Teachers Education: Over Or Under-rated? By Eniola Opeyemi

“?Poor funding, decay of infrastructure, lack of conducive learning and teaching environments, absence of good, well-stocked libraries, inadeanate online computer-driven libraries, laboratories without equipment, poor academic staffing, irrelevant curriculum have all combined to lower the standard of education in the country” – Professor Babs Fafunwa

As important as it is writing this topic, so painful it appears to many that have passed through different levels of teacher’s education, while others see it has a major breakthrough to their profession.

Teachers education is widely hyped all over the world, as teachers are seen as the first point of contact in the nation’s building, thus, a foundation to every profession. In Nigeria we have many institutions recognised for teachers training, which includes the National Teachers institute, College of education as well as faculty of education in the universities, as an experienced writer who have gone through two of the aforementioned, my ordeal, though may not be applicable to others perception, yet it’s a tip to the pain the graduates of these institutions face upon seeking a job to compliment the time and resources invested in seeking a certificate under the teaching profession.

After more than three (3) years of acquiring a National Certificate in Education, I deemed it fit to apply for a teaching job, after much interviews, I was offered a teaching job and the monthly payment was presented for N12,000:00k, the terms of condition also include taking Biology, Chemisty, and Introductory technology, in addition, I have to resumed 7:00AM and close by 5:00PM daily, aside Saturdays an Sundays. Nothing is so disheartening as seeing SSCE holders happily going for? the job at N10,000:00k. I mean the profession is so loose that non-professionals and the non-certified are engaged to teach a child, hence, the quacks have taken over the profession which is a major reason for the decay in the system. Then how can the fifteen (15) courses or more done per semester in the colleges of education be justified?

Teachers education seems to be much underrated that students-teachers under training are compelled to pay for offering a service to the nation instead of encouraging them to be better, this however gives room for more corruption in the system as against other profession where people under training are paid stipends and encouraged to be great. Similarly, the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), a scheme initiated by Federal government under the provision of the law have also been watched to make unprofessional decisions such has sending graduates that have not been certified to teach to go into the classroom, only if ‘just anybody’ can be sent to the hospitals to treat and prescribe drugs, then this will be justifiable.

This doesn’t just signify that the trend so far justify that putting in for an education course may be a mere waste of time but further connote the weakness of various Professional bodies that have left the professional teachers in the atmosphere of doubt.

The Teachers registration council of Nigeria (TRCN) have over the years collected money to certify teachers that have met the requirement, yet, the body have failed to guide the profession which insinuates that the funds collected may have been siphoned and may reflect the emergence of some like minds that are much interested in augmentation of their “stomach infrastructure”.

So are the Colleges of education staffs union (COEASU), NASU, SUCCOEN, whose interest lies in the internal politics, securing projects, and getting appointments. The leaderships of the National Teachers Institute (NTI) may also be seen as a money generating machine while various alumni association of these institutions may have lost focus, not forgetting the various faculties of education teachers and professors.

The essence of writing this piece isn’t to paint an ugly picture of what is not but to exemplify the reality that hits the present state of teacher’s education in the country, only few of the teachers institute have gotten more private and government attention. Universities, Polytechnics, while the college of education and the Teachers training institute are seen as the ‘Superiors’.
In the context, the colleges of education and the teachers training institute are merely seen as a glorified secondary and this picture needs to be repainted of what these institutions are not and stating the main reason why it needs more investment and commitment?.

Only few of the yearly enrolled students in the schools under these categories primarily chose it as their choice of institution, yet, there is best out of our schools, as it has produced many dignitaries.

The National Union of Teachers whose strength was felt long ago is gradually declining from its primary objectives, I doubt if they verify their members qualifications or they’re merely interested in getting more dues to the union’s account.

The federal and state government does not need to continue with the illegality of employing just anybody to be a teacher, rather help revive the system they’re investing into.

To revive the image of the teachers education and its products, all hands have to be on deck, and the objectives reinstated.

TEACHERS EDUCATION: OVER OR UNDER-RATED?

Eniola Opeyemi writes…

Nigerian Governors And Transparent Governance By Uche Ezechukwu

Increasingly, especially with the emergence of the situation whereby technology and the social media are compelling openness and transparency on all the spheres of human endeavour, especially in the conduct of public affairs by the different strata of governance, government operatives at different levels are being roused to action. The social media, otherwise known as the people’s media, has placed the power to scrutinize in the hands of anybody who can afford a cheap phone that can access the Internet. So, public scrutiny – warts and all – is no longer the preserve of the haughty and privileged few.

The way things are today, nobody can escape the prying eyes of the public, especially as technology has democratized governance and the way the world views it. Hence, increasingly, some standard requirements of good governance have become both the accepted and expected norms for conducting the public affairs of nations and societies of the present time and of the future. It has become obvious that none can escape the current tendency and demands for openness and transparency.

In realisation of this fact, many people and bodies are coming up with initiatives that institutionalize the different and widely accepted and tested attributes of good governance that are applicable across the different global divides. One of such initiatives is the Open Government Partnership (OGP) which was formed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September 2011, when heads of state from eight founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced their country action plans along with an equal number of civil society leaders, including the former managing director of the World Bank.

These eight founding members then welcomed the commitment of some 38 other governments to join OGP and since its creation, resulted in over 2,500 commitments made by 75 participating countries, covering a third of the world’s population. Significantly, Nigerian government under President Buhari has formally committed and signed up to the ideals and demands of OGP.

Because OGP provides a platform for reformers inside and outside of governments to fashion out initiatives that promote transparency, that empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance, it aims at securing concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments that drive open government reform and innovation in an effort to push countries and societies further in the direction and areas of transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. Significantly, OGP is a voluntary partnership that countries opt to join on their own accord without any external influences.

When I became aware of this initiative from some of my foreign friends, I never for a moment believed that it would become an initiative that would enjoy wide acceptance among African countries including Nigeria, following our legendary tendency for opacity in the conduct of public affairs.

It was, therefore, with utter surprise that I learnt that members of the Nigeria’s governors forum – that voluntary forum that provides state governors the platform and opportunity to discuss issues of common interests – at the their April 17th meeting, unanimously agreed to commit and sign up to the Open Government Partnership Agreement, which means that they have, without any prompting, committed to running the affairs of their states on the basis of indices which include, but not limited to: fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, citizen engagement and providing greater access to information.

With the bashing and abuses which state governors have been subjected to on a regular basis, who would have imagined that they would, on their own, sign up to this international platform that commits them to all the things which they had been accused of standing against.
Naysayers would – for now – wish to adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude, believing that the governors’ act was too good to be true, claiming that there is usually a canyon of difference between reality and statements.

However, more positive observers, who claim that things are changing for the better across the different strata of the society, claim that a few indications seem to have borne out that the fact that the governors might, after all, be living true to their avowed commitment to the OGP agreement ideals, which they willingly agreed to adhere to. These observers point to such issues like the recent exchanges between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Right Hon Yakubu Dogara and the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai.

When the speaker had challenged Governor el-Rufai to publish the details of his public spending, the governor had surprised the entire nation by the type of details he promptly volunteered, including the details of how he had disbursed his security vote, which was, hitherto had been adjudged to be beyond public scrutiny.

However, when the governor brought the challenge to the doorsteps of the speaker, he could only produce a payslip of the amount which was immediately scoffed at and dismissed by the public In fact most observers found it very amusing that the speaker could produce a document which showed that he earned about N340, 000 a month – amount which could not fuel the cars on his convoy for a week.

