Tambuwal At 51: Indelible Marks On The Seat Of The Caliphate, By Imam Imam

If he were to be asked his birthday wish this day in 2015, the then Sokoto State gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, would have probably prayed for success in the elections he was facing few weeks away. He wouldn’t have stopped at that; the Tambuwal I know would have definitely prayed for God’s hand in not only winning the election but discharging the responsibilities that come with the victory creditably.

I don’t know whether somewhere in his mind, in his usual meditation to mark his birthday, Tambuwal indeed supplicate to God on these two fundamental issues. But one thing that is clear is God almighty has been gracious. Less than 90 days after his 49th birthday, Tambuwal emerged as the Sokoto governor-elect and today, at 51, he has performed so wonderfully that he is celebrated home and away.

This is enough reason for Tambuwal to be grateful to God, and it is a good reason for all of us his lieutenants and indeed the entire people of Sokoto state to join him in appreciating the blessings of the almighty at this important juncture.

In steering the state-ship, Tambuwal’s major account for success is his recognition, ab initio, of the weight of expectations that come with leadership, especially executive power entrusted on a governor in a state like Sokoto. But most importantly is his realisation, like all great leaders in history, that leadership essentially means taking people where they should be, not necessary where they want to be.

There is no gainsaying that the developmental challenges bugging developing countries like Nigeria is long diagnosed to be the result of poor leadership. Years of self-serving, short-sighted leadership has contributed in no mean way in stagnating development around here and making us wander in the same cycle of problems and challenges.

With this clear vision on the expectations and where he wants to see the state under his stewardship, Tambuwal set out to prioritise and articulate this vision into areas of focus.

Refreshingly, he set out to differ by coming up with genuine, insightful and visionary ideas to turn around, not only the day to day course of life, but initiatives that would also alter the face of the society. For Tambuwal, whatever is done is not just another project, it is part of the bold revolutionary interventions that have set his government apart from the pack.

Sokoto, like many a northern state, is often listed among what is termed ELDS; educationally least developed states. This negative ranking is tabulated based on enrollment ratio, the out of school children, school dropouts and other parameters.

A state that is the nucleus of the knowledge-driven Sokoto Caliphate was unfortunately lagging in the area of education, especially for the girl child. It was therefore revolutionizing for Governor Tambuwal to marshal out sweeping policies aimed at turning around the statistics. To this end, the state government announced state of emergency on the education sector. This impressive pronouncement has since been backed by action.

The first of those bold steps was the announcement, early in the day, of enforcement of school enrolment for all eligible children. The government, in attempt to tackle the lethargic attitude of some parents to modern schooling promulgated punishment against parents who refuse to enroll their school-aged children in schools.

The government then went a step further by introducing incentives for parents who enroll their daughters in school, through a conditional cash transfer scheme to enable the parents support their wards through school. Through this carrot and stick approach the state government targets enrolment of 1.2 million pupils that are hitherto out of school.

As a surest path to development, the emphasis by the Tambuwal administration on education is not only commendable but exemplary especially for educationally-challenged states of northern Nigeria.

Education, in this information age, is the key to the further. The wisest decision, for any leader in this age is to have a holistic and wide-ranging investment in human capital development through education. Here is the Tambuwal model, a model of societal upliftment through the viable investment in its human capital.

By making education the mainstay of his administration, Governor Tambuwal has put Sokoto, once again, on the pathway to greatness. If this noble agenda is pursued diligently, beyond the rhetoric as in many government programmes, then it is safe for one to expect Sokoto shine among peers in near the future.

This trend will continue through the year 2017 as we have seen with the budget submitted last month to the State House of Assembly by Governor Tambuwal, where education is given the lion share of 27.3 percent of the N204 billion budget estimate. This is a first from Tambuwal as the allocation exceeds even the utopian target of 26 percent set by UNESCO.

The huge attention being received by education in Sokoto under Tambuwal, justified as it is, does not mean that other critical and important sectors are neglected.

Agriculture and healthcare delivery have equally benefitted from the Tambuwal’s methodic and strategic interventions. Under healthcare, for example, the state government, like in all sectors, set out with a strategy by having 33 professionals brainstorm to come up with the Sokoto State Strategic Health Plan 2016-2020. One of the fall outs of this is the identification of six general hospitals that are currently being upgraded into premier reference. Also, just as 2016 was coming to a close, Tambwal flagged off the Sokoto contributory health scheme where the government put down the seed fund of N100 million.

Contrary to the usual practice in Nigeria, Governor Tambuwal went all out since his coming to ensure that all works he inherited have been completed by budgeting huge sums of money for that. The result today is the commissioning of the 500-units Kalambaina housing estate by President Muhammadu Buhari in November last year. Another big one in this regard is the coming on board of the 38MW Sokoto State Independent Power Project.

Even by this pigeon-holed look into the stewardship of Sokoto state by Governor Tambuwal it is evident that this true leader of his people is indeed serving the people diligently towards creating a new vista for Sokoto State. The Matawallen Sokoto is poised to making his Sokoto a pride of all Sakkwatawa.

At 51, Tambuwal is unarguably one of Nigeria’s most enterprising politicians. His ever-smiling disposition brings forward a happy mien that is intricately infectious. Like his forebears in Sokoto always say, the future tends to be brighter for he who smiles often.

 

*Imam (imamdimam) is the spokesman to Governor Tambuwal

President Buhari’s Strides In The Year 2016 By Garba Shehu

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari completed 19 months in office at the end of December. Except for this period being the end of a year and the beginning of another one, it is not a milestone of spectacular importance.

It is, nonetheless, another opportunity to reiterate the Buhari success story, a period in which so much changed. This is even as the beneficiaries of the old order seem even more determined to dislodge that narrative of success.

Here, we are in a country in which an essayist with excellent online credentials writes a syndicated weekly column in which he attacks our minister of Finance, Ms Kemi ADeosun who keeps a clean sheet, not for the work she did for the country but for having graduated from a U.K Polytechnic. But pray, would you rather have as your money keeper an Ivory Leaguer, even though clean by himself/herself that allows a free-for-all looting under his/her watch, or one that is a product of a polytechnic but keeps you money safe?

President Buhari swore to his oath of office on May 29th, 2015 on a promise to tackle insecurity and corruption; to arrest the decline of the economy with a pledge to create jobs and diversify the monocultural economy. These three big, bold ideas warranted the CHANGE in 2015 and the President never loses sight of them.

The most important of the challenges faced by the administration in 2016 were mainly caused by weak revenues.

Oil lost more than 60 percent of its value in the world market and output was severely curtailed by pipeline bombings in the Niger Delta, reducing production by, sometime as much as 50 percent.

Budget for the year 2016 was caught in a serious of disputes between the executive and the Legislative arms of the government following the uncovering of a huge scam through which the allocations to the various ministries were padded with sums that the executive did not ask for.

When the budget was eventually passed and signed, cash backing for capital projects approved for the year came only in the second half of the year. This notwithstanding, the Government pumped an unprecedented N800 billion into the economy for the financing capital projects to lift the country out of recession.

To everyone’s great relief, security in the country improved significantly but that too came with a number of challenges. Vast areas of the country in the Northeast were freed from Boko Haram terrorists and that opened up the humanitarian situation for the world to see: Two million people displaced from their communities faced imminent hunger. On record, we had eradicated the Polio disease, just awaiting certification. With the discovery of new, even though a few cases, Nigeria which was the second of three countries still in the Polio black book suddenly realized that there was more work to do.

The country has been celebrating the “defeat of the Boko Haram” which was officially proclaimed by the office of the Chief of Defense Staff. President Buhari has expressed his pride on the Army’s bravery. But Nigeria won this war on the back of a leadership that is strong and decisive; a President that believes that it is important to end terror for peace, which is a prerequisite for development, to be established.

Given his strong will to win the war, he explored all the ways and means available to the government to ensure that weapons procurement and supplies did not suffer a breakdown. He released the two newest helicopters in the Presidential fleet to the Airforce to strengthen their capacity for air combat and asked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to release theirs to the military as well. The Nigerian Airforce must be given credit for the successful conversion of the civilian aircraft to military uses at home here in Nigeria without any foreign technical assistance.

The problem of cattle rustling was prevalent in the North Central and Northwestern States in the first half of the year. There has been a noticeable slump in these activities in the last six months. As can be seen, relative peace has returned to Benue, Plateau, Enugu in the Southeast although Zamfara and Kaduna States still remain flashpoints.

With recent measures put in place by the Police and the Military, as well as the peacemaking efforts by the governments of both states, it is hoped that this too will fade.

For the first time in many years, Christmas and New Year came and passed without a noticeable escalation of armed robbery and kidnapping in the southeast and all over Nigeria. There was a seamless supply of petroleum products throughout the country. Similarly, road accidents were minimal following intensive exercises by the Federal Road Safety Commission.

Equally important for the country’s security is the ongoing direct and indirect discussions between the Government and the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta. There is still more to accomplish in this regard but the decision of the federal government to resume the Amnesty Program and the involvement of community leaders in the region towards disarmament of the militants continue to be of help. The President is determined to see that whatever promises were contained in that agreement are carried out to the latter.

The Buhari administration has been successful in averting public uprising in states following the issuance of bailout funds to attack the problem of unpaid salaries. Salary payments are important to the economy of the states and without this, it is hard to see such economies will keep moving.

In the year 2016, the success of important economic policy decisions of the government began to manifest through the diversification and inclusiveness of the people in the economy.

There is huge boom in the rural economy mainly following good rains in the year and the government’s increasing role in quality control through extension services. It is equally important in this regard that there are willing off takers of farm products.

Agriculture failed to thrive in the past in the country because farmers were left to the vicissitudes of the market. One of the policies of the Central Bank to manage scarce foreign exchange include the restriction of currency supplies to important sectors that assist manufacturing and jobs creation. It is a systematic move to curb the importation of unnecessary goods, to serve as a boost to local production.

Anyone paying attention to the agricultural activity going on in some states in the list of rice growers Ebonyi, Kebbi, Jigawa knows that economic diversification is taking a serious root.

Businessday reported that there was a record 48,000 new millionaires last year in Kebbi State alone. This diversification is greatly being aided by forward-looking companies that are backward-integrating. The brewers and other manufacturers of consumables such Dangote, Nestle and Unilever are aiding the economic transformation by changing many of their formulations to integrate local content.

As part of the goal of promoting home made goods, all cars and trucks bought by government as approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2016 were supplied by local vehicle assembly plants.

The Power Sector which is yet another priority for the administration has made significant advances. But for the pipeline vandalism that has deprived many of the plants of gas, the country’s output would have moved up to 6,400 MW.

Government is also showing the seriousness of a responsible consumer by making a huge provision in the 2017 budget for the settlement of debts owed to power distribution companies.

