Yahaya Bello: Not Entirely Good, Not Entirely Bad By Isa Mubarak

After all is said and done, the biggest political blunder we the people of Kogi state can possibly do is voting Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) out in 2019. Our Pioneers were not so intelligent, the first political blunder was during the creation of Kogi,and when the creation of LGs came. They committed a blunder we’re suffering from today, let’s not repeat another blunder because we are simply angry. I’m not his fan, and i don’t agree with some of his methods of getting things done, but i like to look at things from different perspectives not by always condemning.
The great Genghis Khan said “Nothing is ever good until it is finished”, and “no one is entirely bad or entirely good”. I can understand the bitterness but let it not cloud our better judgment. We keep comparing 21years of misrule to barely 1yr+ of GYB.
He’s done so many errors and all, but looking at the bright side of things, and from a critical and logical perspective. We’d be better off as a people if he wins in 2019. Not like the previous governments did any much better than him right?
Previous governments in this state marginalized Kogi Central and Kogi West for so damn long, appointments were lopsided, Kogi East dominated the civil service (had the most ghost workers), even Kogi West were more of a 2nd class citizens, while Central are the 3rd class. Workers were owed salary alternatively, sometimes only paid 10% of their salary monthly, or didn’t Kogi State University usually go on 3months  strike every single year prior to his coming? But we seem to overstate GYB’s flaws, I’m not justifying it either, but we seem to forget too easily. And this is just a mild reminder that the previous government was in no way better.
During Wada’s tenure, nothing was done in Ebira land of any SIGNIFICANCE, same with the people before him. They did all they can to suppress us (Kogi Central and Kogi West) politically and in everything. Encouraged thuggery in our lands, we killed each other for no good reason, they gave us the tools we need to destroy ourselves. And did NOTHING to end the fight. Now, GYB is totally intolerant of any security lapses, he will bring security agencies to ‘quench’ every little thing, and we are living peacefully.
Was it not in Kogi that political leaders agreed ‘power rotation’ to Okun and Ebiras but failed to yield for 16years, or where almost all the Tertiary Institutions are in one particular part of the state, because there’s no space in other parts right? Or take a good look at Kogi Civil service, where one group grossly dominated with ghost workers. But we can all deceive ourselves all we want that the previous governments were much better. How convenient it is to use “Tribalism” only when it suits our narrative.
GYB might have messed up with the screening, which is the root of all the problems in his administration but he’s setting things right this time around, above all treating the three senatorial districts equally, he’s unbiased, not tribalistic, his appointments reached all sections, Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja is Igala (No Ebira man has held that position, to my recollection). Road construction everywhere, we can all agree he’s not partial, yeah? To me, this is the kind of leadership we should crave, one devoid of lopsidedness, tribal sentiments, insincerity, the screening was a necessary evil, as Kogi Civil service was immensely infested irregularities. However, workers shouldn’t have been the ones to bear the brunt of the screening by not being paid for such a long time.
In reality, if he does want to come back for a 2nd term, it is imperative he does right by the workers. Kogi is a civil service state, offending the workers is like offending the whole populace, and that’s not a good thing. Workers welfare should’ve been his utmost priorities regardless of whatever reforms he’s doing. It’s in his best interest to apologize, please, and pay the workers promptly with no delays.
So basically, we can dislke him all we want, but in 2019 we before we cast our votes, we should ponder on the bigger picture of what he has done/he’s doing, because removing him, will be our BIGGEST mistake. We need him to rectify the gross Injustice done to the Good people of Kogi State.
By: Isa Eneye Mubarak
isamubarak66@yahoo.com

Russian Roulettes Restructuring By Jim Bickersteth

On a bumpy flight this wet June morning,I found myself in the middle of a thick bank of storm clouds and rainbow in the horizon.The sky from the airconditioned cabin of the Falcon, was clear and the cloud with its arrays of shapes was beautifully blue.
There is nothing like the beauties of nature to help get things into perspective. The ease in the movement of the plane’s wings contrasting with that of the ever changing clouds and its countless formations, declaring the glory of the divine,physics and science,reminds one that, no matter how bad things are,you leave everything behind on the shore at your point of departure.
At an altitude of about 10000 feet one could see below a view of haphazard layouts of the streets forming a labyrinth of a nation’s dying future fading into the horizon and the same cold gray as the Atlantic.
It shows how much the nation’s has since independence let down its guards and screened out almost everything germane to its progress, oneness and unity and instead placed on offer everything that is a forbidden depiction of experience of normal human beings.

In the face of a heavy, violent raging storms of underdevelopment, poverty and lack, the nation’s political leaders have projected politics and governance as a theory reducing natural selection,that living things develop,survive and die but according to their ability to adapt themselves to there environment.

