Open Letter To Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode On Health And Safety Issue In Lagos State

Your Excellency,

With great humility and respect, I felicitate with you and fellow Lagosians in celebrating Lagos at 50 and to wish you happy world health and safety day. It has been a great journey so far with a lot of developments and successes. Lagos is indeed the land of excellence.

Even as we celebrate, I wish to use this open letter to urgently your draw attention to the matter of health and safety of Lagosians. Let me however start by defining Health & Safety:

Health: Absence of diseases

Safety: Absence of injury to person, damage to asset or property or equipment

I have been a keen follower of your government for two reasons;

  • To observe whether you will continue from where Ex-governor stopped regarding safety in Lagos because it was during his tenure that the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC Law; 2011 Cap. No. 6) was established with the vision to ensure citizens of Lagos work safe and live safe
  • To observe your commitment towards the safety and security of Lagosian as promised in your inaugural speech on the 29th May, 2015

In your words paragraph 13 (EVERYBODY COUNTS) “As we collectively face the challenge to make Lagos a better place to live in, we must recognize our diversity.  A common national identity where everybody counts. i shall have an open government of inclusion that will leave nobody behind”.

While you have scored highly on the issue of security, the question needs to be asked about how you have fared in Health &Safety.

Paragraph 14 (THE NIGERIA DREAM)  “Lagosian are hardworking people.  Lagos is striving because of its undying entrepreneurial spirit. However we must realise that there are no short-cuts to success. To our youths, we must nurture good family values to succeed in any endeavour. In our country, particularly in Lagos, you can always succeed. This is the Nigerian dream where hard-work, courage, perseverance, persistence, merits and rewards pay. We must therefore embrace new thinking and be determined to succeed at all times. I am ready to encourage and nurture that dream in our children, youths and every hard-working Lagosian.

While it is indisputable that Lagosians are very hardworking, there is much more that can be done by Government to secure the health & Safety of the Lagos workforce and better improve productivity, worker morale, and the general wellbeing of the workforce. Many people are dying every day in Lagos basically due to exposure to several workplace hazards and poor working conditions amongst others. These include workers from the construction, manufacturing, hotel and hospitality industries. Also affected are workers in education, the public sector, telecommunications, financial institutions and even markets (with its share of fire incidents etc). Even our hospitals and clinics are failing us in Lagos safety wise. So many families are in lots of pains from workplace accidents.

Lastly sir, Paragraph 16 (DEVELOPMENT PLAN (2012 – 2025) “In the spirit of continuity, I am committed to the State Development Plan (2012 – 2025). The plan is structured under four pillars; (1) Social Development and Security; (2) Infrastructural Development; (3) Economic Development and (4) Sustainable Environment”. Your government is doing so well “in the spirit of continuity” which we all crave for during the election but a whole lot more needs to be done in addressing the safety aspect.

The challenges we face today as a state require proactive actions in all sectors of the state to ensure safety of the all Lagosians in actualizing the above development without doubt. As a Health & Safety professional I  believe Your Excellency has to be proactive to ensure work place safety in Lagos. Consequently, the following are my suggestions to ensure the safety of Lagosians.

  1. REFORMATION OF LAGOS STATE SAFETY COMMISSION: Quoting your words during the inauguration, paragraph 17 (PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM) “As we all know, the best practices of yesterday may not be good enough for the products of today. In this sense, we shall embark on continuous reforms in the public service. I am determined to demonstrate that the government belongs to the citizens. You have put us here as servants to serve you and not you serving us. Today we are committed to that creed. Moving forward, the Civil Service will be strengthened and made to respond to the needs of all citizens in the same manner, quality services are rendered in the private sector. My administration is prepared to take the decisions needed to promote merit and professionalism. To restructure where required, eliminate poor Human Resource practices and accelerate the pace of reforms in the spirit of good governance. I want to assure the business community and corporate Lagos that the ease of doing business in Lagos will be improved upon earnestly”.

