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FIJ: At Least ‘Five Abducted, 12 Killed’ in Two Years — The Travails of NYSC ‘Corpers’

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At least 12 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been reported killed and another five kidnapped in the last two years.

Innocent Ukpere and Victor Akpan, graduates of Mass Communication, were on their way to Katsina State when they suffered an accident and died. They were two of the five young graduates who died in the same accident.

Innocent and Victor were students of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic while the other three — Miracle Asuquo, Stella Ekikoh and Ezuruike Coleman — were graduates of University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. All of them were headed to Katsina from Uyo for the NYSC camp when their bus had an accident along Abuja-Abaji-Kwali Expressway on Wednesday, July 28.

A week after their death, their bodies were transported home in a C-130 Nigerian Air Force aircraft.

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NYSC is a mandatory one-year scheme created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. Usually, participants are posted to states they have never visited or are not native to.

Over the years, however, some corps members have lost their lives in accidents while travelling to camp or returning. Others to attacks while some have been kidnapped.

Most recently, four students of Osun State University, Osogbo were involved in an accident on Thursday. According to Ademola Adesoji, the institution’s PRO, three of the students, including the two who died, were heading for Kaduna, while the last was en route to Kano State.

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In April 2020, four corps members were involved in a road accident along Mokwa Road. They were admitted to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Kwara State, where Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, the Director-General of, National Youth Service Corps, visited them.

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On March 9, 2020, four corps members were kidnapped while on their way to the NYSC Orientation Camp, Gusau, in Zamfara State. They were however rescued two days later with the aid of repentant bandits.

In December 2020, 17 corps members were attacked by armed robbers along Jere-Abuja Expressway. One of them, Bomoi Yusuf, died in the attack.

On August 18, 2019, 12 corps members travelling to Funtua to attend a church programme had an accident and three of them died on the spot while the others sustained various degrees of injuries.

While travelling in 2019, Nuraddeen Tahir, a corps member who had just completed his 2019 Batch ‘B’ orientation course in Taraba State, and some of his colleagues had an accident that led to the amputation of his left arm.

Abraham Amuta Abah, another corpms member whose family lived in Jentan Mangoro in Jos, Plateau State, was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.

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I adopted, didn’t steal 20-year-old lady at birth – Foster mother

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Mrs Maritha Agulanna, a native of Ahiara in the Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, is the foster mother of a 20-year-old lady, Juliet, who recently discovered, by sheer providence, her biological parents, Prof Michael and Mrs Gloria Okwudili, in Enugu State. She tells RAPHAEL EDE how she took custody of the lady days after her birth and denies the allegation of child theft and human trafficking

How are you related to the 20-year-old lady who lived with you from birth, but claimed to have found her biological parents in your neighbourhood?

I adopted the girl when she was a week old from the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Imo State branch, on June 21, 2002. The girl was born on June 14, 2002.

Do you have an adoption certificate or document to show that the girl was properly adopted as required by law?

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To the best of my knowledge, yes. The Nigerian Red Cross Society, Imo State branch, issued a document titled, ‘To Whom It May Concern Fostering/Adoption of a Baby Girl from This Home’, dated June 21, 2002. It was signed by the State Secretary, Chief H. C. Mela. The document read, ‘This is to confirm that Mr Lawrence Ukachi Agulanna and Mrs Maritha Chidinma Agulanna from Nnarambia in Ahiara, Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, fostered a week-old baby girl from this home. The said baby was born on June 14, 2002. The adoptive parents have been advised to report to the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Owerri, Imo State, for the necessary documentation of the child and to the court for legal processes and adoption orders of the child. I wish to request that the applicants be given the necessary assistance that they may require’.

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Do you have documents from the ministry and a court order to back the adoption as and contained in the Red Cross Society document?

Nobody knew that something like this (Juliet finding her biological parents) would come up. I didn’t know that something like this would come up. Even this one (‘To Whom It May Concern’ document) I hid it somewhere. I didn’t want her (Juliet) to see it. I didn’t want the lady to have an idea that I adopted her. I hid the document in the village. It was when this incident started unfolding that I went looking for it.

Why didn’t you want to tell her that she was an adopted child?

Actually, I didn’t want to tell her, but now I have told her. She has been the one replying to the man (biological father).

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Did she tell you that she looked like the Okwudili?

She had been telling me. She told me people said she looked like them. Then I told her to be careful. If someone resembles another, is that concrete evidence that she is their child? Before they went and had the DNA test, I was concerned. I didn’t know whether the man (Prof Okwudili) wanted to use her for rituals or something else.

Since your foster daughter has finally found her biological parents, how do you want the issue to be resolved?

