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STOP PRESS! Before We Crucify VP Osinbajo

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Hysteria is in the DNA of many Nigerians, especially those who are, for parochial or partisan reasons, decidedly and desperately against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the president announced the dissolution of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and replaced it with an Economic Advisory Council, there has been mass hysteria in the traditional and new media.

This is apparent in the deluge of dilettante opinion articles, editorials, blog posts, blurbs, and tweets all alluding to the fact that the VP has been politically emasculated by a phantom ‘cabal’ in the presidency because of his growing popularity and influence and the need to whittle them down before 2023.

Some even said he has been marked for impeachment on trumped-up charges that could only have been products of a puerile imagination.

What the President simply did was to change the economic direction of his Next Level agenda; not ‘reduce’, as some also implied, the statutory functions of his beloved VP.

As the chairman of the constitutionally created the National Economic Council, the VP will continue to play a pivotal role in all economic matters in singular support and assistance of his Principal, Mr. President.

For emphasis, the NEC meeting, held monthly, deliberates on the coordination of the economic planning efforts and economic programmes of the various levels of government.

The council comprises the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.

Last Thursday, the VP still chaired the NEC at the Presidential Villa.

Osinbajo told attendees at the NEC meeting that both councils (NEC and EAC) are for the benefit of the president; and, “If NEC wants to be briefed regularly by the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, we will request the president to do that.” So, nothing has changed, except for the new song by dissidents.

What further sent the rumour mill into overdrive was an alleged directive that the Vice-President should, henceforth, seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.

VP Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).

He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government; and the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Under the laws setting up the agencies, the president is empowered to give final approvals but those who chose to ignore this constitutional provision went to town, gloating and ululating, that the VP has eventually been cut to size.

A careful introspection is critical here. Apart from the fact that he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Vice President, as the whole world knows, is a Professor of Law. So, if anybody should know what the constitution stipulates as the roles and powers of a VP, it is Osinbajo.

So, why would he want to overreach himself knowing what the constitution states? At what point does doing the right thing require a directive? Some things just don’t add up in the name of playing politics.

Late 2018, the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness invited the VP to explain his role in the N5.8 billion North East Intervention Fund which the lawmakers said was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The NEMA is one of the agencies under the VP. The committee said the authorisation for the release of the fund for emergency food intervention in the North East contravened Section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. And that the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA’s bank account, in violation of the approval limit allowed by law.

Nowhere in the report was the VP alleged to have benefitted from the fund. Good enough, the Presidency issued a public statement to say that the money Osinbajo, in his capacity as the Acting President, approved for release in the dire emergency was sourced from the Rice Levy which had already been appropriated in that year’s budget. And that explanation settled the matter.

However, in the desperation of the strident opposition, the allegation, which had since been dispelled by the House Committee, is now being unearthed as if it were new, in a mere political contrivance intended to distract the President Buhari-led administration.

Every discerning mind should be above this outright fake news and sheer inanity. Just as they should about rumours that some unspecified amount of money was found in some private accounts related to the VP’s family or that some Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, funds were traced to his office. The purveyors of this particular rumour even said that the National Leader of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a former National Chairman of the party, Chief BisiAkande, had been duly informed. Another such report maintained that Asiwaju himself is behind the attempt to smear the VP.

These are mere fabrications intended to drive a wedge between the VP and those he holds in very high esteem. Thankfully, the president and the party leaders are above such frivolous distractions.

Indeed, at no time since Nigeria’s democratic experience began that the President and his VP have enjoyed the kind of cordial relationship and mutual respect that exists between President Buhari and VP Osinbajo.

The president believes so much in the competence, character, and capacity of his VP that he allows him to handle some of the populist programmes of the administration. And, this has not been without politically-motivated hiccups.

The VP is the ‘face’ of TraderMoni, the empowerment scheme of the Federal Government created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. The launch of the scheme saw the VP crisscrossing the country, enlightening the people about it and generally pressing the flesh to the delight of Nigerians. Yet, those who do not know the workings of the scheme have gone to town, falsely accusing the VP of mismanaging the Tradermoni Funds.

Instructively, the Bank of Industry is in charge of the Tradermoni; the funds never get into the hands of the VP or his aides; the money is sent to the people via their phones. The VP has just been monitoring to make sure people received what they were promised and the program was working. So any imputation of embezzlement is nothing but a frantic attempt to soil a hard-earned reputation of loyalty, integrity, and capability which the VP has built in the last four years, and which has helped to steady the incumbent administration in no small measure.

Conclusively, the news and noise of a rift or whittling down of the VP’s powers is akin to a storm in a teacup; both the president and the Vice President are still working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians are genuinely taken to the Next Level in their own time.

Abdullai Rimi, is an Abuja-based media practitioner and businessman

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PreDiagnosis Partners American University For Better Grassroots Healthcare

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Nigeria’s leading grassroots telemedicine platform, PreDiagnosis International, has announced its partnership with the Project ECHO Institute of the University of New Mexico, USA for knowledge sharing and transfer on chronic and complex diseases with medical professionals in the country.
According to Dr. Folarin Olasogba, the Chief Project Officer of PDI Telehealth Consult which is the arm of PDI driving the collaboration, the innovative telementoring programme codenamed ‘Project ECHO’ is designed to create virtual communities of learners by bringing together healthcare providers from all over Nigeria and subject matter experts from different parts of the world using video conference technology, brief lecture presentations, and case-based learning to foster an “all learn, all teach” approach.

He said the Project ECHO which stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes is a collaborative model of medical education and care management programme designed to empower local clinicians including consultants, doctors, nurses and technicians to deliver better care and treatment of chronic, common and complex diseases, especially in remote and underserved locations.