This is one area the performance of your administration has left much to be desired as far as the LSSC is concerned. Despite the clear wordings of the law that established  Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC Law; 2011 Cap. No. 6)  which stated clearly in Article 2 (1) that the commission shall consist of;

  1. A chairman who is of proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters
  2. Four(4) persons of proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters
  3. The Director General or Chief Executive Officer with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters. They must all be appointed by your Excellency and subject to state assembly approval.

Since it was established, the Lagos State Safety Commission is yet to witness someone with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters in leadership and this is affecting the running of the agency as a safety regulator. Lagos State does not lack experienced indigenous Safety Professionals with proven integrity. In fact, Lagos state is home to more than one thousand (1000) safety professionals with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters with years of experience. I do not believe a non-Accountant will be appointed to head Lagos internal Revenue Service (LIRS) nor a medical doctor to head Lagos Building Control Agency (LABCA) etc. Why then Sir, do we not have a Health & Safety Professional heading the LSSC.

Your excellency, now is the time to set the record straight and match your words with action. This should start with the appointment of the right persons with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters to head Lagos State Safety Commission.

Your Excellency sir, you need to strengthen the work force in the commission with qualified safety professionals and not just civil servants without the requisite Health & Safety competence as the situation currently is today. Most of the officers in the commission today can’t match the quality of the officers in the field of health and safety in the private sector and this affects their ability to carry out their oversight functions.

  1. While thanking your Excellency for the recently signed environmental law and establishment of Lagos State Neighbourhood safety corps’ (which to strengthen the security of the state), more needs to been done as far as health and safety is concerned in Lagos State. A visit to construction sites, steel companies, hotels, restaurants, markets, food and beverages companies to see Lagosians suffering from poor work place set up and non –compliance to international standards in health and safety in work place as established by International Labour Organization (ILO) convention (C155) and recommendation (R164). We need to strengthen the law that established the commission with further legislation to ensure safety standards in Lagos state as this is long overdue (5years and still counting), We can only achieve this through your leadership.

As reported by ILO in 2012 about 2.2 million people die every year from occupational accidents and diseases with an average of 6000 per day. Approximately 4% of the world’s Gross Domestic Products is lost with the cost of Injury, death, and diseases through absence from work, sickness treatment, disability and survivor benefits. Lagos state with a population of over 15 million and accommodating over five thousand (5000) companies requires a stringent law and vigorous implementation, fostered by quality leadership which your Excellency is providing.

The performance of Health and Safety Executives, UK (HSE), Occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA), United State of America in terms of ensuring safety standards, leadership, funding and revenue generation for their respective countries is worth studying. We can also replicate it here your Excellency and I believe in your administration’s ability to ensure that Lagosians live and work safe.

Your timely action will further redeem the faith of existing investors and also encourage intending local and foreign investors to conduct their businesses in a State that values the Health & Safety of it’s workforce and reap the attendant rewards such will bring to their investments.

Once again your Excellency, happy 50th anniversary and Happy World Health and Safety Day

Your Sincerely,

Abdulrasaq Adewole

Health and safety Professional

E-mail: Adewolerasaq@gmail.com

Twitter: @safeempire

Ooni of Ife Vs Oba of Lagos: Matters Arising By Olatunde Bakare

Yesterday, a video showing a mild drama between the Ooni of Ife and the Oba of Lagos surfaced online wherein the latter snubbed the courtesies extended to him by the former. I’m aghast by the public show of ridicule and disregard. What Oba Akiolu did is shameful and unworthy of royalty. That he even did that to the Ooni Adimula is sacrilegious and more alarming. However, Oba Akiolu did not embarrass the Ooni in my opinion. He embarrassed himself and brought his own stool into ridicule. While I concede that we do not know what may have transpired between both before now and the need to give Oba Akiolu a fair hearing, I make bold to say that irrespective of whatever got on Eleko’s nerves, he behaved badly and his conduct was extremely disrespectful to the cradle of Yoruba race. There was another King from a different tribe right in their middle (report says the King is the Obi of Onitsha), who greeted the Ooni warmly and saw everything that transpired. What must he thinking at that point? I bet he would have retorted that:”Oh boy, did Oba Akiolu just did keep me Eden Hazard against Manchester United to the Ooni of Ife”? Abomination! Couldn’t Akiolu have kept his anger to when he and the Ooni are in private? By his actions he has insulted his own crown and brought ridicule to his office.

