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Amaechi claims Nigeria is in dire need of drones, helicopters to tackle insecurity on rail track

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Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said Monday’s terrorist attack on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route would have been averted if there were drones and helicopters to carry out surveillance along the corridor.

This is even as the Minister said the Ministry of Transportation has made presentation to the federal government for the procurement of security equipment, regretting however that the Ministry was yet to get approval.

Amaechi stated these on Tuesday while leading top officials of the Ministry on an inspection of the scene of the incident.

Addressing newsmen, a visibly worried Amaechi said, “we need helicopters and drones. We are thinking about the possibility of employing natives until we get that equipment.

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“We have not been able to install security sensors because the procurement process is a bit difficult. It is typical of Nigerians.

“The process is tedious, the approval is also tedious. We have not been able to get the approval that will lead to the purchase of those items.

“If those items were here, drones alone will tell you that there are people around the rail tracks. There are equipment that picks sensors if you touch the track, but unfortunately, the process has not been able to get us that approval for us to import those items.

“The cameras in the train cannot pick what is happening outside. What you need is a camera that shows 100 metres away from the train. We have done all we need to do in the Ministry of Transportation and we have forwarded it to them for approval but we have not gotten approval.

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“The equipment we lost will cost about N3bn and we are about to place order for the ones in Lagos.”

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Amaechi warned of the dangers to come if security devices were not urgently procured to save lives on rail routes across the country.

“Even if they get us approval, it will take some months to acquire them from overseas, to install them. We need to do that to enable us see from Kaduna-Abuja, Itakpe-Warri, and from Lagos-Ibadan what is going on so that we don’t continue to lose lives because lives are important. If we had gotten the approval, we would have saved the N3billion and saved lives.”

While affirming the death of eight persons as a result of the attack, Amaechi said it is difficult to tell the number of missing persons, saying, “we don’t have all the figures of missing persons, kidnapped and those injured at the moment.

“The numbers we have is that there are eight casualties. There are 25 persons in the hospital and the total number of passengers are 398. So, we have to wait. The security agency, the Kaduna state government, and the Nigerian Railway Corporation are all trying to make contact with those on the manifest.

“There are few persons who are not on the manifest like the staff of the NRC, staff of the cleaning contractor. They are not on the manifest and we may not be able to completely account for them but for those on the manifest, calls are being made to reach them.”

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Coming short of asking citizens to understand the situation, the Minister added, “I am devastated and I honestly don’t know what to tell Nigerians anymore.”

Also speaking, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Fidel Okhiria said
“it is a very sad and unfortunate situation we have at our hands. Right from time when these things started happening on the roads, the only succour our people had were the trains.”

He urged the people to help the NRC identify criminals bent on wrecking havoc on innocent Nigerians using rail transportation system as their preferred mode of transport.

Following Monday night’s attack on a Kaduna-bound train by terrorists which left about eight people dead, the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC has suspended services on the Abuja-Kaduna train corridor till further notice.

In a post on its official Twitter handle, @official_NRC, the corporation noted: “Dear passengers, due to unforeseen circumstances, train operation along the Abuja-Kaduna route has been temporarily suspended. Further communication would be given in due course.”

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Naira appreciates against USD at forex market amid Binance clampdown

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Naira has returned to its appreciation against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market amid the restriction of Binance, a cryptocurrency platform.

Data from FMDQ showed that the Naira appreciated N1,609.51 at the close of trading on Wednesday from N1,615.94 on Tuesday.

This represents an N6.43 or 0.4 per cent appreciation compared to the N1,615.94 recorded at the closing of Tuesday’s trading.

Meanwhile, the Naira exchanged for N1,500 per USD on Wednesday at the parallel market from N1,618.489 on Tuesday.

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Naira Rates, the parallel market exchange rate, showed that the Naira appreciated 1,463.098 per USD on Wednesday.

The development triggered a massive selloff at the Binance Market.

Theheute recalls that Naira had continued its appreciation trend on Monday.

However, it depreciated against the USD on Tuesday for the first time since last week.

At the end of Tuesday’s 293rd Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Olayemi Cardoso, reiterated his commitment to strengthen the Naira against USD at the forex market.

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The CBN had announced the resumption of foreign exchange sales directly to eligible Bureau De Change Operators.

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Ghana passes anti-gay law

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The Ghana Parliament, on Wednesday, passed the bill on human sexual rights and family values, commonly referred to as the anti-LGBTQ bill.

The bill, called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, was introduced by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

Press reports that the bill was a Private Members Bill led by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

The bill prohibits LGBTQ activities and makes it illegal to promote, advocate, or fund them, as reported by Citi Newsroom.

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Local media also reports that individuals caught engaging in the activity could face a jail sentence ranging from six months to three years, while those who support or promote the activity may be sentenced to three to five years in prison.

This is coming after years of the bill being in parliament and going through various stages, facing backlash and efforts by opponents to block it or make changes.

In Ghana, homosexuality is currently prohibited by law and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.

According to the new legislation, the maximum sentence will be extended to five years.

This proposal will also criminalise the distribution of materials that are considered supportive of LGBTQ rights.

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According to Citi Newsroom, Parliament approved the bill one day after Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to reject it.

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Takyiwaa Manuh, a senior fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, mentioned to CBS News that Akufo-Addo has not approved any previous privately sponsored bills for legal reasons related to the country’s constitution.

According to Manuh, the speaker of the parliament did not conduct the necessary analysis of the bill.

She believes that if the bill becomes law, it will significantly impact the judiciary, police, and other areas of society.

“I am sad, disappointed and surprised that our commitment and democratic principles in this country appear to be so shallow.

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“This bill represents a real danger to our country, and we are looking to the president to uphold the values of our country and constitution,” she said.

The bill will need the President’s approval to take effect.

It remains uncertain whether President Akufo-Addo will approve the bill.

In 2021, the United Nations expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed law, Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, warning that it could lead to state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.

In May 2023, Uganda implemented strict anti-LGBT legislation, which includes severe penalties such as the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

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Elumelu in global academic limelight as TEF case study becomes Harvard’s curriculum

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In an unprecedented move, the Harvard Business School, the graduate business school of Harvard University, is set to cast the spotlight on the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), recognizing the Foundation’s extraordinary philanthropic achievement in a ground-breaking case study.

The case study, the first of its kind on any philanthropic organization in Africa, is to be launched on Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts, and will explore the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how strategic philanthropy offered by TEF is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

This move by Harvard underscores the Foundation’s pivotal role in empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries and places the Foundation at the forefront of global discussions on transformative and catalytic philanthropy, acknowledging its significant contributions towards fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

In addition to delving into the foundation’s innovative approaches and the resultant impact it has garnered over the years, the event will also feature an exclusive acknowledgment of the Founder of TEF, Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalyzing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed over USD$100 million in direct funding to 20,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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Tony Elumelu who spoke on the impact of TEF on the African youth said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the antidote to poverty, youth unemployment, and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are encouraging our young people, giving them hope through the seed capital we provide, capacitating them through the training and mentoring we provide, and setting them up to create businesses that will succeed and create even more jobs. Collectively we are fixing the challenges that we have on the continent.

Continuing, he said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to replicate our own success and create entrepreneurs who will build more prosperity on the continent and for the continent. It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave society better than we met it. It is not about the money that we have in our bank accounts, it is about the legacy that we make and the impact we create. Prosperity for all is what will create the security, harmony, and peace that we need.”

The Harvard Business School session will provide a platform for thought leaders, scholars, and business enthusiasts to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Tony Elumelu Foundation stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

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