Why National Assembly Must Consent to the Petroleum Industry Bill?

Satellite view of a typical Niger delta oil community

The idea behind the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB Bill) originated about fourteen years ago under former President Olusegun  Obasanjo when he set up an  Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC)  to assess modality for the reformation of the oil industry. The committee was saddled with the responsibility to carry out a comprehensive reform of the oil Industry with a view to bring Nigerian system under the international best practices and to replace the opaqueness haunting our oil industry with transparency. The Act is to establish legal and regulatory framework, institutions and regulatory authorities for the Nigerian petroleum industry and to establish guidelines for the operation of the upstream and downstream sectors.
The Act which was generally applauded by Nigerians was somehow prevented from not seeing the light of the day hence it was fraught with myriad of problems militating against it. This includes multiplicity of oil reform Bills at the National Assembly and lack of political will by the Federal Government to push through the PIB Bill. In addition, are the activities of multinational companies who wanted the status quo to be maintained in respect of Pre-PIB Joint Venture Agreements with the NNPC/Federal Government.. They are afraid that tampering with the Joint Venture Agreements will cede too much control to the Federal Government. .The multinational oil companies are not comfortable with the fiscal regime and increased Royalty Payments in the PIB. Some provisions of the “PIB” were poorly drafted and not well articulated and some salient important issues not addressed at all and/or included in past draft versions of “the PIB” .For instance:
• Fiscal regime for gas not touched and/or addressed at all;
• Fiscal regime for offshore drilling is poorly drafted and omitted ultra deep offshore drilling;
• Blueprint for NNPC privatisation is completely superficial –need to include strong provisions for commercialising and privatising NNPC in line with international best practices;
• The role of Minister of Petroleum Resources in the post PIB regime is not properly defined – for instance:
• Who oversees the reform implementation process?
• Should the minister’s discretionary power to award and revoke licenses be retained?
• Should the minister’s role be restricted to policy making and setting directives for the industry only?
Despite the aforementioned obstacles on the way of the Bill, Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief when President Goodluck Jonathan in his national broadcast in commemoration of Nigeria’s democracy day on 29th May 2012 promised that a new PIB would be ready in June 2012 for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
Subsequently. Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke inaugurated a task force chaired by former senator and chairman of the Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Udo Udoma  Udo, was also expected to work alongside a technical sub-committee headed by the Director-General of Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Osten Olurunsola, which was charged with reviewing all former versions of the bill and come out with a draft within the next 30 days. They were saddled with the responsibility of drafting a new PIB Bill.
Thus, the new PIB Bill presented by Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Allison-Madueke to the President recently is meant to change everything from fiscal terms to overhauling the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), promote Nigerian content and significantly increase domestic gas supplies, especially for power generation and industrial development. The ultimate aim of the PIB was to refine the Petroleum laws, after more than 50 years of oil and gas operations in Nigeria. This was taking good care off by consolidating the 16 existing laws into a single set of provisions, leading to an overhaul of the legal, fiscal, commercial and governance frameworks.
The core principles of the new PIB, are to imbibe global best practices of openness, transparency, good governance, indigenous participation and sustained revenues for Government. Under the new PIB Bill two new institutions would be formed to replace the NNPC once the draft PIB was passed. These are the National Oil Company (NOC) and National Assets Management Company (NAMC).
