Aregbesola And The Storm Within By Adewale Adeoye

At the entrance of the governor’s office on a windy Tuesday morning, I saw a motley crowd of men and women cheering the convoy of the Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as he snaked through the highway into his office. On the other side of the divide, a group of pensioners jeered. Many had thought he would be intimidated by the rowdy scene. On the other side of the divide, another set of people raised their clench fists in revolutionary salute to the governor, paving the way for him to wade through.
For one thing, for the past few months, the governor has been under severe criticisms from his political foes. Given the circumstances of how he won his reelection two years ago, the opposition seems to wait constantly on the edge, exploring every dissent voice for electoral prospect. The governor is accused of not paying salaries for months and of not lifting the state significantly beyond how he met it. This is just one shred of a complex story.
His critics have an equal camp of fanatical supporters. At Ikire on a Saturday afternoon, I met a little girl, lurch green, innocent and raw. She is barely 9. The girl in her little age sees Aregbesola as some sort of god. “He is my hero,” he told me point blank. His senior siblings speak with the same irreversible conviction. The parents of the children have a rich political background, their own parents having been active members of the defunct Action Group, (AG) led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Two portraits of the State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola that hung on the wall of the pony apartment of this family speaks a lot. They are some of the fanatical supporters of the state governor, and they are many, with fury and passion.
“I won’t deceive you. We have never had it so good in Osun. Forget about the propaganda. Visit the local governments in the state. You will have a completely different story,” Akanni, the father told me as we settled for dinner that day.
He said propaganda and outright lies have become major tools in Nigerian politics. “When falsehood becomes a recurring decimal, it becomes the odd truth”, he enthused. Perhaps, only a tour of Osun can tell the full story, which I had the opportunity of embarking upon, courtesy of a regional professional body. Akanni’s little child, the girl, said she was ashamed of going to her former school until the government brought honour by building a school of world class.
For me, and from what I saw in Osun, the schools built by the State governor amazed me. I have travelled to virtually all the states in Nigeria. I do not know of any state government that has built such schools of European standards. Prior these initiatives, some of the pupils I met in rural communities told me, as it is the standard across Nigeria, the public primary schools were left open. Rodents and reptiles had a field day and on weekends, the schools were converted to high society parties or in some astonishing cases, armed robbers used the classrooms as hotbeds of nefarious activities. The effort has seen Osun state building no fewer than 25 secondary and primary schools with enrolment of new pupils hitting a landmark.
To many keen observers, his intervention is world-shattering. Osun has built scores of such model schools across the state accommodating between 900 to 1000 students. 50 middle schools were being built for primary 5-6 and junior secondary school (JSS 1 – 111) in the age bracket of 10 – 14 years. O’meals reaches 254,000 pupils representing about 10 times the number of pupils in some states across the country. This has also provided succor to 3,000 caterers in local communities.
The project has been endorsed by international organizations like the UK-based partnership for child development (PCD). The daily allowance of school pupil is N250. Comparatively, in Bornu state, it is five naira. Interestingly, the school enrolment increased by 25 percent due to the fresh initiatives.
But apart from the standard educational infrastructure, no one can dismiss the uniqueness of the tablet of knowledge-Opon Imon, distributed to the pupils, the first of its kind in the history of the state. But critics appear to deliberately ignore the green light. The tablet of knowledge is a learning tool that has revolutionalised education in the state. There are three major content categories: Textbooks, tutorials and practice questions. The State has committed 150,000 tablets to senior secondary students across state schools, the highest in any community of the same population size in West Africa. The tablets have Android 4.0pc Tablet, a dictionary, Bible, Koran and tips on health. Though the impact is being felt now, the real consequences will be in the years to come, as the pupils go to higher schools.
It is either Osun has not done enough to trumpet her flute or the voices are simply drowned by deaf ears. It appears the state has seen an orchestrated propaganda being unleashed on it first by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on one hand and internal rivals on the other. One cannot deny the impact of dissidents within the All Progressives Congress, (APC). To me, I think the mistake of this group of people is their failure to realize that you cannot pull down a house under which you live just because of the assumption that you dislike a co-tenant.
A top official of the state civil service told me the state has trained and employed 3,007 food vendors each with a uniform provided by the state. This drew the financial support from banks to the tune of N124.5million given to 123 cooperative groups of food vendors.
The state also partnered with the World Bank, French Development Agency and the Federal Project Management unit to build 500km of rural roads. Osun is one of the four states that qualified for the project based on standard assessment by the international group. The efforts in the area of roads to me are commendable, considering the milestones recorded with the Gbongan-Akoda Road apart from the 500 kilometers of roads across the state.
Nothing is as puzzling as the figure-made available by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Baderinwa debunking the claim that Osun is owing workers in the range of six months or above.
Osun has come under severe criticisms on the alleged non-payment of workers’ salaries.
The fact is that the state receives 2.536 billion for instance, from January to May this year, yet it has a profile of 1.7 billion as workers’ salary every month.
How does the state cope with these meager resources? Yet, out of this allocation, the state government has paid till date 65 percent of the workforce, that is, workers on levels 7 downwards. This means that all workers on levels seven and below have been paid till date. Levels 8 to 10 constantly receive 75 percent of gross payment, constituting another 25% of the workforce being paid regularly and as at when due. These figures were corroborated by the state Commissioner for Information.
Those that have been receiving 50 percent are workers on level 12 and above. On the average, there are fewer states in Nigeria that have performed better than Osun in terms of workers’ salaries. That is the truth. But there is a major technical challenge, which all the state governors have lived with including Osun.
For instance, 25 percent of the workers in Osun State gulp 52% of the resources available. It is natural to expect the state to have hurdles difficult to surmount. If Osun wishes to remove this burden, the best solution is to redeploy many of the civil servants to the Ministry of Agric. Unfortunately, good policies may raise the stake of electoral threats, which pose immense danger to the system, the reason why many state governments continue to retain parasitic clay-footed public servants.
But how did Osun lose the last Senatorial election to the PDP? Did that indicate a decline of Aregbesola’e profile? His critics say the defeat marked a bitter turning point in this downward slide. But a single election may not be enough to draw final conclusion.
There are many factors that led to Senator Ademola Adeleke’s victory. First is his family’s political tree. His father was a Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) federal lawmaker in1979. His sibling, the late Isiaka Adeleke was a governor and a senator. I do not subscribe to the ideal that Ademola Adeleke left the APC because of imposition.
From findings, he was not actually a registered member of APC. I was informed he crossed over to PDP and emerged as a Senator even though he was not a member of PDP until some six hours before the primary that produced him, when he joined the party. It is obvious that Osun people need to redefine their own image. Osun people need to tell their own stories. The people need to counter the gory images being unleashed in the media backed by assumptions rather than facts and sound logic. It is time for the state to break the mirror and perspective of adversaries in a country where propaganda is chief and performance no longer count in electoral contest.
However, it may be futile looking at what states have achieved or not, when the real development of the Nigerian society can only come through a radical restructuring of Nigeria to the extent that the parasitic Federal Government will have its wings cut into pieces and the people and their communities will be free from the agonizing ring of recycled anomie occasioned by the garrison structure of the Nigerian state.
Adeoye is a multiple award-winning journalist and wrote in from Lagos.
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Re: The Futility Of Dakuku’s Appointment By Solomon Okocha

