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Press focuses on suspension of Sudan by African Union, others

The suspension of Sudan by the African Union until civilian rule in the country is restored and the launch by…

The suspension of Sudan by the African Union until civilian rule in the country is restored and the launch by Google of the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education to enhance practitioners’ training in Africa are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Guardian reports that the African Union said on Wednesday it had suspended Sudan until civilian rule in the country is restored, saying it rejected the military takeover as an “unconstitutional” seizure of power.

The continent-wide bloc said it “strongly condemns the seizure of power” and was suspending Sudan from all AU activities “until the effective restoration of the civilian-led transitional authority”.

Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday ordered the dissolution of the government and declared a state of emergency, sparking widespread international condemnation.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was placed under military arrest, along with his ministers and civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council, sparking angry protests on the streets on Khartoum.

Hamdok was later released under close guard, but other ministers and civilian leaders remain in detention.

Security forces launched sweeping arrests of anti-coup protesters Wednesday, in a bid to end three days of demonstrations against the power grab.

A number of Western powers have called for an urgent meeting with Hamdok, saying they still recognise the prime minister and his cabinet as the constitutional leaders of Sudan.

The AU suspended Sudan in June 2019 after pro-democracy protesters demanding civilian rule were gunned down outside army headquarters in Khartoum.

The newspaper says that search giant, Google, has launched the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education to enhance practitioners’ training in Africa.

The announcement was made during the inaugural Google News Initiative (GNI) for Africa virtual event that began on October 25 and ends tomorrow. The project to boost journalism education programmes would be rolled out over the next 18 months and is being implemented in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at no fewer than 100 institutions across Africa.

Interested candidates in the daily 45-minute session can participate via https://events.withgoogle.com/gni-africa-event/)

President for EMEA Business and Operations, Google, Matt Brittin, said: “The (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way people interact with news and accelerated that shift to digital. There has never been a time when access to good quality journalism has been more important.

“This programme will seek to establish, define and implement the local definitions of excellence in journalism. We will work with the 100 different journalism schools targeting to benefit over 4,000 journalists.”

The UN agency is deploying its network of established journalism schools to launch the collaborative programme that would enable journalists to better respond to the major changes in the profession and publishing in recent times.

Director for Policies and Strategies regarding Communication and Information at UNESCO, Guy Berger, noted: “At UNESCO, we have very different countries as members, with different approaches to journalism – but the one thing that at least they all agree on is that journalists should be well-trained.”

The virtual event is providing a platform for journalists, publishers and content creators on the continent to find out more about Google’s training programmes for journalists and news professionals.

The gathering brings together experts from Google and the industry to share tools, training and best practices, from understanding how small and medium-sized news organisations can grow their digital business to how to use consumer insights and data to better understand reader preferences and increase profitability and engagement. Google has held two successful innovation challenges where it supported 43 GNI projects in 18 nations.

The Punch reports that the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on Wednesday rejected the President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to the National Assembly for the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene project under the Ministry of Water Resources.

The development came 24 hours after the Ministry of Health appeared before the committee to seek approval for $200m for the procurement of mosquito nets and malaria medicines.

Members of the panel took turn to fault the loan for the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene project. They asked the officials of the Ministry of Water Resources led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack, to furnish the committee with update of loans collected so far for water projects in the ministry.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, said three different loans had been approved for various water projects. Ordia said, “$450m to the ministry for water project being financed by the Africa Development Bank and another $6m loan under the Integrated Programme for Development also financed by the Africa Development Bank; and the Gurara Water Project. You need to tell us what you are doing with $700m for water projects.”

The Sun says that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday, said the Federal Government was targeting to reduce its financial exclusion rate by about 20 per cent over the next few years, with Monday’s launch of the eNaira by President Muhammadu Buhari.

CBN Director of Payment Services Management Department, Mr Musa Jimoh, who spoke on the topic” evolution of digital currency, benefits and associated threats” at the ongoing 2021 NDIC seminar for Business Editors and Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) with the Theme “Enduring Extreme Disruption: Resilience and Reinvention for Banking System Stability and Deposit Insurance” in Gombe State, said the government’s target was to reduce the financial exclusion rate of Nigeria’s adult population by 20 percent from the current 39.5 percent to about 19.5 percent over the next five years.

This was even as available statistics from EFina reveal that the NorthEast and North West of the country have the highest financial exclusion rate due to the high level of insecurity in the zone.

He, however, noted that both the apex bank and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation have at different times taken deliberate steps to improve on the status quo to ensure higher rates of inclusion in areas affected by insurgencies.

ThisDay reports that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has reiterated that its plan to produce at least 5 billion Standard Cubic Feet (SCF) of gas per day for domestic consumption in 2022 as well as generation of 5 gigawatts of power remain on course.

Speaking at the 2nd Biennial International Conference on Hydrocarbon Science & Technology (ICHST) held at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Conference Centre, Delta State, Group Managing Director of the corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari, noted that the implementation of the Nigerian Gas Master Plan (NGMP) will help boost the country’s economy.

Aside the 5 billion scf target, Kyari listed the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) II; the Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3), gas pipeline; the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline, and the Central Gas Processing Facilities (CGPF) as some of the infrastructure that will help transform the oil and gas industry in the country. According to him, with over 206TCF of natural gas reserves,

Nigeria has enough of the molecules to support new gas-fired power plants and more than enough to make gas a viable fuel for existing and new industrial facilities.

Represented by the General Manager, Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), Mr. Emmanuel Igbokwuwe, Kyari pointed out that the use of gas will remain a key component of the global energy mix in the coming years.

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