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Youths need digital skills for 21st century economy – Minister

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The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, on Tuesday, said African youths need digital skills development for the 21st-century economy.

Dare said this in a webinar monitored in Abuja and hosted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The webinar focused on ‘Youth Power in Combating Mis and Dis-Information during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond’.

The meeting also reiterated the need for the deployment of the Media and Information Literacy (MIL) framework launched by UNESCO in 2011.

The sports minister said that COVID-19 had unleashed the potential and creative minds of youths which leverages technology, adding ”technology should be harnessed and used for positive purposes more than the negatives”.

“In Nigeria, we discovered that there are digital skills gap and our youths need digital skills for the 21st-century economy.

“There are over 200 digital skills but for Africa’s criticality, we identified 15 to 25 skills that our youths need to position them to be effective for the digital economy,” Dare said.

The minister said that the country developed the Digital Skills Literacy, Entrepreneurship, Employable, and Leadership (DEEL) program as an action plan to help upskill the youths.

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Dare said the program is targeted at improving the skills of 500,000 to one million youths in the next two years so that they could adapt to technology and solve problems in various sectors of the economy.

He stated that the country is into collaborations with IBM and International Telecommunications Unit, among other institutions, leveraging on technology for development.

He, however, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had presented policymakers, countries with the opportunity to acknowledge and leverage the potentials of the youths.

Mr. Yao Ydo, the Regional Director of UNESCO, said that with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, people resorted to online platforms to seek information and answers.

Ydo said, unfortunately, some information available on social media platforms were not credible and could mislead the public.

According to him, Africa is gaining prominence in the internet space and countries need to employ the provisions of the MIL framework that recognizes the functions of the media in disseminating information.

He said the MIL project promoted media literacy skills and ensures best practices in analyzing information.

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He added that in response to the infodemic caused by the pandemic, UNESCO Abuja launched a survey on the Perception of COVID-19 Communication in West Africa and also engaged youths by calling for jingles.

Ydo said that with the development in digital communication, the youths had roles to play in combating disinformation and misinformation.

He hoped that the meeting would harness the power of the youths on digital technology, innovation for the transformation of the African society, and human development.

The director also called for the improvement of the current media landscape as regards COVID-19 information, media ambassadors on media literacy, and youth forum that focuses on their perspectives and challenges.

Mr. Mohammed Bangura, the Minister of Youth Affairs, Sierra Leone, said African countries should deploy the power in the huge young population for creativity and innovation.

“Accumulation of knowledge is an asset in young people and if well used, leads to revolution.

“Young people should be seen as assets and not liabilities, also as progressives, not set of people that disrupts,” Bangura said.

Dr. Carolyn Wilson, Lecturer, Western University, Canada, said the MIL framework would provide the media and journalists the ability to evaluate information and its sources.

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Wilson said the framework focused on news production, messages conveyed, and targeted audience, adding that MIL has core principles that should be considered in information sharing using digital technology.

Presentation of the survey results on the Perception of COVID-19 Communication in West Africa was done in the meeting.

According to Mr. Macaulay Olushola, National Programme Officer on Information Communication, the survey was done between April 28 and May 10.

Olushola said that the survey focused on eight countries which include Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo with 522 surveyed respondents.

He said the respondents were assessed using Google Forms based on likely questions asked in the COVID-19 era sources of information, among other criteria.

On the call for Jingles on Mis and Dis-Information, Olushola said they got over 40 entries, while the best 15 were selected.

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Alumni association set to redevelop Unilag Cricket Pitch for N75m

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Mr Kwesi Sagoe, a former President, Nigerian Cricket Federation, says the construction of a cricket pitch of international standards in the University of Lagos will further project the institution as one of Africa’s best.

Sagoe, also a former Chairman, African Cricket Association, made the assertion on Saturday at the Sod Turning ceremony for the redevelopment of the Cricket Pitch of the University of Lagos Sports Centre.

The project is to cost at least N75 million.

The ceremony which was put together by the University of Lagos Cricket Alumni Association was in honour of a retired lecturer in the university, Prof. Adebola Kukoyi, who turned 80, on Thursday.

The Newsmen reports that Kukoyi, a Professor of French, was an active member of the association during his days as a student and as a lecturer in the university.

He retired from the university in 2005.

Sagoe said that beyond honouring Kukoyi on his 80th birthday anniversary, the association felt there was the need to give back to the University of Lagos, which moulded them.

”The whole idea is to give back to cricket and make sure that in Unilag, it remains the sport of first choice and must not disappear from the extracurricular activities of the institution.

”That is very important, and we stand by it.

”The English Football Federation has a high-performance centre at one of the universities in the UK.

”This is the kind of relationship we want the University of Lagos to have with the Nigerian Cricket Federation, whereby this place can be a high-performance centre for Nigerian cricket as a whole,” Sagoe said.

He added that building a befitting cricket facility in honour of Kukoyi would be in appreciation to his immense contributions to the development of the sports in the institution.

”About seven weeks ago, when we put our heads together as a body of cricketers who played under his watch, for the upcoming birthday of Prof. Kukoyi who also imbibed some qualities in us, we felt the need to come up with what we are witnessing today.

