2023 Presidency: 19 Key Points Peter Obi Made At Harvard University

 

Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi on Wednesday in the United States continued his international consultations with the Diasporas.

At a deliberation with Harvard scholars and critical thinkers, the former governor of Anambra State reeled out the policy thrust that will drive his government if elected president of Nigeria in 2023.

There at the famous University’s Fireside, Obi painted a detailed picture of what his administration will do, and how affairs will be dealt with in all critical areas.

Below are 19 key points the LP flagbearer made while answering questions posed including those regarding governance, restructuring, corruption, security, foreign policy, subsidy, and ASUU.


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My conversation on PROSPECTS OF TRANSFORMATIVE GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA at Harvard University, USA.

1. We will offer a new brand of transformative and purposeful leadership. The overall goal of my administration shall be to streamline governance, make it more responsive, transformative, effective, less transactional, and therefore efficient and cost-effective.

2. Thinking through 2023 and beyond, we must think seriously about a leadership that is imbued with competence, capacity, credibility and commitment. Accordingly, we will pursue intangible assets of good governance, rule of law, security of lives and properties; We will ensure that we have these assets in place and stress asset optimization. We will strike a strategic balance that allows us to promote and protect national interest, while meeting our ECOWAS obligations.

3. We will rebuild Nigeria’s military power, promote economic growth, and enhance its technological prowess with a view to improving Nigeria’s diplomatic influence in sub-regional, regional and global affairs.
Restoring leadership will require that we reassert proactively, Nigeria’s leadership role in African affairs through constructive engagement, peacekeeping duties, and using existing sub-regional and regional forums as well as bilateral platforms for dialogue on current and emerging challenges. We will continue to enhance our sphere of influence via peacekeeping, and trade and investment initiatives.

4. We shall ensure that in moving Nigeria forward, no state or community will be left behind. Pursuant to its statutory responsibility to protect, our Government will promote equity in power and resource sharing. The federating units will enjoy discernible autonomy. Resources will also be shared equitably. A higher derivation paid to oil or solid minerals producing states will not be tantamount to other states not receiving federal allocations that should keep them viable. We must transcend the rhetoric that bedevils a robust debate on some of these national questions.

5. We will respect the principles of federal character, affirmative action and gender balance; but no longer at the expense of merit.

6. We will tweak the security architecture, which will entail reform of the security sector and governance. We will Restructure, Re-equip and Reorient the Nigerian Police: This will include 3 level policing- Federal, state and community.

7. We will build a Compact, Robust and Ready Mobile Police Force with Rapid Response Deployment capabilities; and Legislate the Establishment of State Police based on Community policing. We will raise the population to police officer ratio to a higher level.

8. A properly manned, equipped and technologically driven security system with particular emphasis on re-focusing the military on external threats and border protection and police on internal security threats and law enforcement; swift prosecution of criminals, bandits and terrorists; enhanced coordination among security agencies; and upholding the rule of law.

9. Integrate the activities of the National Intelligence and Security Agencies by establishing a Central Reporting Intelligence loop under the authority the Minister of National & Homeland Security.

10. Establish a National Command and Control Coordination Center for the efficient management of actionable intelligence, resource allocation and force deployment. Membership should consist of representatives of all security agencies on a need to know basis.

11. The oil theft is not petty pilfering. It is organized crime by a syndicate that involves a certain degree of sophisticated intelligence and logistical arrangement. We must admit that oil theft is happening because there is domestic and external collusion. The government and the people have the collective responsibility to protect national assets. On my watch those responsibilities will be accorded high priority.

12. Foreign and National Security policy initiatives, might in the long term entail rebuilding, repositioning and sustaining ECOMOG, as the arrowhead of a West African Security partnership. This is to counter terrorist threats and international subversion of the sovereignty of the West African region of which Nigeria must re-establish her place as a regional power.

13. We will explore ways of cushioning the forex demands by mainstreaming those components of Diaspora remittances that remain opaque and informal.

14. We are challenged by high youth unemployment, which stands at 33.3%; 54% for the youth; and 20 million out-of-school-children. We must give this country back to the Nigerian youths. Half of our 200 million people are below the age of 30.

15. Harnessing our national youth strength and demographic dividends intelligently, must start with curbing the high youth unemployment and creating funding access to enable our youths become entrepreneurs and drivers of our Small and Medium Scale enterprises (SMEs).

16. We will have zero tolerance for corruption; block leakages and cut the cost of governance. Our total commitment to transparency and accountability in government business is the only credible way to achieve limited to zero corruption.

