Improving The Electoral Fortunes Of Apc In Cross River State Come 2019 By Patrick Ubi

For those of us ardent and desirous of embracing the change in the manifesto of the All Progressive Congress, it is not early to begin to x-ray our performance in the general elections of 2015. In spite of the enthusiasm and euphoria with which Cross Riverians, welcomed the merger and registration of the All Progressive Congress, APC, leading to massive registration of members into it, our performance in the last elections, was indeed below all our expectations. We did not anticipate the colossal and overbearing acts of arrogance of power, the enthronement of invidious impunity and electoral manipulations, displayed by PDP Chief Executives in the South-South geo-political zone. To obviate such negative influences on our future electoral performance, the party in Cross River State, must plan. We must plan because, it is trite that you can only harvest or reap after you have sown. And there is always a wide gap between the time of sowing and the time of harvest. It is therefore never too early to plan.

 

Since 1999, Cross River State, has progressively become a one party state, groaning under the tyranny of the variegated umbrella, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Helped by our docile, servile and laid-back disposition, a few young opportunists, whose only credentials are the names of their fathers, used the platform of the PDP to ‘capture’ power in our state. They have since then fed like leech on the public till, to the consternation of all and sundry. In Cross River and some other PDP states, 2014, ended in a season of anomie, of perfidy and despair. Our State was politically, socially and economically in chaos. For instance, our judiciary is under lock and key, salary and pension payments of our only viable industry, the state civil service, is in arrears and as reported on page 40 of The Nation, Thursday, April 16, 2015,Crutech, our only state tertiary institution, is on strike and closed, since November, 2014, for unpaid salaries. His Excellency, Gov. Imoke, rules and reigns with impunity. It was in such a situation of utter deprivation and despair, that the 2015 General Elections were held in Cross River State.

 

In view of the pervading absence of good governance, our hopes were exceedingly, high that the PDP will be voted out of power in the State. This hope was further anchored on the progressive tendencies of our political forebears. We remember with nostalgia, the enviable roles the Dr. Okoi Arikpo’s of our area, played in the progressive or opposition politics of the 1960’s. Their selfless progressive politics, dove-tailed into the agitation for the creation of states to liberate us, the Eastern Minorities from Igbo hegemony. General Gowon later lapped up these agitations, with the creation of South Eastern and Rivers States, ostensibly, to remove the wind from the sail of the Biafran revolt. Specifically, Dr. Arikpo was in the Action Group and tenaciously, fought with Chief Awolowo, to redress the perceived marginalisation of our peoples. We therefore considered ourselves lucky to replant and nurture the seed of progressive politics on their extant foundations. Regrettably, corruption and the 16 years of the locust, under PDP misrule had perverted all our values. When faced with the manipulative, coercive and shameless display of money and executive impunity, we easily capitulated, compromised and gave our tormentors a free ride to the State INEC Office to collect their certificates of Return.

 

In spite of the early progressive credentials of opposition politics of our people and the fertile environment provided by the inept and clueless administration of the PDP, under Gov. Imoke, several factors militated against our success. Amongst these are the bitter struggle for the leadership of the APC in the state, the prevailing ethnic and religious sentiments arising from the GMB candidacy, the influence of money in politics, violence, incumbency and also the inexperience of some of our aspirants. Other challenges encountered during the elections, include the activities of our party agents and security personnel deployed for election duties.

 

With the registration of the APC, came the responsibility to establish structures and elect executives in all states of the Federation and Abuja. As to be expected in human affairs, the effort to elect our Exco, unfortunately, led to bitter and internecine struggles. The contest for the post of the Chairman, inexorably, led to an implosion, from which we have not fully recovered. Petitions, from the sublime to the ridiculous, some authored, others fake inundated the State Secretariat and the party Headquarters, in Abuja and this may have contributed in impeding our fortunes at the recent polls. It is unfortunate but true, that the party in our state has many members in its ranks, who see or have mercantilist motives as the gravamen of their membership. To this group, it is either leadership or nothing. It is also regrettably, noted that the APC in our state, has in its fold members enjoying the patronage of other parties. These members were easily swayed by the spending spree of PDP 2 (Labour) adherents. When we add to the mix, the grouse of members who detest and denigrate the enviable and stabilising intervention of Gov. Rotimi Amaechi to midwife a viable structure in the state, the ingredients for chaos are complete. It is to the credit of the state leadership and staunch support and understanding of the National Headquarters of the party, that we remained united, to make the modest achievements recorded at the recent general elections.

 

Members of the party in Cross River State need heed and learn lessons from the fall of the PDP behemoth. Those opposed to the Chairman and responsible for the relentless, faceless petitions, like the USANI MUST GO GROUP, should unmask themselves and embrace meaningful dialogue. Positions in the State Executive of the party, are tenured, not permanent. We therefore need to close ranks, cooperate and work assiduously, together, if we are to promote and improve the fortunes of our party and effectively, contest the next Local Government Elections in the State. It is a universal truth, that as humans, no one person has monopoly of righteousness and all others, devils incarnate. We are stronger and achieve more when we are able to moderate and aggregate our heart desires within the collective.

 

The fortunes of the APC in our state was also adversely, affected by the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari, on the primordial sentiments of ethnicity and religion. While these sentiments found sustenance in the prevailing illiteracy and ghetto worldview of the electorate, the Jonathan administration’s hate campaign, gave them potency. All efforts to disabuse the falsehood in the blackmail of Islamisation of Nigeria, fell on deaf ears. It will take time to douse these sentiments. However, I fervently believe that an APC beneficent administration under Gen. Buhari, holds the ace to eradicate such ethnic and religious fears and fallacies.

 

The place and influence of money in Nigerian politics and especially, elections cannot be over emphasised. In a country with corrupted values and compromised institutions, money is alter ego. And the PDP that for 16 years presided in the corruption of Nigerians, knew our worth. Pronto, the party raised over 21 billion election war chest, with which, the Nigerian electorate were “mobilised” to the hilt. In contrast was the APC, a new born, with a patriotic desire to change our corrupt ways and therefore unwilling to raise money through dubious ways. The lack of funds at the centre and the states was both thorough and debilitating. The overall victory at the Presidential polls exemplified the desperation of Nigerians to change the infamy of the 16 years of PDP misrule. The APC in Cross River State was adversely impacted by the lack of funds. Without any money bag or rich member in its ranks, to assist bankroll some of its activities, the APC was like an orphan, helpless. The conditions, dispositions, inexperience and expectations, of most of our aspirants did not help matters. The party was victim to the dominance of money in Nigeria politics, to violence and the impunity of incumbency.

 

In the South-South, electoral violence was the norm. Violence is a real threat to democracy in our zone. In every stable democratic society, elections, a leadership recruitment process, remains the essential ingredient of transiting from one administration to another. Elections therefore constitute a core component of democracy. The conduct of free, fair and credible elections, is central to the survival of democracy. The pervasive violence experienced during the recent elections militates against the nurturing and growth of democracy. Such violence includes harm or threat aimed at any person or property involved in the election process or at disrupting any part of the electoral process during the election period. Evidence of violence in most states of the South-South are copiously reported by the media. For instance, in The Nation Newspaper of Sunday, April 12, 2015, we have several reports of violence. According to Timipreye Sylva, “APC members in the zone were faced with a choice between winning the election and protecting its members when they were being attacked”. In Akwa Ibom that posted a canvas of several murders to the world, Ita Enang noted that “while the people prepared for elections, the institutions of state, led by the government prepared for war”. While the mayhem and murders in Rivers State are legion, Mrs. Thelma Iremiren, the INEC National Commissioner for Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, was only able to report two deaths, among the several killed here. Hear her “the two deaths recorded in Mkpani, Yakurr Local Government of Cross River State occurred when thugs attempted to snatch election materials meant for Mkpani and Agoi Wards”. We in the APC in the South-South were serially intimidated. Democracy cannot sustain or thrive in a landscape of violence or threat to life and property.

 

Even though it is common knowledge that power is transient and given by God to whom He pleases, the impunity or lawlessness of most state Governors belies, the above axiom. In Cross River State, the government and security agencies, rode rough-shod over the opposition, to promote the fortunes of the PDP and their anointed candidates. With the level of impunity of the governor, the collusion, violence and compromise experienced, there was no way the APC could win, in the circumstance. It is therefore attractive to suggest, a review of the immunity clause and control of the security agencies by incumbent governors during elections, to provide a level playing ground for all contestants.

 

Another challenge experienced and which, unfortunately, also impacted on our performance, is the fraudulent behaviour of some of our party agents. I regret the level of sabotage and compromise exhibited on election duties at the polling units. Some collected their agent allowance but went home, while those more desperate for money, also became agents of other parties in the same unit. In our season of corruption and denial, such conduct is to be expected. It is therefore our responsibility to be more discreet in the engagement, training and monitoring of our agents in future.