The Minister has been doing a lot towards diversification of power sources, talking about an energy mix that incorporates biomass, solar and increased water sources. A lot of ground has been covered towards the realization of the Mambila, 4,000 MW power plant. The highest funds allocation in 2016 went to the roads construction sector because government wanted contractors to return to site and recall staff they had laid off.

Roads and bridges such as Lagos-Ibadan and the East-West expressways which have perennially existed as uncompleted projects are being brought up to completion levels as a matter of priority. The 2nd Niger bridge which has been used to fool the people in the past is beginning to see action. Ghost contracts such as the Kano-Katsina dual carriage way are having life breathed into them.

In the war against corruption, new heights have been reached with the announcement of the whistle blower protection policy. The President has also ordered that the limelight be shone on leaders around him that have been accused of corruption.

The biggest takeaways in the last twelve months are introduction of the whistleblower program which, by the way has received so much welcome from Nigerians that the website hosted by the Ministry of Finance crashed in few days of its announcement. A finder’s fee of between one to five percent is being offered for whistle blowing that leads to assets and funds recovery. As you go around Abuja, you are likely to come across government ministries or departments moving out of rented accommodations, settling into buildings seized by the EFCC. The albatross of the war against corruption has been the slow Legal-judicial process. Some of the pending cases go back to the Obasanjo era. That’s a decade ago. This is something about which the President is limited in what he can do by the constitution. He will, in that regard, continue to respect the doctrine of the separation of powers as enshrined in our laws.

The program of social investment, our own version of the social security kicked off after delays occasioned by weak revenues that characterized 2016. The administration has started the payment of N5, 000 monthly stipends to the poorest and the most vulnerable in the country through the Conditional Cash Transfer.

The administration is already implementing Micro-Credit Scheme borrowing for about 1.2m.

All those that completed documentation among the two hundred thousand graduates listed of the intended 500,000 N-Power jobs have now started receiving their N30, 000 monthly stipends.

On the International front, the president continues to focus on issues of security, economic collaboration and trade.

He has spent a lot of quality time reaching out to regional blocks on the continent, with ECOWAS states, East Africa, North Africa and the South of the continent as well.

He has done very well with China, European Union countries, the U.K and the US

In dealing with the EU, particularly France, Italy and Germany, a lot has been achieved on the issues of security and immigration. Italy and Germany are training our police and immigration officials. They are also giving skills training to our citizens who entered their countries illegally before their deportation. That way, they can have work to do here on their return. Without France, it is difficult to see how Nigeria surrounded by Francophone countries can achieve anything. President Buhari continues to improve his personal and official relationships with French leaders. U.S banks and lending institutions are giving money to Nigerian banks and other businesses entities. There is also a growing relationship with U.S.-based IT companies as witnessed by the visits by the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.

With China, the administration looked at the past and the present to build and strengthen existing relationships. As a consequence, Zungeru power plant will soon be delivered. After a careful scrutiny of the fine prints, the costs of Chinese rail and airport projects in Nigeria have come down.

In the year 2016, the President in his foreign policy looked beyond our traditional partners to undertake visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, UAE as well as Iran. With Morocco, we just came out of very successful bilateral negotiations that will lead to the establishment of the dream pipeline to transport gas from Niger Delta to European outlets. There will be the manufacture, here in Nigeria through this agreement, of one million tons of fertilizer by the next planting season and four million tons per annum three years ahead when Dangote starts his own fertilizer plant in collaboration with the Moroccans.

We are signing bilateral agreements leading to the creation of frameworks for friendship and improved ties around the world

In a country of high oil revenues, citizens had developed brutally ostentatious life styles and consumption patterns. Assumptions were made by all of us that we could afford foreign brands from school uniform, rice and tissue paper. The fall of oil revenues means that we have to look inwards and diversify. This is proving to be very helpful.

The Government’s tough attitude towards corruption means that there are no sacred cows in the fight against corruption. Savings are being made from renegotiated contracts and continuous auditing of the payroll. The whistleblower program in effect means that government has handed the baton of the war against corruption to the citizens. It is exciting seeing how enthusiastically the public has responded. This will change many things in the country.

Government is succeeding in its primary duty of protecting life and property as can be seen from the noticeable slump of Boko Haram terrorism and the gradual return of normalcy to states in the North central zone

The New Year 2017 has been described as the year in which the major policies of the APC administration will show results in full. President Buhari who is not a man of many words will speak through his actions. No one who messes with the President’s 2017 budget can stand his fury. It is a warning he has given. Let’s watch as the year unfolds.

How Boko Haram Makes Its Cash

By Philip Obaji Jr

When Boko Haram stormed the Cameroonian border town of Fotokol in January 2016, it looked like it was yet another episode of killings, petrol bombing, and abductions, but the jihadists had a different strategy in mind.

Armed with machetes and machine guns, the militants shot at every man they saw, and instead of setting fire around compounds like they’ve often done in previous assaults, they gathered cows and goats and fled.

“Nowadays they attack like armed robbers,” said Mbia, who fled Fotokol to Mamfe in southwestern Cameroon. “All they want is your goat, cow, and sheep.”

Reports of stealing of livestock by Boko Haram fighters in Cameroon have been on the increase since the start of last year. In one attack early January 2016, the militants reportedly invaded a town in far north Cameroon and took wheelbarrows, bicycles, and 150 small animals such as sheep and goats, and in the process, kidnapped six people to help lead the animals back into Nigeria.

“They (Boko Haram militants) have just one destination which is the cattle market in Maiduguri (the biggest city in northeastern Nigeria),” a security official said. “They have their own traders and butchers who sell and make returns.”

The massively depleted Boko Haram sect needs money to stay afloat. As the jihadists keep losing territories to government forces, so also do their valuables go with it. Guns, cars, factories, and even cash have been surrendered to a very determined coalition military. Now, for them to survive, they have to sell what they have, or put it – what they think they have.

Boko Haram was once a buoyant group – controlling trade and fuel supply in an area in northeastern Nigeria as large as the size of Belgium. But a severe military campaign by Nigerian forces and its neighbors chased them away from virtually all the territory they once controlled and dealt a severe blow on their finances. Now, the militants see an easy way of recouping lost funds in raiding helpless villages for whatever livestock they can find and then sell them in the open market.

“They (Boko Haram) are not just attacking communities and taking away their livestock, but are also killing cattle ranchers and taking away their herds,” said Mbia, whose 30 cows were stolen by the militants in Fotokol. “Once they take your cattle, they ask you to escort the cattle into Nigeria. If you refuse, they kill you.”

It’s a long walk from Fotokol to Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, where most of the cattle are sold. Many of the ranchers who were forced by Boko Haram militants to travel hundreds of kilometers with their cattle to Nigeria never returned.

“Some left early last year (referring to 2015), and up till this moment they’ve not returned,” Mbia told me in the southern Nigeria town of Ikom, at the border with Cameroon. “We don’t know if they’re still alive or if they’ve been killed by the militants.”

Boko Haram has reportedly killed many ranchers in far north Cameroon. In early 2016, about 15 ranchers were reportedly killed along the border with Nigeria and their cattle escaped to nearby hills, but no one had the courage to go to the border to retrieve the cows.

“Even if you succeed [in retrieving the cows] they’ll still come back at you,” Mbia, who travels often to Nigeria to sell fabric, said. “They act as if their lives depend on the cattle.”

The jihadists have an indirect presence in the cattle market in parts of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, where it has carried out most of its operation since 2009. Whenever livestock is stolen in Cameroon, the militants move them across the Nigerian border into main markets in Maiduguri, also the capital of Borno. The movement is usually aided by ranchers, who are forced by the jihadists to first raid cattle from other villages, and then move them under close supervision to Nigeria.

Once in Borno, the militants move their livestock to communities close to Maiduguri, before handing them over to middlemen (most of whom are trained ranchers) who move the cattle to the open market and then sell to customers at prices far cheaper than the regular market price.

“They take out more than 50 percent of the main market price and sell at a cheap price,” Mohammed Usman, who trades in the city’s cattle market, told me in Maiduguri. “Because their cattle are far less expensive, people buy a lot from them.”

But the proceeds don’t usually return to the militants in cash. Most part of the monies made by the agents is used to buy essential things such as food and fuel for the jihadists who’ve been suffering from a shortage of these commodities after supply routes were blocked by the Nigerian military.

The middlemen also get their percentage based on their agreement with the jihadists. But those with knowledge of the trade say the militants are usually short-changed in the business.

“The middlemen sell so cheap and declare even less to Boko Haram who can’t say anything because they have no direct access to the market,” Usman, who has kept a close eye on these middlemen, said. “They could sell a cow usually worth 200,000 naira (about $650) for as little as 40,000 naira (about $65), and declare just 20,000 naira (about $33) to the militants.”

Boko Haram militants can’t access the market themselves as chances are high that they’ll be caught by security forces once they enter Maiduguri. This situation has forced the militants to direct their cattle to the market through unscrupulous agents.

In September, the Nigerian army announced that it had arrested three men working as ranchers for the group in Azare community in the northeastern state of Yobe, as they tried to sell some stolen livestock to raise money for the jihadists.

Muhammed Bulama, his elder brother Ardo Abba Muhammed and Muhammadu Kaigama all confessed to army officials that they were responsible for keeping and taking care of all cows, sheep, and horses stolen or seized by Boko Haram.

The army said the apprehended men came to the community to sell the livestock “as they had run out of cash in their hideout” and would have used some of the proceeds from the sale to “get some food items back (to Boko Haram militants) for the upcoming Sallah festivity.”

“They were arrested riding on horseback and bicycle shepherding some sheep towards the market,” said army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, who also mentioned that the operation was possible “with the help of the local vigilantes in the town.”

The men had been on the radar of security agencies for a long time. Bulama, for instance, was number 105 on the photo album of most wanted terror kingpins published by the army.

But even those with the duty to fight Boko Haram, have also aided the jihadists in carrying out the cattle business.

In October 2016, 30 people were arrested by the Nigerian military for allegedly helping the militants to sell rustled cows. Among them were at least four serving soldiers, two police officers, and some members of the vigilante group, the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF).

A security official who did not want his name mentioned, explained that for each cow that passes into Maiduguri, unscrupulous members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) operating in sector II (one of the group’s 10 command units in the Borno state capital) get paid 5,000 naira (about $16.5) by agents working for Boko Haram.

“The cattle have to pass through the area they operate to get to market,” the official said. “The boys made lots of money in the process.”

The amount of money made from the business was indeed huge. One of the arrested leaders of CJTF had more than 60 million naira in his bank account at the time he was arrested, the official said.