Let us reason together, since,only animals don’t think about right and wrong,why,because,they exist in the anarchical state of nature:survival of the fittest. Animals often treat each other with no respect and they have no redress. But as humans we tend to react when pushed to the walls and the limits of endurance.
In our nation today,like it or not,a storm is about, brewing in a cauldron and in a sudden violent display of strong feelings backed up by endless flow of hate speech and condescending disrespect to joint-heirs of the federation’s Commonwealth. Teasing is one thing,threats of violence are quite another.
The noises, agitation, indifference and eternal complaints appear to paint the picture of a nation in distress and at a crossroad of monumental confusion. This and the nation’s present economic recession and depression certainly are not things that go bump in the night, what, with one thing and another, problems and distracting events.
One should hasten to add that,while not launching into polemics, government in all this has to be all things to all,and must apply the human intervention in the nation’s clueless cruise in the middle of nowhere.
Anxious Nigerians and the world at large can see the storm clouds, of heavy bashing, upbraiding,group roasting,shellacking, filled with cordite aimed at the nation’s corporate existence, togetherness, identity,and,hence,soiling the importance of her corporate hospitality.
Amidst these calls,are strident cries of:marginalisation,crisis of confidence, mistrust, large scale and pervasive corruption, maladministration and general mismanagements. To compound the mess and filth all around,there are some elements within that are singing war songs in discordant tunes and promoting ethnically induced emotions, trying to pitch the Igbos against the Yorubas and the Hausawas against the Igbos and with rude words not used in polite societies.
At this point a line dropped into my mind, can’t remember offhand the author, but there it is…”While no one lives his life more fully, more intensely and more consciously than the man who is calm.”
There are three types of calmness in the nation,the Sphinx, petrification and fatalist and amidst the persistent and growing unease and depression.
The types of calmness that has engulfed our nation,in the face of mounting crisis of confidence,misplaced trust, corruption, intimidating maladministration and outright mismanagement, indeed, are not the right and true types of calmness.
The Sphinx, petrification and fatalist calmness to which majority of Nigerians including the vast number of “siddon looks”,the leading agitators and combatants have subjected themselves has portrayed all as mere cowards slaves of the environment, hopelessly, surrendering to the present conditions, and even, recklessly indifferent to the future.
This being the case, encouraging Nigerians to further accept life as a rudderless ship, drifting on the oceans of time, with no compass,no charts, no known ports to which they are sailing,should be seen as drawing inspiration and motivations from a similarly failed bid of fifty years ago, thus, consequently,creating a switchback journey and a sordid gap between what is-and what can be.
In a curious twist of fate,this has been responsible for the bottled up emotions now seeking an escape. But we must not forget that life is not about oneself and what one wants but about others.
It is indeed sad and unfortunate, that the ever intractable problems of human greed,innately dishonest, constant and ever recurring call for true fiscal federalism in the polity and lately restructuring, of course,presupposes that the fifty odd years old wounds inflicted on the nation by tribalism, mistrust, ethnic chauvinists,tribal jingoist and other fissiparous tendencies,and indeed,conflicts and frictions that have still to be resolved, and that has characterized the pre-1966 era were still with us.
The nation’s failure to treat the issues of political,social and economic equality as a de rigueur derivative matters of principle of state and not mere political decision has no doubt crippled our feelings for one another, damaged our moral sense and its presently trying to destroy our souls.
If I were to hazard a guess here,I’ll say,trying to curb,halt or control it by the chants of war,would only amount to nothing but throwing a kiss at a revolving door. It is in our minds and hearts that the real battle must be fought and not towing the baseline set by ethnic chauvinists.
In the face of all this,the nation needs a crow’s-nest to be able to see a long way and avert disaster, now that it is stuck three sixty degree apart in stagnant waters. How do I mean? Nigerians of whatever extraction are casualty of our new and modern world,and are largely victims of circumstances, living lives blighted by privations and abuses that has dreams shattered and destinies truncated, even, as poverty, recession and depression have conspired against the people in troubled times.
The passengers felt a violent bump as the plane landed to the warm embrace of the richly macadamised tarmac and impeccably and nicely turned out ground staff.
On the ride from the Port Harcourt airport to the town, one could see a dirty,lonely and dark street in this crude oil city. Tenement houses,attractive when they were first erected,but now they were past their prime. Looking as dejected as a man with a shrinking income. Paints work at its last gasp. I fought back another yawn, I know I do that when I’m touched. What have we done with the petrodollars.
As all this was going on and trying hard to locate and posit where it all began, from the deep recess of my mind, there came upon me some revulsion, as cars whistled and rattled by one after the other as shops,well dressed attracted women and men had faded,all now a glittering rhinestone set in a dinghy setting.
Here- grime and incessant crowds – moving, hurrying-jostling. Busy ants running industriously about there ant-hill in a retrograde, getting worse, returning to a less good condition in a nation reduced to a state of ruin through ruination of the country side. The priority for us as a nation and a people is to salvage the ruins and not allow what we can’t do interfere with what we can do,even as we refuse to move forward looking backward.
What is the way out? People! Incessant people! all chattered and fussed,of a depressing uniformity. Looking round the polity, the incessant atmosphere, with the frank curiosity of a child, you find a nation peopled by men and women that know only their own desires and that were as yet unaware of pity.It is very terrible, yes-very terribly sad.
It is right to say that,there has been tremendous damage done to the nation’s body politics, its bones and marrows. The whole country is in recession and a season of economic decline, with reduced trade and industrial activity and many people unemployed and  totally subjugated to the wishes, whims and caprices of the political elites, are ample evidence of the rut,rot in the system.  Yes! The recession has had an enormous impact on all, as all have become poor, bereft of ideas,morally bankrupt, dishonest and experiencing widespread deprivation caused by unemployment.
Nigerians have been busy running their lives and personal affairs(any(which)way);that they have not time to go into the pros and cons of these questions, agitations and clamours pros and cons,otherwise, the nation would have been on fire. Do we then call recession a blessing.
All across the country there is so much destruction through morally reprehensible heist,massive grafts,bribery, corruption all of which has resulted into cries of neglect, marginalisation, and clamour for self independence, resource control, and a renewed call of “…to your tents,O!”
All have in deed, grown resentful, puzzled and suspicious of one another,and our government rather than act rightly and in loco parentis, sponsored the nation with its ruinous expenditures.
The people are growing palpably upset and startled and worried about the continual state of dithering in the nation.
The politicians must stand up to be counted as the nation now know that the political elites own wants are very simple. The political elites should know and note that the people are growing weary and restless and that there is a certain kind of meekness of submission- brings out the worst in a man. A word here is enough.
Meanwhile, the nation continues tumbling and in economic decline not knowing when it will blossom. The ongoing disintegration becoming pathetic by the minute, as some are clamouring for its political disintegration and restructuring, its political elites, bona fide and de facto leadership continuein their mesmeric rhythm to dilly dally as they keep mass mesmerizing the people even as the people are kept permanently pauperised.
The people live and pay for darkness,business barely get six hours of electricity, companies spend an average 20% of their revenue to generate power,the unemployment rate so high,could not generate PAYE, the nation’s inflation rate continues to soar. Take home pay can no longer take workers home, they are on the top of the train in Lagos state. No potable water in most part of the country,but we can farm and pipe crude oil from the Creek thousands of kilometres to the North,but could not pipe good and drinkable water for a few kilometres. The taste of water I had was laden with the taste of petrol and diesel.
With the foregoing as a background, the institutions and the will needed to decisively win the battles against the nation’s oneness,unity and progress are lacking and the corresponding political will absent and the battles becoming polemised.
It is as clear as daylight that the years of neglect, decay,decadence, negligence and what have you, almost made sure there would likely remained no trace of flesh or marrow in the nation’s till,and the bones themselves are in such lamentable conditions, decalcified-soft and badly eroded. It left a problem,and, to see the truth about the nation’s problems is like trying to see inside one’s own eyeballs.
Time is at a premium the  presidency and the sequestered Senate has been caught in the web of presumptions and not looking inwards and are bound to suffer distractions of a kind that will require both to let the nation be controlled by the antics inherent in the present ideological engineering and laying the basis for a true fiscal federalism,and must learn to steer this course, irrespective of the distraction and contraption weaved or contrived to put the notion of one indivisibleand indissoluble Nigeria off balance. This is the time to set a new agenda for Nigeria.
It must be noted however that
I.) the disputed events and requests of 1967 still constitute a vexed question among those seriously affected by it,and still tend to divide Nigerians into such inexact camps as pro-revolution  and anti-revolution,whatever the notions, it can be said here that no “revolution”,in the sense of drastic changes in social systems and values resulted directly from that internal war of attrition.
ii.)stemming from i, is another question arising from the clamour for a united Biafra to assert the autonomy and desire of the ethnic minorities in Eastern Nigeria to remain within united Nigeria where they would be able to realize their legitimate aspirations rather than stay in Biafra where their land would be regarded as a natural lebenstrau by the much more numerous Igbo’s whose treatments of the minorities in the past had left much to be desired, and thus,presented a complex setting for any actualisation of a Biafra republic.
iii.)the Ahiara declaration which sought to raised the issues of Biafra to an ideological level of a socialist Biafra struggling against a neo-colonial capitalist Nigeria, can now no longer hold water in the senselessness of war and story of human drama of immense proportion-All of us must exhibit that critical sense of self-examination,if we must avoid tragedies of untold propoportion.
iv.)we must not be clouded by emotionalism arising from perceived injuries and injustices in the pursuit of any agenda contrary to the progress,oneness and unity of the republic,but,must with sober reflection and the gift of hindsight, discern the several missed opportunities in the protracted process of nation-building since independence.
However, the government must consider the nexus of the arguments of the pro-Biafra calls -willingness on the part of the federating force to federate:
i.) Meeting the basic needs of the people, food, clothing, shelter.
ii.) The rich economic potential to be exploited for the general interest of Nigerians.
iii.)with depleted foreign reserves,falling oil prices,leakages,mounting debts,and a nation that is insolvent and brought to its knees by large scale looting, insurgency, sectarian violence, violent agitation by militants, Nigeria can hardly withstand a political landscape marred by any hostile clamour for self independence.
The pursuit of any agenda contrary to the principles of the republic, their rights and sovereign status must be forestalled not for propaganda nor motivations by any primordial instincts and solidarity.  Napoleonic and other war reminds one of the dangers in soldiers fighting or marching with empty stomachs, who cannot match and or withstand the foxtrot dance: slow,slow,quick, quick, slow macabre of war.
Nigeria is what God, nature and Lord Lugard has put together, and any expectations that Nigeria would tear itself asunder from internal disaffections and disagreement may not materialise. Wherever our reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts have failed, there the nation should revisit. It’s never always too late for leaders and peoples to make a fresh start.
To the egocentric so-called leaders in the Biafra enclave, applause with fame and prominence is not eminence. The man of the hour isn’t apt to be the man of the ages. Its the seemingly unimportant, unhonoured and ordinary people who want to live longer and enjoy better health that determine the course of history.
The war-mongers and secession lords are like a people with a thimble-worth of capacity standing on the edge of a vast ocean, who have access to a lot of water but won’t get much of it because the capacity is so small and negligible.
Yes, there are times when silence is not golden, when we have to speak up against injustices and inequality, but when it is a retaliatory means of expressing anger,the ensuing emotional manipulation can be deadly. We can seize the initiative when we address injustices or wrongs,but not by sulking and pouting, but by effective communication, to draw the attention of our leaders to the plights and not resort to threat of secession or war,or trying to make undesirable decisions by default.
Those who look only to the present are certain to miss the future. Those spoiling for war and secession are all in cloud-cuckooland. The government may not leave such unchallenged. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. The claims of Biafra as a political proposition and as a mass movement striving for security, safety and independence is merely a bargaining tool,as such pendatic dialectics and claims could no longer hold water in a new Nigeria, where the notion of “drift a little apart” has been defeated and is now an aberration that can not withstand the crucible of the fire of rational reasoning.
The continued agitation for self independence and or recession for whatever it is worth, and assuming a new character and display of bellicose nature, is an act of defiance and treasonable felony. So,the actors should have the courage of their convictions and marshall any reservations about the things that make them perpetually uneasy to the National Assembly, but with no threats.
The National Assembly on its part must note with courage,honesty aand emphasis that the agitations for self-independence is a tragic event in Nigeria’s development and evolution as a multi-nation state,and must demonstrate its quality and resourcefulness of its intellect in sorting the problems raised by the ” National Question “.
The National Assembly must be decisive with our worries without heightening the nation’s pulse and anxieties over fears that have refused to be turned into reality and may not,because our worst fears never happen and in our case,this Biafra and Igbo cause(s),so to speak may never materialise,because,they are mere miseries that are in anticipation, and mere recurring preoccupation that has over time become obsessions,whose outside were conflicts inside were fears.
In view of the unresolved national questions, and
especially now, that the feeling of charged air,the impression of molecules dancing through the atmosphere ready to come together and explode, and with the ominous signs in the air that things are not OK, in spite of the perfidious pretences all around, the presidency and the national Assembly must note the
hor’s de combat to the people’s aspirations, ambitions and the destinations they would want the nation reach in no time, even as the nation
a.)go to a greater depth at
proffering solutions and to increase the welfare and happiness of the people.
b.)to throw open the doors of all that is making the nation uncomfortable, and
c.)the government must back a new set of economic and social measures, prominent among which must be measures to fight poverty, to counter unemployment with work and to provide a social safety net.
At times like this, the doors of solution should be thrown open wider to accommodate all-comers;divergent in mathematics makes a series increase without limit as more of its terms are added,the government must beat the campaigns and agitations in their own strategies and tactics.
In the door opened for divergent, the nation would discover numerous other insurgents and motives and combating them should not be turned into breaking ice in a stream.
The president in an interface between his person, his office and the Nigeria State take a holistic view, of the state of affairs that has been further compounded by the widespread poverty, illiteracy, political apathy and the destruction of the moral authority of the ruling elite, and, ipso facto, the negative intrusion of multinationalism.
The government must note that:
i.)winning the battle against Boko Haram,and suppressing the Niger Delta Avengers and other agitations is not the same as conquering the wars posed by the national questions;and
ii.)the inherent incompatibility and chauvinist tendencies-
peculiarities that are by their very nature require much more wisdom,patience,a huge political will and panache.
In the search for solutions,proposals and answers to the national questions,we must note that,to date,very little has changed in the structure and character of political relations, phenomenal scope and intensity in the nation since the 1900s, where:
i.)people have been alienated from decision-making process
ii.)a nation lacking fiscal federalism where states don’t have a say in the management of the Commonwealth,how it is mined, marketed or how the goose lays the golden egg save what is appropriated,
and
iii.) oversimplifying the Nigerian and self-interest of a ruling oligarch and other psychological factors-rather than the rational calculations of the complex interests of the larger population. In this context, interest is defined as no more than the self interest of the ruling elite at any given time, in an immensely pluralistic and complex country.
Since the 1900s Nigerians corporate existence has always been against the backcloth of conditions and images which ordinarily are mutually exclusive. At the level of domestic politics,the nation has witnessed itself drift and catastrophically for that matter, in the direction of anarchy,but was able to paper the cracks, but at a greater cost both materially and humanly, therefore,our better judgement should have suggested that the effective solution to this and the myriads of problems confronting the nation lay in persuasion, dialogue and a negotiated peace.
The people will keep asking questions, questions of nationality as long as politics and religion and resources would be with us. These include but not limited to ethnicity, nepotism, bitter political partisanship, intolerance, bigotry. These forces have in their various combinations,undermined any potential for evolution of a common will and the kind of society- which the nation’s abundant resources could have afforded.
In the negotiations that are bound to follow to forestalling social collapse and for truce and true peace
to come back into the system all the parties including the national leadership must not be encumbered and or immobilized by forces which either are unwilling or unable to control.
But to give a thorough and a good assessment of our situation with a view to addressing our nation’s problems in a positive way. If you dam the stream of natural behavior, sooner or later the dam bursts and a cataclysm occurs, as artificial conditions bring about their natural reaction. Of course, the most important objective would be the rehabilitation of an economy which has been assaulted by corruption and madness of fellow countrymen.
In a normative sense,the nation has to find a permanent solution to problems which lay at the core of the fractiousness of the Nigerian state, to do nothing will be the greatest of all national mistake second only to that of 1914,to do nothing about the national questions,( fear of ethnic and religious domination, deprivation, inequitable and unfair distribution of economic and political power and government patronage by any individuals and groups arising from their historical location in the political system)because you can only do a little, amount to a disservice to the nation, therefore, we must do what we must, do what we can to the logic of the philosophy of equality.
The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. Not just look at what is,that is why the nation may never attain what could be. The Nation, nay,its leaders should not lack the primordial instincts and impetus to note that the teeming mass of marginalised young people growing up in deprived neighborhoods, lacking a future and growing up under the tutelage of depraved local leaders must be protected from being used as battering rams. While the use of coercion,(advisedly), the use of legitimate apparatus of state violence, buffet of deceit, anarchy must be curtailed.
The government must aim at finding common ground and recreating confidence in the ability of the Nigeria state to guarantee a safe environment for all to achieve their goals. It will be a grand betrayal to the cause of liberation of our good people and good governance, if the nation can’t restore our dignity and continue to divide ranks, subjugate our kith and kin in servitude and degradation.
The nation’s rules and institutions must not be manipulated to suit the disposition of leaders and the ruling elites, and no icy silence must overshadow the unresolved frustration, rather, the leaders must adapt themselves to the realities of the frailties, disposition and the dispensation on ground.
To all the burlesques actors  in the ND,MASSOB,IPOB,BH front, in their bumbling amateurism should note that, if you seek cheap popularity, you will obsess over every conflict. Deep within is a desire to run our own lives,and in some cases other peoples lives too,that we become experts at manipulating one another.
This desires for control brings about different attitudes and behaviours which we must all avoid for peace to reign. Emotional blackmail, the guilt trip and humiliation and manipulation is a game any number can play, but those who engage in it pay a high price in conflict, hostility and resentment.
Men of intellect and wisdom could harbour no prejudices, must dislike injustice,militarism, militancy and war. The nation cannot accept the Burkean idea of change and preservation as a credo of political life,therefore, must be inspired by the highest of motives and by such higher ideals as patriotism and nationalism and must be repulsed by the wanton and senseless waste of human lives in the pursuit of politics by other means.
It is of interest to all that our national troubles can be likened to an illustration of a four steel rings,the first can support eighty grams,the second sixty grams,the third fifty grams and the fourth twenty grams, linked together you will think the greatest weight the chain can support would be eighty grams. But no,a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,so the answer is twenty grams.
It is the same with the nation, its only as strong as our weakest area. Likewise the resolve to do what is right is most likely to break in the area in which it is most vulnerable. In the spirit of change, the nation needs visionary leaders with vision that bring optimism, hope and goodness.
The nation must also be opened to the idea of a different dimension,-psychics call it a fourth dimension. The nation has in its march of nationhood tried everything but the idea of a different dimension and energy channel, that, places us one step above man’s everyday level of functioning.
It consists of pure thought and feeling, open-minded,not weighted down by the physical world, with a believe in a world of possibility, while the people see drifting leaves leaders should see life.
The National Assembly must make leaders of our youths by orientation not perverts. The political elite must strive to make our reality, it may be what the nation wants or need. Getting stuck isn’t always an option, but staying stuck is! The best thing is,no matter how long you’ve been stuck, the right attitude can get you moving. The nation only need to get good direction, focus, energy and confidence.
The nation is expected to cover every inch of blade of grass to ameliorate the conditions of Nigerians whose whole lives have been constant battle against poverty. This falling giant of a nation must be helped to rediscover its mojo. Nigerians expect things to move efficiently and quickly and in the way we want, when that doesn’t happen, we tend to become paranoid, irritable and frustrated.#Jimi Bickersteth
Jimi Bickersteth is a super blogger and writer.
He can be reached on Twitter
@alabaemanuel
@bickerstethjimi
@akannibickersteth

