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VDMA: Timely Boost to a National Priority

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In line with the Federal Government’s pledge to accord priority to technical education in Nigeria, the Aliko Dangote Foundation in partnership with Germany’s VDMA (the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering) and its Foundation for Young Talent in Mechanical Engineering (NWS) recently launched a technical training programme to address the skills deficit in critical sectors of the economy

Official Commitment

Recently, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said the Federal Government would continue to accord priority to technical education. During the 6th Combined Convocation of the Federal College of Education (Technical) in Bichi, Kano State, the minister, represented by the Director, Colleges of Education, Onyeka Nwabuogo, described technical education as a major pillar in economic development. The minister said the federal government was passionate in its commitment to ensure that education took its rightful place in Nigeria.
Adamu said the government would continue to invest in the sector through approved capital allocation and training routed through the Universal Basic Education and Tertiary Education Trust Fund. He said the recent approval of six additional Colleges of Education across the six geopolitical zones of the country would bridge the gap in teacher education among other benefits.

Alarming Statistics

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in a 2020 report, revealed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 was 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 Nigerians remain unemployed. The data also revealed that the worst-hit are Nigerian youths with over 13.9 million currently unemployed. Youth between the ages 15-24 have about 6.8 million Nigerians out of jobs and another 7.1 million also unemployed.
Analysts are of the opinion that high youth unemployment rate is linked to increased insecurity and poverty, a situation, which can spiral out of control if not urgently addressed. The worrying increase in loss of jobs and resultant impact on crime due to the fallout of the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has also generated a cause for concern among various stakeholders including the private sector.

Critical Partnership

To significantly address the skill deficit in all the key sectors of the nation’s economy, the Aliko Dangote Foundation in partnership with Germany’s VDMA (the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering) and its Foundation for Young Talent in Mechanical Engineering (NWS) have officially launched a technical training programme in Nigeria.

Speaking at the official launching of the programme in Lagos recently, the Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote said that the landmark programme is a seven-million Euros (€7m) investment, mainly for the specialised equipment shipped from Germany and installed in five workshops purpose-built for the programme at Dangote Academy in Obajana, Kogi State. He also said the beneficiaries would be trained, using these machines, so they can learn practical skills that will be transferable as they enter the work force.
According to Dangote, this programme is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and will be replicated in all the six geo-political zones of the country. Noting that vocational and technical skills are vital to the well-being of any economy, as key levers for growth, specifically in the manufacturing sector, Dangote said significant skills’ gaps exist in Nigeria, which is what the training programme is seeking to address. “The trainees that successfully pass through the full vocational training will be prepared as well-rounded professionals.

In addition to the technical training, they will also get personal effectiveness trainings of same quality as our staff.”
“At the Dangote Group, we have been providing vocational training for young Nigerians to hone their technical skills for a long time. We started our own Dangote Academy in 2009, based in our Obajana cement plant where we train over 2,000 technicians every year. These technicians have been deployed to some of our operations and to other companies outside our group. In some of our plants, we have recruited graduates of Engineering and other technology-based courses and trained them on many aspects of industrial operations through Dangote Academy.

“As a private sector entity, the programme is a crucial step in a larger vision of collaboration between Nigeria and Germany that we expect will lead to the exchange of knowledge, technology, and industrial capabilities. We also hope that this could lead to the deepening of the commercial relationship between our two countries. Today, we are reiterating our commitment to sustain this partnership arrangement and provide opportunities for scaling up the technical skills of our youths to help expand the skills’ base for the sustained growth of our nation’s economy,” Dangote added.

Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Muller, lauded the Aliko Dangote Foundation and VDMA for the enviable programme that can transform and develop the economy of Nigeria. He said his ministry has supported the initiative with €3.6 million and would not hesitate to do more for the purpose of the initiatives to be achieved.

The VDMA past president, Dr. Reinhold Fostge said: “I am very happy that this has become reality eventually in Nigeria. We started six years ago. Four years ago, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Nigerian German training project. This programme is to raise the skill level of workers and make the youth employable …our vision in VDMA is that, in future, we should be able to exchange highly skilled professionals between Nigeria and Germany and as a matter of fact, I have no objection to inviting Nigerian specialists to help me in Germany and vice versa.”

Technical Programme

The ADF-VDMA Technical Training Programme is a partnership between Aliko Dangote Foundation, VDMA and Nachwuchsstiftung Maschnenbaw – NWS (German training partner). The initiative arose from a shared vision of addressing the deficit in vocational skills required in the manufacturing sector in Nigeria. The main objective is to upskill the Nigerian youths in the area of Electrical and Mechanical Technology and to bridge the skills gap in the manufacturing and energy workforce.
The training programme is designed for the needs of the Nigerian industry and sustained by the expertise of German engineering. The training concept is based on dual-track vocational training that combines both theoretical and practical aspects of Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic, and Mechatronic. The ADF-VDMA Training programme is of two types – Advanced Training Short Courses, and Dual Vocational Training Full Trade (Long) Course.

The short courses are Electrical and Mechanical programmes. Duration is between 2-4 weeks. These include: Control and Maintenance of Machinery (2 weeks); Electrical Installation (4 weeks), Basic Mechanics and Fitter works (4 weeks), Electrical Machines (3 weeks), Welding and Brazing (3 weeks), Vulcanization (Industrial) – 2 weeks, and Advanced Measuring Techniques (3 weeks). The target audience include Industry Operatives and Supervisors.
The Dual Vocational Training Full Trade Course is an 18-month programme with a focus on Electrical and Mechanical disciplines. Exceptional trainees will proceed to an advanced industry Mechanics and Mechatronics program for an additional 12 months. A total of 120 candidates who have successfully gone through the selection process have commenced the programme in April 2021. The target audience include Secondary school certificate holders who are non-graduates, and those between the ages of 16-24 with interests in vocational training.

