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Refugee Commission’s Resettlement City Programme: A Model for Africa

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Refugee Commission’s Resettlement City Programme: A Model for Africa

By SADIQ ABDULLATEEF

For decades now, nations have battled with issues concerning resettlement of refugees and displaced persons, and the most persistent problem across the world has always been, how to fully rehabilitate, resettle and reintegrate the persons of concern into the host communities successfully. With a growing population of refugees across the globe, there seem to be no end in sight for this pending resettlement problem.
Nigeria, today is faced with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the history of the country, with a fast-growing population, the humanitarian landscape is filled with a high number of refugees and displaced persons and returnee migrants, whose mere means of livelihood has been eliminated.
According to an United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) report in 2019, Nigeria had a total of 4.04 million POCs as of July, this figure includes over 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), another 1.6 million returnees and an estimated 242,707 refugees. Interestingly, over the years, Nigeria has become a refuge of interest for refugees from Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon.
Cameroon has the highest number of refugees in Nigeria, with a total of 57, 809 refugees across five states; Akwa Ibom 547, Benue 7531, Cross River 36764, Imo 6 and Taraba 12, 961.
For almost 10 years, the Boko Haram insurgency and other related violence in the North-east has forced the highest number of POCs into permanent and active displacement, with more than 2 million persons in the Lake Chad region left with increased vulnerability and a big hindrance to access to basic amenities.
President Muhammadu Buhari has used the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), the agency saddled with the mandate for the protection, care, maintenance and durable solutions for the POCs as well as ensuring a comprehensive welfare for them. It is an established fact that for over 5 years, President Muhammadu has been steadfast in the support and approach towards delivering aid to this large population of vulnerable POCs.
As a responsive government, President Buhari deployed an inclusive approach in carrying out interventions, which has been exemplified in the context of specific interventions carried out for over 5 years, especially on issues relating to the refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnee migrants from across the globe.
The protection of refugees and displaced persons is among the top priorities of the administration, and that is further evident in the steps taken in further developing modalities for inclusion of refugees in the social safety nets through the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) in order to make everyone count, most especially the persons of concern.
President Buhari further recognised that having durable solutions like the full rehabilitation of displaced persons and the provision of sustainable livelihood assistance, including resettlement; requires persistent workable plans, such plans came with the appointment of a new Honourable Federal Commissioner in the person of Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed for the commission last year, on the 29th August to be precise.
Also at the forefront of this struggle is the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, who has tirelessly and continously supported the commission in its efforts of ensuring a successful resettlement, rehabilitation and reintegration of persons of concern.
Upon assumption into office, the Honourable Federal Commissioner, Senator Mohammed made the commission’s priorities for the year 2020 and beyond take a shift towards delivering a holistic strategy that sets resettlement and reintegration of persons of concern as primacy.
This strategy gave birth to the NCFRMI’s Resettlement City Development & Rehabilitation Programme aimed at responding to the growing need and request of the large numbers of IDPs and refugees in the country as it is worthy of note that as of December 2019, Nigeria has more than 1,000 formal and informal IDPs camps across the country.
A 2019 needs and mobility assessment report indicated that more than 80 percent of these persons of concern, who were displaced in these camps and many other camps in the neighbouring countries were ready and willing to return to communities of free movement, security and sustainable means of living.
And to make their dreams of such return come true, Senator Mohammed’s Resettlement City Programme has been geared towards establishment of resettlement cities across the states in Nigeria, and designed for long-term impact through the reintegration, rehabilitation and resettlement initiatives for the persons of concern as well as a harmonious coexistence with the host communities.
Each resettlement city will include educational learning centres, religious centres, health facilities, recreational parks, skill acquisitions centres as well as security stations. Each city will also have easy access to water, solar electricity and be attached to social services that support their reintegration.
This is in lieu of the fact that the Honourable Federal Commissioner recognised the importance of ensuring a beneficial relationship between the host communities and the persons of concern, thereby ensuring a strategy of providing social amenities that will be beneficial to both parties and encourage a sustainable user-friendly relationships.
Senator Mohammed further recognised a very important inclusion in the resettlement city; is having learning and educational centres for the person of concerns, as the need to give the growing population of youths in these camps basic education, even if its just to learn how to read and write. The relevance of this aspect of the resettlement city cannot be overemphasised.
As the Honourable Federal Commissioner likes to put it himself, ‘a boy or a girl who has been in the displaced persons’ camp since the beginning of the Boko Haram crises has probably been out of school for about a decade. That is ten wasted education years for the millions of youths in the camp. This should be a source of concern for anybody’.
As the situation of displaced persons in the country gets direr as a result a number of crises, the commission in its efforts to bring comfort and succour to the persons of concern has worked tirelessly to secure vast amount of lands in some states across the federation for the establishment of the historic resettlement city, and the Honourable Federal Commissioner has ensure that every stakeholder is on board as the programme moves to the next level.
Therefore as the commission plans to add another mandate to its welfare plate for the persons of concern in camps across the states by providing a long-term and durable solution to the resettlement issues at hand, there is a growing need for more assistance and support for the commission as provided through collaborations with various donors within the country and well-meaning Nigerians to this programme.
It goes without saying that a programme of this magnitude needs the continuous support and assistance of everyone in the country, from the government at all levels, corporate bodies to individual who wish to be part of this historic project. A project that is modelled to be the best in Africa and at completion, will be the pride of the nation and its people – there should be a general call to action.
Like we all know, displacement is often a survival mechanism, when fleeing is the only resort people have in order to avoid imminent danger or hardship. However, displacement also tends to make people vulnerable, often exacerbating the difficulties they already face as a result of the surrounding – armed conflict or violence. Displaced people are torn away from their usual surroundings and social support networks. Families are often ripped apart and relatives may be killed or go missing during transit.
The loss of income, possessions and sorts leaves internally displaced persons and returnee migrants unable to meet even their most basic needs in a predictable way or access to basic services. It is our collective duty to help the government and the commission bring back smiles to the faces of these people – for humanity and for ourselves through the commission’s Resettlement City Development Programme.

