The Broken Woman: Running Out Of Time, By Blossom Obi | @BlossomObi3

We sat across each other with a long board-room table separating us. It was probably where the meetings of the court rooms were being held and since I was distracted I didn’t notice much. I stared at him as our lawyers talked and argued; his face was turned away, glaring at the window facing the doorway as if the time on the clock inches away from his seat meant nothing to him.

“I just want this over and done with, so I can move on with my life” I remarked unsure of the agreements being discussed by the lawyers. I wasn’t going to leave him with much to begin with.

“Ten years of my life with this ‘crazy man’ has to be worth something” I thought to myself, remembering my two beautiful children. Amanda who was ten and Jason who was just seven.

“They’re definitely worth it”, I replied myself and my eyes moved towards the clock and it was just past three o’clock.

“My kids closes in about thirty minutes” I said staring at my lawyers, unable to understand why the finalization of the divorce was taking forever.

“Our kids” Matthew snapped, glaring at me as if I wanted to also take the only thing good about his life with me. After another deadlock, I stood up to leave as our lawyers rescheduled a new meeting.

“Call me” I said to Matthew “we need to set your visiting days to our kids” as I opened the car to go in.

Hopelessly trying to beat the traffic, I speedily drove past a trailer polluting the air with so much smoke from its almost dead engines. I stopped at an old lady’s vendor who sold fruits to get some Banana and Apples for the kids to take while I prepared lunch.

“Madam well-done o”, I greeted and the old lady replied “you’re welcome”

“Please give me banana N200. These apples are big how much is it?” I asked

“It’s just #120” she said, “won’t you give me three for #300?” I asked. “Take it for #320” she replied.

Satisfied with the price I brought out money to pay her, while she packaged the fruits into a bag.  A trailer was moving with great speed, so I waited a little but almost immediately, I realized the driver was fighting to control the vehicle. The breaks had probably failed, which was common for most trailers on Nigerian roads.  I watched everyone around try to get out of the way. I rushed into the car to also get it out of the way that was when I heard a loud sound and that was all I could remember.

I woke up to the sound of voices I couldn’t place, I tried to open my eyes and it was hurting like hell, so I gave up trying. I was wondering why it was so painful to open my eyes; that was when it came rushing to me. “An accident”, the kids oh my God I muttered to myself. Now I heard a more familiar voice, “Matthew” I said there was no answer, “Matthew” I called out again, this time louder than before.

“Shhhh, don’t try to talk” he said, bending uncomfortably close to me.

“Why is he acting all sweet and nice” I thought to myself.

“What is going on” I asked ignoring what he said and forcing my eyes open regardless of the gnashing pain that tore at it.

Seeing that I wasn’t going to back down he said, “The kids are fine, they’re alright”, as if knowing that they were okay was going to calm me, well it did, a little.

“Just try to get some rest I’m not going anywhere and neither are the kids”, he said as he bent over to give me a kiss on my forehead.

“He must have taken something because he was acting really strange” I thought to myself.

As though reading my thoughts he said “everything will be fine” and he walked out of the room. The doctor came in, did something I couldn’t quite figure out and then also left.

This time he brought the kids “you didn’t take them to school”? I asked surprised to see the kids as they rushed into my open arms.

“We wanted to see you mummy” Jason started “and we won’t do anything else until we did”, his sister nodded in agreement. “They wouldn’t have it any other way”, Matthew added.

He brought something that looked like lunch, as the kids rushed to get theirs, after eating he took them to his sisters and came back to the hospital. He stared at me in a strange way which was becoming very uncomfortable.

“What is it” I asked, he started to stutter, and it was becoming annoying so I gave up.  That was when he said “You have three months left”

Repeating after him I asked “Three months left for what exactly?”, “to live” he replied “you’ve have cancer”.

“cancer” I muttered, it all started to make sense now, that was why he’s been so nice, I was a charity case that needed urgent attention.

The kids had closed for the session and were on holidays, so they spent most of their time with me at the hospital alongside Matthew who was supposed to have become my ex husband. I just had some few weeks left so I was not going to spend it in some hospital. I was discharged that day and I went home, we all did any way.

I made a special meal and we ate like a family for the first time in months, we were all happy and as the day came to an end. We told stories to the kids, laughing all through till they fell asleep leaving us both.

Matthew spoke first after a long silence “I love you, I didn’t realize how much until now and I know I always will” I replied always and forever. We both smiled, he immediately got up and carried me to the room.

That was it I just knew this was final for me, it was just like I had predicted.

TIME WISE 
We are often clouded by too much that is going on around us that we forget to live and make the most of our time. We often forget how to treat people believing that they’ll always be there. The truth is no matter where you are or where you’ll be, all that you leave with people are the memories of how you treated them or how you made them feel. So ask yourself, “what are the memories of me that I leave with people?”, because in the end, that’s what we have.

Blossom Obi writes from Owerri, Imo State. For comments and responses, reach her via obiblossom8@gmail.com

Kachikwu: Crying Foul to His ‘Reforms,’ By Habib Gajam

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 appointed Dr Ibe Kachikwu as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the nation’s golden goose-the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)-to a wide public acclaim. This money-spinner had hitherto been riddled with monumental corruption, gross abuse of office, chronic inefficiency, and extreme practices of nepotism.

The appointment came with a glimmer of hope that the end to these multiple monsters was in sight, having a first class Harvard material with cognitive industry experience on the saddle.

Soon after he settled down, Dr Kachikwu embarked on radical reforms that would see the eight (8) directorates in the NNPC cut down to four (4) in a bid to have a lean organization whose ultimate goal is value addition; as too many cooks in the past have spoilt the broth. He single-handedly brought in, his team of ‘experts’ mostly from international oil companies (IOCs) to restructure and reposition the NNPC having been given the free hand to do so by the president.

Dr Kachikwu had unfettered access to the presidency. His weekly ‘pilgrimage’ to the villa for briefings with the president captured the headlines of major national dailies-both print and electronic. He unassailably asserted and consolidated his control in the petroleum towers with his eventual appointment and confirmation as State Minister of Petroleum.

Eleven months after, the constitution of a new Board for the NNPC saw the emergence of Dr Maikanti Baru as GMD who until his appointment, was the Group Executive Director Exploration and Production. The contentious issues in Dr Kachikwu’s letter were his claims of flagrant violation of due process in the award of contracts, humiliation, lack of respect, and acts of insubordination.

The NNPC Act is explicit, that the GMD of NNPC reports directly to the substantive minister of petroleum resources, president Buhari in this case. Reason why Dr Baru enjoys similar gesture extended to Dr Kachikwu when he was GMD. The violation of due process in the award of $26billion contracts as alleged by Kachikwu is incomprehensible. The approval limit of the Tenders Board according to the NNPC Act is pegged at $20 million. Any contract beyond this amount must be referred to, and be deliberated upon by the Federal Executive Council, of which the minister is a member. Therefore, how could $26billion worth of contracts be awarded without recourse to the FEC? Only the gullible will believe such abracadabra.

The Minister had in June 2015 (as GMD) sought clarification from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) on the powers of the Governing Board and those of the NNPC Tenders Board in respect to award of contracts. The BPP responded with a clear distinction. “The NNPC Governing Board is responsible for approval of work programmes, corporate contract plans and budget while the Tenders Board is responsible for approval of day to day procurement implementation.”

