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S.Korea prepares to launch first domestically produced space rocket

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Abiy’s folly

Fresh from his inauguration, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate, Abiy Ahmed, has launched a staggering attack on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). It involves a combination of soldiers, drones, tanks and airstrikes and reigniting a devastating civil war that is imperilling the lives of hundreds of thousands and pushing Africa’s second most populated country more and more to the brink. Since Ethiopia’s army’s devastating defeat in Tigray in July, the government has been on an enlistment drive, summoning all capable citizens to enlist in the armed forces to enable the government to unleash the “entire defensive capability” of Ethiopia on the rebels in Tigray to stop them “once and for all”.  Abiy has completely ignored appeals by the international community as well as the regional government in Tigray for negotiations to resolve the conflict peacefully. Since the senseless war started in November 2020, thousands have been killed and over 2 million people have been displaced. What is more, the United Nations warned that at least 400, 000 people are at risk of famine caused by the Ethiopian government’s “humanitarian blockade” of the Tigray region. Read Also: Can Abiy Ahmed prevent the disintegration of Ethiopia? But the entire country is bearing the brunt of the war. From a consistent 10 percent growth, Ethiopia’s economy is projected to slow significantly to a mere 2 percent in 2021. The country’s debt is also expected to rise from just above $35 billion to $60 billion this year, nearly 70 percent of GDP. Prices of goods and services have skyrocketed since the beginning of the war and the local currency has been losing value steadily. Ethiopian troops and their Eritrean collaborators are not just determined to brutally suppress Tigray, but also deliberately instigate a famine and use starvation as a weapon of war To finance the war, Abiy has not only been on a borrowing spree, he is also coercing banks and the private sector to donate to the war effort. In August, as reported by Bloomberg, over 400 million birr ($8.8 million) was raised in a funding round, largely by four Ethiopian banks. In December last year, half of that amount (200 million birr) was donated to the army by the Ethiopian Bankers’ Association. Not done, the government “sent out consent forms to civil servants nationwide asking them to contribute one month’s salary to the armed forces” to finance the war. Since Western countries, led by the US, greatly reduced the over $3.5 billion (representing between 50 to 60 percent of its national budget) in development aid to Ethiopia until the violence is stopped, Abiy has been scampering to finance his belligerence in Tigray. He has asked the IMF for a bail-out and has also asked creditors for forgiveness of Ethiopia’s over $35 billion external debt. Meanwhile, he won’t stop borrowing to finance the war effort. Also, to circumvent the West’s arms embargo on the government, Abiy has turned to Turkey and Iran to replace arms supplied from Germany, France and Israel. Expectedly, China and Russia continue to prevent the UN security council from placing an arms embargo on the Ethiopia government. In 2019, just after eleven months in office, the Norwegian Nobel Committee was fooled into awarding Abiy Ahmed a Nobel Peace Prize on account of his moves to end the long-running border war and the no-peace-no-war situation, restoring diplomatic relations and travels between Ethiopia and Eritrea. But it later turned out that the rapprochement with Isaias Afwerki, the brutal Eritrean dictator, was not for peace but just to isolate and hem-in a common enemy – the TPLF – on all sides. On November 4, while the attention of the world was focused on the US, Abiy, in collaboration with Eritrean troops launched a brutal military war on Tigray to topple the TPLF and suppress the Tigrayan people whose elite has governed Ethiopia for more than 30 years but willingly handed over power to Abiy, an ethnic Oromo, in a spirit of national reconciliation. To give cover to the troops and enable their atrocities, Abiy ordered electricity and all communications and internet services to be cut in Tigray and prevented all journalists and humanitarian workers access to the region. Of course, before long, credible accusations of massacres, ethnic cleansing, extrajudicial killings, widespread looting and rape, food blockade, stoppage of all farming activities including ploughing, planting, or harvesting and the killing of livestock and looting of farm equipment began surfacing. It was clear the Ethiopian troops and their Eritrean collaborators are not just determined to brutally suppress Tigray, but also deliberately instigate a famine and use starvation as a weapon of war. But in July, the war turned on its head with the TDF beating back