The fact that Mallam el-Rufai could submit his security vote to public scrutiny clearly showed that he had started abiding by his commitment to the OGP which he had willingly signed. There is no reason to assume that other governors, especially those in their first term, and thus desirous of public opinion for their second term desideratum, are not also exhibiting similar levels of transparency. A recent interview by the Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu revealed how he had brought the bailout funds from the federal government as well as the Paris-London Clubs refunds to the attention of labour leaders and other stakeholders who made their imputs on how the funds would be deployed.

With these and other similar examples in other parts of the country, it is becoming clear that transparency is returning to the states, without much fanfare.

Regrettably, there are still state governments that are still mired in the past misdeeds, with unpaid wages to workers and such other infractions, yet, unlike in the past, yet none of them seems to be proud of those lapses, which is a positive index.

There are many observers who are convinced that when the performance of states and those of the federal government are placed side by side, especially in the areas of welfare and provision of infrastructures, like roads, the federal government would come out as the distant second best. For instance, in most states of the federation, whenever you are driving on a smooth well-manicured roads, chances are that you are plying a state road. In a place like Anambra State, the only remaining bad roads belong to the federal government, even though the state government had undertaken to work on many of them that belong to the federal government and hope for later refunds.

Under a situation whereby the federal budget remains unpassed and unsigned five years into the year, resulting in a myriad of unfulfilled commitments of the government, people like Hon. Yakubu Dogara and his colleagues at the federal level should hasten to remove the logs in their eyes to enable them see and remove the specks in the eyes of the state governments.

There is no doubt that, in spite of what is happening in very few states, things have taken a steep trajectory for the better in most other states. Hence, rather than bash state governments, the federal institutions deserve to receive lessons from the state governments.

The Political History Of The Creation Of States In Nigeria, By Okoi Obono-Obla

I was inspired to write this essay when I found to my consternation and chagrin that a lot of Nigerians (even of my generation) know next to nothing about the historical, constitutional and political structure of this country about 50 years ago.

This reality came strikingly to my realization when one of my friends (a lawyer) in his reaction to my essay titled ‘’Ohanaeze Ndigbo Cannot Speak for the South/South’’ untruthfully suggested that the present South/South Region or Geo-Political Zone was part of the defunct Eastern Region.

On the 1st January 1914, the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria and the Colony (Lagos) and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria were amalgamated to form the Federation of Nigeria.

In 1939 the Governor General of Nigeria Sir Hugh Clifford divided the Northern and Sothern Protectorates into provinces.

But why the Southern Protectorate was divided into three provinces namely Eastern and Western Provinces, the Northern Province was left intact.

However, provincialism came to an end in 1945 and was replaced with the regional structure.

The regional structure was effectively introduced at the inception of the Richard Constitution in 1945.

It was named after Richard who was the Governor General of the Federation of Nigeria at the time it was drawn up.

The objectives of the Richard Constitution were thus:

To promote the unity of Nigeria;

To provide within that desire for the diverse elements which make up the country;

To secure greater participation by Africans in the discussion of their own affairs.

The hall mark of the Richard Constitution is the introduction of regionalism.

The country under the Richard Constitution was divided into three regions namely Northern Region, Eastern Region and Western Region.

The regional structure which the country was divided into since 1945 ended on the 27 May 1967 when the then Federal Military Government under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon abolished the four (4) and replaced them with States.

However, it is instructive that after the military takeover of 15 January 1966 of political governance, the then National military Government under General Aguiyi Ironsi promulgated the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree No. 1 of 1966 abolishing the regional structure of the country.

The Decree also abolished the country federal structure and replaced it with unitary system. The Federation was therefore renamed ‘Republic of Nigeria’.

The four regions were renamed Group of Provinces namely Northern Group of Provinces; Eastern Group of Provinces, Western Group pf Provinces and Mid-Western Group of Provinces.

It is well settled that not all parts of the present South/South Geo-Political Zone was part of the defunct Eastern Region!

The present Edo and Delta States were never part of the defunct Eastern Region! Edo and Delta States were formerly Mid-Western Region craved out of the defunct Western Region in 1963.

With the creation of 12 States in 1967, the defunct Mid-Western Region was renamed Mid-Western State!

The defunct Mid-Western Region was created by an Act of Parliament passed in 1963.

In 1976, the name of the defunct Mid-Western State was changed to Bendel State!

In 1991, Bendel was divided into two States namely Edo and Delta States respectively!

The States in the defunct Eastern Region in the South/South geo-political zones of the country are the present Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers States!

When 12 States were created on the 27 May, 1967 by the then Federal military government three (3) States were carved out of the defunct Eastern Region.

These States were East Central States (now Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo); South Eastern State (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom States).

The defunct Western Region became Western State, while Lagos State was carved out of the defunct Federal Territory of Lagos.

The defunct Western State is now the present Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, and Osun States.

The defunct Northern Region in 1967 was divided into North Central State ( present Kaduna and Katsina States); Central West State (later changed to Kwara State); Benue/ Plateau State (now Benue , Nassarawa and Plateau States) ; North Western State (now Niger , Zamfara , Kebbi, Sokoto States) ; Kano State (now Kano and Jigawa States ) ; North Eastern State (now Bauchi , Gombe, Adamawa , Yobe, Taraba and Bornu States).

Lagos State was created out of the defunct Federal Territory and Colony of Lagos.

After the 12 States were created in 1967, Lagos remained the Federal Capital of Nigeria while the Capital of Lagos State was Ikeja.

On the 3 February, 1976, the 18 States structure of the country was dismantled and replaced with 16 States.

The defunct Northern Eastern State was divided into Bornu (present Bornu and Yobe States) and Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba States) and Bauchi States (now Bauchi and Gombe States).

The defunct East Central State was divided into Anambra (Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States) and Imo State (now Abia and Imo States).

The defunct Western State was divided into Ondo (now Ekiti and Ondo States), Ogun and Oyo (now Oyo and Osun States) State.

The defunct Benue-Plateau State was divided into Benue (now Benue and Kogi) and Plateau State (now Nassarawa and Plateau States).

The defunct Central West State (kwara) was renamed Kwara State. It is instructive that the present Kogi State is partly formed from old Benue and old Kwara States.

The defunct Northern Eastern State was divided into Bornu State (now Bornu and Yobe States) and Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba State) respectively.

The defunct South Eastern State was renamed Cross River State (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom States).

The defunct North Western State was divided into Sokoto (now Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi States) and Niger State.

The name of the defunct North Central State was changed to Kaduna State (now Kaduna and Katsina States).

The name of the defunct Mid-Western State was changed to Bendel State.

On the 23 September 1987, there was another State creation exercise in the country that was initiated by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

It resulted in the craving out of Akwa Ibom State from the old Cross River State; while Katsina State was created out of the old Kaduna State.

On the 27 August 1991, then Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida as part of his political transition programme to return the country to democratic civil rule.

The following States were created thus:

Abia State was created out of old Imo State;

Anambra and Enugu States were created out of old Anambra State;

Edo and Delta States were created out of the old Bendel State;

Jigawa State was created out of the old Kano State;

Osun State was carved out from the old Oyo State;

Yobe State was created out of the old Bornu ;and

The old Gongola State was divided into Taraba State and Adamawa States respectively.

The Nigerian elite have a penchant for selfishness and self-glorification and seeking for political turfs.

In the reality, the politics of creation of States in Nigeria, to all intents and purposes, has always being a study intense struggle for power between the elites and different power blocs and factions.

So the them Federal military government under late General Sanni Abacha again on the 1 October, 1996 carried out another State creation exercise.

In the exercise, Bayelsa State was carved out of the old Rivers State; Ebonyi State was carved out of the old Abia and Enugu State.

Gombe State was created out of the old Bauchi State; Kebbi and Zamfara States was created out of the old Sokoto State.

The present Federal Capital Territory was created on the 3 February 1976 made up of parts created out of the old Benue-Plateau; North Central and North Western States.