The NNPC and the BPP procurement Acts have both vindicated the GMD in his dealings with the minister. Thus, the allegations in his letter could best be described as an attempt by Dr Kachikwu to achieve a hidden motive and cause disrepute to the very organization he is charged to reform. I conclude with the famous words of Winston Churchill “ To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

Habib Gajam

Habibgajam08@yahoo.com

Not Too Young To Run, A Political Scam? By Williams Charles

The Not Too Young To Run is a campaign which seeks to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria and globally. The campaign started in support of bills and motions in Nigeria’s National Assembly sponsored by the following legislators, Tony Nwulu in the House of Representatives and AbdulAziz Nyako in the Senate respectively.
The bill seek to reduce the age of young Nigerians who intend running for the presidency of Nigeria from 40 years to 30 years; for state governor from 35 to 30; for Senate from 35 to 30; for the House of Representatives from 30 to 25; and for State Houses of Assembly from 30 to 25. The campaign is now global, symbolized by the hashtag #NotTooYoungToRun, with the ultimate goal to promote increased youth participation in the political processes globally.
The total number of registered voters stands currently at 71.1 million and there is hope it will increase even more before 2019. While at the moment, it is difficult to have a precise number of young people who have registered, the force of 70%, the percentage of the general population that young Nigerians represent will suffice here and has been missing for much of Nigeria’s voting history.
A critical analysis of the Nigeria youth participation in politics has it that, of 70% young people who are eligible to run for offices in Nigeria, just 27% are not restricted from running for political offices, 43% are restricted from running for office even when eligible to vote,  35% of that population are under 30 years and are automatically out of the brackets of contesting for major offices. Out of the 8% left,  only 2% are members of parliament and holding other elective position in Nigeria, a very disturbing position, especially as the Nigerian youth constitute 70% of the voting population.
This vote is particularly important because the population dynamics are shifting globally. Half of the worlds  population is under 30, and yet 73% of countries, including Nigeria, restrict young people from running for office, by age clauses existing in their constitutions, despite being qualified to vote. Hence, the youth have unanimously risen up to say, if i am qualified to vote, then i am qualified to be voted for. It is on these premises that the agitation for the #NotToYoungToRun bill was initiated.
Despite the fact the bill almost suffered a set back at the house of representatives, on sentimental issues such as why did the senate not reduce its own not too young to run age, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, passed the Not Too Young To Run Bill into law on the 26th of July 2017. A total of 261 members voted in support of the bill, while 23 members voted against it and 2 abstained.
However, the bill left a lot of questions begging for answers, which is threatening the sincerity and integrity of this bill at this material point in time.
The bill has succeeded in setting a minimum age; however it failed to set a maximum age eligible to contest. If the civil service have set an age when their must retire considering an expected decline in their service, health, and productivity; these natural phenomenon are also applicable to political office holders, hence they  must have a retirement age. In other words, it would be practically impossible for the Nigerian youth to take over office from our present aged and old office holders, who have perfected the act of staying and sitting tight in office for an in experienced youth.
According to the National Population Commission which places the total population of Nigeria at 182 million, out of which 112,000,000 live below poverty line and living on less than a dollar per day. Ages 14-24 make up 19.48%, 0-54 makes up 92.92%, with unemployment rate at 14.20%, plus a minimum wage of 18,000, the majority of youth has been technically disenfranchised from being able to be voted for, because the financial demands for running for an elective office in Nigeria is too exorbitant.
Other questions begging for answers are; what chances does this bill guarantee an average Nigerian youth who is interested in contesting an office? How possible is it for a person who earns N18, 000 to afford a presidential or governorship form? Is this democracy or Plutocracy if there is no fair chance given to all? Should the democratic process be so heavily monetized? in an estimated population of 186,053,386, an estimate of 112,000,000 are below the poverty line, and the total number of millionaires are estimated to be less than 20,000.
One question we should first ask, is age really the main barrier to youths occupying elective and non-elective public offices in Nigeria? The answer is no, It is clear that political offices in Nigeria are meant for the elites their children in Nigeria.
The recent trend of Education decadence in Nigeria shows that Nigeria has more than half of the world’s population of out-of-school children. The consequence therefore is that the futures of the country are the children who are currently out of school and Nigeria wont have enough of eligible youth who are eligible to be political office holders in future. Isn’t this another strategy of the ruling class to keep the masses out of the decision-making process of the country in future by making Nigerian children vulnerable and uneducated, while their children graduate from best school overseas?
Fact is, if the Not Too Young To Run bill must succeed, other factors such as  demonetizing of the electoral process to its barest minimum for affordability, INEC setting criteria for aspirants to test capability and lastly, the National Assembly should also set age limitation to back of from contesting elective offices.

The Debt Debate: Deconstructing The Debt Story, By Kemi Adeosun

National debt is an emotive issue as well as an economic one. The thought of saddling future generations with unserviceable debt, is not conscionable and certainly not part of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led-administration’s agenda. It is therefore, worthy of an intervention on my part to explain the history, the short-term strategy and the medium to long term outlook for our economy.

It bears repeating that anyone who thought that the Nigerian economy we inherited in 2015 was in need of minor adjustment was sadly deluded. Oil prices had plunged from a height of over US$120 to a low of US$28 per barrel yet, the country had foreign exchange reserves of US$28.34 billion (having declined by US$16 billion in the two years to June 2015 from a high of US$44.95 billion). Despite just 10% of the budget allocated to capital expenditure, debt had (in a period of unprecedented oil earnings), inexplicably risen from N7.9 trillion in June 2013 to N12.1 trillion in June 2015. Depending on the candour of the commentator, the outlook was at best, ‘challenging’ and at worst, ‘bleak’.

However, this administration set to work, with a vision, not just to return Nigeria to a stable economic footing, but to deliver a fundamental structural change to the economy that would reduce our exposure to crude oil. We approached this with a number of binding constraints that must be understood. One of these was that mass public sector retrenchments to create room for capital spending was not an option. Politically, it offended the principles of the All Progressive Congress (“APC”) and economically, it would worsen an already precarious economic situation and cause untold hardship. In light of this, an expansionary fiscal policy was adopted with an enlarged budget which would be funded in the short term, by borrowing.

As the economy recovered and returned to growth, borrowings would be systematically replaced by revenue, which is the fundamental missing piece in Nigeria’s economic jigsaw. This does not mean that we would ignore waste, which has been a core focus of our efforts. Through the implementation of the Efficiency Unit and enrolment of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (“MDAs”) on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (“IPPIS”), we have successfully saved N206 billion in payroll costs using technology to drive the cleansing process, with the removal of 54,000 fraudulent or erroneous entries. This was attained without the negative social impact of retrenchment.

As we put our plans together, our economic modelling team correctly forecast that in the short term, there would be an acceleration in the accumulation of debt and an increase in debt servicing costs. However, this would be ameliorated, by correcting the low tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio through revenue mobilisation, releasing funds to sustain investment in capital and repaying the debt. ]

Mobilising revenue aggressively is not advisable, nor indeed possible, in a recessed economy but as Nigeria now reverts to growth, our revenue strategy will be accelerated. This is being complimented by a medium-term debt strategy that is focusing more on external borrowings to avoid crowding out the private sector. This would also reduce the cost of debt servicing and shift the balance of our debt portfolio from short term to longer term instruments.