One thing that gives me great joy is that by now, the good people of Rivers State can clearly see through the maniacal lies of Governor Nyesom Wike, the wishy-washy of his media aides and the sycophantic outbursts of his coterie of political apologists.
The type of junkyard and puerile falsehoods that the Wike-led govermment has generated in about two years of its regrettable existence, is very similar to the type of diabolical propaganda that terrorist organisations thrive in; I call them ‘wicked lies’.
From the fake CNN (Amanpour) story about billions of dollars stashed away in a foreign bank account by former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to the imaginary video recording where INEC officials along with APC members were plotting to rig the Re-run Election in Rivers State, to the factless and comical claim of ‘Ikoyi Billions’, to the forgery and fabrication of documents to indict Amaechi as recently revealed by the foremost anti-corruption activist and lawyer – Livingstone Wechie, et al, any allegation against an opposition figure that emanates from Governor Wike’s table in Rivers State and Nigeria at large, can be summed up in three words; lies, hate and deceit.
Armed with the above facts, I was not surprised in anyway when Simeon Nwakaudu, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Wike on Electronic Media, released a lengthy and delirious article maliciously targeted at the person of Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Simeon, please take note: it’s ‘NIMASA’ and not ‘NIMASSA’, like you erroneously scribbled in your mundane diatribe.
The ongoing madness of words in the State came alive again when Simeon falsely claimed that in the presence of invited journalists (of course, nameless and faceless ), and with the sole purpose of blackmail, Dakuku confronted the national leadership of APC with bank statements and financial documents purportedly showing how Amaechi sponsored APC campaigns across the country. Like other unsubstantiable allegations resident in WIke’s basket of lies, this one was also a stillborn verbal attack.
After a thorough research on the report via the link (http://thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2016/02/rivers-apc- shell-shocked-seeks-audience- with-buhari/), which Simeon himself provided in his moronic piece, I couldn’t find anywhere that bank statements and financial documents were mentioned. The whole nonsense was just a figment of Mr. Nwakaudu’s sick imagination. It even gets messier!
Still reeling from the hyper excitement derived from his wild vituperations against Dakuku, Simeon took a step further to cast aspersions on NIMASA.
According to Simeon who is also the publisher of Scannews – the unofficial online outfit of Gov. Wike, since Dakuku took over the reins of management at NIMASA, the agency has gone into a vegetative state and has failed like the APC Federal Government. What a garrulous, fallacious and insane display of insincerity!
Simeon was certainly not talking about the same NIMASA that recently brought pride and honour to Nigeria by hosting the African Maritime Administrators Association (AMAA) Conference in Abuja and by also clinching the Chairmanship position of the prestigious organisation. Dakuku Peterside, PhD, is the first Nigerian to occupy this lofty position. Is this what Simeon means by ‘vegetative state’?
Is Simeon also not aware that NIMASA under Dakuku has reawakened the enforcement of the Cabotage Act, thereby creating vast employment opportunities for many Nigerians? Or has Wike’s propaganda chief not heard that NIMASA has rejigged its Port and Flag State control functions?
Where was Wike’s official attack dog when the Federal Government and other Maritime Stakeholders applauded NIMASA for setting up a security structure that will secure Nigerian waterways against sea piracy and related criminal activities? Could this be Simeon’s definition of failure?
The statement by Simeon that Dakuku is not politically relevant and not on ground in Rivers State is in flat contradiction with the fact that Dakuku’s name has never departed both the mouth of Simeon and that of his paymaster since they assumed office till date. It is indeed very rare to hear the name of an unpopular politician always coming out of his or her opponent’s quarters. Simeon, wake up from your malice-induced sleep for Dakuku is here to stay!
Comparing Dakuku to Wike is like comparing light to darkness; progress to backwardness; hope to hopelessness. With Wike’s mediocre atttitude towards governance, I dare say that it will take him light years to attain the gigantic strides that Dakuku achieved during his years of excellent service as Commissioner for Works in Rivers State; the records are all domiciled in the public domain.
While Wike’s priority projects are motorpark, market, pleasure park and religious buildings, Dakuku’s mind is focused on greatness, as is reflected in his landmark achievements in NIMASA, as are listed above.
At this point, I will not bother to respond to the remaining gibberish that Simeon Nwakaudu penned down in his low-life write up. My people say that two people do not get mad at the same time.
– Solomon Okocha
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Pendulum: As We Begin The Journey To 2019, By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, unbeknown to many of our people, the battle for who becomes our next President has already started in earnest. Never mind the fact that the incumbent President is still firmly in power even if he’s spent more time outside than inside in recent times. Despite his absence, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to exert almost total control on the affairs of state through regular phone chats with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is deeply loyal and committed to their joint cause, and emissaries who criss-cross the two continents to transmit messages to him and relevant officials. Nonetheless, you can’t blame the gladiators for shaping up this early for the big contest that is looming. It is big because it is unlikely that the current incumbent President will run again because of the fragile state of his health. Like joke, like joke, the Buhari/Osinbajo government is in its third year. By this time next year, the general elections would just be about six months away. That’s just too close for comfort.
The Presidential race is always the biggest deal in most countries, Nigeria in particular. The reason is simple. The President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful black President in the world. This is why you find so many perpetual contestants who never get tired of seeking power. Let me just go straight to the meat of my message without wasting your precious time on any long preamble.
Some aspirants have actually started making subterranean moves, here and there, to prepare the grounds for their eventual launch. The most obvious ones include former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. The boldest and most vocal visible aspirant is the current Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Fayose who has even announced a date for the official declaration of his bid for the Presidency. Fayose seems to have mastered the art and science of politics. He has warned that no one should underrate him. I won’t because nothing is impossible in our clime.
Anyway. Let’s move on. The main cause of the early moves is the general belief in political circles that President Buhari is not likely to contest in 2019. His poor health has virtually eliminated him from the race no matter how much and how well he recovers from his present ailment. I think so too. Baba himself had declared in one of his rare interviews that he’s never been this sick in his life. Only the cruellest human being would advise President Buhari to continue to subject himself to the rigours of the Presidential office when he returns. To add the vagaries of rough and tumble of a Presidential race to his recuperation would be inhuman indeed. God has been very kind to him and there is nothing more to prove or to achieve. Others must carry on the fight as his able Vice President, now Acting President has been doing.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had shown interest in becoming Nigeria’s President since 1993 when he contested the Presidential primaries of the then Social Democratic Party alongside Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Ghana Kingibe. He was persuaded to withdraw from the contest and throw his weight behind Chief Abiola on the basis of his relative youth amongst other things. Age, it was said, was on his side, and he had many years to seek the Presidency. Since then, he has never stopped dreaming and aspiring. Unfortunately, he has always just fallen short! He had made his next move in 2003, after he served as Vice President to President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999. The “abortive coup” (as it was described), to force Obasanjo out and bring Atiku in, by the all-powerful Governors of the time failed spectacularly. The cold war between Atiku and his boss exploded into full view and became a smouldering inferno. Atiku instantly became a marked man. He himself would be forced out of the party he helped to found and had to join others to form another party. But before too long Atiku was compelled by circumstances to scamper back to PDP. Not many felt that was a smart move. He was viewed as being too desperate and unprincipled. This flip-flop has been his major albatross. And he was not yet done! Atiku again jumped ship from the floundering PDP when some five Governors defected and joined the fulcrum of APC. There are already indications that he may be compelled to abandon ship again but where to, we don’t know. Some say that he is grooming PDM for this purpose and has already caused a crisis in his former movement.
There is no doubt that Atiku would make a good leader. He is a seasoned politician who is known to have the ability to unite Nigerians because of his extensive networks across the nation. He also has the penchant for recruiting the best brains to work with. If he becomes the President, he would be bringing in his wealth of experience in public service and private business that is almost second to none. But there are major setbacks against him. One is how to find the detergent to cleanse or unglue himself from the sticky mud his former boss President Obasanjo had generously splashed on him. He’s largely portrayed as a very corrupt and corruptible leader who may lead Nigerians into temptation and perdition with his acolytes. Whether this is a fair assessment or wicked blackmail is his business to deal with but it won’t be so easy to wish or wash away.
Atiku will find it difficult to clinch the APC ticket. There are obvious signs that he has already positioned some of his close associates in PDP, in case of emergency but he may be scammed at the end of the day if he takes the risk of pulling out of his present party. He needs to worry about his age. He has already crossed 70 and it is doubtful if most Nigerians want to be saddled with another old man who may collapse under the brutal weight of presidential stress and pressure. He would require more of a clean bill of health to persuade young Nigerians that he’s not carrying some health liabilities like others in the past. In summary, we have a reasonable bridge-builder and veteran administrator who may be too old and too late in seeking political office.
Next is the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Mohammed Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a man with very vast political and administrative pedigree. He has gone through the whole gamut of governance at both executive and legislative levels. His performance as Governor of the massive state of Kano is an eloquent testimony to the fact that he may be the one to ignite the infrastructural revolution in Nigeria. He cuts the image of a frugal Aminu Kano with his simple mien. His grassroots non-governmental movement known as Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation is well mobilised and may give him an edge over most aspirants. He also has in his favour the fact that Kano State has the highest number of registered voters and may be able to count on garnering a significant number of these. He is also expected to draw strength from his former colleagues in the Governors’ Forum across the nation but no one is sure how relevant they still are. Kwankwaso is 60 years old and falls the under the age of 65 that many want as the upper limit for contestants. On the negative side, he is not likely to have the formidable war chest of an Atiku Abubakar though this did not stop him from beating Atiku to third place in their last APC Primaries.
Say what you will, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, must be factored into the equation by all means. The reason is that he seems to enjoy a special rapport with his ailing boss who may prefer to hand over fully to someone he knows well than risk certainty for uncertainty. Osinbajo has been a very loyal and dependable ally, the sort that are not common in this clime. This is no surprise because his vocation as a lawyer, his service as a teacher and his calling as a Pastor makes him imbued with integrity and dignity. Osinbajo has also succeeded in bringing Nigerians together and calming frayed nerves. His handling of the economy, security and national awareness is quite commendable and many Nigeria’s applaud his brilliance and performance in steering the affairs of state to its present comfortable position. His only worry would come from ethnic jingoists who do not care about merit but prefer only members of their tribe no matter how useless or incompetent they may be.
Osinbajo is likely to be vehemently opposed by such powerful forces who think only about themselves, although it seems to me that the people of the North are not with them on this occasion. There is no question that Osinbajo has restored hope and promise to Nigeria and should ordinarily be allowed to stabilise the polity and lead us out of the doldrums. The fact that he lacks his own political platforms may be a great disadvantage because he would need to lean on his political godfather and kingmaker, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who seems tired of fixing others into positions of power without being the ultimate King of Kings himself. However, Asiwaju is canny and wise and would prefer to be in the hallowed corridors of power with his protégé in charge than be outside it particularly given that he is himself ageing and would be over a couple of years over 65 by the time of the next elections.
There has always been speculation that the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, is interested in being President. He is eminently qualified to do so. The way he has managed the Senate and worked assiduously on churning out unprecedented number of very efficacious bills is a pointer to his effectiveness as a modern and cosmopolitan leader who understands what the people want and how to give it to them. His biggest migraine apart from allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Societe Generale Bank which has seemingly not gone away, is that he comes from Kwara State. The State is geographically Northern but culturally Southern. His father was Olusola. He is Bukola. His wife is Toyin. His sister is Gbemisola. His Brother is Olaolu. His son is Olaseni. No one could be more Yoruba than Saraki. However, surprisingly, despite this great Yoruba credentials, the Yorubas do not also apparently view him as a Yoruba man but as a Northerner. I do not know how he plans to overcome that challenge of being neither cat nor rat.
The Governor of Sokoto State, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, attempted very briefly to run the Presidential race in 2015 but seemed to have chickened out and pulled back to settle for the gubernatorial race, where he eventually emerged successful. It is being mentioned in informed circles that he may still want to try his luck. As a former Speaker of the House of representatives and now Governor, he comes with some intimidating arsenal as e is still clearly well loved by his old constituency, the Federal legislators. It is not certain if he would abandon his almost guaranteed second term as Governor for a not so certain Presidential bid. His antecedents in this regard would persuade me not to expect too much of a change in Tambuwal’s circumstances this time around.
The same goes for one of my favourite leaders, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, one of the most cerebral, experienced and visionary leaders in Nigeria today. He is silently revolutionising Kaduna State although people see more of the controversial stuff coming out of that State because of its highly volatile religious mix of Muslims and Christians. Though he is yet to declare his interest openly, he is someone to watch…
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The Argument For Buhari, By Temitope Ajayi

