Tata Steel secures pension for 130,000 workers in new scheme

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – A report published on Friday, August 11, 2017, revealed that Tata Steel has reached an agreement over its £15 billion pension which will secure jobs at the company.

The Indian-owned company which employs more than 8,000 people across the United Kingdom (UK) is offering the 130,000 members of its pension scheme an option to switch to a new scheme or move to the government-backed pension lifeboat, Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Tata first announced this deal in May. Then, the company had promised it would contribute £550 million into the British Steel pension scheme which will take 33% share of Tata’s UK business.

According to report, Tata has now confirmed it would set up an alternative to the PPF. The alternative would allow workers take a cut in their benefit in return for investment. Through a vote, workers agreed to accept lower benefits in exchange for investment that will secure jobs.

It is also assumed that this move will clear any barrier to Tata’s intent to merge its European steel business, including the Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales, with the German firm Thyssenkrupp.

In a statement, trade union groups said, ‘For over a year our members have feared for their security in retirement, and this announcement helps to bring that uncertainty to an end.’

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Sacked whistleblower recalled to office

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Ntia Thompson, who was sacked in 2016 for whistleblowing alleged fraud in Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been recalled to office.

A report published yesterday revealed this. The recall of the whistleblower is coming two months after President Buhari’s administration approved the whistleblowing policy which is to protect and reward any person who exposes misconduct, violation, corruption or any improper activity that can negatively impact the people or government of Nigeria.

Ntia, an assistant director in the Servicom Unit of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), was suspended on December 19, 2016, and disengaged from service on February 23, 2017.

He exposed fraud worth $229,000 and ₦800,000 alleged to have been committed by Mohammed Kachallah, the Director-General of DTCA.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the case already.

Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), in a statement signed by the coordinator of the organisation, Chido Unoma, says, ‘Ntia’s case is a triumph of good over evil and it gives us hope that we are moving in the right direction on the whistle blower policy.’

The statement added that:

‘While it is ethically correct to recall a dismissed whistleblower, it is also morally right that action is taken on the reported wrongdoing in a just manner.

Only through that way can the confidence of potential whistleblowers be sustained.’

Bringing Them Home: Unfinished business of stolen generations in Australia

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Healing Foundation, a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation, says ‘The failure to implement the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home report has prolonged the social burden of trauma caused by forced child removals and potentially exposed another generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to harm.’

According to report, the Healing Foundation revealed this in a new report released ahead of Friday’s 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report which was the outcome of Australia’s national inquiry, in 1997, into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Srrait Islander children from their families under assimilationist government policies that were not repealed until 1970s.

The study is billed to be presented to Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at a breakfast in Canberra on Tuesday, May 23.

The central argument of the study is that the 54 recommendations of the Bringing Them Home, which have either not been implement or have only been partially implemented, remained ‘unfinished business’.

At least 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (an estimated one in 10 indigenous children were taken away from their families. While a further 150,000 were directly affected by policy either by losing their child or sibling, or growing up with a parent struggling with the unresolved trauma of being taken away.

After finding that the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islande children were ‘an act of genocide’, the Australian government had set out a list of reparations, starting with a formal apology which was delivered in 2008 by then prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Prof Steve Larkin, the head of the Healing Foundation, noted that there appears to be a belief that the apology alone would be enough to help members of the stolen generation heal.

He told journalists that, ‘Just acknowledging that those acts occurred doesn’t mean that people heal immediately, they require a lot of intensive support and services over time to heal.’

MissionU: Higher education that lets you pay tuition after getting a job

Adam Braun’s new venture, MissionU, is a fast and brilliant new way to gain higher education and experience that can help you start a successful career, without being crushed by debt.

MissionU is a one-year program that is offered at no upfront tuition fee to students. The payment for the program comes when students graduate and get a job paying at least $50,000 or more per year. Students will pay 15% of their income for just 3 years, if they earn that much.

MissionU believes higher education should give more than it takes, the most valuable learning comes from doing, students need to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, future potential matters more than past test scores and a college’s commitment should not end at graduation.

The last six weeks of MissionU’s one-year curriculum are reserved to support students through the job interview process by providing training, guidance and salary negotiation.