The subject of inherited debt must also be drawn firmly into the mainstream of this discourse. Analysts will recall that in July 2017, Federal Executive Council (“FEC”), approved that N2.7 trillion of hidden liabilities would need to be addressed. These obligations include salaries, pensions, oil importation, energy bills and contractor payments, some of which date back to 2006.

It is instructive to note that the recent Academic Staff Union of Universities (“ASUU”) strike, that crippled our tertiary institutions, is one of many examples of commitments made by previous administrations that were saddled on this team. ASUU’s dispute relates to an agreement reached with the Federal Government in 2013 (when oil prices fluctuated between US$102 and US$116 per barrel), which was not honoured. On a daily basis, previously undisclosed obligations are uncovered. The most recent of which relates to oil importation in 2014 and is currently being dimensioned – unpaid and secured by a hitherto undisclosed sovereign note. All of this, while declared public debt was increasing by N5 trillion in two years despite records highs in revenues (in relative terms) from oil sales.

This Administration believes that Nigerians have a right to the truth. The figures recently released by the Debt Management Office (“DMO”) and much debated indicates that while total public debt in Dollar terms has remained relatively stable since 2015, our debt, when denominated in Naira, has increased from N12.1 trillion to N19.6 trillion.

However, this belies the impact of the recent devaluation of the Naira on the external obligations we inherited, which accounted for N1.63 trillion of this increase. Also, to be considered, is the effect of the compounding of debt service on the inherited domestic debt, which was largely short dated. The administration has always been transparent and the reward for transparency should not be consternation but rather, patient and informed analysis. Nigeria’s debt to GDP currently stands at 17.76% and compares favourably to all its peers.

This administration will continue to pursue a prudent debt strategy, tied to gross capital formation. This will be attained by driving capital expenditure in our ailing infrastructure which will in turn, unlock productivity and create the much-needed jobs. We accept that in the short term, there will be dislocations as our revenue efforts will by definition, lag both our expenditure and debt obligations, creating a fiscal deficit. This will be particularly pronounced in the preliminary years of pursuing this strategy however, the dislocation will be mitigated by the nation’s response to the revenue effort. No economy, anywhere in the world, can deliver sustainable long-term growth, without volatility if tax revenue is at 6% of GDP. This must be addressed.

It is not optional and the true risk to future generations of Nigerian’s is that they grow up in an environment where tax avoidance or evasion is viewed as acceptable. We are already seeing some performance improvement in our non-oil revenues. Particularly, year to date performance of Customs Revenue, Value Added Tax (“VAT”) and Companies Income Tax (“CIT”), is 19% (N408.06 from N342.79 billion), 18% (N634.89 from N539.46 billion) and 11% (N838.45 from N757.40 billion) higher respectively, when compared to the same period in 2016. This does not mean that we have succeeded. Revenue remains considerably short of our ambitions and must be increased exponentially over the coming years but it is a sign that it can be done.

It must be recalled, that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led-administration has expended more on capital projects than any previous one, despite tight fiscal conditions. Our focus on capital is important as it will underpin our medium and long term needs so the impact may not be immediately felt. But there are early and encouraging signs; major construction will resume on twenty-five roads across the key road networks/sections (A1-A4), which cuts across the 6 geopolitical zones, following the successful raising of over N100bn under the Sukuk debt issuance programme.

Our capital releases to Power, Works & Housing in 2016, is estimated to have created 193,469 jobs, with 40,429 being direct jobs and 153,040 indirect jobs. The many thousands of staff of some of our major contractors, who had been furloughed since their last payment receipts in 2014, will attest to the impact of Government Policy. In agriculture, our policies on rice and fertiliser have seen the resurrection of many rice mills and blending plants and have created a new value chain in industries that were previously import driven with over 300,000 farmers fully engaged.

It must also be recalled that this administration is working harder on revenue generation than ever before. Blocking leakages, demanding efficiency and even breaching previous ‘no-go’ areas like tax compliance for our higher earners – there are no sacred cows. All these efforts are aimed at ensuring that Nigeria has an economy that distributes wealth and opportunity fairly among her citizens.

This commitment to equity should equally provide assurance that we will never burden future generations with the responsibility for paying for past mistakes, rather, we will bequeath a vibrant and reformed economy. We are resolutely convinced, based on empirical data that our collective efforts will deliver a Nigeria that works for all Nigerians and in all global economic conditions.

Kemi Adeosun is the minister of finance

The Hands Of Esau, The Sheriff And The Sighs Of A Collection Of Marble Statuary, By Jimi Bickersteth

Prologue:This piece on the hands of Esau, the biblical son of Isaac and Rebecca and twin brother of Jacob, to whom he sold his birthright is akin to the minister of state (oil) experience in the NNPC/Baru saga and the Sheriff’s inability to hit the ground running; quite an interesting anecdote, but full of unintended contradiction.

In defence of PMB’s responsibility the first contradiction was that he in his body language, was honest enough to admit that there is the need for lateral changes  in the nation, by electing to give his minister of state (Oil) audience, speaks volume of the basic standards and frame of reference in the corridor of power on one hand and the hues that attended Kachukwu’s meeting with his boss on the other. But, when is he publicly announcing the meeting with Baro.

In this matter, to reach a valid decision one way or the other, PMB needs to question more people, otherwise he would be seen as a statute in size and dignity and reducing the minister to a sinecure of no or little work, but gave him status. While patience is a sine qua non for a good teacher, I doubt if same could apply to a leader of a debased nation.

Opinion:The fear this raw October morning is borne out of the perception of the people about the impact the chief change agent is having on the nation’s political, economic and social circumstances in a raw portrayal of a nation that promises so much but always delivered very little: and for Nigerians, particularly, after 57th year of pretty rough deal of rampaging political and public servants in the nation’s chests,impunity and utter disregard for laid down regulations, all of which in different combination has made the nation become like a tainted tracery of veins on a leaf,even as it continued to waddle in wanton penury.

The people are now sighing in utter trepidation on what has suddenly became of PMB. While it could be argued that the status of his health has began to create waves and a myth of marching forward looking backwards, and this has began to elicit a quiet rumble across the length and breadth of the country.

The little lateral movement that imbued in all some ray of hope apparently were as a result of some shove without push and attitudinal change on the part of the nation’s public servants and did not include the fear factor that comes with a bang in a change of government political power and directions.

It is now clearer in this’hand of Esau’ relationship in the highest echelon of power and authority has shown that the nation’s leaders are the ones in charge of the manipulation of the group dynamics and the president as a leader is a marquee player in the affairs of state, and who must of necessity need stoicism, and should exude self-confidence to bear his burden lightly and shed humour and good advice over a nation ,that is looking up to him for leadership and directions. Who should reveal to himself and others unsuspected weaknesses, but perhaps discover too a new secret strength, and the Nigerian expects the president to have mastered the art of finding in himself more than he has got. The opulence and grace around that office is not for starters.

The position the nation has found itself is appaling and defy logic and Nigerians must love the nation, but do not love the president any less, but his inability to earn his corn and measure up to standard as expected would naturally draw the peoples ire and wrath, and the indignation should be as indignation can be. In the heat of indignation – things that we normally shrunk from are easily tackled in a flush of anger, sometimes they bring the desired results or take us to an expected end. The attempts to hush Nigerians up is a greater disservice to the nation’s growth.