These institutions and the petroleum industry would be under the supervision of the petroleum minister. The NAMC is expected to be 100 percent government owned, while the government is to adequately capitalise and progressively sell government’s stake in the NOC, down to 49 percent.
A critical study of the Bill revealed that it   reaches into all the facets of the petroleum industry and it liberates the sector from all the government constraints and impediments which hitherto rock the industry, rendering it unattractive to both local and international investors. It gives incentives to both small and big players in the industry through transparent and fair rules of participation. The concept of good corporate governance is also evident in the provisions of the Bill, which also features strong fiscal framework beneficial to the country. In a nutshell, it moves Nigeria clearly towards the international best practices in the extractive sector.
Furthermore, the Bill has far reaching provisions on the issues of Nigerian content. For example, it provides that no project can be approved without a comprehensive “Nigerian Content Plan” which must include obligations on the part of the investor to purchase local goods and services, increase employment, as well as to focus on training, education research and development. It also requires the foreign investors to follow guidelines in order to assist local companies. Adherence to the provisions of the Bill will surely boost the purchase of local goods and services leading to higher employment opportunities for Nigerians.
Series of landmark provisions are also addressed in the Bill to correct the anomalies of the current petroleum regime. For example, it is a notorious fact that the Deep Sea Water Blocks contract that Nigeria entered into in 1993 with foreign investors is one of the worst contracts any oil-exporting nation can enter into as it seems to foster unilateral advantages only on the foreign partners with Nigeria having very little or no gains under the production sharing formula in the agreement.
The royalties accruable to the country are Zero per cent! The foreign partners take I00 per cent of the products. Even the taxes system under the said “bad deal” contract does not provide much benefit for the country as the tax regime included generous tax credits to these foreign investors which wiped out a great percentage of the collectible tax by the Federal Government. Now under the Bill, there are a number of provisions on ventures like Deep Water operations that are much more beneficial to the countries and comparable to what other oil exporting nations do collect under such contracts.
In totality, the Bill would both eradicate the practice of discretionary award of licenses and contracts in the upstream sub-sector of the industry, as well as ensuring that only genuine investors with appropriate technical and financial capacity get the oil licenses.
In spite of all the advantages described above, it is very surprising and worrisome that the National Assembly, since 2008, has not given it the urgent attention it deserves by passing it into a law. As a matter of fact, there is a school of thought that believes that some cabalistic vested interests are the brains behind the non-passage of the bill through underground machinations. There is a belief that a regime of openness and transparency the Bill would usher in would erase some accruable gains under the present shady regime.
No doubt, the government must be losing billion of Naira daily as a result of non passage of the Bill by the National Assembly .Only a few days ago, Regional Executive Vice President, Sub-Sahara Africa, Shell Upstream, Mr. Ian Craig, who spoke at the opening of the 2012 edition of the Nigerian Oil and Gas, in Abuja, said Nigeria loses approximately 150,000 barrel per day to theft – an amount translating to a whopping N2.9 billion daily!
The pertinent question here is that “Is the prolonged delay in the passage of this all-important Petroleum Industry Bill attributable to underground manipulation of the vested interests or is it just a case of unpatriotic nonchalance on the part of the lawmakers?
Whatever maybe the situation, Nigerians are appealing to the law makers saddled with the responsibility of passing the Bill into law to as a matter of urgency save Nigerians the billions of Naira lost daily for the delay of the Bill by assenting to it  once it is passed to the Chamber by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Oghenekevwe Laba a Lagos based journalist
08023773039
labakevwe@yahoo.com