Sadiq is the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Honourable Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI).

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Opinion

Celebration of World Refugee Day: An overview of the implementation of Nigeria’s pledges on GCR

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The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as: “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” To honour refugees around the globe, the United Nations has designated June 20 of every year, as a World Refugee Day. The day celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. It is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Together We Can Achieve Anything”, while the sub-theme is “Together we heal, learn and shine”, which calls for a greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, school and sports. In Nigeria, the World Refugee Day is commemorated by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
There are a total of 26.3 million refugees in the world. Out of this figure, 73,000 are in Nigeria, out of which 71,400 are Refugees and 1,600 are Asylum-seekers (May 2021). Nigeria play host to refugees and asylum seekers from these countries: Cameroon, Niger, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Cotre D’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Togo and China.
The World Refugee Day is significant to the global world and the 26.3 million refugees because it shines a light on their rights, needs and dreams, helping to mobilize political will and resources so that they can not only survive but also thrive. While it is important to protect and improve their lives every single day, international days like World Refugee Day help to focus global attention on the plight of those fleeing conflict or persecution, as many activities held on World Refugee Day create opportunities to support refugees.
This piece while highlighting the significance of the World Refugee Day, is also meant to present an overview of the implementation of the pledges by Nigeria at the Global Forum on Refugees (GRF) Conference which held in 2019 at Geneva, Switzerland. Nigeria at the conference made the following four (4) pledges:
i. to include refugees, IDPs, returnees and their host communities in National Government Development Plans. Nigeria has adopted the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 that covers humanitarian assistance; relocation; rehabilitation; resettlement; peace building; security; infrastructure; agriculture; health; education; and governance;
ii. to strengthen its protection capacity, by ensuring the integrity of the asylum system in line with international legal instruments and freedom of movement for refugees, IDPs and returnees; maintaining its open-door policy; and promoting legal pathways to durable solutions;
iii. to ensure availability and access to durable solutions for refugees and IDPs, in consultation with affected populations and host communities, with particular attention to children, youth, women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups; and
iv. to continue playing an active and constructive role in regional and sub-regional efforts to address the root causes of displacement.