17. We will enforce the legal framework protecting foreign investors and their indigenous partners. This is the only way to tamper monopoly and capital flight.

18. As governor of Anambra State, my administration achieved close to a 60-40 gender balance in appointive and elective positions. The national target has hovered around 30-35%. We intend to progressively aim for between 35-40%, with aggressive gender mainstreaming action plan and rigid benchmarks.

19. As part of our monetary policy, we will seek to re-establish the independence of the CBN; and commit to a credible and transparent plan to normalize the exchange rate and bring inflation to single digits. We will remove import and forex restrictions and insist on a single forex market. The current system penalizes exporters who bring in forex by forcing them to sell at a rate that they are unable to source for forex when they need to purchase forex. This multiple exchange rate regime encourages capital flight and deters investment, which has further worsened Nigeria’s forex situation.

 

Harvard Creates $100m Slavery Reparation Fund

In this file photo taken on August 30, 2018, a Harvard University building is viewed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Scott EISEN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

America’s prestigious Harvard University announced Tuesday it will commit $100 million to redress its role in slavery, as more US institutions move toward reparations for historical injustices.

Harvard said it was putting the money into a fund to help tackle the educational and social gaps caused by the legacies of the slave trade and racism.

The move follows a wide-ranging internal review of the university’s role in slavery, the results of which were posted on its website.

The 100-page report made several recommendations about how the money should be spent, including the improvement of educational opportunities for descendant communities, honoring enslaved people through memorials and research, and creating partnerships with Black colleges and universities.

It also recommended identifying and supporting direct descendants of Black and Native American enslaved individuals who labored on Harvard’s campus and who were enslaved by previous Harvard leaders.

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“Harvard benefited from and in some ways perpetuated practices that were profoundly immoral,” Harvard president Lawrence Bacow wrote in a letter to students and staff posted on the institution’s website.

“Consequently, I believe we bear a moral responsibility to do what we can to address the persistent corrosive effects of those historical practices on individuals, on Harvard, and on our society,” he added.

Harvard was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636.

The report found that Harvard staff, including four presidents, enslaved more than 70 individuals until slavery was outlawed in the state in 1783.

The report also found that the university “benefited from extensive financial ties to slavery,” including donations from slave traders.

It said that from the mid-19th century well into the 20th century Harvard presidents and prominent professors promoted race science and eugenics and “conducted abusive ‘research,’ including the photographing of enslaved and subjugated human beings.”

Harvard’s announcement comes as US institutions grapple with how to make amends for their role in slavery.

Last year, the leaders of the Jesuit conference of priests vowed to raise $100 million to benefit the descendants of slaves it once owned.

In 2019, students at Georgetown University approved a fund that would benefit the descendants of slaves sold by the elite Jesuit school in the 1800s.

AFP

Harvard On Trial Over Alleged Discrimination Against Asians

Harvard On Trial Over Alleged Discrimination Against Asians
(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 30, 2018, a Harvard University building is viewed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Scott EISEN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Harvard University went on trial Monday over an opaque admissions selection process that critics say discriminates against Asian students.

A lawsuit has challenged the use of race as a factor in Harvard admissions — a decades-old push to boost minority enrollments at America’s oldest and perhaps most prestigious university.

Federal Judge Allison Dale Burroughs heard opening arguments in the non-jury civil trial in Boston expected to last three weeks.

Harvard denies discriminating against Asians but defends its use of broader selection criteria than academic excellence, such as personality, to form a diverse student body.

The university also notes that the proportion of students of Asian origin has increased substantially since 2010, and today account for 23 per cent of the 2,000 students admitted to the freshman class out of 40,000 applicants.

There are around 15 per cent blacks and 12 per cent Hispanics.

Pitted against the revered academic institution is Students for Fair Admissions, a group led by conservative white activist Edward Blum, who previously attacked the affirmative action policies at the University of Texas.

The US Supreme Court ruled against him in 2016, upholding the university’s admissions policy.

In opening arguments, the group’s lawyer Adam Mortara claimed that Harvard had used personality criteria to suppress Asian admissions in favour of black, Hispanic and white applicants.

Harvard “let the wolf of racial bias in through the front door,” The Boston Globe quoted him as saying.

University lawyer Bill Lee argued that “Harvard cannot achieve its educational goals without considering race,” insisting that race is never a negative in admissions.

Aware of the negative publicity the case could bring to his institution, Harvard’s recently appointed president Larry Becow issued a letter to staff and students before the trial opened recalling the college’s duty to incorporate racial diversity into the campus.

“Harvard would be a dull place — and not likely achieve the educational aspirations we have for our students — if we shared the same backgrounds, interests, experiences and expectations for ourselves,” he wrote.