As if we haven’t enough of distractions, now this. A scenario where the minister of state (Oil)and the GMD of a subsidiary conglomerate supposedly under his ministry are trying to one-up each other. You’ll wont to think that, even where there purviews dovetailed and motivations way different,but should be with the aim of reaching same goal,in offices that require compatibility derived from a very strong sense of duty; but the two dynamo-in-the-sack are at the risk of being set adrift like a hard-luck astronaut.PMB must sort this out, otherwise things can quickly erode. He must foster strength and harmony not strife and confusion in his kitchen cabinet.

I’m aware that there are several options and channels open to PMB, Kachiukwu and Vary with varying degrees of implications, however, the two combatants should stop trying to be perfect dancers to an unseen drummer or drummers, or look super intelligent, but should strive to perform their assigned tasks with a genuineness others will want to emulate;and to in various combining degree and efforts use their gifts, passions and discretions to help build a strong, virile units that would elevate the nation from its present rut and rot,to the path of prosperity and progress.

The duo must stop showing us what we know! What? That both of them and the rest of the PMB’s crew are all imperfect people and are prone to fend for personal interests. In politics, this may come too easily, because of ego and sheer vanity. In the matter, non of them should stay hurt,if at all,longer than it’s absolutely necessary. Using this poor one-upmanship togetherness-not-too-together ( that’s been the nation’s bane)to boost their self-worth is absolutely unnecessary. What’s important is to make sure all are singing from the same page, and not breeding a tower of Babel, concerning the nation’s expectations or else there’s trouble ahead.

To me,it’s not a’right or wrong’ issue. The PMB administration’s main goal is to win the nation over, not with tussles or arguments for and or against look for solution. The nation will succeed only as we identify in life or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend and blend to that one objective.

Time is at a premium and PMB must note that he must not allow himself to be caught in the web of presumptions for which he’s bound to suffer distractions of a kind that would require him to let his administration be controlled by the antics inherent in his ideological posturing and allegiance to the nation. Irrespective of the distractions weaved or contrived to put his pan Nigerian resolve off balance.

He owes the nation a responsibility, even if it meant standing in the middle of the power-bloc and political base in disgrace for failing to surrender state power to any oligarchy.

Whether PMB is suave and savvy enough to rise above any primordial instincts and set a new national agenda in a nation that highlights a grim reality of a nation in dire need of self-discovery is another matter; but the nation expects him (ill-health or not) to as a matter of fact and urgency, lead with a display of authority and grace.

The Kachukwu/Baro saga is slowing things down, because the mainstay of the nation’s economy. As days go by, feeling is getting stronger, he must see and correct all that is wrong and fix it. To the warring executives, they should not over flex on the contending issues. Things must always ‘be a certain way’ ; and instead of dwelling on the problems, they should not focus too much on what’s wrong, or on one another’s imperfections; dwelling on flaws – your own or someone else’s- it’s unnecessary. Now, let me be clearer; one is not talking about striving to do it better. That’s a good thing. I’m talking about obsessing about what’s wrong. There’ll always be a better way to do something. #

Jimi Bickersteth

Jimi Bickersteth is a writer and a blogger.

He can be reached on Twitter@bickerstethjimi

@alabaemanuel

@akannibickersteth

jimi.bickersteth@yahoo.co.UK

jimi.bickersteth@gmail.com

Ogun 2019: Your Portfolio Will Count, By Uzoma Ngozi

Earlier this year, the media was awash with news that the APC in Ogun State had zoned the governorship slot to a section of the state ahead of 2019 gubernatorial elections. As interesting as it may sound, politicians need to know come 2019; victory at the polls will be determined by a candidate’s portfolio rather than party affiliations.

This is because Nigerians followed the party system both at the state and federal level, but were disappointed – even as the country was led into a deep recession; a situation evident in all the state of the federation, including Ogun State.

Buoyed by the decision of the Ogun state governor to hand over power to Ogun West Senatorial district, not less than seven candidates have lined up for governorship position in the state; even when some of the candidates don’t have the interest of the state at heart.

Amongst the seven candidates, these four, Sen Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi), Mr Wasiu Kolawole Lawal (aka KLM), Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (aka GNI) and Chief Tolu Odebiyi are topping the opinion polls at the moment.  

It is berating to the citizens of the state for politicians to think eligible voters will cast their votes on a candidate due to political affiliations or for a candidate that have served with no meaningful achievements. Politicians will be shocked because 2019 elections will differ from the norm.  Some candidates are already focused on the fact that their victory will be determined and influenced by their party affiliations. These set of candidates will rather pay attention to fulfilling their party’s pledge than make meaningful changes that will develop the state.

One can already feel the heat of the forthcoming elections even as the candidates jostle to get their parties tickets. Months ago, some of the candidates under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met with the former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The former governor who foresaw what is to come advised the candidates under the party to unite while urging them to work towards a grand coalition  instead of forming splinter political parties that will not be strong enough to gain power in the coming election.

While the PDP is trying to unite, the All Progressive Party (APC) at the national level is experiencing a split into three factions – the Bola Tinubu camp, the Abuja Group and Buhari loyalist. This will also have an effect on who to represent the party in Ogun state. This means the party is likely to have more than one candidate for Ogun state come 2019.

The Candidates

There has been wide speculations that Sen. Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi), might succeed governor Amuson on the basis that they both cut an agreement that wasn’t disclosed to the public. Despite the speculations, the Lagos politician is having difficulty tracing his root. He claims to hail from Pahayi Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government of the state. A claim many of the state residents find questioning. This doubt has left many residents of the state asking questions.

Yayi who is currently serving as a senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District in the National Assembly is confronted to give answers to questions that are likely to put a dent on his portfolio. And one question is, “How can a serving ‘Lagos’ top politician suddenly have interest for the exalted position of governorship in Ogun state?”

This question is important knowing that his primary residence and business endeavours are in Lagos. Adding to this, Lagosians are of the opinion that his impact was not felt while representing Lagos West Senatorial District in the House of Assembly. All these leave his motives for wanting to contest for governorship position in Ogun state questionable.

Another top candidate is Mr Wasiu Kolawole Lawal, popularly known as KLM, is currently serving as the Commissioner for Forestry in the state. Even though his impact in office is yet to be felt in the state, he believes his success will come from the fact that he can count on the support of his co-cabinet members and not on popularity based on his achievements in office.

Meanwhile one candidate that seems to win the heart of the people is Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka popularly called GNI. The Imeko born technocrat has garnered experiences right from the administration of Chief Otunba Gbenga Daniel. This burdened elite, has highlighted areas of concerns that should be consolidated upon for further development in Ogun state.

As a first class graduate of accounting from the University of Ife, he emphasised the fact that transparency and accountability of public funds are key factors that will enable any state to maximise its resources even as the the state introduces policies that will promote its profitability.

Another crucial area GNI identified is job creation. As a technocrat that has experienced life both in the private and public sector, he believes that the economy of any state should be driven by SME’s. In this light, he plans to create jobs for the youths, create enabling environment for SME’s and empower market women. His portfolio in this regards sterns from his experience in the private sector where impact is measured only by quantum of returns and not just mere presence.