It seems to me that a lot of Nigerians of this generation do not know or were never taught about the constitutional, political and historical development of the country.

Undoubtedly, this is responsible for the sometimes unpardonable mistakes, blissful ignorance and misinformation about the country we see (especially in the social media) every day.

It is pertinent to note on the 27 May 2017, will mark the 50 years anniversary of the first State creation exercise embarked by the then Federal Military Government under young General Yakubu Gowon on the 27 May 1967.

Some observers are of the opinion that the State creation exercise that took place on the 27 May 1967 (especially the creation of the defunct Southern Eastern and Rivers States out of the defunct Eastern Group of Provinces) was a shrewd political manoeuvrings and masterstroke to pull the rug out of the feet of the then Military Governor of the defunct Eastern Group of Provinces, late Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had declared the succession of the Eastern Provinces out of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The people of the defunct South Eastern and Rivers States had clamoured from the 1950s the creation of Calabar Ogoja Rivers State out of the defunct Eastern Region; while Benue-Plateau and other minorities’ areas of the defunct Northern Region had agitated for the creation of the Middle Belt Region.

 

OKOI OBONO-OBLA

The Options Before President Buhari By Simon Kolawole

If you’re like me, you would hesitate to comment on the health of a fellow mortal in a sarcastic and malicious way just for the sake of politics. It doesn’t matter if it is the person next door or the president of a country. My grandmother never failed to warn me, when I was much younger, to not laugh at anyone’s deformity. “Nobody chose to be deformed,” she would say, and then add ominously: “Some of the deformed people you see today were once like you, but accidents happen in life.” Since nobody goes to the market to buy cancer or diabetes or any ailment for that matter no human being should gloat over another person’s misfortune. This I believe.
As we all know, President Muhammadu Buhari is ill. God forbid that I ridicule him. God forbid that I stop praying for him. However, because he is more than the head of his family but leader of 180 million Nigerians, his medical status is not a personal affair. What he does, and what he does not do, affects the lives of more than himself and his family. It affects more than Daura and Katsina. It affects more than the Hausa/Fulani and the north. It affects more than Muslims. All of us are at the mercy of the president, no matter the state of origin, ethnic affiliation, religious inclination and political persuasion. Let’s be especially clear about that before we proceed.
There are things we know and there are things we don’t know. We know for sure that the president is ill. Although some people tried to lie to us by saying he was “hale and hearty”, Buhari himself has come out to say he had never been this ill in his life, to the extent of undergoing blood transfusion. We also know that the president has lost weight and there is hardly any hair left on his head again, judging from the last time we saw him in public. His wife, Aisha, has even told us that things are not as bad as they are being painted perhaps referring to rumours that he was being fed through a tube. Things are bad all the same. We can see.
How bad? We don’t know. Is it a terminal ailment? We don’t know. Some Nigerians are so gifted they can look at a sick person from the comfort of their dining rooms and tell you the day the person is going to die. I don’t have such a gift. In fact, doctors can look at his pictures and make a guess, but only those who have access to his medical records can be certain. Buhari looks seriously ill that is naked to the eye but we are not in a position to conclude that it is all over for him, except, of course, we want to be mischievous. Realistically, though, not many people can say for sure the true state of the president except those who are in the inner circle.
Now, there are certain things we know very well. Definitely, the president is not in a position to perform his duty to the best of his ability. I can say that conveniently. I have evidence. My first witness is that he has not been able to preside over the weekly federal executive council meeting in a month. After lying, characteristically, to us that the “agenda was light” and “we are on Easter break”, the cabinet has now devised a more realistic story that the president is being told to rest by his doctors and he will not return to work until he is fit. In other words, he is “not fit” yet. I am quoting the minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is my second witness.
If the president cannot preside over FEC and cannot be seen frequently in public in his current state, I want to guess (I repeat, guess) that there are many state matters that he cannot attend to. There are meetings he cannot attend, there are important visitors he cannot receive, there are critical policy sessions that he cannot partake in and there are key decisions he cannot take. Yet, the president of Nigeria has to be on his feet all the time. Governing a vast country with vast challenges is no child’s play. With Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo now technically demobilised and disrobed as acting president, there is certainly a gaping hole in the flow of things.
The truth be told then: we are at a crossroads. In this age and time when we need all the speed we can buy, when we need to take 20 steps at a time in order to make anything near progress in economic and human development, it will be most unfair to insist that Buhari can combine his current state of health with the weight of leading Nigeria. It is neither good for him nor the country. He either concentrates 100% on his health or 100% on governing Nigeria. He cannot do 90:10 in favour of his health. We can be quite sure that it is Nigeria that will suffer in this instance. And Nigeria is bigger than anyone, I would like to maintain.
There is something that doesn’t make sense to me. President Buhari was in far away London attending to his health and making progress. Osinbajo was constitutionally empowered to be acting president and, may I add, Buhari was satisfied that things ran smoothly. There was neither uncertainty nor tension. Buhari did not have to worry about Nigerians and Nigerians did not have to worry about Buhari. So why did he return home while he was not done yet? On his return, he said he would go back to London for another round of treatment “in the next two weeks”. But why did he not stay back? Why prefer to fly up and down in two weeks? I can’t understand. I can’t.
The story out there is that some people out of personal interest, which they normally disguise as regional interest, stormed London to persuade Buhari to return home and take “charge” by making public appearances once in a while. If my guess is right, the drama playing out in Abuja is not about the progress of Nigeria. It is not about how we can attain uninterrupted power supply. It has nothing to do with infrastructural development. It is not about making Nigeria an investment destination of choice in Africa and in the world. It is far away from being about reducing infant mortality, maternity mortality and illiteracy. It is not intrigues about malaria, river blindness or polio. I shake my head.
I conclude. There are many options before Buhari as we speak. I will highlight just two. One, he can send a letter to the National Assembly announcing a medical leave and empowering his VP to act again. That way, the uncertainty in town can be lessened. Lest we forget, whether it is Buhari or Osinbajo, it is the same ticket and the same administration. Buhari did a decent thing by empowering Osinbajo to act when he went on medical leave in January and many of us admired him for that. For those of us who saw what happened in Nigeria in 2009/2010 with President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s illness, we were glad Buhari took one step better this time around.
With the option of medical leave, the president will not have to worry about Nigeria and Nigeria will not have to worry about him. He will receive all the treatment he needs and get all the rest he can muster. God is a merciful God. He can accelerate Buhari’s recovery and he would eventually come back to his desk in good health. Head or tail, Buhari can win. He can get good health and hold on to power at the same time. And if he chooses to reveal his real health challenges, he may even win more admirers. I know that there are those who will seek to score silly political points with it, but he will also win the respect of many, most of whom will put him in their prayers.
There is a second option being currently canvassed: that Buhari should resign. In my opinion, he should consider this option only if his doctors have told him something with a tone of finality. Again, we are not in a position to speculate on that. I think many of those canvassing this option are already assuming the worst case scenario. If it that is the case, resignation would not be too much a price to pay for the overall health of Nigeria. It would be the most difficult yet the most honourable option. For now, though, I would make my recommendation based on what I can see with my eyes: the president needs time off to treat himself. Urgent.
 
===========
“In this age and time when we need all the speed we can buy, when we need to take 20 steps at a time in order to make anything near progress in economic and human development, it will be most unfair to insist that Buhari can combine his current state of health with the weight of leading Nigeria”
===========

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS

 
TAMING RAPE
Did you read the gory story of the Lagos secondary school students who went on a raping spree on Thursday to “celebrate” writing their final exams? Honestly, I couldn’t read it in a co-ordinated manner. My heart was beating at twice normal as I scanned through the eyewitness account of Mrs Michale Matthew, the heroine who confronted the boys and offered protection to the girls at the risk of being attacked herself. It is said to be a “tradition” after exams a “tradition” of violating teenage girls in the vilest manner, in broad day light. Daily, rape goes unchecked all over Nigeria but we may have finally found scapegoats in order to mainstream this issue. Evil.
 
