This World, Nigeria, Zayyan and our Four Decades of Birth Reflections! By Ibraheem A. Waziri

27/05/2017 was my birthday! It marked a rounded four decade of my sojourn on this planet. It has to be so because Zayyan Yabo has taken the trouble to celebrate our age group during his 40th birthday last year. He has engineered a reflection in all of us within the same age range, 40 ± 2 or 3. In school, sometimes same class, one normally finds self in the company of the 2 or 3 years older or younger. Therefore it is appropriate to see 37 to 43 years old in this reflection. That is, counting from Zayyan’s birth year or 38 to 44, this year.

At this time (zenith) of our evolution, we are technically out of driving wheels of policies in our country; in whose realities a reflection of this nature would prefer to dwell. We are not Presidents, Ministers, Governors, Heads of States and Federal Parastatals, and State Commissioners, with the exception of the MD at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and   commissioner at Budget and Planning Ministry in Kaduna State. There may be more without the boundaries of my recollection at the moment, but still very few.

This means weekly executive councils meetings to discuss the future of the country, leaves out a good number, in the age group, that had lived more than half of the total time they will spend here on earth; considering the current life expectancy in the country. The system prefers the elders among them, most passive energy than active energy that evolved in the period when the world was transiting from the old socio-cultural paradigm to a new; current ruling one (will revert to this point shortly).

You may call this a conspiracy of time or circumstances. You may say the ones at the top of policies now may not be thinking well about the future in terms of mentoring those who will eventually take over from them. Some however, still say it is my age group who are not hard working enough to take the destiny of the nation into their hands and steer it the way they dim fit.

Even then we have much of blessings to count. Many among us are accomplished academics, fellows of professional organizations, senior bureaucrats, technocrats, captains of industries and successful family persons. We are struggling to bring up those that will hold this kind of reflection in two decades and above. Ladies among us may be thinking of marrying off daughters or having grandchildren. We have heightened our achievements.

Three decades ago could still be said to be our formative years. We were finishing primary schools or junior secondary schools. We were struggling to have clear appreciation of our environments under the strict guidance and often the harsh reprimands of guardians. Now we can speak of the faint memories of the first coming of General Muhammadu Buhari. The early years of General IBB and a host of other personalities and events around those years that meant so little to us, in excessive praise, or under harsh critique.

Two decades ago, we had gradually formed into adults. In school, we were struggling to make more sense of our natural environment and its laws. We were trying to understand the basic universal principles of social relationship and the dynamics of survival it prescribes.  IBB had passed the baton of our national leadership to Chief Earnest Shonekan. General Abacha took over from Shonekan. There was June 12, 1993 and the Abiola’s incarceration. The Sheik Ibrahim Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement – which took inspirations from the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran – which also took over almost all the campuses of tertiary institutions in Northern Nigeria. On the other hand, there was the Salafi worldview, the Saudi Arabian version, which was gaining ground among other segments of the society in the struggle for space and control of popular narratives, with Sufi worldviews of Tijjaniyya and Qadiriyya.

In the international scene, the Soviet Union, the only rival superpower to the United States of America, in ideas and military strength, had fallen. Already books and other ideological implements modeled after the Eastern bloc were being systematically debarred from our schools. There was, the perennial Middle East conflict that assumed new dimension within the new power equation. There was the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria. Iraq’s Saddam Husseini occupied Kuwait; there was the operations desert storm military campaign to stop him. The constant attack of the military stations and hardware of the USA, outside the country, by Osama Bin Laden’s Alqaeda! A new trend of events was taking control. The world civil society, regional unions and nation states needed to understand the new, evolutionary pattern, observe the tide and adopt a most appropriate strategy to maximize survival.

The last decade saw us, engaged in more mature reflection about the destiny of the world within the context and currency of the prevailing trend; a trend (which began in the 90s) that would necessitate a paradigm shift in intellectual ruminations; that will remain at the heart of all considerations of academic postulations, national strategies and foreign policy directions, across the globe, till the present.

At a little less than 24 years old, Zayyan had thrown himself into the contest seeking to become the Students’ Union President of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria with the unmistakable badge of Intellectual Activism. Worried about the level of intellection among students anywhere as they consider aspects of their present and future life;  he had jumped into the murky waters of students’ politics with the hope of obtaining a wherewithal to contribute in making serious intellectual brooding take a center stage on popular issues  affecting students; at least, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria students. Sadly the electioneering process was aborted by the university management midway. I met him for the first time at the height of the ruckus. I was struggling to adjust between the ideas from the many books I was reading and the realities the atmosphere was presenting to me. To me, he fit into the category of realist intellectual politicians, as put aptly by Dr. Majid Khadduri, in his Political Trends in the Arab World: The Roles of Persons and Personalities. A book I was reviewing then.

Together with others within our age group we continued to explore the reigning works then of Fukuyama and Huntington; The end Of History (1993) and The Clash of Civilizations (1996), respectively. The two books analyzed the evolving global dynamics that will guide policy, strategy and diplomacy in time.  Issues, mostly around cultures, civilizations, past histories of nations and their underlying principles that will rear in afresh and guarantee or necessitate international and regional alliances or ensure they don’t work.  They also will define the new direction of events and nurture potentialities of conflicts or peace across the globe. Still Huntington’s provide the most valid theory, in western standard, on which the present waves of terrorism that is associated mostly with modern Muslim cultures can be explained.

The works of Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy (1994) and Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You (1998), gave very practical insight on how the new trend will affect Africa. There will be increasing ethnic consciousness and affinity to geography as political and economic bargaining chips. The trend may even help facilitate internecine strife within multiethnic political entities that may eventually lead to their breaking up.

September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the USA became the highest validation point of Huntington’s. Earlier  same year, scientist came up with the outcome of their mind blowing research, that human beings with all their diversity share  99.9% similarity in  genes. This gave lie to the claim that difference among races and ethnicities, due to genetic composition, accounts for life successes or failure. It further makes Huntington more right as it consolidated the belief that people who see their culture or civilizations as the ultimate carriers of the necessary trappings of their life successes, are not entirely wrong. In fact they are entirely right!

It is on this kind of template of awareness that the world scholarly and intellectual community undertook to review human history. To search for the solutions to national, regional and to some extent global sociocultural problems that is certain to confront it in the coming years. There was the effort of, Richard Bulliet, Richard Lewis, and Bernard Lewis who wrote extensively on the nature of the problems from western perspectives.

Back home here there are efforts among different social circles of influence, to review the popular cultural history of black Africa, with the works of Cheik Anta Diop at the center. Here and there one could hear the whispers of Afrocentrism.  It sadly has not made it into the centers of any black African country’s national policy. Probably because of issues of ontology and epistemology that has been the heart of the details of the concept. However other countries and regions of the world seemed, at least, able to appropriately plug themselves into the realities of the new trend with powerfully suiting paradigms. Sinocentrism in Asia and Indocentrism based on Confucian and Hindustani values respectively, have been helping the sail for most Asian countries and India.

In the West much effort has been built into developing concepts such as multiculturalism to enable the accommodation of diverse populations of different ethnicities and cultural orientation. Strategic communications, as a discipline, which emphasizes the use of subtle means of civil management with local cultural and social resources in political and social policy implementation, is employed and deployed where necessary. Expertise on Cultural Intelligence is being perfected to help individuals, civil society groups and businesses safely operate and enjoy smooth human contact. The study of System Thinking is helping analyst to appreciate the need to ensure functional cooperation of the insignificant parts towards effective delivery of the whole under different circumstances.

But where has Nigeria been within this trend? Have we had the necessary paradigm shift to survive the turbulent tide? There have been many predictions by world recognized agencies that we are certainly among the casualties while the trend last. An American private organization, after rigorous survey, once put the doom’s year to be 2015. It was later reviewed to 2030.

At least since 1999, the Nigeria’s year of return to democracy, we have suffered from the consequences of the brutal onslaught of the prevailing trend. From the Niger Delta secessionist movement, to the rebellion of Boko Haram and the latest popular agitation for the Biafran state! There are frequent acts of violence on individuals or group of people who are seen as the others.  Hate speeches and discriminatory tendencies against others that do not fit into a certain ethnic, religious or sectarian description, color many of our political and social dispositions.