He added that PDI as the Nigerian Official Replication Partner with the Project ECHO Institute of the University of New Mexico is undertaking the project to assist the country develop the capacity to safely and effectively treat chronic, common, and complex diseases in rural and underserved areas across Nigeria and to monitor outcomes of this treatment while leveraging the resources of the PDI Telehealth Consult platform.

In his words, “The project is not only designed to use innovative technology to bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare specialists and providers in the country; it is to help health services providers to better undertake co-management of patients’ treatments, thereby fostering knowledge depth and technical competencies, in addition to reducing professional isolation”.

Dr. Olasogba further explained that by encouraging collaboration and communication between rural and urban healthcare providers and specialists, the Project will help health professionals in the country to become more highly skilled in the treatment of diverse chronic and complex diseases, thus creating a center of excellence in many remote communities.

“Under the PDI-Project ECHO collaboration, healthcare providers in rural and underserved areas of Nigeria will be able to treat their patients with a remote team of specialists in the fields of oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, psychiatry, infectious diseases, pharmacy, and substance abuse/addiction, among others. Through this Initiative, PDI Telehealth Consult is trying to lead in the race to build a viable and sustainable national Clinical Knowledge Platform that combines authoritative contents and shared experiences drawn from the expertise available in the Nigerian healthcare community and across the world so that physicians, medical students, and other healthcare workers will be able to tap into Nigeria’s largest, most powerful Continuous Professional Development (CPD) network to resolve challenging questions at the point of care for mostly lower-income patients of different diseases,” he submitted.

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GTBank Marks 10 Years of Autism Advocacy, Holds Annual Autism Conference July 27th- 28th

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For the past 10 years, Guaranty Trust Bank plc has been at the forefront of the advocacy for people living with autism.

The Bank’s Orange Ribbon Initiative has also become a major rallying point for driving awareness about Autism, campaigning against the social stigma associated with developmental disorders, and helping people with autism live a full and productive life.

This year, as part of its Orange Ribbon Initiative, GTBank will hold its 10th Annual Autism Conference via live stream on Monday, July 27 and Tuesday, July 28, 2020, so that anyone, anywhere can interact and learn from globally renowned medical experts, caregivers and health practitioners about supporting children and adults living with Autism.

Themed, “Autism: Focusing on similarities rather than differences,” the two-day conference will feature keynote presentations, panel discussions and Q&A sessions facilitated by specialists on Autism, such as Dr. Andy Shih, a Senior Vice President at Autism Speaks, Dr. Pamela Dixon, the Director of Clinical Services and Inclusion at Autism Speaks and Dr. Brooke Ingersoll, Associate Professor and Director of the Autism Lab at Michigan State University, USA, amongst others. To participate in the conference, visit www.gtbank.com/autism2020.

Commenting on the 10th Annual Autism Conference, Mr Segun Agbaje, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “This is one of the most important Autism Conferences we have held over the years, not only because it marks the 10th anniversary of our advocacy for people living with autism, but also because it is happening at such a critical time. The Covid-19 pandemic has made life more difficult for people all over the world, and at this year’s Conference, we are bringing together specialists, caregivers, parents and concerned members of the public to share expertise and experience about how we can continue to be there for children and adults living with autism, during this pandemic and beyond.”

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run financial institutions across its subsidiary countries and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its bias for world-class corporate governance standards, excellent service quality and innovation. The Bank is also going beyond the traditional understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility as corporate philanthropy by intervening in key economic sectors through non-profit consumer-focused fairs and capacity building initiatives for small businesses.

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James Hope College Honored At The Fourth Edition Of British Council Recognition And Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards

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This year, to recognize scholarly excellence, James Hope College received multiple prizes including,

  • Best in the World Category for English as a Second Language – Two awards
  • Best Across Eight Subjects in Nigeria – One award
  • Best in Nigeria Category – Eight awards
  • High Achievement Category – Two awards

These awards acknowledge exceptional Nigerian-based learners’ achievements in Cambridge examinations taken by students around the world. The primary purpose of these awards is to celebrate and recognize the success of high-performing Cambridge learners and the partner schools that have exemplified Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Child Protection policies.

Elated at this laudable feat, the Founder/Chairman of James Hope College, Mr. Jim Ovia congratulated the awardees and commended the management of the College. According to Mr. Ovia, the College would continually offer “world-class education that would enable our students to compete favourably on a global scale.”

James Hope College is an educational initiative of the Jim Ovia Foundation. Since its inception, the College has consistently maintained an outstanding academic pace within and beyond Nigeria. Some of its accolades include (but not limited to):

  1. 100% A* – C in all 13 subjects registered for the 2019 November IGCSE Examinations
  2. The 2019 Cambridge Summer School Scholarship awarded to a James Hope College student
  3. British Council Awards for Best In Nigeria in Biology, Chemistry and Geography for the 2018 November IGCSE Examinations
  4. British Council Award for High Achievement in Nigeria in Design and Technology for the 2018 November IGCSE Examinations
  5. 100% perfect score in the 2018 Cambridge Checkpoint Examination
  6. Best 2016/2017 BECE result in Delta State
  7. Overall Best Student for the 2016/2017 BECE in Delta State

The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards recognizes the exceptional performance of learners around the world in Cambridge examinations. The awards reflect the talent and hard work of learners and acknowledge the dedication and commitment of both teachers and parents.

Indeed, James Hope College is making its mark in the academic landscape within and outside Nigeria.

See photo excerpt below:

 

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