What I know is that I didn’t do what they are accusing me of, that I stole the child. So, irrespective of how they want to resolve it, I know I did not do what they accused me of. I did not go to the doctor they accused and I did not enter that hospital. So, I didn’t know anything. And I want them to carry out DNA testing with the child and the other child (male twin) they said was born with my daughter so that we’ll know what is happening. Let the son and my daughter go for a DNA test so that I will tell them that they are completely at fault.

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Why do you think they are wrong?

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If they are claiming that they had twins, how come the two were born in different months? The lady was born on June 14 and their son was born on July 18, 2002. Mine (Juliet) is the eldest. If they are saying she (Mrs Okwudili) gave birth on July 18 and my own was born on June 14 then, where did they keep her? Although I know that anything is possible in Nigeria and that someone can steal a child and sell it, my own (Juliet) came first.

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JPDS: Experts present financial agenda for Nigerian Universities amidst ASUU strike

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In the wake of yet another industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the focus was on fundraising, capital campaigns and strategic communications when experts gathered at the third edition of the Jacksonites Professional Development Series (JPDS), to examine the principles, strategies, and tactics for planning and executing effective campaigns in raising funds for educational institutions.

The webinar which covered such areas as how to plan and execute a successful fundraiser, how to set up and run an advisory board for fundraising campaigns, why fundraising campaigns fail and how to avoid the pitfalls and what to do at the end of the fundraiser witness a huge turnout of participants for the free event including communication scholars and professionals, administrators in the education sector, alumni groups, fundraising volunteers and coordinators, marketing communication professionals and other public personalities from across the world.

Speaking in his address, Chief Host and President of the Jacksonites Alumni Association Worldwide, Prof. Pat Utomi who welcomed guests and presenters to the session expressed excitement on the new modification to the JPDS by the Chinedu Mba-led Steering Committee as well as the topic of discourse and the rich lineup of speakers ready to do justice to the subject of fundraising.

Setting the tone for the presentations, he said, “The JPDS has very helped our understanding of so many strategic issues in communication and performance. In this particular edition, we are getting into an area of great importance.”

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Referencing Angus Deaton’s ‘The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality,’ Utomi opined that without education and healthcare, performance is challenged. “It is evident that the society that has made a lot of progress are dependent on the investment on healthcare and education. But as a purely commercial venture, it will be limiting to depend on just those who can pay to open the possibilities from education and healthcare. So, we need to find ways of funding education other than reliance on what people can afford to pay.

“We live in a country where we are now in a prolong crisis for higher education. ASUU is on strike again, which has become a pattern. In 1959, the report by Sir Eric Ashby who chaired the Higher Education Commission set up in Nigeria by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, revealed that the quality of higher education was as good as the very best in the world. We now see a significant decline, driven majorly by the fact that from a strategic point of view, when government opened up higher education in the late 70s, early 80s, it could not fund accordingly. So, we need to build models for funding universities.

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“How can we do fundraise in a way that will open access, yet ensure that we raise enough revenue to make the universities of high quality? This is what Chinedu and co have brought experts to discuss. These experts are people of practice and people who have lived as researchers in this area. It is so fundamental and critical to what has been referred to as the tripartite approach to development-where the public and private sectors as well as the private development agencies collaborate to drive development,’ he concluded.

Speaking on the topic, “Fundraising and Capital Campaigns as Strategic Communication,” Charles Okigbo, Professor Emeritus of Strategic Communication at North Dakota State University and former Executive Coordinator of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) explained that Strategic communication is vital for fundraising campaigns from initiation to completion. Noting that there is no bad time for fundraising and capital campaigns, Okigbo revealed that the historical rules and principles of Pareto and Gift Range Chart where 20 percent of people and institutions approached will donate 80 percent of the target still hold sway in sourcing for funding.

In yet another paper he presented titled “Inviting, Training and Developing Board Members For Fundraising Engagement,” Okigbo emphasised that fundraising is essentially about people. In the paper he co-authored with Dr. Elizabeth Birmingham of Lakehead University, Canada and Prof. Kelly Sassi of the North Dakota University in the United States, Okigbo further revealed that the constitution of Board Members for fundraising is very strategic to achieving set fundraising target, hence, the need to get the right people of honour and integrity and train them accordingly to be successful.

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Presenting his paper on “Fundraising Not Asking for Money,” John Klocke, CFRE, Advancement Director/Planned and Major Gifts at St. John Paul II Catholic Schools, revealed that there is so much more to fundraising than asking for money. He explained that from conceptualisation till after donation is made, the entire process of fundraising is basically about relationship building and maintenance, among other things.
One key takeaway he left participants with is, “Do not ask for a gift until you have thanked the donor at least two times and you have communicated the impact of their gift, so that they are satisfied with that gift.”