Certainly, these and many related issues are the germane issues of this moment of our reflection. I am sure they form part of the active contemplation of Zayyan who celebrated our age group at his 40th birthday last year. Incidentally the celebration coincided with a colloquium, organized with the theme, Deepening Nigeria’s Development: The Role of Culture and Communication, and held on the January 7, 2017. The lead paper presented with the theme as its title and published by the Nigerian online news outlet, Premium Times of January 8, 2017.  And by no less erudite scholar than Mr, Omoniyi Ibietan, who did the most justice to the issue of culture. He took us round and through to review the Nigerian constitution; to the effort to design modern cultural policy by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in 1988; to the setting up of research and training agency, Institute for Cultural Orientation in 1993.

Sadly, it could still be seen, that Nigeria has not truly thought itself in alignment with the predictions of the trend which formed the subject of this reflection; and sought protection from its promises of doomsday. Political parties came to the leadership of the country and gone during its period of onslaught. Governments and different personalities heading them came and gone. Even the current ruling elite and party, who assumed leadership at the peak of the crises imposed upon us by the trend, does not seem to deeply take notice of it not to mention doing anything significantly different.

Is it Atiku Abubakar with his archaic template of solutions that consider restructuring the country? Will that lead the in 2019 when he assumes the executive leadership of Nigeria? Or it is Nasiru Elrufai who currently reduces chiefdoms in his domain? In this period of high insecurity when government needs the watchful eyes of its agents in all villages? What are those of my generation thinking? We were hatched into adulthood during which this trend took control and still… All need to get galvanized into reflection.

                                               Ibraheem A. Waziri

iawaziri@gmail.com

The Nigerian State: Biafra And The Intrinsic Need For Self Determination, By Ade Ilemobade

This reflection is about aspirations of ethnic nations or groups of people with ethno-religious cum cultural affinity to freedom of expression in terms of governance or political aspirations to pursue own cultural, economic and social development.

I take it as truism that it is the fundamental right of ethnic nations to decide how it will be governed since ethnicity is an acceptable criterion and the ultimate political legitimacy in agitation for self-determination.

“National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action. . . . “—?Woodrow Wilson.

This is a reflective argumentation amongst ethnic socio-political organizations in Nigeria in respect of Biafra intrinsic need for self determination.

”Good morning Mr. IPOB.” said AREWA.

Silence… ”Why the greeting? I am not in the mood.” IPOB answered.

”Look it is about this your cry for self-determination.” said AREWA.

”What about it?.” queried IPOB.

IPOB took a deep breath and replied; ”Biafra is not just a cry for statehood by Igbo nation but it is also a kind of psychological conditioning associated with the pursuit of intrinsic well-being outside the socio-political and economic architecture that we experienced as hostile to our need for self actualization, self realization and self determination.”

” Who is afraid of Biafra statehood.” AREWA replied sarcastically.

Suddenly there was an interjection by AFENIFERERE, ”Self-determination! I don’t think you are serious.”

”Yes, self-determination and Statehood is our ultimate goal.” replied IPOB.

AFENIFERERE looked at AREWA and IPOB and said, “The problem of ethnic nationalities in conflict with the Nigerian state is nothing new, our history is riddled with ethnic agitations that it would be superflous for me to start mentioning what is obviously openended and factually metastatizing daily events involving the centre and the periphery.”

Just as if there was some kind of complot or surreptitious argreement between AFENIFERERE and AREWA.

AREWA replied with statement of concurrence; ”While this kind of conflict or disagreement between the centre and the periphery is normal within a democratic organism. However, what is worrying is the common denominator in most of these agitations which revolves around the need for self determination or statehood predicated on the argument that they are being marginalised as an ethnic group.”

”Yes, IPOB especially inclusive Niger Delta militants I must mention. If every ethnic nations within Nigeria seek statehood on the argument of marginalization there would not be any state with the nomenclature Nigeria anymore because everyone shall use political sovereign autonomy as a panacea to avoid domination by the majority and this is the direction in which the demand of Biafra agitators rest their logical superstructure A BIAFRA STATE.” replied AFENIFERERE.

IPOB angrily responded,” We want independence and our agitation for Biafra is not about devolution of power or restructuring as some politicians would want Nigerians to believe. We are Nigerian Jew the anointed people of Igboland demanding freedom from the oppressive Nigerian state.”

This statement from IPOB provoked equally angry response from AREWA, ” You see AFENIFERERE, they keep talking about the fact that statehood, to secede from Nigeria is their ultimate goal granted that they have tried once under the leadership of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and failed. No problem this time around we will help them out of Nigeria quickly by given them ultimatum to leave Northern Nigeria before October 1.”

AFENIFERERE sensing danger of such declaration quickly rationalize response to AREWA statement thus; ”One may be tempted to ask why again? But the answer could be found in what IPOB conceptualised as the psychological conditioning associated with the pursuit of intrinsic well-being synonymous with the concept of self determination and extensively supported with methodically presented philosophical argumentations to question the legitimacy of state and challenge the internal contradiction of structural inequality the Igbo nation theoretically perceived in Nigeria and this perception of structural inequality by Igbo nation has created in them ethnic entitlement mentality with all its complexity in a multi-cultural geopolitical environment like Nigeria.”

”Uhm… while I concurr with you philosophichal submission but I am in disagreement with your conclusion of theoretical perception of structural inequality because you are denying our concrete reality of experiences.” replied IPOB.

”What concrete reality of experiences are you talking about come to the North and see poverty, socio-economic impoverishment etc yet we are not demanding to secede from Nigeria but with your doggedness to leave Nigeria you must vacate the Northern territories before October 1.” insisted AREWA.

Since the declaration of an exit strategy for IPOB by AREWA, many politicians and the so called patriots have condemned the move but I ponder why these aggressive condemnation when factually such exit strategy is the simplest way for IPOB to statehood and all they need afterwards is to ask for referendum. Please, don’t get me wrong I understand that it is a lot more complicated than what I am presenting right now but condemnation of AREWA youth for seeking a simple exit strategy for IPOB is anti-democratic for lack of a better word to describe such aggressive action from politicians who infact are the source of socio-economic impoverishment and political leadership apartheid that led to agitations from ethnic nations within Nigerian State.

These political elites or people in leadership positions in Nigeria are in denial unwilling to take responsibility for the existence of conflict between the centre and the periphery and also denying the fact that some if not all ethnic nations in Nigeria demanding autonomy are well endowed and might be well off economically if granted autonomy.

Now is the time to seek restructuring of Nigeria and devolution of power to remove the perception of socio-economic and political apartheid generating conflict leading to mass agitation as we are witnessing with IPOB.

LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.

OTUNBA ADE ILEMOBADE IS A PHILOSOPHER.

TWITTER: @PEARL2PRINCE

In Support of Kaduna Declaration, By Abdulbaqi Jari

Let it be noted that I am opposed to violence in anyway, in any manner in Nigeria or elsewhere. But i am in full support of the Kaduna declaration by the Northern Youths.
The Northern Youths spoke the minds of millions of Nigerians, because average Nigerians don’t trust each other, talkless of loving one another. The youths sponsored or not, at the moment, have more appeal than a short governor with no loyalty or a powerless Emir who cannot even protect himself talkless of protecting others.
It came to me as a surprise that people who have been agitating to leave Nigeria were agrived and angered by announcement made by some groups in Kaduna recently. It should have been widely celebrated by the majority of people from the Southeast, rather than condemnation. Though in the North, an Igbo is any person who is not from Northwest, Northcentral and Northeast. Regardless, it has been 50 years since Igbos and various groups including the North, at different times,  have been threatening and hoping to secede from the others, Nigeria to say. Just like the Germans (who caused 2 European wars), the Igbos are bent on making history to repeat itself.
Though I don’t blame the Igbos sometimes, the arrangement Nigeria was designed not to work and not to last so long because of the laws of the land and the nature of the setting. In our political setting, there is no arrangement for referendum to allow citizens to determine the fate of their nation. So what do you expect? There will always be agitations and it is better if we recognize our differences and start making serious moves to allow Nigerians determine the fate of their nation, either for national development or deal with this issue once and for all.
The reactions that followed the Kaduna declaration were even more ridiculous than the declaration itself. From from the southeast were some people made calls for the arrest and prosecution of the signatories of the released paper, forgetting the fact that what the youths said or did was not even close to what Kanu did or the OPC, insisting Igbos must not be ejected out of the North. Some politicians were quick to disown the statement not because they don’t agree with it, but because they are benefiting from the current setting and will not want any change to make them irrelevant.
Least we forget, it was in Imo state that the state government came with a policy to force all people of Northern extraction to register and always move about with their Id cards or face deportation. It is a tic for tat.
Whether now or later, much later in the future, it is either we come together and build this nation irrespective of who we are, or allow segments to pursue their future in a manner that suits them the best.
I still remember how a vendor in Abuja attended to a man because he spoke his language, jumping some people already waiting to be served. This is the minimum as to what we can do when it comes to selfishness and nepotism when we have slightest chance.
It would be wise to downplay this declaration than go about making arrests. The polity is already heated and there is not need for state actors to heat it even more as they are known for making things worse with their extrajudicial actions.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Abdulbaqi Jari
(@bahaushee)