I

participated actively in the electoral campaign that brought in the Buhari administration at the highest level. On the strength of the work i did with other Volunteers at the Buhari Support Organizations, i was nominated into the APC Presidential Campaign Council’s Media & Publicity Directorate.

During the campaign and after election some of my colleagues and co-volunteers asked me about my expectations. I told all who cared to listen that i would not expect much in the first 4 years because it would be tough but i prayed for the best. I knew Buhari and his team would only be able to clear the debris of the mess already created by Jonathan’s administration. I was clear that Buhari’s second coming will be to restart the country.

Nigerians will not see the positive impact of the government until the 4th year i reckoned.

I also admonished my colleagues to moderate their expectations in terms of what they hope to benefit as individuals and for the country because Nigeria wont become Dubai, London and Paris in 4years. And all the problems wont disappear just because Buhari has become the President.

I learnt early in life to appreciate the circumstances around me. My upbringing also helped me to learn how to moderate my expectations from anyone.

I have seen posts and comments of those who are apologetic and expressed regret for voting for Buhari. What were they expecting? That Buhari will turn stone to bread? Some said he has not fulfilled his campaign promises. Are campaign promises meant to be fulfilled in two years or in the life of an administration?

What did Buhari promise? And in two years has the administration really failed on them? The answer is no. The administration has done very well in fulfilling the campaign promises under the broad themes of the Fight Against Corruption, Economic Diversification and Security. The administration has relentlessly pursued the three broad thematic focus with missionary zeal.

We had an administration that inherited a broken down country that was at the brink of collapse. Nigeria was buffeted by Boko Haram, Kidnapping, Militancy, Armed Robbery, Criminal Armed Herdsmen and Rustlers, industrial scale corruption and impunity never seen in history.

The economy despite 5 years unprecedented oil boom collapsed since late 2013 when previous administration had been borrowing from China to buy arms and other lenders to pay salaries. By 2014 States were already in trouble with months of unpaid salaries to workers. By May 29, 2015 when Buhari took over Nigeria was already on life support with 33 states owing between 12 and 8 months workers salaries and that of pensioners. The price of crude, the only major source of foreign exchange had plummeted to about $30 per barrel from the height of $120.

It was obvious Buhari was starting from below ground zero. What should have been done 30 years ago are the things the administration is still battling with. Getting Nigeria out of this morass wont be a picnic.

It will be serious hardwork. The administration that earned a record $440 Billion oil revenue in 5years and highest in Nigeria’s history didn’t improve infrastructure beyond tokenism, depleted foreign reserve, demolished Excess Crude Account, accumulated more foreign and local debts, owed contractors, left unpaid N600billion fuel subsidy bill, unpaid N60billion fertilizer subsidy bill, unpaid salaries and pension arrears for workers and retirees.

Nigeria was down and out. A consumerist economy where anything and everything were imported with unsustainable import bills and demand of Forex will go down. It was an economy built on consumption and oil revenue.

What has Buhari done?

Buhari administration identified the implosion and civil unrest that will happen with distressed 33 states owing salaries. He approved bailout funds to the state to help them pay salaries and pension arrears. For two years, the states have been given special funds and Paris Club refund in excess of N2trillion.

