Anti-corruption group says Nigeria expanding use of opaque $670 million ‘slush fund’
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
ABUJA (Reuters) – Anti-corruption group Transparency International said on Monday Nigeria’s government has in the run-up to elections expanded the use of opaque $670 million-a-year funds that fuel graft.
The funds, known as “security votes”, are a relic of military rule, mainly disbursed in hard cash and nominally released for dealing with unexpected security issues.
They come from both federal and state governments, although the vast majority is disbursed under the latter.
According to Transparency International’s report on Monday they have become “synonymous with official corruption and abuse of power”.
The watchdog’s report comes as President Muhammadu Buhari is gearing up to run for a second term in February 2019.
A Nigerian presidency spokesman did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment about the report.
Buhari has built his administration’s policy on the twin pillars of tackling Nigeria’s endemic corruption and restoring stability to the highly insecure country. Hundreds have died this year in communal unrest in the hinterlands and the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the northeast.
A number of former government officials have faced criminal charges related to alleged corruption since Buhari came to power. The opposition People’s Democratic Party, in power for 16 years prior to Buhari taking office in 2015, has accused the president of focusing on its members.
“The security vote is one of the most durable forms of corruption operating in Nigeria today,” said Katherine Dixon, Transparency International’s director for defense and security, in a statement.
“Yet instead of addressing its many urgent threats, the ever-increasing use of security votes is providing corrupt officials with an easy-to-use and entirely hidden slush fund.”
The group said the spending “is not subject to legislative oversight or independent audit because of its ostensibly sensitive nature”, adding that the funds are channeled into political activities such as election campaigns or embezzled outright.
It said federal-level total spending on items identified as security votes increased by 43 percent in 2018’s budget from 2017 and included payments to a university, a museum commission and a dental technology school.
Reuters checked some of the figures included in Transparency International’s report against a draft version of the 2018 budget, which has not yet been signed into law, and confirmed payments to those recipients were planned and identified as security votes.
Most of the estimated $670 million of security votes is disbursed by state governments, with federal spending making up only $51 million, Transparency International said. State government changes in disbursement varied, according to the report’s data.
Additionally, the largest security votes each year go to security agencies, and such spending under Buhari is less than under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, the report acknowledged.
“Today, security votes are budgetary black boxes that are ripe for abuse by politicians seeking reelection or officials looking to run for political office,” Transparency International said.
*Source Reuters.(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Alison Williams)
Rapper Falz’s ‘This is Nigeria’ video holds up a mirror for the country
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)One of Nigeria’s biggest music stars, Falz, released a video this weekend as a cover version of Childish Gambino’s viral video, ‘This is America.’
A national mirror
Capturing their pain
Many musicians should follow his lead, and create art to reflect the times and the pulse of the people. While there are valid opinions against chasing activism as the sole focus of African music, the ability to balance it out, and create conscious music, while also feeding the people’s desire to escape is a crucial skill.
Falz’s video suggests that, as Nigeria moves forward, its musicians have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to create art that amplifies the state of the nation, and ultimately improves the society that nurtured them.
Their music is created for communities that are massively affected by these problems.
Egyptian lawyer files €1 billion lawsuit against Ramos over Salah challenge
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Premier League Golden Boot winner posted on Twitter on Sunday to say he was “confident” he would be able to represent Hector Cuper’s side at Russia 2018 , but that has done nothing to quell the apparent anger of lawyer Bassem Wahba.
In an appearance on Egyptian television channel Sada El-Balad , Wahba announced he had filed a complaint to FIFA and accused Ramos of a deliberate act and inflicting “physical and psychological harm” upon a nation and its most celebrated footballer.
“Ramos intentionally injured Mo Salah and should be punished about his actions,” he claimed. “I’ve filed a lawsuit and a complaint to FIFA.
“I’ll ask for compensation, which could exceed €1 billion, for the physical and psychological harm that Ramos gave Salah and the Egyptian people.”