 

Equally worth consideration is a conscious policy to depoliticise the security agencies. The performance of most of our security agencies, during the recent elections was shameful and subverted their oaths of office and the constitution. Training with emphasis on discipline and their roles in a democracy, as core contents, need to be emphasised. An APC Federal Government with a strong regime of discipline, strict application of the rule of law, especially in the war against corruption¸ prosecution of offenders and reform of the rot in the judiciary, will act as lode-star to guide Nigerians to rectitude.

 

It is not possible to exhaust the roadmap to the success of the APC in Cross River State, in future elections. Several dynamics rapidly interface in our lives, that constantly throw up new challenges. Therefore, the leadership of the party, needs to be proactive and pragmatic to solve emerging realities. From the roles played by the state and Federal PDP political appointees, roles which enhanced their victory, it is imperative, to suggest that the APC Federal Government, consider and appoint more political appointees, in states where we do not have the privilege of incumbency. There is also the imperative of appealing to our party’s government at the Federal level for empowerment of our members, who have over the years, been relegated to untold deprivation for playing opposition politics.

 

Patrick O. Ubi mni

Asst. Comptroller Gen. (Rtd)

08037010550

Internet Marriage: A Perfidy, By Deji Atoyebi

Many arguments have risen for and against the existence of the internet. Some see the internet as a blessing, while others see it as an unforgivable curse. Honestly, the antagonists of the internet cannot be blamed as there is evidently no smoke without fire. The arguments of the supposed ‘haters’ of the internet take into cognizance its numerous evils. Presently, the most trendy amongst the vices is the “internet marriage” which has pervaded the social networking media.

The internet marriage is a situation whereby a man and a woman become couples over the internet and carry out demeaning acts such as sex chats, through texts and other means. More often than not, one of the couples is located in a distant place which is too far from the reach of the other. However, what many people have failed to realize is the fraudulent motive of one of the parties towards such relationship. In most cases, the other couple would appear too blind ‘in love’ to notice. Full observation has proven that all reported cases of internet marriage have two things in common –the foolishness of one party and its potential of resulting to NOTHING at the end.

A man (whose name will remain unmentioned for confidential reasons) narrated his experience of the internet marriage to me very recently. Mr. A is a 47 year old man with a wife and two kids. He met this lady on Facebook who presented herself to be a resident of Bronx in New York, USA. He was soon enough entangled in the web of love – or perhaps lust- as the woman appeared stinkingly rich. Unfortunate enough, this occured during a period when he was undergoing financial crises and needed money to supplement his meagre income. Hence, he lusted after his seemingly rich facebook love.

Days and month passed and so did their “love” continue growing like wild flower. They had become so intimate that they chatted erotically online and yet, he was a family man! His wife and children were obviously ambivalent of this progress in continuum. At a point, the woman said she would make provisions for him, so he could come to New York. However, this like many other promises, was just a tactic at disrupting the man’s reasoning faculty.

She further promised to send money to him frequently. This particular promise made the man throw all caution to the wind as he spent money voraciously with the hope of getting “Manna” from New York. Time went on and the woman failed to keep her promise. Eventually, the woman started soliciting for help. She claimed she had financial difficulties and would need money from him. Normally, to any sane man, this is supposed to be a red light which would bring the man back to his senses, instead he began sending money to the dishonest woman.

To cut the long story short, he had sent up to hundred thousand Naira to the woman who later blocked him after he had no more money to expend on such pocket-draining project. He later became aware of the fact that the woman was fraudulent, but this was too late; his bank account was already empty. However, no one really knows whether the woman really exists, or it was all the handiwork of a fellow man who owned a female account to accomplish his draconian intentions.

Please my fellow men and women, shine your eyes. Not all that glitters is gold. There are a lot of people out there who have no other means of living but the illicit activities they embark upon on the social media. Do not fall prey to any man or woman’s actions or words. Your family needs you.

NSITF: The Journey So Far, By Anayo Ude

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) was established by Act No. 73 of 1993 to succeed the defunct National Provident Fund with mandate to provide a Social Insurance Scheme for employees in the Organized Private Sector. Prior to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act of 2004, it can be said that the Fund executed this mandate to the satisfaction of all.

However, with the coming of the Pension Reform Act, also called PRA 2004, though desirable in all of its ramifications, mark a turning point in the existence of the NSITF was on the flip side a big challenge for NSITF. Before the Act, NSITF had operated as a very successful government Agency from 1994 to2004. And just as it was about to stabilize as a Pensions provider came PRA 2004 and everything halted for NSITF. In fact, the Fund was almost disbanded.

Umar Munir Abubakar is the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Fund. He was the Director of Administration at NSITF when PRA 2004 was enacted. He says the Act presented a unique challenge to the continued existence of the Fund.

“If you look at the portion of the reform act that said we should be disbanded and transfer all our assets and liabilities to PFAs. Section 71 of the PRA said we should provide social security to the entire country – and that was what the PRA said and no more. Nothing was said on how we should go about it.

But under the Act, NSITF was required to transfer all the assets to a Pension Fund Administrator. And so the challenge was with what to do and how. Hear Abubakar.

“When the Act came into effect, we were forced to transfer the assets within months after the coming of the Act – and it came when were not ready for that. That was the first measure we had to grapple with. At that time, we had a staff strength of well over 2000 people and not only that, we had structures all over the country, and our assumption was that we were going to transfer these assets within 5years. And that we were supposed to take our time to transfer the assets year by year until we finish within 5years. But we were forced to transfer these things within few months after the take-off of the pension reform. Obviously we had to face very big challenges”

And the first was with how to continue to exist as an Agency of government. With PRA 2004, the Fund had nothing in the practical sense to do anymore. According to Abubakar, the situation was very dire.

“The new scheme we were looking forward to did not come up, the social security scheme mention in the Act did not come up and we were not given any means of earning revenue. Immediate the pension reform act came in, I remember PENCOM, the first statement it issued was in December 2004 asking all employers to stop contributing to NSITF Scheme. Immediately this was done, we were left with virtually nothing to run the scheme on. Six months thereafter, we now saw the problems coming in”

He said one of the options open to the Management was to restructure.

“We had to virtually down-sized from well over 2000 to 90 – 94 people. Don’t forget that we had offices all over the federation; these offices had to be virtually closed down. In most offices we had just 2 people each – and skeletal services, and this lasted for the next 7 to 8 years. So you can see what we went through. And within those 7 -8years, we did not earn a single kobo from anywhere”

That notwithstanding, Abubakar says the Fund had to find other ways to continue to exist and function because “We had to keep servicing the PFAs because they were already on ground, you know. We had to continue dealing with them – in terms of the beneficiaries and claimants.

He admits the situation even got worse with time “the issue became a very big problem for us. Even to pay salaries became a very big challenge for us. So, within the 7 to 8 years I mentioned, obviously, structures started coming down, and in all cases our offices were very old and some of them were being rented. So we could not even pay rent in most cases. Before you know it, all our offices became closed down; all the structure were down, equipment were down, ACs and generators were all down because we could not maintain anything. It was a very big problem for us, it was a very big problem”

The Managing Director/ Chief Executive remembers the sad and very challenging issue of what to do with the Fund’s strategic office in Ijora Lagos. The building is located by the Lagoon and was being threatened by the forces of nature.

“The Lagoon had almost swallowed half of that Office; we hadn’t any money to maintain it. That office had to be closed down for safety reasons because the Lagoon has taken over, water is percolating from underground, there is no parking space, everywhere was particularly taken over by water, there had been a lot of development and sand filling in other parts of Apapa, the sand filling and development forced the lagoon to come towards Ijora side and since we didn’t have any money to stop it, it came eroding our building.

“So, we did not have anywhere to stay in Lagos, we didn’t have offices that we could call real offices in Lagos because we didn’t have money to rent bigger offices. Unfortunately for us at that time also, our Victoria Island office lease was about finishing and we didn’t have anywhere to go” he added

It was therefore a big relief for the Fund when government approved and created the Employee Compensation Scheme, ECS, in 2011, to give bite to the Social Insurance portfolio of the PRA 2004. For seven years the Fund had floated without a scheme to operationalize the portfolio. Abubakar says President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan must be praised for exercising the courage and foresight in creating the Employees Compensation Scheme

“When the ECS came on stream, it was a very big relief for this organization … the government was able to sign the Act … by December 27th it was signed into law by 2011 we took off. And this is where we are today

But operationalizing the new scheme and getting it off the ground presented a different kind of challenge. Remember that by this time, the Fund was almost comatose. Offices across the country had all been closed, Staff strength and morale was at ground zero. So, Abubakar says Management was faced with the twin challenge of producing a roadmap for the scheme, being a new one in the country and sourcing for funds to provide the human and infrastructure needs of the weather beaten NSITF.

