confused!" he laughed. "So I decided to go back to basics — that is, demonstrating smart farming practices to trainees rather than just telling them what to do."

Even then, less than half go on to implement the techniques based just on the training, he said. "So if you can, the best thing is to go to their farm or home and show them what to do."

Efforts to work with farmers need to start with women, who are more financially vulnerable than men, Kiiza said.

"Many women I met throughout the country, especially widows whose husbands had died of AIDS, could only afford to eat one meal per day and were severely malnourished," she said.

But women can be excellent messengers for the new ideas, she said.

"When you talk to a woman, you effectively get access to her whole family, as women know everything that's going on," she said. "So if you're trying to reach farmers, women can be a powerful communication tool."

Scaling up

Although many champions stay in touch with each other after meeting at in-person trainings, there is no formal platform yet for them all to do so, Fortunate said.

"So we'd like to set up an online forum or a WhatsApp group where they can share experiences," she said.

Some champions are already doing this themselves. Mabirizi said he has "over 20 WhatsApp groups with farmers and trainees, where I try to take a few minutes every evening to answer questions."

The next step for the project, said Fortunate, is to help 40 university students secure three-month internships with farmers who are also climate champions in their area.

"That will grow our pool of trainers, but also make the students more employable," she said.

Posted On Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:38 Written by

Tanzania has threatened to arrest and expel activists, as well as de-register all non-governmental organizations that campaign for gay rights.

Homosexuality is a criminal offense in the East African nation, where the law states that suspects convicted of having "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" could face up to 30 years in jail.

At a rally late on Sunday, Tanzania's Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said both domestic and foreign campaigners for gay rights would now face punitive measures in the country.

"Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things," Nchemba said in the capital Dodoma. "If we establish that any organization registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights ... I will deregister that organization. If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court ... and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country."

The planned crackdown comes amid repeated warnings against "immoral behaviors" by President John Magufuli, who is nicknamed "the Bulldozer" for pushing through his policies.

Last week, he rejected calls to lift the decades-long ban on pregnant students from attending state schools, drawing criticism from rights groups.

Nchemba said Magufuli's decisions were final and non-negotiable.

Since his ascent to power in 2015, Magufuli has been praised by some Western donors for his bid to stamp out corruption and cut wasteful government spending.

Opponents, however, accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian by curbing political activity and cracking down on dissent.

Posted On Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:34 Written by

Fifty-two migrants have been found dead in the deserts of central Niger, near Séguédine.

A group of 75 set out in three vehicles but were abandoned by traffickers, who feared the security forces.

A local official told the BBC that dozens of bodies had been buried, and 23 survivors were taken to the town, although one later died.

African migrants travel through the desert aiming to reach Libya and cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

However, the journey is perilous as the migrants are crammed into pick-up trucks and have few supplies.

Two weeks ago Niger troops rescued 92 migrants who were on the brink of death in the Sahara Desert.

The group, which included women and children, was abandoned without water and food.

Posted On Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:21 Written by

•Agencies compile list of stolen arms, ammunition
•Suspect arrested by NSCDC, handed over to JTF


Security agencies in Bayelsa State are probing the identity of Suoyo mentioned by the notorious billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeje Onwuamadike, aka Evans, as one of his gang members in the state.

Evans, in one of his numerous confessional statements, named Suoyo as one of the active members of his gang, who had the assignment of buying arms and ammunition, for their operations.

He said: “When Suoyo, who lives in Bayels State, called me and expressed fears, I also assured him that nothing was going to happen. I told him I was making plans for another operation and needed him to go into the creeks and buy a new set of arms and ammunition”.

But security commanders in Bayelsa were said to have met over the weekend to analyse Evan’s confessional statement to unmask the real identity of Suoyo.

In the meeting which held in Government House in the presence of Governor Seriake Dickson, the security commanders were said to be certain that that the Suoyo mentioned by Evans was the same person recently arrested by the operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state.

Suoyo Dickson was arrested and paraded on Thursday by the state Commandant of NSCDC, Mr. Desmond Agu, in connection with the recent attack on a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

Suoyo, popularly known as Hustler, reportedly led a gang of vandals that attacked the Agip pipeline at Lagosgbene, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state on May 30, 2017.

He was, however, arrested on June 16, 2017 at Agbigiba community in Southern Ijaw.

Suoyo, in his confessional statement, also admitted having some criminal camps in the creeks saying he led an oil and gas task force operating in Southern Ijaw to destroy the camps but became frustrated when the task force failed to reward him.