African parliaments must stand up to defend democracy — Nigeria’s parliamentary Speaker
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
…says performing budget panacea for sustainable democracy
By Olayinka Ajayi
Nigeria’s Speaker of the House of representatives, Yakubu Dogara has stated that parliaments are the hope of saving the people from dictatorship, even as he called on African countries to invest more in building democracy and it’s institutions.
Speaking during the parliamentary delegation tour from Liberia undertaking a study in Nigeria, Dogara said for democracy to be solid, the institutions must be strong, as their failure would always be blamed on the parliaments who fail to rise up in their defence.
“Democracy as they say is not something that you gain from the ballot box, as a matter of fact, the ballot box sometimes has produced some enemies of democracy, those who have completely discarded the tenets of democracy”.
“So we have to invest more in building democracy and democratic institutions. Where Institutions are strong; democracy itself will be made strong. And to be very candid, Parliament are the hope of saving the people from dictatorships. Where democracies fail; it is common place to blame it on Parliament, it becomes the fault of Members of Parliament who are not willing to stand up to principles and be defenders of those democratic Institutions”.
The speaker decried the delicate nature of democratic institutions all over the world , advocated for the establishment of a body that will be vested with the responsibility of defending democracy against dictatorship.
“Democracies all over the World are very fragile and that includes even democracies in advanced countries that we regard to have advanced democracies. Even in the United States we are beginning to see that there is the fight to keep the loyalty with the people rather than to any form of democratic malfunction. Even things that we thought were completely impossible to happen in advanced democracies, we are beginning to see them, like breaches. That therefore tells us that we even need to institute a body that may be known as the defenders of democracy, I don’t know how we can go about that, I’m just thinking loudly about some of these issues. But to be candid, even though it is not the best form of government, but this is the best that is known to man. Anybody who doubts this can try dictatorship. Those who have lived in a dictatorship will tell you how bad it is. Where the will of an individual is the Law, as a matter of fact you don’t even need the Parliament, in which case all of us will be jobless as it is just the will of an individual that is the Law. It is the will of the individual that is argued out in the courts.
The Speaker who said a performing budget is also needed to sustain democracy and achieve stability opined that to win citizens’ confidence, government must deliver to the people’s yearnings and expectations, especially in terms of security and welfare.
” A performing budget is needed to sustain even the very idea of the democracy itself, because it has to be a government that delivers to the people in terms of expectations, in terms of security and welfare. When you have few people mismanage the resources belonging to Government; the end result will be that the expectations of the people will be cut off: No quality service, welfare and that obviously will result in distress, and we have seen this distress manifest in so many African countries where the entire process of expenditure, transparency and accountability is a bit opaque”.
The Speaker took time to explain to the visiting MPs, the workings of Public Accounts Committee in the country.
” In Nigeria; Public Accounts is a Committee that is headed by a Member of the opposition, we do not give it to a member of the ruling party, obviously the reason is on account of transparency. It deals with the task of over-sighting expenditure, so we can’t have the same members in charge of over-sighting the way expenditures are made. If that were to be the case, you can’t run away from the incidence of conflict of interest. As it is one of the critical requirements and center pillar of our jurisprudence and justice must not only be done, but manifestly seen to be done. So when you have the people of the same political party investigating themselves, no matter how fair-minded they are, there is no way a reasonable person sitting outside there will say they have done justice in that manner. So that is the foundation upon which our Public Accounts Committee operates and in most cases they are in tandem with the Auditor-General of the Federation which we are set to empower and to insulate using the Constitution Amendment exercise which we are currently embarking on”.
Dogara further, highlighted some of the processes followed by the committee to achieve results in its mandate and assignment.
“It encompasses the operation of all agencies, including the National Assembly, and the reports are submitted to the Public Accounts Committee of the House. Once they receive the reports from the Auditor-General; they embark on thorough investigation of the figures, as I said before this is to ensure transparency. I know that it is so in fledgling democracies like ours and that will be the case in your democracy which is much younger than ours, we also need transparency, we need to ensure that we have entrusted resources and allocations with integrity. But where you see that resources are better managed and allocations are fairly done across board; you’ll see that there’ll be some elements of stability in those countries”.