Hope however came with the appointment and inauguration of a Board of Directors for the Fund by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Led by divine providence and quest for the best for the Fund, President Jonathan appointed an amazon and a leader with a magic wand, in the person of, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Olejeme to lead the Board as Chairman. And since then, the Fund has leaped from one achievement to the other.

Chief R.U Uche is the President of Nigerian Employers Consultative Association, NECA, and a member of the Board of the Fund “As you know a healthy work force is number one item for increasing productivity, as it is now, we have been very much the witness to the idea that the Fund has grown in numbers from year to year. From a Very modest beginning in 2011 we are talking about, maybe, tenfold increase since then. We are happy for that”

He says the Chairman of the Board Dr (Mrs) Olejeme has been an exceptional leader so far. “She is a woman that has passion for social security and the welfare of employees and it has shown both by the way she conducts the Board meetings and the way we have been able to implement this Act to the benefit of employees, she is truly a leader”

Also speaking on the person on the Chairman of the Board, Dr Olusegun Oshinowo, Director General of NECA, a major stakeholder in the affairs and operations of the NSITF says the appointment of Dr Olejeme has been critical to the successes recorded by the Fund so far.

“She has provided commendable leadership, she is a team player, I must say, and she has enormous respect of the social partners and to that extent we would want to say that the scheme has done very well”

Dr Emeka Wogu was the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the supervising ministry of the NSITF. He agrees and describes Dr Olejeme as a distinguished lady, an achiever and a wonder worker.

“I have not heard any incidences of conflicts or conflicts between the Board and management, not to my knowledge, so that means that underscores the administrative sagacity of the distinguish lady, the Chairman Dr Olejeme and we have not had any reason to say she has not done her job as a Board Chairman diligently, she is a nice woman, she is a woman who was consistent on the need to have a new NSITF with a new face”

One person who can attest to what NSITF gained under Olejeme is the Managing Director of the Fund. He says the task of repositioning NSITF within the short period it has happened would not have been possible without the leadership of Dr Olejeme as Chairman of the Board. Under her leadership he says the Fund has witnessed what he describes as a living Board

“We are lucky we have an indefatigable woman that is, in fact, let me tell you, when the scheme came on stream, she worked very hard, tirelessly to make sure that it takes off immediately. All the problems I mentioned like funding and so on, it was handled. She had to go up and down to make sure we are funded. We are glad she did that. And of course she had the support of the Board members.

He says Dr Olejeme has provided an all-round leadership as Chairman of the Board. “All the things we need, going to the national assembly and so on, she leads us. Whatever we need we have to talk to her, she is ready at any time to lead us to the national assembly, to the government, to the minister, so we thank the Board, the Board has a very good working relationship us, we respect the Board, we thank them, in fact, if not for the Board encouragement, we wouldn’t have gone far

Beyond the Executive Arm of government, Olejeme has also received encomiums from members of the National Assembly. Chairman House Committee on Labour, Honourable Essien Ekpeyong Ayi says the Board under Olejeme has done very well.

“Well I must sincerely tell you that the board in my own assessment has done well and there is no perfect human being you cannot say perfect but you don’t need 100% to say you have passed an examination, sometimes it is 50/60/70 but for me the board has done well because I have seen a lot of improvement in the functions of organizations, I have seen a lot of employment because I am in labour”

Even from the defender of the Nigerian workers, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, she has also been described as an exceptional leader according to Abdulwaheed Omar, former President of the Congress, the NLC is so far satisfied with the leadership of Olejeme.

“So far so good, because we have noticed with a lot of satisfaction the progress being made, despite the challenges I think the progress being made is appreciable”

But Olejeme says credit must be extended to other members of the Board, Management and Staff of the Fund for the successes recorded.

“I am just part of people that God used in bringing this vision to be we have very capable, very highly educated, very respected Nigerians that are on board of NSITF I just happened to the chairman but whatever we have done we have done together everyone including the GM, the deputy GMS and all the highranking to the lowest grade we have all you know worked together to bring what you have seen today so it’s not only the chairman that has done this that has done that.

“I cannot take the credit alone the credit 1st goes to Mr president who is magnanimous enough to see that the future of Nigerians could be better through NSITF and has given us the leverage to affect d life of Nigerians.so Nigerian youths Nigerian graduates today imagine taking off more than 6000 unemployed graduates out of the labour market It has done enough I mean the president has done enough and needs to be commended”

Unemployment: The Evil Nigerian Banks Do By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye

POSDCORB, an acronym propounded by Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick in 1937 is widely used in the field of Management. It reflects the classic functions of administrative management.

The acronym stands for steps in the administrative process which are: Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Co-Ordinating, Reporting and Budgeting.

Among the functions of management and steps in administrative process  is staffing which connotes “the whole personnel function of bringing in and training the staff and maintaining favorable conditions of work”

According to Theo Haimann, “Staffing pertains to recruitment, selection, development and compensation of subordinates.”

Haimann further argued that Staffing function is the most important mangerial act along with planning, organizing, directing and controlling. The operations of these four functions depend upon the manpower which is available through staffing function.

Affirmatively, no managerial function as opined by Gulick and Urwick can be carried out without personnels. It is the Personnels in organization that plan, direct, control, report and prepare budget. The success and failure of every organization lie on the personnel involved in the organization.

An Organization can however be private or public.

Private organizations are the conglomerates established under the law whose control and management are strictly under the tutelage of individuals and group of individuals while public organizations are the ones owned and managed by government.

Among the private organizations that exist in Nigeria and which make use of personnel for profit maximization are 24 commercial Banks namely:

Access Bank, Citibank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank Nigeria,  Enterprise Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Nigeria, First Bank of Nigeria, First City Monument Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Heritage Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited,

Mainstreet Bank Limited, Savannah Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank of Nigeria, United Bank for Africa, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank, Zenith Bank.

Due to limited space, I will be writing on how three Nigerian banks treats their personnel with focuses on the modus operandi for selection and recruitment  and remunerations.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM), 80% of Nigerian Universities graduates are presently wallowing around the streets of Nigeria without jobs. Due to this unfortunate quagmire, banks operating in Nigeria have turned Nigerian graduates to slaves.

The jobs they offer most Nigerian graduates can be likened to what transpired during the ancient days of slavery. The most pathetic of the evil currently being perpetrated against Nigerians by Nigerian banks is the contracts appointment of graduates to perform functions expected of a permanently recruited employee.

Take for instance, Access Bank PLC only manage each of its branches with three pensionable staff which are the branch and operations managers and one marketing staff who serves as the branch team leader. The rest are on contracts appointment and they are not entitled to pension, leave allowance, training and re-training, etc. Employee on contract in Access Bank are issued letter bearing the name of one of its subsidiaries that I won’t like to mention.

These contracted bankers are paid peanut. Those working in Lagos leave their respective homes before 5.am and they don’t return until 10.pm. To be specific, they are paid less than N65,000 monthly out of which they are mandated to buy expensive corporate attires and shoes.

The marketers among them are tasked to bring N500million deposit monthly. They are appraised and scored based on the deposit they mobilize to their respective branches. Any one who is graded “E” for three consecutive time risk being dismissed.

The evil being perpetrated by the management of Unity Bank PLC is the most alarming. There, young graduates are invited annually to write aptitude test for employment as Executive Trainees (ET).

Interestingly, it is when those that pass the aptitude test and interview get to training school that they get to know that they are to be paid as outsource staff for a minimum of one year before being converted to ET.

However, some spend four years in Unity Bank as outsource staff before they are converted to ET. At times, whom you know matters but the most luckiest spends two years before being converted.

Also, promotion of staff in Unity Bank is like gold. As a former transaction officer and Marketer in a bank, i know many staff of Unity Bank that have not been promoted since year 2006.

I want to declare unequivocally that It is height of wickedness to subject young graduates to contract appointment for three years before being converted to ET which is the lowest grade in Banking.

It is also irresponsible not to promote a hardworking staff for eight years. Let me also reveal that about 35% of the staff of Unity Bank PLC are issued appointment letter bearing the name of a company called “Caranda Management Services Limited”. My investigation revealed that Caranda is owned by one of the Directors of the bank.

Also, in Diamond Bank PLC, 45% of its employees are issued appointment letter bearing the name of a company called “C & I workforce Nigeria Limited”. Marketers, Transaction Officers, etc whom are graduates are recruited to serve the bank through the proxy firm.