the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, taking over 6000 Ethiopian troops captives and moving towards the Amhara region to try to end the blockade of Tigray. Despite the stunning victory, the TPLF made it clear they were not trying to break up the country and are open to peaceful negotiations to end the war. Abiy however, has been shockingly belligerent, erratic and gung-ho, insisting on a total military victory he is incapable of achieving. Abiy’s war mongering isn’t just restricted to Ethiopia. His entire foreign policy is built on juvenile belligerence and lack of finesse. This can be seen in the border skirmishes with Sudan and the looming threat of war with Egypt and Sudan over the filling of the massive hydropower dam on the Nile. Since coming to power in 2018, Abiy has demonstrated a shocking incapacity to manage Ethiopia’s fragile and ethnic federation. His transition from a Nobel Peace Laureate to an erratic war monger and a war criminal didn’t take long. Worse, he is on pace to destroy the continent’s fastest growing economy and threaten the continued unity of Africa’s second biggest country by population. Sadly, the African Union that should have called him to order or play a prominent role in peacefully resolving the crisis, is firmly behind his foolish belligerence. Perhaps, after completely destroying Ethiopia’s economy and killing millions, it will dawn on Abiy that he has embarked on a foolish war he cannot win militarily, that the Tigray people are the backbone of the Ethiopian armed forces and have a solid history of fighting and successfully resisting domination.

NATO to agree master plan to deter growing Russian threat, diplomats say

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EndSARS: We are where we were and then, questions for Gbajabiamila!

On 20/10/20, while we were still basking in the euphoria of our 60th independence anniversary celebrations, our defenseless youths, who were passionately singing our national anthem and patriotically waving our three-coloured flag (Green-White-Green: abi no be three?) were mowed down by unknown soldiers at Lekki.  Their offense? They had the guts to say enough is enough. They demanded that the excesses of our police officers, who were being paid to protect them, be stopped thenceforth. The Lekki affair was painful and shameful, especially given the extent to which the government went to change the narrative. The great Lai called it the first massacre without corpses; our usually hardworking Governor Sanwo-Olu denied any knowledge of how the soldiers came calling; the soldiers said they never left their barracks on that day. Eventually they said they were there but that they did not shoot and then that they shot but did not kill anybody. Eventually it  was obvious that Sanwo-Olu invited the soldiers. The Lagos EndSARS Panel eventually admitted autopsy reports  of 99 people killed during that period , at least 3 of whom were killed in Lekki, from Prof Obafunwa, of LASUTH. The Nigerian Police Force (who put force in their name sef?) went to court to challenge the establishment of EndSARS panels and then turned round to deny instituting the court case.  Lagos and other parts of Nigeria were brought to a standstill. Then the protests were infiltrated by mobilized area boys and then the looting and mayhem started and then, what started peacefully ended up anarchically. It was when I heard DJ Switch, speaking to a global audience on the Lekki Massacre last week that I remembered that it was already 1 year gone. Incidentally, that same day, I read about the regrets of Lagos State Government concerning the amount they had lost to the closure of blooded Lekki TollGate1 and how the accursed monument was being repaired for reentry to the money mining business. That same last week, some commentators on the UGM recrudescence in Anambra State reminded us of how government-people infiltrated the peaceful EndSARS affair with street urchins and then turned round to use the pickaxe  on the ant because the protest had been hijacked. The police had also warned that nobody should think of an anniversary protest while Sowore, who professionally fishes in troubled waters (or even troubling the calm waters before going a-fishing), had assured that there would be an anniversary protest. However, the Lagos Police Command made a U-turn but warned against road closures. However, protest or not, the Lekki Massacre Anniversary must be observed. This intervention is my own way of observing the anniversary. Read Also: #EndSARS anniversary: Youths defy police warning in Ibadan, hold peaceful protest My deep concerns about EndSARS have led to five previous interventions: A tale of two wars: War against Coro and War against SARS ( subtitled: And then from SARS to SWAT… Just like that (16/10/20); EndSARS: No eye had seen and no ear has heard(22/10/21); A nation in turmoil, a president who doesn’t speak and giving the monkey a cup of water(29/10/20), Worrisome developments post EndSARS: An elders proverbial analysis ( 19/11/20) and A Toxonomy of