Folks have argued that the Ooni should have simply avoided exchanging courtesies with anyone entirely and should have gone straight to the seat provided for him. That line of argument is not entirely fair to the Ooni in my opinion. Yes he’s a primus inter pares when it comes to Yoruba monarchs, yes he’s the reference point as he sits on the cradle of Yoruba race, yes he’s widely respected within and outside Nigeria but that alone does define a royalty as important as the Ooni of Ife neither does it make a King dignified and worthy. It should be noted that the Obi of Onitsha and the Oba of Lagos were already seated at the event which was the World Conference of Banking Institutes hosted in Lagos yesterday by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). Three chairs were placed right beside one another; the one on the far right was understandably meant for the Ooni, the middle for the Obi of Onitsha and the one on the left for the Oba of Lagos. That last two were already seated before the Ooni came in. As soon as the Oonirisa came in, he went to where his seat was and while his aides were cleaning the seat, it is only right that he extends courtesies to both Obi of Onitsha and the Oba of Lagos who were already seated. He could have snubbed them while sending emissaries to both saying ‘The Ooni sends his greetings’ and that would have been seen as arrogance befitting his office and status as a god but he didn’t. He showed he was a true royalty who understood the importance of his stool and the need to lead by example to his numerous subjects which includes first class Obas by reaching out in person. The Obi of Onitsha, a very honourable monarch responded well to his greetings but Baba Fuad (Oba Akiolu) decided to employ the tactics we use with our friends when we have a disagreement over football. Some have also suggested that the Ooni should have greeted the Obi of Onitsha alone and waited for Akiolu to leave his sit to come say ‘Hello’ to him. This is not plausible in my opinion. Both kings were one inch from each other and the Ooni did well to extend to both without leaving anyone out. Had he done that, the cries would have been that the Ooni ignored a fellow, albeit lower, ranked Yoruba Oba (Yes Oba of Lagos is lower rank Oba in Yoruba land. Come and beat me!) and greeted only the Obi of Onitsha who’s not even Yoruba. So in essence, the Ooni did well. The one who should be ashamed of his conduct is Baba Fuad. I’m all for the Ooni of Ife showing the brashness and arrogance that comes with his stool but lest we not conflate that with the important need for the Ooni to lead with dignity and example and show the smaller kings how not to conduct themselves in public.

What could be the reason for his contemptuous conduct? Some have said the Oba of Lagos is jealous of the Ooni’s status and how he has been received by all and sundry. Of course anyone should be after all he’s younger, more respected, far richer, admiringly savvy, extremely stylish, widely acknowledged and a reference point for the Yoruba nation. Oonirisa just came back from London where he visited Queen Elizabeth and was hosted the Prince Charles and the Duchess, he also met with the Ghana president and King of Ashanti, Ooni signed billion dollars cultural heritage with United Kingdom and yes he also visited the United States and we were all in awe of how he carries his stool. Perhaps we are seeing the effect of these happenings. Who knows? The only monarch I can compare to the Ooni Ogunwusi in terms of the characteristics I raised is the Emir of Kano. But I don’t want to think the Oba of Lagos his jealous. Nah! I will give the Eleko the benefit of the doubt. In any case, his conduct is reprehensible and should be condemned. Had he sought an audience with Ooni in private to share what is making him angry, this Ooni I’m sure would have listened to him as he only cares about bridging the gap and dismantling the cords of dispute between Yoruba monarchs. Not this public display of contempt which only brings dishonour. The Ooni of Ife did well to side step his childish tantrums and went on to share a joke with the Obi of Onitsha. That alone is embarrassing in itself for the Oba of Lagos. The Ooni does not need to fight back. He has enough foot soldiers that will stand for him. Respected Obas, Afenifere and respected Yoruba elders must call Oba Akiolu out and demand that he apologise to Ooni Ogunwusi. Knowing Baba Fuad for who he is, that may seem a far call but if anyone deserves that apology, it is the Ooni Adimula.