GNI reveals that he is motivated by his desire to bring meaningful change to state. His memories as a young boy growing up at Imeko weren’t palatable as they had their major source of drinking water from the only two popular rivers. And the only health available facility was a government owned clinic, while power was only generated from kerosene lamps. Poverty was their everyday reality. He has therefore seen poverty, felt poverty and breath poverty. While in office he felt the significance of public policy in the life of Ogun state populace. And in this light seeks to make a change. He is close to the people and arguably the most popular name in Ogun state politics.

The third candidate on the popular opinion poll is Chief Tolu Odebiyi. He is the son of late Sen. Jonathan Odebiyi and hails from Iboro, Yewa North Local government area of the state. He’s yet to reveal his drive for contesting, and hasn’t served in the capacity where his achievements can be quantified.  The same can be said for most of the candidates who intend to ride on the recommendations of political Godfathers rather than having the interest of the people at heart.

Uzoma Ngozi is an entrepreneur and a social commentator who resides in Lagos. Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/uzoma.ngozi.52

Kachikwu And Other Tales: Telling The Truth Even We Lie, By Umar Hassan

Questions people were supposed to ask:
-So all Kachikwu alleges are true only because he thinks so?
-Has Kachikwu actually said $26 billion was stolen?
-Has anybody,whether from the NNPC board or not,corroborated anything Kachikwu said?
President Buhari’s pathetic leadership style is fast shutting the doors of objectivity in the mind of the average nigerian and when the government can no longer do anything right, it automatically means it has become the number one enemy of the very people that voted it in.
Days ago,a letter by the Minister of state and Chairman of the NNPC board, Dr.Ibe Kachikwu to President Buhari was leaked to the press.In it,Kachikwu alleged acts of gross insurbordination and total disregard for due process by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru.
If giving a dog a bad name is the fastest way to hang it,then Nigerians aren’t afraid to do that.Not that the President didn’t already have a dog named after him any way.Never have i before seen such blatant misintepretation of the very explicit contents of a document.We actually have more answers than we do questions.
-Kachikwu blew the whistle on a $26 billion theft
-Buhari refused to see Kachikwu when he reached out to him in person because he was shielding Baru
-Buhari is conniving with Baru to steal money
Happenings over the past few days,have given an insight to the wonders of the human mind and how it can choose only what to understand.Hal Roach once said- “Every man should have a wife because there are some things you can’t blame on the government”.
But nobody needs a wife with a President like ours.In his Independence day address Buhari said he was disappointed in the leaders of places where ‘hot-headed’ secessionist youths resided for not calling them to order.Less than an hour later,the internet was agog with stories of how Buhari was blaming the South Eastern leaders for the Biafran agitation.
Facts as they really are:
1.Buhari didn’t specifically blame the ibo leaders.There have been approximately 3 agitations for separate states since Buhari took over: IPOB for a Biafran state,Niger-Delta Avengers and others for an Ijaw nation then a coalition of Yoruba groups for an Oodua nation.
2.Buhari may have said he was working with the South-South leaders towards improving the region but the most ‘hot-headed’ agitation has come from the Niger-Delta avengers who bombed a lot of our oil installations.
3.In essence, Buhari was advocating for a united nation and calling on leaders (elders) who witnessed the sad outcome of the Civil war to educate youths on the possible implications of their actions.
Facts as they were understood:
1.Buhari was blaming ibo leaders for Biafra
2.Buhari northern supremacist agenda will never allow him want peace
3.Buhari meant to incite the South East with his remarks
PMB helped justify agitations by promising to favour those who voted him en masse ahead of those who didn’t in what has come to be popularly known as the 97%-5% formula.He lived up to his words by not appointing a single south easterner out of over 35 non-ministerial appointments.As a matter of fact,Kachikwu,a seasoned veteran of the oil sector,was removed as GMD of the NNPC for a northerner when criticisms of his lopsided appointments were most vociferous.
Kanu’s bail was revoked and the army went to get him while the FG never even bothered to as much as keep Nigerians updated on its efforts to arrest and prosecute the arewa quit notice issuers like it promised.The ibo hate song singers were never arrested too.What is good for Kanu isn’t for them. Why? Buhari doesn’t deserve justice too.
Kachikwu’s letter was written since August 30th and the President neither deemed it wise to invite him nor agree to see him. A Maikanti Baru probe should have been well under way. Buhari was practically dragged into probing Babachir Lawal, his suspended SGF and perhaps it may never have happened had optics not become vital when the DG NIA,a Jonathan appointee had reason to be probed as well.The report of that committee we may never see.
Baru was in the clear till the Kachikwu letter leaked. So yes, one need not alter or shut out any fact with regards to the President fighting a hypocritical war on corruption.
Nigerians are simply tired of the suffering,the lies,the incompetence,the favourism and the hypocrisy.Nigerians are tired of Buhari. He is deservedly guilty until proven innocent.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.
Twitter:@alaye26

Libido Boosting Drugs’ Vendors Are On The Loose In Nigeria, By Ismail Saidu

The progress and development of any society deeply depends on how proactive and productive its citizens are. Science, technology, pharmacology military power and education in general have become major indices of a country’s effectiveness in aspects of development or economic progress.
Drugs abuse is a major concern in Nigeria. Regulatory agencies must regulate the indiscriminate selling of sex-enhancement drugs to reduce the drugs abuse and its negative effects on our economy.
In most Nigerian cities, one major way to identify a bus-stop or motor park is the hullabaloos emanating from the loudspeakers mounted on automobiles which are used by Libido enhancement drugs vendors. They move their cars from one motor park to another using obscene, filthy language and nude photos to promote Viagra and other sexual enhancement drugs. Astonishingly, these self-taught doctors inspired by poverty have claimed to cure Haemorrhoids (Piles) and protracted sexual-transmitted diseases like Syphilis and Gonorrhoea.
A conjunction of traditional herbs, capsules and liquid concoctions are found in their coffers to treat these diseases. This perilous business has been excelling since the 90s till date with large patronage. People are given the guarantee of getting to a round 3 to 4 during sexual intercourse or having a quick remedy to sexual virus. Most of the time, the stories end calamitously for the patients who seek help from them.
Nowadays, female vendors have emerged but with a different marketing strategy of the house to house delivery. They also use the social media to advertise and sell out their products. In essence, in their efforts to beat the whips of poverty, people, men and women have went berserk selling pills, tablets, herbs, tonics and lubricants from house to house, in parties, in bus-stops, motor parks and even in religious places or gatherings with claims for a dramatic improvement of sex life, quick cure for sexual virus.
One is forced to ask, is sex our major problem in Nigeria? Or is it that the governments at all levels are less concerned with health matters of the masses for allowing unqualified people to sell drugs which are exposed to heat or unpleasant weathers? The growing trend in the business of sex drugs has precipitated drugs abuse among young and old generations in Nigeria for the purpose of gaining ecstasy and sexual pleasures. These drugs that people binged on for ecstasy are no doubt dangerous for their health.
For anyone struggling with it, poor sexual performance can be a real concern. The only way to safely and effectively improve your sex life with pills, is by taking medicines prescribed to you by a registered doctor, after a proper discussion about your needs and personal medical history. Many sex problems are related to psycho-sexual or diet issues. Consult with a doctor or registered psycho-sexual therapist to discuss which treatment options might be available to you. Psycho-sexual therapist and dieticians are crucial at this moments.
There should be campaigns on the negativity of abuse of sex-enhancement drugs in public places. To fold our arms to allow this business continue without regulation by the government simply because we don’t patronise it, is like allowing a mad man with a grenade to throw at you before you act. Government should regulate this business.
I believe, shying away from our drawbacks will not mitigate or placate the problems but rather aggravate them. An once of prevention is worth a pound cure
#ASCODI says #YourHealthMatters
 
Ismail Datti Saidu
Program Director at Action for Sustainable Community Development Initiative

APC: Their Party, Their Enemies! By Abiodun Komolafe

Nigeria is out of recession! So, let all men of goodwill clink glasses in celebration of the valuable worth of a country that will neither wear out nor rust out.