“He started to live big,” a close associate of the arrested CJTF leader said of him. “He even bought himself a Mercedes-Benz C-class.”

No doubt the cattle trade richly benefited the dubious officials and the very desperate militants.

Boko Haram is a group currently surviving on livestock sale. The jihadists are believed to have stolen thousands of livestock–by some estimate over 50,000–in northeast Nigeria and Far North Cameroon.

The influential Cattle Breeders Association in northeastern Nigeria said about 1,900 herdsmen were killed by Boko Haram terrorists in separate attacks in four years in Borno.

Chairman of the Association, Ibrahim Mafa, said that members of the association also lost about 169,000 cows; 63,000 rams; goats and sheep to the insurgency.

“We also lost about 400,000 sacks of grains and a number of our members were displaced,” Mafa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in August. “Our herdsmen have lost cows, property, and houses worth about N26 billion in 10 local government areas in Northern Borno.

In Cameroon, Boko Haram was estimated to have stolen at least 5,000 herds of cattle by early February, most of which were sold in the open market in Nigeria.

“In 2014, 1,160 cattle were stolen from our people by the Boko Haram criminal and barbaric group,” Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said, “In 2015, the number of cattle stolen on the Cameroonian territory was about 4,200 excluding small ruminants.”

The influence of Boko Haram in the Borno state cattle market earlier on forced the government to act after security officials discovered that “most of the cattle being traded at the markets were the direct proceeds of cattle rustling perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents.”

A statement from the Borno state governor’s office in March 2016 announced the temporary ban of “all trading activities at the Gamboru cattle markets, Dusuman, Shuwari and Ngom,” in what the government later explained was in line with its “commitment to ensure that no public place is turned to avenue for funding activities of the terrorists.”

The government also suspended importation of cattle to the state capital for at least two weeks and gave permission for the slaughter and sale of cattle to only the Butchers Association and Cattle Traders Association.

Dried meat was also banned and a civil-military management team set up to enforce stringent conditions in slaughterhouses including a close monitoring of activities of cattle traders and butchers to stop all illegal businesses.

But all that did not completely stop Boko Haram from finding buyers for its cattle. In a country were herdsmen have the freedom to travel hundreds of kilometers to sell their cattle, the suspension only became a case of the jihadists finding an alternative place to trade.

The decision of the government then to shut down the markets expectedly affected businesses far beyond Borno. Much of Nigeria’s cattle trade passes through the northeast state and the closures reportedly caused cattle prices to rise in the south, creating lots of panic.

“It doesn’t stop them (the militants) from doing business,” one Maiduguri market trader said. “Boko Haram can take their cattle to the neighboring states and sell them while the common man suffers to find meat.”

The market was reopened in May, but the recent arrest of military officers and members of the CJTF suggests that the jihadists have not given up doing business in Maiduguri.

This article written by Philip Obaji Jr. appeared originally on Ventures Africa

This Deafening Silence! By Jude Feranmi

“If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality – Desmond Tutu”

 

There is a particular wave of silence that has dominated President Buhari’s administration since May 29, 2015. It is an arrogant, lackadaisical and undemocratic attitude by the President. This arrogance gets worse when we take into cognisance the attitude of Mr President’s spokespersons.

Both on new media channels or traditional media, the orchestra of aides working for this administration all share one attitude – Intolerance of divergent views. When they are not talking you down, they are trying to shove poorly constructed lies, propaganda and packaged incompetence down ones’ throat.

Those who say you can’t teach an old dog a new trick were right on point. President Buhari is not one to humble himself in the front of the people who have questions. He refused to debate during the elections, gave the kind of speeches pastors give in church during campaigns where you couldn’t stand to ask the how questions and only subjects himself to foreign media where his true picture reveals itself naturally.

There is currently a Bill in the National Assembly to mandate our President to address citizens on the state of the nation compulsorily. If this bill passes in Baba Bubu’s time, it will mean we get to hear our President four times in a year – New Year’s Address, May 29, October 1st and the day chosen for the address.

In foresight, the proponent of this Bill might wish to add that Mr President must address the nation in times of need. The discretion in this case must then be removed completely by indicating in subsections of the clause of the bill all possible incidents that demand that the President address the nation.

When one takes into cognisance the deafening silence of Mr President on the Fulani Terrorists masquerading as herdsmen going on a rampage through out last year and the genocide currently going on in Southern Kaduna, one is led to believe that this President has no regard whatsoever for Nigerians who belong to the 5% .

The silent attitude so far has been repulsive for a President that most Nigerians still unfortunately admire. But this piece did not set out to talk about Mr President’s silence and the arrogance of his aides. There is a louder silence going on in this country.

As a people, we have developed a culture where it is inappropriate to even ask questions and this habit is by all means deepening itself in this age. Any person who dares to ask questions is immediately seeing as the enemy. When it comes to those in authority, it is their most potent tool. The ideology of the “kabiyesi” for example in Yoruba land is one that pervades itself today in political power.

FYI – Kabiyesi is literally ka bi o, o si. He who will ask you questions does not exist. Usually, and as seen in Nollywood depictions, when the kind makes a decision, everyone bows and chant “kabiyesi”

Can we establish a vibrant democracy with this attitude? Children are not expected to ask questions of their parents, students are afraid to ask questions of their teachers. Special Advisers are not expected to question their bosses and in what is now a wave of attacks against journalists, correspondents simply get slammed jail time because they reported activities of sitting governors and on and on it goes.

What we have done as a people is to then glorify those who are “stupid” enough to put themselves out there and ask the questions that need to be asked. They automatically become the people’s spokespersons, they become popular enough until the establishment realizes them and then proceed to silence them with official positions. As it was with Tai Solarin, so it was with Reuben Abati, so it is  with those who found their voice in the Jonathan Era and have now lost their voice seeing they are currently serving.

As a people, the question we need to ask is best asked in pidgin. Shey na like this we go dey dey?

The time is definitely ripe for new spokespersons of the people, as folks like Reno Omokri and Reuben Abati are now finding their voice. But, would these spokespersons continue to speak at the point when they are needed?

We have relied so much on people to speak for us. We have depended on popular voices to do the talking while we hail and support in the background. We have created a system where we make heroes of those who are bold enough to speak truth to power and ask questions where it matters. Apparently, this has gotten us nowhere.

The time has come for us to create a culture where everybody asks questions, where the curiosity of a child is not labelled as being troublesome but is nurtured and channelled appropriately, where citizens are not waiting for one particular active citizen in chief to respond to an issue.

If our generation would fare any better, the time for eradicating sycophancy is NOW!

Jude Feranmi is the National Youth Leader of KOWA PARTY. He can be reached via jude.feranmi@kowaparty.net

Restructuring Governance Institutions For Economic Prosperity: A Letter To Buhari, By Abubakar Mundir

Your excellency,

President Muhammadu Buhari,

I write with great excitement and open mind as an ardent follower since 2003.

Must confess to the fact that you carry on your shoulders, heavy burden of expectations to fix all of the country’s problems with the magic wand. And as such, Nigerians do not only hope and trust but also see in you, beacon of shining light that will “CHANGE” Nigeria from the doldrums of decadence, despair and degeneration to the hill crest of affluence, greatness and excellence. Therefore, the APC led government cannot afford to disenchant Nigerians by bungling this singular great opportunity which enjoy massive support.

Be that as it may, government needs to develop the culture of comprehensive engagement to explain to Nigerians, how the decline in foreign exchange earnings is impacting on the economy and how the TSA savings is being utilized to savage situation. Effective communication in these areas would make people understand and exercise patience with the government so that disgruntled elites don’t exploit the communication gap and incite populace against the government.

As this administration settles down to lay the building blocks in putting the Nation on the pedestal of development, there comes the clarion call for restructuring of the federation. Recently, at different fora, this call has been very vocal from the Former Vice President , Atiku Abubakar who is also a big wig in the governing APC.

Whether the call for restructuring is with genuine intent or politically motivated, it is pertinent to note that Nigeria’s elaborate Presidential system of government at both Federal, States and Local levels consumes significant amount of the Nation’s hard earn scarce resources needed for development with the 70-80% recurrent expenditure of the National budget.

If the report credited to the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and fiscal Commission [RMAFC] is anything to go by, the over One Trillion Naira [N1tr] said to be cost of salaries and allowances of our Political office holders at all levels of government is mind boggling.

In light of the foregoing, it has become expedient to mown these structures in order to minimize cost of running government to the barest and free up resources for National development.

Taking the above into account, there is need to take a look at the following for consideration.

1a.     GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

The present Six [6] geo-political zone structure being used as bases for some political appointments should be given Constitutional backing. With that in place, Ministerial appointments, Composition of some board members of Parastatals should be based on geo-political zone instead of State as presently enshrined in the Constitution. Also, election of Members into offices of the National Assembly should be based on geo-political zone instead of State as currently being practiced. The idea behind this arrangement is to see the reduction of our legislators to One-third [1/3] of the present number.

  1. The three [3] Senatorial districts in the States should be renamed geo-political districts and equally be given Constitutional backing. This should serves as bases for political appointments and election of members into various State Houses of Assembly with the one-third formula.
  2. Federalism is a business between government at the Centre [Federal] and that of the federating Units [States]. This explain why the creation and imposition of Local government as the third tier has been a complete façade because unlike in other countries such as the UK, South Africa etc. where Local government provide services such as electricity, roads, water, schools, hospitals etc., Local governments in Nigeria are not viable to perform such functions but only the States have capacity to carry out such projects in different communities all over the country. As a result, politicians and officials see the federal allocation to the 774 local governments in the country as largess for sharing in order to corruptly satisfy their personal aggrandizement.

In respect of the above ugly development, it is economically cheaper to simply convert the Local governments to Area development councils [ADC] under full States management and control so that career civil servants can be deployed to run them. This measure would Save resources for the provision of basic social amenities in the rural communities and by extension help create jobs and curb the growing problem of rural-urban migration which is a major cause of population congestion in our towns and cities.

  1. ECONOMY

The exchange rate is a critical tool used for determining the health of an economy. For obvious reason of excess demand over the supply of foreign exchange, the Naira continue to experience volatility in the exchange market despite the introduction of flexible exchange rate regime by the CBN. While the CBN tries to intervene in the exchange market using its monetary instruments, there is need for the government to marshal corresponding efforts with strong fiscal measures in order to achieve stability in the exchange rate of the Naira. Particularly, the speculative demand for foreign exchange and round tripping as well as other economic vices in the parallel market should be permanently dealt with.

Adding to the pain of the Naira is the insidious payments in Dollars for business transaction consummated within the economy. A good example is the payment of school fees in dollar denomination to some secondary schools, owned by foreigners in Nigeria. Another example is in the Oil sector where payments for the supply of gas to manufacturers is done in Dollars.