Regardless of the age of the present occupant, the Ooni’s crown and the stool must be respected by all Oba kerejes (small kings). And no one has displayed that more than President Obasanjo who prostrated before Ooni Ogunwusi to show his respect. If anyone is jealous of his age and affluence, too bad. He is here to stay.

Oba Rilwan Akiolu will surely be paid back in his own coin and when that happens, we will reconvene to debate the appropriateness or otherwise.

 

Olatunde Bakare lives in Washington DC and tweets at @Backarray

Review Of “The Making Of A Change Agent”, Book Authored By Okoi Obono-Obla

By Olukayode Ajulo

I received word to review Okoi Obono-Obla ‘s new book, ‘The Making of a Change Agent’ with much anticipation. Knowing it’s author ‘s antecedents and prolific political themes, I could tell from the very title that he had decided to take on a range of issues which are not just contemporary but historical in their depth and wider context. The book does a lot more as I will very quickly point out, noting the controversial issues taken on and the conclusions, directly and indirectly, that can be drawn from its resourceful pages.

However, I was made to wonder as to the author ‘s rationale to invite me to review this crucial work of history, knowing fully well I represented the other side of the political divide when the All Progressive Congress was in the trenches as a newly formed opposition party in Nigeria. As a former National Secretary of the Labour Party our position cannot be said to have been favourably disposed to the APC and we fervently pursued our own agenda as against the APC”s. The Nigerian people, however, made their choice. If I found the invitation curious, I also found it brave and a testament to the author ‘s readiness to run the gauntlet of critical review.

Nigeria remains Africa ‘s most populous nation, with a wide geographical spread and mileage, imbued by an abundance of natural and mineral resources, and further inhabited by a people united by a mutual political history with an overwhelming cultural diversity. However, despite its blessings of human and material wherewithal which makes it an envy amongst nations of the world, Nigeria continues to trudge on wearily on the path of true progress and development. Her natural and potential strengths, including the petrodollars and intellectual properties have no commensurate or corresponding effect on her development.

Despite these potential its citizens suffer ubiquitous lack, poor infrastructures, public health challenges, insecurity, official profligacy, corruption and terrorism. These banes have gone on to limit whatever chance at development it has ever had, from its very first days of independence to the present.

The untidy state of things in Nigeria has been pointedly attributed principally to political inadequacies and instability,  and it is this train of thought and conclusion that Chief Okoi Obono-Obla (hereinafter referred to as Obono-Obla), a vibrant and versatile Nigerian Lawyer, Rights Activists, presently the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and a keen observer of socio-economic occurrences in Nigeria, has, in his new book, adumbrated on, introducing new perspectives to the narrative with acute insights.

Obono-Obla’s standpoint is to the effect that military misadventure into politics was an interregnum that, for several years, tied Nigeria to base, coupled with sixteen uninterrupted years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s reign, which he believes heightened the nation’s ailments.

From its very first chapter, Obono-Obla makes a case for change by an interrogation of the handlers of the Nigerian political power- from the military days to the present. The socio-economic life of the country is tied to the political choices of its military rulers and ‘civilian pirates’. A term which presupposes the hijacking of the people ‘s mandate and power to meet selfish ends. From the end of military rule, particularly through the sixteen years of PDP rule, the country was mauled by sectarian interests with party loyalty superceeding a commitment to the country and it’s developmental goals. However, he refused to appreciate the significance of change in the civilian rule since 1999 as against the inglorious military era.

For the author, the sorry situation into which Nigeria and Nigerians were plunged into gave birth to a push and pull political atmosphere which got the Nigeria population disenchanted and despondent. Corruption continued in the increase, laws were flouted, all with dire consequences on the Nigerian people. The living condition of Nigerians got even worse, with the country itself named in just about every poverty indices in the world. The elevation of theft and money laundering to a norm, flagrant display of impunity and disregard for the Nigerian people led to the crave for a new direction- social and political. To meet this need, a new ideological drive became necessary. It is on the foregoing premise that Obono-Obla lays the evolution of the APC.

