By Abdullahi Mohammed
Google CEO Sundar Pichai welcomed the Vice President to the meeting held at Googleplex, the corporate headquarters of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc., located in California, United States
VP Osinbajo Meets Top Google Executives in First Leg of US Investment Road Show
*FG, Global Firm working on making content cheaper, localized, accessible to Nigerians
*Google Artificial Intelligence Centres coming to Nigeria soon
In line with its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, especially its strategy to diversify the economy by making technology an enabler for forex revenue earnings, the Buhari administration would be actively supporting Google’s Next Billion users plan intended to ensure greater digital access in Nigeria and around the world.
This will afford millions of Nigerians access to the Internet and particularly support content distribution.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, gave the assurance during a meeting with Google executives at the company’s corporate headquarters in the Silicon Valley at the start of the investment road show he is leading to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai welcomed the Vice President to the meeting held at Googleplex, the corporate headquarters of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc., located in California, United States.
Nigeria has been identified as one of the major countries where the latest generation of Internet users will come from, and the next billion users are said to be already changing the Internet in three key ways: the prominent use of smartphones to access the Internet, an instinct for universal computing, and a demand for localised content.
The future of the internet is in the hands of the next billion users, as the global technology company has noted, and it is reckoned that the latest generation of internet users will come online on smartphones in places like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria.
For Nigeria, the Google Next Billion Users plan is expected to provoke innovation on an unprecedented scale.
In the same vein, the VP and Google executives also discussed localization of content and content creation to make content cheaper and more accessible to Nigerians.
Prof. Osinbajo also discussed other areas for possible partnership with Google, including the establishment of Google Artificial Intelligence Centers in Institutions of Higher Learning in Nigeria and the establishment of a YouTube Creator space to support Nigeria’s digital content producers and enable them make money with their craft leveraging on YouTube and Google Tools.
Other areas discussed include the expansion of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Program in Africa. Google has also indicated interest in the policy environment in Nigeria and formulation of policy to encourage partnerships and investments from Google with companies in Nigeria’s technology space.
This is in line with Nigeria’s ERGP plans, and the country’s quest to become a data driven digital economy, knowledge and business process outsourcing hub for the global market, and making gains in terms of the efficiency and transparency of process that a digital economy offers.
Also in Federal Government’s effort of ensuring a skilled work force, it is partnering with Google to increase the number of Nigerians in the global technology firm’s Launchpad Accelerator, and Google I/O Developer Festivals.
Also Google will offer training to Nigerians on Android and Web Development, Digital Marketing and Taking Business Online.
A major objective of the Vice President’s trip is to showcase to the world the progress and strides in the country’s technology, innovation and creative space by Nigerian Start-ups and entertainment industry practitioners.
At the meeting held on Monday in Silicon Valley, the Vice President also interacted with scores of Nigerians working with Google.
The Vice President later met with a series of key technology investors and also visited the headquarters of LinkedIn where he was the Special Guest at the firm’s Fireside Chat in a room packed full of Nigerians in Diaspora among others.
How El-Rufai Awarded 282 Contracts to Wife and Cronies
There is this old saying that; ‘the leopard does not change its spots’, this saying seems to have come true in Kaduna state as the governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai seems to be behaving true to character by replicating what he did while he was Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. PowerSteering was in Kaduna to bring you this report.
Senator representing Kaduna central, Shehu Sani inadvertently underestimated the ruthlessness and temerity of Malam Nasir el-rufai when he attempted to pose as an opposition to the governor. Sani who had nursed the ambition of taking over the reins of power from el-rufai as governor after his first term in office constantly opposed the policies of the governor claiming to take sides with the masses. This posture did not go down well with el-rufai as Shehu Sani was summarily expelled from the All Progressives Congress APC party on the ground of anti-party activities. When Shehu Sani and his cohorts attempted to set up a parallel APC party in the state, el-rufai in his characteristic manner did not waste time to demolish the office of the parallel APC. That was the tip of the iceberg as Shehu Sani almost shot himself in the foot when he attempted to defect from APC to PDP but he was convinced to shelve the idea but when the party primaries were held recently, Shehu Sani got a dose of el-rufai’s venom as he was told that he was not qualified to partake in the primaries.