looters, rioters and arsonists( ND). In this sixt intervention, I will briefly examine EndSARS-related developments, pass a verdict and end with a question for Speaker Gbajabiamila. An x-ray of the media reports (my usual front-page analysis) and collation of  Nigerians experiences with our security forces has shown that  the people involved (security forces) have grown more brazen in their wickedness and oppressiveness, and that the people in power had just paid lip service to addressing the End-SARS concerns. Last week, a parent asked us to join him in thanking God because his son, who just finished university education, was accused of being an UGM and asked to pay some millions or be ‘wasted’. They ended up paying N200000 before the police discovered that he was not an UGM and generously gave the boy N10,000 for transport. The same last week, as I was going home from work, the policemen on Ago Iwoye-Ijebuode route stopped a car, asked a young boy (obviously a student) to disembark, marched him to a corner where they parked their ‘mobile business office’, and ordered the driver to leave. EndSARS On 10/7/21, Sahara Reporters released the identities of 9 End-SARSers still languishing in various Lagos detention facilities while one Nicholas Mbah, an EndSARS detention alumnus, (detained from 5/11/20 to 15/6/21), alleged that at least 500 of his comrades were at Kirikiri. Of course, we are aware of the case of Kemisola Oguniyi, who gave birth in prison. She was eventually given N10m bail. The only chaos experienced by the Lagos EndSARS Panel was when it decreed that the Lekki Toll Gate 1 should be reopened, which led to some protests during which more protesters, including Macroni( Febo Adebayo) were arrested and rough-handled. Even beyond EndSARS, the highhandedness of our friends, the Police, continued unabated.   Instances include killing of 2 and detaining 12 other ‘protesters’ at College of Education, Gidan Waya Kaduna; torturing of  Dauda Danladi by the Bauchi Police Command, arrest and assault of Solomon Odeniyi, of Punch together with other journalists for daring to cover developments in the Dunamis Church, arrests of 6 activists  and  a blind Saxophonist. Samuel Iwatonaiye  for wearing BMG T-Shirts ( BMG? Buhari Must Go!). The thing even got close to me when policemen murdered one Okada-man at Igbo-Ukwu, which led to ‘akshion’ and the torching of the police station, which had just been upgraded through communal efforts. Other instances include  the murder of a  a Keke driver in Rukpokwu , PH over N100 bribe;( yes; just N100) shooting at traders in Bayelsa  for causing traffic snarl, arresting an EndSARS WhatsApp administrator in Osun State and murder of a wedding guest, Judi Oguzie in Imo State. Soldiers are also ‘doing well’ as they brutalized a lady in Ota axis of Ogun State for indecent dressing, roughened up another young man, Godson, at Asaba for no apparent cause, a fate that befell Bolade Adedeji, a physically challenged compatriot in the hands of a female soldier at Oke-Itunu, Ibadan on 4/12/21.   They also mercilessly flogged Olaide Idowu in the Sangotedo area of Lagos for failure to greet them( na by force?) while the  the latest and viral case was that of , Lt Chika Anele dehumanizing Ifeyinwa Ezeiruaku a female Corper  for exchanging pleasantries with male  soldier.  One was flogged for not greeting while another was humiliated for greeting! Head or tail, idle civilians are the losers. In May 2021, the NLC reported that El-Rufai hired 50 truckloads of thugs, who were empowered with 500 apiece, to disrupt their protests. This affirmed one of the sources of thugs who had infiltrated the EndSars movement. In a strange twist, Sowore was accused of privatizing EndSARS proceeds while Canada refused to grant asylum to a SARS Officer, citing their highhandedness. Seun Kuti and his group, MOP, had also been harassed. Even vigilante people have joined in this highhandedness as one Miss Sovereignty Iteregbe was shot dead by a vigilante member in front of her mother, in Udu, Delta State for daring to exchange words with him. We are also aware how the government, which set up panels to assuage the EndSARS rage, went around to freeze the EndSARSers accounts. Godwin Emefiele accused them of economic sabotage while Justice  Tsoho declared authoritatively that the closure of EndSARS related accounts saved the economy and strengthened the Naira against the Dollar. A judicial economist! I don’t know what both of them will be saying now that the Dollar is going for N600 apiece. Passports of others were also seized. One attention seeking Adamu Garba said EnSARS was a failed Biafran movement while PMB that promised to fulfill the demands of the EndSARsers and even apologized to them( after Prof Osinbajo had done so earlier) turned around to say that it was an attempt to topple his government. On top of all these, Buratai, the former Chief of Army Staff and now an honourable diplomat declared that his spiritual warfare strategy prevented  deaths at the Lekki Tollgate