Obono-Obla holds the belief that political and economic abuses under PDP was both incremental and exponential, and that the (now ruling) APC was born as a matter of urgent need of political sanitation and restoration by political comrades and likeminds across the decides, firstly to present a viable alternative and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to takeover political power to remedy the seeming permanence of irregularities in the country. This portrayal of events and plays that inspired and led to the merger of various political associations ,as it were, and founded the All Progressives Congress (APC) was comprehensively portrayed in the second chapter of the book.

That the persuasion for the merger was about the desire for change in Nigeria as portrayed by the author  will remain questionable and argumentative in history. I am of the opinion that the desire was principally to takeover power from the PDP and this have been demonstrated by the political conflicts the APC has continued to mismanage after it took over government. It therefore suffices to say we had a people made friends by a common enemy.

In punchy style, Obodo-Obla traces the history of Nigeria’s formation of political parties right from the pre-independent Nigeria up to now, drawing interesting attention to how the egg of today’s giant APC was laid, hatched and happened, including the tortuous travel of the party from the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) through other nouns and times until the last merger that eventually caused the desired change. Though Okoi did not give special narration of how the APC benefited princely from the ruins of the erstwhile ruling PDP, he reminds the reader of the Action Congress of Nigeria , ACN, All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the Democratic People’s Party, DPP.

In the shape and shade of competent historic literary construction, the author in the third chapter, gives a vivid account of how the whole process, right from the point of merger, was midwifed, the individual and group efforts that gave life and rise to the new political grouping that would be remembered in the nation’s political annals as one very popular and vocal opposition. Obono-Obla did give first hand hints of events that can only be well told by an active political participant. He relived how the party sojourned through hitches, in the face of scorching and daunting doubts in a manner that leaves the reader, a political actor or the apolitical citizen with lasting lessons of perseverance even when the times are trying.

The sacrifices and sorts of sojourn that resulted in the various party conventions at different regions and ends of the country were treated with refreshing nostalgia in the fourth chapter of the book which is captured in seven chapters. In the fifth chapter, the author refreshes readers memory with what would pass for a testy campaign in the history of the country’s presidential electioneering. The seven cardinal programme as given political audience during the fierce campaign is relayed with great taste, and we have : War against corruption, Agriculture and food security, Accelerated Power Supply, Integrated Transport Network, Free Education, Devolution of power, accelerated economic growth, affordable health care, industrialisation, Human Rights , Housing and women and gender issues being the offspring of the cardinal programme. This is for Nigerians and time to say if the party is still in consonance with these lofty manifestos.

Sixth and last chapters recall the eventual victory, lauds the Call of Concession by the defeated President Goodluck Jonathan to President Buhari and the afters. The Author recalls the players whose deeds made it happen as it refreshes the mind with tales of talents that contributed pointedly to the formation of government.

The catalogue of electoral offences narrated in this book exposes the inadequacies of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and makes a major indictment on our nation. While the author probably did not remember to mention similar atrocities by the APC, it is important to state that the Nigerian Laws are well established as to punishment for electoral crimes/offences. In fact, the law empowers INEC to prosecute electoral offences and until that is done, we may not move an inch forward in progress. I have over the years advocated this cause of action open to the electoral body in the event of electoral frauds during an election. Also, in this vein, I’d like to recommend that a thorough investigation with a view to prosecute if indicted be carried out in Chief Arthur Eze and others cases as catalogued in the book. This way, the INEC and other law enforcement agencies would be doing a service to the nation and it’s laws.

Obono-Obla’s work is worthy in many fronts. Besides building a bold bonding for the party -APC- a party whose history of rough ride to power the author has painstakingly preserved through this invaluable literary effort, it’s a sincere service to a nation that is politically evolving and needs to tell her stout stories. The author has done political actors and actresses, researchers and the general public alike a good deal. I won’t therefore hesitate to recommend the book as a bible for those that desire to organize political party particularly political party in opposition, students of Politics and aspiring political leaders. I therefore appeal that this book be made available to the National library and libraries of tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria. With all sense of honour, I also wish to recommend this book to the present opposition parties in the country, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party as the party have a lot to learn from this.

