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2023: Confusion In APC As Goodluck Jonathan Struggles To Enter Through Party’s Back Door

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Confusion is brewing in the ruling All Progressives Congress, especially, in its South-South and South-East zones over the sudden emergence of former President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential race.

The N100 million nomination and expression of interest forms of the ruling party were reportedly bought for former President Jonathan by ‘Normadic Herders and Almajiris Community on Monday.

Although the Bayelsa-born politician came out to distance himself from the group and their forms, Jonathan, on the same evening, reportedly paid a visit to the National Chairman of the APC and former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu, at his residence in Abuja.

Insiders confirmed that the former President was at Adamu’s residence to seek assurance of the party’s support before he decamps from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to APC and make his intention to return to the office again public.

While Jonathan was in the meeting with Adamu, sources privy to their discussions told Journalist that although the APC Chairman welcomed the former President to the ruling party, there was absolutely no assurance that he could be handed the party’s presidential ticket.

Adamu, however, assured the ex-Nigerian leader that there would be a level playing field for all aspirants on the party’s platform during the primaries if he declares.

However, many Nigerians believe that Jonathan or people very close to him actually purchased the forms to beat the deadline for the sale of forms by the APC which actually ended yesterday.

A source from the ruling party said, “Yes, the former President was here at night on Monday but there was absolutely no commitment from the party Chair.

“What I’m trying to say is that Adamu did not assure him on automatic consensus ticket. Jonathan was specifically at Adamu’s residence to seek assurance on his intention to pick the party’s ticket.

“That’s all I know for now and I can categorically tell you that Adamu welcomed Jonathan to our great party and made him understand that there’s a level playing ground for everyone.”

Another source said that Jonathan had earlier met with President Muhammadu Buhari, where he also sought assurance from the President. However, details of their meeting have remained speculative.

“I’m aware that Jonathan has been doing some secret consultations among party bigwigs. He met Buhari at the Presidential Villa but I have no idea what the President told him,” the source said.

However, Jonathan’s entrant or what could be seen as appearing in the race for the APC Presidential ticket is reportedly shaking the foundation of the party as some aspirants from the South, especially the South-East and South-South are seeing the move as detrimental to their own aspiration.

Many, among the 23 aspirants of the APC see Jonathan as a strong force and would easily claim the party’s ticket and are unhappy about the move as they also believe that the former President would shortchange the South, having only four years to preside over the country after which he returned power to the North.

Jonathan is at the moment causing anxiety among other aspirants such as former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, who is widely seen as his political foe.

The Transportation Minister had declared his interest, picked his forms and has been on a nationwide consultation while the likes of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio are also said to be anxious about the development.

Prominent among aggrieved aspirants from the South East is the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who is said to be a long term friend of President Buhari and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and the Governor of Ebonyi State. These aspirants have one reason or more to believe that the President would give them the nod.

They feel that the sudden emergence of Jonathan will now reduce the thickness of their chances going by the fact that Jonathan has a special place in Buhari’s heart for giving him the opportunity to see his lifelong dream of ruling Nigeria come to pass in 2015 when he willingly handed over government to him.

A chieftain of the APC in Rivers State and South-South, who would not want to be mentioned, told Journalist it was actually a scary moment for all the presidential aspirants in the party.

According to him, “it is true that Amaechi and others made a huge impact on President Buhari’s becoming the president but Jonathan has a big place in Buhari’s heart.”

“And the aspirants, seeing what is happening now, feel that Buhari may end up endorsing Jonathan because it even favours him as a Northerner.

“But meetings after meetings are going on as some well-meaning elders are trying to make Jonathan understand the gameplan of the North but as you know, it’s a game of interest. It’s Jonathan first before any other individuals but here we expect him to put the interest of the region ahead.

“Yes, Jonathan’s emergence caused disarray in the camps of some aspirants but some others want to see what the party’s decision would be. They believe that the decision of APC leadership is sacrosanct.

“I don’t know how true but I understand that the Presidency knows about the presidential forms obtained for Jonathan. I don’t want to speculate. And since then, the body language of our politicians here [Old Eastern Region] has slowed down a bit. As I said earlier, they want to see what the party would decide.

“Well, it would be courageous enough for Jonathan to properly enter the race but as a Southetner, I would plead with him to.forget about it .”

Meanwhile, Jonathan has been warned by some individuals and groups against returning as Nigerian President at the expense of the entire South.

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, had before told Jonathan to shelve the plans of entering the race for the 2023 presidency.