Again, government needs to institute corporate governance code and step up enforcement of laws governing businesses in Nigeria by ensuring that except those with exemptions, payments for business transactions done in the country must be in Naira.

Nonetheless, much bigger issue is that of multi-National companies operating in Nigeria that are engaged in moving  huge profits out of the country using the heading “Capital allowance” and declaring only little Profit left to the  tax authorities. Government must review the country’s tax laws in order to halt this fraudulent practice.

Taking into account the exchange rate situation, the government need to create an exchange rate window to incentivize Investors willing to establish industrial plant like the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Company. This would attract massive investment inflows and job creation.

In addition to these, it is an incontestable fact that provision of Infrastructure such as Power, railways, roads etc. is fundamental to economic development. But infrastructure like roads must also have an enduring legacy. Therefore, it is important for the government to make the use of Cement technology a National Policy for road construction in view of the incessant failure recorded on Asphalt constructed roads and its attendant cost. Also, government must leverage on railways for cargo transportation in order to save road infrastructure.

Going further on the economy, Diversification into Agriculture and Solid minerals is unequivocally the way forward to move away from being a mono-Product export Country. But at the same time, Industrialization is also a Child of necessity in the diversification drive.

To achieve this end of Industrialization, the government needs to take its foreign Investment drive to Moscow. The ultimate goal would be to inter alia secure the commitment of the Russian government in the completion and operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex to come to reality as well as Nuclear technology development for both Medical and Power generation purposes. The Russian government of today is looking for avenue to become a player in the economic sphere of Africa like the US, UK China and India. This might be that golden opportunity for Nigeria rake in foreign direct investment from Russia.

Another serious issue affecting the economy is dearth of visible growth hampered by lack of production and insufficient government spending.

And like South Korea and Indonesia wriggle their way out of recession by massively borrowing sum of $58b and $25b respectively from IMF to overcome the Asia economic crises in 1997, Nigeria MUST either borrow massively or sell some National assets  to garner enough funds to inject into the economy most especially in area that will drive industrialization such as Power, Iron and steel.  The campaign for Citizens to buy Made in Nigeria goods shouldn’t be a mere slogan but for the government to lead by example in taking the initiative to make it a policy of first option to patronize locally made products in order stimulate production and entrench culture of patriotism on the psyche of Nigerians to proudly consume locally made products so as to boost the economy and create more jobs.

Also worthy to note is the problem of multiple tax system which continue to affect the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Being in the technology driven world, the government needs to develop a single tax collection platform in which at a given period, the tax revenue is shared among the various tiers of government on agreed terms.

Furthermore, the present state of the economy with rising miserable index, high unemployment rate, spiral inflation and recession, it will be suicidal for businesses if VAT rate is raised above the current 5%. But government should rather expand the tax net to cover more items and at the same time strengthen compliance enforcement in order to increase revenue generation. In the same vein, the proposed 9% telecommunication services tax should not be an addition to the already existing 5% VAT but a replacement for it; so as not to create burden of multiple taxation which is already a problem.

Allied to the foregoing, debate about the structure of Nigeria’s economy cannot be complete without mention to the role, banking sector plays. From empirical facts, the Nation’s commercial banks are not positioned to support SMEs and finance the real sector of the economy at a single digit interest rate, let alone scaling down the interest rate to a threshold of not more than 5%. The experience from Nigeria’s banking sector is that of over dependence on public sector deposits for its survival.

Sequel to the withdrawal of public sector funds through the implementation of the TSA policy by this administration, the Nation’s financial institutions are now faced with the challenge of weaknesses in liquidity which is further compounded with high rate of non-performing loans. Therefore, it has become absolutely necessary more than ever before for the CBN to push for another round of Bank recapitalization through merger and acquisition. This process should see the emergence of a Nigerian bank with the strength of a global player that is not only able to finance growth and development of SMEs and the real sector at a lower single digit interest rate but also capable of financing Mining and partaking in the management of the Nation’s foreign reserve like the South Africa Standard Bank [SASB].

Going further, a close look at the policies of this government since inception, it is crystal clear that Nigeria is undergoing a rebirth. So, it is necessary for the government to design a 50 year development plan which should be backed by law so as to avoid distortions or jettison by future administrations. Such a working document would guide next succeeding government to consolidate on achievements of previous regime while addressing shortcomings as well.

When such document is in place, governance would be made easy, accountable and it would further defuse the intense struggle for political power because the interest of every segment of the country would have been taken care of in the development plan. This would serve as “The Buhari Marshall plan for Nigeria”.

Above all, this government is in dire need of a sound Chief Economic Adviser who is conspicuously missing in the economic management team. But care must also be taken to avoid pitfall of past governments whom appointed big name lexicographers; flaunting heavy academic credentials but delivered very little to help the government and the country at large.

In this regard, such a person should be a big brain and not necessarily big name; versatile Economist with in depth knowledge of Nigerian economy.

He/She should also be armed with empirical data to interpret impact of government policy decisions on economy performance and the ability to make accurate economic forecasts.

Elaborating more, the debt burden of States economy as an integral part of the overall economy is also worrisome in view of the inability of 27 out of 36 states being unable to pay salaries due to variety of factors aside the short fall in federal allocation. Despite bailout, most of these governors rely on immunity clause in the constitution to commit litany of financial recklessness.

To buttress the point, Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo had averred that these governors live like emperors. Other reasons include lack of transparency, wide spread corruption, over bloated payroll with ghost workers and pensioners, too many leakages in the collection of internally generated revenue [IGR], excessive commitment to bank loan at high interest rate, execution of white elephant project like building of airports, donations to religious groups and associations as well as senseless sharing of resources to members of Houses of assembly in order to appease them from raising impeachment threats. It’s high time these governors are told in clear terms to respect extant Labour laws and let payment of workers’ salaries take preeminence over frivolities.

Considering the enormous problem of these states, the federal government should not only outline conditions for accessing bailout package but also assist in developing payroll system that will enable these States to permanently eliminate the problem of persistent ghost workers.

  1. SECURITY

The major issues are insurgency in the North-East, killer herdsmen, cattle rustling, ransom kidnapping, militancy in the Niger-delta etc.  There is no doubt the Nigerian military have made significant progress in securing the North-East with the collaboration of the civilian JTF whom have the best understanding of the environment and terrain, playing a pivotal role in the success achieved so far.

It is also very vital to adopt similar template in the Niger-delta by engaging some of the ex-militants to partner with the military in achieving efficient intelligence gathering, oil pipeline security, job creation and ultimately, end the menace of pipeline vandalism with its commitment cause of environment pollution and adverse effect of significant loss in oil production and revenue to the country.

Also very key, the 13% derivation accruing to the oil producing States is like giving  blank cheque to these Governors to squander resources.

Therefore, a clause expressly stating that “13% to go to the oil producing community” instead of oil producing state as enshrined in the constitution is highly desirable.

This would restrain the militants whom often use neglect of the oil producing communities as pretext to attack the Nation’s economic lifeline to now direct grievances to their respective Governors for resources accountability.

Furthermore, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of different militia groups and criminal elements constitute a major threat to internal security of the country.

This development has increased activities of robbery, ransom kidnapping, killer herders, rustlers, cultism and other related crimes. Therefore, government should with all sense of urgency constitute an internal security mechanism with the mandate of mopping up these arms and weapons and to also block all entry points in to the country.

As a way of strengthening internal security apparatus, the government should consider training Nigerian prison officials in the handling of fire arms and response to jail breaks which have become the order of the day.

In addition, government need to come up with clear guidelines on the setting up and operation of community security outfit otherwise known as Vigilante  since it has become practically impossible to provide security to police every community in the country. The security guidelines would assist the security agencies on how to relate and establish partnership with the Vigilante in order to nip crime in the bud.

  1. EDUCATION

An educated society is said to be a rich society. But, for the education sector to be meaningful, the bedrock which is the primary and secondary level must be on a very sound footing.

The school feeding program introduced by this administration as a way of attracting more children enrolment away from the streets is very laudable. However, the learning environment under dilapidated classrooms coupled with lack of instructional materials, laboratory equipment, dispirited teachers and their irregular salary payments, promotions remain a huge challenge.

In light of these circumstances, it is therefore very necessary for the federal government to take over the affairs of teachers’ salaries and training in order to give both primary and secondary education a solid foundation.

While the initiative of the federal government to employ fresh five hundred thousand [500,000] graduate teachers is highly commendable, it would also be a welcome development if the government can as well commit the National Youth Service Corps [NYSC] scheme into teaching so as to pool adequate teaching manpower to raise the quality of teaching standard to meet up with the digital education development.

Also, as both federal and states government collaborate on rehabilitation of schools, frantic efforts must also be made to revitalize our moribund technical colleges which is the foundation of science and technology education development.

At the tertiary level, besides the problem of lack of adequate facilities, funding etc. corruption, use of outdated curriculum and lack of research based teaching to meet industry requirements remain the fundamental factors responsible for the production of low quality graduates. This explain why no Nigerian university is ranked among the one thousand [1000] universities world ranking in 2016.

The time has come for Nigeria to radically reform her tertiary education system in line with what is obtainable in US, UK, Europe and other parts of the world.

In this vein, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, School of Nursing and other allied institutions need to be made “Degree” awarding Institutions just like the Nigerian Defence Academy [NDA], Nigerian Police Academy , Nigerian Maritime Academy now Maritime University, Nigerian Petroleum Institute now Petroleum University.

With the above mention in place, the country can now have unified up to date academic curriculum for these various tertiary Institutions running different degree programs. It would as well lessen admission pressure which force the Universities to admitting students above limit of their carrying capacities.

More so, it would bring an end to the unholy discrimination against HND Certificate generally, in terms of underemployment and career progression. A disturbing dimension is the extension of discrimination to the National Open University of Nigeria [NOUN]. Their Degree programs is perceived to be of low quality despite approval from the National Universities Commission [NUC}. And on top of that, Law graduates are barred from attending Law school and at the same time, graduates within the service age bracket are also barred from participating in the NYSC scheme.

Like the campaign to kill corruption, discrimination in all ramifications also, must be eliminated.

  1. ICT

Investment in this area is such that developed and even developing economy like RWANDA is seriously reaping from and creating jobs for her teeming youth population.

However, Nigeria is still grappling with the issues of capacity building, creation of enabling critical Infrastructure such as Power, laying terrestrial fiber optic cable and underutilization of communication satellite.

While the government tackles the Power problem with full strength, it is equally instructive for both Federal and States government to jointly resolve contentious issues of multiple taxation and Right of ways [RoW] which continue to hinder the laying of fiber optic cable round the country by infrastructure companies in order to achieve the much talked about broad band penetration and high speed internet service.