” I once again want to welcome you and charge you that corruption itself is not something that can be totally exterminated. Experience has shown that in even better democracies of more advanced countries so to speak, it is difficult to totally eradicate corruption. But experience has also shown that we can tame it by taking deliberate actions like we are doing now on how to combat it. I believe that as you come across the operatives of the E.F.C.C in Nigeria and indeed the Auditor General and so many other experts who have been lined up to talk to you; you will learn a lot as to how we have attempted, I will say attempted as we are still in the process of dealing with the problem. But you’ll come across challenges and I hope that you will use our own experience to learn, you don’t have to wait to learn by your own experience. You can build on our own experience and examine the pitfalls so that you can build on the strengths and weaknesses of our own Laws, so that you can better build your own Laws that will better serve the interests of the people of Liberia and the wider ECOWAS community. So we are Members of the same community, you are always welcome to Nigeria, our doors as a Parliament are always open to provide assistance and to see that you are up to speed with some of these reforms that we are trying to advance even in Nigeria”.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Chairman of Liberian Parliament’s joint Committee on Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit, Sen. Henry Yallah told the Speaker that they were in Nigeria on a study tour with the aim of building their capacity as a young democracy.
Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (2)
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
-Far-Near War While Anticipating an Attack on the City
By Solomon Ngu*
If one takes seriously the popular narrative surrounding the marginalization and oppression of the Anglophones, the conclusion would be that those who have taken up arms against the government are fighting a war of decolonization – they want to send away the colonizer. This evokes memories of decolonial wars fought around Africa between the 1950s and 1970s. Just how brutal these wars were is a subject that one cannot deal with in detail here but what we all know is that a certain category of people were fighting for their freedom. This war of liberation – according to the Fighters – is no longer about a return to federalism that the country experienced between 1961 and 1972. They want an independent Ambazonia or Southern Cameroons. Government crack-down, particularly soldiers’ unchallenged killings of unarmed Anglophones within the past twenty months, is fuelling the determination of those Ambazonians who want to get their country back. At the center of all this is the Francophonization of everything in Cameroon.
Anyone familiar with Anglophone Cameroon would attest that people in this part of the country talk about loss of freedom all the time. But the reality is that Cameroon is a police state where human rights violation, usually encapsulated by police brutality, has been normalized. Armed resistance against the government by the Amba Fighters has seen authorities devising many methods to further curtail the freedom of citizens. We witness that the government, fearful of what the Fighter could do, imposes curfews, undertake mass arrests, kidnappings, detentions and killings. It does not take long for anyone familiar with daily life in the Anglophone major cities of Limbe, Buea, Bamenda and Kumba to realize a shift in attitude as well as visceral adjustments to the new realities of urban uncertainty. In Buea where I spent most of my time, all the people I met constantly speculated when the war may reach the city. But at the same time, they went about their daily routine, cautiously.
I quickly adjusted to the new realities partly due to my familiarity with bodily discipline. I have been visiting Cameroon yearly for more than a decade and can thus easily tell what a tensional atmosphere is. Going to the countryside, a practice deeply rooted in my visits to Cameroon, was completely out of the question. All I could hear was that I would be endangering myself and the family if I dared ventured into the village. In a worst case scenario the fear was that it could become difficult for me to get out of the war zone in time to catch my flight back to USA. A point I made in my earlier post and to which I will return frequently is the ravaging war in the villages where the soldiers, out of desperation to eliminate the Amba Fighters, have resorted to burning down villages. These acts of vandalism also take an opportunistic trajectory as when they set up their command post in one or more of the deserted houses and then feed and feast on the food, cattle, chicken and pigs of the fleeing villagers. There have been reports of soldiers setting these occupied houses on flames when they relocate to another part of a village. Videos and photos of vandalized villages continue to circulate on social media.