while  Femi Adesina, who has been saying what he has been paid to say, claimed  that we were lucky because PMB exercised the patience and tolerance of a father. Assuming he exercised any patience and tolerance, what of his foot soldiers like Femi Adesina and Lai Mohammed? How patiently and tolerantly did they behave in those days of rage? Well, my verdict is that we are where we were. The spirit of SARS was not exorcised. The snake was just rattled and it recoiled and came back with vengeance. There were some motions but not much movement. The various EndSARs panels sat forthrightly, awarded monetary compensations  and castigated some  guilty parties. But what happened to the Military, which along the line got tired of telling their lies and decamped outrightly for the Lagos Commission? A repeat of the Oputa Panel scenario in which some people decided not to attend and nothing happened? The Military and Police authorities have also been more forthcoming in condemning acts of brigandage and gangsterism of their members, arresting some of the culprits and promising to leave no stone unturned in meting out punishment and ensuring justice.  I don’t know whether there is still any stone unturned in Nigeria all these years. However, as can be seen in the brief x-ray above, and which did not cover up to 10% of the reported cases, the men in uniform just went on a brief retreat and came back with full force. We, the idle civilians are still at their mercy (that is if there is any mercy at all) and our youths across the country continued to be the  endangered species as they are dehumanized, extorted and denied the right to say ‘we no go greee’. The various briefings and debriefings by the military and police authorities have not yielded much, except in Lagos where it appears that  members of LASTSMA ( Lagos State Traffic Management Agency)  have repented and become a little more friendly and helpful. Where are the initial SWAT-men who were hurriedly recruited and sent for training in late 2020? Have they not yet finished their training or was the training of no effect? Do we need another EndSARS or will the Police et al on their own do the right thing? Meanwhile, I remember EndSARS with shudder. I remember all those who lost lives, limbs and property in those days of manmade but avoidable RAGE.  I still await strategic and inclusive efforts to bridge the gap between we the people and the police authorities. And now, a basket of questions for Ghbajabiamila, who speaks in the house: he swore never to sign the 2021 budget unless compensation for EndSARS victims was included ( he even mentioned ASUU monies). How far now?  What category of victims was he speaking about? Did it include those whose businesses were finished at Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos? In any case, how many were the victims? How much was budgeted and how much has been disbursed? I need an answer before I organise occupy NASS and when an elder occupies….EndSARS: We are where we were and then, Questions for Gbajabiamila!!! Even beyond EndSARS, the highhandedness of our friends, the Police, continued unabated.   Instances include killing of 2 and detaining 12 other ‘protesters’ at College of Education, Gidan Waya Kaduna; torturing of  Dauda Danladi by the Bauchi Police Command, arrest and assault of Solomon Odeniyi, of Punch together with other journalists for daring to cover developments in the Dunamis Church, arrests of 6 activists  and  a blind Saxophonist. Samuel Iwatonaiye  for wearing BMG T-Shirts ( BMG? Buhari Must Go!). The thing even got close to me when policemen murdered one Okada-man at Igbo-Ukwu, which led to ‘akshion’ and the torching of the police station, which had just been upgraded through communal efforts. Other instances include  the murder of a  a Keke driver in Rukpokwu , PH over N100 bribe;( yes; just N100) shooting at traders in Bayelsa  for causing traffic snarl, arresting an EndSARS WhatsApp administrator in Osun State and murder of a wedding guest, Judi Oguzie in Imo State. Soldiers are also ‘doing well’ as they brutalized a lady in Ota axis of Ogun State for indecent dressing, roughened up another young man, Godson, at Asaba for no apparent cause, a fate that befell Bolade Adedeji, a physically challenged compatriot in the hands of a female soldier at Oke-Itunu, Ibadan on 4/12/21.   They also mercilessly flogged Olaide Idowu in the Sangotedo area of Lagos for failure to greet them( na by force?) while the  the latest and viral case was that of , Lt Chika Anele dehumanizing Ifeyinwa Ezeiruaku a female Corper  for exchanging pleasantries with male  soldier.  