This development set Shehu Sani running helter-skelter between Kaduna and Aso rock in an attempt to save his political career. Shehu Sani was eventually abandoned in the rain and the present state he finds himself might be an end to his political career, no thanks to el-rufai. He has however defected to another party – PRP (Peoples Redemption Party of the late Malam Aminu Kano)
El-Rufai is not a stranger to controversy and as his first term in the state seems to be taking the shape of the theatre of the absurd as he has progressed from one controversy to the other. He is perceived to have demonstrated deep-seated-hatred for the Christians and the practice of their religion. He is also known to be non-forgiving and non-repentant. He allegedly carries his personal grievances against his enemies into governance and defines his relationship with both his personal and political enemies in clear terms. He is also known to have used threat for the demolition of his enemies; political and business rivals’ homes/buildings and seizure of landed properties as an effective means of settling scores and shutting them up. He has been embrowned in so many controversies backed-up by illegalities, yet he claims to be law abiding and an upright technocrat, and political savvy. One of such incidences was about his wife, children, and Kaduna state government officials that shared N3billion contracts. It was alleged that el-rufai awarded 282 contracts amounting to N3billion to his wife, children and other government cronies. Despite ceaselessly advertising himself as an apostle of due process and transparency el-rufai was alleged to run an opaque contract award system.
Documents exclusively obtained show that the lack of transparency in contract awards is characterized by blunt refusal to advertise bids, as required by the procurement Act; contract splitting, cornering of contracts through fronts by members of el-rufai’s family, cronies and officials of his government. The opaqueness was boldly evident in the award and execution of contracts for the rehabilitation of existing drainages in Kaduna South, Chikun and Zaria local government areas of the state.
To go round, the contracts were split into desilting and excavation in clear violation of due process regulations. They were also never advertised as required by the Procurement Act. Instead el-rufai’s government, after breaking the contract into bits, awarded them to members of his family, including his wife and children, personal staff, friends and members of the House of Assembly, who used fronts to execute them. Currently many of the drainage contracts have been abandoned, with the governor and the state legislature unable to move against the contractors because the jobs were awarded to cronies.
Among the beneficiaries were, Air vice Marshall Aliyu Rufai, the governor’s brother who got five contracts. He was alleged to be the sponsor of Sumadex Nigeria Limited, Digimic ventures, Gambari Visions limited, Concept Construction and Engineering Limited as well as Elab Solution Provider. Also on the list is a woman captured as Aunty Asabe, who got two contracts through J-F Haam Investment Limited. A man captured as uncle Idi also got a contract via DanShanono Investment Limited.
One of the governor’s wives, allegedly captured as Her Excellency in the contract document, was awarded a contract through Khairun Nas Nigeria Limited. Other members of the el-rufai family awarded contracts were Ahmed el-rufai who got the contract through Bafe4 Investment Limited, and Aisha el-rufai who got the contract for Ghana Road through Mohsal Global Concept. Mr. Yusuf Barnabas Bala, Mr. el-rufai’s deputy was allegedly awarded 13 contracts through Ojo Limmy Nigeria limited, Folarc Design Partners, Home Vestors Limited, Habi Moulds Limited, Golden Powers Nigeria Limited, Zamsnunom Enterprises Limited, Mustras International Limited, Nerat and Partners Limited, James Wagner and Partners Limited and De-Raheems Concept Limited.
Also featuring strongly at the contract buffet table are the secretary to the State Government (SSG) Balarabe Abass Lawal was allegedly awarded a contract through Bogbento International Limited. He was allegedly awarded five others in conjunction with different people through separate companies. In the contract awarded to Dan Magaji Crown Nigeria Limited, the SSG had, as partner, Mr. Abubakar Rilwanu. For the one awarded to Bel-Mod International Limited, he had Alhaji Dalha as partner. For the one awarded to Faida Engineering Services, he partnered with one Bello. In the contracts awarded to Shumfaza Ventures Nigeria Limited and Unasalim Nigeria Limited he partnered with one Shuaibu and Yusuf Balarabe Kabau respectively.