They believe that Jonathan is being used as a tool by Northern APC chieftains, to reduce the number of years the South will stay in power.

Emmanuel Onwubiko of HURIWA warned the ex-President to avoid such a move, adding that contesting the election would be seen as a betrayal of the Igbo nation.

“So, Goodluck Jonathan should not replay that hatred that they showed to the Igbo after the war because if he accepts to be candidate of APC and become the president, it means he has short-changed the Igbo who gave him their all,” Onwubiko said.

“If he does that, the South-South and the South-East will never have peace or trust each other for life. Because of what happened to us after the war in the 60s, when we lost so many housing assets, they have not been forgotten.

“So, if he tried a second betrayal by accepting APC’s enticement to become President for only four years, he is doing it because he wants to short-change the Igbos.”

Also, David Umahi of Ebonyi had cautioned Jonathan to avoid embarrassing himself by entering the presidential race

Umahi said on Tuesday that if Jonathan attempts to run for the coveted office of President, it would most likely be regarded as one of the wonders of the century.

According to Umahi, “those prodding Jonathan to run for the presidency, may be plotting to embarrass him politically,” noting that “such ambition does not even align with the programmes of the APC.”

Apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, while reacting to the purchase of form for Jonathan by the Northern Coalition, told the ex-president not to forget the sacrifices Ndigbo made for him in the past.

“There is no going back to the 2023 Nigerian President of Igbo stock and anything contrary to it amounts to a denial of equity, fairness, and justice,” Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the organisation’s Secretary, said.

Isiguzoro said “there are frantic endeavors and backstage activities to pitch Ijaws against Ndigbo, a repeat of 1966 gimmicks aimed at the resuscitating the age-long enmity between the two ethnic groups of old Eastern region, which was demolished in 2011 when Igbos adopted Jonathan as our own.”

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NIMC TO PAY TWO- YEAR BACKLOG OF PAYMENT TO FEPS IN MARCH – DG  

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) says it is ready to clear the outstanding payment owed to its Front-End Partners (FEPs) within the first quarter of 2024.

Director General of NIMC, Engineer Abisoye Coker-Odusote gave the assurance in a statement issued in Abuja, even as she expressed sympathy with the FEPs who have been burdened with running their businesses for 2 years without payment.

She said: “The National Identity Management Commission, under my leadership has conducted a revalidation exercise to review the outstanding payments which the new management inherited with a view to offsetting the debt after going through due audit process to validate the claims made by the FEPs.”

“In the process, we found out that some of the invoices submitted by the FEPs did not tally with the enrolment figures shown on the database thus prompting the revalidation exercise to confirm the true and accurate enrolment information.”

“Notwithstanding, we are wrapping up the audit process, and the activation of the FEPs will be done according to the outcome of the validation exercise.”

“We sympathise with our partners over the delay and appeal for understanding especially as the new NIMC management is just a few months in the saddle and had been working on resolving all inherited debts.”

“Unfortunately, the previous management could not clear the outstanding dues because of lack of funds but we are working hard to source for the funds to clear the debt.” 

“I therefore use the opportunity to reiterate that the revalidation exercise was aimed at sanitizing the system as well as ensuring efficient and effective enrolment processes in line with international best practices of securing citizens’ data.”

The Commission assured concerned Nigerians that payment will be made to the Front-end Partners in the first quarter of 2024 and added that there are plans to hold a stakeholders engagement summit this month.

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Coker – Odusote:100 Days at the Helm of NIMC

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By Walter Duru, Ph.D

It was Albert Einstein that once said that “setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” That sentiment expressed by Einstein is the primary essence behind the theory of transformational leadership, which requires passion, charisma, and the ability to motivate others. Transformational leaders are usually very authentic, emotionally intelligent, great listeners, results-focused, visionary, and self-aware.

In just 100 days at the helm of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote has ushered in a new era of transformational leadership, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Her eventual confirmation as substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission did not come to many as a surprise.

She did not waste time to hit the ground running and showed commitment to advancing the NIMC’s mission and mandate.

Coker-Odusote has taken steps to streamline National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes, while addressing the long-standing challenges associated with identity registration in Nigeria. This, she is handling through strategic restructuring and the integration of advanced technologies with a view to significantly reduce waiting time and enhance the overall efficiency of the system.

Today, date of birth and other kinds of modifications at NIMC happen within 48 hours. The several years backlog of date of birth modifications she inherited are almost cleared, as she had given a one-month deadline for the same to relevant staff of the Commission.