These employees are used like slaves. Ironically, some of them are holders of masters degree. They are not entitled to any allowance whatsoever. No capacity development. No training and re-training. Salaries are increased ones in five years.

However, do we blame the management of these banks over the way they are currently exploiting Nigerians? My answer is No! The mother of all blame goes to the Nigerian government for failing in their responsibility to provide job opportunities for Nigerians thereby making the private sector to be brazenly and cruelly exploiting Nigerians.

It has also been rumored that Nigerian government officials do receive kick-back from the Organized private sectors. Some top bankers serve as fronts and loot for politicians. They bankroll politicians runing for elective positions and these politicians in return, defend their “friends’ interest” after wining elections.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), etc have failed in their responsibilities to protect the welfare of workers in the private sector.

In conclusion, I call on federal government to set up a task force that would be monitoring the welfare of employees in the private sector. Central government should start resuscitating all the moribund industries in Nigeria so as to make life better for Nigerians.

The Nigerian Telecommunication (NITEL),  Nigerian Railway Corporation, Dunlop and Michelen tyres, Ajaokuta Steel Company and other moribund factories should be brought back to Nigerians so as to reduce the wave of unemployment that is currently blowing in Nigeria.

 

Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye wrotes from Magodo, Lagos

Maxwell_adeleye@yahoo.com

Tel: +2347039168005 (SMS ONLY).

 

Towards May 29th: Reflections On The Current State Of The Nation, Some Critical Matters Arising By Jaye Gaskia

Two clearly interrelated issues are currently agitating my mind, as I am sure they are also agitating the minds of many compatriots.

These are the two issues that I intend to focus briefly on in this piece. The electoral victory of the APC and its candidates across the two tiers of our federation, and the imminent transition to a new federal government to be formed by a new ‘governing party’ that this victory has called into being on the one hand.

On the other hand is the transition and passage of the late compatriot Oronto Nantei Douglas, coming as it is at the end of the ‘Niger Delta Presidency’ of GEJ, and the implication of this for the fate of the Niger Delta land, peoples and struggle in the post May 29th period.

TRANSITION TO TRANSITION? WHAT MANNER OF CHANGE?

Let me begin with the first of the issues, the Victory of the APC and its presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 general elections.

This electoral victory has been made possible by a number of significant factors; the most significant, the most primary of these factors lie in the antagonistic nature of the intra and inter class struggle in response to the global, and ultimately national economic and political crisis of the last decade.

The most graphic manifestations of the character of these contradictory responses to the global and national crisis were to be found in the January Uprising of 2012 on the side of the popular masses; and in the break down of the existing national ruling consensus which was dramatized in the implosion of the PDP, hitherto the national platform within which this national consensus was mediated; alongside the merger of the opposition and its accommodation of major power blocs from the disintegrating PDP as a new national consensus was being negotiated by the ruling class, and a new national platform was being put together to project and manage this new and emergent national ruling class consensus.

Furthermore the 2012 January Uprising led to the radicalization and politicization of the citizenry in general, and a new generation in particular.

This radicalization and politicization provided the context for the Change Mantra of the opposition APC to catch fire in the minds of a significant number of citizens, and against the background of the cumulative failure of the ruling PDP over the last 16 years, ensured that the idea of change took on material reality and helped to propel the opposition APC to power.

But now herein lies the major problem. The idea of change propagated by the opposition and now soon to be ‘governing party’ was able to capture the imagination of ordinary citizens precisely because it was wooly, not defined, ambiguous, and thus could mean different things to different categories of people.

This wooliness and ambiguity enabled the opposition to get away with not telling us clearly what it meant and what it means by change beyond the general sweeping pronouncements made on the campaign podiums.

So what does this change mean to the APC? What does change mean to the incoming government at Federal and state levels?

More than 30 days after the resounding electoral victory, and less than 30 days to the inauguration of the new government we still do not know in concrete terms, much less in clear outlines what the change program of the governing party and the Buhari presidency looks like.

What Nigerians are expecting from the incoming government is clarity of purpose and action after 6 wasted years of cluelessness; A robust well thought out, written, documented and accessible Change program of action and strategic direction, in place of a transformation agenda which remained unarticulated for the 6 years of the life of the GEJ presidency.

We expect by now to have in the public domain a robust synopsis, if not a detailed and fleshed CHANGE STRATEGY Document, outlining the APC’s understanding of the National crisis and challenges facing our country in its political, economic, socio-cultural and security ramifications. We expect this strategy document to give us an indication of the APC’s prioritization of the problems and challenges; we expect it to show us clearly the three, four etc areas that the APC government will focus on; we expect it to show us how the APC government intends to deal with these problems and overcome them; and we expect such a document to outline the policy options and policy reform processes that the incoming government will be considering.

What is the APC’s understanding of the challenges of the power and energy sector? How does it intend in four years to make significant differences in these areas, ensuring improved availability and accessibility of power and energy to ordinary citizens?

What economic programs and policies will it consider putting in place to tackle chronic and pervasive unemployment, while ensuring infrastructural development and directing targeted support to MSCEs?

For the moment, just as with its foundation and consolidation, the APC leaders have been more focused on the structure than on the program; the mergers of the legacy parties and with the New PDP faction happened before the development of the party’s manifesto; and now the structuring of government is being prioritized over the development of a governing program!

The APC only have to look to the emergence of the Xenophobia phenomenon and the recent Arab spring to understand the nature and extent of the potential crisis they are sitting upon should they fail to meet the expectations of the ordinary citizens.

Should there be a crisis of unrealized expectations the party in government should expect a massive backlash that could present as an uprising with flashes of Ethnophobia interspersed with it.

It is against this background the current situation amounts to a ‘Transition to transition’; and one in which popular forces can play a decisive role on steering towards a victory for the masses.

OUR NIGER DELTA [OND]: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW;

The second issue closely related to the first is on the fate and likely trajectory of the Niger Delta struggle in the post May 29th period.

The death of one of the most significant instigators of that struggle in modern times, Oronto Nantei Douglas, should present us with an opportunity to reevaluate our struggle, reflect on the missed opportunities, assess the current state of the struggle and make projections for the future.

Hopefully the passage into history of a Niger Delta presidency and the consequent lifting of the delusional blindfold over our eyes in the last 6 years should encourage an honest assessment.

Where did we go wrong? Was this the Resource Control we fought for? Six years after a Niger Delta Presidency our physical, economic and political situation remains the same, and in very significant ways actually seem to have declined.

The Niger Delta environment is more devastated and the livelihoods of ordinary citizens more undermined than it has ever been at any time in our history.

And whereas we have managed to bribe 30,000 youths in an amnesty program, we are still confronted with the unemployment and unemployability of millions of our compatriots.

As we mourn the passage of Oronto Nantei Douglas, and reflect on the end of a Niger Delta sojourn in the presidency of Nigeria, it is time we come together, old and new activists, young and old, to reassess our struggle, chart a new strategic course for our struggle, and position ourselves to drive the process of enunciating a robust post amnesty development program for the Niger Delta.

And as we embark on this task, it is inevitable that we undertake a process of identifying how and why we failed, while also admitting the precise scope, scale and contours of the betrayal underpinning this failure.

As we lay OND to rest, as we prepare for GEJ’s exit from Aso Rock, it is important that the interests of our ordinary people who did not benefit from, but who bore the burden of the last six years is neither allowed to be laid to rest, nor to be exited from the national agenda.

 

JAYE GASKIA IS NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF PROTEST TO POWER MOVEMENT AND A MEMBER OF THE HISTORIC NINE – THE FOUNDING LEADERSHIP OF THE CHIKOKO MOVEMENT OF THE 1990S NIGER DELTA STRUGGLE.

Tribute To Tinubu: A Parody of Shakespeare, By Mohammed Adamu

His name is now as household as the “report of fashion in proud Italy”. He is a leader of leaders; and a true leader at that; because he commands not from the rear, but he braces, with his chest the heat and the chill of all battles. He is the veritable “Knight of the Garter” of our contemporary politics; “valiant and virtuous, full of haughty courage, such as is grown to credit by the wars; not fearing death nor shrinking from distress, but always resolute in most extremes”. Time has proved that where “your ‘good’ word cannot advantage him, your slander never can en-damage him”.

He is petit and unassuming; as ‘modest as the dove’; as ‘temperate as the morning’; “for patience, he will prove a second Grissel”; his words are “bonds and his oaths are oracles”; his ‘truth’ is as the ‘truth’ of Martin Luther; it is ‘Marching on’; his code of battle as mosaic as Malcolm X’s: to “Forerun woe with woe”. His is “courage mounted with occasion”; and although he is not the war-mongering muckraker, yet he is one ready always “to parley or to war” -as the occasion demands. That is the stuff that ‘courage’ is made of: namely that although great men should not be “mutinous in peace” yet when the occasion demands they should be no less “bold at war”.