One was flogged for not greeting while another was humiliated for greeting! Head or tail, idle civilians are the losers. In May 2021, the NLC reported that El-Rufai hired 50 truckloads of thugs, who were empowered with 500 apiece, to disrupt their protests. This affirmed one of the sources of thugs who had  infiltrated the EndSars movement. In a strange twist, Sowore was accused of privatizing EndSARS proceeds while Canada refused to grant asylum to a SARS Officer, citing their highhandedness. Seun Kuti and  his group, MOP, had also been harassed. Even vigilante people have joined in this highhandedness as one Miss Sovereignty Iteregbe was shot dead by a vigilante member in front of her mother, in Udu, Delta State for daring to exchange words with him. We are also aware how the government, which set up panels to assuage the EndSARS rage, went around to freeze the EndSARSers accounts. Godwin Emefiele accused them of economic sabotage while Justice  Tsoho declared authoritatively that the closure of EndSARS related accounts saved the economy and strengthened the Naira against the Dollar. A judicial economist! I do not know what both of them will be saying now that the Dollar is going for N600 apiece. Passports of others were also seized. One attention seeking Adamu Garba said EnSARS was a failed Biafran movement while PMB that promised to fulfill the demands of the EndSARsers  and even apologized to them( after Prof Osinbajo had done so earlier) turned around to say that it was an attempt to topple his government. On top of all these, Buratai, the former Chief of Army Staff and now an honourable diplomat declared that his spiritual warfare strategy prevented  deaths at the Lekki Tollgate while  Femi Adesina, who has been saying what he has been paid to say, claimed  that we were lucky because PMB exercised the patience and tolerance of a father. Assuming he exercised any patience and tolerance, what of his foot soldiers like Femi Adesina and Lai Mohammed? How patiently and tolerantly did they behave in those days of rage?

Coca-Cola’s seven decades of powering Nigeria through education

On a cold evening in October 2015, a young man – dark-complexioned and clad in a free-flowing native attire – emerged from a crowd at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, venue of the annual CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year gala ceremony. His gait was measured, yet unsteady as he made his way to the podium – perhaps out of the sheer magnitude of what was before him. His name is Femi Asu, a Business and Energy correspondent with Nigeria’s Punch Newspapers. He had just been announced as winner of the Economics & Business Award category of the prestigious journalism prize with his story titled: ‘Small businesses in death throes as power supply worsens’. In a citation that drew both applause and aplomb, the judges wrote: “With detailed examples, the author demonstrates how businesses are severely affected, in some cases closing down with huge consequences on the country’s economic development. The piece is well written with the reader taken on a journey that highlights the issue which affected individuals and businesses. Excellent research.” “Coca-Cola and the Nigerian Bottling Company made it possible; they provided the platform that primed me for virtually everything I have achieved in my career today,” Asu said in hindsight. But that acknowledgement is only a tiny fraction of the full story. Like hundreds of Nigerian youths, Asu cut his teeth in the media through Campus Life, an education project of the Nigerian Bottling Company and Coca-Cola Nigeria targeted at undergraduates in the nation’s tertiary institutions. Read Also: NGO partners Coca-Cola Foundation to train women, girls on skills acquisition Through series of bi-annual training workshops facilitated by seasoned career coaches and accomplished media and communications experts, the programme has empowered hundreds of Nigerian undergraduates who are currently leading the charge in various sectors of the economy – from Public Service to Health, Education, Entertainment, Media and Communication, International Development, , Social Enterprise, Advocacy, amongst others. For the past seven decades since its foray into the Nigerian market, the Coca-Cola System has made education a major pillar of its Corporate Social Responsibility strategy Just like Femi, NnamdiAzikiwe University’s (UNIZIK) youngest female lecturer and Ph.D researcher at the University of Leicester, Ngozi Marion Emmanuel, says she would be forever grateful for the indelible impact of the project on her career. “The Coca-Cola project gave me everything I needed – the capacity, exposure and the mentorship I needed to succeed in my career as a young person. It was everything in one for me.” “Today, I am the woman I have always dreamed about becoming as a young person. I am currently doing my Ph.D at the University of Leicester (UK) in Disability Studies and Policy and that makes me smile every day,” she said. A New Approach to Education Interventions Beyond the avalanche of hands-on capacity building programs, career coaching and mentoring offered by the project, NBC and Coca-Cola Nigeria foresaw an education system where the school-to-work transition would be as seamless as eating ice-cream on a sunny day. To achieve this, the approach to Education interventions needed to be much more strategic, rather than the tokenistic flavour