NIGERIA AND ZIMBABWE
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe said at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, South Africa, on Thursday that his country is the second “most highly developed country” in Africa. “After South Africa, I want to see what country has the level of development that you see in Zimbabwe,” he said with every sense of pride. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Zimbabwe is not paying workers and the currency is a piece of rag. But after years of self-inflicted economic meltdown and state-organised violence, you would expect power cuts, bad roads, meningitis and cholera all over Zimbabwe. And that’s not the case. So, is Nigeria better than Zimbabwe? Really?
 
MODERN TRAGEDY
I have been reading tragic stories since I became literate but this one is chilling and mysterious. Tunde Adepegba, a computer systems analyst in the US, relocated his family from Nigeria last week. They had two young daughters and his wife is seven months pregnant. Less than 12 hours after arriving in the US, Tunde was on a metro boss to work when he died on his seat. Other passengers did not know. They probably thought he was sleeping. It was the driver that discovered his dead body after the last stop. The penniless widow now has to raise $10,000 for his burial and cater for the fatherless children. Must life be this unkind? Mystifying.
 
OWNING JOSHUA
Success has many fathers. Since Anthony Joshua defeated Wladimir Klitschko to become the world’s unified heavyweight champion, Nigerians have been celebrating the success of “our son”. After all, although he was born in England, his parents are Nigerians and he spent his early years in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the British are very proud to have produced another world heavyweight champion and the narrative in the British media has changed from “the son of Nigerian parents arrested for possession of cannabis” (2011) to “the British heavyweight boxing sensation”. When you succeed, you don’t need to search for relatives. They will come for you. Life.

Do Our Youths Really Know What They Want? By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, I’m very sorry if I’m starting my weekly epistle with what may seem a rhetorical question today. Columnists are ordinarily expected to throw up certain questions from time to time and proffer answers. Let me confess right away that I may not be able to do so in this piece. My pessimism comes from the fact that my generation of youths complained against these same leaders and although some of us have managed to gain some ascendancy the truth is the older generation I am talking about still seem to call the shots! A sobering and telling indication of this is the recent picture of three of our previous leaders, Generals Abdulsalam Abubakar, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo, along with Otunba Fasawe, meeting in Minna to decide on the fate of the present leadership of our dear country.

One would wonder why these geriatrics, the last of whom was in power 10 years ago should think that they have any role to play in determining the future course of the country and its restive youths when they are collectively mainly responsible for the dire situation that we find ourselves today. The challenges of the 20th century are so diverse and distinct from those of the 21st century and these leaders are simply relics to be placed firmly in the realms of history and not that they should be part of our future. That they deign to have any semblance of influence to determine that future demonstrates the depths we have plumbed as a nation. Given this sorry state of affairs, my mission is only to establish a dialogue or start a debate on what our youths really want and hope that this would help us find a workable solution to the many challenges confronting our youths today.

It is not uncommon to see, hear or feel our youths grumbling and lamenting and groaning about how they have been short-changed by the older generation. I recently wrote about how most of those controlling Nigeria today started holding leadership positions in their twenties and thirties. That is no longer news. Some have been in, out and around power for the past 50 years or more. And they are not about to quit no matter the loudness of moans and grunts coming from our desperate or disillusioned young ones.

I truly wish I could understand the problem and its solution but it is so tough and confusing that I sincerely doubt if there is any clear-cut answer. The inspiration for this piece came all the way from Durban, South Africa, at the World Economic Forum, where the former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, received thunderous and resounding ovation for his contributions during several of the sessions he participated in. One of the most important sessions he attended and addressed was the one on youth inclusion in power and politics. The conclusion is that there are too many things our youths want and it is practically impossible to have them all. The one they complain the most about is the most difficult to achieve. It is how to seize or wrest power from a generation they believe has become overbearing, overpowering and ancient. This is the crux of the matter.

There is no doubt that the youths want political power by all means but it is not so simple to attain. They must participate as contestants and as voters and remain focused and passionate all the way. If you don’t join a political movement you may never appreciate the process and procedure of becoming a leader. Our youths cannot sit down at home arms, akimbo and expect power to drop on their laps, just like that. It takes time to build one’s profile and brand. It takes loads of money to fund campaigns. There is no short-cut to power. How many of our youths are willing to contribute or commit the little they have or can afford the harsh realities of political life and the drudgery and scrounging that goes with it. The youths in other countries make donations to political parties and the political process and become stakeholders in the political millieu. As veritable investors, they would always have a say in how they are governed.

When potentially good leaders stand up as candidates, the young ones are the first to shoot him down. I can confidently use myself as an example. Not many youths believed I was serious and determined to win the Presidential election in 2011. Everyone was qualified except an experienced and versatile journalist who was also a publisher. My roadmap was simple. I believed that on my own accord, and with God’s guidance and help, I had built a successful brand. I was not tainted or tarnished by being part of the failed political class like most of my opponents who had achieved nothing but failure from the governmental experience that they trumpeted. My view was that since we perennially complained about the abysmal failures and corruption in our body polity, let us jettison our major political parties and start or develop new ones. I strongly believed our salvation belonged in forming new parties or rebuilding a few reasonable ones. I made substantial contributions to Labour Party, National Conscience Party and even KOWA. Till today, I have never been a member of KOWA Party. The reason I supported KOWA was because I saw people of like minds I genuinely admire in it, especially my big brother, Alhaji Fola Adeola. This is how it should be. How I had wished we had many young ones willing and ready to make similar sacrifice for the sake of our country.

In 2011, I was greatly inspired by the emergence of Barack Obama in America, as the first black President. It was a miracle that I thought could be replicated in Africa. But I was told by my peers that I was a day dreamer. The same people who clamoured for youth participation in politics were the ones who treated us with disdain. I chose a 26 year old man, Ohimai Godwin Amaize, as my National Campaign Coordinator but many could still not see the statement I was trying to make. We had a parade of some accomplished Nigerians at the time but many preferred to maintain the status quo. I was almost certain that one of us, or a combination of us, Nasir El-Rufai, Donald Duke, Nuhu Ribadu, Usman Malami, Yunusa Tanko, Fola Adeola, Awwal Tukur, Oby Ezekwesili, Pat Utomi, or Dele Momodu would be massively supported in order to correct the faulty Nigerian trajectory but I was very wrong. I interacted with all but we were not able to make appreciable progress.

I went all the way, even if only as a symbolic gesture. Those who should applaud my guts for trying at all were more interested in dissing me and my family. One reporter wrote nonsense about my wife not voting for me despite the fact that it was in broad day light that we voted in different polling booths. But that is the tragedy of our generation. We prefer to trivialise serious issues and amplify mundane topics. Just imagine where Nigeria would have been if we had assembled some of our best eleven in 2011.

What Nigeria needs is a sort of bloodless ethical revolution. The youths would have to do it now or we will all remain in this terrible quagmire. We talk and sermonise about almost anything and everything but do nothing about the terrible conditions we face. Those who are serious about doing something are often told to get lost. We prefer our oppressors to our liberators. It pains me to the marrow that at a time the world was savouring the euphoria of an Obama, we did not seize the initiative. Anyone who tried to replicate the same Obama magic at home was rebuffed and treated with disdain. They would tell him he can’t do it. They would discourage and disparage him. Some would prefer to queue behind the same people they alleged stole their money. They would do this for money that would barely buy them a meal handed over from the filthy lucre that they incessantly complain about. They would defend the old as experienced people who can be trusted and entrusted with power. But if their experience was that good and useful, how come we have found ourselves in this “peculiar mess” in Nigeria with no solution in sight? We have continued to move from frying pan to fire.