Image Perception of the Legislature: Causes and Possible Solutions By Olusegun Adeniyi

Last week, a bill proposing a six-month imprisonment for persons who jump queues in public places scaled second reading in this august assembly. It was sponsored by my brother from Kwara State, Hon Abubakar Amuda-Kannike to whom I have a poser this morning: If someone who jumps queue needs to spend six months in jail, how many months should those who jump fence with their babariga and designer suits, in the full glare of television camera, spend behind bars?
Mr Speaker, Right Hon Yakubu Dogara, the Chairman of this occasion, honourable members of this distinguished House, before Hon Kannike begins to sing “Ajekun iya” for me, let me express my gratitude to the leadership of the House of Representatives for inviting me here today as you mark the second year anniversary and the mid-term of the 8th session of the National Assembly.
Based on an analysis of the number of executive and private member’s Bills either awaiting second reading or referred to committees as well as those already passed, it is evident that the 8th House of Representatives has done a lot with regards to its lawmaking and oversight functions. That you have worked harmoniously with the executive is also a proof to the maturity of the leadership which is commendable.
However, this anniversary comes at a most auspicious time in the life of our nation when all sorts of characters without any mandate are seizing the landscape to threaten other Nigerians. While you remain our elected representatives, these unelected men—and they are all men, including those who, in their fifties and sixties, still categorise themselves as youth—are declaring sit-outs, sit-ins and giving quit notices in a bid to cause confusion in our country and create problems for all of us.
To the extent that the legislature is the most significant link between the government and the governed, and the one charged with articulating and addressing the grievances of the people, I believe it is in your enlightened interest to weigh in and let these impostors know that they are only speaking for themselves and that there are consequences for incitement and hate speech. In case it has not yet registered, these map-drawers are calling to question your legitimacy as the true representatives of Nigerians and the fact that they are gaining some sort of credibility should worry you.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, while the existence of a legislative house, whatever name it is called, does not necessarily connote democracy, it is a given that there can be no democracy without such representation. So central is the legislature to modern government that from available statistics, 190 countries in the world today have some form of functioning parliament.
In the particular case of our country, you make all the difference because whenever civil rule was interrupted in the past by the military, the only arm of government that was usually dismantled was the parliament. That is no surprise because this is the only institution where representatives are elected to discuss the needs of citizens, forge national policies and resolve whatever conflicts arise within society through dialogue and compromise. But the pertinent question remains as to how faithful you are in discharging those responsibilities and I guess that is the essence of this session.
In the first ever Global Parliamentary Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which focuses on the relationship between parliaments and citizens, the UNDP Administrator argues that the legitimacy and effectiveness of any legislature depends on public opinion and support. But the choice of topic for today’s session and the context it was presented to me suggests that there is a major disconnect between the way the Nigerian public perceive you as lawmakers and the image you have of yourselves and this House. As far as the Honourable members seated here this morning are concerned, you are serving the people. But where majority of Nigerians are concerned, you are all here serving only your own interest.
Whether the populace is right or wrong is not the issue here. What is important is for the members to be aware that the people whose interest they claim to serve do not think highly of them. In fact, there was a recent joke on WhatsApp which went viral. In the course of the negotiations to free the last batch of the Chibok girls, somebody quipped about why the authorities would bother to do swap with Boko Haram men when they could easily have handed to the insurgents some of our National Assembly members in exchange for the girls.
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, before I continue, let me add that there is hardly any country where the legislature is popular so the perception problem confronting the National Assembly is not unique to Nigeria. Around the world, the legislature is generally the least rated of all arms of government and national institutions. Survey figures compiled by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) which was subsequently reproduced in the IPU’s publication on parliament and democracy in the 21st century revealed that, across the world, parliaments were less trusted than other institutions of government.
Interestingly, that has been the pattern from the past to the present. As of May 2017, according to Gallup polling, for instance, 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the job that their congress is doing and that has basically been the average disapproval rating over the years. The implication is that three quarters of Americans don’t believe that their lawmakers are serving them. In fact, American Congress men are so unpopular that even President Donald Trump, with all the baggage he carries, is now making jokes at their expense. But let me share two jokes by popular American actor and television host, Jay Leno, to illustrate my point. The first one: “Police in Florida have arrested a man who said he finally achieved his goal of shoplifting in all 50 states. You know what you call someone who steals from all 50 states? A congressman” The second: “Congress’ approval rating has dropped to 12 percent. The other 88 percent are withholding judgment until Congress actually does something.”
What the first joke implies is that American lawmakers take what does not belong to them while the second suggests that they are not working for their pay. The same perception problem has dogged members of parliament in other countries, most especially in the United Kingdom where in 2009 a newspaper investigation exposed MPs across the House of Commons to be cheating on their expenses. So, effectively, we can see that you are in good company but that does not excuse some of the issues that rile many Nigerians about the National Assembly.
For 18 good years, the best kept secret in our country was how much each member of the National Assembly was taking home every month. That was a self-inflicted problem that impacted negatively on the image of this vital arm of government whose members are touted as receiving one of the highest remunerations in the world. Yet, there are more issues. From certificate and bribery scandals to allegations of budget padding and rowdy sessions that sometimes degenerate into fisticuff, every negative episode involving members only serves to erode the credibility of the legislature. And the situation is not helped by the manner in which issues that are clearly personal are given primacy in the National Assembly.
While committee investigations and hearings are normal parliamentary practices, turning such powers to instruments of oppression is unacceptable. Let me cite one quick example. In the course of THISDAY editorial meeting on Wednesday, our senior editors in Abuja had to leave for the Senate to respond to a summon by a committee investigating a story about whether or not the Senate Majority Leader was prevented from entering his town by some mob as reported by our newspaper. If the Senate Majority Leader, or any lawmaker for that matter, felt aggrieved by a publication, it is not for the whole Senate to set up a committee to be investigating such story and be summoning editors. That is a clear abuse of power and a demonstration of lack of seriousness.
Unfortunately, that has become a pattern and contributes to your negative perception. On matters of privileges that are personal, like in the instant case of the Senate Majority Leader, the National Assembly might wish to amend its rules in order to mitigate the prevailing public perception that the legislature is essentially a self-serving arm of government. An effective and efficient legislature is one that really looks out for the interest of the people and work towards ensuring that the executive delivers on its mandate. It is not about defending the deflated egos of some members.
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, while I am not here to deprecate you and the difficult job you are doing, I believe that the foregoing background is important so that as I conclude I can offer a few words on the possible solutions to the perception problems. Even when I have stated earlier that the challenge is global and not peculiar to our country, there are also problems that are uniquely Nigerian and should be highlighted.
There is a school of thought that the negative perception of our lawmakers derives from the hang-over of several decades of military rule during which the legislature was an anathema. It is a valid argument. The situation was not helped by the fact that the first political leadership that emerged under the current dispensation came from that military background.
There is another Nigerian challenge that we should not gloss over. While the Honourable members of this House were elected to make laws for the good governance of the country and through that bring developments to the people, what most of your constituents demand are instant gratifications. They want money to pay the school fees of their children, establish businesses and sometimes even to marry more wives. If you are not able to deliver on these, no matter how many bills you sponsor in the National Assembly or how efficient you are in your oversight functions, you are a failed lawmaker, in their estimation.
The crisis of expectation arising from that is a major problem you confront that is hardly ever discussed. Meanwhile, if we are to judge the National Assembly by Section 4(2) under Part II of the Constitution which confers on the lawmakers “power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation” and your other principal functions which basically are representation and oversight, I believe this House has done well, all factors considered. Not only have you passed important legislations, at critical epochs in our nation, you have stood up to be counted on the side of common sense and national unity.
From the passage of the Niger Delta Development Act (NDDC) which led to the 13 percent derivation principle for oil producing states to the scuttling of the so-called Constitutional amendment that was to pave way for a controversial extension of tenure for the then incumbent president with all the implications for social order to the “Doctrine of Necessity” which defused a potentially dangerous political landmine in our country and several others, we owe a lot to this institution.
If the public therefore feels that you are not serving them well enough, it is because to whom much is given, much is expected. My admonition therefore will be that while it is important for the National Assembly to worry about its image, it’s much more productive for individual members to carve a positive image for themselves by their stewardship. That is the way it is elsewhere.
In an article in ‘The Week’ magazine titled “If Congress is so unpopular, why do lawmakers keep getting re-elected?” Jon Terbush provided explanation on why, at almost every election season, between 85 to 98 percent of incumbent lawmakers get re-elected in the United States. According to him, most polls show that while Americans may dislike and distrust the Congress as an institution, they like their own representatives. “That helps explain why incumbents do so well, even when Congress as a whole is less popular than, say, cockroaches”, said Terbush.
To corroborate that thesis, of the 44 different men who have been elected President of the United States, 18 of them had been in the House of Representatives. While two, James Garfield and Abraham Lincoln moved from the Congress to the White House, John Quincy Adams served in the House after being President. What that says most eloquently is that as individual lawmakers, you should worry more about the impact you make in your constituency, state and country as well as the kind of image you build for yourselves. With such array of accomplished your men and women educated from the best institutions in the world, I will like to see presidents of Nigeria emerge from this chamber, beginning from 2019.
As I take my seat, let me make a few suggestions. While I commend you for finally opening up the finances of the National Assembly, you must also understand that some of the choices members make tar this critical arm of government. Voting billions of Naira to order for new cars at a time the economy is going through a recession and majority of Nigerians experience difficult times, has not helped your cause. Therefore, most of the perception problems you have are self-inflicted and originate from this very House. You fight in the open, you spill on one another in the press, you take decisions that are not in tandem with public mood and some members throw irresponsible tantrums on social media. What is often ignored is that Image is less about what you say or how you think of yourself but more about what you do.
While conflict cannot be ruled out in a place with hundreds of members and is wired for less cohesiveness than the executive and judiciary, you can work on a more harmonious relationship. I believe it is good that there is increasing access to the parliament with the live television feeds and I must commend the leadership of this House for its effective use of social media platforms. Such engagements will deepen understanding of your role as lawmakers. But many Nigerians still believe that the dirty deals are done in executive sessions when you clear the gallery. Anytime you go into such sessions, be sure that suspicion is stirred.
There is also a general perception that many of the members are idle and hardly in Abuja while contributions are not deep. Perhaps you can begin by publishing the attendance list while instituting and enforcing sanctions of non-attendance. Again, members sit three times a week and for a few hours, and there is an increasing clamour for collapsing the two chambers and making your work part time. The only way to address that is to deliver more value to the country.
It is also important for members to take on important issues that will aid the country’s progress. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) where the Senate must be commended is one important legislation on which so much time is being wasted by the House. Besides, you need to identify the issues that are critical to our country. You can commission focus group discussions, expert panels and even surveys to understand those issues that generally resonate with Nigerians and tackle them boldly and swiftly.
Mr Speaker, some of the issues I have identified are at the centre of the image and perception burden of not only the House of Representatives but the entire National Assembly.  While I believe you are doing your best under the prevailing circumstances—given that you must also have your own constraints—let me add very quickly that it is better for our Honourable members and distinguished Senators to stir the nation with creative ideas and novel solutions than to continue to make news by scrambling over cars and making home videos.
Thank you for inviting me and congratulations once again on your second year anniversary.
• Paper presented on the floor of the House of Representatives by Olusegun Adeniyi, Chairman of THISDAY Editorial Board, as Guest Speaker at the Second Anniversary of the 8th National Assembly on 9th June, 2017