that seems to color a chunk of Education CSR programs in the country today. For the Coca-Cola System in Nigeria, this broad-based, long-term, and sustainable model continues to shine through every page of its CSR playbook. Whether it is facilitating education access for millions of out-of-school children in the war-torn Northern Nigeria or helping young women and girls rediscover the path to economic freedom through education, the Coca-Cola System prioritizes the sustainability of its initiatives on the people and communities. And it doesn’t take long to realize why this is critical, particularly for a developing economy like Nigeria. According to the United Nations Population Fund, the current generation of youth numbering 1.8 billion, accounts for a quarter of the global population and constitutes a dominant force, not only in the now but in the future. But most of them live in developing countries like Nigeria, whose educational systems are unable to empower them with employability skills and relevant capabilities to attain self-reliance or thrive in the workplace. These gaps in the education system are part of the major factors responsible for the growing army of unemployed graduates in many developing economies, including Nigeria. In July this year, the World Bank raised the alarm over the disturbing unemployment situation in Nigeria, which rose five-fold within the last 10 years alone. Earlier in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) disclosed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate soared to 33.3 percent in the final lap of 2020 as against the 27.1 percent recorded in the second quarter of the same year. For the past seven decades since its foray into the Nigerian market, the Coca-Cola System has made education a major pillar of its Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. “We believe that education is not only a leveler and a catalyst for democratizing opportunities for millions of people, it is also a critical tool to inspire national renaissance, birth future-thinking paradigms and consolidate economic development. As a system, investments in education remain one of the highest expressions of our commitment to the future of this nation and our shared progress as a people,” said Matthieu Seguin, Managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company. “For 70 years since we began operations in the country, our faith in the future of Nigeria has remained unwavering. Having seen the country through a number of significant moments and historical transitions, we are confident of the emerging possibilities that abound amidst the myriads of challenges facing the country,” he said. Education in the Spirit of the Times In January, the Coca-Cola System, through its foundation, funded the Tech Relevant Teacher (TRT) Project, an ambitious response to the disruption in the education system caused by the pandemic. The program, which was implemented by the BunmiAdedayo Foundation, provided training for 24,000 school pupils, with 648 school leaders and classroom teachers drawn from 216 schools benefiting from the intervention. Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, NwamakaOnyemelukwe, explained that the project could not have been implemented at a more opportune time as it significantly impacted the education sector in Nigeria. “We could not be more delighted at the outcome of this project. We were aware of the effects of the pandemic on access to quality education, especially within low-income communities and we decided to act,” Onyemelukwe said. “With support from our implementing partners, the BAF, we are proud to have contributed significantly to closing the gap in education between underserved and privileged communities.” Within the last four years, the Coke System, through its ‘Youth Empowered’ program, has trained over 21,000 on entrepreneurship and employability skills across different cities in Nigeria. Aside facilitating a horde of employment opportunities for many beneficiaries, the program has also birthed several start-ups in various fields that cut across the green, blue and digital economy. In the last 10 years, the Coke System has led integrated infrastructure and literacy development projects across the country, reaching over 28,000 students and teachers in low-income communities. Together, these projects have raised the annual school enrollment, increased female students attendance and improved the retention levels in target schools. “In the last 10 years, we have designed programmes that cater to the full cycle of an individual’s educational development. At the primary school level, we focused on schools infrastructure development, which saw the construction and renovation of classrooms in over 30 schools across the country. We complemented this with the Back-to-School programme where we provided school uniforms, books, school bags to thousands of pupils in disadvantaged communities to enable them return to school at the beginning of the school year. “At the secondary level, in