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How Southeast Can Overcome Insecurity, By Governors, Leaders

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For peace, political and economic renaissance to happen in the Southeast, southeasterners must learn that there is power in unity, say governors and leaders of the zone.

They said that by working as a team, the insecurity, agitation and infrastructure deficit in Igboland would be overcome and development accelerated.

The governors — Charles Soludo (Anambra), Hope Uzodimma(Imo), Alex Otti (Abia), Peter Mbah (Enugu) and Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi) — spoke yesterday at the Southeast Economic and Security Summit in Owerri, Imo State.

Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo Iweala; Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, were some of the other Igbo leaders who spoke at the event.

The theme of the summit, organised by the Southeast governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is: Southeast Beyond 2023, Time for a Reset.

All speakers were on the same page that individualism and divisiveness in the Southeast had impeded the development of Igboland.

Just as they listed the obstacles to positive changes in the zone, they were in unison that the solutions rested on the people.

Host governor, Uzodimma, said that Ndigbo could not afford to drift further. He called on all to be united to achieve a common goal.

His words: “We have allowed ourselves to be strangulated. We have willfully allowed ourselves to be divided. And the scripture says that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

“Some of our brothers even refused to be referred to as Igbo. That is how sorry and sad our story is.

“That is why the Igbo have become distant from the politics of the Igbo. So, what do we do? Do we allow ourselves to continue to drift? To end this, we have to tell ourselves some bitter truth.

“Unfortunately or fortunately, the challenge of insecurity is bringing us together. We are now surrounded by dangerous criminals who want to decimate us and take over Igboland. We are facing the worst form of insecurity where we are divided.”

Uzodimma’s counterpart in Anambra State, Soludo, challenged the Igbo to first believe that they have the capacity to turn things around in the Southeast even in the face of insecurity and other challenges.

Soludo said it was imperative for the Igbo to know that the Southeast is far from being the most insecure place in the world.

His words: ‘’It is very good to lament but I would rather like to see a glass as half full than half empty. The Southeast is ready for business and we must believe in our ability to turn things around and get our zone going again.

“That must be the outcome of this particular summit. We can lament about insecurity and so on; this is not the most insecure place in the world. Other places are thriving despite their own insecurity.

”We must be determined to move our place forward despite the challenges.”

He urged Southeast indigenes not to wait for all the problems to be solved by the governors before investing in the zone.

”If we, as Igbo, don’t stop seeing only gloom and doom, our land will be desolate,” he warned.

The governor advised that there was an urgent need for the Southeast to partner the rest of the country, people in the diaspora and the international community.

He said: “We need not just ourselves, we need Nigeria. Ndigbo need Nigeria and Nigeria needs Ndigbo. Ndigbo need Africa and the world and the World and Africa need Ndigbo. As an itinerant people, we cannot be an intolerant people.

“This is a new dawn in the Southeast region. We need a plan. We all have ideas. We just don’t need a two-year or one year, we need a 100-year plan. We need an agenda of homeland consciousness.

Governor Otti of Abia State said as governors, “we must be willing to engage our youths by running an open-door policy. The life and freedom of every individual must be protected and guaranteed. Leaders should work towards cutting off the supply of hard drug damaging youths in Igboland.”

Also, Nwifuru noted that the summit came at the right time because the region needs peace to develop.

Nwifuru, who was represented by his deputy, Patricia Obila, suggested that insecurity and other vices in the Southeast could be minimised if parents monitored their children.

”This security summit came at the right time. We have to sit together as one family. We have come of age. We need to talk to one another. Look at each other.

“We need peace. As a mother, what have you been able to do, have you talked to your children? Do you know where your children are? The vices we see started from homes. All we need is to believe in ourselves. “We have to come together and harness what we have,” the governor said.

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His Enugu State counterpart, Mbah, called for a non-lenticular approach to ending insecurity in the zone.

“We have a commonality of everything. What we should be talking about now is how to meet regularly with security agencies on insecurity in our area. I think what we should do is set up a command and control centre.

“We should look at the non-kinetic approach to dealing with this insecurity because some of our youths are being deceived.

We have to meet our community leaders and find a solution to the insecurity in our land.”