Nigerian Youths: Between Failed Leadership And Youth Emancipation By Habeeb Whyte

I remain Habeeb Whyte and I am still obliged with the responsibility that life has placed on me to suggest a path deserving collective action from Nigerian youths toward the faith of our common heritage.  Painful as the task before me is to describe the dark side of our affairs; it sometimes becomes a matter of indispensable necessity. Anyone who stops learning is old. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. Keeping our mind young is by making it vibrant especially towards issues that concern our existence as a whole. Though, I get worried about issues that concern my immediate constituency – which is the Nigerian Youth Constituency. I owe an obligation in doing things for the betterment of that constituency. Like I do know that some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.

Like all youths in the every part of the world, an average Nigerian Youth dream for a bright future. And this dream of a bright future is usually not unconnected with a successful career. As a younger Nigerian, we were thought a particular nursery rhyme which welcomes our generation into a conscious existence of being.

The rhyme goes thus: ‘parents listen to your children, we are the leaders of tomorrow, try to pay our school fees and give us sound education”. As at the time we happily sang this rhyme, we saw it as our call to a glorious future of responsive and responsible leadership. Then, good leadership was synonymous to being an achiever, the role model for the youth and the hero of the people.

Though, we grew up to know that that we rhyme which gave us so much hope, and motivation to be relevant in our society served the dual purpose of using us to incite our parents to both take their children to private schools and pay their tuition earlier before we got sent out of school.

So when we eventually grew up to know the truth for what it was, that the message that we were happily spreading was greatly pregnant with connotative and inciting meaning, we started seeing ourselves as being used for the purpose of the profiteering proprietors of the schools we attended and the other side of the coin was that we were used to create a motivating story for ourselves. But irrespective, we were used. Our so called leaders used us to enjoy their old age and greediness for rulership status.

Why did I come to see the product of this two-edged sword wielded by that innocent nursery rhyme (innocent by the virtue of who sang it) as being used? It is simply because we have come to realize in this present society of ours all over Nigeria that the leaders are using our vulnerability as their descendants and as young people – young as in age but not in creativity, innovation and leadership acumen – to deprive us of the necessary opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the governance and leadership of our society.

In their manipulative way, they still decide to use us. As a result, we see in every society how the leaders use the youth to incite violence and serve as means to their own ends. Young people that are promising in their careers and ambitions are promised jobs in some public focus positions or offered money such that such youth is carried away with youthful exuberances that could be re-awakened by exposure to huge money.

Going back to the basics, I remember a statement used by our elders to keep the young people at bay, should in case they want to consider being radical. The saying goes thus in Yoruba, “ti owo omo kobati te eku ida, ko ni bere iku to pa baba e”. The translation is that, “when a child is yet to hold the sword by the handle, he shouldn’t investigate his father’s demise”.

As wonderful as this saying is for societal and moral values, its intricate interpretation is interwoven into the schemata that there is a particular threshold that must be reached before some certain landmark events can happen in a youth’s life. A threshold that is usually set by the same set of people that you believe should be held for accountability. Hence, it is obvious that while the elders who have refused to move for the youth to have a chance in leadership and dominating leadership positions, they have put measures in place limiting the chances of youth in governance.

This brings me to my personal experience. Immediately I realized that the threshold schema set for youth involvement in governance is a mirage that will not materialize, at least not while I am still a youth. I decided not to run after positional leadership. Positional leadership refers to leadership by virtue of the position one hold. For instance, a president is a leader by virtue of the presidency position he occupies. Meanwhile, an individual may wield greater influence by virtue of being an influential leader.

In the understanding of this, I made up my mind not to be manipulated any longer. If the older generation decide not to create spaces in the government, that will afford youths the opportunities to lead by virtue of position, I decided to lead by virtue of influence. Influence as I know it is more powerful than position if rightfully and legally used. The truth is that while I started building up my sphere of influence, I was exposed to manipulation attempts again by some unscrupulous members of the older generation who would rather think my influence and loyalty could be bought with money.

I was approached to lead several youths within my sphere of influence to troop after different politicians whose only motive is their pocket but I would not budge. This is the story of several other youths who have shown prospects of becoming better leaders in our society. What makes my story different is because I refused to be bought. If I may ask you, ‘why don’t you have influence in your own society?’ Have you been bought? Have you traded your voice? Or are you scared by the manipulative stories and schemas that have been presented to you?