addition to uplift in schools infrastructure and scholarships, we embarked on the Defining My Tomorrow programme, a career guidance programme to give direction to students as they prepare to make critical decisions on course of study and career. “Our post-secondary initiatives focus on employability and entrepreneurial skills, to support young people transit to work by providing them with life and business skills. Over 21,000 young people have benefited from these initiatives in the last four years. It’s amazing to see how these gestures are transforming the life of young Nigerians”, added EkumaEze, Public Affairs and Communication Director of NBC. For the past two years, the Coca-Cola System has partnered with the US Consulate on its EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program (OFP) aimed at supporting academically bright but financially disadvantaged students to achieve their education ambitions in top US colleges and universities. As the first corporate partner of the Opportunity Funds Program in Nigeria, Coca-Cola continues to demonstrate its commitment to the program, providing support to 30 scholars who in turn have received fully funded scholarships valued at about $4 million to attend American universities and colleges for the 2021/2022 academic session. Alfred Olajide, Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, explained “This partnership represents one of great pride for us in Nigeria as it provides a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young scholars who are the future of our country. We are hopeful these exceptional students will excel just as their peers before them, after which they would lead the charge for transformation of Nigeria following the successful completion of their programs”. A New Future for Education “Education,” said late UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in a 1997 World Bank Conference, “is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” If Nigeria must attain its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, corporate interventions in education need to closely mirror Coca-Cola’s winning model – one that begins with the end in mind and targeted at addressing the most pressing challenges of our age through big-picture thinking. In its 70 years of operations in Nigeria, the Coca-Cola System has carefully espoused a new philosophy to education – building and scaling interventions in a way that leave the recipients not just as beneficiaries of corporate good, but as carriers of that good and conduits for expanding progress. If anything, the Coca-Cola System has shown us just how to light up a gloomy nation through the power of education; how to rethink education interventions as a long-term commitment and not an activity; how organizations and key stakeholders can join forces to reset the pulse of a society. “A man does not plant a tree for himself. He plants it for posterity,” Alexander Smith once remarked. The Coca-Cola System is a case in point. Gilbert is in the communication team of NBC.

China conducted two hypersonic weapon tests this summer

The Chinese military conducted two hypersonic weapons tests over the summer, raising US concerns that Beijing is gaining ground in the race to develop a new generation of arms.On July 27 the Chinese military launched a rocket that used a “fractional orbital bombardment” system to propel a nuclear-capable “hypersonic glide vehicle” around the earth for the first time, according to four people familiar with US intelligence assessments. The Financial Times this week reported that the first test was in August, rather than at the end of July. China subsequently conducted a second hypersonic test on August 13, according to two people familiar with the matter. Three people familiar with the first test in July said it stunned the Pentagon and US intelligence because China managed to demonstrate a brand new weapons capability, although they declined to elaborate on the details. One person said government scientists were struggling to understand the capability, which the US does not currently possess, adding that China’s achievement appeared “to defy the laws of physics”. Space and missile experts have been debating the Chinese test since the FT revealed the event at the weekend.Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said China appeared to have developed a new innovation, but stressed the need to maintain a degree of scepticism. “We should be open to the reality that China is also capable of technological innovation,” he said.