Dissecting Pastor Tunde Bakare’s Press Conference Titled ‘The Birth Pangs Of A New Nigeria’ By Lady Aite- Ehiemua

On Monday the 18th of June, 2017 most major newspapers were agog with the said press conference granted the press by Pastor Tunde Bakare.

The pastor had blamed the current political scenario as an aftermath on the choice of an elderly President. He made comparison with France’s President Emmanuel Macron stressing that it was indicative of a global paradigm shift. Not done, he wondered why Nigeria which once produced a 30 year old leader in the person of Yakubu Gowon would now go for people in their 60s and 70s.

Pastor Tunde Bakare went further to state that the leadership vacuum often allowed the likes of Adonijah and Absalom In biblical mythology who overthrew their father for inordinate ambition, as nature does not allow for vacuum.

Pastor Tunde Bakare enthused that if President Buhari is ‘very healthy’ then there would be no room for the likes of Absolom and Alutoped to exercise their ambition.

The water however sees the press conference as double-speak after all, it was the same Tunde Bakare who volunteered to be a vice-president to this same President in 2011 presidential election . so blaming the current political quagmire (if any) on the choice of an elderly president is totally uncalled for as we know assuredly that this president Buhari has done more than his predecessors going by the socio-political and economic state of the country at the time he assumed office, governance has not stopped .

The government is focused, trying hard to do away with the old order of things that gave room to unprecedented corruption in the nation’s political history. So how has age affected the performance of the president after all, America (the mother of all democracy) has recently elected a man who President Muhammadu Buhari is 3 years older.

It was same Buhari before Bakare, that globed trotted countries in his first year simply to re-write his country’s battered image tha Nigeria and Nigerian’s were treated as epileptic people.