The administration paid N600b inherited fuel subsidy bill. Paid N60b inherited fertilizer subsidy bill. Paid inherited salaries and pension arrears of Federal workers. Started paying contractors that have not been paid since 2013 on Federal projects especially road construction across the country.

To diversify the economy away from crude oil, President Buhari insisted Nigeria must produce locally things we can produce easily and he anchored this on Agriculture and Solid Minerals. The two sectors have consistently grown in contribution to GDP in the last two years according to NBS quarterly reports.

Nigeria has cut import bill by more than 50 per cent on rice and ramping up production in wheat and other produce. The FG through CBN banned 41 items from accessing forex from official Windows. This was mercilessly criticized by the ‘experts’ but the Buhari administration is winning the argument today with increased local production and industrial capacity utilisation by factories/manufacturers sourcing raw materials locally.

With the rice and wheat success in Kebbi and other states especially in the north, private capital is flowing into the processing sector of the agriculture value chain. Wacot just opened N10b Rice Mill, Dangote opened Tomatoe Paste Factory in Kano, Olam will commission N20billion Livestock Feed and Chicken Hatchery Plant in Kaduna in September among other investors.

Buhari went to Morocco and signed a deal on Phosphate and Gas pipeline between Nigeria and the North Africa nation. The phosphate is a major component for fertilizer production. With the deal the FG working with the Sovereign Wealth Fund had reactivated 11 moribund fertilizer Blending Plants in Nigeria in the last 1 year that have created 50,000 jobs and producing 1.3metric tonnes of fertilizer. Today the N50b annual fertilizer subsidy is gone while a bag of fertilizer sells for N5,500 which is 30 per cent cheaper than what it used to sell while the FG no longer pay N6000 subsidy per bag for farmers. Six more dead Fertilizer Blending Plants will come back to life before end of the year and Nigeria will be in a position to start exporting fertilizer.

Segun Adeniyi, Chairman Editorial Board of Thisday and a Buhari arch-critic couldn’t hide his praise in his recent Thisday Backpage Column where he wrote that a revolution is happening in Nigeria’s agricultural sector under Buhari with millions of Nigerians now embracing farming and with increased local production of fertilizer from the 11 revamped Blending Plants.

On infrastructure, the government under Buhari is spending more money to revive abandoned projects – roads, power, rail, pipelines, housing etc. The Lagos-Ibadan rail project has started. The administration has negotiated foreign loan that will connect the entire country by rail network from Lagos to Calabar and Port Harcourt to Kano. The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard Guage rail line that had been abandoned since 1987 has been reactivated and FG already set June 2018 as date when it will be commissioned.

Despite acute low revenue, the Buhari administration is saving more money into the ECA and boosting Foreign Reserve. The Foreign Reserve went up by over $500million by CBN records last week. To further stimulate the economy the administration recently approved N2trillion Bond to pay local contractors who have been owed by FG for 10years. A committee is working to verify all debts to contractors already.

The same government for the first time in our recent history is committed to improving the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and National Productivity with Executive Orders already yielding positive results with some MDAs such as Immigration, Customs, FRSC, FIRS, CAC, NPA etc.

If previous administrations had done what Buhari administration is doing now our development trajectory as a country would have been far better than we currently have.

The President is confronting corruption squarely. The administration is recovering billions of naira, hundreds of Millions in dollars in cash and real estate never done before. He confronted corruption in the Armed Forces and touched serving and retired Generals. He confronted corruption in the Judiciary and broke the unwritten code of Judicial untouchables. It is only a Buhari without a moral and corruption baggage that could do these.

I should think these are what those who genuinely campaigned and voted for Buhari asked for and wanted him to do.

The local and global inventors’ confidence in the economy is at an all time high because of the global approval rating of the President and the fight against corruption. Market Capitalisation at the Stock Exchange was at N13trilion last, week breaking 3 years record. Nigeria just reclaimed the 3rd position as the destination for FDIs in Africa with $4.6billion inflow in 2016 following Angola and Egypt after 5years year on year decline from 2010-2015 under Jonathan administration. The government that had unprecedented oil revenue and a super Coordinating Minister of the Economy.

All these happening in two years under an administration that was challenged with low revenue yet the administration is still investing in social intervention programs- School Feeding for primary school pupils which has taken off in 19 states, NPower which has employed over 200,000 jobless young people who are now adding value to the communities where they work and to themselves.

I recognize missed steps and areas where things should have been done better especially proper coordination at governmental and inter-agencies levels. These are not reasons to be disillusioned or regret voting out a government that wrecked Nigeria.

At this point i can only pray and wish President Buhari good health and may he return strong and healthy enough to finish the second half of his 4years tenure.

If he will be on the ballot in 2019, God sparing our lives, i will campaign and vote for him again. Nigeria needs 8years of his steady hands to clear the mess with a solid foundation that a younger and visionary successor will build on.

In my estimation, Nigeria needs at least 20 years of focused and honest leadership to be a great country we want.

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Buhari: Turning Frustration Into Opportunity By Kunle Somoye

The adage that “tough times do not last, tough people do’’ is fast becoming the experience of Nigeria in its fight against economic recession. It is also relevant to confirm the saying that “God is a Nigerian’’ in the sense that the speed at which the nation is coming out of recession remains unprecedented, indicating that the hand of the Almighty is on the country.

When Muhammadu Buhari took over as President in 2015, he inherited an economy that would have made a faint hearted abandon a duty post. At that time, Nigeria was plagued with myriad of challenges which included disruptions in the oil sector as occasioned by fall in global price of oil and disrupted supply. The developments caused an acute drop in supply of foreign exchange which plunged the nation’s economy into a recession.

On assumption, President Buhari’s first action aimed at attacking recession was to insist that Nigeria and Nigerians produce what they consume and consume what is produced locally. This position formed the philosophical base of the Federal Government’s diversification policy.

Not too long after the pronouncement, results started manifesting in the agricultural sector. Latest figures shows that the sector is leading Nigeria’s non-oil export by $105.06 billion and this stands out as a strong indication that Nigeria has started raising its head above the water of recession and that productivity as against sharing revenue from oil, is fast becoming the order of the day.

Between 2015 and 2017, Nigeria witnessed the establishments of its largest rice processing mill, the second largest single line petroleum refinery, second largest urea fertilizer plant and the second largest chemical complex. Tax incentives for three years have also been given to local industries to ease the process of doing business as well as provide opportunities for the creation of new jobs.

With the establishment of the largest cement producing complex in Africa, foreign investors are encouraged to buy stakes from Dangote cement. So far, private investors have subscribed to about 2.1 per cent stake in the company which amounts to about $236 million. This is an indication that the confidence of foreign investors in the Nigerian economy is on the path of growth.

Furthermore, with the Olam group investing $150 million in the establishment of the largest poultry farm coupled with an integrated feed mill in sub-Saharan Africa in Kaduna as well as another $120 million investment in Vicampro potato farm that has the prospect of generating 30,000 jobs, all is now set for Nigeria to record a quantum leap in its economic growth.

Another proof of investors’ confidence manifested when a company with French parentage, Lafarge Nigeria, the second largest cement producing factory in Nigeria, converted the loan it granted the local arm of the company into equity. This is also an indication that foreign investors are no longer in a hurry to leave Nigeria.

Economic recovery also is on upward movement with the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) standing at 54.1 per cent. This means that Nigeria recorded expansion in production. On the other hand, there is a strong indication of growth in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Financial Markets Dealers Quotations (FMDQ). A N10,000 investment in the NSE in January 2017 is capable of yielding N3,300 in six months. Such capital gain cannot accrue as interest rate when same amount is invested as deposit.

