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BBC Africa Eye uncovers corruption in Nigeria’s pension system

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A new investigation by BBC Africa Eye into pensions in Nigeria has uncovered an unfair and corrupt system which leaves some elderly people sick and penniless, with government workers soliciting extra payments before paying out pensions, people arbitrarily being declared ‘dead’ and having to prove they are alive before their pension is reinstated, and politicians being offered outrageous retirement packages.

The five month investigation began when Africa eye was approached by Obaji Akpet – a reporter/producer from Cross River State (Southern Nigeria), who told us that his mother, a nurse, did not start getting her pension payments as would be normal, when she retired and that she was being asked to pay cash directly to an official working in the pension department before they would pay out her pension.

Via a hidden camera Obaji filmed a civil servant accepting money for herself, and suggesting senior managers in the department also needed to be paid before the pension paperwork would go through. Despite these payments being made Obaji’s mother’s pension didn’t arrive until for five months later, a delay that caused her extreme financial problems and left her feeling like she was “in hell fire” and “no more a human being.”

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Africa Eye also uncovered a list of over a thousand people in Cross River state whose pensions had been stopped because the state had decided they were no longer alive. Many on the list spent months trying to prove they were alive, often travelling long distances to the state capital, Calabar. And this doesn’t just happen in Cross River state, but is replicated in states throughout the country.

Africa Eye hears first-hand testimonies about the extreme hardship caused by being arbitrarily declared ‘dead’, and trying to survive without a pension. One man told the investigation he had travelled to the capital five times to prove he was alive and sometimes stayed there for up to two weeks, with no resources. He says “At times we sleep outside while the rain is falling, that is why I’m sick until now and my body is not like before.”

 

Others said that once they arrived at the pensions office they were subjected to treatment they describe as ‘dehumanising’.

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Ekpenyong Ewa was declared dead and when her pension was stopped, after months of writing letters, visiting the offices and begging for it to be sorted out, she took an active part in a public sit-in outside the Auditor General’s office. She tells us she was then intimidated into making an apology, which was filmed and put on the internet to further humiliate her.

‘Ghost Pensioners’, a term used to describe people who don’t exist but are somehow ‘receiving’ pension payments, are a real problem in Nigeria and according to Jerry Uwah, a finance journalist, Sometimes there are more fake pensioners than real ones on the pension books of a state.

But creating fake or ghost pensioners is not something ordinary people can do, he says: “The people at the top, they will pay those ghost pensioners immediately, and the money goes in their pockets. It’s not something that a clerk can do because it would be discovered.”

 

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At the other end of the scale, we found politicians awarding themselves huge pensions and additional perks and in some cases trying to change the law to give themselves even more. As one politician told us ‘What a typical state governor takes home as pension can settle the wages of over 3-4000 teachers. Why should the state dedicate such sort of money to former governors’.

 

Kolawole Oluwadare is the Deputy Director of SERAP, an organisation that advocates for more transparency in government  says “technology should be available to identify pensioners.” He has been trying to find out through the courts exactly how much retired politicians receive.

 

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The government set up a Pension Reform Taskforce in 2003. In 2015 the chairman was accused of laundering 2.3 billion Naira, from pension funds for which he is currently on trial for.

 

The government alleges members of the Pension Reform taskforce opened fake accounts and were using them to launder money that was stolen from pension funds.

 

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Despite the president’s assurances to pensioners that the system will be sorted, Africa Eye found a pensions system still hampered by corruption causing devastation in the lives of elderly and vulnerable Nigerians while allowing the rich to retire even richer.

 

We put the findings of our investigation to Mrs Angela Etta, Mrs Franka Inok and Governor Ben Ayode of Cross River State and asked for a comment but they declined to respond to the investigation.

The news piece can be viewed here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-56947843

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People & Lifestyle

Samsung begins pre-order deals for AI TVs in Ghana

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Samsung has announced a new era of AI TVs with the launch of its Neo QLED 8K, Neo QLED 4K and OLED TVs at the Unbox & Discover event, with an amazing pre-order offer. Samsung, the Global Number 1 TV brand for 18 years, sets the benchmark for video innovation, with the ultimate embodiment of next-level AI TV technology and excellence designed to upscale every moment at home.