Today it is paying off. Think for example, Morocco’s bilateral agreement with Nigeria on fertilizer importation which will lead Nigeria to be its greatest exporter in the West Africa sub region many more benefits abound. Today, Nigeria is test running on how to export yams to the US and UK. This is a product of a 74 year old man’s vision when he took up the gauntlet to diversify the economy as a promise of his electioneering campaign promise.

Secondly, the analogy of Pastor Tunde Bakare of  Absalom and alutophel which the preacher say can be avoided if ‘the president is very healthy and able to discharge his duties’ I dare say, there is no vacuum, there is no guarantee that any president is immune to sickness. So the adjective ‘very healty’ as Bakare was quoted in punch’s Newspaper on page 12 as the only condition to avoid the uprising of Absalom and Alutopel (the military) is in bad taste.

In any case, there is no vacuum; the president has transmitted powers to his vice, now Nigeria’s acting President, so no vacuum at all.

We thought the military has laid to rest the controversy of possible military takeover where they all re-affirmed their total loyalty to the C IN C.

Finally, the writer would like to observe that President Muhammadu Buhari from the days of his electioneering campaigns moving from one state to another up till now has not shown himself as a weak feeble president, Hence a quiet and peaceful nation except for the recent clamor by some ethnic bigots for the succession of the country.

All Nigerians hands must be on deck as we ask for Pasto Tunde Bakare to pray for Buhari as says in the bible so that there indeed will be a new Nigeria where issues of inequality and injustice will all be redressed for a greater Nigeria.

Lady Aite- Ehiemua is a public affairs analyst

ehiemuagao@gmail.com

2017 Budget Series: In Defence Of Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo By Abdulmumin Jibrin

The Ag President made what, in my opinion, was a harmless remark when he observed that the National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects in the budget. In the same statement, however, he admitted the powers of NASS to allocate resources as that is its core powers of appropriation. I consider his statement very objective. His tone wasn’t confrontational, neither was his body language. Ag President Osinbajo had a day earlier signed the 2017 budget noting that there were grey areas, especially funds lifted from key projects, to introduce new projects by NASS. 
 
He further stated that he agreed to sign the budget after the assurance of commitment from NASS to restore the lifted funds. That demonstration of faith in NASS was unprecedented, and the most generous concession in budget negotiation by a President since 1999. No any President has ever agreed to sign the budget into law on the basis of extracting commitment from NASS to attend to outstanding issues after the budget is signed into law, the reasons being: 
 
I. Once the budget is signed into law, the President MUST implement it, whether NASS makes the correction or not. 
 
II. There are only two ways to achieve such corrections: supplementary budget or Virement, both of which are as good as going through the entire budget process all over again, and will require the Executive to go the full length of lobbying and massaging the ego of NASS, a process they detest so much. 
 
III. The unpredictable nature of the relationship between the Legislature and the Executive, as the state of such relationship at a particular time determines how friendly and expeditiously NASS attends to requests from the Executive. This is not peculiar to Nigeria. A national daily reported today that Osinbajo’s comment threaten Executive, NASS Virement deal but how could such a harmless statement create an uproar of such magnitude. Already an unhealthy prevailing circumstances is being created that will make the process tough and place few people in NASS to negotiate some selfish interest only beneficial to themselves. That has been the name of the game. The NASS should know that how it handles this historic concession granted it by the Executive under the guide of Ag President Osinbajo will determine the approach of the Executive Arm in future budget negotiation.
 
So, the only other way to make corrections in the budget, which is not applicable in this situation, is through corrigendum – a power vested in NASS to make minor corrections to the budget. There are instances where corrigendum has been used to commit budget fraud. I will discuss that and give you such instances in subsequent episodes of this series. 
 
Recall that in 2016, President Buhari returned the budget to NASS on two occasions, to ensure that all the grey areas are resolved before he appended his signature. All the grey areas were resolved, and corrections too effected. In fact, this was done with an unusual tact and dutifully, out of understandable reverence, and yes FEAR, of President Buhari.  
 
In this case of Ag President Osinbajo, perhaps beyond the respect he enjoins, he must strive to also be feared, through resistance to compromising settlements in his relationship with NASS. The reason isn’t far-fetched: all attempts to flatter and hoodwink President Buhari into signing the 2016 budget, by assuring to make corrections later, met an impenetrable brick wall. He saw through the smokescreen, and thus even refused to be blackmailed by threats of possible backlash from NASS if the budget is not signed before corrections are made and also the need to save time.
 
On one occasion, the President said, “If we have waited for six months, we can as well wait for weeks for NASS to correct the grey areas before I sign.” That has been the pattern with successive presidents. No President was ready to take the risk with NASS but Osinbajo did, as it appeared like striking a deal with an untrustworthy partner. Whether this seeming pact is calculated or not, is left for time and the scrutiny of vigilant and critical Nigerians to determine. What is obvious, however, is: the Ag President has played into the hands of NASS. 
 
What the Ag President has given to NASS is a victory it has never had in the budget process since 1999, understandably to strengthen the relationship between the two frequently hostile arms of government. And so, he deserves a reciprocal gesture and unmistakable friendship from the lawmakers, not attacks and threats. This is my position.
 
In the next episodes of this series, which we intend to run for three months, we will do a recap of the 2016 budget fraud with new revelations of facts and key actors involved. We will talk about fraud in 2017 budget, how members of the Executive arm collaborate with NASS in this venture, new strategies to beat vigilant eyes, concealment, abnormality, reckless spending, budget revenue frame work, and 2 dollar extra benchmark.
 
Also to be addressed are N140 billion increment in budget size amidst dwindling revenues (the largest in recent years), poor economics, the “reformed” budget process, public hearing of budget, page by page consideration of details, corrigendum, the lies, facts and half-truths of budgeting, conspiracy of a few members of NASS in the budget process against majority of the 359 Members and 108 Senators and, very importantly, how to stop these infractions. We look forward to beneficial engagements, for a more transparent Nigeria.

Usman Bello Nasiru: The Unsung Philanthropist By Isyak Alex

The name Alhaji Usman Bello Nasiru rings a bell of uncommon valour in the ears of most youth elites in Kogi central senatorial district. Unlike the vogue of impacting lives and blaring it to the know of the world. ‘Bellon’ as he is fondly called, is a silent achiever cum philanthropist who has affected the lives of youths in great measures, despite having neither chaired a public office nor held a political position.
He was born on the 7th December, 1974 to the family of Amb Usman Bello in Okene-Eba, Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State. He had his Primary Education in Bayero University Staff Primary School in 1985, the same year he joined the Federal Government College Kano, and graduated in 1991. He was admitted into the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1992 to study Business Administration, and graduated in 1988.
Having projected himself as possessing great efficacy in the finances and administration, he got the nod of the then African International Bank in Kano, where he observed his mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) between 1999-2000. Pleased with the enticeable value he added to the African International Bank within one service year as a corps member, he joined the services of the then Bank of the North in 2000 as an officer, and rose to the position of supervisor in just two years.
While working with Bank of the North, yet poised to furnish himself with the professional essentials for growth in his choice career, he enrolled into Bayero University Kano, where he obtained a Master of Business Administration in 2003. Bello left Bank of the North in 2004, and joined the then Intercontinental Bank as an Assistant Banking Officer, serving in both Katsina and Gombe states. In 2005, he moved to Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB) as a Banking Officer, and rose to the position of Deputy Manager. During the period of his service with GTB, he equally went for further studies and obtained a Masters in Developmental Studies from Bayero University Kano, in 2007.
After 10 years of remarkable service with GTB, he joined the services of Access Bank as the Group Head (North) in charge of retail business till date. Alhaji Usman Bello Nasiru is a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management. Also in view, is the Chattered Institute of Banking in Nigeria (CIBN). With his present rank in the banking sector, he has created employment opportunities for youths across Kogi state, with not less than thirty (30) of them from the central, currently wielding a carrier in banking.
With a passionate enthusiasm for a philanthropic cause both within and outside the central senatorial district of Kogi state, he has for umpteenth times empowered youths and women in vocational trainings, and provided medical assistance to the challenged. Also currently under his scholarship are not less than 15 students drawn from across various levels of education.

Stand Right Even If You Stand Alone, By Umar Faruk Abubakar

When two elephants are fighting, is it not the grass that suffers the most? Undoubtedly, same applies to the struggle when you attempt to start a car without a battery. It is the key starter that suffers instead. Therefore, It certainly won’t work.

‘’Change has come’’ change is certain’’ Buhari, the ‘’chosen one and people’s choice had arrived after conceding three defeats (2003, 2007, 2011<). These were the common most used phrase by Nigerians when Buhari emerged as Nigeria’s democratic president for the first time in history. My question is; Can Buhari solely restore integrity and fight corruption to its maximum? Many would say yes, but he is yet to prove that anyway!