The simple deduction from these activities is that the nation is exiting from economic recession while at the same time growing rapidly. It demonstrates that the government has developed and is implementing concrete plans to attain a set target. With a 4.3 per cent growth rate as against the 2.8 % growth projection from the World Bank, it means that the big deal is on the way.

The recession has proved that the never-say-die-attitude of Nigerians to challenges should be emulated by other nations as all intents and purposes point to the fact that the nation is not wobbling out of its economic challenges but buttresses that good and implementable strategy, clear focus and an enabling environment are the necessary ingredients to pull such tough strings.

The feat achieved so far proves that it takes a disciplined government to take Nigeria out of a mono economy and conquer the world through economic diversification.

To further cement and improve the current achievements, the government can do more by creating business clusters, mechanic workshops and industrial estates in order to deepen the expansion of the productive sector. By the time the expansion of the productive sector has been deepened, Nigeria will once again prove to the world that converting a frustrating condition into an opportunity is its stock in trade.

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The Moral Debris of GEJ’s Looted Home, By Louis Odion

Dazed by the stories of grand larceny that began to circulate, chances are that the unscrupulous policemen themselves only saw Jonathan’s personal effects and household goods as their own fair portion of the elephantine loot. Ordinarily, no one would wish to be left out when the proverbial butchered elephant is being shared.

Editorials of the Vanguard newspaper, in my view, belong in the heavyweight echelon of Nigeria’s commentariat. The weight of their punches is to be judged not only by the resonance of their messages over the years, but also the economy of phrase utilised – the uncanny facility to say a lot in so few words, and packing so much into limited space.

But its edition of August 3 must rank among those that fall miserably short of the high value it normally espouses. In the commentary entitled, “Looting of ex-President Jonathan’s home”, the newspaper said every thing expected against the cops-turned-burglars and those who trafficked the stolen goods.

What would have been a fine argument against yet another iniquity of man was however sullied when, in the next breath, it openly sought to either deny anyone the right to outrage against Jonathan on any count whatsoever and make an outright villain of those unable to express pity or empathy with the victim on this matter.

It wrote: “No decent human being can claim that what took place in … President Jonathan’s house is excusable on any ground. All people of conscience must rise up and condemn evil, no matter who is involved. The atmosphere of hatred which seems to have seized the people of this country by the throat must be made to give way to empathy for one another, as that is the only way we can build a united, strong country.”

For effect, it reminded us of the great sacrifice GEJ made to secure Nigerian democracy: “It was due to his gentle and patriotic disposition that the nation experienced a peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another in 2015.”

In the haste to whip up sentiments, the editorialist, alas, missed the context and the nuance of the great heist at issue. To start with, seeking to overplay Jonathan’s 2015 concession of defeat as reflected above is very cheap indeed. Care needs be taken against overdrawing that goodwill account. His action then was the most honourable thing to do at that moment, for which enough encomium has been showered on him both within and outside our shores.

But that can, by no means, now amount to an entitlement to pity at all times. Nor can it possibly be tendered as adequate inoculation against reproach or perpetual immunity against public scrutiny.

Otherwise, we, given what is now also known about the sordid aspects of the same past, risk enthroning a new relativity of morality with the suggestion that gross ethical inadequacy should be excused in the throes of sentimentality or being captive to one memory.

foraminifera

Rather, the intelligentsia must be seen as setting very high standards for the society, holding all actors by a universal principle. Inherent in that resolve is a commitment not to compromise values or lend itself to those seeking to lower the society’s ethical bar on sentiments ranging from ethnicity to creed.

…if some citizens are now unable to bring themselves to pity Jonathan over the Gwarinpa burglary as the Vanguard editorial surmised, it must be understood in the context of a nation still unable to come to terms with the mega heist under his watch, the lurid details of which continue to unfold with stifling pungency both at home and abroad.

Two, there can be no disputation over whether Jonathan, were he another ordinary Nigerian, would be deserving of pity over this loss of valuables. While it may be true that most Nigerians indeed lack true love for their nation as a corporate entity, they certainly do not hate one another at the inter-personal level, as can be verified from the instinctive response of the average Nigerian meeting complete strangers at an accident scene, for instance. He is very unlikely to turn the other way but play the biblical Good Samaritan – lending a hand to those in distress.

As a people, Nigerians are not incapable of pity when sufficiently aroused.

In the present circumstance, the truth is that Jonathan is definitely not the guy next door. And if we can summon courage to face the more inconveniencing truth, many – if not most – Nigerians today would argue GEJ only just got a mini dose of the bitter portion the nation was force-fed with under his watch as president.

In a poetic reversal of role, while the man from Otuoke grieved over the loss of domestic valuables under police guard, his fellow compatriots have not stopped bemoaning the mindless looting of their own country while Jonathan was sentinel.

On account of what is now known, those who wish to discount the GEJ silhouette as only totemic of looting without limit cannot therefore be accused of being uncharitable. The costs of plasma TVs, refrigerators and bowler hats are certainly insignificant compared to, say, the $150 million (N54 billion) of luxury asset recently forfeited by Diezani and co to US authorities alone. To say nothing of an estimated $15 billion (N5.4 trillion) systematically stolen, as revealed through Dasukigate.

Funny enough, when the likes of then CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi were crying out that the national exchequer was being bled to death, Jonathan took it upon himself to parlay every national platform to vigorously defend Diezani as a hapless victim of those playing malicious political games.

When you occupy an enviable office, he once philosophised on national television in her defence, enemies tell fat lies to pull you down.

So, if some citizens are now unable to bring themselves to pity Jonathan over the Gwarinpa burglary as the Vanguard editorial surmised, it must be understood in the context of a nation still unable to come to terms with the mega heist under his watch, the lurid details of which continue to unfold with stifling pungency both at home and abroad.

In the statement to the police, he lamented that his home was “completely stripped bare”, underlining an epic betrayal of truth. Policemen asked to guard a home chose to become the thieves themselves.

From media pictures of the crime scene, it is easy to feel anger, vengeance in the clinical severity with which the policemen-burglars violated the haven where Jonathan once dined and slept. Literally, what remained was for the brigands to excavate the floor tiles and the blocks to complete a furious plunder.

But once the marauding vultures had been upbraided and chased away, it will be time to censure the mother fowl for exposing her chicks to danger in the first place. By Jonathan’s own admission, the theft was only discovered last month. The truth he was obviously too shy to share is that the property in question was lying waste as he lives elsewhere in Abuja. That apparently left the door ajar for the evil cops to systematically clean out the four-bedroom duplex over months.

Of course, in a society where an estimated 60 percent of the population is considered homeless and many more go to bed on empty stomaches at night, that is not the sort of secret you want to let out.

So, had the media not become awash last week with “sensational” claims of what went missing, it is debatable if Jonathan would not have preferred to hush things up to avoid eyebrows being raised or some hard questions being asked. His statement on the theft would then seem to be motivated more by a desire to debunk the “exaggerated” claims than a willingness to give the self up for scrutiny.

Obviously to deflect initial reports suggesting “36 Plasma television sets and 25 refrigerators” were stolen, the former president detailed the haul to include only six flat screen TV sets, toilet seats, three refrigerators, doors and one gas cooker. His statement was, however, conveniently silent on the reports on “bales and bales of babanriga wears and designer suits with his names embroidered on the inner linings”.

Without being induced, some witnesses have already volunteered accounts of what really happened. One Mallam Shuaibu has been named as one of the buyers of the stolen items at the popular Pankera Second-hand Market, Abuja. One account said each suit was auctioned for N5,000. And what a boom time it was in that corner of the market for a long time before the secret leaked. You would see locals of all nations and creeds trying on the assorted bowler hats on display and “woko” Ijaw jumpers of many colours in the open, before making a pick.