Let’s examine what else the youths want so desperately apart from power. The youths want good jobs but these jobs are not readily available. And where and when available many of the applicants are not employable. What President Mahama did in Ghana was to tilt Ghanaian education in the direction of vocational studies. The reason was simple. Why do we keep mass-producing graduates like popcorns when the ones before them and the generation beyond would never be able to get the jobs of their dream? Many go to school to read courses that may not bear fruits. The jobs that are readily available hardly find enough hands on ground. More often than not, nations are in dire need of capable artisans and innovators. Every country, whether developed or developing requires its youths to be a mix of artisans, technicians, scientists and IT personnel and computer whiz kids. A good example of the youth employment conundrum in Nigeria is the case of students that are rushing to read irrelevant courses and yet expect to find jobs in other disciplines pronto.

There are no easy roads to getting jobs whether good or bad. It is only a man who has one job in hand who can complain and then proceed to seek another. A man who has none would have to manage the one that he can land in hand, especially if he or she is from my kind of background, the proletariat. It takes time to create jobs and spread opportunities. But the youths need the jobs like yesterday. Mahama thought he had a perfect solution by investing heavily in infrastructure development but this would become his albatross. The youths said they were hungry and needed food before anything else. The same seems to be the case of the youths in Nigeria who would seem to prefer to be fed rather that acquire the skills of how to feed people.

Any continent with the type of infrastructure deficit that we suffer in Africa is already in big trouble. It is always a Catch-22 situation. There can be no jobs without adequate preparation for facilities. The facilities cost an arm and a leg. Mahama built or revamped many hospitals, schools, new roads, airports, and so on hoping to secure the future of the youths but he ended up eating his pounded yam as boiled yam. The youths kicked vehemently and got him out of power. It is one of the ironies of life that doing great work is no longer enough. You have to balance it with stomach infrastructure. It is a major lesson for leaders out there that the youths are not interested in long tales, all they want is instant results with talismanic effects. Unfortunately, if they are to better their lot the youths must first learn patience and understanding. They must appreciate that ‘panda’ can never be gold no matter how much it is burnished!

It is obvious that the problems we confront in the world today are grave. As 2019 approaches in Nigeria, this question would have to be asked and adequately addressed by our youths. What do they want for themselves? Self-governance or handouts and hand-me-downs? May God make our youths see clearly on how to set themselves free from the bondage of the aged and the past. No one can do it better and faster than our younger generation. The time for them to act, and claim what is their right, is now!

National Open University and the Failure of Leadership by Patrick Omoregie

My attention was drawn on May 1st to an article published on the ongoing crisis at the National University of Nigeria written by a social commentator Ahmed Abdullahi as published in The Nation newspaper. As a student of that prestigious institution of higher learning, I could not have been happier that after what seems like an eternity, the current situation at NOUN is finally getting the attention of the public and especially experts in the education sector.

Mr Ahmed Abdullahi in his well-written piece did his best to describe the ordeal currently being endured by all students and staff of the National Open University as a result of the actions and inactions of our Vice Chancellor Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu since his appointment a little over a year ago. But the situation is even worse than Mr Ahmed managed to portray in his column in The Nation. NOUN  is sinking as we speak and if nothing is done by the federal government and all stakeholders to rescue the institution, Nigeria’s only open and distance learning university will be history in no time.

To be clear, while the bulk of the mess we are dealing with as students revolve around the VC’s decision to abruptly close the iLEARN platform, the issues go even deeper than that. The iLEARN platform is the lifeline of our institution, it is the gateway, the channel through which we the students connect with our lecturers and through which NOUN itself connects to the world. That lifeline, that gateway, that channel no longer exists as we speak. Professor Adamu in his wisdom decided to shut it down without providing any adequate alternative.

The implication of this abrupt closure of iLEARN by the VC is that all NOUN students can no longer pay their school fees online, or register for courses online, or get tutorials and other learning materials, access past exam questions, submit assignments and reports, or access results from past sessions and semesters. NOUN has essentially been stripped of everything that makes it an open and distance learning institution and we the students are paying heavily for that.

Its like after traveling a long distance by road through a car for several times, we are suddenly being asked to ride camels. We are made to understand that the school management lost all student data in the iLEARN database when it was shut down. So as we speak the school management cannot authoritatively say who is a student or not. Imagine being born in the age of mobile phones and 4G internet and someone asks you to hire a town crier to broadcast a message to global audience. So many students also have their school fees trapped inside the iLEARN portal and are now being asked to pay new fees.

It goes beyond shutting down iLEARN and throwing the school into the darkness technology-wise. The VC has shown favouritism and displayed tribal sentiments in conducting the affairs of the school. Some senior officers have been demoted to lower positions and their juniors placed above them. We are also made to understand that some staff fringe benefits are being withheld and the video recording allowance of our facilitators are not being paid.

Essentially nothing is working in NOUN right now. Our study centres no longer have internet connectivity. The erstwhile smooth school academic calendar has been disrupted as a result of these and many more issues, all directly or indirectly tied to questionable decisions and policies introduced by Professor Adamu. There is a distinct lack of transparency in the administration of the school, policies are announced out of thin air without any consultation with students or staff.

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Honourable Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu also have their fair share of the blame in the chaos that is engulfing NOUN under Professor Adamu. The issues surrounding his appointment as Vice Chancellor last year apart, the President and Education Minister owe Nigerians a duty by virtue of their respective positions to uphold the integrity of one of the most important higher institutions in the country. The fact that the President and the Minister have been unlooking this crisis at NOUN for a year now despite several appeals to intervene by the students and staff makes them complicit.

As students of the National Open University, our demands are simple. NOUN was a perfectly functional institution before Professor Adamu became the VC, the least we ask of him is to keep it that way and not make it worse. We implore the VC to rethink some of his decisions that have crippled our institution and immediately reinstate the iLEARN portal so all students can carry on with their education without further disruptions.

Patrick Omoregie writes from Lagos

Still On Disparity In 2015 Kano Elections Result- An Insider’s Account, By Moshood Isah

The much anticipated launch of one of the first in the series of publications on the 2015 general elections titled, “Against the Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria”, has come and gone. As part of the build up to its public presentation in Lagos on Friday, April 28, 2017, several print and online media outlets provided their readers with snippets, in the form of serialised sections of the book, which further heightened public expectation ahead of its formal launch.

Following from these serialized snippets, a number of the principal actors featured in the book, who had cause to disagree with claims made by certain individuals in different chapters of the book, have offered their own perspectives and counter narratives to some of the accounts, while some major foreign missions also issued statements absolving their respective countries of any complicity in the election’s outcome, as claimed. One of such issues raised is a rather curious claim relating to an alleged huge disparity in the election results from Kano in respect of the two sets of elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday, March 28, 2015; i.e. the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Much as one would ordinarily have preferred to steer clear from making any comments on this matter, it is highly imperative that issues like this, which have already been captured in book form for posterity, are promptly clarified, lest they become accepted as the gospel truth by generations to come. Before I get to the specifics of the claim proper, however, it is important that I drop an important disclaimer: this intervention represents nothing more than an effort at setting the records straight, using verifiable figures from officially declared results of those elections. It is not an attempt at joining issues with anyone in particular, especially in view of the public standing of some of the individuals involved. It is also not meant as a challenge to the author of this important publication regarding the accuracy of the figures quoted, as he was merely reproducing information relayed to him and verified over several interview sessions with the respective respondents in the course of compiling the book. I will, therefore, try as much as possible to avoid making direct reference to any individual or political party by name, even as nobody who has either read the book, or followed the news leading up to its formal launch, will be left in any doubt as to the real identity of the personalities and/or entities involved.