Gone were the days I stupidly use my own free time to criticize and disregards Buhari’s potentials and abilities to wipe out corruption, also in avoidance of all sorts of mediocre governance in the Nigerian system. Not only that, it happens to be at a time my friend’s father calmly shares those benjamins with whomever he gets to meet, and whenever you pay him a visit. Laughs in ajekunyi ya nuje, I was just being sarcastic there perhaps, does that rather still tells you I am still stupid enough to judge and conclude because of my personal interest? Well, that is my own cup of tea and for the critics of fighting corruption as a top agenda of his government, it remains undefeated and Nigerians need answers! This is even more infuriating walking around knowing you elected thieves to serve you.

It is halfway of the Buhari led administration and I ask myself; what have we achieved? Time is ticking and general elections are fast approaching; interestingly, it happens to be at a time Nigerians wake up to a sick commander in chief. ‘’Nigerians are so inpatient and desperate for change which cannot come overnight’’ referencing from a friend I usually discuss politics, and the state the Nigerian economy with. So I ask him; Is it too much to ask for at least 12 hours of electricity a day when Fashola, the Minister of darkness distribution promised 10,000 megawatts before the year 2020? I still can’t hear him responding to that.

One would rather have me killed or detained for speaking out the truth, but I assure you the Nigerian mentality in me is highly intensive, outrageous, and ready to battle pundits. More often, being a Nigerian is a blessing and peccable to be precise. Who else goes with the stealing is not corruption ideology of former president Goodluck Jonathan? I guess I’m alone in this but never mind, I just seem to realize Nigerians misunderstood the metaphor. Anyways, corruption and the lack of being disciplined tends to be confidentially the major setbacks that reduces the productivity level, and potentials of Nigeria to attain sustainable and economic advancement in recent times. Despite all, Greatness seems to be a process and so I ask my audience; do we revise our lecture notes after finals? If you go for a no, then so does discipline comes before corruption in the journey to achieve greatness.  Will Mr Jonathan ever make sense to the average Nigerian anyways?

Discipline and the non-practice of judicial acts needs absolute attention in hard times such as this. Being more productive and confident is needed. Do you feel a thing inside you for missing out three consecutive Jumm’at prayers when you hardly pray five times a day? thus, I guess Mr Solomon Dalong is somewhere reviving his faith and confidence for Nigeria to triumph ahead of upcoming National sporting events hence, I would be rather be glad if someone volunteers to remind Mrs Kemi Adeosun that 16+6 is not 24?  Asking for a friend. Are you also sick and allergic to these unfamiliar words our so called representatives use? If yes, then you wouldn’t be mad at me if I open up to Mr Lie Mohammed that made it clear to Nigerians that the prescribed drugs and medications Mr President uses are made in Nigeria. Sadly, this is how I go about informing the society that the UK is Nigeria’s second home. Imagine a government that allocated 3.87bn to the state house clinic of recently, but remains fully committed to medical vacation trips? Imagine appointing a retired army man as custom CG when you totally have the mandate and autonomy to make him a sole administrator so he doesn’t get to appear in uniform before the Senate? Imagine diverting the IDP resuscitation funds when these innocent lives have been raped, starved, displaced from their homes? So I ask myself; Faruk, do you even deserve this country? It’s a yes because I come from a part of Nigeria that experienced many of these terrorists’ attacks by insurgents and can be easily denied Visa to even step out of my fatherland.  Nevertheless, we sincerely thank the president for the professionalism, and expertizing he has shown in ensuring national security.  Although you may doubt my point of view and not feel wrong, history might a little bit favour Buhari’s cabal and supporters for his passion, agenda, to bring everlasting solutions to the problems in Nigeria but I bet you, it certainly won’t remember him for his many inactions! More so, this governing mentality our leaders tend to develop nowadays alone gives me Goosebumps and zero tolerance to support a leader that feels comfortable implementing such mainstream ideas. Anyways, Nigerians chose it to be that way though! Sai Mai Gaskiya!

Guess what’s Nigeria’s biggest problem? The national assembly is where all these conflicts of interest occurs. Imagine diverting the government water project to your farm and stand not humiliated talk less of answering questions for such illegal acts? Honourable Jibrin, the greatest Nigerian whistle-blower of all time can relate to that. Imagine a third national citizen making false assets declarations and getting away freely because power of leadership? Unless these sets of thieves are brought to justice, the average Nigerian shall continue to suffer and keep dreaming of a Nigeria we might not get to see/witness. Mr President! The days of what have achieved is around the corner and we are all on board to either find you a  way for a second term or make a transit from London to Daura with Love.

May Allah grant you good health and energy to deliver your campaign promises even though I’m yet to receive the 5000 naira you promised back in 2015.  May god re unite Nigerians irrespective of our tribes, religion, ethnicity, and cultural diversity so the likes of Namdi Kanu and co would be left with only animals to fight in the Biafran republic.

There is always hope for a tree that is cut down as long as the roots are in the right places.

 

Umar Faruk Abubakar

Twitter: Thafifamaestro

Kogi State NMA Impasse: Setting The Records Straight By Gbenga Olorunpomi 

It has always been an integral part of the Governor Yahaya Bello administration to work from behind the curtains, being silent about the process and letting the progress of the work speak for us. However, in the face of overwhelming and delibrate misinformation, it has become imperative to clarify certain issues to the good people of Kogi State and the general public.
A few months ago, we told the world that the major reasons tendered by the Kogi State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association for embarking on an industrial action includes:
1. Special consideration for doctors employed in 2015
2. Payment of salaries to cleared members
3. Promotion of doctors who are due
4. Reduction or total waving of taxes for doctors
5. Implementation of corrected CONMESS (Consolidated Medical Salary Structure) for doctors.
Before we address these points, we need to make it known that an ideal negotiation is often a “No Victor, No Vanquished” scenario where every party finds a common ground to feel victorious. When interests clash, negotiating parties need to shift grounds in the interest of the common good.
Here goes…..
1. With regards to the issue of doctors employed in 2015, the Kogi State Government has reinstated all doctors so affected and paid them full salary arrears. Even those who left the service were also paid in full as appropriate. The public should note that no other cadre of staff in the Kogi State Work force has enjoyed such a waiver! It is our firm belief that the health of the good people of Kogi State cannot be toyed with and as such we sought for and secured such a waiver for the doctors, knowing full well that it might pitch the government against other health workers, who will perceive that as double standards. Fortunately, these set of workers have been the most considerate with this administration!
2. During the last meeting between NMA and the State Government with His Royal Majesty, the Attah of Igala, and the Kogi State House of Assembly Committee on Health, NMA stated that their minimum requirement to call off the strike was the reinstatement of the doctors employed in 2015 and payment of their salary arrears. Note worthy here is the fact that the immediate past administration that employed them never paid them for a even a single month!  Against all the odds, we acquiesced to their demands only to realise that the goal post had been shifted before the end of the match. The minimum earlier stated had been reviewed and they were now asking for the payment of salaries to the uncleared doctors.
3. A reconciliation exercise is still ongoing in an effort to fish out those omitted, overpaid or underpaid for correction and moving some uncleared staff to cleared list based on the clemency granted by the Governor. An administrative platform is to address those in uncleared list who still have evidences for clearance.
4. This is in and of itself a legitimate claim, which the State government was eventually going to fulfil, but in the interest of the masses whose health had been hanging in limbo for no fault of theirs, we speedily acceded to the new demand. Yet again, we woke up to learn that the new minimum set by NMA was the implementation of the corrected CONMESS!
5. The Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) was revised after the introduction of relativity and skipping for doctors. It would interest the public to know that about 31 States are yet to implement corrected CONMESS! Nassarawa and Delta States are currently the only two states that have implemented revised CONMESS with 100% skipping and relativity. Gombe and Katsina States adopted only relativity while Plateau State currently pays 80% relativity and skipping. Even Lagos State that generates more revenue that 31 states combined has not implemented corrected CONMESS, yet their doctors are not on strike over that issue.
6. We do not intend by these facts to state our refusal to implement the revised CONMESS. In fact, there is a plan to include it in the 2018 budget or prepare a supplementary budget in this regard, but to hinge resumption on something this delicate is a show of lack of consideration for the economic condition of the country as a whole and the health of the good people of Kogi State in particular.
7. As for promotion of doctors that are due, it has been earlier mentioned that all heads of institutions have been directed to implement the last promotion exercise after clearing all backlogs of salaries bearing in mind though, that the last promotion exercise in Kogi State was in 2009 for some cadre of staff and 2012 for others. To hold this administration to ransom for the sins of the past administration despite showing enough goodwill to correct the anomaly is rather unfortunate and regrettable.
8. The issue of taxation was dropped in favour of promotion of due staff. Of course, there is no way any administration will accept to wave tax in the face of the ongoing economic downturn.
9. We will let the public be the judge of our sincerity and commitment towards resolving the impasse, however what we find worrisome is the attempt to scuttle the ongoing recruitment exercise in the Ministry of Health, which was borne out of the gap assessment of the manpower in the sector which is alarming and will be in the best interest of all. The NMA have tried to achieve this through campaigns of calumny and dissemination of fictitious reports such as the claim that doctors in Kogi State have not being paid for 17months. We wish to maintain the honour and integrity of doctors in the eyes of the public and pray that we do not get pushed to take measures such as the publishing of payment vouchers of doctors, who have been paid if it is what is needed to debunk the libelous rumours making the rounds.
11. Our doors are always open to the NMA in as much as we will no longer tolerate inconsiderate and unstable ‘minimums’. Our commitment first is towards providing quality healthcare to the people of Kogi State, and we will never rest on our oars till we, to the best of our ability, achieve this.
Gbenga Olorunpomi is the Senior Special Assistant to the Kogi State Governor on Electronic Media

Hajj 2017: How Fair Is Nigerian Fare? By Jaafar Jaafar

From Oxford Street to Shepherd’s Bush in London, Souk al Baddu to Khan al Atareen in Saudi Arabia, naira was conveniently spent in the 70s and early 80s as it was a convertible international trading currency in many countries.