Thank you.
Ajulo is the Founder/Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, Executive Director, Egalitarian Mission for Africa and was the National Secretary, Labour Party.

Why We Are Hopeful About Improving Health In Africa, By Aliko Dangote And Bill Gates

This week, more than 138,000 vaccinators will fan out across five African countries in the Lake Chad area in a push to eliminate polio in Africa and rid the world of this terrible disease forever.

They will take boats across fast-flowing rivers, ride jeeps along sandy ravines, walk crowded street in towns and cities and navigate cramped quarters of refugee camps to ensure that every child is immunized. Traveling for hours a day, these dedicated women and men will visit children in homes, schools, train stations, and transit points across Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.

This also marks World Immunization Week, a coordinated effort to make sure that people everywhere understand the importance of getting immunized to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

And by coincidence, it was almost seven years ago that the two of us first met in a hotel conference room in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. We were there as part of a diverse group—public officials, religious leaders, business people, polio survivors, and journalists—to discuss how we could work together to stop polio in Nigeria.

At the time, Nigeria had done an amazing job tackling polio—reducing reported cases by 95 percent in just one year. But it was still circulating in six Nigerian states. While 95 percent might seem like success, as long as a single child remains infected, children across Africa and around the world are at risk.

Thanks to the effort of so many, Nigeria’s Borno State is now the only place in Africa today where polio is still circulating. It will take ingenuity to end polio there, and it will take persistence to continue reaching children in the surrounding area with vaccines to protect them from the disease until it is eradicated. But we’re confident it can be done. And when that happens, Africa will celebrate one of the biggest victories ever in public health.

Since our first meeting in 2010, the two of us have worked together on a range of other projects to help improve health in Nigeria and across Africa.

We supported the establishment of emergency operations centers in Nigeria and other countries to keep polio from spreading. This turned out to be a blessing during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When the disease first appeared in Nigeria—an international travel hub that is home to more than 180 million people—the staff of an emergency operations center set up in Lagos jumped into action and stopped the disease in its tracks. It’s almost unimaginable to think what would have happened without them.

In the state of Kano, we are working with the government to ensure that children can get essential childhood immunizations against tetanus, pneumonia, liver cancer and measles. And when parents bring their children into a clinic for vaccinations, health workers can address other health issues, too, like nutrition, care for pregnant mothers and newborns and malaria prevention and treatment. We have since widened the program to several other states.

Vaccines are also one of the best tools to save lives in an epidemic, such as the meningitis C outbreak happening now in Nigeria and other West African countries.

And because of the devastating impact malnutrition has on Nigeria’s children –  leading to 300,000 deaths annually and causing stunted growth and development in millions more – we have expanded our partnership to include nutrition programs across 12 states.

Earlier this year, we also helped launch the End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to ensuring that malaria eradication remains a top global priority.

Underlying all these efforts is our belief that strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease—and kick-starting a virtuous cycle of health, productivity, and prosperity.

In our work together, we have learned a few important lessons.

First, improving the health of communities depends on a successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction. And it is essential to building trust so parents have the confidence that vaccines are safe and will protect their children from life-threatening diseases.

Second, we must keep innovating to speed up progress. This month, for example, vaccinators will test a new vaccine carrier that keeps the temperature of vaccines stable for up to five days, even in blistering heat. This breakthrough will enable vaccinators to finally reach children in extremely remote areas with life-saving vaccines.

Last, accurate and reliable data is central to any effort to improve health. Data can tell a health officer which communities are running low on vaccine supplies, where there are gaps in vaccination coverage, and which new mothers need reminders to take their babies to the health clinic to be immunized.

An Africa without polio is within reach. So is the vision of getting life-saving vaccines to every child. Success will generate more enthusiasm and support from across different sectors – government, business, civil society, the media – to tackle other killer diseases and the underlying conditions that affect people’s health, including fixing broken health systems.

We know that strengthening health systems takes time and diligence. We are optimistic that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. That future depends on people working together—across national borders and across socioeconomic strata—to build the better world we all want.

By Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates 

Niger State: Ways To Empowering The People By Abdullberqy U Ebbo

Development efforts in Niger state is as urgent, consistent and apparent as empowering the people. While there is a method about achieving both, you also know when and where they happen. Here in the Niger, if it is not initiating/executing whole new programmes, it is partnering corporate bodies either for training programmes or farming, both small scale or commercial, all to make life more meaningful and liveable!
Whatever method, the purpose is to deliver jobs to the needy; it is to empower the disempowered. So far, in the Niger, project implementation/execution rooted on solid policy formulations is a reflection of an administration genuinely ready to reverse structures which, having gone decrepit, desperately yearn for changes.
It is indeed a new age of dedication, commitment and devotion to service delivery and responsibility in governance. This is the simple assessment of Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s administration’s interventions, as much in the agricultural sector, in which it has applied the ongoing CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), as in other empowerment programmes.
Yes. ABP is actually a CBN initiative, but the support of state governments is not just necessary but critical to achieving the set goal of food sufficiency for Nigerians in Nigeria. Last year, Niger state mobilised over 30,000 farmers, although only a little above 14,000 were able to access the facilities.
The farmers who cultivated soya beans, rice, and cotton were drawn across all three Senatorial districts of the state. It is to be noted the state government is the primary off-taker (buyer) of the produces, followed by private establishments.
Apparently, ABP is President Muhammadu Buhari’s way of saying Nigeria can do without Thailand and others for the commonest staple and choice meal for many a Nigerian: rice. It is noteworthy the programme is specifically aimed at elevating small holders to commercial agriculture farmers. While easing familiar pressure on foreign exchange for food importation, ABP serves additional purposes of boosting local production efforts to meet increasing food needs and creating jobs in quantum to empower thousands. It is however equally instructive to state farmers with cooperatives are the ones entitled to obtain the facilities which are fertilisers, improved seeds, chemicals, herbicides and insecticides (input).
CBN Anchor Borrowers plans for 2017
Niger state government, through the project monitoring team, has concluded arrangements to capture 50,000 farmers in areas of soya beans, rice, and cotton farming in the current year. Those interested in benefitting and participating in the programme have been urged to form themselves into clusters of a minimum of 26 members each and register as cooperative societies which must open both cooperative and individual (bank) accounts (with separate BVN)  with The Bank of Agric. The applicants must again have at least one hectare of land.
Training of youths on interlocking tiles, others
To advance its employment generation and empowerment plans, Niger state government has presented certificates of professional competence to 400 graduands from Chanchaga Local Government Council who recently completed training in the area of laying interlocking tiles. It is noteworthy that while beneficiaries in the first batch were given some financial support to set them off needfully. Presently another set of 350 people are under going the same training from Bosso Local Government Council, the gesture would equally be replicated across other councils.
Further, The Minna Innovation and Technology center will soon also commence the training of 250 youths in mechanic, bricklaying, freemansonry, carpentry, driving, tiling and other areas. The programme which is being done in partnership with The Dangote Group would see participants graduating with diploma qualifications.
Again, plans are on to commence the recruitment of a batch of 500 able-bodied youths by a state owned limited liability outfit named Power Guard Security Outfit, an organisation which is already registered with the Nigeria Security and Civil defence Corps (NSCDC), which will equally undertake their training. It is believed the outfit will guarantee the  employment of the youths and generate revenue for the state, as they can be recruited by corperate organisations, Goverment establishments and private individuals.
The Mobile Poultry Cages Initiative, others
Mobile poultry cages, a new innovation in the agricultural sector by the state government, is a clear departure from the well trodden practice of building cages for poultry farmers. Here, the mobile cages which are movable from one point to another, will desirably confer quite a substantial ease on the operations of the farmers. It is noteworthy that arrangements have been concluded for the procurement and distribution of whole 2,500 (number) for distribution across the 25 local Government areas of the state.
Alongside the preceding are the following programmes:
1, Training of 1,000 youth (annually) under the Change Youth Skills Acquisition Programe (CYSAP) skills as well as entrepreneurship training, an initiative which has so far graduated 250;
2, training of 15 individuals at The International Aviation Center, Ilorin as Flight Operations Officers (Flight Dispatchers course);
3, training of 200 youth on mobile phone repairs under the youth empowerment scheme;
4, establishment/training of 50 youths on Green House Agricultural Technology. Participants will be accommodated in facilities with conveniences including a solar powered borehole.
5, govt has also fulfilled all conditions to access the N2billion Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) fund, which is expected to benefit over 9,643 individuals.
It is equally noteworthy that the Niger state SME and micro finance banks in collaboration with Hakima Integrated Concept has commenced the training of 300 women Enterpreneurs in the areas of skill acquisition, including beads making, body and hair creams production, etc.
Already, there is a partnership between the State government and the Bank of Industry (BOI). A move designed primarily to deplete the ranks of the unemployed but employable youths in the state is expected to accommodate and train whole 30,000 youths in the areas of arts and crafts indigenous to Niger State.
The youths, would be trained in glass making, brass making, raffia, ceramics and cotton, raw materials with which providence has blessed the state in abundance.
The partnership, would see Niger state committing 70 per cent of the needed fund while BOI would make up the balance of 30.
First Lady’s Interventions
To complement these ongoing initiatives of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is the distribution of over 3,000 empowerment kits to women across the 25 councils by wife of the state governor, Dr Amina Abubakar Bello. Currently, the training of a total of 350 women is being targeted on different skills. 70 people are presently under going training on tailoring which is the first phase of the program, at the end of which cash would be given to mobilise the women into commencing trades upon which they had received training.
#LoloIsWorking