On top of the above mentioned challenges, is the sad story of Nigerian Communication satellite which was re-launched into space after an initial launch failure in 2007.

Lamentably, the country is unable to reap from the benefits of this huge investment because the Nation was shortchanged in the design which was deliberately made to carry a single signal.

This shortcoming tend to perpetually compel Nigeria to connect to foreign satellites which have multiple signals and thereby, making the country to spend hard earned foreign exchange.

Since the government is readily embracing electronic platforms for doing business[e-government], it is necessary for the government to negotiate design and launch of another communication satellite that would make Nigeria earn foreign exchange from other countries connecting to it.

On capacity building, the National Information Technology Development Agency [NITDA] training programs should be expanded to include technical professionals whom would drive innovations needed to develop the ICT Industry.

Technology incubation hubs should be created in the six [6] geo-political zones to be powered by these technical professionals whom would create solutions that would shape the economy.

 

  1. HEALTH

Government’s decision to return to the good old policy of Former Health Minister, Late Professor Olukoye Ransome Kuti‘s  Primary healthcare development is a gateway to providing affordable and qualitative health service to the rural communities.

The Long neglect of Primary health is responsible for the congestion and over stretching of facilities in our secondary and tertiary health Institutions.

In order to make the primary health centers function optimally, our various health training Institutions like Schools of health technology which provide manpower requirements for management of facilities at the primary health level should be upgraded with modern equipment to enhance standard health practice. Also, facilities and drugs provided in these health centers should carry special government inscription stamp on it; in order to eliminate the problem of diversion and sale to dealers in the market.

Another challenge in the health care system is that of exponential growth of our population which continue to undermine efforts of government in trying to provide adequate medical facilities to cater for all citizens.

Therefore, government must summon courage to hold the bull by the horn and raise shoulders above the primitive doctrine of “Have many children as you can and God will take care” and come up with strong policy on population control such that Citizens are well enlightened to know the need to only have children their resources can conveniently support. One of the causes of corruption in Nigeria is the fact that people create families far larger than what their legitimate income can accommodate.

 

In a related development, the federal government should consider reintroducing the weekly environmental sanitation exercise in order to significantly improve the poor sanitary condition of living in both urban and rural communities and by extension, reduce the growing rate of diseases associated with poor hygiene and very dirty environment which affects mostly women and children.

  1. ELECTORAL MATTERS

The use of PVC and card reader technology in 2015 general elections was the turning point in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria’s electoral history.

Therefore, National Assembly must speed up the process of giving this electoral cutting edge technology legal backing so as to forestall its use, becoming a subject of legal contest in the courts after conduct of elections.

Besides the aforementioned, it is also very necessary to critically examine the performance of the card reader machine in view of cases of incessant failures observed during the conduct of elections.

There is need for INEC to call the attention of the manufacturer of the card reader machine to subject the device to laboratory examination with the view to correcting all defects observed during its use and to guarantee optimal performance in its deployment in the conduct of future elections.

In all, INEC must leverage on technology to make electoral process more transparent and credible, particularly in doing away with the use of “result sheets “ which have become the rigging instrument in which Politicians try as much as possible highjack and fill in false figures so as to win elections at all cost.

This unacceptable practice usually lead to cancellation of election results with its consequences of conducting rerun elections which have a huge financial implication of extra budgetary expenditure on INEC.

In as much as there are electoral contests, aggrieved party in elections would always explore judicial option to seek redress. Therefore, the Electoral Act should be amended to allow INEC to conduct a rerun election within budgetary provision instead of 90 days’ time line.

With such law, INEC do not need to be under pressure to seek for out of budget funding to conduct its rerun elections.

  1. WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION

Corruption had being the endemic virus plaguing good governance and sapping resources since independence. In fact, it has been said to be the major factor responsible for the collapse of the First and Second republics. It became institutionalized by one of the Military regimes in Nigeria. And since the return to democracy in 1999, corruption was already drifting the Nation’s progress and development towards the abyss.

But contrary to the believe in some quarters that no leader can recue Nigeria from the shackles of corruption, this government has demonstrated exceptional and unprecedented “Political Will” to the acknowledgement of Leaders round the world, that it can confront and tame the hydra headed monster of corruption with an uncommon momentum and zeal in a fight to finish mode.

However, this tremendous effort and determination to fight corruption seem being frustrated by the Judiciary whom have allowed trials to delay and prolong endlessly.

In view of the unfolding chicanery dynamics of the judiciary, government must speed up and conclude the frame work to set up Special Court to handle and conclude these corruption cases within reasonable time. In addition to that, the jurisdiction of this Special Court should be expanded to handle cases of Electoral Offences as well as Failed Contracts.

Very importantly, the Asset declaration form should be designed to carry strict liability clause that “whoever fills in false or misleading information risk going to jail”.

Furthermore, in order to make the anti-corruption war entrenched in the grassroots, there is need to remove the Immunity Clause against criminal prosecution enjoyed by State governors.

And also, separate office of the Attorney General and that of Minister/Commissioner of justice, as this will allow independent prosecution of corruption cases; free from bias of political interference from the executive arm of government.

Also very key, the EFCC and ICPC should be merged to form a single, strong and well-coordinated Anti- graft Institution with the capacity to efficiently operate in the States and Local  governments which are apparently centers of wide spread underreported corruption.

Finally, the National Assembly must be made to transparently include details of its budget for incorporation into the National budget. Nigerians are fed up with the secrecy shrouded in the National Assembly budget and want to see the breakdown.

The annual ritual of gladiator contest between the Executive and the Legislature over budget scrutiny with its consequent delay in passage and implementation impacts negatively on the economy and should be brought to an end in the interest of the Nation.

It is imperative for the Executive to approach the Supreme Court to challenge Powers of the Legislature in inserting strange items into budget prepared by the Executive.

In conclusion, this government against all odds, has shown finesse, frugality and prudence in the management of meager resources available to address myriad of challenges; although there are rooms for improvement.

May God give this administration the wisdom and guidance to sail the Nigeria vessel safely out of the woods enroot the promise land.

Sincerely,

 

Engr. Abubakar Mundir,  Mcpn

[True Buhari Follower]

1438 Naibawa Quarters Kano.

e-mail : aburesearch@gmail.com

 

Copy sent to President Muhammadu Buhari  through NIPOST kano  on the 16/09/16.

The A, B, Cs Of FG’s N220bn Agric Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme, By John Mayaki

For citizens of Edo State who aren’t in the know of the Federal Government’s N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund – agriculture anchor borrowers’ scheme, and how they can benefit, this will serve as a guideline and why they should avail themselves of this window capable of enhancing their economic independence.

The programme run under the federal government is introduced as `Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP)’ and the guidelines would be regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). ABP, which is a federal government agriculture intervention programme initiative is designed to encourage growth of the sector in all states of the nation.

Launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, it is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.

The programme thrust of the ABP is provision of farm inputs in kind and cash to SHFs to boost production of these commodities, stabilize inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.

At harvest, the SHF supplies his/her produce to the Agro-processor- the Anchor, who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account. The Programme evolved from the consultations with stakeholders comprising Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, State Governors, millers of agricultural produce, and SHFs and the aim was to boost agricultural production and non-oil exports in the face of unpredictable crude oil prices and its resultant effect on the revenue profile of Nigeria.

The broad objective of the ABP is to create economic linkage between smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilization of processors.

Other objectives include: Increase banks’ financing to the agricultural sector, reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserves Increase capacity utilization of agricultural firms.

It is also to create new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs, employment, deepen the cashless policy and financial inclusion, reduce the level of poverty among smallholder farmers and assist rural smallholder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.

The targeted beneficiaries of the loan include smallholder farmers engaged in the production of identified commodities across the country.

The Farmers are expected to be in groups/ cooperative(s) of between five and 20 for ease of administration, while the eligible Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) intend that the loan shall be disbursed through any of these PFIs: Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs.)

Details from the CBNs website says the programme shall be private large scale integrated processors who have entered into an agreement with the SHFs to off-take the harvested produce at the agreed prices or as may be reviewed by the PMT.

State Governments may act as Anchor upon meeting the prescribed conditions. The input suppliers shall submit expression of interest letter to the office of the PMT for consideration and issuance of local purchase orders. Loan amount for each SHF shall be arrived upon from the economics of production agreed with stakeholders. Interest Rate under the ABP shall be guided by the rate on the N220 billion MSMEDF, which is currently at 9% P/A (all inclusive, pre and post disbursement).

The PFIs shall access at 2% from the CBN and lend at a maximum of 9% p.a. Meanwhile, the CBN, said the objective of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) was to create economic linkage between smallholders and reputable large scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilization of processors.

The guidelines, posted on the apex bank website, said that the aim of the programme was to increase banks’ financing to the agricultural sector, reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserves.

“It will equally increase capacity utilization of agricultural firms as well as create new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs and employment.’’ According to CBN, “ it will deepen the cashless policy and financial inclusion, reduce the level of poverty among smallholder farmers and assist rural peasant farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.’’

The bank disclosed that the targeted agricultural commodities include, cereals (rice, maize, wheat etc.), cotton, roots and tubers (cassava, potatoes, yam, ginger among others).

Others are; sugarcane, tree crops (oil palm, cocoa, rubber etc.), legumes (soybean, sesame seed, cowpea etc.), tomato, livestock (fish, poultry, ruminants).

Osun Assembly Under The Leadership Of Najeem Folasayo SALAAM by Akinyemi Oluwaseye

Democracy has given many Nigerians the opportunity to showcase their wonderful skills either positively or negatively. It has also enabled Nigerians to know who has the interest of the masses at heart by giving some individuals opportunity to exhibit their plans to the communities they represent.

Narrowing it down to the State of Osun, where we have lots of selfless and dedicated leaders, who have always put the interests of the masses ahead of theirs, notwithstanding the limited income and resources. One of such leaders is Rt. Hon Najeem Folasayo Salaam. “IWALOYE” as he is popularly called was the Speaker of Osun 5th assembly and presently the Speaker of the  State 6th Assembly.

Speaker Salaam has exhibited an amazing leadership qualities by leading a house devoid of rancour during the 5th Assembly which culminated in his emergence as the Speaker of the 6th Assembly. He has been tagged so many names by his critics who believes he is not putting pressure on the governor of the state on certain issues especially during the face-off between the workforce and the executive on salary.

The Speaker in his reaction to the  criticisms emphasised on dialogue as the best means of resolving conflicts. He said the fact that people don’t see them throwing chairs and exchanging blows in the hallowed chamber does not translate to lack of disagreements but as a representatives of the people they have resolved to set moral standard.