While the naira was hovering high over the dollar and riyals in the bygone years, the currency is today hardly recognized in Maradi or Agadez market in Niger Republic. Even within Nigeria, perhaps because of the level of worthlessness of our lower denominations, N1 coin, N5 and N10 notes are slowly becoming endangered species.

There have been hues and cries since the announcement of this year’s Hajj package for 21 State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards, FCT and the Armed Forces by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).

While stakeholders explained that about 98 per cent of Hajj services rendered by NAHCON in Saudi Arabia are determined in US dollars, those oblivious to the reality that exchange rate is everything to unproductive economy like ours raised questions.

When we were lamenting the free fall of naira sometime last year, some Nigerians quickly began catcalling in this queer rhetorical device: Da tashin bam gara tashin dala (Rise of dollar is better than rise in bomb attacks). Isn’t weak economy concomitant with rise in vices and prices?

Intending pilgrims are rightly complaining as they have to augment their deposits to be able to go. But why should Nigerian pilgrims pay more when pilgrims in other countries pay less?

Criticism upon criticism, explanation upon explanation, no one seems to explain this year’s increase in Hajj package than the chairman of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole. This stakeholder, who has been in the system for over 30 years, succinctly cited issues that led to this year’s increase in Hajj package.

Alhaji Bankole said the rate of exchange is principally the major cause of this increase. He also explained that airlift of Hajj pilgrims is done on a charter not schedule basis. According to him, when an aircraft carried pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, it carries no single passenger on its return leg. And when the airlift is completed, the aircraft are not allowed to remain in the kingdom, in which case they have to return empty and go back again empty to start airlifting pilgrims back home.

And again, on each trip, airlines have to pay $6,000 charges for flying over Chad and Sudan to Saudi Arabia.

While others wondered why pilgrims from countries like Pakistan pay less than Nigerian pilgrims, an official quipped that Pakistan enjoys some overfly waivers from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries. Again, why do international pilgrims pay less than the regular pilgrims? The explanation given sounds cogent to me: While the former spend 17 days, the latter spend 40 days and enjoy certain privileges.

Last year, when the exchange rate was officially 197 to $1, the pilgrims paid less – but government had to cough out N68billion to subsidize pilgrimage.

In this year’s budget, the exchange rate is pegged at N305 to $1. So when you multiply it by $4,805, which is the total cost per pilgrim, you will arrive about N1.5 million.

But what a lot of people are unaware of is that the federal government is, in a way, subsidizing this year’s hajj. A top government official told me last week that on each pilgrim, Nigerian government will have to pay N302,4000 to make up for the prevailing dollar rate. If you multiply this amount by 75,000 pilgrims, you will arrive at over N22billion.

Nigeria is in recession. Workers are unpaid. There is hunger in the land. Poverty is everywhere. It makes no economic sense to ignore these maladies and subsidize pilgrimage. I believe the reward of feeding the hungry citizens is higher than subsiding the Hajj.

It baffles me how a government that cannot subsidize fuel, garri and rice for the common man will go about subsidizing Hajj for the rich; and even more baffling is to see a person struggling to put food on the table supporting subsidy for the Hajj.

In his commentary of Quran 3:97, which says “And, pilgrimage to the House is duty on mankind to Allah for those who can find a way there”, Bilal Philips wrote:

“Similar statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him) define ability as being sufficient provisions and transportation. Hence, a Muslim has to be economically able to make the trip. If he has to borrow the money to make the journey, Hajj is not compulsory on him…”

Cholera in Kwara – An Environmentalist Perspective By Amusa Victor

It is a common scene in Kwara to see residents hurriedly dump refuse in drainages during heavy rainfall, sewage is also seen to flow out of broken chambers in densely populated areas across the state. Quite a number of houses are still without toilet facilities in the metropolis, as such open defecation remains the available option.

An epidemic is the spontaneous spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less. It is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.

Cholera is a water-borne disease that emerges from a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae. Once someone contracts the disease, s/he can experience symptoms ranging from extreme dehydration to diarrhea, to vomiting.

Poor sewage treatment and lack of treatment of drinking water, a trademark challenge in most Nigerian states greatly facilitates the spread of cholera.

In August 2010: Cholera in Nigeria reached epidemic proportions after widespread confirmation of the disease outbreaks in 12 of its 36 states. 6400 cases were reported with 352 reported deaths. The health ministry blamed the outbreak on heavy seasonal rainfall and poor sanitation.

Cholera is not alien to Kwara State, late 2001 there was a similar outbreak, the cholera epidemic claimed at least 40 lives in five days, and another 22-people laid critically ill in hospital. In Moro Local Government Area ofKwara state, seven pupils of primary and post-primary schools were among the victims. All primary and secondary schools in the area were quickly closed indefinitely to avoid further spread of the disease.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, leading to serious dehydration and can be fatal if not properly treated. However, if an infected person is given the proper fluids as soon as the first symptoms appear, the disease can be completely cured. A mixture of sugar and certain essential salts must be mixed with clean water and be taken in large quantities to replace the body fluid that is lost. If the patient is rehydrated as soon as possible, the death rate is less than one percent.

It is indeed worrisome that despite the simplicity of the cure, hundreds and sometimes thousands of people in Nigeria die every year from this disease. Access to clean water is a basic human necessity that is denied to 61 percent of Nigeria’s population.

From records, available on WHO website on cholera outbreak late in 2001, BodeSaadu, the district headquarters of Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State was worst hit with 124 reported cases and 16 deaths. According to Reuters report, at least 40 deaths were recorded in less than one week, when news of the outbreak of the water-borne disease was first broken on the floor of the Kwara State Assembly on Wednesday, October 24th, 2001, lawmakers were prompted to suspend the day’s session abruptly. It was widely reported that much more afflicted people were in critical condition in the worst-hit towns and villages of Jebba, Warafa, Eleja-Sulu, Ile-Pupa, Ekejo, Lasaki and Ejidongari.

Again in 2011, another cholera outbreak struck Ilorin the state capital.  The then Commissioner for Health, Mallam Abdul Kayode Issa, said the situation was under control.

He said that the Rapid Response Team of the Ministry had swung into action since when the case was first reported at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.

He said the state government had made drugs available at the various Primary Health Care Centre in Ilorin East and West local governments and added that the ministry had put measures in place to prevent its spread precisely from Adabata and Okelele. a densely populated area of the state capital – Ilorin.

Just a few days back, June 2017, another outbreak in Ilorin was reported in the media with deaths numbering 12 in less than 5 days. Again, the government through the Secretary to the State Government,AlhajiIsiaka Gold, during an assessment visit to primary health care centers, cottage hospitals, and the General Hospital, Ilorin was out to say the government had deployed resources to ensure that cholera does not spread in the state. But this time around the people are not taking the blame alone, some people have blamed the outbreak on the heaps of refuse dumps in and around the city waiting to be evacuated by the authorities concerned. This points back to the matter of poor sanitation, lack of access to clean drinking water and the failures of residents to take cognizance of Food Hygiene.

It is worthy of note that street sweepers and scavengers pick waste plastic bottles from waste dumps and sell to merchants at popular markets across the metropolis, who in return sell same to makers of local beverages like Kunu and Zobo drink. Unfortunately, the public who have no idea of the source of plastic bottles used in packaging these beverages get exposed to high risk of contracting Cholera and other food hygiene related diseases.

Sanitation is the means of promoting hygiene through the prevention of human contact with dangers of waste especially sewage, by proper treatment and disposal of the waste, often mixed into wastewater. The resultant dangers may be physical, microbiological or biological agents of disease. The well-being of a Community cannot be separated from its attitude towards its Environment.  Indiscriminate disposal of waste, dumping of waste in drainages, unwholesome eating practices, and poor basic personal hygiene are the contributions of the residents to the cholera outbreak in Kwara State, Ilorin in particular.

