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We secured release of detained journalists, activists-Group

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A civil society group, African Rising, said that it secured the release of many detained journalists and activists in many African countries at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

It lamented the restriction of the freedom of speech and maltreatment of journalists on the continent, saying it would not relent in its efforts to ensure media freedom.

Speaking during an award and gala nite in Abuja on Monday, the Co-coordinator, African Rising, Ms. Muhammed Lamin, observed that many social activists and crusaders had been killed for their advocacy against tyranny.

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She admonished journalists and activists not to succumb to intimidation by the authorities, adding that her organisation would not relent in its struggle for social justice and equity.

Lamin stated, “We have lost a lot of our compatriots to bullets, detentions, torture, and other forms of brutality perpetrated against them by our governments. At the height of the pandemic, African Rising secured the release of many detained journalists and activists.”

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Deji Adeyanju, a Co-Chair of the movement said the organisation made solidarity interventions in Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and other countries.

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A Nigerian anti-corruption activist, Wilson Atumeyi, emerged as the movement’s activist of the year while a Zambian group, Youth for Parliament was honoured. Joice Zou, a poet from Angola, won the ‘Artistic Activist of the Year’ award.

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Osun education review now attracts over N2 billion alumni fund, Oyetola boasts

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From Lateef Dada, Osogbo

Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has boasted that alumni associations have contributed over N2 billion to the education sector as a result of the review of education policy by his administration.

Speaking at the 60th anniversary of St. John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife, organised by the Old Students Association, Saturday, he said many old students association are now relating with government and also investing hugely in infrastructure provision in their alma mater.

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Represented by the Commissioner for Education, Folorunso Oladoyin, Oyetola commended the SJOBA for setting the pace for other schools alumni to follow, saying his administration’s vision is to deliver a 21st century education and gradually tackle the rot that has taken over education, especially in public schools.

He said, “Since the reform of education policy that we carried out, we have attracted over N2 billion intervention fund from old students across the state.

“We thank you for your quick intervention in the structural renewal of your school infrastructures, we are immensely grateful that you heeded our call for a partnership between the government and all stakeholders in the education sector to move education to the next level. Infact, your own student association set the pace and since your massive intervention old students of other schools have followed suit.

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“I remember you injected close to N150 million last year or the year before and since your intervention, other old students have followed suit, Ilesha Grammar School inject almost N150 million, St Lawrence injected about N65 million, among many others.

In his benediction, Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Catholic Church, Lord Bishop John Oyejola said the government must do more to revamp public education for the sake of the common man since politicians no longer send their children to public schools.

“Many of you are in politics, or friends to those in government, talk to them, let’s have good education for our children. We went to public school and we had quality education. Today, those in government do not send their children to public schools, but missionary or private schools.

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“It is unfortunate that the Europeans came and plan a good future for us, but we cannot replicate the same for our children. We must rise for the youths. The building built by the government is already dilapidated while those built by missionaries still stand. We must learn to begin to do the right thing for the benefit of the youth,” he added.

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Only a credible primary will make APC retain power in Ekiti – Ojudu

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From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti

The Presidential Adviser on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, has appealed to members and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State to ensure a peaceful primary that is devoid of violence and bloodshed, stressing that it is the only way the party can help itself to retain power in the state.

Ojudu also called on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker executive to conduct a free, fair, credible primary that can produce the right candidate that will be able to confront candidates from other parties and win the June 18 governorship poll.

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Ojudu made the appeal on Saturday in Ado-Ekiti, when he was interacting with newsmen on the APC primary to hold on January 27.

“I want to appeal to party men to be civil and peaceful. The only glory we can record in our party is to be peaceful and for our leaders from Abuja to conduct a primary we can all be proud of. Don’t let us be violent just because of the internal election.

“Primary of any party should be a day of celebration of democracy and not a day of bloodshed. We should be able to do this election without rancour. I am of the belief that politicians who want to use money to hire thugs to win elections should rather use such money for the development of our unemployed youths.

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“Our party officials should be fair and transparent. They should also be efficient with the process.

“I commend Governor Buni-led executive for allowing direct primary for this election, so that every member of the party, either rich or poor, high or low can participate. This will enable us to produce a candidate that can face the candidates of other parties.

“If by any means we impose someone or throw up someone who uses money to induce the people, or relying on federal might, we will have a candidate that cannot win or that wouldn’t be acceptable to the party people.

“Let me clarify that this government of President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t believe in using federal might to win elections, you have to go through the people to get votes.”

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On the aspirant he is supporting in the party for the primary, Ojudu said: “For now, I am not in support of anybody. I want to remain neutral so that I will be able to call all aspirants together and settle their differences after the primary.

“Losing an election is hurting, so we need an arbiter to be able to hold the party together and that is the role I intend to play.

“President Muhammadu Buhari lost election three times. Nobody thought he would ever be President again, but when the time God assigned to him came, he won and it was glorious for him. There is no point bringing guns to win elections.”

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The presidential aide warned aspirants against the use of thugs to beat anyone, saying everyone in the party is useful in winning the June poll.

“The aspirants shouldn’t bring thugs to bash and beat the people. Whoever is causing trouble should be exposed, because Ekiti must be in peace. All of us in APC must be able to come together and work to win in June. This is one election that we can’t afford to lose.”

Ojudu told aspirants to shun vote-buying saying leaders who emerge through such means care less about the people.

“When any leader buys votes to win elections, such leader wouldn’t care about the people, because he would have the impression that he had paid for the votes cast for him by the electorate.”

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He also urged security agencies to be neutral and not work for any of the aspirants.

“The security agencies should also be neutral. They must not work for any aspirant. They should owe their allegiance to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and their code of conduct as officers of the law. Through this, whoever wins will be that democracy has won.”

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