In the introductory section on pages 17 and 18 of the 221-page book, reference was made to a potential disparity of one million votes in the declared election results from Kano State, as reported, inter alia; “Go and check the results from Kano. The presidential election and that of National Assembly happened on the same day and same time. The National Assembly result reflected that about 800,000 people voted but that of the presidential election reflected a vote of about 1.8 million”. In the same introductory section, a friend and former colleague in the electoral commission described this as “nothing particularly special”, and went on to explain, amongst others, that the alleged scenario in Kano was a “general trend (across the country) as many voters were more interested in the presidential election than in other elections”, even though he was not specifically recorded as having disputed that outrageous disparity as projected in the distorted claim he was referring to.

While not necessarily disagreeing with the above submission regarding possible voter preferences with respect to different elections, it is very important to stress, for the purpose of emphasis, that the figures ascribed to each of the two elections in the earlier statement were nowhere near the actual number of voters in the officially declared results of the two elections. This is particularly necessary, in view of the fact that similar reasons had earlier been adduced to explain away an identical situation that occurred during the disputed 2003 general elections, where the total votes cast in respect of the presidential election in Ogun State exceeded those of the governorship election by a whopping 618,017 votes, even though both elections were held at the same time, with each voter issued with the two sets of ballots simultaneously.

For the records, the two elections in reference were conducted simultaneously nationwide on March 28, 2015, with National Assembly election here referring to the election for the positions of Senator and House of Representatives member in each state’s three Senatorial Districts and stipulated number of Federal Constituencies respectively. Therefore, in essence, three separate elections were simultaneously conducted on the said date, comprising the presidential election, representing a single election for the position of president nationwide; senatorial election, made up of three seats per state, and; House of Representatives election, where the number of seats up for grabs varied from state to state.

As a result, for the purpose of comparing the number of people that voted in the presidential election with the voter turnout in each of the two other distinct National Assembly elections in any state, we must first individually arrive at the total number of votes cast in each of the two separate National Assembly elections in that state. And, to do that, the three Senatorial Districts vote tallies must necessarily be added together to get the cumulative number in respect of the senatorial election in the entire state, while the total number of Federal Constituencies in respect of the House of Representatives seats contested for in that state (which happens to be 24 in the case of Kano) must equally be tallied together to arrive at the grand total. The three can then be compared to see if there is any disparity amongst them, before we can then begin to talk about what the probable reasons for such a disparity – if any – might possibly be.

As we may recall from our elementary school mathematics lessons, the part cannot be greater than the whole. Consequently, the reference to 1.8 million as the total number of people that voted in the presidential election in Kano cannot logically be correct, in a situation where one of the 14 presidential candidates alone secured over 1.9 million votes in that same election. In truth, therefore, the total number of votes cast in the 2015 presidential election in Kano State was 2,172,447, as captured on INEC’s official results collation document, the Presidential Election Summary of Results From States “Form EC 8D (A)”, a stamped and sealed copy of which was given out to agents of all the 14 political parties on the ballot, as well as to representatives of each of the security agencies present at the International Conference Centre Results Collation Centre, following the formal declaration of results by the Commission in the early hours of Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
This figure is broken down as follows: party/candidate with the highest number of votes scored a total of 1,903,999 votes; party/candidate that came second scored 215,779 votes; the remaining 12 parties/candidates cumulatively scored a total of 9,043 votes (which made it essentially a two horse race), giving the total valid votes as 2,128,821, while the number of rejected votes stood at 43,626, representing 2.01% of total votes cast. Total number of registered voters in the state was 4,943,862, while number of accredited voters was 2,364,434, with the difference of 191,987 between this figure and total votes cast accounted for by those that failed to show up and cast their vote after accreditation (which, as we may recall, was conducted separate from voting).

The rejected votes as a percentage of total votes cast of 2.01% for Kano is not dissimilar to that of many other states that recorded large voter turnout across the country during that election. Examples of such are Kaduna (total votes cast – 1,650,201), Rivers (1,584,768 votes), Katsina (1,481,714 votes), Delta (1,284,848 votes) and Akwa Ibom (1,028,551 votes) with rejected votes percentages of 1.98%, 1.22%, 2.17%, 1.33% and 1.12% respectively. The overall rejected votes percentage nationwide stood at 2.87% of the 29,432,083 total votes cast, compared to 3.19% recorded during the 2011 general elections (total votes cast – 39,469,484), which serves as indicator to the probable success of the massive voter education program that preceded the 2015 general elections.

In terms of the two National Assembly elections, both of which also ended up as a two horse race between the two leading political parties in the country, the breakdown of INEC’s officially declared results in respect of votes scored by the two major parties as published in various national dailies (i.e. excluding rejected votes and the cumulative votes scored by the other competing parties in the election) across the three Senatorial Districts and 24 Federal Constituencies in the state are as follows:

Senatorial election:- (1) Kano Central: Winning candidate – 758,383; Runner-up – 205,809. (2) Kano North: Winning candidate – 381,393; Runner-up – 107,845. (3) Kano South: Winning candidate – 498,528; Runner-up – 145,923. Total votes scored by the two leading political parties in the contest amounts to 2,097,881 (excluding rejected ballots and votes scored by the remaining political parties that contested for the election in each Senatorial District, which could be responsible for the difference of 74,566 between this figure and the total votes cast in the presidential election).

House of Representatives election:- (1) Rano/Kibiya/Bunkure: Winner – 66,091; Runner-up – 30,129. (2) Karaye/Rogo – 54,907; Runner-up – 30,129. (3) Dala: Winner – 91,616; Runner-up – 4,740. (4) Nasarawa: Winner – 111,473; Runner-up – 12, 608. (5) Fagge: Winner – 44,226; Runner-up – 12,700. (6) Dawakin Tofa/Tofa/Rimin Gado: Winner – 79,473; Runner-up – 21,490. (7) Kura/Madobi/Garun-Mallan: Winner – 82,555; Runner-up – 30,708. (8) Ungogo/Minjibir: Winner – 89,945; Runner-up – 23,993. (9) Bagwai/Shanono: Winner – 48,548; Runner-up – 18,864. (10) Gwarzo/Kabo: Winner – 67,770; Runner-up – 17,610. (11) Kunchi/Tsanyawa: Winner – 53,250; Runner-up – 9,550. (12) Takai/Sumaila: Winner – 79,486; Runner-up – 21,521; (13) Tarauni: Winner – 55,221; Runner-up – 14,013. (14) Gezawa/Gabasawa: Winner – 65,114; Runner-up – 17,553. (15) Bichi: Winner – 39,408; Runner-up – 11,862. (16) Danbatta/Makoda: Winner – 52,871; Runner-up – 17,988. (17) Tudun Wada/Doguwa: Winner – 67,350; Runner-up – 16,844. (18) Dawakin Kudu/Warawa: Winner – 57,528; Runner-up – 21,338. (19) Kano Municipal Council: Winner – 81,104; Runner-up – 14,804. (20) Kumbotso: Winner – 50,549; 1st Runner-up – 14,239; 2nd Runner-up – 6,762. (21) Gwale: Winner – 47,179; Runner-up -13,382. (22) Kiru/Bebeji: Winner – 55,589; Runner-up – 22,674. (23) Wudil/Garko: Winner – 65,905; Runner-up – 11,169. (24) Gaya/Ajingi/Albasu: Winner – 94,782; Runner-up – 13,862. Total votes scored by the two leading political parties in the House of Representatives election across the state amounts to 2,032,472 (excluding rejected ballots and votes scored by the remaining political parties that contested for the election in each Federal Constituency, which could also account for the shortfall of 139,975 votes in comparison to the presidential election votes tally).