Again, responses to issues and complaints, such as those whose National Identity Numbers did not hit the NIN Verification Portal are now resolved within 24 hours.

Recognizing the paramount importance of data security in the digital age, the NIMC CEO has taken steps to enhance data security by introducing robust measures to fortify the protection of citizens’ sensitive information. This includes, but not limited to the adoption of cutting-edge encryption technologies and the establishment of a dedicated cybersecurity team.

Her interest in improving service delivery at NIMC cannot be overemphasized. She has concluded plans to ensure regular training and retraining for staff of the Commission, emphasizing customer-centric approaches, to ensure a more positive experience for citizens seeking identity services.

On partnerships, Coker-Odusote, leveraging her extensive network and expertise, has forged strategic partnerships with governmental agencies, private organizations, and international bodies. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management.

Understanding the pivotal role of technology in modernizing identity management, Engr. Coker-Odusote has spearheaded the integration of biometric advancements and artificial intelligence into the registration and verification processes.

This not only improves accuracy, user experience and ease of enrolment, but also positions NIMC at the forefront of technological innovation in identity management. A typical example is the NIMC Contactless Biometric Solution, which delivers a best-in-class fingerprint and facial capture image output quality, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The new solution was unveiled by the commission at the 2023 Identity Day, held in Abuja on September 16, 2023.

In addition, Engr. Coker-Odusote tackled the existing backlog of unprocessed identity requests head-on. Through a combination of strategic staff deployment and redeployment, process optimization, and digitization initiatives, she has made significant strides in clearing the backlog, demonstrating her commitment to prompt and efficient service delivery.

Recognizing the crucial role played by the NIMC staff in achieving organizational goals, the CEO has developed for implementation, a robust welfare programme aimed at boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. This includes, but not limited to training opportunities, health benefits, and performance recognition initiatives.

Furthermore, in consultation with in-house experts, elaborate public awareness campaigns are being planned, to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the importance and benefits of identity registration. These campaigns are expected to not only educate the public, but also serve to demystify the registration process, encouraging greater participation.

The NIMC DG has concluded plans to take the ecosystem enrolment forward by taking steps to deepen collaboration with ecosystem implementing partners, supporting to ensure the success and optimal performance of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, a Nigerian Project jointly funded by The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, and the French Development Agency.

Engr. Coker-Odusote’s strategic vision, commitment to efficiency, and emphasis on technological innovation positions NIMC for a future where identity management is not only secure but also seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of citizens.

On anti-corruption, the NIMC DG has left no one in doubt on her determination to sanitize the system, entrench a culture of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from putting systems and structures in place to discourage graft, she is directly involved in ensuring that the cankerworm has no place in the commission.

Just recently, in what one may describe as a sting operation, she paid an unscheduled visit to the Federal Capital Territory office of the commission, where she is reported to have arrested some staff for allegedly extorting money from Nigerians, even as she has maintained that enrolment was free.

Her devotion to supporting the policy direction of the present administration by strengthening the issuance of the NIN for access to service is not in doubt.

Speaking on Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office as NIMC CEO, Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Musa Odole Solomon described her as a vibrant, results-focused leader, determined to make a difference in the Commission.

“She has taken steps to build bridges of collaboration between NIMC and partners within the country’s identity ecosystem. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management in Nigeria.”

“The collaboration is also focused on enhancing handshake with institutions involved in the country’s identity ecosystem, with a view to deepening integration with the country’s Identity Management System.”

“In 100 days, she has taken the lead in working with the Nigeria Digital ID4D Project to speed up project implementation process, especially, processes geared towards the extension of NIN enrolment to hard-to-reach areas, women, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups, thereby fostering inclusion and access to social services.”

“She has introduced some innovations that I consider very progressive, and things are moving very well. The Nigeria Digital ID4D Project is happy to work with her, as she has shown that she has all it takes to assist us succeed.”

Responding to a question on his impression about the NIMC DG’s leadership style and the future of the relationship between NIMC and his organisation, Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra stressed that the relationship between NIMC and NPC has become more robust under Coker-Odusote’s leadership as NIMC CEO.

“I want to say that the National Population Commission has a long and robust collaborative partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in our efforts to harmonize and integrate biometric databases for planning and development of our country.”