Amba Fighters’ guerilla strategy whereby they attack the soldiers and then vanish into the bushes has left a frightened urban population. They fear what the soldiers could do to innocent civilians if the Fighters attack individuals and institutions they see as sustaining the Francophonization of this part of the country. Would they burn down entire neighborhoods and markets, destroy people’s livelihood and kill innocent civilians as they do in the villages? How the city dwellers survive in a war situation is the more troubling considering that unlike villagers who are relatively self-sustaining, these urbanites primarily depend on food imported from neighboring farming villages. It should be reiterated that the war has destabilized the vital rural-urban connection that has sustained sociocultural and economic ties between the city dwellers and their village of origin. Within the past hundred years, villages in Anglophone Cameroon have provided sanctuaries for urbanites who return to their land and ancestors when they encounter difficulties in the city.
As far as I could tell, no one took it lightly when it was rumored that the Amba Fighters were present in Buea. What I witnessed in Buea was that government administrators and the police people generally restrain from their well-known wanton lifestyle. Anyone familiar with urban life in Cameroon knows just well how members of the police force in uniform intimidate and bully ordinary citizens at non-office hours. But here is the thing I observed in Buea: police generally do not wear uniforms at non-office hours. In fact, they take off their uniforms before returning home from work. They do not go to the taverns and bars anymore in their uniforms. The words of one police officer I met in Buea summarize this transformed sartorial practice. Referring to a possibility of an attack by Amba Fighters in Buea, he said ‘who no di fear die (who isn’t afraid of death?)’. He took off his police paraphernalia as soon as he finished work so as to conceal his identity.
Police stations and checkpoints now have 1.6 meter tall wall of sandbags that are intended to defend the police in an event of an attack. The biggest surprise – when we see god-like figures responding to insecurity – has been that of the governor of the South West Region. Mr Bernard Okalia Bilai presently lives in the Francophone city of Douala from where he commutes daily to work in Buea flanked by security. Recall that this governor not too long ago said Anglophones are ‘dogs’ that would face the full force of the police if they dare protest on the streets. As it stands now, he has realized his own vulnerability and has come to terms with the fact that he no longer has the monopoly to subject citizens to discomfort.
As I began writing this piece about uncertainty in a war zone, I began to think of acts of profound love and pain that some women endured as the fled from the government forces in the villages. I think of this lady who walked for miles at twilight through the forest with her one and a half years old baby. She was seven months pregnant. There was also this lady who abandoned her ailing and helpless mother for hours when news of approaching government soldiers reached her village. Both these women found a way to flee to Buea but were now facing another possibility of fleeing again into the Francophone zone in case war erupted in Buea.
These feelings of impending war in the city point to the fact that there are diminished possibilities to live life as usual but most importantly, it has to do with the question of mortality. Diminished livelihood possibilities and death are catastrophes that have afflicted villagers ever since the military started invading the countryside in October 2017. And there seem to be no end in sight. As I write, people are still uncovering the corpses of unarmed civilians killed by a recent military onslaught in villages around Santa, Menka/Pinyin, Oshei, etc
*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by Solomon Ngu
Prudent management of Africa’s resources will ensure dev’t – Bawumia
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah.
Ghana’s Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, has said Africa’s underdevelopment is largely attributable to lack of prudent management of the continent’s resources.
“We can only have a developed Africa if we manage our resources prudently and in the best interest of our people; “ Mrs Bawumia said, when she delivered a speech at the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry at an event to mark the 55th Anniversary of African Union (AU) Day celebration in Rome.
She asserted that African countries need to translate opportunities offered by globalization into inclusive growth, increased poverty reduction and sustainable development.
However, we need to take account of the fact that, integration into global markets have some risks; as countries may become more susceptible to global trends, including corrupt practices by multinational corporations and other vested external interests.
The theme of the 55th Anniversary of the AU: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Development”, according to Mrs Bawumia “goes to the crux of our national priorities.
Kwesi Botchwey is a real threat to Mahama – Pollster
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ghana’s lead pollster Ben Ephson has stated that former Finance Minister Professor Kwesi Botchwey will be a serious threat to former President John Dramani Mahama’s ambition of a comeback if he [Prof. Botchwey] decides to contest the Flagbearership slot of the Ghana’s largest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Information gathered indicates that the former NDC Secretary is expected to make a strong case for the 2020 presidential slot of the party. This follows pressure from Senior NDC cadres, including party Regional Chairmen and former MPs who support his bid, demanding that he steps forward.