“But I would be careful about exaggerated characterisations that may help excuse a mundane intelligence failure. If we say some innovation is impossible to imagine, then no one is really responsible for missing it,” Lewis added. The White House on Wednesday declined to comment. US government officials, including the defence secretary Lloyd Austin, have refused to confirm or deny the existence of the test, which remains classified. President Joe Biden on Wednesday expressed concern about hypersonic weapons. Asked as he departed Washington for Pennsylvania whether he was worried about the development of the high-speed manoeuvrable weapons, he responded, “yes”.The Chinese foreign ministry this week denied the FT story, saying it had only launched a space plane, but that test was conducted on July 16. The Chinese embassy in Washington declined to comment on Wednesday. Speaking to the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes in Germany this week, Admiral Charles Richard, the head of Strategic Command who oversees US nuclear forces, said he was “not surprised” by the FT report. He added he also would not be surprised if more reports emerge next month. Richard, who has ramped up warnings about Chinese nuclear forces this year, told the newspaper that the “breathtaking expansion” meant that China could “now execute any possible nuclear employment strategy”. Over the summer satellite images emerged that showed China was building several hundred silos to house intercontinental ballistic missiles. Ned Price, state department spokesperson, this week said the Biden administration was very concerned about the rapid expansion of China’s nuclear forces, including its development of “novel delivery systems”. Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter

Fresh airstrikes hit capital of Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region

The airstrikes on Mekelle were targeting weapons sites used by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), said Billene Seyoum, an Ethiopian government spokesperson.Ethiopia's federal government launched a military offensive to oust the TPLF last November and fighting has been ongoing since.Seyoum added that one of these sites, Mesfin Industrial Engineering, has been "appropriated by the TPLF as a heavy weapons storage, manufacturing and repair site." Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the TPLF, responded on Twitter to the airstrike saying it "targeted a residential quarters in Mekelle causing injury to civilians and harm to property.".m-infographic_1634574085212{background:url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2021/10/18/Tigray_Ethiopia_375px.png) no-repeat 0 0 transparent;margin-bottom:30px;width:100%;-moz-background-size:cover;-o-background-size:cover;-webkit-background-size:cover;background-size:cover;font-size:0;}.m-infographic_1634574085212:before{content:"";display:block;padding-top:142.48%;}@media (min-width:640px) {.m-infographic_1634574085212 {background-image:url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2021/10/18/Tigray_Ethiopia_780px.png);}.m-infographic_1634574085212:before{padding-top:71.75%;}}@media (min-width:1120px) {.m-infographic_1634574085212 {background-image:url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2021/10/18/Tigray_Ethiopia_780px.png);}.m-infographic_1634574085212:before{padding-top:71.75%;}}Two eyewitnesses told CNN that the airstrikes did hit near Mesfin industrial complex and shattered the windows of a local hotel. "The whole city is covered with smoke," one eyewitness said, adding that they heard there were several casualties. CNN has not confirmed independently there are casualties. This comes just days after three children were killed and one person injured in another airstrike on the capital Monday. At the time, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said through his spokesman Stephane Dujarric that he was deeply concerned over the escalation of the conflict and reiterated his call for all hostilities to stop.The UN has moved around 100 staff members out of Tigray due to safety concerns, with 400 UN personnel remaining, deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Wednesday.There are nearly 2,000 aid workers that remain in Tigray, including those from the UN and national and international NGOs, Haq said.Ethiopia said in late September that it was expelling seven senior United Nations officials, just days after the UN's aid chief warned that the Tigray region was descending into famine due to the government's blockade of aid deliveries.An estimated 18,600 children in Tigray under the age of 5 have been admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) from February to August this year, according to UNICEF. That's a 100% increase compared to 2020, it said.The Ethiopian military has been in control of much of Tigray since November 2020, when it launched a major assault on the region with the support of Eritrean soldiers and local militias in an effort to remove the TPLF from power. It was the last time that airstrikes were launched on Mekelle.Ethiopia has seen a wave of atrocities over the last 11 months of conflict, which has forced 2 million to flee, fueled famine and left thousands dead. The conflict, by many accounts, bears the hallmarks of genocide.Bethlehem Feleke reported from Nairobi, Katie Polglase and Gianluca Mezzofiore reported from London. Sheena McKenzie wrote in London. Lindsay Isaac contributed to this report

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