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MRA Inducts Onu’s Science and Tech Ministry into‘FOI Hall of Shame’

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Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology

The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu has been inducted into the ‘FOI Hall of Shame’ by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for alleged blatant disregard of the Act Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 in the past seven years, reports ITRealms.

 

Ms Morisola Alaba, MRA’s Legal Officer, said that “In the last seven years since the enactment of the FOI Act, the ministry has not submitted a single annual report on its implementation of the Law, thus violating section 29 of the Act and the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation pursuant to his powers under the Act.”

 

She noted that the ministry whose vision is to make Nigeria one of the acknowledged leaders of the scientifically and technologically developed nations of the world deliberately disregards the FOI Act which is aimed at enabling citizens to be aware of the operations, businesses and activities of Government, including all public institutions, in order to make informed decisions in all aspects of their lives.

 

Although the ministry has published on its website a description of the organisation and its responsibilities, including details of the programmes and functions of each of its departments, it nonetheless failed to publish a list of description of documents containing final opinion including concurring and dissenting opinions.

 

Ms Alaba added that “there is also no indication whatsoever that the ministry has provided the appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information or records held by the ministry or trained them to effectively implement the Act, as it is required to do by section 13 of the FOI Act.”

 

She further said that the ministry, whose mandate includes acquisition and application of science, technology and innovation contribution to increase agricultural and livestock production; creation of technology infrastructure and knowledge base to facilitate its wide application for development; and application of natural medicine resources and technologies for health sector development, among others has failed to acknowledge the FOI Act in order to make information relevant to its mandate readily available.

 

According to Ms Alaba, the ministry failed to proactively disclose list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grant, licenses or agreement, reports, documents, studies, or publications prepared by independent contractors for institution; and materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by or between the institution and another public institution or private organisation, as required by section 2 (3) (e) of the FOI Act.

 

She stated that although the ministry has names and profiles of its management staff on its website, it failed to disclose the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees of the institution, as required by section 2 (3) (d) (vi) of the Act.

 

Ms Alaba said the ministry also failed to disclose information on documents containing final planning policies, recommendations, and decisions as well as information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution in violation of section 2 (3) (iii) and  (v) of the FOI Act.

 

She added: “Although we cannot determine at this point the scale of non-responsiveness by the Ministry to requests for information from members of the public owing to its failure to submit annual reports for 2011 to 2017, which would have provided that vital information, we know for a fact that it has failed to respond to FOI requests from civil society organizations such as the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Paradigm Initiative.  Instead of providing the information in accordance with the Law, it has opted to waste public funds defending the refusal to disclose the requested information in court.”

 

Ms Alaba  said there was no indication on the ministry’s website or anywhere else that it has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, and accused the ministry of also violating Section 2(3)(f) of the Act, adding that even the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of such FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the ministry.

 

Launched by MRA in July 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances, and decisions.

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Uber Extends Safety Toolkit Launch for Riders, Drivers to Nigeria

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Uber  to double down on safety and roll out Safety Toolkit for riders and drivers across 38 countries, including Nigeria; Features to include Safety Centre, Trusted Contacts, Share Trip, emergency assistance button and customisable speed alerts

This week Uber announced the new Safety Toolkit which, over the next few weeks, will be rolled out to the millions of riders, drivers and delivery-partners using the app across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The toolkit will introduce new innovative features which aim to raise the bar on safety, and increase transparency, accountability and peace of mind for all users.

Since launching the app, Uber has provided millions of people with technology that allows them to get a ride at the push of a button, track every trip with GPS technology and report any issues 24/7 with a dedicated safety team.

With the introduction of new safety features, the company aims to double down on safety and help make the Uber community safer.

Features that will be introduced as part of the new rider and driver safety toolkit, include:

Emergency button – With the push of a button in the app, riders, drivers and delivery-partners can connect directly to private emergency services and security response when needed through a third party private security supplier

Trusted Contacts – Riders can now easily designate five friends or family members as “trusted contacts” and, with a single tap, share their trip information which are easily customisable in their trip sharing preferences.