Imagine a world where your viewing experience is always extraordinary no matter the content! Thanks to the 2024 Samsung Neo QLED 8K AI TV powered by the NQ8 AI Gen2 Processor with built-in 8K AI Upscaling Pro Technology, the TV offers quantum leaps in performance by transforming any content into 8K resolution, even your old videos. You will see these videos transform into looking so clear and real, it is like bringing the past right into your living room with sizes ranging from 65 to 85 inches.

The 2024 Neo QLED 4K AI TV comes with cutting-edge innovations and elevates the viewing experience with groundbreaking features powered by the NQ4 AI Gen2 Processor. Enhanced by Real Depth Enhancer Pro and Quantum Matrix Technology, the screen ensures impeccable contrast even in complex scenes. With the world’s first Pantone Validated display for color accuracy and Dolby Atmos for an immersive audio experience, Neo QLED 4K sets the bar. Neo QLED 4K will be available in sizes ranging from 55 to 85 inches.

Made for more than just watching, the 2024 Samsung OLED AI TV ensures peak performance for ultimate gaming experiences. Samsung is also introducing the world’s first glare-free OLED, eliminating unnecessary reflection while preserving deep blacks and clear images under any lighting condition. Powered by the same formidable NQ4 AI Gen2 Processor as the Neo QLED 4K lineup, Samsung’s OLED TVs boast features like the Real Depth Enhancer and OLED HDR Pro, bringing picture quality to new heights from 65 to 83 inches.

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Pre-Order Offer

The 2024 AI TVs will be available for pre-order with exclusive premium freebies until 27th June 2024 in all Electroland Ghana Limited and CompuGhana Limited showrooms. Pre-order a Samsung AI TV now to receive a Soundbar, Freestyle Smart Projector, and Galaxy Fit3 with free delivery and installation.

 

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Soulful Songstress Emeli Sandé Scores “Roots” for The Macallan’s Bicentennial Celebration

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Internationally renowned singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé takes a surprising turn, crafting a stirring soundtrack titled “Roots” for the esteemed single malt Scotch whisky, The Macallan. This poignant composition marks a unique collaboration as The Macallan celebrates its momentous 200th anniversary.

Sandé, known for her soulful vocals and impactful lyrics, delivers a heartfelt ode to The Macallan’s enduring legacy. Her Scottish roots lend a special resonance to the project, mirroring The Macallan’s deep connection to the land and its unwavering commitment to exceptional craftsmanship.

Just as Ghanaians cherish the rich heritage of Highlife and Afrobeats passed down through generations, The Macallan honors its meticulous craftsmanship and centuries-old legacy with the collaboration.

“Roots” perfectly captures the essence of The Macallan’s enduring spirit. Sandé’s lyrics, “Time will bring its changes, but our roots they will remain,” resonate deeply, reflecting the brand’s commitment to tradition while embracing innovation.

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According to Emeli Sandé, “Roots means legacy. You have your roots and they spread so far around the surrounding ground. You have your trunk and that’s your journey through life – the branches can go here, and there, but at the end of the day, everything is coming from the same point.”

The celebration extends beyond music. A captivating film by Jérémie Rozan accompanies the soundtrack, taking viewers on a mesmerizing journey through The Macallan’s past, present, and future. The film showcases the enduring connection that binds generations who have stewarded this iconic brand.

This unexpected collaboration between Emeli Sandé and The Macallan promises a powerful exploration of heritage,artistry, and the pursuit of excellence.

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People & Lifestyle

Founding Partner and CEO of the Fearless Fund Arian Simone visits Ghana Presidency

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In a delegation led by Pan African company Ifactorylive CCO Michael Djaba with Dora Whittley managing partner of Whittley Agency.

Arian Simone had discussions about Fearless Fund and Fearless fund foundation Africa.


Fearless fund have invested over 27 million US dollars in women of color businesses,Additionally, they have Invested over $850,000 USD in African-founded businesses and provided grants in Côte d’Ivoire.

Follow @fearless.fund for more information

#FearlessFeardom
#ArianSimone

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Edward Asare Inducted into IPR Ghana and CIMG as Associate Member

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Edward Asare, a seasoned digital marketer, media expert, and PR professional, has been inducted as an associate member of both the Institute of Public Relations Ghana (IPR Ghana) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG).