From the foregoing breakdown of votes tally across the three elections conducted on March 28, 2015 in Kano state, therefore, it is quite evident that any allusion to a probable disparity of one million votes between the number of people that voted in the presidential election and those that voted in either of the two National Assembly elections is nothing but an illusion.

Abdullahi Usman (usmanabd@gmail.com)
PA to former INEC Chairman

Understanding the Economics of Tourism in Nigeria

In most gatherings of experts in the travel & hospitality industry, tourism as a tool in diversifying the Nigerian economy has received the most attention and provoked lots of intellectual comments. This is not surprising at all considering the huge potential that this particular sector possesses. In most developed and developing countries, tourism has enriched the economies of these countries thus becoming one of the major sources of income and a pillar of commerce. The decision to grow tourism into a consistent and sustainable means of income by these countries and to make it appealing to inbound and outbound tourists was not arbitrary, but rather deliberate and planned. Without a doubt, other countries like Nigeria are amazed to see the attendant economic implications this sector has birth.

We can achieve this feat or even better than these countries. We have an advantage: our population. In fact, if we can sell tourism to just Nigerians to a point where they can see the value proposition, it might become optional to sell to foreign tourists. Majority of the countries benefiting from tourism revenue such as Kenya, South Africa, Seychelles etc. do not have the kind of population density that Nigeria has. In fact, the total inhabitants of some of the countries only equal the total population of Lagos dwellers – which is over 20 million. So, we have the numbers, and the percentage of our population that has the purchasing power for tourism is above 30%, out of over 180 million Nigerians.

Nonetheless, influencing the government at the central to earmark some budget for the growth of this sector in the yearly fiscal budget might seem to be a herculean task. The reason is simple: we’re an oil-dependent economy. But the reality is hitting us hard in the face. The last few months have helped us as a country to reevaluate our sheer reliance on crude oil. Matter-of-factly, the government must have learnt a great lesson from the recession: dependency on one major source of income is bad for a growing economy like ours with a population that grows on an average of 2.3% yearly. We are yet to develop another sector to have little parity in terms of revenue being generated compared with the oil & gas sector. Exactly why we felt the pangs of the recession when it came through.

It’s very heartwarming to see that the government of the day is now tilting its focus towards expanding and developing other sectors that can ultimately support our mainstay. The recent comments of the Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism, Alh. Lai Mohammed at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) that is being led by Nkereuwem Onung, reassured all in attendance that tourism has now become a focal point for the government. According to the minister, policies at all levels have now been put in place to engender tourism growth. For instance, the committee on the Presidential Council on Tourism has been resuscitated. This is to engender the rapid development of the sector through policy directions. The committee will see to the implementation of the tourism roadmap and the festival calendar.

Also, policies on issuance of visas have been reviewed. Now, it will only take 48 hours to issue visas to foreign tourists who are interested in exploring our tourism sites. In addition, several partnership deals are being sought and relevant agencies involved in brokering the partnerships have since swung into action. Suffice to say, in the next couple of months, the narrative will no doubt be positive.

Something very interesting that the minister hinted on is the tripartite partnership involving the Ministry, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and global news leader, CNN. The objective of the partnership is to leverage on Nollywood to promote tourism in Nigeria. He described the move as a very strong and effective partnership – to use comparative advantage in film production through Nollywood – to promote tourism in the country. Although this is the first-of-its-kind partnership, the minister believes that this will push tourism from the back-burner to the mainstream of our economy. Promoting tourism through Nollywood is by far a great idea, considering it is one of our biggest exports to Africa and the world. So, there is no doubt that if well implemented and monitored, the impact will be great.

To make tourism profitable in Nigeria, there is a need for collaboration between the private sector and the government. The minister couldn’t have emphasized this more. In fact, government should only be involved at the initial stage of any tourism programme. For sustenance and continuity, it should be private sector led.

The former governor of Cross Rivers state, Dr. Liyel Imoke who was the guest speaker at the AGM used his state’s tourism success story as a case study to illustrate how to make tourism work within the Nigerian economic space. His hands-on experience added weight to his presentation. He cited the success of the Calabar International Festival which was created by his predecessor Donald Duke to buttress the claim that tourism has a higher chance of surviving and becoming the country’s mainstay. “With the right policy, vision, infrastructure, and attitude, tourism will become the country’s major revenue earner,” he said.

Two of the several challenges forestalling the growth of the sector are: duplicity of festivals & misrepresentation of Nigeria by Nigerians. Since the successful launch and continuity of the Calabar International Festival, we have witnessed the launch of similar carnival/festival in some states. For instance, there’s Abuja Carnival, Port Harcourt Carnival (Carniriv), Akwa Ibom Festival, and many more. While it is laudable to have these many festivals or carnivals, it’s important to verify the success rates of these festivals. It appears that Calabar Festival is still the only successful and consistent festival. It is indeed imperative for these festivals to be harmonized to stimulate patronage and reduce confusion associated with simultaneous holding of festivals in the country.

Lastly, fellow Nigerians, we too have a lot to do in consolidating the efforts of the various government parastatals in pushing the frontier of our tourism industry forward. Our major role will include representing and speaking well of Nigeria. This appears to be our greatest problem. We should stop running down our country especially those in diaspora. If we continue, foreigners – as much as we do not want to rely on their patronage – will be dissuaded from coming to visit our tourism sites. it’s crucial we start speaking well of our country.

The Removal Of DG of National Pensions Commission Is In Order, By Okoi Obla

On the 14 April, 2017 President Muhammadu Buhari fired 23 Heads of Federal Government MDAs including the Director General of the National Pension Commission, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu in the exercise of the compendium of executive powers vested on him by Section 5 (1) of the Constitution as the custodian of the executive authority of the Federation; Chief Executive of the Federation, Head of Government and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Rather than going away quietly as a disciplined and a law abiding citizen, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu refused to hand over to her successor and sponsored a media campaign to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari removed her from Office because she is from the South East, and a woman.
She also alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari did not comply with the procedure for removal of the Director-General of the National Pensions Commission as contemplated by the Pensions Reform Act, 2004.
The pertinent question is: Was the removal of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu as DG of National Pensions Commission in accordance with the procedure envisaged by Section 21 (1) (J) of the Pension Reform Commission Act? The answer must be in the affirmative.
It is instructive to reproduce Section 21 (1) of the Pensions Reform Act thus:  ‘notwithstanding the provisions of section 20 and 26 (3) of this Act, a cessation of office, member of the Board shall cease to hold office as a member of the Board if-
He resigns his appointment as a member of the Board by a notice, under his hand, addressed to the President;
His term of office expires;
He dies;
He becomes of unsound mind;
He becomes bankrupt or makes a compromise with his creditors;
He is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or corruption;
He becomes incapable of carrying out the functions of his office either arising from infirmity of mind or body;
He is found to have contravened the provisions of section 19 (5) or (6) of this Act;
In the case of an ex-officio member, he ceases to hold the office on the basis of which he becomes a member of the Board; or
The President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or public for the person to continue in office or notifies the member in writing to that effect.
It is a clear that the President acted in accordance with Section 21 (1) (J) of the Pension Reform Act when he removed Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu as DG of National Pensions Commission because he was satisfied that it was in the public interest to remove her.
The grouse of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu as DG of National Pension Commission is that she was not notified in writing by the President as provided by Section 21 (1) (J) of the Pension Reform Act is unfounded.
The fact that the President through a public statement from the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation stated that a new Director-General has been appointed and which DG reported for work on the 15th April, 2017, is sufficient notice that she had been notified concerning her removal from office by the President.
The President by virtue of Section 19 (3) of the Pensions Reform Commission is vested with the power of the appointment of Chairman, Director-General and the Commissioners of the National Pensions Commission who shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
By law, whoever is vested with the power to appoint also is the appropriate person who also has the power to remove.
The fact that Section 20 (1) of the Pensions Reform Act provides that the Chairman and Director General shall hold office for a term of five years in the first instance and may be re-appointed for another term of five years and no more does not mean that the President cannot remove the Director General before the expiration of her tenure if he is satisfied it is the public interest to remove such a Director General.
I will advise Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu as DG of National Pensions Commission to accept her removal in good faith and desist from steering a controversy.
Why does she want to perpetuate herself in office? She had been in the National Pensions Commission for nearly eight years. After all she has been at the helm of affairs at the Commission for the past five years and the Pensions Reform Act was even amended by the National Assembly to accommodate her interest.
She needs to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing her to remain in office for almost two years since he assumed office.