He did once assert that the ruling political dynasty was a deeply rooted evil-iroko tree; hard put to uproot except it is axed ‘limbs’, ‘trunk’ and ‘torso’! And now he has proved to us himself that every ‘obstacle’ has odds to which it must yield; and that “many strokes, though with a little axe will hew down and fall the hardest timbered-oak”. Little did we know he was a prophet of his own time; – a voice in the wilderness of our troubled democracy, prophesizing the looming fall of a ‘behemoth’.

He is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju and the Jagaban; once ‘Leader of the Opposition’; now the great ‘masquerade’ himself daring to be opposed –if any the courage have! “The blood stirs more” they say “to rouse a lion than to start a hare”; but who dares to rouse a lion must have more than a mortal’s measure of blood! Tinubu is the Hannibal of our time; the scourge of the ruling political dynasty –now in its inevitable throes of death. For device and tactic, he has proved another Hercules; for “grim aspect” and for knitted brow in moments of battle, he is the Hector of our age. Thus Tinubu is Hannibal, Hercules and Hector all in one!

It is said that “When ‘Fortune’ means to men most good, ’She’ looks upon them with a threatening eye”. Tinubu did not, yesterday, walk the paved or gilded roads to the hill station of today’s renown; he has braved the dry and dusty weathers of Fortune’s threatening stare; and in reward of which both “Nature and Fortune have now joined to make him great”. He is now the “theme of Honor’s tongue, Sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride”; but more than else he is today, “among the groove of his rank, the straightest plant”.

“Small curs” they say, “are not regarded when they grin; but great men tremble when the lion roars”. They are right Tinubu, you are truly a Lion in a rare den that is uniquely yours; but they are dead wrong, you are not ‘The Lion of Boudilon’; that is a den too small for a Lion with your kind of Mane! The Asiwaju is more suited to ‘The Lord of the Nigerian Manor’ –that is a befitting ‘den’ truly your size.

“Strong reasons make strong actions”; or so the Great Shakespeare would say. Once a troubled nation we did stand as “upon a rock environed by a wilderness of sea”, waiting for the surge of the ocean’s tempests to make of us a sumptuous meal; but just when we were hovering around the precipice, when it seemed almost as “far from help as Limbo is from bliss”, just then Tinubu, in a league of amity with our nation’s greats, alighted right in the firmament of our political woes”; for the inevitable to happen, -a battle long foretold between the army of ‘good’ and the forces of ‘evil’; between ‘change’ to a libertarian today and tomorrow and ‘continuity’ of the impunity and arbitrariness of old.

Let the annals of our history bear witness, that in that battle the Jagaban “stirred as the time”, you were “fire for fire”, you “threatened the threatner and you outfaced the brow of bragging horror; you put the dauntless spirit of resolution; you glistened like the god of war when he intendeth to become the ‘field’!

And behold when the jagged fields of battle are emptied; they attest to the deeds of great men: “blood hath bought blood; blows have answered blows; strength matched with strength; and power confronteth power. And the Jagaban, being last on the field, has become the Lord of it!

Many had “cowardly fled” the battle ground, “not having struck one strike” at all; but you said to the enemy loud and clear: “A crown or else a glorious tomb; a scepter or an earthly sepulcher”. It was that courage of conviction; that steadfastness in the face of danger that stands you, today above all mortals. And now your sacrifice has become a prologue to a beautiful symphony of liberation. Happily a ‘crown’ it will be and not a ‘glorious tomb’; a ‘scepter’ you will have and never an ‘earthly sepulcher’.

In sixteen years it had been ‘nay, nay, nay; they would ‘not let my people go’; yet in just one moment of electoral ‘truth’ -right at the twilight of the month of March, they sang, perforce, another tune: ‘aye, aye’ they said in shame! And the Commander-In-Chief said: ‘I yield, I yield, I yield’; “Oh wonderful when the Devil tells the truth”, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

The Progressives will now sit on the throne of our own democracy, a feat purchased with the illiberal blood of anti-development reactionaries; the evil Party “that was wont to conquer others” but which hath now made “a shameful conquest of itself”. And behold Asiwaju, the ‘David’ with the crooked sling. He plucked the eye of vaunted pride; leaving almighty Goliath a giant heap of human debris aground. ‘Might’ which was once ‘right’, now gives way to ‘right’ which now is ‘might’.

All thanks to the Jagaban.

MOHAMMED ADAMU is an Abuja-based Public Affairs Analyst.

Olawale Olaleye’s Yellow Journalism, By Alfred Omolewa

This article is in response to Mr. Olawale Olaleye’s intriguing and egregious contribution to political discourse in his article titled, “Tinubu, an Asset and Liability” and published in the ThisDay Newspapers of April 24, 2015.  The title of this response is informed by the comments of one of the readers of Mr. Olaleye’s article registered as sanetalk on the Disqus online discussion platform who aptly described the diatribe as “(A) self-defeating article full of concocted tales, hearsays and lacking in substance. Yellow Journalism.”

Yellow Journalism is that type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news or facts and instead uses eye-catching headlines and fabulously concocted contents to hold the attention of the less rigorous readers and sell more newspapers. The techniques of ‘Yellow Journalists’ usually include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.

After the publication of his April 24, 2015 article, Olawale Olaleye is, without doubt, now of the Yellow Journalism class. First, the article was written out of malice and he was so blinded and ostensibly angered by the malice that he said so himself. Understandably, many commentators were astounded that an otherwise respectable contributor to political discourse would serve his readers a malice-induced dubious dose of gibberish in the name of a considered contribution to rational discourse. It was a total waste of the time of every objective person who read it. As one of the commentators rightly noted, if a man refuses to speak to a particular news outlet, it is firmly within his right to do so!

Second, the article was intellectually fraudulent. When a social and political commentator makes far-reaching conclusions and judgement about an outstanding member of the political class based on a host of ‘allegedly, ‘supposedly’ ‘popular believed’ and the likes, fraud is the most deserving appellation for the effort.

Third, it was a complete disservice to the unrivalled record and sterling contributions of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the object of Mr. Olawale Olaleye’s ill will and ominous predictions. Indeed, it is no longer disputable, as the Tinubu staffer whose text message got under Mr. Olaleye’s skin earlier noted, that the evolution of the All Progressive Congress (APC) into the governing party and the emergence of its candidate, Gen. Muhammad Buhari as the President-elect prove a fundamental truth. A single visionary blessed with courage equal to his vision is ultimately more powerful than a vast multitude that is devoid of sight, courage and sound counsel.

Again, as he noted soon after the landslide electoral victory of the APC, it is a truism that at moments when others threatened to quit or did quit, Tinubu stuck doggedly to the course. When the Alliance for Democracy (AD) ran into stormy weather and was hijacked by the reactionary elements funded by the government in power, Tinubu established another progressive party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). As much as the ilk of Mr. Olaleye may want to discount the Asiwaju’s sterling contributions or diminish his earned towering stature, Asiwaju Bola AhmedTinubu is rightly now regarded, and will be seen by unbiased history, as brave at heart and large in vision. He has displayed the fortitude to stand when times get tough and when doubt becomes as thick as fog. He forged ahead when others succumbed to fear. Here is a man who stands alone when others are tired and sit down. Here’s a rare man who chooses to take risks and stake everything he has for a just cause. Indeed, he is a leader who stands alone to make unbelievable sacrifices in order to achieve a greater goal.

Thus, for Mr. Olaleye to consider such a man a liability on the basis of political tales supposedly told him by political fantasists and black market information peddlers is a shame. Indeed, the only source cited with approval by Mr. Olaleye in his malicious and intellectually fraudulent article was Gani Adams, the self-styled leader of the O’dua Peoples Congress. That fact speaks for itself and, indeed, speaks volumes.

It is gratifying to note that most of Mr. Olaleye’s readers have, in discussing the article on the ThisDay website, asked him to ‘try his hand in political fiction writing’ since most of the points raised are ‘mere conjectures, rumours, speculations and outright lies.’ Another discussant rightly dismissed the entire piece as consisting of a ‘thought-provoking introduction, blaspheming body and a non-professional closing remark’ amounting to ‘total gibberish’.

It is only reasonable to agree with these sentiments.

As the journalist whose text message got Mr. Olaleye to transfer aggression to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu earlier wrote in his widely published article, ‘Tinubu: The Quintessential Political Strategist’, it is high time people of Mr. Olaleye’s persuasion stopped a losing battle and realized that for “standing against the tide of greater power and might all these years, Tinubu has achieved something for all us. He is truly an architect of modern Nigeria, a driving force behind a new Nigeria and one of the fathers of a truly democratic two-party system.”