Nigeria, through the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), an agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has taken steps in the fulfilment of the pledges, through collaboration with some other agencies. Some of the actions taken are listed hereunder:
i. The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, in 2020, made a special provision for NCFRMI in the designing of Economic Sustainability Plan so as to ease implementation of key actions relating to refugees and IDPs. One of the key Economic Sustainable Plans is the commencement of the building of Resettlement Cities in Borno, Edo, Zamfara and Katsina States for Returnees and IDPs towards ensuring durable solution for their shelter needs.
ii. In February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued directive to Banks and Financial Institutions to recognise refugee identity card issued by NCFRMI and UNHCR, and Convention Travel Document (CTD) issued by NCFRMI and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for the purposes of identification in opening of bank accounts to facilitate access to financial services in Nigeria.
iii. There are ongoing discussions for inclusion of refugees in national social safety nets through the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO). This is being done in conjunction with NCFRMI and UNHCR.
iv. Refugees are included in the national educational and health systems, including the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), at par with Nigerian citizens.
v. There is government-led provision of lands for refugees’ settlement and use for agriculture in Cross River State in South-South Region of Nigeria and Benue State, in the North-Central Region.
vi. Nigeria maintains positive protection environment by ensuring the integrity of the asylum system in line with international legal instruments and freedom of movement for refugees, IDPs and returnees; maintaining its open-door policy; and promoting legal pathways to durable solutions.
vii. Nigeria is facilitating access to birth registration and the enrolment of refugees, IDPs and returnees into the national identity management system to prevent and reduce the risk of statelessness and facilitate access to services. As of 2021, NCFRMI has been licensed to facilitate enrolment of refugees on the National Identity Number (NIN) as required by Government through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
viii. Action on the repeal and replacement of the National Commission for Refugees (NCFR) Act to incorporate the protection of migrants and internally displaced persons under its mandate has been concluded and awaiting Presidential assent.
ix. Domestication of the Kampala Convention relating to refugees and IDPs has been concluded and incorporated in the new NCFR Act.
x. Launch of Project Reliance, which is a flagship project of NCFRMI in collaboration with the CBN designed to provide loans to Returnees, IDPs and other Persons of Concern (PoCs) to make them self-reliant.
xi. Town Hall Meetings held by NCFRMI with PoCs-Refugees, Migrant Returnees and IDPs- to identify their needs and areas of support for quick intervention.
xii. Nigeria has been at the forefront of ensuring regional approaches to addressing issues that causes forced displacement through ECOWAS and Lake Chad Basin Commission. The Third Regional Protection Dialogue on the Lake Chad Basin held in 2020 focusing on conflict resolution and peace building.
xiii. To show the receptiveness of Government of Nigeria to rsefugees, the Honourable Minister of Federal Capital Territory has signed the #CitiesWithRefugees Declaration, making Abuja as the 267th City of the World that is Refugee friendly.
The Government of Nigeria deserve kudos for these lofty achievements and showing greater commitment towards the implementation of the pledges on the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). No wonder, the country is regarded as a friendly refugees’ nation.
It is a matter of fact that the country cannot shoulder all these alone. Therefore, individuals and corporate organisations are hereby enjoined to partner with government to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers are given the required support to make life more meaningful to them. Their being refugees is not their making. According Warsan Shire “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark’’. I call on all Nigerians to see the protection of refugees and asylum seekers as our obligation, as in the words of Dina Nayeri “It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks’’. Collectively, we can achieve anything.

This piece is written by Hajia Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim
Honourable Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Abuja.

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Opinion

FUTONS 8th VC: The other side of Nnenna Oti

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By Bright C. J. Okereke

[Out of the 16 female Vice Chancellors known to have headed Universities in Nigeria, only 6 were of the Federal Universities, others are of either state or private Universities. And, Prof Nnenna Oti, is the 7th in the order]

The reading public must have been inaduanted with the classic and decent professional and academic credentials of this noble Amazon, of our time, Professor Mrs. Nnenna Oti, hence, my resolve to profile, the other side of the institution’s first woman head.

Certainly, divinity, hard work and diligence may have played a dominant and pivotal role in placing Prof Nnenna Oti, at the line of remarkable and reveered leaders of one of the highest academic Institutions in our divide.

I guess, she must be deeply honored to record as the first female, to lead, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), established in 1980, succeeding an unbroken chain of seven (7) Male Vice Chancellors within the 41 years of the University’s existence.

With this development, she has set an amazing record of being the first female Vice Chancellor of the University and as well the first alumni of the Institution to occupy its headship position.

Though, an unprecedented elevation, yet, many will be pondering what the years ahead would hold at the helm of this dynamic institution, under Oti’s watch.

Professor Nnenna Oti, is a rare symbol of courage, a skilled administrator and an embodiment of humility and honest service.

Her, colossal confidence in God and the kinetisation of her potentials and abilities have always paved way for her success towards greatness. Her excellent performances in various challenging positions, held in the past, clearly attests to this assertion.

She must have aspired to this enviable height, even with its attendant and enormous responsibilities. Very hopefully, she would build an enduring legacy, that would be in tandem with global best practices.

She is one of the few African women of quality, distinction and honour that could be described as a silent ‘Powerhouse’.
Despite her significant and enviable achievements, Prof Oti, has resisted the trending temptation of flexing muscles in challenge of superiority.

Prof Oti, is one, whose dogged academic pursuit, extraordinary leadership, dedication and execllence have helped advance Gender concerns and Women’s capacities in many ways.

She is an astute scholar, who have held several challenging academic and leadership positions; and in all these capacities, she has been a champion, breaking glass ceilings and new barriers for women around the continent. She has always served as an enforcer of gender abilities.