When Rt. Hon. Najeem F Salaam  was sworn in as the fifth Osun assembly Speaker on the 2st of June 2011. He met a delapidated assembly complex, whose hallowed chamber was nothing to write home about. No one could believe laws guiding the State of Osun was made from such complex! He ensured the rehabilitation and face-lift of the complex to a modern structure. The complex now has seated in it a library, a mosque and a chapel.

The fifth assembly under the leadership of Speaker Salaam passed thirty-two (32) Bills, made forty-two (42) Resolutions, and conducted four (4) Public Hearing.

On the 2nd of June 2015, Rt Hon Najeem Folasayo Salaam was nominated by Hon. Timothy Owoeye as the Speaker of Osun 6th Assembly and he was unanimously elected. Upon his assumption of office, the speaker enjoined  his colleagues to braze up and be ready to make sacrifices as the financial crunch rocking the country due to the fall in the price of crude oil bites harder and the nation’s economy plunged into recession.

The Osun 6th Assembly so far has passed a total of seven (7) Bills, taken two (2) resolutions and conducted three (3) public hearing. Also the Honourable House organised a two day workshop on Legislative Practice and Procedure for the Members of the 6th Assembly at Timsed Hotel   Ijebu-Jesa State of Osun.

One of the major achievement of the the 6th Assembly is how it mandates the  House of Assembly Service Commission to begin Staff Autonomy Exercise. The house has conducted all its plenary, executive sessions and Committee sittings since 2nd June 2015 rancor free till date.

The Osun 5th and 6th Assembly under Rt Hon Najeem Folasayo Salaam as been adjudged as one the most peaceful House of Assembly in the Federation.

Opinion: President Buhari Is Not Fighting Corruption, He`s Only Looking For Money!

By Ogundana Michael Rotimi

A purportedly incorruptible President will not appoint and keep an allegedly corruptible Secretary General to the Federation on his team and pretend like all is well- forget about the Kangaroo investigation by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). Well, that`s a discussion for another time.

It is on record that fighting corruption- a serious endemic that has left our nation battered and shattered, was one of the primary reasons why President Buhari was elected, asides for battling the Boko Haram Insurgency.

However, events unfolding since President Buhari came on board after the general elections in 2015, (that saw the incumbent president- Dr Goodluck Jonathan, voted out of office), confirm that as against expectations, President Buhari is not fighting corruption, but more keen on getting money to fund his campaign promises through loot recovery and that is exactly what he has been doing.

Nigeria, since independence have suffered from a total breakdown of law and order in the hands of its leaders, who technically legitimized corruption- squandered and laundered its resources and left its citizenry to the mercy of aids. However, with high hopes and aspirations President Buhari was elected to do the needful- to clean up the system, go after looters, prosecute them and in the process recover the loot and make them pay severely for their unlawful actions.

Make no mistakes; just as loot recovery is of great importance, especially in a time like this when the country suffers from low income as a result of the dwindling global oil price, adequate punishment for looters is also much more needed- this will send a strong message to intending looters and others of like minds that our society frowns at any form of corrupt practices.

Ironically, since President Buhari came on board, quite a number of people that worked directly or indirectly with his predecessor have been alleged for one corrupt practice or another. From Obanikoro to Omisore to Dikko to Badeh to Fani to Abatti to Okupe just to mention a few, have been directly or indirectly linked to one form of financial crime or another in the course of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – the official agency that investigates financial crimes and money laundering, confirmed to. In the process, some have pledged to return parts of the loot while others have already returned a fraction which is infinitesimal as compared to the value of fund they are being alleged to have loted. An approach like this cannot be tagged a sustainable and efficient fight against corruption. It is squarely an approach for loot recovering alone and nothing but a fund raising approaching.

A productive and systemic fight against corruption will put in place a framework and structure that will reduce crime to the barest minimum, possibly put an end to it and in the process comfortably recover the loot. With a strong political will as its foundation, the framework will consist of these four globally recognized anti corruption pillars: 1. Effective Government Administration. 2. Effective Anti-Corruption Laws. 3. Adequate Punishment. and 4. Effective Anti- Corruption Agency.

Hitherto, none of these pillars seems to be efficient and sustainable. The government apparently seems handicapped, the laws are flawed, there are basically no sound punishments which could serve as deterrent to offenders and the anti-corruption agency on its part cannot be said to be effective when its tools are not working.

The EFCC brags about the value of loot recovered so far in the last one year, forgetting that loot recovering is secondary to the objective of its establishment but the restoration of sanity to an already messier and stinking society and for the maintenance of a transparent and accountable society- which in the process can then recover loot.

Painfully, since the president came on board, it’s quite obvious that he is more concerned about loot recovery than about creating a regime of punishment that is severe enough to hammer home, audible and clear, the message that corruption does not pay. A regime that offender is not allowed to enjoy any of his or her ill-gotten gains. 2 years since he was sworn, no conviction has been made as related to any corrupt case that the EFCC have been investigating.

Some may choose to fault the role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption. Some may argue that the judiciary is hampering the success of this struggle- indeed they are! However, whose fault is it if that is the case- My fault or your fault or the fault of the common man on the street? Of course not! The bulk stops at the table of the president. If we had in place those 4 pillars earlier mentioned, it would be difficult for the judiciary to compromise.

The president must understand that it was both on the premises of loot recovery and severe punishments to looters that he was voted- turning around to do one and ignoring the other is like doing nothing- as this approach will have little or no impact on combating corruption.

We can`t run a system of loot recovery alone and confidently say we are fighting against corruption or expect to have a cleaner society- not possible. Even more terrible is when the loot recovered is quite small as to the value of what was stolen. In saner countries around the globe, offenders pay more. For instance- some time ago in Singapore, a manager of a Multi-National Company (MNC) was convicted of a corruption- for receiving kickbacks for contracts he granted to others. He was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment and ordered to pay a penalty of about $300,000- being the total of bribes received by him. After the sentencing, the MNC commenced a civil action under the Prevention of Corruption Act to recover the bribes from the Manager. The manager appealed to the Court of Appeal against the claim on the ground that he had already paid the penalty to the State for the bribes he had received and he could not be liable to pay the claim to the MNC, otherwise, it would be tantamount to making him pay twice for the same bribes. However, his appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The court ruled that this was not double jeopardy and the law allowed for it. The manager is thus still liable to pay the MNC.

In another Appeal case in Singapore, involving a private banker convicted of corruption involving bribes of $150,000 (Wong Teck Long vs PP), when the accused appealed against his conviction and sentence, the prosecution cross-appealed on the sentence, the High Court not only dismissed the accused’s appeal but enhanced his original sentence from 4 months to 15 months imprisonment. In passing this judgment, the Chief Judge said: “To safeguard the overall public confidence in the integrity of our banking and financial industry as well as Singapore’s reputation as a regional and financial hub, punishment for deplorable and corrupt acts, such as that of the appellant, must be swift and harsh so that a strong message will be sent out to the offender at hand and would-be offenders that Singapore does not, and will not, without exception, condone corruption.” Those are examples from a country that is indeed fighting corruption.

Fact is, we are doing a grave injustice to millions of Nigerians who have suffered and still suffering from the consequences of corruption, if we focus on loot recovery and zero deterrent to looters. We are doing ourselves a disfavor when we give looters the impression that they can bargain their way out by offering to return an itsy-bitsy portion of the value looted and they return home to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth.

With the current happenings, Mr President is not fighting corruption he is only raising funds from looters. The irony of this ideology is, most of the loot may end up being re-looted and we may be back to the same point.

Again, an effective fight against corruption will put into consideration the four pillars of anti-corruption movement- Effective government, effective law, effective anti-corruption agency and adequate punishment to serve as a deterrent to others.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.

Another Initiative Against The Economic Recession, By Bamikole Omisore

On Monday, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar  Bukola Saraki, announced the “Made-in-Nigeria Challenge” – an offshoot of his campaign to stimulate the public’s appeal for Nigerian-made  goods.

Basically, the aim of the “Challenge” is to encourage local manufacturers by giving them the necessary incentive and support needed to grow and compete with their foreign counterparts.

The campaign encourages Nigerians to send in a 45-second to three-minute video promo of a product the country is currently importing, but which can be produced with at least 70 percent local content. For instance, local manufacturers of toothpicks,  tomato paste, fruit juice, textiles, technological implements and products that add value to agricultural production may enter the Challenge by using the hashtag #MadeInNigeria on any social media page or by uploading on YouTube or directly sending an email to min@senatepresident.gov.ng before March 8th. The winners will be selected to participate in the Made in Nigeria Fair and Business Roundtable.

After receipt of the entries, a group of experts and industry operators put together by the Senate President will review the videos and verify the claims therein. The shortlisted manufacturers will be invited to Abuja to showcase their products at a Fair that will be co-hosted by civil society groups and some other development partners. This fair will also have in attendance guests from different government agencies and investors who will be able to address the participants on how  to overcome the challenges they might be facing in successfully running Small and medium Scale Enterprises. The diplomatic community and foreign media like will also be invited to the event.

Earlier in 2016, Senator Saraki pledged to support legislation that would make it mandatory for the government to patronise local products. This promise, which was made during his attendance at the Made in Aba Trade Fair, resulted in the passage of the amendments to the Public Procurement Act. These amendments contained a provision that compels Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to give preference to local manufacturers and suppliers in all their procurements. The amendment also increased the mobilisation fee to contractors as well as shortened the number of days in the federal government’s procurement process.

Additionally, last February, while speaking with representatives of Aba Manufacturers Association, led by Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Saraki remarked that some local products were more sophisticated than imported ones, however, more effort had to be made to ensure that such goods are patronised to allow their manufacturers to succeed.

”This is the only way we can create jobs, solve the problem of unemployment and stop the growing army of aggrieved youths who pose danger to society. We can do it. We have a population that translates to a ready market. This is how we can genuinely help our people,The chairmen of our relevant committees are being put on notice to ensure that they focus their oversight on these areas. We must make sure that government agencies patronise Nigerian manufacturers. For example, the armed forces should be purchasing and using foot wears produced  in the various industries in Aba and other places.”, the Senate President said.

After Saraki’s appeal to government agencies to patronise local products, the army placed an order for 50 thousand pairs of Made-in-Aba boots. Also, the army ordered for armoured security vehicles from Innoson Manufacturing Vehicles (IMV) based in Nnewi. In the same vein, the Nigerian Air Force now has an agreement with the IMV for the refurbishing of its aircraft.

Saraki is not relenting in his determination to promote local industries. He in fact desires that Nigerians take over the ownership of the advocacy campaign. The present Challenge is aimed at engaging and encouraging Nigerians who have an eye for local production – goods that are ready substitute for imported ones and that can add value to the economy – in all spheres.