Edward Asare, who currently serves as Digital Marketer at UBA Ghana Ltd, has a passion for helping individuals, brands, and businesses communicate their value and build their online presence. With a background in social media community management and blogging, he has developed a unique approach that integrates marketing and communications to drive brand awareness, visibility, and engagement.

His induction into IPR Ghana and CIMG proves his expertise and commitment to excellence in the field. As an associate member, Edward will contribute to the advancement of public relations and marketing practices in Ghana, sharing his knowledge and experience with peers and professionals.

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People & Lifestyle

Eye Care Tips for Different Age Groups

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Eye Care

Maintaining good eye health is essential at every stage of life. From childhood to old age, our eyes require different types of care to ensure they function properly and stay healthy. Here are some essential eye care tips tailored to different age groups:

Infants and Toddlers (0-3 Years)

  1. Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular eye exams to detect any early signs of vision problems. The first comprehensive eye exam should be done at 6 months of age.
  2. Monitor Development: Keep an eye on developmental milestones related to vision, such as tracking moving objects and recognizing familiar faces.
  3. Protect from UV Rays: Use hats and shades for babies to protect their sensitive eyes from harmful UV rays when outdoors.

Children (4-12 Years)

  1. Annual Eye Exams: Ensure children have annual eye exams to monitor their vision as they grow. Early detection of issues like myopia (nearsightedness) is crucial.
  2. Screen Time Management: Limit screen time and encourage regular breaks to reduce eye strain. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  3. Protective Eyewear: Encourage the use of protective eyewear during sports and recreational activities to prevent eye injuries. 

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Teenagers (13-19 Years)

  1. Balanced Diet: Promote a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids to support overall eye health.
  2. Avoid Smoking: Educate teenagers about the risks of smoking, which can lead to serious eye conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts.
  3. Contact Lens Hygiene: Teach proper contact lens care to prevent infections. Ensure they follow the prescribed wearing and cleaning schedule.

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Contact Lens Hygiene           

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Adults (20-39 Years)

  1. Routine Eye Exams: Schedule comprehensive eye exams every two years to check for vision changes and early signs of eye diseases.
  2. Computer Vision Syndrome: For those who spend long hours on computers, use ergonomic setups, take regular breaks, and consider blue light filtering glasses.
  3. Sunglasses: Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays to protect eyes from sun damage, which can contribute to cataracts and other eye conditions.

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Middle Age (40-59 Years)

  1. Presbyopia Awareness: Be aware of presbyopia, a natural age-related condition that affects near vision. Consider reading glasses or multifocal lenses if needed.
  2. Monitor Health Conditions: Manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, which can affect eye health. Regular eye exams can help detect related complications early.
  3. Protect from Blue Light: Use blue light filtering glasses and reduce screen time to minimize the risk of digital eye strain and potential retinal damage.

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Seniors (60+ Years)

  1. Frequent Eye Exams: Increase the frequency of eye exams to at least once a year to monitor for age-related eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Continue to eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support eye health.
  3. Fall Prevention: Ensure living spaces are well-lit and free of hazards to prevent falls that could lead to eye injuries.

General Eye Care Tips for All Ages

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to maintain good eye moisture and overall health.
  • Avoid Rubbing Eyes: Rubbing can introduce germs and cause irritation or infection.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: Always wash hands before touching your eyes, especially when inserting or removing contact lenses.
  • Regular Breaks: Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eye strain from prolonged screen use.

Conclusion

Eye care is a lifelong commitment that changes with each stage of life. By following age-appropriate eye care tips and scheduling regular eye exams, you can help ensure that your eyes stay healthy and your vision remains clear. Prioritizing eye health is essential for maintaining overall well-being and enjoying a high quality of life.

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Ada Senior High Tech Students Receive 600 Math Sets from UK-Based Philanthropist Stacey Rosa

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In a commendable act of generosity and commitment to education, Stacey Rosa, a renowned Ghanaian philanthropist based in the UK, has donated over 600 math sets to the students of Ada Senior High Technical School. This significant contribution is aimed at enhancing the learning experience and academic performance of the students, particularly in mathematics. (more…)

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