Youth all over the world are taking over leadership, peacefully and legally. It was never handed over to them on a platter of gold, they demanded it. We cannot afford to keep quiet, grumble underground and expect power or leadership to be entrusted to us. We must speak out, stand out and be bold to demand it. You may decide to follow my steps by participating in the governance through my sphere of influence. Another thing you can afford is to be used as election or political thugs to create violence and vandalize public property.

It is too expensive for your future. Think about it this way, after you have been used for violence and to destroy lives and properties, who has the longer years to live and suffer the future consequences? Who is deprived of a smooth development? Who fall victims in the process of violence? The one answer is YOUTHS. So what if you are the unlucky person. I will leave you with this: when it comes to your right, speak for it, stand for it and demand it. Leadership is your right. If it is to be, it is up to you.

My name is WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO, a Lawyer, United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner, Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner, Promasidor Runner-up for the Best Future Writer in Nigeria, i-Hustle Campaign Initiative Ambassador and Editor Egba Youth Awards Foundation. whyte287@gmail.com

 

Osinbajo And The Mischief Makers By Igboeli Arinze

When, in the course of the 2015 general elections, the then APC Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari picked Professor Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate, a number of Nigerians did not really ascribe to the legal practitioner any form of political weight, many saw him merely as the complementary ‘spare tyre’ (a term used to describe the office of the Vice President or deputy governor, who is to be seen and not heard). And indeed going by recent history, Nigeria’s Vice Presidents have tended to be largely invisible. For that reason many expected Osinbajo to be just a lackey, an extra hand who wouldn’t contribute much, if anything, to the administration.

Having met and listened to Professor Osinbajo on at least two occasions — the first time at a lecture where he spoke intelligently for an hour and thirty minutes extemporaneously (and, was I indeed wowed!); the second occasion at a summit where he represented President Buhari, and where he gave a number of us reasons to believe in the Buhari administration — I knew he was going to disappoint all naysayers and doubting Thomases.

Then came January 2017, when our dear President needed to undertake a medical leave in London. Again the naysayers hurriedly assumed the false position that the presidency would collapse within a number of days under Osinbajo. The took delight in jeering, wondering what good could come from a man they had previously dismissed.

None of these people seemed to realize that President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo are of a different breed. Neither of them is narrow-minded, power-hungry or driven by pecuniary gain. We have a President who has no problems handing over power to his deputy, and a Vice President who leaves no one in doubt as to his absolute loyalty to his boss. We also have a President who, over the years, has demonstrated that he is very comfortable working with and reposing confidence in visible and hardworking deputies.

For the 51 days that he functioned in January and February as Acting President, Osinbajo conducted himself with immense dignity, struck many with his unassuming humility as well as absolute loyalty to President Buhari. On each occasion he sought to earn praise for the president, positing that any positive from him was a plus for President Buhari. And when the President returned to Nigeria he acknowledged this, and publicly expressed his admiration.

It’s therefore unsettling for patriotic citizens like us to see faceless elements and mischief makers attempt to besmirch the name and works of the Acting President, and to seek to undermine the cordial and enviable relationship between him and President Buhari.

What they don’t seem to realize is that the Acting President has repeatedly made it clear that he acts based on the directions of the President. For those who paid attention to his May 29 Anniversary Speech, it would have been clear that everything the Acting President has done – from signing Executive Orders, to his tour of the Niger Delta, to the Ease of Doing Business agenda – has been at the behest of the President, and in fulfilment of the President’s vision for a changed Nigeria. That speech is publicly available, for those who missed it. You cannot read that speech and be in doubt of the fact that we have a single, unified Presidency, in which the President and his deputy are fully aligned in vision and implementation.

All of the rumours being peddled – that the Acting President is appointing only people of a certain religious or ethnic affiliation, or using taxpayers’ resources to attend his church in Lagos, or positioning for a 2019 presidential bid – all are lies and absolute balderdash. A close look at the Acting President’s aides would show that there are actually more Muslims than Christians, unless these mischief makers would want to convince us that the likes of Ade Ipaye, Bilkisu Saidu, Maryam Uwais or Gambo Manzo have converted to Christianity.

Also, the Presidency has since clarified that that the Acting President does not and will never use state resources to fund travel to his church in Lagos.  And regarding the allegations about 2019, the Acting President has by his actions in the last few months made it clear that he is not a man driven by political ambition. He did not angle or hustle to become Vice President, he was pursuing a successful private career when the offer came his way, unsolicited. And it is obvious that he has no interest in building political machinery for any purpose whatsoever.

All said, one can pin these malicious attacks on the enemies of President Buhari who do not want to see him succeed. The plot is simple: denting Osinbajo’s performance is akin to attacking President Buhari and undermining his administration and its successes and gains.

The ultimate plot is to disparage the Acting President in order to cause dissatisfaction within the presidency so that when the president returns, Nigerians would then watch the presidency reduced to another ‘Telemundo’ as it was with President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku.

Heads or tails, these mischief makers won’t make much headway. Neither the President nor the Acting President will allow anything or anyone distract them from the task they signed up for two years ago: revamping and restoring Nigeria’s economy, securing the country from terrorists and bandits, and fighting corruption to a standstill.

Igboeli Arinze is the Editor in-chief of thestandpointng.com

Staring Down Pollution, A Catalyst To Combating Climate Change By Amusa Temitope

In the running of a community in a hitch-free way, everyone has a role regardless of the nature of jobs they do: Physicians, Nurses, Teachers, Street Cleaners, Plumbers, Farmers, Traders all have very important roles they play. In like manner, everything existing in nature each has a role in ensuring a smooth running of Nature.

The major constituents of our environment are: water, land, and air. These constituents are endowments which are gratifying so much that the way nature co-ordinates its activities are matchless. One seldom wonders at the way all that exists in nature are designed to complement one another.  The regulations surrounding how life is sustained in all are simply mind-blowing. Ecological balance is the ability of natural conditions of the earth; and its inhabitants (animals and plants), to remain stable on their own through variations over time which can be  described as the coexistence of organisms and their environment in a harmonious manner.

This naturally existing balance is threatened by human activities, the rate of destruction has out weighted the rate of construction, for example, the number of trees felled daily is much more than the amount planted. The volume of Carbon daily released to the atmosphere exceeds the volume of oxygen generated daily. It is evident that our planet now survives on a reserve bank of resources that nature is endowed with. How long these reserve banks of endowed nature’s resources will sustain the planet is a question left for all to answer.

A major problem we confront daily as a result of human activity is pollution, the introduction of unwanted constituents or impurities into the environment that causes an adverse change and truncates the natural existing balance of nature.  All the constituents of the environment are affected by pollution, from water to land and even air, no part of the environment is immune as it, therefore, goes to show what risk the activities of man poses to the three major aspects of the planet.

The cost of civilization has always been pollution. Air pollution dates as far back as when men lit fires in caves and rock grooves, even the burning of nature’s existing fuels: coals and woods, as well as the concentrated presence of pre-industrial transportation animals like donkeys, camels, and horses in certain areas, made the evolving cities a store bank of pollution.

On the front burner of most alarming human activity is the industrial revolution which gave rise to environmental pollution at a very troubling rate. The excesses of carbon emissions released by fossil fuel burning industries which need fuel to power their turbines is a disaster actively waiting to happen. The once fresh air is now filled with tiny soot particles which are now choking to breathe in, no thanks to the emergence of giant industries which only rely on fossil fuels for their operation and are not conscious of the effects of these carbon emissions on the ecological balance of the planet.

The waste effluents from big factories are channeled into rivers truncating water salinity and the dissolved oxygen levels, throwing marine life off balance and resulting to killing fishes and other marine creatures. Regrettably, these rivers flow through rural settlements which lack access to safe drinking water. Many community members consume these polluted waters and stand the risk of the breakout of epidemics like Cholera and other waterborne diseases. Plastics are designed to last for a very long time, it takes an average of 500 years for plastics to decompose. According to World Bank Urban Development Series Knowledge Paper, What-a-Waste published in 2012. It is estimated that world plastics consumption will grow by 1.9 % yearly (4.86 million tons) by 2025. Now at 256.2 million tons for 2015 from 241.4 million tons in 2012.