“However, this partnership has become more dynamic and robust with the assumption into office of Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote as the Director General of NIMC. She has shown an unparalleled commitment and passion in working with the Commission, not only in registration of births and deaths, but also the upcoming population census. She comes across as a thoroughbred professional and innovator who will give Africa’s greatest nation a deserved identity profile for national unity, security, and development. I am more confident in the future of the Identity Management Commission under her.”

Responding to a question on the new grounds covered at the NIMC ICT, Director, IT/Identity Database of the Commission, Chuks Onyepunuka has this to say:

“Our DG is pragmatic, proactive, result-oriented and visionist. Her achievements in ICT in NIMC in the last 100 days include, but not limited to: “launching of self-modification and enrolments services to ease and simplify the processes for enrolment services; driving the clearing of about 3 million backlog of enrolment records awaiting manual adjudication within 3 weeks; decentralization of operations with objectives of ensuring that we are closer to the enrolees and adequate coverage in the nooks and crannies of the country.”

“Others are improvement in the process of engaging and revalidating our Frontend Enrolment Partners (FEPs); improvement in our ICT policies, processes and procedures; resolution of 95% challenges/issues affecting our window enrolment software (Res-Web) and commenced the integration and harmonization with National Population Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).”

Adding her voice, NIMC’s Director, Business Development and Commercial Services, Mrs. Carolyn Folami described the DG as a thoroughbred professional, committed to resetting the Commission for the good of the nation.

“It has been only 100 days, but it seems she has been here far longer, as within this period, we have achieved a couple of goals towards resetting the NIMC agenda and resettling the NIMC staff for productivity.”

“Starting with the planning and commencement of training of all staff, to the commitment to all Front-End Partners (FEP) to revalidate the business model for fair play and payment. She is very keen on stakeholder engagement and has secured the buy- in of our harmonisation partners for effectiveness. She is professional, thorough, dedicated, and above all, kind to all.

Adding his voice, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Project Implementation Unit, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Dr. Emmanuel Akogun argued that Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office were characterised by “dynamic, focused and results – oriented leadership,” adding that there is steady progress in NIN enrolment, with “103,500,000 Nigerians and other legal residents captured in the NIMC Database.”

There is therefore no gainsaying the fact that Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days as CEO of the NIMC have been marked by a series of commendable achievements.

At this point, one can confidently say that with Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote as Chief Executive Officer, NIMC is in safe hands.

Her recent confirmation as substantive Director General/CEO of the Commission is clearly an act of patriotism by the Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

However, as she commences a full tenure of office, following her recent confirmation, one expects that the standard is not lowered.

As she marks 100 days in office this week, the most challenging part of Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s journey as Chief Executive Officer of the NIMC is the need to sustain the successes recorded, remain focused, deepen stakeholder engagement and public enlightenment, check corruption, strengthen systems and structures, be fair to all, while supporting the policy direction of the present administration.

Deliberate steps must be taken to ensure the sustenance of the war against extortion at NIMC.

Again, a deliberate plan should be in place to ensure a more robust stakeholder collaboration, particularly with those involved in the country’s identity ecosystem.

Elaborate, sustained communication and public enlightenment activities are required, taking advantage of the conventional and unconventional channels of communication to inform, educate and mobilize the citizens on the need for all to register for the NIN. This requires a deliberate strategy and strategic implementation.

Finally, a deliberate inclusion strategy must be in place and vigorously implemented to ensure that no one is left behind.

As the DG continues to lead with passion and purpose, NIMC is poised for even greater accomplishments under her guidance.

Indeed, NIMC is in safe hands!

Dr. Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design) is a Communication/Public Relations Strategist, Researcher and Consultant. He could be reached on walterchike@gmail.com

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Ministry of Finance Incorporated: Can Takang Deliver?

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Walter Duru, Ph.D

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has just appointed a new leadership for the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), an asset holding and management company under the Federal Ministry of Finance, with mandate as the sole manager of all federal government investment interests.

According to a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, former Finance Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman is reappointed as Chairman of a 10-man Board of Directors of MOFI, while Dr. Armstrong Ume Takang is also reappointed to serve as the Managing Director/CEO of the organisation.

The other appointees include Tajudeen Datti Ahmed, Executive Director, Portfolio Management; Femi Ogunseinde, Executive Director, Investment Management and Mrs. Oluwakemi Owonubi, Executive Director, Risk.

The non-executive directors are Mr. Ike Chioke, Ms. Chantelle Abdul, Mr. Alheri Nyako, Mr. Bolaji Rafiu Elelu and Mrs. Fatima Nana Mede.