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Fast Tracking Development In The Niger Delta By Oghenekevwe Laba

Shell in the Niger Delat

Before now, poverty, illiteracy and high rate of criminal activities ranging from militancy, piracy, armed robbery, oil pipeline vandalism and incessant attack on oil pipeline and platforms were the order of the day in the Niger Delta Region.
Today, the situation looks different. Environment experts say the damage done to the Niger Delta Region fragile natural environment and to the health of the people was due largely to uncontrolled exploration and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas, which led to numerous spills, gas flaring, the opening up of the forests to loggers, indiscriminate canalizations, flooding, coastal erosion and earth tremor.
Criminal activities in the region resulting from the degradation of the region led to speedy decline of the nation’s economy as the oil production which is our main source of revenue generation dropped to all time low rate of 700 barrels per day.
Reasons for the criminal activities in the region were not farfetched.  The indigenes of the region felt that as the ‘chicken that lay the golden eggs’, they ought to feel the impact of the resources drained from their area. Successive governments from military rule to democratic government
neglected the region.
But the people breathe a sigh of relief when Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua became the President of Nigeria in 2007.   The President saw reasons with the people of the region and decided to implement programmes that will ameliorate their sufferings. Thus, he introduced the amnesty programme and urged the warring youths of the region to embrace the programme by denouncing hostility and handling over their illegally acquired fire arms to the government. Unfortunately Yar’Adua did not live long to see the programme the fruit of the programmes he started.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over from Yar’Adua as the President of Nigeria did not let his late boss down as he implemented the programme to the latter. Thus, three years after the amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants, the man at the helm of its affairs, Kingsley Kuku, is handling the glory to President Goodluck Jonathan, whom he said had pursued the programme with a single-minded tenacity. Kuku, Special Adviser to the President, said the President’s attitude for the success of the programme was all part of his greater picture of leaving behind a united country with a robust economy, where the citizens and foreigners would be
free to live and pursue their trades under a safe environment. According to him, the success of the programme had seen the growth of oil production in the Niger Delta Region from a mere 700 barrels per day at the peak of the crisis in the Niger Delta area to the current 2.6million barrels per day, and a leap in its earnings. The militants, who had been targeting oil installations apart from engaging in other forms of activities that made the area unsafe to live and do business have all been evacuated from the creeks and have been rehabilitated at various institutions in Nigeria and abroad, where they are learning both formal and informal skills.
A total of 5,204 ex-militants are currently undergoing various forms of skills acquisition training or formal education in Nigeria and other parts of the world. The career choices selected by the delegates range from marine, heavy duty operations, welding,  agriculture, boat building, oil
and gas technics, entrepreneurship, automobile technology and aviation among others. The Amnesty programme’s trainees are spread across 28 foreign training institutions in 15 countries across the globe and 36 local training institutions in 10 states of the federation. No fewer than 5,067 of the beneficiaries had already graduated in skills acquisition fields such as welding and fabrication (1,847), entrepreneurship (1,609), pipe fitting (150), carpentry & plumbing (206), oil drilling (32), electrical installation (232), ICT (125), marine related courses (564) and others (302). Already, 95 delegates have been offered direct employment in various governmental and private establishments. Beside, the Amnesty Office is putting finishing touches to mentoring programmes that would see many of the graduates becoming self-employed and employing other Nigerian youths.
In addition, 6,280 delegates had already been processed for deployment to local and foreign training institutions to undergo courses ranging from aviation technicians, oil and gas technicians, marine technicians, entrepreneurial development programmes as well as formal education.
The rehabilitation of the militants has resulted in the creating of peace and security in the region which has lead to the production  of  between 2.4 and 2.6 million barrels of crude oil per day as against the abysmally low between 700,000 and 800,000 barrels per day at the peak of the Niger Delta crisis in January 2009, the nation and its Joint Venture Partners are currently making production savings of up to 1.9 million barrels per day.
When computed with prevailing exchange rate of about N160 to $1, daily production savings for Nigeria and the JV partners currently stand at a minimum of N33.4 billion per day.  Given that oil production in Nigeria hovered between 2.4 and 2.6 barrels for all of 2011, it would be safe to
emphatically assert that savings for Nigeria and the JV partners for year ending 2011 is estimated to be a whopping N6 trillion.
As for infrastructural development, Jonathan through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)   and other intervention agencies has provided good roads which link the adjoining communities of the area.
This has lead to improvement of trade and social activities among members of the various communities. Dilapidated school buildings are renovated to standard while new ones were constructed to meet modern standard. Bridges are constructed to link riverine areas.
Beside, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)  is fast tracking the completion of 57 ongoing projects valued at N1.3 trillion spread across the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The Managing Director of the commission, Dr Christian Oboh, stated recently in Port Harcourt that the new board had resolved to award fewer contracts and speed up the completion of the 57
ongoing projects inherited from the previous board.
Although critics may argue that enough has not been done in the region, but critical observation showed that ever since Jonathan mounted the saddle of power, there has been serious development in the region, particularly in human, infrastructure, economy and social aspect. This development has led to increase in the financial balance sheet of the country.
Laba, a journalist, wrote from Lagos.