They have confirmed reports that Professor Botchwey is warming up to contest as the flagbearer for the NDC citing his economic prowess and credentials, his cross-sectional appeal and unblemished track record as ‘great assets’ for the party.
Ghana’s second deputy Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin, the former Vice- Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, (UPSA) Joshua Alabi and former National Health Insurance Authority(NHIA) CEO Sylvester Mensah are some of the stalwarts in the NDC who have declared their intention to contest the flagbearership slot of the party.
Former President Mahama last week also stated his intention to lead the party ahead of the 2020 elections after reflecting on several calls on him to contest.
The Editor of the Dispatch newspaper, said Prof. Botchwey poses a real threat to candidature of Mr. Mahama.
“It will be interesting if Kwesi Botchwey contests for the NDC flag bearership…if he (Kwesi Botchwey) gets support from the Mills and Rawlings camp, he will be a strong contender for John Mahama.”
Mr. Ephson said the age of Prof. Botchwey won’t be a hindrance since President Akufo-Addo’s victory has broken that barrier.
Kenli GVG: Police probes death threats against IMANI Boss
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah.
The Ghana Police Service has commenced investigations into the alleged death threats on the life of IMANI Africa President, Franklin Cudjoe.
It comes after Mr. Cudjoe lodged an official complaint to the Police on Monday.
The IMANI Africa President received a warning from someone he describes as “highly placed source” within the Interior Minister to be on guard due to his comments on the controversial $89.4million Kelni GVG deal.
The think-tank has constantly questioned the rationale behind the new contract with Kelni GVG, describing it as wasteful and aimed at milking the public purse.
“Indeed, there has been no such report of underperformance by the stakeholders that contracted Subah.
“The issue then is why did the Ministry of Communications go ahead and sign a new contract under the name of a common monitoring platform for a service that is already being rendered under an existing contract by a fellow government agency?” President of IMANI Africa Franklin Cujdoe noted, calling for the immediate cancellation of the contract.
After officially alerting the police to the threat on his life, Mr. Cudjoe said the assurance given him by the police is refreshing.
“This is top-notch right from the regional headquarters, the commander himself with the Chief Crime Officer taking our statement and our details,” he stated.
The police, he said urged him to immediately report to them when he hears or sees anything.
“So there’s a 24 hour open call which I think is useful, he stated, adding: “I think I can safely trust the police on this matter.
Kelni GVG, a Haitian originated company, was awarded a contract by the government for design, development and implementation of a common platform for traffic monitoring, revenue assurance, and mobile money monitoring and fraud management—a service already being rendered by Afriwave and Subah Info Solution.
Although the government insists the deal saves the country $1.1 million a month, Mr Cudjoe wonders why the state has been paying the firm $1.5 million per month since January for “no work done”.
To Mr Cudjoe and Imani, the deal is “needless” and a rip-off.
The Kelni GVG contract upon its signing stipulates that a payment of $1,491,225 be paid monthly for a 5-year period, amounting to a total of USD 89,473,500.
Per the terms of the contract, which was signed in December 2017, the monthly payments are supposed to begin no later than 30 days after the contract was signed.
This, by inference, means that the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Communications owes at least $5.96 million as of May this year even though the company is yet to officially begin work.
Ghana:Procuring local fabrics to be made compulsory – Alan Kyeremanten
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah.
Government institutions will soon be compelled to procure fabrics from local textile firms, Ghana’s Minister of Trade and Industry Alan Kyeremanten has revealed.
The move, according to him, is part of measures rolled out by government to revive the ailing textile industry in Ghana.
“We believe that government will do what it has promised to do…introduce this policy,” he stated last week Thursday when he met players in the industry who have been protesting against the influx of fake textiles onto the Ghanaian market.
“By then we want it to be backed by legislative instrument. So we’ll ensure that we bring out the necessary legislative instrument,” he added.
The textile industry which used to employ about 27.000 workers in the 70’s now employs less 3,000 as a result of the collapse of textile firms.