-Alfred Omolewa

Maternal And Child Mortality: Restructuring Our Health Care System – By M. M. Alhaji

To simplify, maternal mortality is death caused directly or indirectly by pregnancy or its management within 42 days after the termination of the pregnancy, and infant mortality as the death of a child before his or her first birthday. The two are closely linked and are usually reported in ratios; death per 100 000 live births for the former, and death per 1000 for the later.

According to the World Health organization (WHO), Nigeria recorded about 40 000—plus other 1,600 AIDS-related maternal deaths—(i.e. about 560 death in every 100 000 live births) in 2013. But theoretically, for every one maternal death about 20 other women would experience ‘near-miss’ or debilitating injuries, usually with life-long consequences.

Infant mortality is not any better. More than 50 000 deaths occurred in the year 2013. Under-5 mortality is also rife; approximately 117 in every 1000 in 2013.

There had been improvements albeit diminutively sluggish over the years. Nigeria achieved a 53% reduction in maternal mortality from 1990 to 2013, which is far less than the set MDG goals of reducing maternal mortality by 75% from 1990 to 2015. (World Bank statistics).

Regrettably, same goes for infant mortality. It was estimated (per 1000) at 87 in 1990. It further sloped sluggishly to 82, 79, 77, and 74 in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively. Still, a far cry from MDG goal of cutting by about 67% infant mortality for the same duration.

We could go on and on with statistics but the one disconcerting fact is: of the 196 countries in the world; Nigeria, by virtue of its population and high birthrate, accounts for about 13% of global maternal mortality! That is; of the global daily 800 maternal mortality, about 104 are Nigerians!

But guess what? We could have saved more than 35 000 mothers and over 30 000 infants who died in 2013, if they had received even the basic proper medical attention during pregnancy (antenatal), childbirth and after giving birth (postpartum). Even active exclusive breastfeeding. These have—as they have been, and still are, having—huge implications cutting across all sectors. From giving the country bad reputation causing capital flight, hurting the economy, to psychological consequences on the relatives, right through social deprivation of motherly care and love on the other siblings—tempering with their future…The upshots are far-reaching.

It implies that whatever strategy it is that we have in place must have been, at best, ineffective. Lives that could be easily saved with simple and effective follow-on surveillance are being lost, emotions muddled and whatnot.

Way Forward:

Some people have opined that our health system be overhauled. I share their sentiment, however, for starter, what we have to do, as a matter of necessity, is to decongest our healthcare centers, advocate and invest heavily in preventive care, strengthen and widen the existing public private partnership and establish a sustainable intervention funding pool to afford identified priorities, which maternal and child health is one if not top of the list. But this is topic for another day.

Focusing on the maternal and child health and how we can improve the service, it is important we model out ways that fits correctly into our peculiarity as a nation. As established; hemorrhage, infections, high blood pressure, unsafe abortions and obstructed labor being the leading causes of such deaths largely due to inaccessibility, unaffordability, shortage of skilled birth attendants and dearth of quality health care amongst other factors, we could marshal out a practical, cost-effective and ‘indigenous’ strategies of dipping these worrisome figures, using the simple WHO building blocks (and control knobs) of health care system.

Firstly, to restructure maternal and child health (MCH) service, we have to detach it from its present spot in the current system. We need a separate division, streamlined top to bottom (from federal health ministry to state ministries of health through the three levels of our health care system—tertiary, secondary and primary), delineated as MCH division, with separate allocations in the national and state budget, to be pooled, allocated to it.

It basically should comprehensively cater for women and children 0—5 years old. It could come in the form of presidential intervention, joint effort or any appropriate means that would be sustainable. NAFDAC is a relatable example. Financing could also be shared among the three tiers in an appropriate ratios, say 30:50:20 from federal, state and local government endowments, respectively. But can also be done at states level downward—state, local government to council wards. The former is preferred, for sense of national direction. Intervention funds from World Banks and other donors should as well be properly allotted based on priorities. Partnership with non-governmental organizations should be strengthen and their roles mapped-out to fit into the agenda. Different roles can then be designated for each tier: federal, appropriating; states, coordinating and advisory; and local governments supervisory as they are closer to the populace. Or as the case may be.

As it is, although some states offer free health services to pregnant mothers and children 0—5 years old, Niger is an example, these efforts have only impacted few as government health centers are limited, hence modest outcome. We could attempt to increase coverage by partnering with some private hospitals and centers based on agreement and their identified competences and locations. By this singular partnering we would obliterate inaccessibility and associated inhibiting factors. An indigenous and patriotic financing arrangement, certainly not capitation, could then be arranged.

Secondly, well equipped tertiary healthcare centers wholly dedicated to maternal and child health parallel to our teaching hospitals, to be sited across geographic zones would serve to discourage those seeking child delivery elsewhere, thereby reducing capital flight from the economy. These centers main purpose would be to attend to those classified as ‘high risks’ during antenatal visits either due to predicted labor obstruction, anemia, and postnatal depression etc. Payment for services could be fixed either based on class, as in Singapore where citizens could pay from 20 to 100% for health service depending on his or her class and choice, or any appropriate means with consideration to social equity.

They can also serve as zonal cold-banks for maternal and childhood vaccines (a topic for another day). Taking Brunei as an example, its average birthrate steadied at 7000 for over 7 years now, but in 2008 and 2010, it recorded not even a single maternal death. Its average mortality rate for the last four year was absolute 3. By the year 2013, a $69 million comprehensive MCH hospital was completed. A continuous investment on health care infrastructures is not an option, it is necessary.

Further, according to the Nigerian Demographic health survey 2013, only 51% pregnant women had attended at least 4 antenatal care visits. This is unacceptable. At least 5 to 10 session is ideal. Appropriate research should be conducted to determine the hindering factors in the family and community, and apposite actions taken.

While in the meantime, community educators with science background (or to be trained), or more appropriately community nurses, at least 2-3 across each of the 9572 wards, should be employed. Their jobs would simply be to ‘man’ the community by actively searching for pregnant women in their immediate commune, offering family-based advices such as the need to go to the hospital, reducing exposure to wood fire, advocating for the use mosquito nets, avoiding unclean water and even taking roll calls etc. As majority of deaths and psychological problem often occur after birthing, they can actively monitor and re-link them back to care-center in a more organized manner. Aside employment being generated, people usually feel empowered and honored when their cares are personalized and taken to the community, as observed by the American Heart Association. How Polio Immunization foot-soldiers are deployed in the community is a classic instance.

Another worrisome aspect is the shortage of skilled birth attendants. 38% of our annual 6.6 million births being attended to by skilled birth attendants is too dismal. Those flying abroad to give birth often get attended to by skilled birth attendants, despite huge money spent—a case for us to empower ours. What then we need is to put in place continuing on-service education for the birth attendants, to keep them in phase with latest information and skills, and to increase quality output from our various institutions.

Moreover, how service are delivered matters a lot. A simple hostility from a healthcare provider might discourage a pregnant woman from attending antenatal sessions. Pregnancy is a normal physiologic process, prone to complications and serious emotional fluctuation. Nurses and other health care providers’ attitude toward pregnant women should be taken as a matter of priority.

Lastly, a national evidence-based template inclosing guidelines for the appropriate number of antenatal visits, baselines for classifications and referral of ‘high risk’ and ‘low risk’, exclusive breastfeeding, provision of nutritional supplements such as folic acid (for all pregnant women), prophylactic and therapeutic ferrous fummarate (for anemic women), mosquito nets, tailored family advice (Video Compact Discs), Anti-tetanus toxoid vaccinations (given at intervals, noting recent recommendations such as that of ACIP), among other initiatives should be harmonized and adopted nationwide for uniformity and sense of direction. Meanwhile effective management leadership in all stages of the setup is as crucial as the whole setup itself. Competent people with relevant training and skills should be given the mandate to run the system.

To sum up, General Muhammadu Buhari, the incoming president, in his acceptance speech, said, “I assure…that Nigeria will become a more forceful and constructive in…matters of collective concern such as…communicable diseases and other issues requiring global response.

Reducing child mortality and maternal mortality are a top global priority, named MDG goal 4 and 5, requiring global response, and Nigeria’s effort has been too ineffectual to not be restructured, especially now that post—2015 developmental agenda beckons at us.

 

  1. M. Alhaji is an MPH candidate at the Institute of Health Science, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Reachable on mohalhaj20@yahoo.com.sg and @moh_alhm on Twitter.

Olisah Metuh Is Not Corruption By Pius Adesanmi

Two fighting!!!

