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FG Signs Agreement With UNICEF to Ensure Safety of Children Rescued in Conflict Areas

The federal government has signed an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the safety and protection of children found by Nigerian Security Agencies in conflict areas in the country.

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Child Poverty - Investors King

The federal government has signed an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the safety and protection of children found by Nigerian Security Agencies in conflict areas in the country.

According to a statement on Friday, UNICEF representative in Nigeria Cristian Munduate stated that the handover protocol will prohibit the detention of children allegedly associated with armed groups.

Munduate further added that the agreement signed will enable proper integration of such children into the society through educational and psychosocial support, adding that it will give them the privilege of acquiring an identity.

With this agreement, children rescued will be taken to the ministry of women affairs and social development for proper support within seven days.

The statement reads, “The handover protocol is a practical tool to prevent or reduce the detention of children encountered by military and security forces during armed conflict and presents an opportunity to identify and transfer children allegedly associated with armed groups within a period of seven days to the ministry of women affairs and social development.

“The government of Nigeria and UNICEF will continue to work together to ensure that children allegedly associated with armed groups receive appropriate, tailored social and economic reintegration assistance that supports the children’s, families, and communities resilience and social cohesion through child protection, education, psychosocial support, and livelihood initiatives, vocational and skills development, and life skills.

“Under this agreement, the government of Nigeria, the United Nations system in Nigeria, and UNICEF will appoint focal points to oversee the implementation of the protocol and develop a detailed operation plan to guide the implementation of the protocol, outlining roles to ensure its operationalization and share regular compliance reports on the implementation of the protocol with relevant authorities.

“Today marks a historic moment for children who are victims of serious rights violations in north-east Nigeria. This positive undertaking in signing the handover protocol represents a significant milestone and demonstrates the government of Nigeria’s commitment to upholding its obligations to establish and implement the minimum safeguards to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict.

“The protracted armed conflict in north-east Nigeria has resulted to mass displacement and humanitarian and protection crisis. From 2016 to September 2022, 4,204 children (2,866 boys, 1,338 girls) have been released from administrative custody by the Nigerian military and have received interim care services at the Bulumkutu transit center, including community-based social and economic reintegration assistance.”

The handover protocol is reported to be the first civil human rights instrument to specifically cover the transfer, custody, and care of children in northeast Nigeria and minors from other nationalities who escaped or were rescued from armed groups.

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Education

FG to Boost Internet Connection in OAU, Unilag, Unilorin, and 14 Other Institutions

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Broadband Penetration - Investors King

The federal government has approved a sum of N400 million each to boost internet connection in Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Lagos, University of Ilorin, and 14 other institutions across the country.

The approval which was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, is aimed to increase broadband penetration in Nigeria. 

Investors King understands that this is in addition to the agreement which the ministry sighed with top tech company, Microsoft to train 5 million Nigerians on high-demand digital skills. 

Speaking during the award of the contracts letters in Abuja, Pantami noted that Nigeria is on course to achieve 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025. 

While highlighting the benefits of the broadband project to include improving the quality of education and overall growth of the beneficiary institutions, the minister stated that three higher institutions were selected from each geo-political zone of the country.

On the list of beneficiary institutions include Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Lagos and University of Ilorin, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; University of Calabar; University of Benin; and the University of Port Harcourt.

Others are Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Bayero University, Kano; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina; Borno State University; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; Gombe State University; Federal University of Technology, Minna; University of Ilorin; University of Abuja; and College of Education (Special), Ibadan.

In the same development, Pantami added that 20 markets, 3 each from the six geo-political zones will also benefit from the broadband projects. 

The markets include the famous computer village In Lagos, the highly patronised Wuse market in Abuja; Bodija Market in Ibadan, Kantin Kwari Market, Kano; Central Market, Lafia, Nasarawa State; Mandate Market, Ilorin; Jos Main Market, Plateau State; Jimeta Central Market, Yola; New Market, Gombe.

