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New WEF African Global Leaders to Get Aliko Dangote Fellowship



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Eleven young enterprising Africans, among them two Nigerians, who have been named Young Global Leaders (YGL) by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for 2021, are to benefit from the Aliko Dangote Fellowship endowed to support African Young Global Leaders.

The beneficiaries are among 112 persons under 40 years of age, selected as Young Global Leaders by WEF, from across 56 countries.

The two Nigerians, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, founder, 54gene and Obi Ozor, the founder of Kobo360, joined the ranks of past Nigerian winners, Ambassador Debo Adesina, former Editor-in Chief of the Guardian Newspapers and current Nigerian Ambassador to Togo, and Mr.

Simon Kolawole, CEO of Cable Newspapers Ltd.

While announcing the winners, the WEF confirmed that the African YGLs will benefit from the Aliko Dangote Fellowship, made possible by the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF). Till date, 73 Young Leaders from Africa have benefitted from the fellowship.

The aim of the fellowship is to increase the quality and quantity of young African leaders by supporting the engagement of African YGLs in the community, such as those from small enterprises or the non-business sector. The fellowship, WEF added, supports YGLs from Africa to participate in global YGL and Forum events.

The YGL award, according to WEF, “is to recognise and create a platform for a dynamic community of exceptional people with the vision, courage, and influence to drive positive change in the world.”

“We are excited to welcome 112 Young Global Leaders for the Class of 2021. From a gender justice and human rights activist to a multi-award winning artist and advocate for indigenous literacy, to a celebrated leader from the world’s youngest country as well as leaders from business, civil society, healthcare and government.”

Giving a breakdown analysis of the winners, the WEF said among the 56 countries represented in the award, eleven leaders hail from Africa and their work brings the promise of a brighter outlook at a difficult time. “They join a group of Nobel Prize recipients, Pulitzer winners, Heads of state and chief executive officers committed to improving the state of the world”, it noted.

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Chief Executive of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), Zouera Youssoufou, congratulated Ene-Obong and Ozor for this accomplishment and urged them to continue raising the Nigerian and African flags.

She said ADF was pleased to have worked with 54gene and Kobo360 at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when CACOVID partnered various organisations for collaborative efforts to complement the government’s intervention to fight the pandemic.

“We are very pleased to see Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong and Obi Ozor recognised in this way given the remarkable work they and their young team have been able to accomplish recently and especially in this past year. 54Gene and Kobo360, have been integral part of the national rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic displaying exemplary professionalism, efficiency, dedication, and patriotism. Truly inspirational and further proof that Nigerian and African youth are capable of anything given the right opportunities”, Zouera enthused.

Many of the past winners have gone ahead to prove their leadership and enterprising ability in their various fields of endeavour to justify the essence of the award and the genuineness of their nomination.

A past recipient, Ambassador Debo Adesina said, “I am delighted to have two more Nigerians on the Young Global Leaders list of the World Economic Forum. This is a great honour and I trust that my compatriots appreciate the responsibility this laurel carries as well as the duties that come with it. Of course, it is a recognition that challenges them to be better at whatever they do, given the illustrious cast of honourees before them.

“In my 2005/2006 class of YGLs were accomplished young men and women who, afterward, went to greater heights by expanding the frontiers of excellence in public service, academia, the professions, innovations and all sorts of fields. I was inducted on the same day with Daron Acemoglu, the cerebral economist-academic who co-wrote the best-selling book, ‘Why Nations are Poor,’ Sergei Brin and Larry Page who both founded Google, Ndidi Nwuneli of LEAP Africa, Brian Molefe in South Africa and Prince Harkon of Norway. Gavin Newsom was Mayor of San Francisco then. He went on to be Lieutenant Governor and is now Governor of the State of California in the USA. There were many more across the world in that class and in the years after who are still working hard to make our world a better place. I welcome the new inductees and urge them to keep the light shining for all.

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“There is, indeed, no better time than now for all young men and women all over the world, especially these awardees, to commit themselves anew to the goal of charting a clear course of service to humanity and be veritable tools for global development.

Another recipient in 2012, Mr. Simon Kolawole while reacting to the latest list expressed happiness that more Nigerians are being recognised at the international level for good reason.

He stated; “I had a most rewarding experience as a Young Global Leader (YGL) in every sense of it. I gained incredible knowledge from attending short courses at topmost universities and participating in conferences. I interacted with YGLs from diverse cultures and professional backgrounds. The entire experience has helped in shaping my professional career.

To underscore his nomination, WEF said Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, 54gene, has quietly been making waves at the head of one of Africa’s foremost health technology companies, working in the field of gene technology. 54gene was created in 2019 and its stated mission is to understand the genetic factors that lead to disease in Africa.

The African genome has been understudied and misunderstood, according to 54gene, which addresses a vital gap in research and new healthcare solutions. 54gene’s work is included in Time Magazine’s list of the 12 innovations that will change healthcare in 2020.

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Ene-Obong was also listed as one of the 30 most innovative entrepreneurs on the African continent in 2019 by Quartz Africa. Prior to 54gene, he worked in a range of pharmaceutical companies and research organisations. He gained a doctorate from the University of London, holding a PhD in Cancer Biology. He also has a Master’s in human molecular genetics from Imperial College London and a Master’s in Business Management from Claremont Colleges, California. As Africa starts punching its weight in science and technology, Ene-Obong is sure to lead the charge for gene-based innovation.

On his own part, Kobo360 floated by Obi Ozor, is a logistic technology company that aggregates end-to-end haulage operations to help cargo owners, truck owners, drivers, and cargo recipients to achieve an efficient supply chain framework.

