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Welcome to Lagos Where We Fight Fire with Laxity



Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue – François de la Rochefoucauld once quipped this in a salon in Paris many years ago. I dare say that is indicative of the way the richest state in Nigeria responds to fire emergencies; yet, we all call for reforms and “statism”.

The recent fire and other fires that have inundated lagos have shown that the fire service in Lagos needs a revamp and I put this at the doorstep of the state.

It has to be said that one of the vestiges of a modern society is a quick emergency response mechanism that is swift and reliable.

Ruddy Giuliani became a cult hero as result of his leadership shown during the September 11 incident in New York. He emboldened the fire fighters on ground, provided leadership at ground zero and was there on ground himself. Because New York had invested properly in their emergency response team, by the time the dust on September 11 settled, every child in America wanted to be a firefighter and the country rallied around them.

If we claim Lagos is a megalopolis and the city of all cities, I expect nothing less from Lagos. The case, as experienced in recent times, has been different. I see Lagosians more concerned about taking photos of burnt property for Instagram rather than saving lives. I see a mammoth, yet useless, sympathetic crowd that swells from side to side preventing emergency workers from saying lives. It is at times like these ones I loathe the citizenry’s disposition to emergencies the most.

I think Nigerians need to be trained on how to be useful during emergencies. What I see more often is a crowd hindering rescue efforts, leading to the loss of lives – in one case a police officer.

I have seen a fire fighting force that was ill equipped but continuously fought, gallantly, to put out the fire while eye witnesses resorted to the use of buckets of water to quench the fire.

We are not entirely a write-off because I have seen first responders equally working gallantly to put out a fire that gutted property worth millions of Naira in the heart of Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria even though I didn’t see Governor Sanwo-Olu. Correct me if I am wrong, please.

It is shocking how a recently constructed big market doesn’t have a simple fire hydrant and that begs the question is Lagos really ready for a megapolis label?

It is easy for the government to slam taxes on citizens but the infrastructure of Lagos is similar to that of 18th century France. It is almost inconceivable that we do not have emergency fire provisions for some buildings, including, wait for it, government assets.

How many government parastatals have effective fire hydrants and fire blankets? Our safety culture is dead and we don’t have an active fire service because we have failed as a state to invest in emergency response infrastructure.

Don’t even get me started on the expensive apartments you live in in Ikoyi or Victoria Island. I’ll wager there isn’t any adequate emergency infrastructure on ground.

We keep playing with fire and when the same fire comes out to play, we, out of fear, forget everything else in a hurry. There is a litany of emergency woes staring at us stark in the face but we seldom learn from them.

As we say, God help us.

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Private Sector Key To Realising Sustainability Agenda In Africa – UN



The United Nation Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed is asking African governments to leverage capital, technology, and manpower from industry to hasten realisation of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent.

She made this call on Thursday during a virtual summit to discuss the role of business in the attainment of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like poverty eradication, health, and gender parity in Africa.

Mohammed, in her remarks, emphasised that targeted investments from Africa’s indigenous businesses are required to catalyse inclusive growth in the continent amid COVID-19 linked economic shocks.

“The private sector in Africa should seize the opportunity to invest sustainably and create a peaceful, prosperous continent that is also resilient to the shocks triggered by the pandemic,” said Mohamed.

More than 2,000 delegates including policymakers, donors, and grassroots campaigners participated in the day-long virtual summit dubbed “Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities”.

The summit that was organised by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with local private sector networks in Africa, discussed market-led interventions that can revitalise the sustainability agenda in the continent.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General said that Africa requires private sector investments to address chronic underdevelopment, inequality, youth unemployment, and the public health crisis created by COVID-19.

“The business sector should be on the frontline of efforts to re-energise African economies and enhance their resilience to the pandemic by tapping into innovations,” said Mohammed.

She said that robust policies should be enacted to foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tackle Africa’s gaping youth unemployment.

Hanna Tetteh, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to the AU said that businesses should embrace sustainability principles across their key operations in order to strengthen the response to the climate crisis, pandemics, and civil disruptions in Africa.

“We should utilise the energy, innovation, and creativity of African entrepreneurs to boost recovery from the pandemic, create decent jobs for the youth and strengthen cohesion,” said Tetteh.

Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director of UN Global Compact, on her part pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programmes that transform local communities.

“African businesses have been working hand in hand with governments to help defeat the pandemic by providing communities with sanitizers, clean water, and protective gear,” said Ojiambo.

“These businesses are providing local solutions to the challenge of poverty, hunger, lack of clean water, and disease.

“Those actions have ensured the continent is closer to realising the UN 2030 goals and Agenda 2063,” she added.

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UK Sends Troops To Mali On Peacekeeping



The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sent the first of 300 British troops to Mali to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and bolster the organisation’s peacekeeping in the West African country.

The first of the British troops have already arrived in Mali, with the rest due to follow within a week.

The UK’s defence ministry says the force will join 14,000 peacekeepers from 50 nations, to protect Mali’s population from growing Islamist violence.

The British troops will provide MINUSMA with a dedicated long-range ground reconnaissance capability that has been lacking since soldiers from the Dutch 11 Air Mobile Brigade completed their last patrol in April 2019.

Most of the British troops are drawn from the Light Dragoons and Anglian Regiments who will be supported by a detachment from 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit.

More than 5,000 French troops have underpinned the operation, but President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to reduce his forces.

The mission to the Sahel region of Africa has been described as the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping deployment.

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Central Africa News

Ethiopia, UN Strike Deal for Unimpeded Humanitarian Access To Tigray



The United Nation on Friday announced that an agreement has been reached with the Ethiopian Government to allow “unimpeded, sustained and secure access” for humanitarian supplies to reach those in need across areas now under its control in Tigray.

The UN Headquarters in New York confirmed the details of the deal through its spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

Dujarric said that the safe passage of aid supplies and staff also extends to the Ethiopian regions of Amhara and Afar, bordering Tigray, where fighting between federal and regional forces, has impacted around six million people during the past month.

A UN statement said until now, no supplies have been allowed into the conflict zone, which has displaced thousands, many across the border into Sudan.

UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) spokesperson based in Nairobi, Saviano Abreu, said earlier that the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin on Wednesday.

He added that the UN was committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” and ensuring that aid was distributed “strictly based on needs”.

Dujarric said that all aid distribution would be carried out “in compliance with the globally-agreed principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This includes working to ensure that people impacted by the conflict are assisted without distinction of any kind other than the urgency of their needs”.

Many Ethiopians have also been internally displaced from Tigray, seeking refuge in Afar and Amhara, and the UN needs assessment would aim to reach those affected by the conflict, added Mr. Dujarric.

On Monday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) appealed to Ethiopia for urgent access to assist around 96,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray camps, who it was estimated had essentially run out of food.

Spokesperson in Geneva, Babar Baloch, said concerns were growing “by the hour, with hunger and malnutrition a real danger”.

Communications to the Tigray region continue to be severed, along with transportation routes, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has reportedly rejected dialogue with Tigray’s regional leaders who are said to be on the run, after the regional capital was entered by federal forces last weekend.

The UN estimates that some two million are now in need of assistance in and around Tigray and some one million have been displaced by the fighting, including more than 45,000 who have fled across the border into Sudan.

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