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“Fundraising for higher institutions is not random or left to chance. There is an art and science to it.” Prof. Bartholomew Okolo revealed as much in his presentation, “The Art and Science of Resource Mobilization for Higher Education.” Drawing from his years as a Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Okolo gave practical lessons on resource mobilization strategy development, relationship building, and reward mechanism, philanthropic culture in Nigeria as well as challenges and set back in fundraising.

It is worthy of note that during his tenure as the VC, UNN executed over 400 projects drawing from Tertiary Education Trust Fund and Federal Government capital allocations as well as internally generated revenue. He attracted 2.6bn from Tetfund and 1.7bn from federal Government capital allocations. UNN was also a net recipient of invaluable capital projects by major private sector organisations including the Shell Petroleum Development Company, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, Capital Oil, and Ibeto Group, among others.

Professor of Broadcasting at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Ladi Adamu, Nigeria also delivered a paper on “Strategic Fundraising and Capital Campaigns in Higher Institutions in Nigeria,” where she examined five case studies in fundraising and capital campaign. They are Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (straight forward request of 2 billion naira to build hostels-Dangote/BUA); University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Old Student Inspired fundraiser of 5 billion naira); Yobe state government (25 billion naira) and transformation of the Government College, Umahia by the College’s Old Boys’ association with 2.5 billion naira.

Noting that these are some exceptional cases, she explained that fundraising in Nigeria comes with a lot of challenges including weak alumni networks, lack of alumni database, lack of complete funding, poor community participation, lack of or weak after-fundraiser relationship management and personality-identity ego.

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Prof. George Owunari, Vice-Chancellor, University of PortHarcout who was also a participant at the series commended the organisers of the JPDS for the session, revealing that he was invited by a former Vice-Chancellor. He asked about the cost of fundraising, a pertinent question as agreed by Okigbo. In his response, Okigbo explained that the cost of fundraising depends on the scale of amount to be raised.

He added that everything should begin with a strategic plan beyond just gathering people together and asking them for support.

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The highly interactive session was moderated by David Bakare, a consummate Marketing Communications practitioner and MD/CEO of DD-IMC Ltd, a 360-degree Marcomms.

The Jacksonites Professional Development Series Steering Committee Chairman, Prof. Chinedu Mba of Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada, who gave the Vote of thanks thanked all participants and paper presenters for the insightful session. She revealed that there will be a follow up workshop on a date that will be communicated across and facilitated by Prof. Charles Okigbo, Dr. Elizabeth Birmingham, Prof. Kelly Sassi, John Locke and Prof. Ladi Adamu.

About the JPDS
The Jacksonites Professional Development Series (JPDS) is a professional and personal development initiative of the alumni of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria Nsukka. It was formally launched in July 2021.

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Its vision is to consistently promote the holistic development of Jacksonites, professionals and students in communications and allied fields through periodic interdisciplinary research-based seminars that foster academic research and development which contribute to the advancement of all its stakeholders. These stakeholders include Jacksonites, the Nigerian government, the Nigerian public, allied professionals, practitioners, students, academics and media-related professionals.

The scope of the seminar themes includes all disciplines of Mass Communication (Journalism & Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film, Multimedia Studies, Development Communication Studies, as well as Information & Media Studies). These quarterly interdisciplinary sessions will engender the intersection of town and gown/theory & praxis.

JPDS has organized two well-received seminars since its inception. Its inaugural seminar held in July 2021 and was delivered by Dr. Nduka Otiono, an Associate Professor at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. The title was “A Captured Media in an Insecure Nation: Democracy and Free Speech on Trial?”. Mr. Obi Emekekwue, a former Director and Global Head of Communications and Events Management at Afreximbank, delivered the second seminar in November 2021. The title was “Crisis Survival in Today’s Viral World: The Communications Conundrum.”

All activities of JPDS are made possible through the efforts of a team of volunteers: the Steering Committee chaired by Chinedu Mba of Algonquin College, ON, Canada as well as committed and passionate professionals who make up the working groups (Logistics, Publicity & Mobilization, and Sponsorship & Partnership).

For more information on the JPDS, kindly visit: https://jacksonitespds.com/

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UBA and Tony’s Dissonance: Trying Out Slings In Own Glass House

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By Ben Adenle

In what seem to be a real-life play out of Leon Festinger’s law of cognitive dissonance, the imperial cowboy of banking, Tony Elumelu, took a swine to the family’s dinner table with his viral tweet about governance and Nigeria’s economic realities. The post that has garnered over 20,000 seem to identify with critical concerns of the common man and topical issues on the state of the nation, while subtly positing bankable solutions.

Fact is, this sort of ‘wailing’ is not uncommon in Nigeria’s discussion forums, both formal and informal, online or offline. In fact, armchair analysts and newsstand commentators have more articulate positions on the why and where we are, when and what we should do to realise the elusive generational wish for a better Nigeria.