Lamentation: Govt Magic In Sodom And Gomorah, By Ade Ilemobade

I say, I say, I say…

This thing wey happen

Happen for my country

Na big big thing

First time in the whole world

If you hear the name, you go know

Government magic

Tell me the name now

[Chorus]

Government magic!

Them go dabaru everything

Them go turn green into white

Them go turn red into blue

Government magic

Government magic

FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI – Unknown Soldier Lyrics

”Nigeria, We Hail Thee” thou art thyself not Sodom and Gomorrah but events in the past few weeks manifestly justify any discerning mind characterization of grotesque narratives unravelling in respect of humongous and eye-popping N13bn discovery by Magu led Economic and Financial Crime Commission in a flat in Osborne Ikoyi, Lagos, as a warning/reflection that Nigeria is showing all the characteristics of Sodom And Gomorrah-like Financial resources management.

How do we explain the fact that Goodluck Jonathan’s government and agency of government like the Central Bank Of Nigeria whose responsibility includes checking money laundering activities in financial transactions has itself become a cesspit for money laundering with the release of funds in cash in excess and contrary to money laundering regulations.

All these extra-budgetary spendings approved by Goodluck Jonathan with the connivance of Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, demand from us a sober reflection as to how institution of government can be corruptly co-opted into taking decisions that are in breach of the rules and regulations guiding prudent financial resources management. Precisely speaking money laundering.

National security is now a conduit-pipe for malfeasance and the origo of extra-budgetary illegality wherein billions of dollars and pound sterlings are misappropriated for selfish political advancement of ex president and his political campaign organisation.

Boko Haram, Niger Delta Militants and imaginary intelligence gathering are perfect reference points used to commit financial crime against the people of Nigeria as we have witnessed in #Dasukigate and #Osbornegate but what is baffling in all these government magic is the fact that the key architect of our grand misappropriation Goodluck Jonathan remain silent and untouchable it seems.

Has Goodluck Jonathan been granted tacit amnesty from prosecution by the Buhari’s administration or what is really happening? Are ex-presidents above the law of the land? Are we given in to threats by Niger Delta Militants in respect of probe of Goodluck Jonathan? Is this a different kind of political consideration? So many questions looking for genuine answers from the Buhari’s administration.

Is it not time for us to start a review of what constitute national security and how we finance engagements so defined because as it now stands the concept is amorphous and openended given room for abuse in funds allocation, reporting, evaluation and consequencies for misappropriation or failure to meet targeted objectives.

From the unfolding narrative in the public domain as regards fraudulent use of public funds or warehousing of public funds in private residency coupled with the illegal mechanism used in releasing public funds to government security/intelligent agencies by t