Not surprising, the four cops implicated in the shameful conduct have since been dismissed by the police after an orderly room trial preparatory to their being formally prosecuted. The same way Ibrahim Bagobiri, chairman of the Pankera Market, has been defenestrated by members for allegedly partaking in the receipt and disposal of the stolen goods.

From media pictures of the crime scene, it is easy to feel anger, vengeance in the clinical severity with which the policemen-burglars violated the haven where Jonathan once dined and slept. Literally, what remained was for the brigands to excavate the floor tiles and the blocks to complete a furious plunder.

Though no one can tell for sure how long it took them to finish the pillage, since they were reportedly posted after the former president quit Aso Rock, it is perhaps safe to assume they had taken charge before the slime of Dasukigate began to seep out by the twilight of 2015.

Dazed by the stories of grand larceny that began to circulate, chances are that the unscrupulous policemen themselves only saw Jonathan’s personal effects and household goods as their own fair portion of the elephantine loot. Ordinarily, no one would wish to be left out when the proverbial butchered elephant is being shared.

It is clear Karma had passed through Gwarinpa with all its mystical stealth.

Louis Odion is a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE).

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Constitution Review: Before Governors Hijack Our Freedom By Abdull-Azeez Ahmed

Between 1999 and now, it will be difficult to quantify the quantum of money thus far spent on the review of the 1999 constitution. So much has gone into waste with so much motion but little progress.

That much pundits would point out is typically Nigerian. Haven’t we sunk so much money into many white elephant projects with nothing to show for it. In all nooks and crannies of Nigeria, there are abandoned projects that have gulped multi billion naira but left to waste. Today, state governors collect millions, in some states billions of naira monthly in the name of security votes, yet, some communities few metres from government houses are daily terrorised and can’t sleep with their eyes closed due to insecurity.

The eight National Assembly seems to have made a great leap compared to what was obtained in the past with regards to the review of the 1999 constitution, taking on over thirty amendments in one fell swoop. This is unprecedented; considering the pertinent issues raised.

And for the first time in recent history, we saw the lawmakers put on the toga of seriousness by utilising the electronic voting system. This is against the voice votes where the presiding officer decides where the votes swing by pronouncing “the ayes have it” with the hit of the gavel even where and when “the nays” are loudest and more in number.

Even at that, the lawmakers shot themselves in the legs by proposing any bill becomes law once passed by the National Assembly without the assent of the President. That is arrogating the role of executive to themselves thereby abolishing the checks and balances which makes that proposal despotic.

Of course, it is a planned way of rendering the Presidency powerless; targeting President Muhammadu Buhari. But what the Senators are loosing sight of, is the fact that the law maybe self inflicted injury as anyone of them may end up in the presidency sooner or later.

That aside, the amendment votes seem to have taken the wind out of the sail of advocates of restructure. The carpet was tactically pulled under their foot leaving them gasping for air.

But more pertinent is the issue of Local Government autonomy, scrapping of joint local government /state joint account, scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commission; SIECOM, autonomy for State Houses of Assembly, independence candidacy among others. These issues tickled the fancy of many Nigerians, resonating with them and they mince no word in expressing their support. But the reality is, they are not factoring in the class interest, deviants and self serving appetites of the state governors.

Of course, the lawmakers got hit with regards to throwing away the devolution of power which the governors desperately want. This is not surprising considering the number of former Governors who populate the National Assembly, especially the upper chamber. They all know the powers governors wield. They all know to what extent such powers can be utilised albeit to the disadvantage of the masses by marauding governors.

Unfortunately some governors have become despots and demi gods in their state without recourse to law and constitutionality. Devolving more power to them would make some worst than the worst dictator that booted the constitution. Again you ask, of what significance is more power without commensurate financial backing by rejigging the monthly allocation in favour of the states. Here we are with some states owing workers months of salaries, yet demanding for more responsibilities. How ironic.

And this bring us to where the governors would mobilise and fight the National Assembly and Nigerians by hijacking the constitutional review. They would not allow for local government, State Houses of Assembly autonomy, scrapping of joint state/local account and SIECOM. They would do all they can to foil that good move Nigerians are celebrating. A move that would free Nigerians from the jugular of the governors who have become undemocratic despots through the ballot as against the barrel of the gun.

Local Governments have become the conduit pipes through which governors line their pockets. While councils have become appendage of the Governors’ offices, they do as they wish with the finances and administration of the third tier of government that is meant to take development closer to the people.

Unfortunately, even those who were loudmouth and critical of their predecessors, calling them unprintable names for failure to conduct local government elections, today as sitting governors are worst than their predecessors who they criticized.

Most visible infrastructural development at the local government councils that you can point at today, undertaken by the councils, were projects some were able to execute under General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida administration when councils got their allocation direct from Abuja. Though there were some who actually abused that as governors do today.

And the few who today embark on semblance of local government elections, always have the SIECOM in their pockets. They appoint those who superintend the electoral body and determine the election outcome long before the polls, hence landslide victory of the ruling party in such state. Scrapping SIECOM means booting the governors’ despotism utilising semblance of democracy in council polls.

And the last straw is autonomy for the state Houses of Assembly. State assemblies today are nothing but rubber stamps. They act in tandem with the directive of the governors contrary to the tenets of separation of power. State Houses ofAssembly Members are worst than commissioners who are appointees of the governor and often pass executive bills with the speed of light and hardly spell oversight in their functions talk less of carrying it out. That leaves the governors to do as they want, not just with their state finances, but resort to despotic acts and pronouncement with the legislature looking the other way or gazing blindly with eyes wide shut.

These are the reasons the governors would mobilise to ensure these changes in the constitution review are stalled as they are threats to their crude ridership albeit despotically as against leading democratically. They are going to boot what the masses are rooting for and in the process hijack our freedom through the constitution review.

From recent recapitulating statements of Senate President Bukola Satanic on representing the devolution bill, be sure the governors are already at work. It is time for Nigerians to resist this by ensuring their representatives at all levels to the right thing in tandem with their wishes by ensuring the governors don’t have their way, or teach them a lesson they would never forget in their political lives.

But after all said and done, the President have the final say by withholding or assenting to the reviews after the three third of all needed to make it a constitution. So, the buck stops on his table.

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Not-Too-Young-To-Run: Too Early to Celebrate By Funmilola Ajala

The long drawn out process of tinkering Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution has brought to the fore, the allure to correct the innumerable inconsistencies embedded in the military-cooked script.

As applicable to virtually every item on our national menu, the amendment of the defective Constitution, as being managed by the legislature, has divided Nigerians, with those against the move labeling it a mere ‘panel-beating’ experiment to revive an archaic automobile.

Amidst the seemingly unending – and somewhat confusing – oscillation of this argument among the political constituents, the legislature at the centre adamantly forged on, culminating in an electronic vote by lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly, recently. And if anything, the action of the lawmakers did very little to sack the negative perception prominent among the army of doubting ‘Thomases’ out there. More so, when some of the thorny clauses in the Constitution appear in direct nexus with covert attempt to solidify the position of the Legislative arm of government.

In all of these, of immediate concern to the Nigerian youth is: (i.) the downward review of the obligatory age attainment for electoral contests in the land; and (ii.) introduction of independent candidature. And rewardingly, the cacophonous vocalisation being trumpeted by youth activism – unified under the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign – could not be ignored by Apo Quarters’ landlords, as the clauses passed with lesser qualms.

As these young paladins continue celebrate what is, of course, a commendable bargain in the political market, it is equally instructive to caution them against being consumed in the euphoria.

One is forced, thus, to inquire: Are Nigerian youth ready for power?

If all that is needed to occupy elective positions in a democracy – at least in the Nigerian context – is sheer willpower and scholarship excellence, then, one can hardly discard the undeniable fact that younger Nigerians are holding their own in virtually every field of human endeavors, the world over. In what is fast becoming a consuetude, products of Nigeria’s struggling education system now graduate top of many renowned Ivy Leagues in the West.