Why Southeast is divided, says Okonjo-Iweala

WTO chief, Okonjo-Iweala, blamed the economic and security challenges in the Southeast on disunity among leaders and the people.

She advised Ndigbo to shun self-centredness, and embrace teamwork to drive the zone’s economic growth.

Okonjo-Iweala said: ”We have lost focus. We have lost sight of our biggest community assets. We are fragmented as a people. We don’t support each other instead we attack and undermine each other. We are too individualistic. An individual can be good but better when we come together with others as a body.

“I am sure you want me to mention the gaps in infrastructure. I don’t think it is our biggest challenge. Our biggest challenge in the Southeast is ourselves. We have often been our worst enemies. We have allowed ourselves to be divided.

“We have lost sight of our biggest community assets. We are fragmented as a people. We don’t support each other instead we attack and undermine each other. We are too individualistic. An individual can be good but not when we come together as a body.”

The director-general, who spoke via telecast, however, noted that there was a bright side to the challenges of the Southeast.

“If the problem is us, it means the solution also lies in our hands.

“To do this, we must exercise joint leadership and that is why it is important that you are taking this (summit) step now.

“Another big challenge is security; this partly arose from our fragmentation. Insecurity in our region is sending wrong signals about whether one can invest in the Southeast.”

She commended the governors for partnering the Federal Government in its efforts to overcome insecurity in the Southeast.

“The lesson for us is clear, you cannot have development without security and you cannot have security without development and above all we need good governance.

“To take this region forward, the security problem needs to be solved. The Federal Government obviously has an important role to play but there is much to be done at the state level and that is why I commend your leadership.”

The former Finance minister urged the governors to pay more attention to the fiscal performance of their states.

She drew their attention to a Budgit publication that ranked all 36 states in terms of performance.

“The 2022 edition of the report showed that Abia State is not doing too badly compared to others. In fact, Ebonyi runs consistently in all indicators ranking among the Top 10.

“At this stage, we need to do better on internally generated revenue, we need to prune our borrowing down and improve our capital expenditure. “Governors, state legislators and local government chairmen must continuously ask themselves: Are we using our fat allocations wisely.”

Anyim calls for rethink of the Biafra agitation

Anyim, who chaired the event, expressed joy that it came after a long time.

“We are here today (yesterday) to collectively find a solution. We are here to show we are more cohesive. We are focused on achieving security and economic plans for us,” he told the governors and other stakeholders.

Anyim, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, painted a grave picture of life in the Southeast.

Calling for rethink of the Biafra agitation, and strategies to deal with insecurity in the zone, he warned that going by recent developments, the Southeast risked losing economic and political relevance in the country.

He noted that the insecurity and agitation for Biafra by some people were already taking a heavy toll on the people. Anyim lamented that criminal elements were using the agitation as cover to thrive.( (

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Anyim said: ”In the last four years, every Monday has been declared by some non-state actors as a sit-at-home day. The enforcement has been brutal, leading to enormous loss of lives and property.

“It is estimated that hundreds of lives and hundreds of billions of naira have been lost to the sit-at-home order.”

“Life has become very difficult in the Southeast and almost every successful person in the South East is in self-exile. If care is not taken, very soon, none of us will come home, no matter the number of security personnel you carry.

“Social and economic activities have been dislocated, businesses have collapsed, no social activity can any longer simply take place in the zone and no new businesses are being attracted. If care is not taken, very soon every means of livelihood in the zone may dry up.”

He added that the weaponisation of politics had contributed to the insecurity in the Southeast

Anyim said: “Heavy arms and ammunition have become instruments of political campaigns, resulting in gross voter apathy. If care is not taken, very soon, the Southeast will lose national political relevance as votes from our land will no longer be of any consequence.

“Crime and criminality have become widespread in the Southeast because common criminals have taken advantage of the agitation to advance their evil enterprise.

“There is a nexus between the high level of insecurity in the Southeast and the fact that some criminal elements are unleashing mayhem under the cover of agitation for Biafra.

“We must emphasise that the circumstance that led to Biafra agitation in 1967 is not the same as what is happening today.