President Donald Trump’s administration has backed Blum’s suit, asserting that Harvard engages in “racial balancing” in its admissions process at the expense of students of Asian origin.

In his letter, Becow noted that the Supreme Court had in the past held up Harvard’s admissions process as “an examplar” in how to achieve a diverse student body by considering race as one of several factors.

Analysts expect the ultra-sensitive case to once again come before the Supreme Court, where a conservative majority has recently been solidified with the addition of Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

AFP

Nigerian Government Details How Northeast Would Be Rebuilt

godogodo, death toll, kadunaThe Nigerian government has given details of plans to rebuild the nation’s northeast devastated by over six years of Boko Haram insurgency.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave a breakdown of the reconstruction plan while delivering a public lecture titled “The Unravelling of Boko Haram and the Rebuilding of the northeast of Nigeria” at the Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

The Vice President told his audience that the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari remained committed to rebuilding the devastated North-eastern region through a comprehensive plan that is also transparent.

According to Professor Osinbajo, “The overall objective of the Buhari Plan is to develop a structure and process capable of providing leadership, co-ordination and synergy in achieving its targeted goals”.

He said the goals were to: “Restore peace, stability and civil Authority in the North-East region; co-ordinate the mobilisation of targeted resources to respond to the humanitarian crisis and jumpstart the region’s economies while strategically repositioning the region for long-term prosperity.

“Provide equal access to basic services and infrastructure; promote a civic culture that integrates zero tolerance to sexual and gender based violence with peaceful co-existence as the success indicator.

“Accelerate equal access to quality education for girls as well as boys and building social cohesion; target social and economic development and capacity building that reduces the inequalities affecting the poor, particularly women and youth.

“Address environmental degradation through sustainable measures to halt desertification and protect the Lake Chad resources; physical reconstruction of infrastructure especially schools, hospitals and dwellings in areas considered safe for residents to return”.

Addressing Menace Of Terrorism

Regarding treatment of abused women and girls, Professor Osinbajo said despite the daunting challenge, the government in collaboration with local and foreign partners was establishing special programmes and shelters for abused women and girls.

yemi-osinbajo-in-togo
Professor Yemi Osinbajo says governance failure in the past culminated in the myriad of problems for Nigeria

Citing the case of the recently released 21 Chibok girls and the teenage bomber that refused to blow up herself at the Dikwa IDP camp in February, the Vice President said that the government had a strong commitment to impact on the lives of both the victims of the insurgency and other persons affected.

He stressed the need for concerned Nigerians and donor bodies to partner with the government at all levels to counter the ideology of the insurgents. He pointed out that it was one of the measures of addressing the menace of terrorism.

“After the trauma and deprivations of captivity on the day of their release they looked frightened, malnourished and unkempt. But such is the power of freedom that few days after their release, the girls were seen dancing and rejoicing heartily at a Thanksgiving service where their parents reunited with them for the first time in over two years!

“What the stories of the Chibok girls and that of the converted suicide bomber point to is the certain defeat of Boko Haram insurgency and the waning resonance of its underpinning ideology.

“While we had to put troops on the ground to liberate occupied territories and free captive people in the northeast, we would have to continue the battle for the minds of the radicalized many so that we can have more Aminas of Dikwa saying no to terrorist propositions of death, despair and destruction,” professor Osinbajo stated.

He said the government, however, acknowledged the fact that the most important long term therapy was the assurance that the state had the capacity and the will to protect the most vulnerable.

The Vice President concluded the speech which he delivered on Thursday emphasising the Federal Government’s commitment and strategy in combating Boko Haram and rebuilding the region.

He told the gathering that the strategy was anchored on the government’s anti-corruption posture which would ultimately ensure judicious utilisation of resources for both the military’s operations and in implementing the non-kinetic aspect of reconstructing the northeast.

Freedom Of Information Bill Is Under-Utilised In Nigeria

A member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa has accused the Nigerian media of a disappointing lackadaisical attitude to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) passed two years.

Noting that despite the rigours undertaken to get the bill passed and signed into law, she claimed the law has being grossly under-utilized by Nigerians and the media amidst the widespread corruption in the country.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa made this known at the 5th Wole Soyinka Centre media lecture series on Saturday in Lagos where she challenged the media and civil society organisations to further ask questions on some of the revelations uncovered by the various committees of the House of Representatives.

Where is the money?         

Highlighting the $16billion fuel subsidy scam unveiled by an adhoc committee set-up by the House to investigate the fraudulent payment of fuel subsidy, the lawmaker asked “where is the money?”