Unfortunately, it seems that is where it ends.

It is evident that the inability of youth to transit from mere tools in a cynically cyclical political enclave like ours remains the greatest impenetrable wall inhibiting the realisation of that dream to wrestle power from the old guards. To a shrewd mind, the fundamental challenge here goes beyond a reluctant submission to lowering age criterion alone.

To start with, few young Nigerians whose shot at power have succeeded, especially since 1999, were able to justify the argument that youth are anything but different when entrusted with power. From the word go, Salisu Buhari plunged the country into political chaos with his infamous Toronto certificate saga amongst other fraudulent acts. Not to mention the likes of Anyim Pius Anyim, Dimeji Bankole and a certain Farouk Lawan – all relatively young but riddled with allegations of financial improbity – while their stints as principal members of both the Senate and House of Reps lasted. At the moment, Kogi’s Yayaha Bello is the youngest State Chief Executive in Nigeria, at 42. Sadly, his administration, so far, enjoys notoriety for unrestrained appetite in fighting almost everyone in sight – from politics to education, to civil service, and so on.

Ask a 35-year-old Nigerian on the streets of Lagos or Abuja why he/she thinks age limit (over the years) hindered youth from rescuing the system from the old, conservative plutocrats at the helm, and don’t be too shocked that his/her response would be incomplete without referencing French President, Emmanuel Macron. Regrettably, such respondents are often armed with sickly ignorance of the trajectory of the 39-year-old and how he combined his relative academic brilliance with administrative apprenticeship to garner enviable political clout through years of service as Minister under President Francois Hollande.

The unconvincing nature of how, exactly, age limit translates into a barrier at assuming public offices, perhaps ignited former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s plea that young Nigerians should not wish the old “dead”; even as he further stressed that his greatest apprehension lies in the possible implosion which the “anger and frustration of the youths,” is capable of costing Nigeria.

To submit that youths in Nigeria are eternally incapable of being trusted with political offices is tantamount to suggesting that the country, itself, does have no future. However, the narrative must, henceforth, tilt towards engendering an orientation that these hugely talented individuals can do more within their immediate communes and blossom to higher grounds, politically. A situation where an 80-year-old Pa Lateef Jakande would defile rains to vote in Lagos State local council polls while a gang of able-bodied youths – with profound biceps – was pictured downing bottles of beer in the midst of flood, on the same day, speaks volume of the appreciation or otherwise of what is at stake.

In the end though, one has to agree that the currency of this debate is a towering plus for youth emancipation in Nigeria. Nonetheless, we should divorce from the anoesis that this represents ultimate victory for the youth who, having challenged the status quo, need to prove – beyond occasional rhetorical eruptions – that they are truly deserving of the scare trust from the electorates.

In an address at San Diego State College, in June 1963, American President, John F. Kennedy said, “No country can possibly move ahead, no free society can possibly be sustained, unless it has an educated citizenry whose qualities of mind and heart permit it to take part in the complicated and increasingly sophisticated decisions that pour not only upon the President and upon the Congress, but upon all the citizens who exercise the ultimate power.”

Younger Nigerians should realize that power is earned and not given.

*Ajala, a journalist, writes via ajalatravel07@gmail.com and tweets @ajalatravel07

 

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Why Nigeria’s Education Policies Must Embrace Technology, By Daniel Iyanda

The value of information is in its capacity to birth transformation. And education has been – and still is – a means of achieving this. On its wings were born the metamorphosis of man; from Stone Age through to the Technology Age characterised by innovation and knowledge. But for the future relevance of education in the scheme of things – especially with the emergence of the Internet of Things – it must engage technology and embrace global best practices.

If the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in education – the guarantee of inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all – is to be achieved in Nigeria, our education policy must be imbued with the effective utilization of technology in the learning process; and teachers and other players in the education sector must embrace these best practices.

William B. Yatse once said, ‘education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’

As the times are changing quickly and the world is thrusting swiftly, we need no soothsayer to tell us the future is technology, and whatever or whoever desires to live to fulfilment of this age must embrace technology. This is the reason proactive leaders with foresight have ditched traditional education systems for a dynamic, innovative and collaborative system – blended learning – that prepares and equips the younger generation for the future.

Nigeria, a country that has over fifty percent of its population as youths must realize the future – which is here – of the nation is hundred percent the youths. Countries are already setting example in this regard: UAE, Kuwait, and Taiwan are leading the park in the engagement of technology in the classroom. Finland has shown the world that the traditional education system is not only obsolete but also ineffective for today’s world. This has been further established by their higher ratings ahead of United States of America.

In 2009 according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, they ranked sixth in Maths, second in Science and third in Reading while U.S. students ranked 30th, 23rd and 17th, respectively, of the 65 tested countries.

And in the United Arab Emirates for instance, there are facilities for students to sign up to specialized online class forums with video capacity, allowing them to team up on ideas and discuss self – study projects remotely. Students can also connect with tutors face-to-face at allocated times using these facilities. Thus, their students graduate as highly-skilled workers adaptable to new and evolving technologies.

For the 21st century education to be successful, we must engender what Mark Nicholas highlighted as imperatives in his book, ‘Teaching for Learning’: increase in the capacity of learning institutions to cater for more students cum the ability to cater for them effectively; adaptation of  knowledge imparted to the realities of life; removal of hindrances in accessing knowledge, and flexible learning styles to accommodate peculiarities of the students; a competitive mind-set in the education sector that creates alternative choices and more convenience for the students – students should determine what, when, where and how they learn; and finally, personal touch – interaction among the students and between individual tutor and student.

Again, it is imperative to note that care must be taken in the adaptation of these principles in Nigeria. There is often a tendency for the bastardization and crippling of policies and systems that are successful in other climes when copied and pasted without proper adaptation. A case in point is the implementation of continuous assessment in Nigerian institutions of learning.

Though not a bad idea, it was soon reduced to mid semester tests, and the whole gamut of the learning process coalesced into the passing of examination rather than the acquisition of life skills and labour demanding competencies to lead a successful life in a competitive global free economy.

Nonetheless, neither the adaptation of these global best practices nor the imperatives for 21st century education is negotiable, if Nigeria desires to be relevant in the global economy by 2020 and if we are to command any respect in the fierce competitive knowledge economy, our education policy should as a matter of urgency be reviewed to incorporate this blissful marriage of education and technology.

Daniel Iyanda is a content manager at Brainstormr, an Education and Technology Company.

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Why Nigeria’s Education Policies Must Embrace Technology, By Daniel Iyanda

The value of information is in its capacity to birth transformation. And education has been – and still is – a means of achieving this. On its wings were born the metamorphosis of man; from Stone Age through to the Technology Age characterised by innovation and knowledge. But for the future relevance of education in the scheme of things – especially with the emergence of the Internet of Things – it must engage technology and embrace global best practices.

If the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in education – the guarantee of inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all – is to be achieved in Nigeria, our education policy must be imbued with the effective utilization of technology in the learning process; and teachers and other players in the education sector must embrace these best practices.

William B. Yatse once said, ‘education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’

As the times are changing quickly and the world is thrusting swiftly, we need no soothsayer to tell us the future is technology, and whatever or whoever desires to live to fulfilment of this age must embrace technology. This is the reason proactive leaders with foresight have ditched traditional education systems for a dynamic, innovative and collaborative system – blended learning – that prepares and equips the younger generation for the future.