Justifying why he and other members of the National Working Committee of the PDP stole a quarter of a billion naira of party funds immediately after President Jonathan lost the election, Olisa Metuh says:

“Before going to press PDP Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh told Saharareporters that the payments was made to assist NWC for the Governorship and state house of assembly elections that took place on April 11th 2015. He said that since the Presidency was more concerned about transparency, they Presidency Campaign Council should publish how it gave out N700 million to each state and most importantly how the Presidency spent Nigerian resources in the last 6 years.”

Seven hundred million times 36 plus Abuja = ???

Did I not write in the build up to the election that once they start fighting publicly after losing the election, the extent of the heist perpetrated by these people would shock even the most hardened career Jonathanian?

See Also: PDP Crisis: President Jonathan’s Men Produce Evidence Of Corruption By NWC Members

See Also: Jonathan Must Explain How He Spent Nigeria’s Resources In The Last 6 Years – Olisa Metuh

And this is just the beginning o. The fights will get muddier, murkier, and messier o. This is just still the naira heist we are hearing about o. They have not started the dollars fights o. Revelations about who got what in kilograms of hundred-dollar bills will still happen as they fight in public o.

Two years ago, I stopped talking about corruption in Nigeria. I wrote that when you start to denominate theft in billions and hundreds of billions of naira, it is no longer corruption. It is impunity. I started trying to understand Nigeria in terms of impunity, what produces it, why it is endured, justified, tolerated, and rationalized by so many. But now I see that impunity no longer adequately explains Nigeria.

What explains Nigeria is one word: wickedness. Olisa Metuh is not saying that he didn’t steal. He is not even worried about the figures he is bandying about. He is saying that the Presidency is a greater thief. Olisa Metuh is not corruption. Olisa Metuh is not impunity. Olisa Metuh is wickedness.

It is a hopeless society where the instinct to deny theft (actuated by shame and the fear of retribution) is surplus to the requirements of social membership and citizenship.

Those of you asking Buhari to probe these things are assuming that we have any framework, any procedural and institutional mechanism that could handle the scale of the theft supervised by just the Presidency, the PDP, and Hajia Desinatu in the petroleum sector.

I don’t think there is any existing framework for Buhari to handle theft on this scale. We need to establish a TRC like they did in South Africa after Apartheid. Our own will not be called a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

It should be called a Theft and Retribution Commission. Such a TRC must understand that retribution for the concerned here is neither prison nor the death penalty. We are beyond all that. What the guilty need in Nigeria now is institutionalization for this is sickness. Once they have confessed to the billions and hundreds of billions stolen, you institutionalize them and begin emergency psychiatric treatment.

If you know Olisa Metuh, if you know Hajia Desinatu, tell them to stop running from pillar to post. Nobody is interested in jailing them. We want to get help for them eventually at a TRC.

Those Buhari Needs In His Team, By Tunde Fagbenle

The country is in an upbeat mood,full of hope and expectation that President-elect Muhammadu Buhari would turn the country around: from the precipice of systemic and economic collapse it finds itself, into a country that reinvents itself, rediscovers its lost moral values, and is galvanised into modernity.

But the job is not just retired Major General Buhari’s alone. He faces a herculean task of successfully navigating between the treacherous sea of politics, the quagmire of countervailing interests and the quiet, narrow stream of trustworthy technocrats. It is not going to be an easy job.

The country is, in the words of retired colonel Dangiwa Umar, rotten through and through. Moreover, fear and distrust reign and the people will be impatient for the ‘change’ they have voted for. There also will be those who will actively be working to undermine the new government. They will be there everywhere – in the media, in the ivory towers, in the civil service, in the armed forces, in business circles, alas, in the government itself.

If I were Buhari, I would put out a search for 100 men and women of proven integrity and performance in virtually all spheres – education, health, culture, sports, agriculture, power, technology, etc. – technocrats to form my A-team of modernisers, people who share in the dream to salvage Nigeria and turn the country into the land of prosperity and modernity. They will be folk to whom material acquisition means nothing, but honour and humanity everything. They will be members of his “think tank” to formulate policies and oversee adherence to them.

Way back in this column of February 15, 2012, wondering, I rhetorically called for a list of “100 Nigerians to save Nigeria.” Men and women of proven integrity, intellect, dedication to duty and patriotism “who can be trusted to turn a new Nigeria around, in values, in vision, and in development;” a list to take to God, of men and women of such “redeeming value” enough for God to grant Nigeria a second chance.

The column kick-started the search with its own suggested list of 14 that included, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Nuhu Ribadu, Nasir el-Rufai, Babatunde Fashola, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, Adams Oshiomhole, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Col. Dangiwa Umar (retd.), Prof. Attahiru Jega, Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Dr. Obiageli Ezewesili.

By the following week, some of the names, particularly Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, were already shot down in a barrage of responses from readers, whilst some other names came up. One Dr. Yinka Ologunsua remarked: “There are several honest, God-fearing, hard working men/women who are not in the limelight; some diligent professionals and artisans, they give themselves for the joy of others. Only God can reward them.” Names of Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Gen. Ishola Williams, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Prof. Femi Bamiro, Prof. Kayode Oyesiku, Frank Kokori, Prof. Fidelis Oditah, Odia Ofeimun, Prof. Sayed Malik, etc, were mentioned.

One name stood out, both in repetition and in eulogy. It was that of Prof. Roger Makanjuola! So much, the column of 02/09/12 was devoted to readers’ effusion on him.

One by Prof. Kayode Oguntuase read: “Dear Tunde, Thank you for showcasing Roger Makanjuola’s leadership style: Unique, extraordinarily simple, but didactic. Reminiscent of Sofoluwe’s (the late University of Lagos VC) but that’s hardly surprising since both were Edinburgh graduates! Only shows the attention we must pay to the “School as an Institution”, for many a man they make.”

Dr. Peter Olaluwoye of OAUTHC added: He (Roger) is a phenomenon, very un-Nigerian and in a class of his own. His kind is a rarity in this clime. It is sad, my generation may not witness such at the national level as we have a propensity for mass producing swindlers and rogues and decorating them with national awards. Maybe it is our own lot that the beautiful ones are either not yet born or some have come ahead of their times, like Roger.”

While we are at it, I would, even at the risk of being accused of nepotism, and violating my rule of distancing self from the exercise, make bold to include my own elder brother, ‘Layi Fagbenle, in the list. A distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, those who have passed through his hands, nationally and internationally, would attest to the quality of his mind, personal integrity, and commitment to the development of Nigeria.

A professor at UI once told me of how in Botswana the laughing talk amidst academic colleagues is of a Nigerian who was responsible for that country’s stable power whilst his own country suffered. That was he, Prof. Fagbenle, for five years or more in the 90s (under a UN programme) the Director of Energy of Botswana (and Southern Africa overview).

Written by Tunde Fagbenle/Punch

Lessons From The 2015 Presidential Poll, By Paul John

All this while my writings and stance had been anti-Buhari until few days to the general election when a Facebook friend sent a post that read as thus: Slavery is when you buy fuel in order to power your generator  in your house,and you still come out to shout,’continuity.’ That post reminded me of the altercation that ensued between me and the petrol pump attendant when I went to buy fuel earlier in the day. The president had announced reduction in the petrol pump price from N97 to N87 naira but almost all filling stations were selling the product   at  N100.

The first lesson is, never undermine the youths. I have not seen any general election that the youths all over the country participated as this one. The youths never minded coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds to shout for and work for a change in the government at the centre. Why did the youths participate with all their lives in this year’s presidential election? In 2011, presidential Jonathan came out with Youth-friendly slogans such as : ‘Nigerians need fresh air’ and  ‘ I once had no shoes’ etc. Coming from poor family backgrounds is something that is common among Nigerian youths  hence they voted in one of their own .They believed that the president having come from a  similar family background  would ensure that their problems were solved.

However,the president on assumption of office surrounded himself with advisers who are anti-Nigerian youths .They brought up the issue of SURE-P dishing out ten million naira to one individual in the midst of many hungry and unemployed Nigerian youths,many of which are graduates . There, the organisers of the problem goofed. How can you empower just one person with ten million naira when the same amount of money could change the lives of about 20 Nigerian youths permanently if each of them was given five hundred thousand naira to start up a business ? How can such process be going on when NYSC members are receiving less than N20,000 per month ,corroborating international community’s report that majority of Nigerians live below 1 USD  per day?

What of the  immigration service interview that ended tragically? What the government should have done was to compensate the bereaved families and at the same time give automatic employment to all that attended the ill fated interview .The applicants could be employed across all the federal civil service in order to assuage the citizenry . However,the advisers of Mr president never deemed it necessary because they believed that whether the people liked it or not,they were going to ‘fix’ the presidential election . The same youths that voted for Mr president in 2011 were the same people that voted him out in 2015 ,what a paradox? Yes,there were mild irregularities in the election,and I am cocksure that in any free and fair election ,the current APC will beat PDP . The bible said that when the salt loses its taste,it will be thrown out to be trodden by men,that was exactly what these youths  demonstrated in our just concluded  presidential election. The advisers and foot soldiers  of Mr president that were prodding him could not even deliver their own polling units,what a tsunami?