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President Jonathan and Boko Haram: Who is “Crushing” Who?

March 28th 2012 is one of those memorable days many Nigerians will not forget in a hurry. This was the day when reports filtered out that President Goodluck Jonathan had in an interview in far away South Korea, the previous day, confidently assured the international community that Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad commonly referred to as Boko Haram would be contained by June 2012. Of course Boko Haram, not one to let such an opportunity to display its peculiar propensity for viciousness and violence against its perceived “enemies” to pass by, shortly after, did what it does best — carried out deadly attacks at select targets such as Universities and Media Houses along with its usual offensive against churches, police stations, security posts and installations. These attacks so far have persisted and become more fierce and bloody, and the rest as they say is history…

I can vividly remember that afternoon in late March, what I was wearing, and what I was doing when I learnt about President Jonathan’s enthusiastic and optimistic assurance. I cannot recall though, the precise flurry of emotions that coursed through my very being in reaction – amusement, incredulity, perplexity, exasperation or a mish-mash of all these. I wondered why the President couldn’t have been more tactful in his choice of words knowing well that Boko Haram generally relishes the slightest opportunity to flex its ferocious muscles and it would interpret his statement as some sort of dare. I also dreaded what Boko Haram would do to disprove the President’s statement.

And indeed, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad retorted, first, with a very menacing video clip, vowing to “bring down” and “consume” President Jonathan’s administration and then unleashed a string of attacks against several targets with such astonishing levels of aggression and ferocity, dashing the faintest hopes of anyone who thought the group would be contained within this period. The most recent violent campaign within this month, being the mayhem in Kaduna state – attacks on churches in Wusasa, Sabon Gari and Tirkanniya, the reprisals and the counter reprisals – and the bomb blasts, gun battle and prison break in Damaturu, Yobe state have left hundreds dead in a bloody trail of death and terror. Residents of these cities have been subjected to 24 hour government imposed curfews for the better part of last week, paralyzed in fear and uncertainty. Though the curfews have been somewhat relaxed, the sudden clampdown on movement has had traumatizing effects on residents, has done little to calm frayed nerves in a very tense atmosphere and crippled economic activity in the interim.

As June fast approaches to an end, leaving in its wake, an atmosphere of uncertainty and gloom, it is pertinent to reflect on the President’s statement and consider whether Boko Haram is really being contained, controlled or crushed as the international community was assured way back in March or whether it is Boko Haram which is containing and crushing Nigerians. If the reality on ground is skewed towards the latter scenario, one has to wonder then, why Mr. President made that statement. Was it because he felt that such an assurance was necessary to restore the confidence of (potential) investors in Nigeria’s political and economic viability to absorb their crisp emerging market DollarsYuan and Won?

Of course as Commander-in-Chief, President Jonathan is privy to classified reports from intelligence agencies and his security advisers. Based on such intelligence reports, he probably felt confident that the noose was tightening fast around Boko Haram and thought it timely to enthusiastically inform the world of such impending victory, at Seoul. Quite possibly, the President felt sufficient information to close in on Boko Haram had been garnered from the scores of suspects apprehended in the past few months, such that security forces were just on the verge of moving in for the kill. Or perhaps President Jonathan’s premature enthusiasm was just one of those one-off statements leaders make, on the prodding of their advisers, as a gamble, with their fingers crossed under the table and toes crossed in their presidential shoes, hoping against all odds that such a statement turns out to be true.