Lagos Endorsement

Meanwhile the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, enjoined both the Aliko Dangote Foundation and VDMA to consider citing the second training workshop in Lagos, with a promise to make funds available for the take-off of the programme.

He said, “I am truly excited to be part of this nation-changing event. For us in Lagos, I am happy to announce that we have six vocational training schools. But we are going to be making a public commitment that given what I have listened to now, we are not going to leave this to Aliko Dangote Foundation alone; we have to upscale our commitment.
“We won’t wait for him to replicate this in the six-geographical zones of the country. Lagos State will work with him and ask the VDMA what level of commitment is required from the state government…to ensure that in no distant future, we can replicate and bring a full arm of the Dangote academy to Lagos State.

“It is because of where we see Lagos… the amount of the teeming youth that we have in our country and our state. Lagos has continued to be the biggest economy in our country and even in Africa, and what this present to us is an opportunity to bridge that will help to significantly reduce the unemployment level in the state.”

Huge Benefits

The ADF-VDMA Technical training programme is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project fully sponsored by the partners with about €8,000,000 spent on the project. Some advantages of the Training Programme include: High standard facilities with modern equipment and learning tools; it combines Nigerian requirements with German expertise and technical know-how; benefit from NWS long-standing experience in industry-ready vocational training; exposure to industrial work experience in various plants of the Dangote Group and Industry Partners in Nigeria, and highly qualified and experienced technical instructors.

With the increasing need for Nigeria to fill the yawning gaps in her technical work-force, the launch of the VDMA training programme could not have come at a better time. Moreover, the most admirable aspect of this programme is that it is a win-win situation for all those involved, from the trainees to the trainers, from the partners to the governments of Nigeria and Germany. This is crucial for Nigeria’s unceasing quest for development.

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2023 Elections: INEC Deploys 707,384 Presiding Officers

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The Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The President of IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.

“To catch them young, the revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.

“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms. In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to strengthen the fabric of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.

According to him, since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process had remained an issue of concern.

He also said that a known reason for this was the lack of adequate electoral knowledge.

“Hence, promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.

He said that the above informed the initiative of the NERDC in collaboration with IFES to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.

According to him, the curriculum, generally, is developed to expose young learners to the rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, the role of elections in democracy and good governance.

He said the choice of primary school learners was hinged on the core principle of using education as an instrument of socialisation for the young to assume adult roles for the good of society.

“Thus, the teaching of electoral education at this level will ensure that when children reach voting age, they would have already understood the fundamentals of active participation in the political and electoral process,” Junaidu said.

While commending the management of NERDC for the initiative, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Claris Ujam, said the curriculum had become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.

He said, “Every time, there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.

“Therefore, the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education is in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.

“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education. The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development.”

The Punch

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Pro, Anti Ekweremadu Protesters Storm UK Trial

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The human trafficking case against a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, resumed in a London court on Tuesday.

However, anti- and pro-Ekweremadu protests were staged in front of the court ahead of the proceedings.

AFP reported that before court proceedings, there was a gathering of protesters, some of whom were in support of the lawmaker while others were against him.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested alongside his wife at Heathrow Airport in London on the allegation that they flew a young man from Nigeria to the UK to harvest his organ.

The allegation added that the organ was meant for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia, who is currently hospitalised with a kidney-related illness.

Some Nigerians had in October 2022 protested in Abuja against the continued detention of the lawmaker who has now spent 223 days in the custody of UK authorities.

Protesters, once again, gathered at the court on Tuesday to either support the embattled lawmaker or protest his continued detention in UK custody.

“I mean, this case is unbelievable,” one protester, Citizen Gbola, was quoted by AFP as saying.

“Where else in the world would you have a deputy senate president, who is still a serving senator, he’s still getting his regular wage?”

According to Daily Mail, Sonia couldn’t make it to court on Tuesday but sought permission with a psychological report by her team claiming she was not fit to stand trial.

She had pleaded not guilty to the allegation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself, when she appeared in court on November 7, 2022.

The young man, who levelled the allegation against the Ekweremadus, told Staines Police Station that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

A 50-year-old medical doctor from South London, Obinna Obeta, was also arrested in connection to the allegation.

During proceedings at the Old Bailey court, Ekweremadu who wore a grey tracksuit top only said “Yes, miss” when asked to confirm his name.

Seated beside the lawmaker in the dock and dressed in black was his wife who was granted bail in July 2022 while her husband was said to be a flight risk.

The Punch

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New Naira Notes: Emefiele Finally Appears Before House of Reps

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has finally appeared before the House of Representatives which summoned him over the crisis caused by the redesign of some naira notes and the exchange of old naira notes with new ones by the populace.

Emefiele is appearing before the ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the crisis, which is chaired by Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was to issue a warrant for Emefiele’s arrest over his repeated failures to answer at least four summons from the House.

The House had shelved its plan to go on break for the presidential and National Assembly elections, which was to commence on Thursday, over the CBN governor’s failure to answer the last summons issued to him by the committee.

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