Prof Nnenna, is one of the tourch-bearers leading the pathway in achieving gender upliftment and women education in our parlance. She is the immediate past Chairperson of the University’s Gender Policy Unit.

She has been quietly serving her Institution well and without fuss, a rare resolve, in a clime, like ours, where the commonest rhetorical question revolves around self-mythology and egocentrism.

She is a virtuous wife with impeccable family values and the mother of a lovely Christain home. Her amiable husband, Pastor Nnannaya Oti, an Architect, has always been there, for her, as a strong pillar, providing all the needed love and support.

However, holding that, our debt to your courage and vision is immeasurable, it is pertinent to advice that your decisions in the days ahead, be truly indispensible to peace and human dignity, inorder to build a common enterprise that would revolve on humanity’s deepest values and highest aspirations. May God help you, Prof.!

The new Vice Chancellor, who tookover office from Prof Eze, on Friday, June 18, 2021, is a Professor of Soil Science and Environmental Conservation; she holds a Bachelor of Agriculture degree (B.Agric) in Soil Science from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN; (First Class Honours), Masters in Soil Science (Soil Biology and Biochemistry Option), UNN; a Postgraduate Diploma in Irrigation Engineering (Distinction) from Katholic University Leuven, Belgium and capped her academic laurels with a PhD in Soil and Environmental Conservation from Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO). Providence and brilliance provided her with scholarships and numerous awards for excellence at various levels of her educational career.

She has had over 34 years in academics, teaching, research and administration in the Nigerian university system with international exposure, including working as a consultant to governments and the private sector at various times in diverse capacities ranging from TETFund, Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, National Biotechnology Development Agency amongst many others.

She is a member of very many prestigous local and international professional bodies. A renowned Consultant and Public Speaker for various Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Religious and Non-Governmental bodies.

As an accomplished and versatile academic, she has well, over 65 academic papers, 40 seminar and workshop papers, 50 public lectures and over 10 technical reports for the Federal Government of Nigeria.

She was a two-time Dean of FUTO’s Post-graduate School and a three-time Head of Department of Soil Science and Technology in the School of Agricultural and Agriculture Technology (SAAT). Chairman, Committee of Deans, FUTO (2019-2020), member of the University Senate, member, Joint Council/Senate Committees and former Director of University Examinations, FUTO (2011-2012).

Until, her appointment as the 8th substantive Vice Chancellor, of FUTO, she was the Deputy Vice Chancellor, (Academics) of the same University.

Bright C. J. Okereke, is a Media Consultant, and writes from Owerri. E-mail: brightjames88@yahoo.com

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Opinion

What manner of man is Senator Oseni?

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By Zacchaeus Ozovehe

The reign of Senator Yakubu Oseni as representative of Kogi Central constituency is two years today. We have cause to genuinely celebrate him because nobody ever thought his representation would be as profitable as it later turned out to be owing to the barrage of criticisms and calculated character assassination that trailed his election. Nominally, his stay at the Red Chamber clocks two years today including a whole legislative year (2020) which was snatched away from the lawmakers as a result of the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted global activities.

Since the return of democratic governance in 1999, yours sincerely has ever been a keen and critical watcher of the pace, mode and quality of representation the people of Kogi Central Senatorial District have had to enjoy or endure. From the banking sector and having had a stint at the then dying Kogi Internal Revenue Service which he professionally reformed and placed on the pedestal of robust revenue generation, Alhaji Yakubu Oseni (AYO, as he was fondly called by his admirers then) threw his hat in the ring to contest and represent the good people of Kogi Central in 2019. His decision to represent the people of Kogi Central irked some pockets of people with vested interest and this immediately generated plethora of conspiracy theories that went viral in the run up to the election. But, what makes democracy unique and globally acceptable is the fact that it permits plurality of ideas, contestants and even platforms with which the people can express themselves on who to represent or govern them.

So, in the election that later produced Senator Yakubu Oseni whose two-year journey at the National Assembly we are celebrating today, the then unabashed AYO endured verbal bashing, yet remained firmly focused on his determination to provide unprecedented representation to his people if elected. Of course, his prayers and the wishes of the greater majority of the people was granted by God who Senator Oseni had always referred to as the ultimate giver of power. If Senator Oseni should be likened to biblical character, it should be ‘David’ who though ill-equipped in weaponry, have had to combat the raging octopus-like and multidimensional Goliath in the defense of his people. As the proverbial tailless cow and Almighty God that was with David, God showed his omniscience in the victorious election of Senator Oseni, thereby wiping the tears of the people of Kogi Central who have long yearned for true representation at the Senate.