Having said that, to say that all is well with party politics in Nigeria, especially, as 2019 draws nearer, depends on which side the observer is looking at. Like Siamese twins, things are scarily looking up for the ruling party and the opposition is closer to fire than it is to frying pan.  The   political lion and the economic bear are strategizing; even the wolves and the hyenas of our ethno-religious   belongingness are waiting in the wings, desperately hoping to devour whatever remains of the country called Nigeria. It is therefore time Nigeria’s David woke up to the responsibility of killing the uncircumcised Philistines before they kill Nigeria dead. In my considered opinion, such an important task must start from the State of Osun!

With only one year to the end of the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration as governor of Osun, it’s  expected that the party in government at the national level would have examined all its cards  in  the overall interest of retaining power in the state. The challenge of power-shift, the sudden death of ‘Serubawon’ and the replacement of Adeleke with Adeleke, among others, have further underscored what needs to be done to rescue its Israel from losing focus of what lies ahead.

From the look of things, the configurations are somehow unsynchronized  and, if the permutations are not carefully handled, they may lead to conflagrations of unimaginable proportions which one can only pray would not consume the party. For all I care, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) brought us to this sorry pass and it shouldn’t be allowed to take us for collective amnesiacs. Essentially therefore, genuine plans by All Progressives Congress (APC) to remain in Aso Rock in 2019 should start with retaining Osun for the party in 2018.

On the road to this all-important victory, there may be some thistles and thorns which must be  clinically  uprooted  before things get out of hand. For the constraint of time and space, I will restrict myself to only a few. First  is  the issue of salary, pensions and allowances of its workers which must be proactively resolved in order to prevent   the   ravenous, drained  and  docile   opposition from wickedly feasting on a national stench to rubbish Aregbesola’s achievements. Apart from the fact that more than 20 other states in the country are also caught in this web, the recently-held “peaceful protest” by retired military pensioners in Abuja to, among other things, demand “the payment of balance of gratuities of contributory pensions” and   University College Hospital   (UCH) doctors’   14-day  ultimatum  to the Federal Government, also on salary- and allowances-related matters are indications that  the  challenges being faced by Nigeria’s workers are  not  limited  to Osun. Also in this group are Academic Staff Union of  Universities (ASUU), National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU).

To be fair to hm, Aregbesola saw this coming as far back as 2013 and immediately took measures to confront it through salary apportionment. But, rather than appreciate his foresight, the governor was  needlessly vilified and unnecessarily pilloried. As Nigerians can now see, the road once forthrightly travelled by Osun is what is now giving some states like Kogi, Ondo, even Bayelsa States a lot of hassles.

Secondly, APC must avoid becoming victims of its own wrong choice. All over the world, cutting the nose to spite the face as a way of resolving differences has never been found to work wonders. Those who doubt this  assertion  had better ask members of the now-expired President Goodluck  Jonathan’s party how it feels to be on the other side of the rung.  Indeed,  this  is where those  insisting  that Aregbesola should “play aloof” in the succession battle but are in turn hobnobbing  with men of questionable characters who spend more time in the courtrooms, attending to one allegation of impropriety or the other than they do to their constitutionally-assigned responsibilities, also owe Nigerians some explanations!

At a time like this, regular meetings and wide consultations aimed at gestating and fertilizing ideas on how to move the party forward  cannot be said to be  unimportant. Impliedly, if the government has not been blowing its trumpet well enough, it is time  the Esther in APC who first saw herself as a mere housewife  was  woken  up by its Mordecai. And this is where the involvement of committed foot soldiers, especially, the youth, becomes relevant.

Thirdly, complacency at a time like this may be dangerous, both for the ruling party and Nigerians. The  realness or otherwise of  the  claim  that empowerment has always been a scarce commodity within the progressive camp must also be critically looked into in the interest of the party. In my considered opinion, positive steps must be taken to correct wrong or negative  impressions so as not to confer an undue advantage on the opposition.

But all about Osun is not a tale of woes. As a matter of fact, the state has gone too far to look back and credit must be given to the forward-looking governor. Within a very short period of seven years, Aregbesola has given a new hope of a state gloriously conquering, not miserably failing! For example, while the state continues to pay sufficient attention to the education of its students,  every teacher on its payroll now knows that he or she has the potentials to rise up to the topmost level of his or her career. Through activities of the Osun Broilers Outgrowers  Programme Scheme, aka OBOPS,  the state has not only “placed Osun second to Oyo State in broiler production in the country”, “about 1,000 farmers and over-3,000 food vendors” have also been gainfully employed.   In Osun,  cases of Poliomyelitis are now consigned to the past due to  the  administration’s  effective and extensive immunization initiatives.  It will also interest readers to know  that  the  state   came  9th  in  the  just-concluded National Youth Games with 9 Gold  (including 3 Non-Scoring), 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals, the  first  of  its  kind  in a long while.

All said, who is a better politician: one who builds bridges across  the  Niger  through  provision for, and investment in his people or one who merely constructs bridges  across the stomach?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, backfire!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

Northern Nigeria: Between Stereotypes And Facts, By Buhari Aminu

The recent uproar by “Arewa twitter” as the northern bloc of Nigerian twittosphere are fondly called finally gave me the impetus to put pen to paper, on what appears to be a myriad of burning issues that have taken different dimensions over time, culminating most recently on gender subjugation, oppression and the role of northern culture and islamic faith in perpetuating it.

The whole polemic seems to be erroneously hinged on the assertion that secular/western education is the only viable form of education and a narrow minded definition of islamic education that seeks to view the two forms of education as parallels. In anyways such assertions are not scholarly but naive and diminutive, because they ignore the rich, complex, culture and history of the Northern establishment vis-a-vis islam regards women and education in Nigeria. It’s a truism that western type education does hold sway in today’s world and not acquiring it would be quite the folly.

How much difference can there, if both forms of education primarily seek to empower the human mind and spirit to become an instrument for the development of this material world culminating in individual refinement and national development. Islam takes it a step further by setting down a set of ideals & principles to govern the mind that engages in such a pursuit, so that one may prosper in this material world and the next. Theodore Roosevelt captures it aptly when he wrote that “to educate a man in mind and not morals is to educate a menace to society”.

For it was Islam that picked up the gauntlet when the light of enlightenment was dwindling on the Greeks, while Europe was still groping in the dark ages. Laying the foundation in fields of medicine, philosophy, architecture, history, poetry, mathematics, astronomy and optics which the west is building upon today.

By the time colonialism reached the shores of Africa the north was a civilization in its own rights, thats why direct rule couldn’t be employed unlike the other regions. Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello wrote in his autobiography that there was in effect what we’d today call a university in present day Katsina, with scholars and students coming far away Arabia, Malaysia and other parts Africa, with no other motive than seeking the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and obeying prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who charged all muslims centuries ago by saying that “if anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of paradise”.