What strikes differently on this one is the handle from which the tweet emanated, ringing a voice from one of the princes of organised private sector, Heirs Holding’s chairman, Elumelu. An average Nigerian can relate with the real Nigeria, but for a first class citizen of this nation, who is living the American dream in a virtualised version of Nigeria to communicate that reality in a public space is often accepted with a pinch of salt.

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It is therefore not strange that a few commentators came after the altruistic billionaire, questioning his moral authority and even motive for slinging against The Establishment.

Indeed in Nigeria there is The Establishment. No one nation is entirely run by the political office holders. There is often a tailored arrangement with money bags in persons of super-wealthy businessmen to draft the course of the nation’s sail. These two sects make up the 1% of the society and they determine the fate of the rest 99%. In political economic parlance, this bourgeoisie, control the factors of production and in a very unscrupulous nation like ours, often purchase authority for impunity and unperturbed avarice.

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Tony Elumulu is star of the 1990 banking renaissance; famed for rising to the pinnacle of his career as a young man with almost zero pedigree, who through sheer hard-work, intelligence and diligence built a reputation for results. He moved on to building a successful global financial services conglomerate in record time. Who else could be more credible to echo down the mic – REPENT?

We know you: If you cue from public narratives, you would join the bandwagon that praised “his courage to speak truth to power with his tweet”. But when you match precedence against this his lonely opinion, one cannot but see the nudity of the well dressed outburst beyond the words.

Elumelu is a known friend of the so-called political class. He banks them, parties with them, help them plan their investments and even provide financial vehicles to help them achieve their goals. An average Joe does not have access to those Tony called out. Same people that are only a dial away. So it amounts to grandstanding if suddenly he joins the wailing rather than address the tormentors by delineating between his core business and political romanticising.

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Take out the log in your own eyes: Let us not mention the numerous allegations of excessive charges that adds up to accentuate Tony’s billionaire status in the book of UBA Group. Of course, the repressed customers, who also battle with poor services (technical issues and largely unresolved customer complaint)s in the hand of UBA, make up the majority of the group known as the common man. The ones who are experiencing the reality of the nearly-failed Nigerian state, and not the ‘fly boys’ in red ties colleagues of Tony’s, that probably woke up to pinch of the people’s suffering because of the hike in diesel prices. That the concern is the hike in the price of diesel alone, gives them up as a member of the colluding middle class, who live princely lives in the face of despondence in the nation, because they are privy to the crumbs of the thieving politicians of our nation. Maybe this is a good point to tell Mr Tony to have his boys make UBA Mobile App work for once; provide enough infrastructure to carry your month-end data throughputs, so that your customers won’t continue to live with the epileptic services of surge transaction periods. If it’s beyond you, mobilise your fellow big bank boys to get NIBSS to fix up!

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Taking a further delve into Tony’s tweet, it reads more like a businessman cry than a genuine outburst against the retrogression of our nation. In a world with growing case of Excessive Wealth Disorder, it is not strange to find the super-wealthy businessmen coming after The Establishment that they belong to, as a strategy to fish far-fetched opportunities.

The Russian-Ukrainian war provides a great opportunity for eruptive profits accumulated for major oil players in alternative markets. Tony’s Heirs Holding in early 2021 splashed $1.1billion in the acquisition of OML 17 from Shell, ENI and Total, definitely with a view of turning around its fortune and making tremendous profits. The current state of the global energy market presents an opportunity to recoup their investment. Of course, Elumelu will be enraged that insecurity around our waterways is not making this happen. In same vein, Transcorp (one of his babies) is a very major power generation investment company in Nigeria, with 2,000 MW of installed capacity, through ownership of Transcorp Power Plant and the recent acquisition of Afam Power Plc.

Let us align this fact with reports in recent news that GenCos have attributed low electricity generation to the National Grid to the N1.644 trillion owed them by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc. Tony’s investment in this industry is experiencing same fate the average Nigerian daily face, so there’s suddenly a need to “Demand and advocate for leaders that deliver”.

Juxtaposing his business interests and the core of the concern raised in his tweet – Electricity and Oil production, it becomes crystal clear why this prince of corporate Nigeria chose to have a village square dance. It’s more of the case of ‘the rich also cries’ and less of a compassionate plea for the plight of the common man.

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Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory concludes that: First, if a person is induced to do or say something which is contrary to his private opinion, there will be a tendency for him to change his opinion so as to bring it into correspondence with what he has done or said.

I make bold to say that Mr Elumelu will in no distant time align his real private opinion with the narratives of the political class in the build up to this election. By action not words, he will once again show us all on which side he truly belongs – with the common man, or The Establishment?

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