Finally,in this series, Nigerians,especially our leaders ,should learn not to bite the hand that fed them. Anywhere in the world,there are kingmakers even in stabilised democracies like USA and UK .God used Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to singlehandedly bring up our current president right from the level of a deputy governor to where he is today,passing through different political positions. Baba ,as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is fondly called ,resigned his post as the PDP  BOT chairman because of skirmishes between him and the leader of the party who is the president. Other party leaders left thereafter and the struck that broke the camels back was the exit of the five governors who finally defected to APC in 2013 due what they termed injustices in the party .  It has to be noted at this time that these five governors in their  personal capacities were more political than the president himself and many of them are loyal to Baba.

Surprisingly ,the advisers of  the president were there assuring him to go on and within a little space of time the strong PDP structures in the country collapsed to the extent that the  three major cities ( Port Harcourt ,Kano and Lagos) were and are still in the hands of the opposition . As PDP was going down ,APC was going up and the whole scenario culminated in the first defeat of the ruling party since we returned to our current democracy in 1999. Governor Rotimi Amechi is now vindicated .He said during the presidential campaign that if anything went wrong during the presidential polls ,APC would form a parallel government.  It is now clear that should PDP refuse to hand over power on May 29th 2015, another Laurel Gbagbo will be produced in our country.

Other lessons will be seen in my subsequent series under the same subject matter.

Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt ,
Rivers state
08083658038
mazipauljohn@gmail.com

Ambitious Person’s Guide To Enjoying Oil Wealth By Tolu Ogunlesi

In the months ahead, President-elect Muhammadu Buhari will appoint new officials to powerful positions in the oil industry – the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, and the Department of Petroleum Resources, etc. The Guide below is for those people lucky enough to be appointed. It is also for all other Nigerians who are tired of reading about other people enjoying billions of dollars of government oil money, and would instead like to have others read about them doing the enjoying.

One. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate. What was the greatest invention of the Goodluck Jonathan administration? SWF? SURE-P? NMRC? Akin Adesina’s GES? No. The clear answer is the Strategic Alliance Agreement. It’s a complicated arrangement, but let me try to break it down in simple English. Pre-Jonathan, standard practice was to ensure that Nigeria’s oil fields were managed as joint ventures between the NNPC (representing the government and people of Nigeria; and holding a 55 per cent stake) and the International Oil Companies (like Shell, Mobil and co; holding 45 per cent).

Then, in the late 2000s, some of those private companies decided they wanted to sell their stakes in about five oil blocks. What you’d have expected was they’d be allowed to sell to other willing private companies, especially the indigenous ones, who would then continue the existing arrangements. But no, our government people decided to be “innovative”, and decided that it, through the Nigerian Petroleum Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the NNPC, would acquire the divested stakes. So in effect the Nigerian government came to own 100 per cent of the blocks. But there was a slight problem: funding. Historically, the government (i.e. the NNPC) has always abdicated its own funding responsibilities to the IOCs (Both parties are meant to share the cost of producing oil from the blocks).

Now that there was no IOC to push the funding to, the government had to find a way out. And so the SAA was born. It involved inviting two private companies (Atlantic Energy and Seven Energy, both founded, coincidentally, in 2011) to provide funding, in exchange for a share of the proceeds from the sale of the crude oil. Now, during the IOC regime, what happened was that the IOCs would get 45 per cent of the oil output, take out the cost of production (which they had singlehandedly funded), and then pay royalties and taxes on the balance (i.e. “profits”) to the Federal Government. These payments to the FG would amount to about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of that profit, leaving the IOC with no more than 20 per cent to 30 per cent as their own earnings. In the age of the SAA, things changed. The new partners were entitled to take anything between 20 per cent and 70 per cent of the profits. In many cases, the profit was taken not in cash but in barrels of oil – which means the SAA allowed the private companies to take billions of dollars worth of crude oil annually, for which they didn’t have to pay.

Two. You need to stay in control. One of the first things that happened after Jonathan became President in 2010 was that the Oil Minister he appointed relocated the PPPRA – the agency in charge of calculating subsidy payments – from the Presidency to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. The said Oil Minister also regularly gave the middle finger to the Big Men under her watch – how else do you show who’s boss? According to one count, she fired, in her first four years as minister, three DPR bosses and four NNPC GMDs. If you’re going to succeed, you have to be in total control.

Three. The Loophole Principle. Find your own Loophole. Let’s use kerosene as an example. On June 15, 2009, President Umaru Yar’Adua ordered the cessation of payment of kerosene subsidies. Since he was President, his word was obeyed. But then he died in office, and, in June 2011, the Jonathan government decided to reactivate the payment of the subsidies. Through that “loophole”, hundreds of millions of dollars have vanished monthly into private pockets, since then.

Four. Lower the Bar. This is simple common sense. If you want it easier, you’ve got to make it easier. Again, let’s go back to 2011. Pre-Jonathan, the requirements for qualifying to be issued an oil import licence were quite stringent. You had to prove that you had the capacity to pay upfront for a minimum shipment size of 5,000 metric tonnes of product. You also had to prove that you owned retail outlets for the distribution of the imported product. Under President Jonathan, these conditions were removed, essentially making it possible for every Tom(iwa), Diek(ola) and Ari(gbabu) to import petroleum products. Also, in the crude oil swap arrangements with private oil companies, the companies were never required to bring in anything other than petrol. So, they’d take Nigeria’s crude oil, sell or refine it abroad, and bring back only petrol, even though there are dozens of products that accrue from the refining of crude oil, including the very valuable jet fuel. Ask yourself: Where were all the other products going?

When you lower the bar, you not only make it easier for the oil to flow, even more importantly, you make it harder for busybodies to follow your tracks. Instead of one set of footprints on the crime scene, why not allow for a thousand. Let’s see who’s going to succeed in tracking the origins and destinations of a thousand footprints. In 2005, Nigeria licensed five companies to import petrol. In 2007 (election year) it doubled to 10. In 2008 (new President), it again doubled to 19. By 2011 (election year; new President), there were 140 oil importers (116 of them got oil importation licences that predated their letters of application for such licences).

Five. You’ve heard what they say about technology helping to promote transparency? Well, good news: you can use technology to promote bad behaviour as well. The golden rule of technology use remains, “Garbage In Garbage Out”. Since computers can be deceived, you should strive to learn how to deceive them. People will see you/your government deploying technology, and commend you for it, while having no idea that it’s all a ruse. What’s not to love about that? One example: For the computation of subsidy payments, the PPPRA used (uses, perhaps?) a software application called “Analyzer”, which, one, had no user manual, and two, allowed a single user to singlehandedly input and edit and approve entries.

Six. Never be scared to set up a probe panel. If Nigeria got an OPEC-endorsed oil price increase of one dollar per barrel for every probe panel set up since 1960, we’d be by far the richest country in the world today. Every government since 1960 has done it, who are you to abandon a winning formula? Probe panels are important because they let the world believe that you’re serious about tackling corruption. They are also a good way to dispense patronage – panels need members, panel members need aides, etc.

Seven. Think big. Remember the $12.4bn scandal of the early 1990s. The Gulf War drove oil prices up, leading to a massive windfall for Nigeria. The money was reportedly deposited in a number of Special Accounts in the Central Bank of Nigeria, from where it reportedly grew wings. But at least it came into the CBN. The $20bn that Lamido Sanusi said was unaccounted for did not even have the courtesy of first showing up in the federation account. It was taken straight from the ‘cloud’, pre-download. Twenty years from now, expect a $40bn oil scandal – in keeping with the growing scale of Nigerian ambition.

Eight, last but not least: Make sure Nigeria never learns how to count. How many are we in Nigeria? 170 million, based, not on a count, but on projections based on dubious census figures. So, in fact, we don’t actually know. America might know, of course. How much petrol do we consume daily in Nigeria? Depends on who you ask, and why? Since we’re not really very good at numbers, and have to guesstimate everything, we can be forgiven for making mistakes and paying for 59 million liters per day, when in reality (is there really a reality?) we’re consuming an amount much closer to half of that. Which is what’s been happening in recent years. Moral: the day Nigeria learns to count, helping yourself to oil money is going to become more difficult. You have a duty to ensure that Nigeria NEVER learns how to count.

Written by Tolu Ogunlesi/Punch. Follow This writer on Twitter: @toluogunlesi

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