On how he attacked the pipeline, he said;: ”I used two handsaw blades and handsaw to open up the point, I cut the handle in the valve, I fetched 20 litres of petrol, I lit spark lighter and threw it into the pipe and burnt it.”

”I burnt the pipeline because the task force did not keep to their promise of employing us after making us to show them our bunkering camps and the subsequent destruction by the military.

”We showed them our camps, eight of them. All the camps did not belong to me. Three were mine while other groups have five. After showing them, the task force engaged the military to destroy our camps.

”The other groups, whose camps were destroyed were not happy with me. They said I betrayed them and they started planning to kill me and my family members. The situation put me under pressure more so the employment they promised all of us after seven days did not materialise”.

It was gathered that Agu, after parading the suspect, handed him over to the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe (ODS) for further investigations.

A security source, who spoke in confidence, said at the meeting of the security commanders in Yenagoa, which was attended by the heads of ODS, the police and NSCDC, it was agreed that Suoyo should be subjected to further investigations.

Following Evans’ confession, the security heads were said to be linking him to the theft of service rifles of security operatives especially policemen in the state.

They recalled many attacks on operatives by criminals, who only fled with arms and ammunition handled by their victims.

“The security heads also agreed to compile a list of such stolen arms and ammunition in the state and send it to the Force Headquarters to know whether they were among the ones recovered from Evans.

“The Suoyo mentioned by Evans seems in all ramifications to be the same suspected arrested by the NSCDC recently in connection with attack on a pipeline. The security heads in the state believe so and they will surely carry out further investigations to determine his linkage with the Evans’ gang.”

Posted On Monday, 26 June 2017 23:38 Written by

All Kenyan schoolgirls are to get free sanitary pads, the government has said. It is hoped the move will improve access to education in a country where many cannot afford sanitary products like pads and tampons.

According to the UN's education agency, one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their period.

Some girls reportedly lose 20 per cent of their education for this reason, making them more likely to drop out of school altogether.

The amendment to the education act, signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week, states free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels must be provided to every girl registered at school, as well as providing a safe and environmental sound mechanism for disposal.

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 16:39 Written by

President Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda will proceed with the planned phase-out of importation of second-hand clothes despite the threats that it could lead to a review of eligibility to access duty-free access to the American market.

President Kagame made the remarks yesterday while addressing a news conference moments after submitting his nomination papers to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania’s eligibility to trade with the US is under review, following the region’s move to phase out the importation of used clothes.

The review could see Rwanda and her neighbours lose duty-free access to the American market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Kagame, however, said the situation leads Rwanda to make a choice between continued importation of used clothes and developing the local textile industry.

He said that despite the consequences of being locked out of AGOA, Rwanda is keen on developing its local textile industry.

“Rwanda and other countries in the region that are part of AGOA, have to do other things, we have to grow and establish our industries,” Kagame said.

“We are put in a situation where we have to choose; you choose to be a recipient of used clothes with a threat hanging or choose to grow our textile industries, which Rwandans deserve at the expense of being part of AGOA.

“This is the choice we find that we have to make. As far as I am concerned, making the choice is simple, we might suffer consequences. Even when confronted with difficult choices, there is always a way,” he added.

The President noted that this is not the first time that Rwanda has had to make tough decisions in the interest of citizens.

EAC member countries have moved to phase out the importation of used clothes and shoes across the East African region as part of an industrialisation plan to give rise to the growth of the local textile industry.

As part of the move, Rwanda last year increased taxes on used clothes from $0.2 to $2.5 per kilogramme, while taxes on used shoes will increase from $0.2 to $3 per kilogramme.

Budget focus

In the 2017/18 Budget Estimates, the Government also eased taxes on inputs under the Made-in-Rwanda initiative, which is expected to facilitate the growth of the local textile industry.

President Kagame is one of the African heads of state advocating for improved engagement terms between African countries and Western countries for mutual benefit.

Kagame has said several times that it’s time to consider Africa as an equal partner in development as opposed to a beneficiary requiring donations and aid.

As part of the move to make the continent less dependent on external financing, Kagame was last year asked to spearhead the African Union reforms.

He said he will continue playing the role as requested by the African heads of state to support the reforms process.

Kagame is scheduled to present a progress update at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, next month.

The President said that the intention by African leaders to change status quo was a huge step.

“The fact that the leaders of Africa have found it necessary to do things different is a very big step,” he said.

Going forward, he said the move by the continent will reduce the impact of external factors on the continent’s socio- economic progress.

Courtesy: The New Times - www.newtimes.co.rw

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 16:33 Written by
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