Equally prominent in the contract bazaar are the chairman and Director-General of the Kaduna state Due Process Office. Between them they got eight contracts, with three going to the former and five to the latter. The Majority Leader of the Kaduna State House of Assembly was allegedly awarded 10 contracts, including the one for Mai Anguwa Road, Kabala. The member of the House representing Tudun Wada constituency allegedly won five. The House Speaker’s name featured in 14 contracts. One Honourable Ilya Sawa was awarded 10.
The Executive Secretary of the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA) was allegedly awarded 18 contracts via different fronts for which he posed as sponsor. A woman identified as Hadiza, also of KADIPA, was awarded five through the same number of companies. One man captured as Hafiz, the documents showed, got six contracts through different companies. Mr. el-rufai’s deputy Chief of Staff walked off with a bounty of eight contracts, with his Chief Security bagging three.
The Political Adviser to the governor is listed as the biggest beneficiary, grabbing a total of 33 contracts through different companies. These include contracts for Coronation Road, Jaji Road in Malali, Mohammed Yusuf Lere Drive, Ibiyeye Road, School Road and Accra Road, Ungwan Rimi. The governors Special Adviser on Economic Matters allegedly bagged four contracts, the same number was awarded to el-rufai’s Special Assistant on Creative Arts. The Special Adviser on Youth matters bagged 10. A named Ali Chakis walked away with eight.
In total, 282 contracts were awarded, with many alleged to be in various stages of abandonment and for which the government is unable to insist on getting them completed because they were awarded to its officials, the governor’s family and friends. KAPWA with a budget of N500million budget allegedly spent over N3billion on the bogus project.
In another development, unknown to many Nigerians some prominent Nigerians were behind the kidnap of Chibok girls and one of the major actors was alleged to be Mallam Nasir el-rufai. The cat was let out of the bag when he stepped on the toes of the Amazon, former Minister of Women Affairs Hajiya Amina Alhassan. The former Minister had threatened to expose the governor over his role in the kidnap of Chibok girls. She said she was surprised that, “a dirty character like el-rufai could even have the guts to comment against her preference for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for 2019 Presidential race.” She said there are a lot of things Nigerians need to know about the planning and execution of the kidnap of Chibok girls because those behind it will be unmasked very soon. The intention was very obvious, to defame and blackmail PDP and Jonathan out of power.
The Minister was very angry by the comment credited to el-rufai that Buhari was severely warned not to appoint Amina Alhassan as Minister. Mallam el-rufai said Amina Alhassan had never been loyal to President Buhari from day one, noting that her loyalty lies with someone who is not ready to support the party to succeed because the person also wants to become President.
In her response Amina said those who know history well could tell about the treacherous nature of el-rufai who can go to any length to stab anyone just to rise politically, she said el-rufai was a nobody who was as poor as a church rat if not for Atiku that brought him to political relevance.
The same el-rufai was among those who plotted against Jonathan by tactically supporting Boko Haram and kidnapping of the Chibok girls, the information is out there where he lied that Jonathan wanted to kill him and other top members of APC by raising a false alarm about sniper list. No sane Nigerian will take el-rufai serious because he is an unrepentant addicted liar.
The same el- rufai who claimed to be loyal to the President is sponsoring some bloggers and his errand boys in the media to keep attacking and defaming Buhari, at least Nigerians can see his deliberate action to blackmail the President when he released his memo to the media which was supposed to be a confidential memo to the President in his bid to tarnish and embarrass Baba Buhari.
“I am not a coward, Buhari is my President and one of the fathers of APC, if I can’t be real with my choice of Atiku, then it would amount to eye service, I am not that kind of person,” she said.