Man’s hunger for single use plastics is damning, from plastic water bottles to beverage bottles, plastic shopping bags to plastic water sachets, all are meant to make the life of man easy on the go, little do we understand that if the rate of land pollution owing to growing inorganic waste continues at the current pace, even man shall be choked out of his habitat by waste. Our steadily growing population has stressed the grossly inadequate waste management infrastructures put in place to manage urban waste.The management authorities are overwhelmed by waste generation as evident in the indiscriminate disposal of waste in major city centers in Nigeria.

The populace cannot cope with the nuisance caused by having litters around their homes, the landfills are filled and no one wants any site around their homes. Some people result to burning of waste which eventually releases hazardous gases into the atmosphere some of which causes cancer and other deteriorating health conditions, others prefer to dump the waste in drainages when it rains leading to blockage of the drains and giving rise to pockets of dirty water ponds which in return serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

There has to be a quick intervention as regards waste management in the country, Climate change should be combated by staring down pollution, from North to South, East to West in Nigeria and indeed the world. Active steps should be taken to reduce pollution to the minimum, cleaner energy sources must be explored.

As recommended by Frances Beinecke, putting a tax on carbon could be an effective approach to curbing global warming pollution. Giant industries should pay more tax for burning more fuels, urban mass transit channels should be encouraged, fewer cars on our roads would translate to reduced carbon emissions from automobiles, electric cars should be considered as they seem to explore greener sources of energy, serious sanctions should be placed on industries without effluent treatment units, a more objective approach should be employed by Environmental Protection Agencies in monitoring and regulating the activities of industries as regards the environment.

Every manufacturer that uses plastic packing must be mandated to use materials which are easily recyclable and must be ready to take back their waste, consumers must also choose to live responsibly by reusing their shopping bags, upcycling their plastic bottles and recycling their plastic wastes. Proper waste disposal should be encouraged in emerging cities, climate actions should be advocated at cities level as they seem to be more efficient in combating climate change and its attendant consequences. By taking these conscious steps we would walk the talk as regards staring down pollution, the eco-balance of our planet will be set in recovery mode and our environment will be safe for all human and animals alike.

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

In Praise Of Maigida Mass Transit, By Abdulraman Salman

It is very unfortunate that someone will sit somewhere to compose this type of statement simply because the social media space is for every Tom, Dick and Harry. But I’m not out to attack or abuse the writer who seems to glory in just that, railing abuses at people. The condemnation of the Soludero project is fundamentally flawed because the critics seems limited by a reluctance to depart from the old order, seemed unable to see an emerging future for our state whereas those who dreamt of that future, who are working hard for its emergence know they need to start preparing the ground and as they say, making all things ready.

Any analyst who fails to accept that Kwara, and specifically Ilorin, is a fast growing community needs to review his instruments. But people with foresight who know this will make arrangements for the development. The mass transit program is one of such arrangement and even when dismissed by critics who still live in the past, the fundamental justification for the program remains unassailable. The truth is that the population of Ilorin for instance has been on a steady increase since our brethren in the far north began to see the city as a refuge from the insurgency in the north west. That has put pressure on social infrastructure, one of them the transportation system such that contrary to the claims by some critics, you can no longer stop a cab here and ask the driver to wait for you to pick the cup of tea you forgot at home. That was past. This is present .

How many tertiary institutions do we have in Ilorin today? UNILORIN, Alhikma, KWASU, KWARAPOLY, COED, Ilorin, CAILS, etc. The list endless.

Anyone who has witnessed the harrowing experience students go through looking for transportation will understand why there is need for intervention in the sector in the way the state government has done. At UNILORIN sometimes you pick a tally of 300plus, waiting for bus! And government has seen a business in resolving that challenge which also exists in the other institutions and went ahead to empower local drivers through their unions to ply these routes. Its a double win because while government solves the transportation problem of the public, it also empowers some people without financial loss.

Anyway, when this government started the internal revenue revolution, many critics condemned it because to them there is no money in a civil service state like Kwara. But today we know the difference; from N600 million monthly to N1.2 billion. Where were the ghosts? There were no ghosts but a system that needed fresh breath of idea. And that is what is starting in the transportation sector. It is amazing how people don’t want to see development but are ready to cry that we are not developed. The project is a collaboration between the state government and the transport unions and anyone who know these unions particularly with its current leadership knows that they would not have agreed to the terms were they as unfavorable as being painted.

Wake up and smell the coffee. Hamzat. Kwara is on the up. Join the train

Abdulraman Salman writes from Abuja.

Hadiza Bala Usman Repays Buhari’s Faith in Women With Reforms at Nigeria’s Ports

The first time I came across Hadiza Bala Usman’s name was on TV three years ago. When over 280 female students were kidnapped from their secondary school in (Chibok) Borno State in April 2014, she started the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) campaign alongside Nigeria’s former minister of education, Oby Ezekwesili to force the Nigerian government to swing into action and ensure the prompt rescue of the abducted girls. The campaign got worldwide traction and she was thrown into the spotlight.

In July 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Hadiza Bala Usman as the first ever-female Managing Director (MD) of Nigeria’s port authority (NPA). Before this, she was the Chief of staff to Mallam Nasiru El – Rufai, governor of Kaduna state – the first woman to be so appointed so since the office was created in 1999.

El – Rufai, aware of her work and resilience, as she had previously worked with him on two junctures – at the Bureau of Public enterprise {BPE} and in 2011 as his special assistant on Project implementation when he was appointed minister of the federal capital territory {FCT}, handpicked her to help him restructure and generate reforms in Kaduna State.

Hadiza Bala’s appointment to head one of the most important agencies in the country came at the time Nigeria began facing massive decline in revenue from crude oil and the immediate need to spread the revenue supplies of the federal government. President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged the need to make the NPA one of the proficient economic drivers of his administration and entrusted this staggering task to Hadiza Bala Usman. 

As expected, many stakeholders reacted differently to Hadiza’s selection. There was general uncertainty among the civil service patrons on the ability of a 41-year-old woman to successfully pilot the affairs of the agency – the notion was that she did not have the necessary practical experience to run the ports authority.

Having hit the ground running by implementing a number of public sector reforms that are fundamental in transforming the NPA and minimising corruption in the system, Hadiza is now on the pathway of proving incorrect all the reservations that followed her appointment.

In less than 7 months after Hadiza resumed her role as the managing director of the NPA, an agreement was signed with the budget tracking and transparency organization. Making the NPA the first government agency generating revenue to open its books and accounts to the civil society and the public for scrutiny.

By making this move, she ensured that funds were not transferred to private accounts for the selfish interest of corrupt elements but were instead remitted into the federation account. Hadiza describes this particular agreement as an exit from the obscure practices of the previous administrations towards open governance.

That’s not all. In track with Hadiza Bala Usman’s directive to minimize corruption within the agency, investigations revealed a robust N11.2bn fraud where certain officials of the agency and some commercial banks were discovered to have conspired to hide monies collected as revenue in private accounts as opposed to forwarding into the port’s authority’s treasury account. 6 million euros of revenue from the NPA that should have been remitted into the federation account were uncovered in separate accounts at two commercial banks and another $23m of revenue was also found in another bank.

A resolute Hadiza, as a member of the presidential advisory committee on anti-corruption, has since positioned tactical measures in place to recover these unaccounted funds and has set up an anti-corruption office at the NPA. This office on the corruption index in the ports administration is in line with a report submitted by the Independent corrupt practices commission (ICPC).

Hadiza Bala Usman also put in place a debt recovery system within the NPA to recoup about $585m unpaid to the agency. This system allows for money that has been due to the agency over a period of 10 years to be recovered. For example, certain steps have been taken under the framework to retrieve the ports authority’s N400m caught in Aso Savings and another $19bn in Heritage bank. All these are anomalies being demolished by Hadiza Bala Usman and there are convincing indications that henceforth, NPA will not accept jammed funds in form of accumulated debt that should be otherwise invested in something advantageous for the agency.

To improve the ease of doing business in Nigerian ports in line with the up-to-date global practices, Hadiza pushed for the review of the port concession policy, which is about 10 years old. Many stakeholders have called for an evaluation of the policy, as some parts are not working in sync with its projected objectives. Among the numerous issues that stand to be resolved with the review, which Hadiza is now insistent on, is the midway foreword of a port economic regulator.

The policy review has also guaranteed a system close to a free market, through major policy review terminating the routine of monopoly and unfair benefit enjoyed by some terminal operators. Before the policy review, these terminal operators colluded with certain top NPA officials to create a cartel to have all gas and oil cargoes directed to their terminals alone under the exclusive concession agreement. However, with that monopoly wrecked, close to 165 port operators can contend favorably and on uniformed footing for cargoes to be discharged at their terminals.

