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Corruption in Civil Service, a Nation’s Greatest Tragedy — Osinbajo

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  • Corruption in Civil Service, a Nation’s Greatest Tragedy

The acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said a situation where privileged civil servants subvert the system for personal gains at the expense of the poor is the greatest tragedy that a nation could experience.

Osinbajo spoke at the inaugural Quarterly Civil Service Lecture Series with the theme, “Civil Service in a Change Environment: The Change is Now”, held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

He said the nation was faced with what he called a monumental tragedy when civil servants used the opportunity of the position they hold for self enrichment.

He said, “The power to do good or evil lies with a few people who form what we refer to as our civil service.

“When some of such elite see the opportunity as one for self enrichment by corrupt practices, then the nation faces a monumental tragedy.

“There is no excuse anywhere in a nation where the majority are still poor and are struggling to make a living that anyone who has the benefit of good education and good fortune of a job in the civil service should subvert that service for personal gains.

“I think it is the greatest tragedy that a nation can experience.”

Osinbajo told the civil servants that they were sometimes being referred to as “evil servants.”

He, however, urged them to take heart, saying the best professions were usually the most criticised.

“Despite the criticisms that civil servants are subjected to, I am sure that you know that sometimes civil servants are described as evil servants, but you must take heart, the best profession are usually the most criticised.

“But I must say that the wholesome privilege of public service is very easily abused or taken for granted.

“The public service elite represent, as we have seen, the most important factor in mass development,” he added.

Osinbajo regretted that the system, which had firmly stood against injustices and high-handedness that characterised the military era, when leadership was mainly by promulgation of decrees, suddenly came crashing when civil servants began to see their functions as means to achieve personal aggrandisement, rather than the common good of the Nigerian state.

He noted that more often than not, civil servants used their positions to further their personal gains and left the masses impoverished.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo Ita, in her lecture, said the time had come for Nigerians to stop lamenting over the foregone glorious days of the civil service.

She said the service was possibly a victim of the overall malaise bedeviling the entire Nigerian society.

She blamed the inability to clearly articulate its vision as being responsible for the decline of the service.

Also on Tuesday, while inaugurating the Private Sector Advisory Group for the Sustainable Development Goals at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, Osinbajo said so much corruption was prevalent among the nation’s political, religious and private sector elite because of the high premium placed on wealth in the country.

He said the elite had decided to view wealth as a measure of worth, hence the large scale corruption in the system.

He said some nations were doing better than nations who attach importance to wealth because such nations decided that the value of human beings was in their contribution to the society.

Osinbajo said, “We have decided as an elite in this country that wealth is a measure of worth. It is a decision we made consciously or unconsciously. The political elite have decided that wealth is a measure of worth and that is why you find so much corruption among the political elite. Even the religious elite believe that it is a blessing of God.

“There are some societies that have decided that the value of human beings is in their contributions to the society. Those societies, of course, have done better than those who have decided that wealth, no matter how it was obtained, is a measure of worth.

“I think it is important if our elite decide that dealing with poverty is worth the while and that it will measure whether or not we are serious about our society.”

The Acting President said there was enormous responsibility placed upon the elite to do something about the millions of the extremely poor in their midst.

The responsibility, he said, should not be taken lightly since that was how they would be measured at the end of their lives.

“At the end of our lives, the question that will be asked is, what is the impact that we make on people’s lives? Nobody will be measured by how much money we made or the positions we held.

“A lot of our people in this country hang their hopes on us. They look up to us and believe we can do it and despite all the failures and the false starts, our people especially the poor and the vulnerable still believe that these elite will and can deliver.

“Let us therefore take this as a personal responsibility to our people to do something profound that will make a huge difference in the lives of our people.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, described the inauguration of the PSAG as a landmark event, saying Nigeria was the first United Nation member-state to do so.

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Government

INEC Plans Expansion Of Polling Units For 2023 General Election

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Ahead of 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to make polling units accessible to the electorate to remove voter apathy during elections.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kwara, Malam Garba Attahiru-Madami, made this known on Monday in Ilorin while declaring open two-day training on “Implementation of expansion of voters’ access to polling units”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was for Electoral Officers (EOs) and Assistant Electoral Officers (AEOs) in charge of Administration, Operations and Cluster Registration areas drawn from the 16 local government areas of Kwara.

He noted that many eligible voters refused to vote on election day because of the distance of polling units to their residences.

The REC told the participants that the training was very important to INEC, just as election was important, adding that without polling unit, there would be no election.

“Election start from polling unit, if there is no polling unit, there would be no election and collation, that is how important polling unit is,” he added.

He therefore charged the participants to take the training very serious as the outcome of the training would offer opportunity on what they would do on the field.

“I don’t need to re-emphasise why access to polling unit is very important. We already know that this exercise was carried out in 1996 and it was to serve 50 million voters.

“In 2019 election, we have greater voters of 84 million; you can see that the polling units now are grossly inadequate.

“By the time general election will take place in 2023, our projection is to have over 120 million voters.

“The number of polling units we have now cannot serve the 120 million voters, so the training is very important,” he said.

According to the REC, one of the reasons for voter apathy is because the polling unit was not accessible to them.

He said that some polling units have over 1,000 to 5,000 voters that were spread to polling points.

“So, we want to see how we can convert some of these voting points to polling units to meet the need of the people on election day.

“In some communities with communal clash, having their own polling unit would solve such conflict, because you will see a villager that will say, I will not go to that village to vote,” he added.

He said the idea of expansion of polling units was to remove voter apathy and reduce distance from home to the polling unit. (NAN)

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African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity

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African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.

The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.

The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.

The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”

The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research

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The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.

The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.

He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.

According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.

“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.

“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said

The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.

“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.

He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.

Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.

“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.

“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.

“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.

The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.

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