“Therefore, we must endeavour to point out the difference in the present agitation.

“Today, we do not have anything that in any way approximates the situation in 1967. There is absolutely no consensus on the purpose, content, method, and boundaries of today’s Biafra agitation.

“I therefore call for a rethink by all those involved in this agitation. In rethinking the Biafran agitation, we need to honestly articulate what have been the outcomes or impact of the agitation so far.”

For Senator Anyim, the situation can be turned around by providing the youth and those in authority with data on the real losses and consequences of insecurity in the Southeast.

He also called for a return to the economic systems that made the Southeast a model of economic strength and growth in the past.

Anyim pointed out that the attention of governments in the zone has shifted, with governors paying little or no attention to the development of industrial estates and corridors.

This, he explained, may be responsible for the upsurge in crime.

He also faulted the weakening of the Southeast’s social entrepreneurship and apprentice system, which was very popular in the region in the 1970s and 1980s.

Anyim called for a new approach to politics by the Igbo as the current trend was worsening insecurity.

“I observed that in the 1960s, government officials and elected representatives struggled to make ends meet. But, today, the shortest cut to affluence and fame is to have access to government appointments or to be elected as an honourable member. This has created an unhealthy competition in the politics of our time, leading to the militarisation of our political processes and consequential effects on insecurity.”

Iwuanyanwu to aggrieved politicians: Sheathe your swords

Iwuanyanwu, who also noted the political violence in Igboland, said as a father, he would take steps to ensure peace in Igboland.

He called on all aggrieved political actors in the Southeast to sheathe their swords and embrace peace.

The Ohanaeze leader said: “I am going to direct that all aggrieved parties should sheathe their swords. I don’t feel happy losing any of my children or seeing any soldier being killed or property being destroyed.

”As a leader, I accept the fact that among the Igbo I lead, they are criminals. It is my duty as a father to take steps to ensure that I bring peace to Igboland.”

He added that he would work closely with the governors and other stakeholders to make the summit an annual event.

 

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1ST NIGERIAN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS CONFERENCE ON UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS) ESSAY COMPETITION

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The 1st Nigerian Tertiary Institutions Conference on UN SDGs presents the SDG Youth Essay Competition, offering undergraduates in Nigerian tertiary institutions a chance to contribute to the discussion on achieving SDG4, Quality Education.

Competition Overview:

1st Nigerian Tertiary Institutions Conference on UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Essay Competition

The SDG Youth Essay Competition offers a grand prize of N1 million for the top three winners, along with free sponsorship to attend the 1st Nigeria Tertiary Institution Conference on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in April 2024 in Abuja.

Competition Requirements:

1. Eligibility:

   – Open exclusively to undergraduates in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

2. Entry Guidelines:

   – Topic:The Role of Students in Attainment of SDG4

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   – length: Essays should be 1500 words.

   – Entry Period: Thursday, February 1, 2024 – Thursday, February 29, 2024

   – Referencing: APA Style (6th Edition).

   – Font: Times New Roman, 12-point font size.

   – Documentation: Typed in 1.5 line spacing, MS Word format only.

   – Plagiarism: Only original content is accepted; plagiarized entries will be disqualified.

Benefits:

– Prizes:

  – 1st Prize: N500,000

  – 2nd Prize: N300,000

  – 3rd Prize: N200,000

– Winners will also receive free sponsorship to attend the 1st Nigeria Tertiary Institution Conference on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in April 2024 in Abuja.

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Required Documents:

– Student’s Institution ID Card

– Copy of Student’s Admission Letter

– One recent passport-size photograph

– WhatsApp telephone number and email address

Application Procedure:

– All entries and submissions (essay and required documents) should be scanned and sent to nigeriaessay@sdgyouth.org before the deadline.

For Further Inquiries:

– Call: 08068931151, 08133846739, 07067772964

– Email: nigeriaessay@sdgyouth.org

Deadline: February 29th, 2024

Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to achieving SDG4 and win exciting prizes. Submit your entry and required documents before the deadline. For any inquiries, feel free to contact them via phone or email.