The President Is Sick, So What? By Olalekan Adigun

For the third (or fourth) time in a row, President Muhammadu Buhari has missed the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting fueling insinuations that he must be “critically ill”. Some online media platforms reported on Tuesday May 2, 2017 that the President in fact reported to his office holding meetings with some officials but this does little to refute doubts on his health because a day before, the president was expected to address the nation’s hardworking workers on May Day which he failed to do.

The efforts of the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, to “clear the air” on her husband’s health appeared to have added to the suspicions that things were not well with the nation’s Number One citizen.

Like most patriotic Nigerians, I wish the President well and hope he succeeds. But my fear for him today is simply those so-called “Cabals” that have exploited his failing health to take over his administration. The anti-corruption war appears to be tuning down.

The “cabal”, allegedly, has been hiding the President and engage in looting spree. They have now arrogated powers to themselves that even the President himself does not have. This is what you get when people ask, “Who is the Presidency?” But, should the President’s health condition at any time be an issue?

Is the President not just a mortal like any of us that can fall ill, or even give up the ghost at anytime even without prior warning? What is the big deal in anyone falling sick? Let’s rid him of the status of President he is just human!

Why I am of the view that the President should just simply resign to attend to his health and make history as the first African to do so. But, in the case, he may choose (or not) to take my advice in which case both can be justified. I don’t know, for instance, an US president that have resigned due to poor health.

I am also aware a total of eight out of 45 US president have died in office, out of which four were assassinated. Of those that died of “natural courses” none disclosed their health status publicly and none resigned. In this case, there is nothing really unusual about the President not declaring his health status publicly if the American presidential system we copy doesn’t allow for such!

It is understandable for people to play politics with the president’s health. In Nigeria, everything seems to be politics, including something as petty as Jollof Rice. In January 1992, 67-year old US President George H. Bush suddenly ill and collapsed at a state dinner being given for him on a night at the home of the Japanese Prime Minister, Kiichi Miyazawaa “big” as this news was, no responsible US politician made a political capital of it.

It was normal for anyone to fall ill and at any time. No one told the President to resign due to his poor health. Buhari has not collapsed in a foreign country, yet some people are calling for his impeachment even though the Constitution doesn’t say so!

The President is ill, we all know. His handlers cannot hide that fact anymore. Like I said in a previous piece on the subject of the President’s health, his handlers should simply have come out clean on the president’s health status rather than this weekly drama as to whether the president will attend the weekly FEC meeting or not. If they have done that it will then have been the case of: I’m sick, so what?

When next anyone asks for the president’s health status, their response should be the following lines from David Aragon’s song So What?  Which goes thus (hopefully I will get the lines correct):

So what if I’m crazier than crazy?

So what if I’m sicker than sick?

So what if I’m out of control?

Maybe that’s what I like about it

So what?

So what?

That the president’s ill is not a big deal. The big deal is how to handle such without necessarily creating an atmosphere of tensions!

OlalekanWaheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and an independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.His write-ups can be viewed on his website http://olalekanadigun.com/Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080 Email: olalekan@olalekanadigun.com,adgorwell@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @adgorwell

 

What is Rt. Hon. Dogara’s Agenda? By Abulrazaque Barkindo

Abulrazaque Bello Barkindo is the Head of Media Department at Nigerian Governors Forum.

Ohaneze Ndigbo Cannot Speak For The South/South By Okoi Obla

I want to debunk the assertion by Chief Nnia Nwodo, President General of Umbrella Igbo Socio-Cultural Organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo that appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari since his assumption of office is lopsided and skewed against the South/South and South East Geo-Political Zones of the country.

Since I am from the South/South (not from the South/East) I will restrict myself to the South/South.

The position of Ohaneze Ndigbo is misleading, spurious and plain falsehood calculated to whip up sentiments and emotions against President Muhammadu Buhari.

It is nothing but pernicious propaganda to give President Buhari a bad name.

It isthe usual dirty politics and blackmail employed and deployed by the elites to play one section of the country against the other in a bid to keep the people perpetually divided, while thy help themselves to the resources meant for development of the country.

In the first place, what is the business of Ohaneze Ndigbo speaking for the South/South?

If the South/South is aggrieved with any action taken by the Federal Government that it considers inimical or injurious to its interest the people will speak for itself.

It follows that Ohaneze Ndigbo has no interest, real or tangible to purport to speak for the South/South.

Let the truth be told, President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Ministers from the South/South.

It is a well-established that Ministers of Transportation, Petroleum, Budget and National Planning, Niger Delta Affairs; Agriculture (State) and Health (State).

Many career and non-career Ambassadors have also been appointed from the Six States South/South by President Buhari.

Permanent Secretaries from the Six States of the South/South have also been appointed by President Buhari.

Indeed the Head of Service of the Federation is from Cross River State in the South/South.

This is most important and influential position in the federal bureaucracy.

President Buhari has also appointed Director Generals of extra-ministerial departments such as Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority; Nigerian Maritime Administration Security and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigerian Local Content Development and Monitoring Board; National Women Development Centre etc.

In my own State, Cross River State, President Buhari has made  following numerous appointments (apart from ministerial appointment) thus:

  1. The Chief Justice of Nigeria;
  2. Chief of Naval Staff;
  • the Head of Service of the Federation;
  1. three career ambassador;
  2. one non career ambassador ;
  3. Senior Special Assistant to the President;
  • the Chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission;
  • Commissioner , Niger Delta Development Commission;
  1. Director General , National Women Development Centre;
  2. Chairman (Professor John Offem) of the Governing Council of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri;
  3. Chairman (Odey Ochicha), Governing Council Federal Polytechnic,Ile Oluji;
  • Chairman (Engr. Usang Bassey Usang), Governing Council of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi;
  • Member of the Governing Board of Federal Polytechnic, Mubi;Member ( Ogban Ebock Ogban) , Governing Council of the University of Ilorin,;
  • Member (Professor Essien Akabom Offiong), Governing Council of the University of Calabar;
  1. Managing Director and Member of the Board of Cross River Basin Development Authority ;
  • General Manager, Shipping, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC);
  • Board Member (Dr John Thomas) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The appointments so far made by President Buhari in respect of Cross River State are so far unparalleled in the 50 years history of the State! I believe President Buhari will surely in the next few weeks appoint indigenes of the State into more appointments.

It goes without saying that the allegation made by Ohaneze Ndigbo against President Buhari that is he is discriminatory in his mode of appointments of people from the South/South region is unsubstantiated, wild and balderdash.

I therefore appeal to Ohaneze Ndigbo to leave the South/South alone in its politics of hand twisting.

When former President Jonathan skewed appointments in favour of the South East; did Ohaneze Ndigbo bother to speak for States like Cross River State that were terribly marginalised?

 

 

Send this to a friend