During the programme, students will live within 50 miles of MissionU’s designated cohort area and engage with peers and instructors over real time virtual classrooms, plus monthly in-person meetups.

MissionU’s first cohort area is San Francisco Bay Area. Application for this cohort is currently open for students interested in a major in Data Analytics and Business Intelligence. The cohort will kick off in September. The next cohort area to launch is New York area.

Braun is the CEO and co-founder of MissionU. He is also the founder of Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organisation that is building schools and supporting educational development in developing worlds. He started out his career as a consultant for Bain and Company, an American management consulting firm.

Fighting corruption in Nigeria: Secretary to the Government of the Federation suspended

Nigeria’s fight against corruption grows intense as the Presidency suspended its secretary Babachir Lawal on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Ambassador Ayo Oke, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) was also suspended same day.

According to report, the two top government officials were suspended and are to be investigated for their respective roles in ongoing alleged corruption cases.

Report noted that both officials were seen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, just minutes after the announcement of their suspension.

Lawal held a private meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while the DG of NIA was barred from entering President Muhammadu Buhari’s office.

When confronted by journalists about his reactions to his suspension, Lawal responded in a voice laden with low emotion, ‘I am not aware.’

When reminded that the Presidency had issued a statement suspending him, Lawal bursted out with emotions, ‘Who’s presidency? Why is it that you people are struggling to take my photograph today, something that you people are not used to doing?’

Minutes after, the sorrowful secretary left the Presidential Villa in his vehicle.

Pro Hijab: Nike just did it for Muslim female athletes


Nike announced on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, that it is releasing a new athletic apparel designed for Muslim female athletes the ‘Nike Pro Hijab’.

Report indicates that Nike intends to start selling the Pro Hijab to the general public in its Spring 2018 season (late March 2018).

Nike says the design for the sports hijab took 13 months with input from top Muslim female athletes like United Arab Emirates Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad and figure skater Zahra Lari.

The Nike Pro Hijab is designed as a single-layer, pull-on head wear. It is made of lightweight polyester fabric with tiny holes that make it breathable and remain opaque as traditional hijab is required. And it comes in a dark, neutral colour that even enhances its opacity. The hijab stretches to fit the wearer’s head and it is elongated to make sure it never gets untucked during action.

Nike considered the concerns that Muslim female athletes face when wearing traditional hijab and analysed how it affected their performance.

Al Haddad said, ‘The one obstacle that’s always there if you’re a hijabi is what are you going to wear on your head?’

‘For us, we come up with ideas and ways to be comfortable in what we wear, but to have the number one sport and fitness brand in the world facilitate this process for us is going to change everything,’ she added.

The Nike Pro team working on the Pro Hijab used the feedbacks from the female athletes to guide its design. The outcome is a sleek sport hijab that feels like a second skin.

Amna Al Haddad and Zahra Lari are already wearing the Nike Pro Hijab.

Our top stories this February: Recap

In February, we covered some disappointing and inspiring stories.

This is a recap of the top stories.

Moments before the D-Day

Earlier in late January, a social protest started brewing in Nigeria and Nigerian afropop singer 2face was to lead it. Click here to read full story.

The chickening-out

Less than 48 hours to the protest day, 2face announces he will not lead the protest as planned anymore for obvious reasons. Click here to read full story.

Troops march without the leader

After 2face withdraws from leading the protest, the protest will still go on, Nigerians insist they will march on. Click here to read full story.

Lies on the lips of the minister

Nigeria’s National Assembly reveals the lies told by Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi regarding approval of funds for transport projects in the country. Click here to read full story.

Stories of the underrepresented

We discussed stories of the underrepresented with UK-based editor of new online magazine AnotherLenz Khadija Ahmed on our tweet-chat interview #TheConverse. Click here to read full story.

These are our top stories for February so far.

FG’s ₦5,000 stipend to the poor: What you need to know

The Federal Government of Nigeria as part of efforts to cushion the effects of poverty in the country has started the payment of N5,000 monthly stipend to the poorest and most vulnerable through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes (SIP).

According to a statement by Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, one million Nigerians would receive N5,000 monthly payments as a form of social safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable as budgeted for in the 2016 Budget.