“We (House of Representatives) brought the fuel subsidy scam to fore by revealing that there was no subsidy, that all we are subsidising was corruption and nobody has asked the question on what has happened to the money.”

The lawmaker, who sponsored the FOIA in the House, described the bill as a gift from the National Assembly stating that “the 7th Assembly has given this bill as a gift to Nigeria’s democracy,” but “nothing has happened afterwards with using the law.”

She claimed that the House Committee on the Implementation of the FOI has also just discovered that a lot of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) do not have a FOI Unit to address such request when they are made as mandated by the law and “nobody is asking the questions” she lamented.

“Right now, only 29 MDAs are submitting the annual expenditure and nobody is asking questions.”

She also cited an example of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) which according to her earns about N26billion from the sale of forms to students seeking admission into the nation’s universities, “yet 86 per cent of these students are not given admission and nobody ask what JAMB does with the money.”

She however commended the Nigerian Army for the adequate implementation of the FOIA, saying that House Committee has discovered that the Army and a few agencies have set-up the FOI Unit and also have dedicated phone lines to address any FOI request.

“Let us use this law to know how the nation’s resources are used judiciously or not” she appealed.

Take Responsibility

In his comments, the chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Dr Chidi Odinkalu, noted that “the tyranny of rights cannot make progress with citizens who want to take responsibility.”

He linked the access to information with access to education as he enjoined Nigerians to demand explanations from government and public servants, who according to him “see access to information as a way to block how government is ran.”

Dr Odinkalu, however called for caution in the expectations of the FOIA, stating that Nigeria got the FOIA in 2011 after 100years of operating a secretive policy imposed by British colonial masters in 1911 and sustained onwards.

Delivering the keynote lecture Prof Biodun Jeyifo, had earlier in his lecture titled: The Freedom Of Information Act and the Dictatorship of Corruption and Mediocrity, decried Nigerians failure to use the FOIA despite some confessions of looting by politicians recently.

He recalled the duel between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2006, when the former President asked the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against the latter over the blatant looting of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF).

The academic stated that the Vice-President did not deny the charges but confessed that the President’s cronies and girlfriends were beneficiaries of the loot and this allegation was substantiated with series of newspaper publications of incriminating documents.


“No FOI action could bring out the information that was voluntarily divulged by Obasanjo and Atiku and till today, nothing has happened to the duo” said Prof Jeyifo.

He described the nation’s type of democracy as ‘dictatorship in democracy’ which is not paranoid or unembarrassed by any allegation of corrupt practices as corruption and mediocrity reigns supreme in this country.”

The Professor of African Studies and Comparative Literature from Harvard University, decried the media for being “remarkably reticent to compel our leaders to comply with the dictates of the FOI,” as he warned that “the nation’s democracy is averse to the rule of law and on the verge of a failed state.”

By Ayo Okulaja

Harvard and MIT create free courses ‘edX’ online

Two of America’s most prestigious universities are offering free online courses to anyone in the world, providing they have an internet connection.

Harvard University has teamed up with Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) in an “historic” partnership to launch the online education centre “edX“. The project, which launches this autumn, aims to offer education on a mass scale.

Anant Agarwal, president of edX, called the initiative a “revolution”.

“There is a revolution dawning in Boston and beyond. This revolution has to do with the pen and the mouse. It’s unbelievable. We will have students around the world all collaborating and working together.”

Agarwal, who dubbed the partnership the “next big thing”, says edX will be available to anyone with an Internet connection and is currently absolutely free.

“Our goal is to educate 1bn people around the world,” he added. “We’re giving education on a mass scale and we’re really excited.”

Harvard’s president Drew Faust appeared equally enthusiastic about the project, telling the conference, which marked the launch, that edX would “shape the world”.

“Today’s announcement brings the possibility of transformation through education to the world. edX gives Harvard and MIT an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically extend our collective reach by conducting ground breaking research into effective education and by extending online access to quality higher education.”

The jointly-owned organisation is currently not-for-profit but the setup poses the question as to how the universities will justify charging their current students tuition fees when the world and his wife can get their education free of charge.

Harvard and MIT have ploughed $60m into launching the collaboration. A range of courses will be made available which will include video lessons, embedded quizzes and online labs. There will also be opportunities to engage with classmates and the course instructor.

More than a million students will be taking part in the experiment – which certainly looks set to fill edX’s ambitions and “revolutionise” the world of education.

Daphne Koller, co-founder of the project, says the development of online courses will raise difficult questions.

“This is causing universities to rethink their value to students,” she said.

“The universities in the middle will really have to think about their proposition.”