I have had cause to journey through Lokoja to Okene yesterday and my co-passengers forayed from one political discussions to another and finally settled on “Senator Oseni’s topic”. At the mention of Senator Oseni, the whole vehicle got frenziedly lightened. It was as if they were patiently waiting for the name to be mentioned before reeling out their respective benevolent testimonies about the lawmaker who seemed to have had direct positive impact on their lives. A middle-aged man who simply identified himself as Adeku wanted all of us in the vehicle to show gratitude to the leadership of Senator Yakubu Oseni at the National Assembly. He vehemently argued that Kogi Central Senatorial District has never had it better than the present dispensation.

He said inter alia: “What made me love him is the fact that he will never give you fish, instead, he teaches you how to profitably go into fishing. This is the only illustration I can use to explain the benefits and mode of entrepreneurial and skill acquisition schemes Senator Oseni has introduced. Many young people and women across the five Local Government Areas of Kogi Central have been lifted above poverty line with Senator Oseni’s ingenious initiative. Impacting life-changing skill in the people with its attendant positive multiplier effects will surely outlive the tenure of Senator Oseni”.

The focus of Adeku is on human capital development initiative of Senator Oseni. Adeku equally tried to make comparative analysis of how youths were once empowered in earlier dispensations with cars, sponsorship of weddings of additional wives to loyalists, motorcycles and other gift items that are fleeting or ephemeral.

Amidst all these, Adeku was halted by comments of another passenger who rhetorically quizzed ”What manner of man is Senator Yakubu Oseni” This is a man that remained unperturbed in the face of fallacious allegations against him in the run up to the election that brought him as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and yet, did not consider such in siting his infrastructural projects. No wonder he has continued to receive recommendations from stakeholders not only from Kogi State but across the federation.

“My household cannot wish him bad not when he generously gave us Ramadan foodstuff palliative” another woman chipped in.

I was enjoying every bit of the discussion until the driver whom I had earlier informed that “Total Filling Station Okene” was my destination reminded me that my transport fare has exhausted its potency. I had to grudgingly alight at the peak of the discussion of “Senator Oseni’s topic” which had lasted about an hour. In a pluralistic society like ours, the best avenue to gauge people’s opinion about leaders, government’s policy and its institutions are markets square, newsstands, football viewing centres, motor parks, beer parlours and other social or informal gatherings. You can be cocksure of getting true recommendations or reprimands from these locations as discussions are done in an informal and unstructured manner. Incidentally, assessment of Senator Oseni’s scorecards in the last two years happened on transit by people spatially picked by a driver as passengers.

However, I was engrossed with the enticing discussion such that the opportunity to inform my co-passengers that the achievements of Senator Yakubu Oseni in the last two years surpassed the template in which they have established eluded me.

I would have told them that Senator Yakubu Oseni has facilitated different Federal Government jobs for many young people in his constituency.

I would have informed them that the bill seeking establishment of Steel University Ajaokuta sponsored by Senator Oseni has weathered the rigorous hurdles of painstaking legislative scrutiny and only waiting for presidential assent.

I would have enlightened my co-passengers that aside the aforementioned bill, Senator Oseni has to his credit, ‘Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Agency Bill,’ “Solid Minerals Development Bank Bill,” Institute of Computer Forensic of Nigeria Bill and other motions bordering on the security and economy of Nigeria raised by Senator Oseni.

I would have taken them through more informed elucidation on the latent benefits and foresight of the lawmaker in engaging the youths of his constituency in digital and technological-based empowerment in order to keep up with the 21st century of youths that ought to be solution providers.

I would have asked them if they know the selfless political leader that facilitated the construction of Upogoro-Agassa road, drainage and bridges on the road that leads to Government Day Secondary School (GDSS) Anyava.

Since all of them seemed to be going into Okene main town, I would have beseeched them to visit Okene Local Government Ministry of Works at Otutu Ward to personally inspect ‘Type A’ Skill Acquisition Centre built by Senator Oseni for training on tailoring, carpentry, hair dressing, vulcanising and detergent making. This gesture is not limited to Okene Local Government Area, it cuts across other four LGAs, one of the reasons why the passenger sought to know the manner of man Senator Oseni is.

As a lover of education, Senator Oseni had in the last two years gone into building of blocks of classrooms, ultramodern ICT centre equipped with solar power generation facilities, provision of stationery and computer sets across his constituency.

As the people celebrate this rare gem today, we are more than convinced that the era of docile and ‘I concur’ representation of Kogi Central Senatorial District has given way for purposeful and result-oriented leadership. Yes, we craved for sincere leader to represent us at the National Assembly and we have one in Senator Yakubu Oseni who has kept his promises.

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