Whatever the reason behind this rather impulsive and premature assurance, it is now evident that the exact opposite came to pass. One could speculate thus, that it is owing to this realization by the President, that he fired his erstwhile National Security Adviser (NSA) General Andrew Owoye Azazi and the erstwhile Defence Minister Alhaji Haliru Mohammed Bello. This much can be inferred from the reason given by President Jonathan for sacking them in order to “conform to the changing tactics of the Boko Haram insurgency”

Considering how dark and bloody June 2012 has turned out to be contrary to earlier assurances, one truly hopes that the President would be more tactful and selective in his choice of words on such combustible issues, in the near future. This would perhaps depend on the outlook and the new security strategy that would be adopted by the newly appointed NSA and yet to be appointed defence minister. Hopefully again, this bitter and dark lesson learnt would spawn a culture of having regular press conferences which would avail Nigerians of real and actual progress made by security agencies in tackling insecurity in Nigeria at all tiers of government, especially the Federal Government. This should particularly apply to progress made in the arraignment, trial and conviction of key suspects who have so far been apprehended. This is just so that ordinary Nigerians’ fears are allayed and people are more informed about what is quite frankly, a life or death situation for many.

By Zainab Usman

http://zainabusman.wordpress.com

 

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HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED BY IDOWU OLUWATOYIN

CHAPTER ONE.

It wasn’t that he won, it was that Tessy grew tired of arguing. Kunle’s voice had graduated from loud to yelling and the neighbours were now sure to be listening. She hated entertaining the neighbours, especially the ones who lived in the apartment next door. They looked at her in a funny way whenever their paths crossed in the stairway, as if they knew the details of her private life. Read more

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Nigeria Go Survive By Stella Damasus

There is so much to talk about that I don’t even know where to begin. Let me skip some experiences and talk about the conversation I had with my aunty in my hotel room in the United Kingdom.

She asked me how Naija was and I said ‘well we thank God’. Of course, I knew she hated answers like that so I quickly apologised.

In as much as I try to be as positive as I can about every situation, it was slightly difficult to talk about Nigeria in that manner. Read more

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QUR’AN BABY AND DOUBTING THOMASES (Part 2) BY PROF ISHAQ AKINTOLA

This is a continuation of the first part of this write up. You can read it before proceeding with the second part. QUR’AN BABY AND DOUBTING THOMASES (Part 1)

Now to continue our stories on various signs revealed by Allah to affirm the authenticity of Islam as His one and only religion: five pieces of beef which bore the names of Allah and Muhammad (SAW) were found by Yahaya Muhammad Sa’adan. Read more

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THE QUR’AN BABY AND THE DOUBTING THOMASES BY ISHAQ AKINTOLA

I have always said that Divine Truth will eventually overwhelm social truth. The baby born in Lagos on Monday, 7th May 2012 with the Qur’an in his hands is another sign from Allah to warn everyone that Islam is the way. No matter what the so called civilization and its authors do, Allah continues to prove that Islam is His one and only true religion. I didn’t say so. The Glorious Qur’an says so, “Verily indeed the religion recognized by Allah is Islam” (Qur’an 3:19).  Read more

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MUHAMMADU BUHARI SCARES GOODLUCK JONATHAN BY DURO ONABULE

wpid-Picture-of-President-Jonathan-and-Buhari1In this period of seeming total nationwide helplessness in the face of gross misgovernance at national and state levels, heightened by the criminality and impunity of looting of public funds, it is relieving that someone can still frighten President Goodluck Jonathan into some semblance of his efforts if not achievements in ruling Nigeria. Read more

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Role Of New Media In Governance By Bukola Saraki

I start by saying thank you for extending this invitation on how best government and other stakeholders can establish appropriate structures and platforms to take advantage of new media tools in driving transparency, accountability and public service delivery.

In the last few years, governance all over the world has witnessed fundamental changes with the emergence of new media. With recent occurrences all around the world, it has become paramount for every government official, employees and even contractors to embrace the use of new media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Radio, TV, websites that are updated daily, and periodic bulk SMS messages to show transparency and accountability in public service through direct engagement with stakeholders.