”As at today, we have about 102 members, and we are still reaching out to others; the important thing about this is that all the members are happy that we got together to deliberate on how to celebrate Prof. Kukoyi.

”We thought deeply about the cricket facility here, that it will be good to renew it, and therefore we sought the consent of the university authorities to name it in his honour.

“We are very excited by the reception that we got from the vice-chancellor and his management team,” he said.

Mr Uyi Akpata, Vice President, Nigerian Cricket Federation and a member of the alumni association,   said at least N75 million would be needed to put in place a cricket pitch of international standards in the university.

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Akpata, also the Chairman, Edo Cricket Association, added that the institution’s cricket alumni association was looking at positioning the institution as one of the best on the African continent, considering its recent ranking by Forbes as the third productive university in Africa.

”For the pitch which is the main one, it has to be completed within the next two months. We need to take advantage of the rainy season to do it so that planting can be done.

”To do the pitch itself with the underground watering system, irrigation, turf wickets and others, we are looking at a range of between N50 million to N70 million, but it could be less if we would be assisted with equipment by other public-spirited individuals.

”Ultimately, it is a process, and we are targeting to do a formal opening ceremony around November.

”What we are looking at now is beyond this. It is about how we are going to support the university going forward, support female cricketers and attract foreigners here to play cricket,” he said.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, reiterated that part of his vision on the assumption of office was to bring in friends and alumni to assist in building the institution.

”Here, we are talking about the project, programme and person.

”In the last one or two weeks, there have been lots of activities; this is one of such activities that our vision has attracted to the university.

”This project, the cricket pitch, will be of international standards, and I can assure you that by next year, we shall begin to see foreigners come into the university to play cricket.

” We thank God for the life of Prof. Kukoyi who had been part of the cricket family since his days as a student and even when he was here as a lecturer and when he retired.

”He contributed to the development of these ‘boys’, and because of this, they want to honour him this way, not to him as an individual, but through him to the institution.

“I think I have taken some lessons from this,” Ogundipe said.

Also in his remarks, Kukoyi said he was overwhelmed and humbled by the gesture.

”I am indeed overwhelmed and surprised at this whole idea.

“I know a vice-chancellor is a remarkable person, a man of substance, just like all others who are behind this.

“When they want to do something, they put in all their energy to it.

”With all these efforts, we are going to turn this place to an academy of sports,” he said.

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China rebukes Canada over criticism of Hong Kong security law

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China fired back at Canada on Saturday for criticizing Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong, the second rebuke in a week that has added to strains on their bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the law and Canada’s Foreign Minister called the legislation “a significant step back” for liberty.

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China’s embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on its website that Canada had “grossly interfered” in Chinese affairs, adding that the new legislation would safeguard security in Hong Kong.

“Some western countries, including Canada, have been meddling in Hong Kong affairs under the pretext of human rights, which seriously violates international law and basic norms of international relations,’’ a spokesperson said in the statement.

China imposed the legislation this week in spite of protests by Hong Kongers and criticism from Western nations, which said the legislation was setting the financial hub on an authoritarian track.

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Hong Kong officials said on Saturday they were “very disappointed” in Canada’s suspension of the extradition treaty.

Officials in the offices of Canada’s prime minister and deputy prime minister could not immediately be reached for comment.

Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been tense since 2018 when Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Technologies Co, on a U.S. warrant.

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After Meng was detained, China arrested Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman on charges of espionage.

China also rebuked Canada a week ago over Ottawa’s criticism about the prosecution of the Canadians.

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Most former militants trained as divers jobless – expert

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Mr. Julius Ugwuala, Diving Inspector-elect, on Saturday said that most of the former militants trained as divers under the Federal Government Amnesty Programme had been jobless.

Ugwuala made the claim on an Instagram live program organized by Mrs. Ezinne Azunnah of the MaritimeTv.

The program had the theme, ”Code of Practice for Driving Operations in Nigeria”.

According to him, the situation is a security risk that needs to be addressed so that the ex-militants do not go back to their bad ways due to idleness.

“The Federal Government under the Amnesty initiative trained former militants, and some of them chose diving as a profession; they are back in the country and are qualified to work.

“Unfortunately, since they returned, they have not had the opportunity to work with the oil and gas sector.

“The security risk with them being jobless is that the training they had in diving will further enhance their former business if they decide to go back to it; so,” he said.

He suggested that the code of practice for diving should be implemented through the inauguration of a diving advisory board.

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He said that the absence of the code of practice had set the ex-militants back.

He urged the proper regulation of diving in Nigeria.

“Divers are not insured because we do not have the regulation that is working; this is part of the issues that the code of practice will address.

“For us to have an effective code of practice, we are looking at the most stringent one, to meet expectations or exceed international standards,” he said.

He suggested that to reduce accidents, no diving contractor should mobilize to the site without clearance from the advisory board, adding that inspectors should be deployed to check equipment to ascertain their suitability for operations.

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The advisory board will enforce the regulation, code of practice, and develop a policy for diving to thrive,” he said.

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