As enhancing Nigeria’s foreign earnings through the NPA is part of Hadiza’s mandate, she erected fast track desks for easy export of solid minerals and agricultural products in the country’s seaports. This move alone will reduce to a reasonable level the time it takes for miners and farmers to export their products through the ports.

Furthermore, the Nigerian ports authority is now efficiently interfacing with other agencies to ensure improvement in their operations. It initiated a nationalized window project to domicile all operations, including those of the Nigerian customs service in a single platform.

Under the new managing director, NPA now circulates tariffs on their website for easy reach by the public. Pricing has now become open and competitive in line with the custom across the West African region.

Nigeria’s port authority with the recently applied reforms is on its way to becoming a fundamental economic driver for Nigeria at a time the country is anxious to expand its economy and create an efficiently run system.

While Hadiza Bala Usman still has a long way to go in reaching the anticipated level for the ports authority, she has shown that she is more than capable of holding the agency down through her commitment to obstruct all the revenue outflows and ensuring smooth operations.

 

Nana – Aisha Salaudeen is an economist/accountant with a knack for writing. When she’s not drinking coffee, her pen is spilling social commentary and non/fiction. She enjoys writing life into people and things and can be reached via salaudeenaishatu@gmail.com

Mitigating The Effects of Urbanisation On Nature In Africa’s Development By Femi Okunlola

In 1972 following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden between the 5th to the 16th June, serving as the first international conference on environmental issues, the World Environment Day was inaugurated.

In its wake, tracking the improvement in the progress of our management of the environment has not been without its challenges over the years, especially in view of the growing trends of urbanisation and Industrialisation which over the past half decade has seen a surge, with more calls being made by activists and global leaders to rise up to the task of preserving the earth.

The theme for the 2017 celebration is “Connecting People to Nature”. The preservation of nature in the wake of our fast changing world in view of human advancement is certainly worth pondering.

According to the report of 2014 of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, about 56 percent of the world population has been urbanised; a drastic improvement from the scenario in the 1970’s when the percentage was a mere 30 percent. Future projections hold that by 2050, the percentage of the world’s urbanised population would be pegged at 66 percent, leaving 44 percent of the rural population.

The growth of the world’s population is also projected to add 2.5 billion people to the urban population by 2050, and 90 percent of this population will be concentrated in Asia and Africa. The bottom line is that the world as we know it is fast changing and begs the question of how we have been creating a sustainable future.

Africa and the urbanisation trend:

The term urban has not been universally agreed upon, as there are several depictions on the topic, and seeing as explanations vary across continents. However, simply put, the term urban refers to a densely populated area, which has its natural habitat geographically altered, with a surge in industrialisation, and whose economy isn’t basically an agrarian dependent one. The presence and dependence on infrastructure is also basic in this description. The term urbanisation simply refers to the processes involved in developing an urban area.

The urbanisation process can be dated to centuries back, with the earliest cities emerging in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Latin America, in modern times, the most highly urbanized countries are Belgium (98 per cent urban), Japan (93 per cent), Argentina (92 per cent) and the Netherlands (90 per cent).

Africa and Asia are urbanizing more rapidly than other regions of the world. (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations,2014). The rate of urbanization, measured as the average annual rate of change of the percentage urban, is highest in Asia and Africa, where currently the proportion urban is increasing by 1.5 and 1.1 per cent per annum, respectively.

According to the United Nations, Africa is currently urbanizing faster than in the late 1990s and is expected to be the fastest urbanizing region from 2020 to 2050. Urbanization in developing countries has proceeded faster than in developed countries, but the correlation of the rate of urbanization with economic growth has been weaker than in developed countries.

Environmental effects of urbanisation on Nature:

With urbanisation has come a lot of human interaction with the environment, and hence the threat of human activities has impacted greatly on nature, in man’s competing for water, energy, air, and food. Most African countries are still lagging behind in doing a good job of keeping a balance and inculcating natural elements into nature.

The urbanization of Africa’s population has been predicted to cause an increase in aggregate energy use, despite efficiencies and new technologies, which is likely to have disastrous environmental effects. It is also estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa, the urban fertility rates are about 1.5 children less than in rural areas and urbanization is likely to slow population growth.

The afore mentioned fact doesn’t come as a surprise considering the environmental degradation and rising number of slums on the continent, amongst them being Makoko (Lagos, Nigeria), Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya), nima (Ghana) etc. The congestion in the areas have seen a competition for resources, which has given rise to the pollution of water, air with industrial development (Niger Delta region of Nigeria a case study) and in some cases diseases, due to inadequate resources, all leading to a low life expectancy.

Mitigating the effects of urbanisation on nature in Africa;

While urbanisation cannot be retarded and the world will see an even faster trend, it is important that the world, especially African governments pay attention to climate change issues, global warming and adaptations which favour nature as well.

The concept of garden cities proposed by Ebenezer Howard in his work published in 1989 Tomorrow, A Peaceful Path to Real Reform kicked off and revolutionised the way cities were being built. Built upon by several other innovators, this has become a standard model for adapting nature to urbanised settings, especially in cities where high rise buildings tend to be prevalent.

While emerging cities in Africa like the Eko Atlantic which is soon to be completed have adopted this approach, government can be more reactive as well to already existing platforms by introducing policies of tree plantings, tree replacements where trees are felled etc, and where appropriate, begin considering the options of green areas/ gardens on the ground, or gardens on the sky.

Recycling of non perishable products is also an alternative rarely explored by most African countries. The fact that the continent sits on a million dollar industry of recycling is a distressing fact in itself; as waste is a product the country has in abundance, but yet shows certain cluelessness in its management. Zero waste policies can further help mitigate urbanisations effects on nature.

Also, it is important to note that while movement migration from rural areas cannot be stopped, it can be controlled somewhat by ensuring that an inclusive approach is taken when it infrastructural development and the creation of jobs in the areas which remains one of the reason for the influx of rural dwellers into towns. This may help control the population density in urban areas.

While there are many options that can be explored in slowing down the negative effects of Urbanisation on nature, perhaps the most important remedy is implementation and a strong will by African governments, and a better advocacy for environmental preservation, as the glaring eventualities of man’s impact on the planet, begs the question of how sustainable the development and advancement we make really is, and what world exactly, we will be leaving future generations. This is food for thought, even as we commemorate another world Environment Day on the theme “Connecting people to nature”, and while we raise awareness about the environment.

Femi Tunde Okunlola is a Development Broadcast Journalist and Writer from Nigeria, covering Africa, with a focus on Governance, security and Environment. Tweet @iam_fto , E-mail: tundeenglish@gmail.com .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fejiro Oliver: Prison and Yellow Journalism By Norbert Chiazor

FEJIRO OLIVER! Fake name. Fine writer. That is the beginning of the puzzle. Why would a promising journalist with fastidious and incisive intellect write under pseudonym?

Fejiro Oliver is never timid or tired, his heart is neither faint nor fickle. He has stamina both in body and brain.

As a younger colleague who defer to me in deep unpretentious respect, I reckon Fejiro with fond attention. Read him in print or online media, he stuns. Juxtapose Fejiro’s journalistic endeavours with the embarrassing syntax and semantics disasters we see every day among many of his ilk on the social media and you got me!

A product of sound education, Fejiro’s writings is tinged with logic, depth, research and ornate brilliance. He would surely rise to be the best editor VANGUARD, THISDAY or better still THE GUARDIAN, would ever have on record.

But then, I hold an open view even to Fejiro that he is too extreme and unconventional. By consequence, his crusades ever unrestrained make him susceptible to allegations of blackmail and cyber media terrorism. However, the onus of proof is on those who often accuse him of yellow journalism.

But he has an Achilles’ heel. He dares too much like Okonkwo in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Could it be exuberance or energy that goes with the morning of virgin youth? Perhaps, he is enamoured with the big bug of all leftists – iconoclasm like queer but no nonsense egg head, Wole Soyinka who stormed a Radio station with a gun! So relieved that Fejiro only deploys something less frightening but even mightier than a gun – Pen, in his endless riot against the establishment. Now he is in trouble again for his virulent verses. In Lagos prison!