To clamp down on the influx of the fake textiles on the market, the Ministry of Trade and Industry inaugurated a 12-member vetting committee to facilitate the work of the anti-textile piracy taskforce it constituted earlier this year.
The committee, according to the Deputy Trade Minister, Carlos Ahenkora is critical to the fight against pirated textiles smuggled onto the market.
Meanwhile, the Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Union (TGLEU) is accusing the Trade Minister of hatching a plot to divide the front of textile workers.
Their accusation followed his criticism of them for boycotting the Thursday meeting to announce plans to deal with the influx of pirated wax prints onto the market after protests by its members.
The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) which is the mother union for the staff of two textile companies participated in the said meeting and according to the Trade Minister, TGLEU’s boycott was regrettable despite its members being invited.
But General Secretary of TGLEU Abraham Koomson said the Trade Minister is being economical with the truth.
“TGLEU has been more concerned than any trade union in this country as far as the struggle against pirated textiles is concerned. The establishment of the task force was at the instance of TGLEU. For the Minister out of the blue to arrange that meeting without even informing us that it was not an ordinary meeting but a joint press conference we saw that we were going to be ambushed to be committed to a position which will not be good for the industry,” he said.
Attorney General clears Mahama’s AMERI deal, cautions Energy Minister against termination.
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah.
Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice Gloria Akuffo has warned the Energy Ministry to dismiss plans of terminating the AMERI deal because it will end up in huge damages against the Government of Ghana.
The erstwhile Mahama administration signed a $510 million contract with AMERI to build power plants, own and operate it for five years before transferring it to the Government of Ghana during the energy crisis in 2015.
This was done on a sole-sourced basis after a meeting between the former President of the Republic of Ghana and the Crown Prince of Dubai.
The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) then in opposition described the agreement as a “stinking deal” which will be re-looked at when it assumes power. A 17-member committee established by the Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko advised the government to re-negotiate the $510m power deal with UAE-based AMERI energy after a report revealed it was over-priced by $150million.
In responding to two letters from the Energy Minister requesting for legal advice to suspend monthly payment to AMERI, the attorney general kicked against the move because “the deal is valid” and satisfies Ghana’s procurement processes.
In her response, Ms. Akuffo noted the Government of Ghana “entered into a very unfavourable agreement with AMERI”, adding the only way out is for the government to “renegotiate the deal with AMERI with a view to achieving a more favourable term.”
The letter sighted by panafricanvisions.com said in part that: “For the GoG to extricate itself from the highly unfavourable BOOT agreement without paying damages and or penalties to AMERI, there is a need to demonstrate that the agreement was procured by illegal means either through fraud or corruption or in breach of the PPA: however, for GoG to make such claims it is imperative to gather sufficient relevant evidence to establish whether or not the BOOT agreement is tainted by fraud or corruption.”
Ghana Card issuance hits another snag, NIA silent
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Hundreds of officers who gathered at selected centers to get their National ID Card also known as the Ghana Card were left stranded and disappointed after officials of the National Identification Authority failed to turn up and get them registered.
The exercise was scheduled to kick off at 7:00am at some key state agencies and institutions including the Jubilee House, Parliament, Judicial Service and the various security installations.
Officers who had massed up had to disperse and return to their base as officials of NIA failed to show up for the much touted project to take off.
No official explanation has been given for the failure to kick start the project today but some NIA officials cited technical reasons for the delay.
The government of Ghana is contributing $531 million of the total $1.2 billion cost, while Identity Management System (IMS), which is partnering the NIA under a public/private partnership (PPP) agreement, will provide $678 million for the exercise.
The issuance of a National Identification ID card is among the few key projects the government promised to execute to formalize the country’s economy.
Many Ghanaians have already expressed regret over the seeming delays in the issuance of the cards after more than three previous deadlines set by the government to execute it, was not met.
Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Prof. Kenneth Attafuah had stated that all the necessary documentation and legal framework for the registration and issuance of the Ghana Card had been set up to kick-start the process.