Others are Oja Oba, Akure, Ondo State; Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State; Ariaria International Market, Aba, Abia State; International Modern Market, Owerri, Imo State; Main Market, Onitsha, Anambra State; Watt Market, Calabar, Cross River; Oba Market, Benin, Edo State; and Swali Market, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.

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Travel

Passengers Groan as Air Tickets Increase by More than 100%

The price of Jet A1 which was N200 in December 2021 is currently sold at N800 per liter

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Arik Airplane - Investors King

Travelers have lamented the arbitrary increase in air tickets. The increase which has now caused one-way tickets from Abuja to Lagos to rise above N150,00 has been blamed on the scarcity of aviation fuel also known as Jet A1. 

The price of Jet A1 which was N200 in December 2021 is currently sold at N800 per liter. The increase is mostly due to scarcity and the rise in foreign exchange.

A check by Investors King on the booking pages of some domestic airlines shows that a one-way trip from Abuja to Lago on Air peace Airlines costs between 65,000 to 150,000 depending on the flight schedule. 

On Air peace, Lagos to Anambra on 23rd of December  2023, goes for N150,000.

Similarly, while a lot of near-date seats have been sold out on MaxAir, medium-distance date ranges between N65,000 to 80,000 nairas.

The same thing goes for Dana Airlines. A check on Dana Airlines shows between N66,000 to N85,000 from Abuja to Lagos on an economy ticket. 

According to some industry experts, other factors that are driving the price of air tickets include the demand that often comes with the yuletide period.

Looking at the available seats, it is obvious that many people had already booked seats ahead of the festive period. Additionally, the demand for air tickets was also driven by the political season. 

Investors King understands that campaign activities often drive the demand for air tickets as politicians and their supporters move from one state to the other. 

Furthermore, the Nigerian aviation industry is faced with high operating costs, taxes, and surcharges. 

Airlines also have to pay for landing costs and multiple aviation agencies’ charges among others. 

It will be recalled that in February 2022, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) pegged one-way ticket fares to a minimum of N50,000 amid the scarcity and sharp rise in the price of aviation fuel. 

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Education

FG Hints at Alternative Funding For Tertiary Education to Address Academic Challenges

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The Federal Government has mulled the need to explore alternative means of funding for tertiary education in Nigeria amid academic disruption caused by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)

Investors King reported that academic activities in public universities in Nigeria were disrupted for about eight months. 

Speaking at a public event organised by the House of Representatives, the Minister for Works and Former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola noted that alternative funding seems to be the only forward-looking way to fund tertiary education in Nigeria. 

While acknowledging that tertiary education needs collective funding from all levels of government, he however highlights areas where the universities and polytechnics could generate funds to include printing press and consultancy services. 

“University consultancy services, data provision, poll results, value data, and printing press are value proposals of alternatives for tertiary Institutions,” he said. 

Fashola also disapproved of the autonomy sought by lecturers in tertiary education. He noted that it is a big issue that needs to be addressed going forward. 

Also speaking at the event is the Director General of the budget office of the federation, Benjamin Akabueze. 

Akabueze who aligned himself with the position of the minister noted that the current system of funding can not feed the tertiary education sector. 

‘There has to be sustainable funding of tertiary education. We can’t continue with the current system because it is not working and not sustainable.” he stated. 

Nonetheless, the event also witnessed opposing opinions, particularly from Professor Uduak Ekpo. A professor of education at the University of Calabar

Ekpo disagrees with the earlier position established by both Fashola and Akabueze. He noted that if lecturers are saddled with the responsibility of funding, it will affect the quality of education and research. 

He concluded that the funding might still not be successful noting that lectures are better off in the classrooms or labs. 

On his part, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke bemoaned any idea to increase the fee paid by students in search of alternative funding. He noted that with the level of poverty and the state of the economy, many students will not be able to afford any increase.

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