It is pre-critical to simply dismiss the segment of society as ignorant, plagued by poverty or ruled by inordinate patriarchy because they choose not to want western/secular type education for their children both male & female. An overwhelming number of them enroll their children in islamic schools as soon as they learn to talk, while making sure they learn a craft or trade.

So they actually feel justified as having fulfilled their parenting roles because as far they’re concerned an islamic education coupled with a craft or trade is enough for their children to lead a decent life style without compromising their chances of success in the hereafter because, in Islam success is two dimensional so for any one to be truly thought of as successful they must have lead a decent life without compromising their chances in the afterlife. Even today in western societies we have people whose children are exempt from being taught the theory of evolution in schools, there are also the Amish cultures that shun modernity and choose to live simple lives in seclusion.

The point of contention was when colonialists came with their brand of education that primarily sought to further their agenda of subjugating the populace, through Christian missionary schools with their own obvious agenda of “winning souls”. The rest is history, they say. Permit me to digress a bit.

The Kanem-Borno empire which spanned from present day northeastern Nigeria to what is now southern Chad, northern Cameroun, eastern Niger and southern Libya from the 9th to the 19th century is an illustrious example to commence with. Its hierarchy had a ruling council of only women, that was made of up the Magira the [Queen-Mother], the Magara [Mai’s senior sister] and the Gumsu [Mai’s wife].

Their roles included not only unbringing of the princes, but they also were also imbibed with the power to make and influence political decisions, they played pivotal roles during interregnums and have been known to usurp an incompetent Mai [King]. The role of Queen-Mother and in effect steward, Magira Aisa played in shaping and training of her son Mai [king] Idris Alooma the would be heir has been well documented and the resultant effect of that upbringing was a king unlike no other.

Mai [king] Idris Alooma is today revered for being a statesman ahead of his time. His military skills, administrative, legal reforms and islamic piety are unparalleled in the history of the empire that brought about unequalled prosperity as well. And we also know of the Queen-Mother that ordered the then [king] Mai Biri be imprisoned. We’re all privy or should be to compelling accounts of heroine and Amazon of her time Queen Amina, whose wartime exploits and administrative prowess are being extolled till this very day.

Nana Asmau foremost teacher, poet and princess of the Sokoto Caliphate is today being revered for her scholarly attributes rather than anything else. Hajiya Gambo Sawaba foremost politician, activist and nationalist during the first republic, who had to endure persecutions from the colonial authorities and the native administration was also a pace setter in her own right.

The pivotal role women played in the life Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) the man all muslims are obligated by divine decree to view as role models and strive to emulate is well documented. From the prophet’s birth mother, Amina to his foster-mother and wet nurse Halimatul Sa’adiyah to Khadijah bint Khuwaylid his beloved wife who was his greatest pillar of support, his employer, his moral support, and his financier. She was the one that comforted him and gave him words of encouragement after his first encounter with the Angel Jubril, left him terrified and disheartened.

She had the foresight to take him to her learned and Christian cousin Waraqah bin Nawfal, who was the first to acknowledge his call to Prophecy as authentic. It was also another another of his wives that advised him on how to go about getting the muslims to pay their zakats, by paying his own first in effect lead by example after his previous attempts to convince them to pay proved unsuccessful. Aisha (R.A) is amongst the top three narrators of hadiths and scholars are quick to mention the uniqueness of the hadiths she collected because of the special relationship she had with the prophet, so much so that she became a scholar and eminent jurist after his death.

Nusayba bint Ka’ab (R.A) another Sahabiyyah whose heroics on and off the battle field serves as a radiant example of uncommon valor and bravery. It’s instructive enough that when the rasul was asked why there aren’t “any women prophets”, his responce was that “women already have motherhood”, indicating that Allah (SWT) considers motherhood as equal to prophethood or above it. Could there be anything more complimenting than that?

The pioneering role of women in islam is also what lead Fatima Al Fihri to establish what is considered the very first university in the world, in Fez Morocco. Founded in the year 859 the university of Al Qarawiyyin is the worlds oldest continuously operating degree awarding university in the world by the Guiness Book of World Records.

Its difficult to explain how a people bequeathed such a beautiful, rich and complex history that is the union of northern culture and traditions and islamic ideals and principles could find themselves in the doldrums we are today. We’ve all seen the damning statistics and figures on education, poverty, VVF, Child mortality e.t.c in northern Nigeria.

Yet some are trying to push the notion of a grand scheme at work to hold women back, why then are Almajirai only males. It’s supposedly educated women who should know about family planning, day care centers that engage in employing a child that should also be in school to look after their own babies while they acquire a degree.

The Almajiri system have been subverted to serve as a source of cheap labour, amongst other things called upon to run errands for us and other menial chores, most times for nothing more than some left over food, and if they prove to be loyal, consistent and hardworking they’re given pieces of mostly used and worn out clothes and shoes and food on a regular basis.

If this isn’t reminiscent of slavery then I dont know what is. Long before Bokoharam started recruiting them to use as cannon fodder, Politicians have used them to disrupt the rallies of opposition and other dastardly acts. We are leading in virtually every negative indices of development and these are realities which no one is today proud of and only serves as a constant reminder of our collective shame and failure as a people.

Maybe our problems are simply a failure of leadership, but that argument doesn’t hold much weight when one comes to term with the fact that a leader must inevitably work within and exist in a certain political environment,under a set of laws. Simply put a leader is bound by a preexisting system of structural limitations, present and inherited challenges.

To simply lump all this on the short comings of a gender which are numerous to say the least is just a convenient way of avoiding the complex and deep embedded nature of the problem ranging from institutional, cultural and historical.

The author, Buhari Aminu.K is a medical intern and can be reached on twitter @aminbuhar and aminbuhar@gmail.com.

NHIS: The House Of Reps And The Rest Of Us, By Nuhudeen Idajili

Wonders shall not cease in the country called Nigeria. I say this because of the myriad of issues we are grappling with in recent times. In all, my conclusion is that personal interest surpasses national interest. Ethnicity and religion are so rife that common sense in now not common. We are now used to phrases like “they don’t like us” or “ it is because I am this or that.”

This piece is as a result of a piece of news I stumbled on. And guess what? It is again about the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the House of Representatives Committee on Health chaired by one Mr. Chike Okafor representing Ehimembano/ihitte Uboma/Obowo federal constituency of Imo state. He is such an amazing chap. And he also has an ambition to govern Imo state. But guess what? He is for sale to the highest bidder. Also worse, is the fact that he is the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services.

As they say, there is no smoke without fire. Hon. Chike Okafor came into limelight when the committee he heads summoned the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole to appear before it to explain the circumstances that led to the suspension of the former executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf by the honorable minister of health. It didn’t end there.

The distinguished member granted an interview in Vanguard newspaper of 16th July 2017, where he stated that the suspension of the executive secretary of the NHIS was a witch-hunt. At some point, one began to wonder what it was that made the member of the house of reps the trumpeter of the suspended executive secretary. You can guess that something really good must have exchanged hands because I know Hon. Chike Okafor is not a cheap chap. He is smart, very smart that he won’t drag his name in the mud for a common plate of porridge.