The use of new media in governance has altered the style of communication radically. Now we have internet discussion groups and chat rooms which provide unprecedented opportunities for political discourse. It is clear that this transformation from print media to electronic media has important implications to the development of our country, especially as people have been influenced significantly.

Moreover, there is more political information disseminated today through a vast range of sources on the web. Political news is available at the click of a mouse and one of the primary characteristic has been the interactive communication that technology facilitates among citizens, politicians and even media personnel. Rather than the citizens being passive recipients of information be it from the Federal Government or the National Assembly, it is now possible for citizens to make their political opinions and presence known, and to play a more active role in governance.

For example, the Democratic Party in United States was able to use this tool to galvanize members of the public, most especially during the Obama campaign, and have kept this momentum going in order to maintain their support. I remember recently, President Obama (@BarackObama) and Senator Kirsten Gillbrand (@SenGillibrand) of New York among other legislators I follow on Twitter, have used the medium to seek the public’s opinion and support and to ask them to reach out to their representatives to pass particular bills.

During the election in 2011, I noticed that a large number of Nigerians are on different social media platform and I felt it was only proper for me to be able to bring information to them at the comfort of their home, school, place of work and practically everywhere. That singular act afforded me the opportunity of undiluted feedback and real time interaction.

New media has turned the world into a global village. Let us take a quick look at how new media has liberated countries in the Gulf. Take for instance the Arab gulf countries which welcomed the unprecedented political initiative of founding the most popular Arabic language news and information satellite channel Al-Jazeera; this happened to be the only independent satellite television news. Sequel to this emancipation, the country in recent times has been subject to a series of censorship from various government interest groups as a way of checkmating the excesses of local contents.

Liberation of the press from government and special interest groups interference had a corresponding effect on the way media is being viewed, thus permitting freedom of speech and public opinion through the new media especially Radio, TV and social media sites which have paved way for a healthy civil society. The “Arab Spring” witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East relied heavily on new media, mostly social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Blackberry Messenger. These processes led to unprecedented transparency and have helped the government to play a decisive role in resolving the crisis to bring about normalcy.

Here are some basic statistics

Official Country Name: United State Of America

Region (Map Name): North and Central America

Population: 278,058881

Language: English, Spanish

Literacy Rate: 97.0%

Area: 9,629,091 sq km

GDP: 9,837,406 (US$ millions)

Number of Daily Newspapers: 1476

Total Circulation: 55,945,000

Circulation per 1,000: 264

Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 48,700 (US$ millions)

% of all Ad Expenditures: 33.10

Number of Television Stations: 1500

Number of Television Sets: 219,000,000

Television Sets per 1,000: 787.6

Number of Cable Subscribers: 70,991,360

Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 252.1

Number of Satellite Subscribers: 16,000,000

Satellite Subscriber per 1,000: 57.5

Number of Radio Stations: 10,322

Number of Radio Receivers: 575,000,000

Radio Receivers per 1,000: 2,067.9

Number of Individuals with Computers: 161,000,000

Computers per 1,000: 579.0

Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 95,354,000

Internet Access per 1,000: 342.9

Over 7 million Nigerians worldwide are on Facebook, 2 million active users on Twitter, over 50 million internet users, and 100 million active mobile phone lines. This has made sharing of information very easy, which is essential to the development of our great country. Now Nigerians in Diaspora can get real life information within minutes if not seconds. There is no doubt that new media is now the most dominant and strategic mode of communication.

As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, new media has been exceptionally helpful as it has offered the opportunity for public participation in governance. For example, when the oil spill occurred in Bonga, through my website and twitter account, I was able to get real life images and reports from people on the ground even before the agency in charge submitted their report. This made it easier to facilitate and immediately initiate an on-the-spot assessment by the committee to visit the location of the spill in record time.