The details are still sketchy but we hear he is in detention for helping to amplify the story of a whistle blower out to expose bank fraud. Ludicrous! What a strange offense? We thought whistle blowing is the best patriotism under President Buhari’s CHANGE agenda. This government self. Fela!

It is a doubtful conjecture whether this incarceration would change Fejiro to mellow. This is not the first, second or third time he would have a brush with the authorities. He seems to covet courage under Fire. Possible, I would have volunteered to spend time to counsel Fejiro all night, on the cold floor of his dingy prison: Nigeria is not worth dying for, no thanks to the thankless fate of Dele Giwa, et al.

I witnessed Giwa’s rites of passage with a friend Dele Ailemen in 1986. He was abandoned in a forest in Ukpekpe Ekperi village, near Adams Oshiomole’s homeland. Dan Agbese, journalist – poet, later wrote a haunting dirge “We left Dele Giwa in the bush.”

Good enough Fejiro has every reason to live. Long he will. He has a teenage wife and I guess, a toddler. She needs his love and more babies! Brilliant babies that would do better than him in life to change Nigeria for good.

Court please rise and FREE Fejiro.

Nobert Chiazor is the Chairman of Delta State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.

 

We Are All Victims, We Are All Bullies, By Olalekan Waheed Adigun

One of the most beautiful things I appreciate about humans is the memory. I remember vividly, as a six or seven-year-old boy, my stepmother (now late) taking me to a white garment church (Cele as they are popularly known) at Iyana Ipaja, then a suburb of Lagos. The ‘Olusho’ (or Pastor in charge) ‘saw’ vision that I was a wizard or witch which if something was not done urgently, the “witch” in me would destroy the family and a lot of people. I remembered the flogging on my tiny body that day in graphic details today. Even when my father came back, he had to ban her from taking me to any church again on seeing how well the “witch” in me was “flogged out.” Till today, I am still scared of anyone who tells me s/he a white garment church. That is the power of human memory.

Another thing I have come to realise about the human memory is that it selects what it wants to remember. Despite my experience with Cele people, (I don’t ordinarily ask people about their religious beliefs), I have had friends whom I later knew attend white garment churches. Some have worked so intimately with me that their attending Cele doesn’t seem to matter to me again. Why do I still remember an incident that happened in the late 1980s? After all, we are all victims of history!

On May 30, 2017, the memory of the Nigerian Civil War came alive again, understandably, from the South-Eastern (the worst hit during the war) geo-political zone of the country. The part that we should not forget is that according to Chido Onumah, We Are All Biafrans. But rather that say we all are Biafrans, I will say we all are victims of history. But How? Why? Where?

In 1953, Action Group (AG), led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo went to the London Constitutional Conference with two political demands: First, the question of whether Lagos should be part of the Western Region; and second, the question of the right of a region to secede from the Federation be included in the Nigerian Constitution.

Let us forget about the first question for now. Only recently did I read Professor Kalu Ezra’s classic, Constitutional Developments in Nigeria. The foremost authority on Nigerian Constitutional Developments writes:

“Before the [1954] Conference got underway, the Colonial Secretary, Oliver Lyttelton, produced a cigar sent to the Conference by Sir Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Government, and said that he did not propose to smoke it unless the Conference was in trouble. Remembering the extreme and undiplomatic ‘challenges’ of Chief Obafemi Awolowo to the Colonial Secretary and the latter’s stern warning reply to him, it was not surprising that rumours were afloat to the effect that a British man-of-war was standing alert near the Coast of Lagos to take charge of the situation, should the Action Group rank and file be goaded into taking the law into their hands over the Lagos issue.

“The Action Group delegation did not raise the question of the position of Lagos again at the Lagos Conference. But it did, however, DEMAND THAT THE RIGHT OF A REGION TO SECEDE FROM THE FEDERATION TO BE PROVIDED IN THE CONSTITUTION. But the Conference, clearly influenced by Dr. Azikiwe’s scholarly exposition on the dangers of which received the strong backing of the Chairman, the Colonial Secretary, objected that any secession clause should be written into the amended Constitution.” (page 189, My Emphasis).

Now, had the right of any region to secede from the federation been granted in 1954, there are high possibilities that the ugly developments in the mid-1960s would never have happened. We all must accept responsibility for this!

To show that we all are victims and all have blood on our hands, I recount some developments of historical significance in Nigeria.

The January 15, 1966, we are told, was not an “Igbo coup” even though it was led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu (Anioma by tribe from Delta state) but somehow, we should believe the July 29, 1966 Coup is an “Hausa coup” even though it was led by Yakubu Gowon (Angas by tribe from Plateau state). Let us not forget that another “Hausa Coup” removed Gowon exactly nine years after in 1975.

We are to forget that the Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his NCNC teamed up with “oppressors Hausa-Fulani” NPC not only in 1959, they also teamed up to send political sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to jail in 1962. The coalition to weaken the Western Region was perfected with the creation of the Mid-Western Region while at the same time the AG was calling the creation of Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR), Ilorin/Kabba and Middle Belt provinces which fell on deaf ears. Nowhere did Awo complain of “marginalisation of Yorubas” despite the hell he went through in the hands of this formidable coalition. No one recalls Yorubas calling for the head of Igbos for such shabby treatments meted out on the politician!

In parenthesis, Chief Awolowo warned the actors in the coalition of the consequences of their actions especially when they declared State of Emergency in the Western Region in 1962. Little did they realise it will shape events that will come later in 1966 and 1967.

The same pattern repeated itself in 1979. Let us not forget that Zik led his NPP to congratulate Alhaji Sheu Shagari (from Sokoto) after the most controversial election in Nigerian history. The party even joined the Shagari government (at least till 1981). No one called Igbos betrayers for this. Even when the Yoruba-dominated UPN was boldly rejecting fraudulent election results in Ondo and Oyo states in 1983, Hausa-Fulani dominated NPN ‘stole’ Anambra (Zik’s home state), yet he led his NPP once again to congratulate Shagari’s NPN all to spite Awo. Again, no one called Igbos betrayers!

We should also not forget that ex-Biafran hero, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, on his return to Nigeria in 1982, about two decades after the war, joined and contested for the Nigerian Senate under the Hausa-Fulani dominated NPN in 1983. He lost, and somehow, we are to forget that.

In 1993, a certain Arthur Nzeribe was used by the military government to scuttle the presidential election was by Chief MKO Abiola (an Egba man from Ogun State), Igbos were never tagged by Yorubas for this unfortunate incident as betrayers or bad people. It wasn’t the case of “Yoruba betrayal by Igbos”. Everyone condemned only Nzeribe, not Igbos. I doubt if there was anything the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Professor Humphrey Nwosu could have done to change that!

Let’s not forget the main arrowheads of the elongation of Abacha’s tenure were the Iwuanyawus, Ojo Maduekes, Daniel Kanus (the YEAA man), Onyeka Onwenus and the likes were Igbos supporting a Kanuri man’s ambition. Yes, there were Yorubas too, like Sunny Ade, Shina Peters, Lamidi Adedibu and business mogul, Alao Arisekola, but no one called it an “Igbo” or “Yoruba” agenda!

Apart from core PDP supporters in the South West, and I mean the Fayoses, Gbenga Daniels, Alao Akalas etc, that supported the Obasanjo’s? infamous third term, it was vehemently rejected in the South West. But in South-South and South-East, governors were trying to outdo each other to be seen to be supporting the Obasanjo’s? agenda. In fact, in the heat of the debate over the constitutionality of Obasanjo’s ambition, Professor Joe Irukwu-led Ohaneze Ndigbo, endorsed President Obasanjo’s ambition to contest for a third term. We should, for the sake of history, not forget to say it was the Senate, under Senator Ken Nnamani, that save the nation from Obasanjo’s brigandage!

My point is for people to tackle whoever offends or offended them, not his tribe or where he came from. A bad man gives his tribe a bad name even though the tribe contains a host of angels.

I will end this piece with a quote from Frantz Fanon, in his book, The Wretched of the Earth, where he writes:

The collective struggle presupposes collective responsibility at the base and collegiate responsibility at the top. Yes; everybody will have to be compromised in the fight for the common good. No one has clean hands; there are no innocents and no onlookers. We all have dirty hands; we are all soiling them in the swamps of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.”

On Fanon’s note, we are all victims of our history. So, no one is innocent or guilty!

 

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and an independent political strategist for a range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He lives 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

Send this to a friend