Former President Obasanjo through his book, “My Watch’ gave a valid description of who the midget el-rufai is, he thrives on stabbing the hands that fed him politically, he can lie and kill so far he will rise in his political career not minding the pain he is inflicting on others, one of which is the supervision of mass killing of and hurriedly burying of over 1000 Shiites killed in Kaduna.
“I will personally meet with President Buhari and explain myself to him, I am not afraid of anybody, after all I am a politician, for those who have already gone ahead to plant a corruption story about me in the media, you are just wasting your time,” she said.
It will be recalled that some time back el-rufai had released a statement disowning a comment by his Chief of Staff who suggested that he would not run for a second term.
In the statement the governor said he did not need a surrogate to communicate his political intentions to the people of the state. He also threatened to fire any of his appointees caught politicking instead of concentrating on their immediate task of serving Kaduna people. El-rufai also directed the signage agency in his state to pull down all billboards bearing campaign messages, in violation of election laws and guidelines.
According to the statement, “I will inform the public on second term when I am ready. My attention has been drawn to statements credited to our Chief of Staff which clearly misrepresented his good intentions aimed at encouraging youths in politics and governance of our dear state. What was reported was that I had no plans to run for another term in office, and will be succeeded by someone below the age of 50. Both statements are misrepresentations of my position and the government. It has become imperative that these wrong impressions thereby created be corrected.
In 2014, when I complied with the directive of our leader President Muhammadu Buhari to run for the office of the governor of Kaduna state, I made the announcement in person. I did not employ surrogates to engage the public on this important decision. What I did not do as an aspirant for office, I will not do as incumbent governor. I will not communicate my decision to run for a second term in 2019 through surrogates, but directly to the people of Kaduna state.
Regarding the views ascribed to the Chief of Staff, they are perhaps his personal opinion. I do not wish to be associated with such sentiments. I am of the firm opinion that nobody, no matter the position they hold, can dictate to other citizens what they can or cannot aspire to. No individual can introduce into the electoral process conditions that are not embedded in the laws of our country and the norms of electoral competition.
The Constitution of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and the APC constitution have no provisions imposing maximum age limits for those aspiring to elective office. I am a strict law abiding citizen and loyal party member, and will not countenance anyone even hinting at the circumscribing constitutional rights. While our administration believes strongly in encouraging youths, evidenced by the number of young people we have appointed into key government positions, we believe it is the combination of the wisdom of the elderly and the energy of the youth that leads to societal progress.
While our government will continue to train these young persons in leadership responsibilities, and prepare them for the future, we do not believe that decreeing a generational shift is either lawful or pragmatic. Choice is the prerogative of the voting public which decides at each moment who and what platform they believe well represents their needs.
Any artificial intrusion into this process can only yield unwarranted distortions. And we have already suffered that distortion in Nigeria.
Any appointee of our administration that immerses himself or herself into ambitions for 2019, at the expense of vital public assignments entrusted them will be deemed to have constructively vacated office, and will be relieved of his position. I appeal to all our colleagues in government to comply with this and continue to exercise prudence and commitment in the implementation of our reform and restoration programme.
While Mallam Nasir el-rufai might have been blowing hot air over a statement made by his Chief of Staff, Saidu Adamu, the same person got caught in a massive storm of forgery. While some people know him as Saidu Adamu, his real name is Bashir Saidu. This is the name that appears on his WAEC certificate. It is strange that he now bears the name Saidu Adamu. It began like a rumor that he was not fit to hold political office, as his career in the civil service was dogged with controversy, then emerged a petition detailing allegations of perjury and falsification of records while he served in the Kaduna state civil service and Maritime Authority.
Perhaps those who had attempted to play down the allegations of forgery and scam, involving Saidu and some members of the Kaduna state Civil service Commission, the Chief of Staff knew too well that the stench would soar to high heaven, if the dirty linens that have staked up in the commission over how his dismissal from service and consequent letter of forgery from the commission transferring his service to the Maritime Authority is eventually washed in public.
Though Saidu, oozes more pungently with odour, revelations from Nigeria Maritime Authority report of the disciplinary committee on Saidu, in November 2000 revealed chains of collaborations with insiders in Kaduna Civil Service Commission.
