Rights After The 26 Migrants Tragedy – The Nigerian Agenda, By Jimi Bickersteth

Every story has an end. But in life every ending is just a new beginning. This are distressing times. I was returning from a reverie on a failed bid to cross the border for greener pastures on the other side, when I was ship wrecked. In that ship wreck, I lost almost everything I owned. But I did not loose the most important thing- my life. Fire broke out in the ship’s kitchen.

The fire spread and so did panic among the passengers. Women were fainting, children were crying and men were screaming threats in every direction, but to no one in particular. Everyone at the same time ran to the lifeboats on each side of the deck.

However, there were few lifejackets. I had no lifejacket and the flames were rising, the only reasonable thing to do,was,jump into the
sea – a  novice in swimming. What a day! As soon as I found myself in the cold water,the sea became rougher and the fight to stay afloat tougher. I became tired,dazed and fagged out,and being gradually dragged to a watery grave.

The above narrative of
yet another treatise was playing solitaire in my mind at the wake of the breaking news of the 26 Nigerians
that died and were unilaterally buried at sea by the Italian authorities. Let me quickly add in parenthesis, that this is ominous, disgraceful as it is to Nigerians as a people, embarrassing to the nation even as it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Bad publicity it is.

One is galled. Sad still,that even those of our compatriots,who struggled to make it to North Africa and other fringes and borders of Europe, paid high prices,lost their homes, homeland, their jobs,their freedom and their self-respect, ended up living as slaves- captivity that has no expiration date,unlike the milk in the supermarket that has expiry date,after which it can’t be used. One can’t blame them,when the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

The sun shone in the clear blue sky,signalling the birth of a new dawn, and a new day, and a new beginning for the living. The air filled with a soft,sweet fragrance of the countryside. One’s hearts sends condolences to the departed 26,and the numerous others unaccounted for, whose relations believed were in one European city or the other.

The nation,no doubt,is crippled by distraction and disabled by insincerity, it would therefore, be worthwhile for her youths to stand,stretch and be able to reach for the sky,but then, they must be patient,not this hurry-to-arrive-senses.

Patience. Yes, patience; of course, it is a difficult skill to practice in life’s enterprise. This is particularly so when you feel lonely, empty and incomplete. When this is the case,you can jump the gun, and make a choice based on your limited perspective rather than the large picture that would emerge if only you had sought and source for more information and waited patiently.

To keep you from making a mistake that can negatively impact the rest of your life, make you die unsung and buried like an ordinary dog,you must always ask the right questions, always ask! Find answers to those questions and act only when the time is right,and know that you are acting on the best and most comprehensive information available. If it doesn’t work out, you can relax in the knowledge that you did everything possible to make a wise decision.

But, the problem with our youths is that we want microwave maturity to exchange wisdom for information and depth for breadth-but it doesn’t work. Depth comes slowly. Therefore, waiting patiently is what life and success demand. Even when we’ve done the right things. But, often, our problem with waiting is not knowing when it would end. Farmers do this all the time, waiting for their crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that, you’ll stay steady and strong.

To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes, disastrous mistakes, may be the biggest and last mistake of all, trying to succeed on their own,but wired in a dead-end situations. Would like to further education, but can’t afford it. No jobs for the graduates, some are trapped by low income due to circumstances you cannot change. They sometimes fail,and fall and die trying to persistently in trying to change what can’t be altered.

Why not stop banging your head against a wall,and practice realistic thinking. You have certain talents, not your body parts; when you discover,develop and deploy them correctly, you’ll have success in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Ignore what you can’t change, focus on what you can,and opportunities will reveal themselves.

You’ll have to address your emotions, while they can be a gauge of how you feel,and a clue to what needs to be changed in your life for you to make progress in your life’s journey, never let emotion alone dictate your decisions. Ask anyone who has to perform at the top of their game, and you’ll find that much of their time is spent overriding their emotions.
However, listening to your emotions to get to the core of what’s bothering you that may lead you astray or to migrate can be a very revealing indicator.

You cannot afford to live life based on your emotions. The truth here is about what are seen are not made of things which are visible. Don Wood quipped, “Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed.” Do not fail to seek out the information and expertise you need. Band-Aid remedies never last.

No matter how hard you try,in order to open a locked door, you must use the right key. Stop acting and rushing on loneliness, frustration and on poor advice. So make yourself a hard jury, one that’s not easily convinced, one that requires concrete evidence before reaching a verdict. And remember that it’s better to lengthen the deliberation process and ensure the decision you make is right, than to reach a hasty conclusion and end up with a broken life, hearts and death.