In this charge, in December 2016, Saraki met with Mr Sam Hart, leader of the delegation of Made-in-Aba Manufacturers and also with Mr Velcroz, a local shoemaker. And for his steadfastness in promoting Nigerian goods, the Senate President was named #MadeInAba/#MadeInNigeria Ambassador.

The Senate President is interested in connecting more local manufacturers from Osogbo, Kabba, Abeokuta, Ilorin, Mbaise and many other cities across the country with potential investors and government agencies.

It remains a strange phenomenon that Nigerians are crazy about foreign goods when the country is blessed with an array of raw materials that can be converted to finished products.

The local Adire and Kampala can replace the school uniforms of pupils in primary and secondary schools. There are different species of trees in Nigeria — which makes it alarming that we continue to import furniture, matches and toothpicks. Again, we import starch when we have cassava in large quantities; we import tomato paste when our lands are good for growing tomato.

Now, with the official launch of the “Made-in-Nigeria Challenge”, which is a part of the Senate’s strategy to bring Nigerians into the business of law making, more efforts will be channelled into ensuring that government agencies comply with the newly amended Public Procurement Act, 2016 — once it is passed by the House, and signed into law by the President. The Made-in-Nigeria campaign will also make government agencies understand the Senate’s resolve to ensure compliance with the Public Procurement Act.

In this direction, the Senate will soon create a desk dedicated to making sure that the procurement law is respected by all and that Nigerians can always contact this desk if they feel they have been unfairly treated by any government agency in its procurement process.

Also, the newly inaugurated Legislative Compliance Committee, which is the first of its kind in the history of the legislature in Nigeria, was created to ensure all government agencies comply with the law and other resolutions of the Senate in an attempt to jumpstart the economy.

Taking the campaign beyond the shores of Nigeria, the Senate is poised to engage with representatives of the European Union and other development agencies and partness to find ways of giving Nigerian farm produce access to European and UK markets.

In a time when nations are moving towards self-reliance and total economic dependence –  as evident in Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan – Saraki’s “Made-in-Nigeria” campaign is the antidote to Nigeria’s economic nightmare. It is also pertinent to mention that six months after the Senate passed the law to compel patronage for indigenous manufacturers, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama last month signed a policy which compels American armed forces to purchase foot wears for her men and officers from only American companies located within American shores. Great minds think alike.

There  is no gainsaying the fact that when Nigerians buy local goods, there will be a multiplier effect on the economy. The local industries will grow, increase their capacities and employ more people; thereby cutting down Nigeria’s high unemployment figure. This will increase our Gross Domestic Product, imbue international confidence in the economy, re-energise the local currency, encourage foreign investment in the economy and generally improve the standard of living of citizens.

To add to this, the upper legislative chamber is aware that infrastructure is a key part of promoting local industries; hence it has amended the Railway Act to make room for private investors to invest in the sector. Railways are essential not only for the movement of people, but also for the conveyance of goods to and from different parts of the country. The senate under Saraki is also looking at making viable legislations for other key infrastructure such as power to give local industries the elixir of growth and competitiveness.

Already,  Nigerians across political divides and social classes have embraced the ‘Made in Nigeria’ initiative. With this, it is expected to help change the orientation of Nigerians. In fact, this is a campaign that may serve the dual purpose of boosting our collective patriotism and stregthning our pride in our motherland, Nigeria.

 

Omisore is Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media.

Moses Ochonu’s Demonization of El-Rufai By MG Maigamo

“….. Ochonu once asked el-Rufai for a job and got turned down. He has been unable to put behind him that incident, but the truth is that at that time, el-Rufai could not provide him a job because only candidates with technical and numeracy skills were required. Available facts indicate that el-Rufai informed Ochonu and others with non-numerate and or science based degrees that they did not meet the criteria. Though Ochonu left for the US where he has done rather well, he has been unable to hide his disdain for el-Rufai mainly because of the latter as inability to bend the rules to suit primordial personal interests.”

“Moses Ochonu, as an Associate Professor of History works on a project that focuses on “non-Muslim consciousness to counter perceived Anglo Fulani hegemony”. His focus and project fit into today’s Nigeria that is terribly divided along ethnocentric and religious lines following the April 2011 political gerrymandering that has inflicted unprecedented damage on the fragile unity among the diverse ethnic nationalities of Nigeria.” Ajayi O. Olowa

My attention has been drawn to a publication by Moses Ochonu, a professor of African History at Vandervelt University USA. The article in question which appeared in Sahara Reporters of Tuesday 26th December 2016, is a continuation of a bunkum he started since early 2000, the culmination of which we see now in this recent one on the southern kaduna killings to the extent that he makes a serious allegation against elrufai that he has embarked in a genocide. As far as I am concern this is a gravest allegation which should not be taken lightly.

However, before I go into details, the two quotations in the prologue have actually said it all. They have not only display the true motives of Moses Ochunu, but also summarised the historical background of his deportment; and the rationale for his mudslinging, diatribe and long-running malignity against Elrufai. And without the above revelation (that he wanted Elrufai to give him job at FCT), it would have been surprised to see that this Prof has dedicated his whole academic life to criticizing every moves of Elrufai from his days at BPE to date.

Be it as it may, there is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is faced with myriads of security and economic challenges, most of them inherited from the previous administrations. Kaduna state has had its own share of these security challenges in most parts of the state.

Addressing this myriad of challenges and putting the state on the path of greatness is one of the cardinal points on which the El-Rufai APC campaign promises hinged on.

Since coming to power, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and his deputy, Barnabas Yusuf Bala, have faced, head-on the daunting task of addressing the root causes of security challenges being faced in the entire state. Every one of us in the state is aware that El-Rufai inherited rural banditry, violent attacks, and reprisals in southern parts of the state, cattle rustling and robbery in Birnin Gwari and other parts as well as rampant cases of kidnapping along Kaduna-Abuja expressway and other parts of the state. Suffice it to say that these cases are not only peculiar to Kaduna state; there have been attacks by suspected herdsmen in Benue, Nasarawa and Zamfara states.

While farmers-herders conflicts are not new to Nigeria, the attacks in Southern Kaduna have drawn the attention of many with many voices speaking against the attacks. It is a good thing for all well- meaning citizens to come out against evil and wicked acts such as these but using the pains of those victims affected to gain politically or for any other selfish and sinister motive is wickedness and inhumane to say the least. Sadly, many have taken this path. That will be left to God and posterity to judge but where these people breach the constitution, the law enforcement agencies will be the right institutions to address them in accordance with the law.

It was indeed a bleak Christmas for people of Goska in Kaninkon and the government of Kaduna State is sad about it and has since condemned the attacks and sympathized with the people while strengthening security in the area. The government has stressed its commitment to see the end of the perpetrators.

But in his characteristic manner, as revealed in his previous publications where he promotes divisions, Moses insinuated that there is a war to exterminate people of Southern Kaduna and the governor of Kaduna is sponsoring it. He even likened it to the unfortunate attacks in Agatu, Benue state. But the question is who is at war with the people of these communities? What is happening is part of a plethora of security challenges facing Nigeria; insurgency in Niger Delta, Cattle rustling and Killings in Zamfara, Armed robbery in Birnin Gwari and kidnapping in many other places in Kaduna metropolis where high profile individuals and politicians were victims as well as other parts of the country. It is sad that Southern Kaduna issue has lingered since 2011.

And in his attempt to disown History that he studied and earns a living teaching, (and I wonder what kind of History Moses is teaching his students), he denied existential facts linking the crisis of Southern Kaduna with April 2011 post-presidential elections. These were facts established by the 70-man Peace and Reconciliation Committee set up by the Late Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa which established that the crisis is directly linked to the April 2011 elections.

As the chief Security Officer of Kaduna state and one who wants to see the end to these security challenges, El-Rufai set up the General (Rtd) Martin Luther Agwai’s committee which arrived at similar conclusions. The report of the committee which was submitted on the 1st of February, 2016, also established the existence of a feud between foreign herdsmen and Southern Kaduna communities. The reports stated that some transhumance Fulani pastoralists were affected by the April 2011 post-presidential crisis during which many lives were lost and properties destroyed.

The month of April marks the beginning of the raining season in Southern Kaduna and central Nigeria and, therefore, at that time, the transhumance Fulani were on transit back to the Northeast, Northwest, Chad, Niger, Cameroun, as well as Senegal and Mali. They were compensated by the government on the loss of their cattle and to pacify them not to come for revenge on that account. So also were other victims of the crisis assisted or compensated.

As a professor who studied history, Moses Knows that conclusions are only drawn on the strength of available facts but he is doing a disservice to the Academic Discipline of History by twisting facts, providing misleading information as he is used to, and raising languid arguments that are devoid of solid premises while drawing conclusions that lack logical strengths and evidence.

While he goes on to play his game of promoting sentiment and hatred,  Moses should know that the El-Rufai led government will continue to handle what he is elected to do which is provide leadership to the people of Kaduna state. On this, the government will not be deterred or distracted

Preachers and promoters of hatred, divisions, and confusions will never prevail over good intentions. This is because God and all good people in the state will join forces to overcome these forces of evil, and by the grace of God we will see the end of these criminals.

If Moses and his likes are concerned about the conflicts that is claiming lives, apart from their condemnation of El-Rufai and using the media to conflagrate the embers of hatred, what meaningful suggestions have they ever posited, how have they helped the people they claimed to be supporting?

A question for Moses Ochonu, do you have respect and value for history even if its facts stands somewhat opposed to what you stand for? Are you denying that there was an outbreak of violence immediately after the presidential elections in April 2011,  are you contesting that Fulanis were killed as well as their cattle during the crisis, would you deny that immediately after the outbreak of post-election violence, the attacks and counter attacks escalated in Southern Kaduna? It will be sheer mischief to ignore such facts, particularly by someone in the academia and even a professor who teaches African History.

Moses Ochonu has joined the group of those who massacre well known evidential facts of history by twisting facts and propounding unfounded lies and fallacies. There have been attacks in the immediate aftermath of 2011 post-presidential elections in Kaduna after which President Good luck EbeleJonathan set up the ShiekShehuLemu Committee. One more action taken by the Federal Government was to set aside money to compensate those who suffered loss from the crisis, compensations were paid and herdsmen also suffered the loss of cattle that the government of Kaduna paid.

Naisr El-Rufai did not legitimize revenge and has vowed to always arrest those involved in reprisal attacks on innocent people. El-Rufai has always called on people to report cases and issues to the constituted authorities in their areas such as community, traditional rulers or law enforcement agencies. He has been working with the FG and all security agencies to tackle the restiveness in the state.