‘In the first batch that commenced last week, nine states would be covered, and many of the beneficiaries have already reported receiving their first payments by Friday last week, December 30, 2016,’ Akande said.

Akande also revealed that funds for the commencement of the payments in four states were released last week to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) – the platform that hosts and validates payments for all government’s social intervention programmes, and that funds for another set of five states to complete the first batch of nine states would follow soon.

Pilot states for the program

Beneficiaries in Borno, Kwara and Bauchi States have reportedly started receiving the money. The other states in the first batch to commence the CCT payments are Cross Rivers, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States.

According to the Federal Government, nine pilot states were chosen because they have an existing social register that successfully identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians through a tried and tested community based targeting (CBT) method working with the World Bank.

There are however indications that other states have already begun developing their Social Registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.

How the beneficiaries will be determined

Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Federal Government would be mined from the social register, initially developed by 8 States through a direct engagement with the World Bank. Those states are featured in the first batch, with the added inclusion of Borno States where a validated list of IDPS were compiled in addition to the social register which is expected to go round the country.

Working with the World Bank, the CBT process has now been adopted for developing the social register in the other states around the country, for transparency, objectivity and credibility in the selection of the poorest and most vulnerable beneficiaries for the programme.

The federal government said it will commence community mobilization for the creation of the register in more states soon, to expand the scope and reach of the CCT across the country.

Sequence of payment to other states

According to the Federal Government, Plateau, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Katsina and Taraba States have so far complied with the stipulated framework provided, and are set for the community based targeting method for the development of their social register within their jurisdictions.

These states are to be followed by Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Imo and Ogun. Once the community mobilization, identification and selection processes are completed, the information collected from the poorest households would be entered into the social register in the states and the national register at NIBSS, after which the cash transfers would be disbursed to the beneficiaries.

How the funds will be disbursed 

All the funds approved for the federal government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIP), are domiciled with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. In addition, the payment information and processes for all beneficiaries of the federal government’s SIP are hosted at NIBSS, as the Consolidated Beneficiary Register, to ensure and fortify efforts at authentication and verification, as well as for effective and efficient programme management.

Minister of Interior cautions opinion and religious leaders on unguarded comments

The Minister of Interior, Lt Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (Rtd) has called on all well-meaning Nigerians not to allow themselves to be dragged into religious conflicts. He observed this has become necessary following insinuations that the criminal violence in Southern Kaduna has some religious interpretation.

The Minister’s advice is coming on the heels of violence in some parts of the North, especially Kaduna which has recently witnessed some killings in the Southern part.

Dambazau said there are people who are always looking for ways to further create division along religious or ethnic fault lines for their selfish interest, with the aim of creating instability in our internal security.

The Minister posited that true religious leaders do not fan the embers of hate, but ensure that communities live in peace and harmony. He maintained that economic growth and development will remain a mirage for Nigeria; with over 500 ethnic groups and multiple religions, unless we resolve to live amicably as a people with common destiny.

Speaking further, Dambazau said criminals who perpetrate violence against innocent, law-abiding citizens do not discriminate along religious and ethnic lines, citing examples of how communities in Zamfara, Katsina, Taraba, Enugu, Lagos and Niger were victimized by those violent criminals. He noted that a criminal should be treated as such, whether he is involved in armed robbery, drug trafficking, homicides or cattle rustling, and that people should avoid honoring criminals with religious or ethnic attachment.

He advised opinion and religious leaders to refrain from giving the crisis between herdsmen and sedentary farmers in Southern Kaduna a religious connotation. Rather attention should be focused on the real enemies of our society, who illegally acquire weapons to terrorize Christian and Muslim communities alike.

Dambazau said the Police have been tasked to ensure the sustenance of law and order, and to arrest and prosecute anyone involved in criminal activities.

EFCC boss Ibrahim Magu removed from office

Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been directed to hand over to the Director of Operations of the agency.

According to report gathered yesterday, Friday, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami has already issued a letter to Magu on the development.

Magu’s nomination as EFCC Chairman was recently rejected by the Senate following allegations of graft levelled against him by the Department of State Security Service (DSS).

Magu has been redeployed back to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to pave way for a fresh person to be nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the anti-graft agency.