Safety Centre – A new app-housed safety information hub where users can find information on some of the key existing safety tools in the app, including our 24/7 team, information on the driver and the car, trip GPS-tracking and our rating and feedback system.

Speed alerts – A feature which reminds drivers and delivery partners to maintain a safe speed within the posted speed limits.

These new safety features will be a phased rollout, not all riders, drivers and delivery partners will have access to the features immediately.

“With more than 15 million trips on the Uber app every day, there is nothing more important than the safety of riders, drivers and couriers. Over the last year we’ve been working to develop innovative products that increase transparency, accountability and peace of mind for all users.

The rollout of our new Safety Toolkit features across Europe, Middle East and Africa is the next step in making sure that we’re helping everyone stay safe and connected, wherever you might be,” says Sachin Kansal, Uber’s Global Head of Safety Product.

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has made safety a top priority for 2018. Since joining the company, he has introduced a number of changes including Injury Protection cover for driver’s, delivery-partners and riders, driving hour limits and Driver Share my Trip.

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Okeremi Urges NIMC to Creating Additional Biometric Centres to Expedite NIN Registration

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Ronke Okeremi, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Arit of Africa, in addressing the inadequacy of centres, has urged NIMC to create more physical and mobile registration centres in order to speed up the enrolment of more Nigerians.

Okeremi while speaking on the need to hasten up the programme suggested that the creation of more centres across the country will solve the issue of slow pace of registration and boost the morale of Nigerians in the urban and rural areas to participate in the exercise.

The technology expert who is managing the oldest information and communication technology [ICT] in Nigeria reiterated that one of the logjams associated with the NIN programmes is the inadequate registration centres especially in some remote areas in the country.

She therefore called on NIMC to equally train its field officers in order for them to give their utmost in the discharge of their duties, in respect to the NIN registration exercise.

“Operators who are enrolling the citizens must be properly trained and biometric acquisition and authentication processes must be adequately defined.

“Mobile biometric enrolment kits can be used to provide biometric registration where it is required and it is especially useful for enrolment in outskirts and in the remote areas.

“A biometric system is made credible by ensuring that quality biometric acquisition devices are utilised and by installing software that ensures the quality of captured biometric and security of the biometric system”, she said.

Since the period the National Identity Management Commission [NIMC] was established to provide sustainable world-class identity management solution to affirm identity, enhance governance and service delivery in Nigeria, the government agency has experienced setbacks in enrolling Nigerians properly.

Among these challenges are ineffective and inefficient enrolment exercise, which include lack of adequate registration centres, extortion of enrollees before they could be enrolled, lack power supply and unavailable internet facility among others.

These challenges have rendered the enrolment exercise comatose, resulting in slow pace of work, which has further left many Nigerians frustrated, dejected and disinterested in the NIN exercise.

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Nigerian Startup Celebrates Female Heroes

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Social media in recent weeks has been agog with the celebration of iconic Nigerian women, by Nigerian female entrepreneurs from all walks of life, who have been commemorating their female heroes.

 

618Bees, a Nigerian tech start-up, began the ‘Naija Woman Hero’ contest where women are required to post a photo of their all-time iconic Nigerian woman on Instagram, using the hashtag #NaijaWomanHero, and tagging @618Bees.

 

Thousands of female entrepreneurs have nominated their iconic Nigerian women and the contest has started a resurgence of some sort since the competition began.

 

The competition has seen thousands of posts since the contest began on October 1st.

 

According to the BBC, Nigeria has the highest number of female entrepreneurs in the world and who often struggle to secure investment, with banks always requiring collaterals, like properties, which women often do not have.

 

Without access to capital, it is difficult for a lot of women to grow their businesses.

 

In a bid to make life easier for women, 618 Bees is offering hundreds of woman the opportunity to start their own businesses by registering the businesses for free.

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