With only a click of a button, cargo owners can simply request for any truck of their choice and have their goods picked up and delivered to the required location through an all-in-one robust logistics ecosystem. Kobo360 raised $30 million USD in 2019, backed by Goldman Sachs, an impressive feat for a startup.

It would be recalled that the Forum of Young Global Leaders was founded in 2005 by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, to create a world where leaders take responsibility for a sustainable future while meeting increasingly complex and interrelated challenges. There are 1,400 members and alumni from more than 120 countries till date.

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Protect democracy, enact Electoral Act Amendment Bill, UK urges Nigeria




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The United Kingdom (UK) has urged Nigeria to ensure quick passage and enactment of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill currently pending before the National Assembly.

UK’s Minister for Africa James Duddridge gave the advice in an interview in Abuja.

Duddridge said that passing the amendment bill would build more confidence in the country’s electoral process.

According to him, confidence in election results plays a very important role in democratic governance.

“It is very important. I will meet the senate and I will be asking when the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is going to be passed.

“You Know, democracy is not a static thing. It has to evolve; you have to make elections increasingly secure.

“So, I think it is really important to make an Act that will give the Nigerian people and the international community greater confidence that the elections are free, fair, and a reflection of what the people voted.

If you have not got that in actuality or perception, democracy starts to crumble and we see where that leads.

“Democracy is the main pillar alongside a capitalist free market that drives social progress and allows us to function,” he said.

According to him, one of the components that build confidence in the electoral process is the electronic transmission of results such that the final results declared correspond with each of the local results.

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He said that though the UK was interested in seeing Nigeria’s democracy become stronger, it could only play an advisory role and not dictate to Nigeria what it should do.

“We can offer practical advice on election processes working with Non-Governmental Organisations and youth groups to make sure that young people are not only more likely to be registered for elections but also that their voices are heard.

“In the UK parliament, we have got members of parliament in their 20s and it is the richer for it.

“We wouldn’t want a parliament full of 20-year-olds.

“Equally, we do not want a parliament full of 70 and 80-year-olds.

“We need a balance to reflect society and everyone brings different experiences,” he said.

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Support Nigeria, Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Africa –President Buhari Appeals to US




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The United States has been urged to consider relocating the headquarters of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.

The United States has been urged to consider relocating the headquarters of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.

The OBSERVERS TIMES gathered that the appeal was made by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, April 27, during a virtual meeting with US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken.

President Buhari has urged the United States to consider relocating the headquarters of the US Africa Command to Africa. Photo credit: Femi Adesina Source: Facebook Bashir Ahmad, a personal assistant on new media to the president, in a tweet via his verified Twitter handle, @BashirAhmaad confirmed the development.

The Nigerian leader in a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, explained that the move was necessary as part of efforts to address the issue of insecurity in Nigeria and other countries in Africa.
According to Adesina, the support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated. He noted that the growing security challenges in West, Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and Sahel, underscores the need for the United States to relocate the defence command. AFRICOM is responsible for military relations with nations and regional organisations in Africa. It also focuses on addressing security challenges affecting African countries.

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Following the death of Idakwo Ameh on 27th August, 2020, the stool of Atta Igala has remained vacant even after 18 clear months.

Expectedly, that stool must be dusty by now due to abandonment.

My intention for rendering this piece is not to drum support for any of the contestants, rather, it is with a view to updating those who have been asking me for progress thus far, also, to plead with those in charge to quickly but correctly give us a new Atta.

On the update menu therefore, the Igala Area Traditional Council will on 27th April, 2021 consider recommendation of another Atta designate, this time, Mr. Mathew Alaji Opaluwa.

You will recall that in February, 2021, the Etemahi and his 8 chiefs forming Igalamela; who are the kown kingmakers (being the 9 Igala clans) had recommended Mr Ocholi Opaluwa to the Council for onward transition to the governor, but the recommendation was greeted with several petitions, alleging unprintable irregularities.

The Council considered it and perhaps rejected it.

The Council therefore decided to boycott the kingmakers by setting up its own panel, an act some observers have warned will backfire if tested in the court as it is not backed by any law or customary practice. The only person vested with powers to refuse and or setup a new panel under the Kogi State Chiefs (appointment and deposition) Law, 2006 is the Governor in Council.

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The issue of concern for the Igalamela kingmakers of Ajaka is not just that the new panel does not have any of the 9 Igala clans (Igalamela) as its member, the panel also sat and screened candidates in Anyigba, instead of Ajaka. This is said to be capable of taking away the powers of Igalamela for life, a power they have exercised since the reign of Ayegba Idoko, some hundreds of years ago.

Though the screening by the Council’s panel was peaceful and wounded up last week with the recommendation of Mathew Opaluwa, some candidates however refused to appear before the panel while it sat; insisting that the Council does not have powers to setup such a panel.

Notable amongst those who refused to surrender to the Council’s panel was Ocholi Opaluwa for obvious reasons, he had already been recommended by the Etemahi kingmakers.

It is interesting to note that supporters of other candidates are also insisting that the two brothers, Mathew and Ocholi Opaluwa are not even qualified as their own older brother Samuel Opaluwa is still in the race. Then, there is another argument in favour of Okoliko Opaluwa as the only candidate nominated by the elders surviving member of Ameacho family, a prerequisite to eligibility to contest from the family.

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Obviously, this is a time that requires patience, caution and wisdom, but is also a time that requires speed as that stool must have become too dusty by now. It is a time to dust that stool, it is a time to put it to use.

In all, I sincerely join all Igala sons and daughters to pray for a smooth emergence of a new Atta.

May God give us the grace to dust that stool clean for the deserving and God chosen occupant.

©Igala Teacher.


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