While people have their constitutional rights to freely express their views, those who peddle lies should know that posterity and God will judge them. El-Rufai will continue to do what he thinks and knows is right and his allegiance is to God his maker and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The governor and his cabinet are deeply committed to the oath of allegiance they took to uphold the constitution of Nigeria. Protection of lives and property is topmost in their minds. And this, the governor will pursue with all seriousness without letting baleful people to distract him from this obligation. He is working assiduously with all security agencies to not only apprehend criminals carrying out these evil and wicked acts but also make them and their sponsors face the wrath of the law.

Ochonu relishes presentation of disjointed facts and information, and conclusions in order to portray the Governor of Kaduna state as supporting the killings going on in Southern Kaduna by criminals, which drapes from the reasons I quoted above. And his tendentious analogy portraying Nasir El-Rufai as a Fulani supremacist who supports Fulani terrorists to carry out genocide in Southern Kaduna is hardly surprising too, giving the above quote also. It is not different from what Moses is known for; that is promoting divisions and encouraging sectionalism especially among the different sections of the populations in the north.

That is what his book “Colonialism by Proxy: Hausa Imperial Agents and Middle Belt Consciousness in Nigeria” and other publications sought to achieve.

Had he beckon the sense of history , a simple search through contemporary history and check on the profile of Nigeria politicians would have revealed to him that there are few politicians in Nigeria today whose political appointees, partners and associates are drawn from different sections of the country other than Nasir El-Rufai. This is incontrovertible and it has been El-Rufai’s tradition and principles.

Hinging his demonization of El-Rufai on the attacks of 24th and 25th December in Goska, and the government measures taken to curtail security it, Moses disowned history and massacred well known facts and evidence just to paint El-Rufai as a failure and one who encourages the killings in the region.

But the real facts of his penchant for demonization of Elrufai have just been revealed. His own is not a genuine interventions but an attempt to settle a personal score. He feels the only way to get Even with Elrufai for refusing him job is to constantly write bad about him. But while the Prof has taken that self-vocation, he is indirectly smacking the pedagogy he’s riding on. He is creating an image of intellectual vacuity for himself, for how can you relegate your academic life to constants criticism of single personality?

Mukhtar Garba Maigamo,

A Public Commentator, Conflict Resolution expert lives in  Kaduna State. 08066792996

mgmaigamo@yahoo.com

Do Nigerian Economist Comprehend Logic Of Language, By Nasiru Suwaid

This is a study in the realm of critical thinking, thus, it requires a concentrated attention. First, assume yourself as an individual who speaks and understands English language, then, presume a person was given a duty, to go to a sea bank and make an observation, the task, to observe a floating material, be it a ship, a boat or even a canoe.

The expectation is to project the positional placement of the floating object, not just in the immediate future, but, a much longer period, preferably, on a quarterly basis of an interval of three months. It is a virtual impossibility, to predict with certainty, the position of such a floating object.

Basically, if we subsume the above scenario, within the realm of financial lexicon of a foreign exchange floating regime, it would even make a more perfect sense. Now, let us presume that the experimental observant by the sea, as a manufacturing industrialist or a business entrepreneur, the sea should be the foreign currency exchange market, while the occasioned turbulence, probably caused by the movements of sharks abound, could be taken as the activities of player-speculators in the financial market.

Notably, the naira should be the floating object. It is just beyond the prism of common sense, to float an object and expect a rational human being, to predict its position in a distant future time.

Generally, that is what happened with the introduction of the flexible foreign exchange by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the middle of the year 2016, which is simply, a floating regime, that allows the value of the Nigerian naira, to change and exchange at the prompting of the market forces.

Evidentially, from the preceding months ahead of June 2016, manufacturing data went downhill into negativity, while exacerbating the impending recession in the country. Because, business entrepreneurship and industrial manufacturing are premised on future planning, on expenditure spending on raw materials and low inflationary base, which help to liquidate inventory stock.

Perhaps, this is the reason why Nigeria’s flexible floating foreign exchange regime, came with the foreign exchange (FX) futures, which gives a semblance of certainty for future transactions on forex, that is usually a rate cheaper (discounted) than the present price, also, it could be the reason that the apex bank is operating a multiple rate regime of currency valuation.

Selling at a much cheaper rate, to a certain segment of the market, most specifically, those sectors that represent the productive base of the economy, like the manufacturers, airline and any other sector which the government feels, deserves a preferential treatment.

But, isn’t such an action against the fundamental characteristic ethos of an efficient financial market, because, any showing of a preference to a particular customer or sector, distorts the market, thus, creating an avenue for corruption.

Now, please ask that market purist, what happens, when he goes to a market and was offered a discount on a purchased good, does he reject the distortion in pricing and return the much cheaper product, because, he does not want to be part of the seller’s ‘corrupting’ influence and motive of capturing greater market share. Indeed, what about festive seasonal sales, where supermarkets offer goods at up to 70% off price.

The simple truth is that, just like it is within the articles of trade to give discount for greater market share, it is also justifiable to give a discount to the productive sector of the economy and make sure it is not abused for personal gain.

Of course, the argument about such a fact, being the basis for the sustenance and sustainability of black market in currency trading, immediately crops up. However, since the early 1970’s, when Nigeria became a mono product economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has always been the principal provider of foreign exchange currencies, but most especially, it mostly relies on remittance from crude oil sales.

The fact that Nigeria is now in a recession and the price of crude oil is low in the international market, cannot automatically make the Nigerian currency exchange market, to become a private non institutional remittance driven, where parties other that country’s apex bank, would assume the majority in foreign exchange sales, to argue that is to pander into the realm of unproven economist fallacies.

Indeed, to assume that allowing the naira to become so low in value, that it could attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which would augment activities in the forex market, is an unproven economic theory, that is yet to be physically presented, with such an example in an import driven economy.

In fact, it is the reason why the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), came into office with the mantra of economic diversification into other areas of entrepreneurial productivity. It also came with the mantra of change, to accept the flexible exchange rate, which is a floating regime, in so far as, it is operated within the realm of giving protection, to areas and sectors that enhances the productive, growth and development of the Nigerian state.

What is most gladdening, the experiment has started to bear fruit and come into fruition, as the manufacturing data for the month of December 2016, which came out in the beginning of the year has confirmed. Mind you, the forex exchange (FX) futures, which usually attains maturation on quarterly basis and beyond, only “matured’ towards the end of last year, thus, enabling manufacturers to have the much needed foreign exchange currencies.

And the result is as shockingly evident as it glaringly positive, for the CBN Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which was on an 11 months downward spiral, it came into positive territory and registered a 52.0 Index Point (IP) rise.

As for the FBN Quest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December 2016, it registered an unexpected 60.0 Index Point (IP), from a negative territory and projection, which stood at 48.8 Index Point (IP) in the preceded month, when coupled with a rising price of crude oil in the international market, this could be the year that the Nigerian economy gains reasonable traction of growth, development and sustainability. This is me wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

Follow me on twitter: @neeswaid

Nigeria: A Nation So Blessed, But So Cursed, By Olalekan Adigu

It is New Year again. As usual, many Christians went to Church on New Year Eve to receive prophesies for the incoming year about what it may bring. There were prophesies like “APC will face crisis”; “A new party will be formed by politician”; “A popular politician will signal his intention to run for the presidency in 2019” etcetera which drive many Nigerians to great excitement. Not all these “prophesy” are entirely negative or clownish as some of the above appear to be. Some prophesies deal with the future greatness of Nigeria and the fact that it will be blessed with good leaders. The excitements and the mad rush to hear these statements show how religious many people are!

While it is not entirely bad to believe these prophesies, we must understand that, as a nation, God has blessed us so much that we can’t ask for more blessings. He has done His part; we only need to do ours. “Over Religiousness” or “Over Prayers” seen in many Nigerians today will not force His Hands to do our biddings. We must do our parts too.

Though, I enjoy reading the English novelist, Eric Arthur Blair (popularly known as George Orwell), I have never been a fan of English novels partly because of their over glorification of English culture or because of the boredom they bring to me then as a student of Literature-in-English. The only novel I still read apart from those of George Orwell, is Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Reading the novel, for perhaps the eight time, some days ago still struck me much about Nigeria and its abundant natural resources. I asked myself how a nation can be so blessed and yet appear so cursed at the same time. Are people poor because of lack of resources? If we had these much resources in abundance, why is there so much poverty, disease and hunger in the land? A Columbia University economist, conducting a research in Latin America in the 1950s, gave a strange answer (in paraphrase): people are not poor because of lack of resources, they are poor because they are ignorant of the abundance that surrounds them!

For those who haven’t read Robinson Crusoe, it is the story of an adventure undertaken by a young man whose father wanted to become a lawyer and manage his estate but chose to travel abroad by sea. His father warned him against such, ‘At sea you will only find trouble and unhappiness.” And in truth, when he sailed with his two friends, what happened were what his father had said.

On one of his sails to Guinea “to collect Africans to work” as slaves on their farms, they suffered a shipwreck leaving his two friends dead and Crusoe barely escaping with his life to spend over 28 years on a strange island.

On the island, his constant companions were his Bible, a dog, two cats, his flock and all that nature could provide for human survival. Though the island contained all that he needed to survive, Crusoe must go out to hunt for animals, else he will go hungry.

Like Crusoe’s island, God has blessed Nigeria with all it needed to achieve self-sufficiency and become one of world’s greatest powers. But unlike Crusoe, Nigeria and Nigerians expect God to, after doing so much, come and help us refine our oil; transform our cassava to garri; produce petrol from petroleum; and in some cases we pray to God to come and help us clean our dirty rooms!

Though Crusoe believed in God’s protection, he knew he can’t be the only one on the island. He never parted with his tools and ammunitions at any time else he became the victim when attacked by beasts or man eating savages. He probably understood the Arabian proverb “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” Nigeria is a sovereign state, we need a good security apparatus to conquer internal and external attacks.  God Himself is known as “The Lord of the Hosts.” Prayers alone will not defeat Boko Haram; looting monies meant for arms to fight Boko Haram is not only a sin against man, but also against God!

Crusoe knows that God has supplied his needs according to His riches in glory on the island, he knows he has to save for the future. He understood the fact that his gunpowder (a key resource) will sooner or later run out. He started rearing goats “for meat and milk.” It is never God’s fault that we refused to save for the rainy day while we made huge sums from oil boom. It is not God’s fault that we loot the monies meant for repairs of our refineries. It is not God’s fault that we didn’t explore other resources that nature has provided for us through diversification. God has supplied our needs according to His riches in glory truly, but there is a part we also must play in accessing these riches!

As a nation that knows God so much that we sometimes even kill for Him or on His behalf (as though God is an infant that cannot avenge Himself), we must realize that He has done so much for us and there is no reason why we should cry or suffer. If the nation is poor, it is because we have refused to see the abundance He has deposited in our nation (like Crusoe’s island) as a result of our collective blindness. This won’t change by being just religious!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and 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

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