The belief that government has to do everything for it citizens needs to be quickly eradicated, the environment is our common wealth, everyone is a stakeholder. We are all saddled with responsibilities of protecting our environment, our commitment to these responsibilities is not for the benefit of aliens but for our own common good.

It is of also of note that the Waste disposal infrastructure set in place by the government is grossly overstressed as the population of residents in the state is growing at alarming proportions due to the relative peace experienced over the years. The gap between the amount of waste generated in the metropolis and the amount effectively collected by the social waste operators and the commercial waste collectors is very wide as evident in the indiscriminate disposal of waste on curb sides and internal road network of Ilorin metropolis.

As a popular saying has it that prevention is better than cure, the government and its people need to put a stop to their blame games, everyone has a role to play. As a city develops it is expected that the municipal authorities need to put in place salient measures to handle the proper management of waste generated by residents. Some people have called for the establishment of a Waste Management Authority as is obtainable in other states.Others have argued that it is not about the proliferation of agencies of government but the resolve of the State Ministry of Environment to perform its statutory roles and put enforcement of environmental laws on the front burner. There must be policy reviews and ratification of sanctions commensurate with the effects of disobedience to environmental laws.

According to a Joint News Release by WHO/UNICEF in March 2008, sixty-two per cent of Africans do not have access to an improved sanitation facility — a proper toilet — which separates human waste from human contact, according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.

In fact, about 2.6 billion people around the world live without access to a toilet at home and thus are vulnerable to a range of health risks one of which is Cholera. Former World Health Organisation Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan once argued that Improved sanitation contributes enormously to human health and well-being. She further ascertained that simple, achievable interventions can reduce the risk of contracting diarrhea disease by a third.

Sanitation is considered as a cornerstone of public health. Poor sanitation, particularly in the context of urbanization, allows for sewage or waste to flow directly into streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands, affecting marine ecosystems, fouling the environment and exposing millions of children and adults alike to communicable diseases.

There cannot be any sustainable victory against epidemics like cholera without the active involvement of the Ministry of Environment alongside eagle-eyed response team from the Ministry of Health. For diseases such as cholera and other sanitation influenced diseases like Lassa fever, prevention is truly cost effective than management and cure.

The number of Social Waste Collectors engaged in waste disposal in Kwara state is too little to achieve much. Many thanks to the commercial waste collectors, the outbreak of other sanitation related diseases would have been of disastrous proportions. In other climes, the government supports private participation in environment-related matters as no effort is too minute, there must be a review of the policies surrounding registration of new entrants into the waste disposal sector of the Ministry of Environment.

The fees charged to register new players in the sector must be affordable enough to attract involvement of private entities, the Regulatory stand of the Ministry of Environment as regards the operation of both social and commercial waste collection operators across the state must be given a boost, erring operators must be sanctioned as a deterrent for laxity. The commercial waste operators should be supported by logistic and equipment loans payable at single unit interest rate, unscrupulous levies collected from waste disposal operators should be discouraged, as the government will only be doing itself and indeed its citizens quite a lot of favour by encouraging more private participation in waste collection and disposal across the state.

Advocacy campaigns shouldn’t be left till an outbreak occurs, it should be part of the responsibilities of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health to organize joint advocacy campaigns on public health issues and its preventions, adequate funding must be budgeted for public health interventions as epidemics come unannounced. The environment health officers squad of the Ministry of Environment must be reinfused with the drive to enforce environmental laws, house owners must provide decent toilet facilities, all private and public institutions of education must have decent toilet facilities.

The Kwara State Environmental Protection Agency must ensure relevant industries in the state have and maintain effluent treatment plants and not discharge their waste water into streams and rivers. Sanitation must take a whole new dimension in Kwara State to forestall the reoccurrence of an outbreak of Cholera and other related epidemics. In matters of the environment, everyone has a role to play, Government and Residents alike.

AmusaTemitope Victor is an Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur and Zero-Waste Advocate. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Vicfold Recyclers- A Recycling Firm based in Ilorin Kwara State Nigeria, which Promotes Incentive Motivated Recycling. (www.vicfoldrecyclers.com). He can be reached on +23408107454031 or founders@vicfoldrecyclers.com

Borno: The Enemies Within (I), By Ibrahim Morocco

Our beloved Borno State – Home of Peace – has many enemies. The more visible ones are those who kill us, destroy our property, make us homeless and strangers in our own home, and continue to threaten our very existence. The more dangerous enemies however, are the enemies within. They live among us. Some occupy high office and instead of using it for our welfare and public good, they are rather destroying us from within. It is well organised and not very visible but the most harmful.

Isa Gusau is the special adviser to Governor Kashim Shettima on media and strategy. He was appointed in February 2012 after a journalism career at Media Trust Limited, the last place he served before this appointment, since then things have never been the same. He kept aside all ethics of journalism, public relations and citizens engagement as the most senior spokesman for the governor and descended into the gutter of mudslinging, name-calling, harassment, intimidation, coercion, and worst of all dividing the peace-loving good people of Borno State. The only ‘crime’ one commits to have this terror unleashed on them by him through means including his several fake social media accounts and hired minions is to ask questions. Which society ever grew or made progress without people asking questions?

His tactics include recruiting promising young men/women (who have been impoverished by the same system) to insult people. He writes essays and rejoinders and gives them to spread on social media. These jobless youth don’t even deserve to be dignified with a decent space to carry out their activities in his estimation, they are ‘housed’ under a tree close to the main entrance to Government House. You see them at there as you go into Government House milling around with their devices. Once in a while peanuts are thrown at them to recharge their data and for personal upkeep as their hopes are perennially kept high for a better tomorrow that never comes. People like Isa Gusau see young people as only being good to be used and dumped, and useful only as sycophants with no future assured.

He himself is very clever, whatever he says and does is never a matter of public record, it’s always off the record. You may search everywhere you won’t ever find anything he said or did, of course apart from the empty press releases he emails to the media. If people don’t like his principal Kashim Shettima, he may not be solely responsible but he made it worse. He recently said that Hausa film actors were brought to Borno on taxpayers’ money on a jamboree to boost our income. How that makes sense is beyond me.

Borno belongs to all of us. We all are stakeholders in our Borno State. The danger with what this enemy within is doing is that in the next 2 years his boss will no longer be the governor, but the hate, bitterness, distrust, and divisions will be with us. At that time we don’t know where his likes will be, maybe they would’ve moved elsewhere to cause more destruction. His minions under the tree will still be jobless, used and dumped. The issues about governance, accountability, transparency, our IDPs, post-insurgency rehabilitation, reconstruction, reunification, reintegration, resettlement, etc will still be with us. It may be difficult for our lives to go back to being normal but we can at least try. What we don’t need is another vuvuzela making things worse for us.

What we need is the truth out there so that we can get the help we desperately need. What we have now is not working, at this pace it may take us another 500 years or more to be where we were before the insurgency. We need to be seen to be accountable with the little we have so that we can get more. Our IDPs have to be treated with dignity like humans. The information management system we the people desperately need in Borno is one that soothes, heals, comforts, unites, and gives hope. Attacking people, threatening them, jailing them for stating facts and asking questions, covering up and manipulating the true situation, and supporting those who do so is being the enemy. We will never be quiet in naming them.

Ibrahim Moroco

Youths Seat At The Table Of Politics By Femi Okunlola

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president became the subject of controversy after announcing his intention to run for office in April, 2017; for the third time. The former president had previously run two terms in office. What seems to have being a baffling move to the western world has become a norm in many African countries. Simply put, it’s been the recycling of leaders over the past 5 decades in one political position or the other, and with many of them bidding to manoeuvre the constitution in their favour.

To name a few instances are Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who at age 71 is serving his 4th term in office, after securing a change to the constitution in 2005, and recanting on a statement made in 1986 “the problem of Africa in general, and Uganda in particular, is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power.”, Paul Biya of Cameroun, who came to power in 1982, is thought by most to be hoping to run again in 2018; in 2008 he revisited the constitution to eliminate presidential limits.

Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi in 2015 much to international condemnation ran for election; his third time, in an election that was boycotted by the opposition. Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso was President from 1979 to 1992, after which he was outsted then re-elected in 1997. Nigeria’s sitting president Buhari after coming to power under the military regime in 1987, got re-elected under a democratic setting in 2015. Others include Dos Santos (37yrs), Mugabe (37 yrs), amongst others. The list of African leaders is endless and the practise of recycling cuts across board and political positions across the continent. How this tradition began can be traced back to the era of Africa’s revolutionary leaders.

Revolutionists or Leaders:

The move for emancipation in the 50’s and 60’s had a striking semblance across the African terrain. The sounds of cheers rent the air, alongside the razzmatazz that comes with a celebration; the colourful dancers, the drums, the signings and then the declarations. Africa would never be the same again. Power at the time was not something you begged to have, you simply took it.