Saidu’s letter of termination from Kaduna state civil service signed by Dr. Sa’ad Usman the then Secretary to the state government of Kaduna state dated 7th August, 1992 states, “after a careful study of the circumstances leading to your interdiction on 10th June 1991; I and your alleged recall on the 13th June 1992. I am to inform you that your services with Kaduna state Agricultural Development Project are no longer required, with immediate effect”.
Mallam Saidu had always been a crook right from the time he was in Barewa College Zaria and is still same. The leopard has still not changed its spots. This was a class mate of el-rufai in secondary school and they are still working in concert.
African Development Bank to present 2019 African Economic Outlook at 32nd AU Summit
The theme for this year’s African Economic Outlook is “Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity”
Location: Medium Conference Hall, AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The African Development Bank will present the 2019 edition of its flagship African Economic Outlook (AEO) report on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, 8 February, 2019, from 8.30 -12 noon.
The theme for this year’s African Economic Outlook is “Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity.” The annual report highlights economic prospects and projections for the continent as a whole and for each of the 54 countries. It offers short- and medium-term forecasts on the main socio-economic factors, while at the same time examining the challenges and progress.
The report is the result of the work and analysis of the Bank’s economic experts. It is a tool for policymakers, academics, investors, development and financial industry professionals and the press and is widely used to inform policy dialogue and enhance operational efficiency of institutions.
The presentation of the AEO to development experts, business and political leaders, media and policy makers follows its official launch at the Bank’s Headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on 17 January, 2019. The Addis Ababa presentation will be one of the key side events of the African Union conference.
Nexford University And A.Y.E Agree Pioneering Partnership To Empower African Entrepreneurs
Nexford University NXU, and Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs A.Y.E, a network with more than 12 million members, have announced a new partnership that will equip Nigerians with the skills needed to grow and sustain successful startups.
The partnership, which has been described as pioneering and the first of its kind in Africa, will offer 11 full scholarships for learners to study MBA and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees as part of the university’s founding cohort of learners, NexFirst.
Summy Smart Francis, President of A.Y.E, announced the beneficiaries of the Africa’s Young Entrepreneurship Scholarship Scheme at A.Y.E’s Annual Convention held in Lagos.
Francis, who will be one of NXU’s first BBA learners, said: “Just as we are dedicated to developing the next generation of outstanding African entrepreneurs, Nexford is creating a next-generation learning experience that will positively impact millions of lives around the world.
“We hope our pioneering partnership will shape the economies and political landscapes of members’ home countries.” he added.
Also speaking was Fadl Al Tarzi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NXU who stressed that the partnership was the first of its kind in Africa.
“Nigeria faces a major unemployment challenge, small to medium enterprises can play a major role in addressing this. Organizations such as A.Y.E are a catalyst to advancing the local entrepreneurship ecosystem. We hope through bringing quality, affordable education to Nigeria we will also play a role in improving living standards and creating jobs. With a strong knowledge economy, Africa can leapfrog its way into the future.”
He stated that Nexford enables greater social and economic mobility across the world by providing learners with access to high-quality, dynamic education that prepares them for the global workplace.
A.Y.E members will sharpen their entrepreneurial skills through project-based simulations, interactive, AI learning, and local African business case studies.
According to him, In January 2019, the university will offer the following degrees and certificates: Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Business, BBA, MBA, nine undergraduate and three graduate certificates in the field of business: registrations have commenced. It will also offer a range of specializations to match high-growth employment areas such as Data Science, Sustainable Energy, and Artificial intelligence.
NXU is licensed by the Higher Education Licensure Commission, in Washington, D.C, and is on a mission to be the largest, most affordable American university in the world. The university is now accepting registration from learners in Nigeria as well as markets such as the US the Philippines and Egypt.
The convention was however attended by renowned Nigerian businesswoman Folorunsho Alakija, Sahara Group’s Tonye Cole, and record producer and entrepreneur, Don Jazzy and Nexford’s Country Ambassador for Nigeria Olamidun Majekodunmi.
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