He stated that key individuals such as the country’s former Presidents Kufuor, Mahama and Rawlings, Members of the Ghana Journalists Association, among others, were supposed to be issued with the cards first before registration opens for the general public.
ICT University graduates more than over 1000 in Uganda
May 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
By DICTA ASIIMWE
There was an ever present message of the changing times in academics and the global working order, as 1,421 students were awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates from ICT University in collaboration with Makerere University Business School (MUBS).
On May 25, students from across Africa were awarded different certificates, with some completing a doctor of philosophy. Other graduands were awarded masters, bachelors, diplomas and certificates at the MUBS main campus in Kampala Uganda.
Uganda and in particular Makerere University and its colleges are attractive to many students from across the African continents. It is this understanding that saw the proprietors of ICT University sign a memorandum of understanding with MUBS. And this decision is paying off, as those graduating came from Nigeria, Uganda and other countries in between.
The day, however, wasn’t just about merrymaking and enjoying one’s academic achievements, as speaker after speaker focused little on the congratulatory messages, with most choosing instead, to talk about the realty of joining the job market in an age when humans are now competing with artificially intelligent machines.
Jointly organised by two universities that are generally businesses oriented, the merrymaking didn’t stop the speakers from delving into the serious conversation of becoming gainfully employed when you are an African youth. So even in the face of celebration, cultural dances and the promise of celebratory meals, the graduands, especially those that were receiving their first degree were reminded that this was the beginning. This was the time when the graduands could start the process of making a difference through a lot of discipline, sacrifice and hard work.
Patrick Mweheire the Stanbic Bank Chief Executive Officer who gave the commencement speech warned the graduands that even jobs like accounting which used to be considered prestigious and hard to get have since been automated.
Faced with this challenge, Mr Mweheire advised the graduands to compliment the hardcore knowledge acquired from university with soft skills.
“Hardcore skills contribute 15 per cent to success. Soft skills contribute 85 per cent. So you have to make a conscience effort to continuously develop soft skills,” he says.
He says that since soft skills are not learnt from school, require constant learning. Such skills include the ability to deal with people and motivate others. He also says that someone with the right kind of soft skills has to have the ability to solve problems under pressure.
The soft skills he says will come in handy for looking for employment, as that’s how people with the same education on paper are differentiated. For those who want to start businesses, he says convincing someone to believe in an idea that doesn’t exist yet, isn’t something that can be learnt in school. The fact that millennials stay longer with company if, the business’ goals are aligned with personal ones means that even holding onto employees can be for an executive that lacks soft skills.
Dr Ezra Suruma the Makerere University Chancellor added that having graduated through an education system that largely examines the ability to cram and memorize facts and figures; the graduands had to reinvent themselves. The skill of cramming and reducing information is a skill that no longer has much value.
“The challenge that you face individually and collectively is that remembering Napoleon’s birthday is no longer of much value because you can get this information off the internet in an instant,” he says.
Dr Suruma advised the graduands to seek more knowledge, be persistently innovative and creative.
But the changing times wasn’t just reflected in the how to become gainfully employed messages. It was also in the fact that Makerere University’s Vice Chancellor was present for this particular graduation, suggesting an improvement in relations with MUBS. For the students Makerere University’s presence provides more authenticity for their academic documents.
“In the past the seat of the Vice Chancellor would have remained empty,” said the MUBS Principal Prof Waswa Balunywa.
MUBS is still a constituent college of Makerere University. The MUBS students that are not part of ICT University will graduate in January alongside those studying at the Makerere University. Years of fights of resources and independence had created a lot of enmity Makerere University and its constituent college MUBS.
Since MUBS become a semi independent institution, the two institutions didn’t fight over graduation lists and finances.
MUBS has even been actively campaigning to become independent, but Makerere University insisted this would require a change of name. Since MUBS without its Makerere association loses some of its popularity, this had become a continuously contentious issue until the arrival of Professor Barnabas Nawangwe.
Prof Nawangwe who is the new Makerere University Vice Chancellor was so cordial, he even directed that more of MUBS practices are adopted by the other colleges at the main campus, as this provides opportunity for improved performance and discipline.