Everywhere in the world, citizens participate actively in governance through new media; this medium allows for free expression of opinion irrespective of political, religious, ethnic or social status. It shouldn’t be any different in Nigeria. It is the individual responsibility of every one of us in this room to canvass the needed awareness, and publicize the strengths and shortcomings of every arm of government to help enhance our democracy, as transparency will bring about good governance. There is no other platform that is vibrant and can provide such a robust interactive platform to continue to promote good governance than new media.

Effective communication in government is a good way to amplify people’s voices, face-to-face communication that can either be one-on-one or in small groups. The objectives are to share information, respond to questions, and motivate specific behavioral practices. The belief is that while new media allows for the learning of new ideas, interpersonal networks encourage the shift from knowledge to continued practice. Communication is always a two-way stream. While we are still working to perfect the possibility of answering each and every question sent through my website, Twitter and facebook, it is important to stress the importance of issue-based conversations. I have noticed that a few people will rather engage in character assassination rather than engage in constructive criticism.

I must commend great minds that regardless of political affiliation have been able to contribute to the development of our great country by providing solutions to issues and giving constructive criticism. In one of such criticism, when a young man by the name of Adewale Omoba Adebayo in January of 2012 sent me an email asking me to ask my fellow legislators and the Federal Government of Nigeria how they expected him and many other Nigerians who barely make minimum wage to afford the 141 Naira fuel price. I immediately called on the Federal Government to revert back to 65 Naira or at least to give opportunity for negotiation.

I also must extend my sincere appreciation to all the Civil Society Organizations that have supported different government agencies by bringing them up to speed with the use of modern technology. During the election, quite a good number of organizations were reporting how election was going on in their respective wards. I want to encourage these organizations not to relent in this effort as we need their input on a daily basis to help keep us in check.

By encouraging more cooperation between CSO’s and different government parastatals, the best use of resources can be leveraged. We have seen all over the world how new media is used to fight crime and we must be able to bring our institutions up to par with this modern technology.

Government must continue to embrace new media. With the use of the Freedom of Information Bill, activities of the government will become open book available for all to flip through. This will offer a feedback channel, keeping the citizens abreast of happenings in the country. If every government official in all levels could embrace the use of new media, half of our job would be done because it will speed the process of dividends of democracy provided that is devoid of constraints by geographical boundaries and technological limitations.

In conclusion, while using new media, we must understand that it cannot replace the traditional mode of communication, which is one on one communication. A few months ago, I started #ABS INTERACTIVE SESSION which has provided me the opportunity to put names with faces of my online constituents and members of the community at large. These meetings confirmed my greatest fear which is the need to carry members of the public along so they will not be misled by wrong or diluted information sometimes propagated by our traditional media sources. The response received from the Interactive session was quite instructive as it has helped sharpened the approach needed to tackle matters such as unemployment, education and entrepreneurship.

Despite the challenges posed by new media as it concerns availability of reliable internet accessibility, government will continue to strive to deliver online content in new ways and new venues as technology impacts where and how people consume content. We must still work to make all government offices internet-accessible. Also, it is imperative to have civil servants trained to be computer literate in line with international practice of bringing governance closer to the people.

I leave you with this: For all citizens to be deliberately engaged in governance is the price and promise of democracy. I urge you to engage all elected officials constructively as we work towards a better nation upheld in the transparency and trust of its government.

My website is www.abubakarbukolasaraki.com

Facebook www.facebook.com/bukola.saraki

Twitter: @BukolaSaraki

 

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Between D’Banj And Don Jazzy By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, please let’s leave politics for this week and discuss my primary constituency, showbiz. I’m always happy to see young people break barriers of poverty through creativity. This is why I have invested materially and otherwise in our talented youths since 1989 when Sir Shina Peters broke record charts with his monster album, Ace. I doubt if any other album has recorded such monumental success. Read more

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