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Education

PENTAGON PARTNERS NATIONAL ESSAY COMPETITION FOR UNDERGRADUATE LAW STUDENTS

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Are you an undergraduate law student in Nigeria eager to explore the intersection of law and Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Pentagon Partners presents a unique opportunity for 400-level and 500-level undergraduate law students to participate in the National Essay Competition.

Competition Overview:

Pentagon Partners National Essay Competition for Undergraduate Law Students

The National Essay Competition invites undergraduate law students to showcase their expertise and contribute to the discourse on AI, privacy, and data protection. In addition to cash prizes, participants have the chance to intern with Pentagon Partners, gaining valuable hands-on experience.

Competition Requirements:

1. Eligibility:

   – The competition is open to 400-level and 500-level undergraduate law students in Nigerian universities.

2. Essay Requirements:

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   – Length: Essays should not exceed 1500 words.

   – Format: Double spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font.

   – References: OSCOLA format for citations with 10pt font size for footnotes and endnotes.

   – Submission Format: Essays must be submitted in PDF format.

   – Entrant Details: Include full names, school, level, phone number, and email address in both the body of the email and on the last page of the essay.

   – Single Entry: Each entrant is allowed only one submission.

   – Originality: Plagiarism will result in automatic disqualification.

Competition Benefits and Timeline:

1. Prizes:

   – Winner: N200,000

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   – 1st Runner Up: N150,000

   – 2nd Runner Up: N100,000

2. Internship Opportunity:

   – In addition to cash prizes, winners have the exclusive opportunity to intern with Pentagon Partners, enhancing their career prospects.

Application Procedure:

– Interested participants should submit their essays to essay@pentagonpartnerslp.com during the submission period.

– The subject of the email should be the Essay topic

For additional information and updates, visit www.pentagonpartnerslp.com.

Deadline: March 22nd, 2024

Don’t miss this chance to showcase your legal expertise, contribute to important discussions on AI and law, and vie for enticing cash prizes. Pentagon Partners looks forward to receiving your submissions.

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SYSTEMSPECS CHILDREN’S DAY ESSAY COMPETITION (CDEC), 2024

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The SystemSpecs Children’s Day Essay Competition (CDEC) is an annual event aimed at fostering innovative thinking among primary and secondary school students in Nigeria. It provides a platform for young minds to propose technological solutions to national challenges.

Purpose:
Inaugurated in 2020, the CDEC is part of SystemSpecs’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment to promoting capacity development in the Nigerian ICT industry. By encouraging young Nigerians to tackle everyday issues, the competition contributes to intellectual growth and societal progress.

SystemSpecs Children’s Day Essay Competition (CDEC), 2024

Topic:
The theme for the 2024 competition is “Protecting the Nigerian Child from the Dangers of Online Technology.” Participants are tasked with exploring strategies to safeguard children in an increasingly digital world.

Eligibility:
– Open to primary and secondary school students in Nigeria aged 9 to 16.

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– Junior category (ages 9 to 12) essays must not exceed 1,000 words.

– Senior category (ages 13 to 16) essays must not exceed 1,500 words.

Prizes:

– Winners will receive generous rewards, including a high-capacity laptop, premium headphones, a portable laptop stand, a smart wristwatch, and one year of internet data, among other items.

– Consolation prizes will be awarded to other participants.

Application Process:

– Interested candidates should access the application page 

– Essays must be written in English and reflect original thought.

– Each participant is limited to one entry.

– Entries must be endorsed by an accredited school official, parent, or legal guardian.

– Deadline for submissions is April 12, 2024.

Submission Guidelines:

– All submissions must be in PDF format and include the student’s name, home and school addresses, email address, and contact phone number.

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– Double entries will result in automatic disqualification.

– Submissions must be received by March 15, 2024, at 5:00 p.m.

Notification of Winners:

– Successful students and schools will be contacted in the second quarter of the year.

– Updates on winners will be announced on @nercng social media platforms.

The SystemSpecs Children’s Day Essay Competition offers a unique opportunity for Nigerian students to demonstrate their creativity and problem-solving skills. By addressing the theme of online child protection, participants contribute to building a safer and more secure digital environment for all. We encourage eligible students to seize this opportunity and showcase their talent and ingenuity.

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