The revolutionaries were at the forefront of the African movement and at the time, most of them did a great job too; it was the era of the Sankaras (80’s), the Robert Mugabe’s (80’s), Jammeh’s (90’s). While the objectives were right at the moment, the taste for power seems to have gotten to many, and they have long outlived their relevance. What makes a Nelson Mandela different from several others? He knew when to move on, despite a trillion reasons why he should have stayed put.

This seems the missing ingredient in the leadership question that most African leaders seem to lack. The issue of timing and period often seems ignored in the leadership discussion, and boils down to one fact: A great revolutionist does not necessarily make for a good leader. Timing becomes of a great essence here.

However, while it’s easy to condemn the recycling of leaders on the continent, and the hold on power by the older elite, the question is often begged “where have Africa’s youths been in the continents politics”?

The question of the Youth Demography in the Leadership space:

 According to the UN, Africa has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of 19.5 years. Young people in Africa, between the ages of 15 and 35 constitute one-third of Africa’s population, but their influence in the political scene has been majorly from the sidelines.

In 2015, the average age of the ten oldest African leaders was 78.5, compared to 52 years of age for the world’s 10 most developed countries. There seems to be a presence without influence. This has stemmed from an age long distrust of the political terrain.

A lot of young people in the continent associate politics with corrupt politicians who are negligent on promises made, and hence would rather be active within civil societies or observe from the sidelines. A suspicion of the electoral system which fosters unqualified administrations on the people also remains an issue, as well as age limits in some countries, which prevents youths under 35 or 40 from running for office.

In 2016 Afrobarometer in a report titled “Does less engaged mean less empowered?” based on nearly 54 000 interviews in 36 African countries in 2014/2015, found Political engagement to be generally lower among African youth than among their elders‚ particularly in terms of voting, More than half (53%) of African youth report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in public affairs‚ while two-thirds (67%) say they discuss politics with friends or family at least “occasionally”. These were amongst other findings.

Another major issue and perhaps the most damaging is the vast resources needed in running for political positions in most African countries. During the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, Presidential aspirants had to pick up party forms for over 20 million naira How these monies are raised begs another question of how sincerely a fight against corruption can be fought especially when the individuals who fund such elections are often those who have corruption allegations levied against them, and are the money bags of society.

Regardless, the African political terrain has become a dumping ground for mediocrity and one where god-fathers reign supreme. The system is one that is set up to fail in that good intentions and good skills don’t necessarily mean you get in.

The issue of credibility on the part of young people has also been called into question.  The outrageous and ridiculous statement is often made about Africa’s youths not being ready to handle the affairs of the continent, by the same individuals who seized power at the same age of those now clamouring for a change in the system.

Perhaps a good way to cut off such argument is citing the late William F Buckley’s support for the Jim Crow laws and Black suffrages. In summary, he believed that blacks weren’t ready. The difference between those whose skin would crawl at that assertion from a century ago and now, is simply that those who make these statements are not foreigners, but the leaders who want to remain in power at all cost. There are also proponents of a different type of “African Democracy” by a group of leaders who have refused to relinquish power.

The reference is often made to the traditional ways of most ancient African kingdoms. While this remains a controversial debate still, the downfall of this argument is in the underdeveloped state of many of these nations. Besides what happens when the said leader kicks the bucket untimely? The arguments are endless.

Getting a seat at the Table;

To get a seat at the table, African youths have to wake up from their slumber, and set the rules in their favour. The very electioneering process has to be reset. A system which puts emphasis in how much you have to offer is set to fail. In most developed climes, there is a bench mark as to how much money you can personally pump into the elections all by yourself. While those rules are written on paper, adherence in this part of the world is rarely followed through. Civic education of the youths who are mostly affected by policies and governance must be put at the front burner.

Africa’s youths must quit seeing themselves as a failed generation, and handicapped, and for once bank on the strength of their numbers. They must also fill the documentation gap that exists between them and governance, but not with sticks and stones, but legitimately!

There is also a strong and pressing need to represent themselves the right way. Many political parties consist of old elites who have been there for ages. The culture of cross carpeting and a lack of ideologies is a consistent trait with many political terrains in the continent.

For many African nations, it has been 6 to 7 decades since cries of freedom from the colonial powers were expressed, with the future looking more like the past.  To change all this, Africa’s youths must seize the power legitimately to get a seat on the table of politics and where not given, they must build their table in the hall.

Femi Tunde Okunlola is a Development Broadcast Journalist and Writer from Nigeria, covering Africa, with a focus on Governance, security and Environment. He holds a Masters degree in Peace and Development studies, is an Obama YALI RLC Fellow, and RNTC Netherlands Alumnus. Tweet @iam_fto , E-mail: tundeenglish@gmail.com .  

 

 

 

Nigeria: The Marathon Path to Ease of Doing Business By Bukola Ogunyemi

Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, vast arable land, a temperate climate and a teeming population of young vibrant people, Nigeria has the potentials to be one of the biggest economies in the world. However, the potentials for greatness have failed to translate into any viable economic development due to decades of bad leadership, gross mismanagement of public funds, institutionalized corruption and infrastructural decay. 

Nigeria has for a long time developed an unenviable reputation as one of the hardest places to do business in the world. The economic implications of a harsh business environment, however, have been mollified for decades by steady revenue from crude oil sales. This false dawn of economic prosperity, therefore, served as insurance against the repercussions of paying lip service to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive by successive administrations.

A marginal improvement in the global ease of doing business index, from 170 in 2016 to 169 in 2017, flatters the medieval realities those running businesses in Nigeria confront daily. It takes longer to register a business in Nigeria than in most other countries in the world. Access to credit is a mirage, with dissuasive interest rates and collateral demands. A litany of arduous government regulations, high cost of energy, lack of adequate security for personnel and properties, multiple taxations, and the activities of corrupt and hostile government officials all combine to dissipate the energies of business owners.
Arguably, the most resounding commitment by any government in Nigeria’s history in tackling these perennial problems has been the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC) chaired by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo. In this capacity, Osinbajo has shown that regulatory frameworks are malleable in the face of a strong political will to institute positive reforms. By expediting the removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks to make agencies of government more agile and efficient, the council has been able to enact market-friendly policies and considerably improve the overall ease of doing business in the last six months.
The implementation of a 60-day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria approved by the council in late February to “remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria” and “move Nigeria 20 steps upwards in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index” has already yielded positive results like visa on arrival and a 48-hour visa processing time for tourists and investors seeking to visit Nigeria.
In cooperation with the National Assembly, the legal framework was established for improving access to credit through the speedy passage of two critical bills. The Credit Bureau Bill will ensure entrepreneurs are better able to access credit by reducing default risk while the National Collateral Registry Bill makes room for the provision of a register of all loan collaterals, putting an end to the practice of securing multiple loans with one collateral.
Also, as part of the 504 comprehensive action plans implemented in 60 days, the time it takes to register a business in Nigeria has been reduced from 10 days to 2 and the process made simpler through the upgrade of the online portal of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) which now allows investors to register businesses without physically visiting the CAC office. The paperwork involved in company incorporation has also been reduced, with seven forms previously required replaced by just one. 
 
An unscheduled visit by the Acting President to the Murtala International Airport in Lagos to assess the quality of services rendered by relevance departments and agencies of government went a long way in signaling the administration’s will in ensuring an attractive and conducive business environment is created for investors. This was further stamped in the three executive orders signed last month to ease operations at the nation’s ports and improve transparency and service delivery by all agencies.
This has informed the decision of the Nigerian Ports Authority for example to evict all touts and other unauthorised personnel who often run a parallel economy at the nation’s seaports. The number of security agencies present at the ports have also been reduced and their operations synergized. The leadership of the Nigerian Ports Authority has certainly put words to action on ports reform, including opening up opportunities for old and new businesses by dismantling age-old monopolies. The Nigerian Customs Service on its own part has reduced the number of paperwork needed for the export of products and raw materials.
While remarkable progress has been made through the Osinbajo reforms, more work still needs to be done in moving 20 places up the ranking of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index and be in the top 100 within the next 3 years. This desire as expressed by President Muhammadu Buhari at the sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development in Nairobi requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders to mark a clear departure from the old ways.
Nigeria still ranks 181st out of 190 countries with respect to trading across borders, 174th out of 190 with respect to dealing with construction permits, and 182nd out of 190 countries with respect to registering property. Bags are still being checked manually at the airports in direct conflict with Osinbajo’s executive orders, a lot of MDAs have still not complied with other directives issued. There is definitely still a long way to go and more than anything else, those committed to reforming the system when it comes to improving the ease of doing business must understand that this is a marathon, an unending commitment to making Nigeria a true haven for local and foreign investors. These are some of the issues Osinbajo through this council has to find solutions to for the sustenance of the reforms so far established.

Bukola Ogunyemi is social commentator based in Lagos. This article was syndicated by AfricanLiberty.org

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