Nigeria, a country that has over fifty percent of its population as youths must realize the future – which is here – of the nation is hundred percent the youths. Countries are already setting example in this regard:UAE, Kuwait, and Taiwan are leading the park in the engagement of technology in the classroom. Finland has shown the world that the traditional education system is not only obsolete but also ineffective for today’s world. This has been further established by their higher ratings ahead of United States of America. In 2009 according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, they ranked sixth in Maths, second in Science and third in Reading while U.S. students ranked 30th, 23rd and 17th, respectively, of the 65 tested countries.

And in the United Arab Emirates for instance, there are facilities for students to sign up to specialized online class forums with video capacity, allowing them to team up on ideas and discuss self – study projects remotely. Students can also connect with tutors face-to-face at allocated times using these facilities. Thus, their students graduate as highly-skilled workers adaptable to new and evolving technologies.

For the 21st century education to be successful, we must engender what Mark Nicholas highlighted as imperatives in his book, ‘Teaching for Learning’: increase in the capacity of learning institutions to cater for more students cum the ability to cater for them effectively; adaptation of  knowledge imparted to the realities of life; removal of hindrances in accessing knowledge, and flexible learning styles to accommodate peculiarities of the students; a competitive mind-set in the education sector that creates alternative choices and more convenience for the students – students should determine what, when, where and how they learn; and finally, personal touch – interaction among the students and between individual tutor and student.

Again, it is imperative to note that care must be taken in the adaptation of these principles in Nigeria. There is often a tendency for the bastardization and crippling of policies and systems that are successful in other climes when copied and pasted without proper adaptation. A case in point is the implementation of continuous assessment in Nigerian institutions of learning. Though not a bad idea, it was soon reduced to mid semester tests, and the whole gamut of the learning process coalesced into the passing of examination rather than the acquisition of life skills and labour demanding competencies to lead a successful life in a competitive global free economy.

Nonetheless, neither the adaptation of these global best practices nor the imperatives for 21st century education is negotiable, if Nigeria desires to be relevant in the global economy by 2020 and if we are to command any respect in the fierce competitive knowledge economy, our education policy should as a matter of urgency be reviewed to incorporate this blissful marriage of education and technology.

Daniel Iyanda is a content manager at Brainstormr, an Education and Technology Company.

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The Mockery Of Nzeribe: When Old Age Became An Epidemic By Solomon Okocha

Over the years, I have noticed an immoral, unhealthy and insensible public display of utter disdain and disrespect for the elderly by not a few Nigerians. This emerging negative trend is not only an un-African way of life, but it is also a strong sign of cultural devolution. Africans are not an insensitive lot; there are certain things that must be kept sacred as long as life endures.
As much as I know, the African tradition is deeply coated with thick layers of reverence for the aged. Usually, the eldest man or woman, as the case may be, remains the head of a family, tribe or kingdom until his or her death. In fact, the number of old persons who live within a given community, is often used as a native yardstick to determine how healthy or spiritually sound the people are.
Lately, the media has been agog with the picture of a frail-looking and wheelchair-ridden multi-millionaire investment mogul and Nigerian politician – Francis Arthur Nzeribe. Unfortunately but expectedly, the verbal outbursts that accompanied such a touching sight were heavily laden with disgust, contempt and mockery. The height of it all was when a lady who many identified as Arthur Nzeribe’s grand-daughter joined the sordid show of shame. If words were bullets, then perhaps the remaining years of life would have been snuffed out of the septuagenarian.
The ugliness and unprintable nature of the viral remarks poured on Nzeribe via the social media prompted a swift reaction from the stable of the erstwhile strongman of Nigerian politics. In a strong-worded press release issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Collins Ughalaa, Nzeribe frowned severely at the hateful insults which were heaped upon his head simply because of old age:
“The attention of Chief Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe has been drawn to the hateful speeches going on against him in the media, especially the social media, including the unfounded rumour that he has a stroke… I thank God for keeping me healthy and allowing me see old age. Life and death are in God’s hands, and God willing I will remain hale and hearty and not suffer a stroke until such a time when God calls me home. And no amount of hateful speech can change or alter God’s plans for me or anyone else… and for those manufacturing and spreading this hateful speech against me, I wish them the best. God has deemed it fit for me to see old age in good health, and there is nothing more to ask from God”, Nzeribe stated.
Old age is not a disease, but a cross which we must all bear in due time. Our goodness or badness has absolutely nothing to do with it; it is as certain as the sun that we shall all get old and die! Nzeribe’s controversial political history cannot be equated to the barrage of unguarded utterances spewed by shallow-minded people who view old age as an epidemic. Perhaps, it is only a reflection of our fast decaying moral fabric as a people, or the severe consequence of cultural devolution in Nigeria.
– Solomon Okocha
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Of Protest Merchants, And Genuinely Concerned Nigerians, By Johannes Wojuola

Fairly, it is in the lawful and democratic right of every Nigerian to express themselves through peaceful protests and lawful assemblies. Mr Deji Adeyanju, the convener of the Concerned Nigerians group, currently hosting the #ResignOrReturn protests and his crowd are exercising this right. That should never be an issue.
But the question that should be of issue is to what extent and what intent does this protest by a politician want to achieve? To push a political interest in the masqueraded façade of being Concerned Nigerians?
That is simple uncharitable and pulling wool over the eyes of genuinely concerned Nigerians in the name of activism.
First: who is this Deji, the politician cum activist? He is the former Director of New Media of the PDP. He was a hireling of the then Jonathan administration – an administration that supervised perhaps the most destructive heist and looting known to this country; and endorsed hate and divisive speeches during their campaigns. Is this the same Deji that has become a concerned Nigerian? An activist?
Where was his conscience when the country was being plundered by the likes of Mrs Diezani, Col Dasuki, Air Vice Marshal Badeh, Air Vice Marshal Amosun, FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, and their ilk, and torn apart by the hate messages of Governor Fayose and Femi Fani-Kayode?
Perhaps he was a beneficiary of the plundering, hence his blind eye then.
No one needs a soothsayer to tell that this protest is sponsored by and for politicians. The intent is simple: create an issue out of non-issues.
Let us be clear: this is not a protest of concerned Nigerians as it is being made to look like. It is a proxy protest of some politicians who have lost their link to looting our resources. First and foremost.
Concerned Nigerians are those who are asking the genuine and fundamental questions. Is there a vacuum in government? Is there a Late Yar’adua scenario, where the Vice President was unable to take decisions, and act for the government, as an Acting President? Is there anything not working due to the absence of the President on medical leave? Is the Buhari administration failing to fulfill its promises? And the answer to all these questions is a resounding NO.
It is well-known that President Buhari left the country on a medical leave. He was sick – like any human – and proceeded for treatment. It is incontrovertible that he is recuperating. His wife, the Acting President and several Governors paid him visits and confirmed this. The President would be returning soon to resume work, as soon as his doctors give him the go-ahead.
Importantly, he cured the longstanding political deficiency of President’s leaving the country without passing power to their vice, borne from the water of power thirstiness experienced in previous times. Before he left for his medical vacation, he gave official notice to the Senate – as constitutionally mandated. He consequently handed over power to his Vice, who as Acting President has proved to be the best team-mate a President could ever wish for.
If any constitutional issue could have arisen arise from the President’s medical leave, it may be have been that of the question of permanent incapacity – and we are a world apart from that happening.
The President is not permanently incapacitated. He was sick – and he told Nigerians this, even citing that he had to have a blood transfusion during his first treatment – and now he is recuperating. Soon he would return to resume work.
It is important to highlight that the only person that can make the decision to resign is the President himself. It is his exclusive right, and he may exercise it if he feels he cannot go further on the journey.
No deceitful congregation of a masked political group in the pseudonym of ‘Concerned Nigerians’ can harass, threaten, force, or cajole the President to resign.
Again, it is in their lawful right to peaceful assembly and protest. But they must not deceive Nigerians with the falsehood that they mean well.
Johannes Wojuola
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