To describe the team as perfect is an understatement, as, when something is described as sweet, it is also important to state what it tastes like. The crux of this article is the appropriateness of the person of the Managing Director, Dr. Armstrong Ume Takong, saddled with the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the organisation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and governance, the appointment of a CEO/Managing Director plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of an organization.

Dr. Armstrong Takang emerges as the ideal candidate for the leadership role at the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, bringing with him a wealth of experience, a proven track record, and a vision for transformative change.

Dr. Takang’s academic background, marked by advanced degrees in Computer Science, Finance and Business exposure/experience, sets the stage for his understanding of the intricate dynamics within the financial, business and investment sector(s). He is well equipped with strategies for exploring progressive solutions to economic challenges.

With an impressive career spanning over decades, Dr. Takang has honed his leadership skills in both public and private sectors. His tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of a leading multinational corporation showcased his ability to navigate complex landscapes, implement strategic financial planning, and drive sustainable growth. These experiences uniquely position him to bring a fresh perspective to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

One of Dr. Takang’s standout qualities is his commitment to transparency and accountability. In an era where financial governance is under intense scrutiny, his track record of implementing robust financial controls and ensuring adherence to international standards is commendable.

This commitment to transparency not only fosters trust but also aligns with MOFI’s mission to uphold the highest standards of fiscal responsibility.

Furthermore, Dr. Takang’s innovative approach to problem-solving sets him apart as a forward-thinking leader. His past initiatives, such as spearheading digital transformation in financial processes and advocating for sustainable financial practices, underscore his ability to embrace change and leverage technology for efficiency gains.

In an era where agility and adaptability are crucial, Dr. Takang’s progressive mindset positions MOFI for success in the face of evolving economic landscapes.

As a leader, Dr. Takang places a premium on talent development and team collaboration. His previous roles have seen him cultivate high-performing teams by fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

This emphasis on human capital is pivotal for the MOFI, ensuring that it can effectively navigate the challenges of an ever-changing global economy.

Beyond his professional acumen, Dr. Takang is known for his civic engagement and commitment to corporate social responsibility. His involvement in community development projects demonstrates a holistic understanding of the impact businesses can have on society. His previous positions, leadership roles and achievements speak volumes for him.

Prior to being MOFI’s CEO, Takang was the CEO of Growth Alliance Partners (GAP), a pan-African firm focused on providing post-investment value-add services to Private Equity backed businesses. He helped to turn around several businesses to create shareholder value.

His decades-long career in investment consultancy and public reforms traverses the public and private sectors across Africa, and in the US, where he worked at the New York Office of the KPMG.

He was Team Lead for a Private Banking Group, managed the Integrated Financial and Economic Management Information System (IFEMIS) Project in Nigeria, and led the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Many do not know that Dr Armstrong was pivotal in designing and implementing several national initiatives like the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT under NITDA, the ICT component of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)/Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), among others.

He is not new in the political environment, particularly, within the Ministry of Finance. He was Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, as well as Lead of the MOFI Transformation Team. It is a terrain that he is very conversant with, and this will ease stakeholder engagement, particularly, when there is a proper stakeholder management strategy in place.

Dr. Armstrong Takang’s appointment as the CEO of MOFI is a strategic move toward ushering in a new era of financial leadership, inclusivity, and discipline in managing public investments.

His blend of academic excellence, extensive experience, commitment to transparency, innovative thinking, and emphasis on talent development makes him the perfect fit for steering MOFI towards greater heights.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the leadership of MOFI, as announced, is a perfect combination. The transformations that MOFI has experienced in the last eleven months, under the leadership of Dr. Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, and Dr. Armstrong Takong as Chief Executive Officer is evident and must not be paused.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, Nigerians expect that Dr. Takang’s leadership must not only meet the challenges of the present, but proactively shape the future of financial governance.

It is safe to conclude that Mr. President’s decision to reappoint the duo of Shamsudeen Usman and Armstrong Takong is an act of patriotism.

Permit me to also single out Mr. Ike Chioke, the Group Managing Director at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, who also made the list, as a non-executive director.

With the calibre of persons on the present MOFI leadership team, failure is not an option.

MOFI is expected to support the Federal Government’s efforts towards addressing economic challenges, while spurring the renewal of the economy. There is no better time to be relevant.

Expectations are very high, and Nigerians are in a hurry to see results. Let Federal Government’s investments work for the country.

The time to act is now!

Dr. Chike Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication) is a communication expert, researcher, public relations, and stakeholder engagement consultant. He could be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

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