Those not in the know of his antecedents would assume he is a patriot working for the good of Nigeria. But I have it on good authority how some good amount of money exchanged hands between the suspended executive secretary and the house committee on health. Little wonder why the committee immediately issued an “order” asking the minister to reinstate the suspended ES? A committee chairman is asking a substantive minister of the federal republic of Nigeria to undo the suspension of an errant chief executive in one of the agencies under his purview. Wonders shall never end. However, I have some concerns with the way some of the legislators carry about their supposed oversight functions.

They carry on like they are an authority, issuing “orders” and the likes. No sir, there are three arms of government. The executive, legislature, and judiciary and their roles and responsibilities are spelled out. I do not see the effectiveness of the so-called oversight function of the legislators. For the likes of Hon. Chike Okafor, funds for his governorship ambition must be financed by agencies under the federal ministry of health because he is the chairman of the almighty House of Representatives Committee on Health Services.

For being the chairman of the “powerful” committee, his stock in trade is to harass chief executives of these agencies in the name of oversight visits, demanding for contracts and the likes. This fact is verifiable in places like the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, etc. So in whose interest has he been granting interviews and issuing legislative orders?

Like I stated earlier, I stumbled on a piece of news where it was said that the House of Representatives moves to withhold the budget of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The first question I asked was why the House of Representatives would do such? Then I read further and realized it was the same House Committee on Health Services and chaired by the same Hon. Chike Okafor that was behind the news. And what was his reason?

“Following the refusal of the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, to recall the suspended executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Usman Yusuf, the House of Representatives may not pass the 2018 budget of the agency. This is part of the recommendations contained in the report of the House Committee on Health Services, which investigated allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds at NHIS.”

“The committee has recommended that the House give the minister benefit of the doubt by issuing another seven-day ultimatum for him to recall the suspended executive secretary pending the conclusion of its investigation into the rot in the scheme.” I do not know what to call this. Legislative oversight? Patriotism? Personal interest? National interest? You just name it.

However, the consolation in the piece of news was that the committee is going to submit its report and ask the House of Representatives to give the Honourable Minister of Health another seven-day ultimatum to recall the suspended executive secretary. Well, I am comforted to realize that it was only a recommendation. However, we must not lose sight of something here. Which is the fact that the Health Services Committee is not superior to the Federal Ministry of Health? And by extension, the Honourable Minister of Health is not answerable to the House of Representatives or a committee for that matter. This point should be clear in our minds before we can understand the anomaly in the statements credited to Hon. Chike Okafor.

It might also be useful to remind us that the then acting president issued a memo for the suspended executive secretary to be investigated. In essence, common sense tells us that he has to leave office pending the outcome of the investigative panel setup. Let me give an example. Babachir Lawal was suspended as the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF). He vacated office while investigations were ongoing. This is the norm and not any different in the case of the suspended executive secretary of the NHIS. Let me continue. The investigative report was submitted to Mr. President for further action on the SGF. This is also the norm because he is an appointee of Mr. President and he has the final say.

Same is applicable in the case of the suspended executive secretary. As at the last time I checked, the suspended ES is not an appointee of the House of Representatives. So why the “orders”? Isn’t this too much interference? Isn’t this overstepping boundary? And to think that a committee would use its position as an agent of destabilization is worrisome. To think of not passing the budget of the National Health Insurance Scheme, in my opinion, is of poor taste. I have not convinced the Honourable Speaker, Yakubu Dogora would want to be associated with such anomaly.

We are patiently watching and waiting for the resumption of the distinguished members of the House of Representatives.

*Idajili can be reached on idajili.nuhu@gmail.com

Celebrating Hon. Mikail Bmitosahi, The Political Icon Who Redefined Governance In Niger State, By Abduba’qi Usman Ebbo

The story of Hon. Mikail Al-Amin Bmitosahi who clocks yet another age today is one lined with often impressing deeds as much of generosity as of valour, candour, commitment to communal progress and respect for leaderships, across politics and communities.
While those whose paths have at a time or the other crossed that of Hon. Bmitosahi may find the preceding superlatives fitting and apt for him, those who see him from the distance may wonder a bit.
When politics has been for some individuals an opportunity for self-enrichment/preservation, a chance to disconnect themselves from their own roots and their own people, when winning elections is just all these clan wait for to abdicate all responsibilities and run finally away into self-made cocoons, Bmitosahi has been a lone figure in an apparently deserted wilderness, siding with the people, working for the people, defending workers and communities, even in ways and situations which put upon him burdens as to deflate his personal material resources.
Equally accessible to the high and low, wealthy and financially challenged, connected and unconnected, patrician and plebeian, Bmitosahi remains a study in community spirit and position for service and a representation of the genuine spirit of democracy and Islam: working for the people, standing by the people, thinking with the people. Not for him, if the reason is not for the people!
As the political head of all staff of the Government House, Bmitosahi’s immediate responsibility is to manage and monitor human resources to ensure they serve needs of the Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello’s administration, a responsibility he discharges with rare panache and admirable verve.
Today, the CoS is a coordinator who coordinates with the graceful candour of the  benevolent leader, rather than the dismissive hauteur of bossy lords. In being first to resume offices each new day, first to notice someone’s countenance has been unusually down, first to do this, first to do that, Bmitosahi has been first in very many conducts which have today endeared him to many an individual, in and out of the state.
Never the one to lose temper even in the face of offensive conducts of irresponsible staffers, He would invite a clearly wrong subordinate for a chat, rather than launch into outbursts reeking with boastful condemnations. ‘See me in the office’, the subtle forgiveness for a wrong that should rather have been met with iron fist.
Born on October 3, 1969 in the railway town of Minna, which is now a part of Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State, he was trained as a public administrator, receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees both in Public Administration at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, in 2000 and 2010 respectively. And currently a student of PHD in the same University.
His early education, was between 1973 and 1984 in Minna, before proceeding to Zungeru College of Advanced Studies,
Wushishi between 1987 and 1988.  He joined the service of the Niger State Government soon after his studies at Zungeru until his voluntary retirement.
Hon. Bmitosahi’s sensitivity to social justice attracted him to politics and to humanitarian causes. His political career, in and out of active official engagements, was characterised by remarkable services and commitments to duties assigned to him.
It may in a way be disparaging to conclude that his years in public service, in both elective and appointment positions, on both national and international tasks and community development projects, were the basis of his admirable humility and commendable candour. No. Very many individuals within this state and outside share similar experiences with him, but have been worthy recipients of public condemnation and opprobrium, having applied their positions to feather their nests and flourish their material empires.
He is not like them, he’s just a different breed.
Hon. Bmitosahi’ only seems to enjoy unusual grace traceable to his unshaken and unshaking faith in Islam as a religion and politics for service and only service, siding with the people, working for the people, making the people the focus of all public conducts.
It is by reason of these qualities and desire to have the best for himself and for Niger state that the then aspirant but now Governor Abu Sani Bello chose him as Director-General, Abubakar Sani Bello Gubernatorial Campaign Organisation between July 2013 and April, 2015.
A move they started together since 2004.
How well he has served his master, God Almighty, and his boss, Governor Bello is a verdict often given by people today in the communities across the 25 local governments.
In the spirit of this season, in the life of Hon Bmitosahi and in recognition of years of selfless service and commitment to the very ideals of democracy and humanity, we join whole legion others to wish the CoS to Governor Abu Sani Bello many happy returns of this glorious day and a happy, very happy birthday celebrations Boss.

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