To the Nigeria estate’s one of the best ways to bounce back from this grief and loss of potential leaders is for the nation to do a
one-eighty, and reach out to others,several millions of them who are hurting and lonely often with an attack of collywobbles and helped them through the most tragic experience of their lives.

It is become imperative and incumbent upon the government and political leaders to help the youths to stop shopping for lightning bolts. The air around the earth turns in huge circles, counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. As a result, local meteorologist can tell with a high degree of accuracy what the weather would be like,so you can dress accordingly. But as regard matters concerning migration and living and working abroad nothing is sacrosanct, nothing is given.

Every great thing in life has been built in exactly the same way since creation: bit by bit,step by step, little by little. When a people think they can “muscle” their way to success,it backfires on them. Let the nation examine its belief system, about who we are,what we have and what we can do. This’ll help the nation keep its perspective right, even as it respect and value everyone on a daily basis regardless of their social status, tribe, gender or other distinguishing factors.

Sure, there are troubles youths must carry,responsibility to shoulder, and paths their soul must tread alone. The government cannot smooth the road,nor its benevolence lift the heavy load. But just to know you have a compassionate government and a nation who will ‘stand by’ until the end, one where sympathy through all endures, whose large, big and warm handclasp is always
out- it helps somewhat to pull one through, although there’s nothing it can do,but the nation can make do with its inspiration, protection, counseling and provision of other safety nets rather than leaving the citizenry stagnated and marinating in the gall of bitterness and wandering like clouds – aimless and ruder less in the milky way.

The government through its several bloated, on the brink and patently inefficient MDA’s should embark on massive campaigns, workshops, colloquiums,seminars, training etc letting the youths know that: i)success usually comes at the end of struggle,ii) that when it comes to success there are no shortcuts,reduced prices or “special deals”,and iii)that as they stay up on the wall and keep laying the bricks, death should not be an option.

The nation must teach its youths to learn to respond the right way to difficult living conditions its politicians foisted on them. That means teaching and mentoring them to discover ideas, strategies and resources in the most unexpected places and also dealing with frustrations.

This may be a wee bit difficult as a policy and programme,because the nation has lost its moral compass and its political leaders the moral obligations and authority,due to their greed,avarice and profligate lifestyles. The leadership itself needs a new orientation.

Having said that,its economy needs new character and strategies to rectify the underlying flaws which were aggravated by the out gone administration’s  policies of 1999- 2015, when it laboriously pretended the economy was fundamentally sound, but life had by now been shaken out of the lies, by the repercussions of a global oil fluctuating fortunes. That,account for  the nation’s inability to meet its most basic and ordinary day- to- day obligations.

The situation was so bad and aggravated,to the extent that the states governors were been forced to go cap in hand to Abuja, to solicit for a bailout, in order to be able to pay workers salaries.
This slapdash approach faulty from conception,does not appear to be a lasting solution. Nigerians would have expected PMB’s APC to depend largely on natural processes of recovery and PMB’s authority for bolder experimental remedies as the nation enter a new era of economic and sociopolitical change.

The Challenges of leadership in the nation today, and on PMB’s APC is not to ”window dress”, but to allay the fear of recession and also to bring an air of confidence and optimism as he introduces economic and sociopolitical reforms, bring about their fruition, and accomplish what previously had taken generations, before the global door of endless possibilities for growth and development swings shut.

The nation’s leaders must be wary that the reforms the nation crave for were about the stark realities of the Nigerian life. In drawing the  reforms,public crticisms and debate must neither be dis countenanced nor interrupted or suspended. The APC must thus acknowledge that only it does not have the knowledge and understanding and intelligence of the nation’s development and strategies flaws,  therefore, the National reforms,should not only be broadbased and national in outlook and colour, but must also not be hastily drawn nor weakly administered.

The difference between the reforms being proposed here must be a wee bit different in approach from that of the outgone administration’s circus show, aptly tagged ” committee of Jonathan’s friends”.The proposed changes and reforms must bring to the individual citizen a sharp revival of interest in government, and must be free of any pecuniary considerations. Congruent to this is, formulating a new orientation, and begin to imagine life without crude oil and gas.

This thus call for a  revisit of the Land Use laws of the federation, with a view to settling once and for all the lingering confusion over who owns farmland, as this is hindering agricultural production and perpetuating poverty, because agricultural productivity is at about 8% of its potential,as lands acquisition skewed rather unequally to a class in the society and who go on to turn land speculation to a goldmine.

PMB must in good conscience arrest this tide of hundreds of thousands roaming the streets in search of food, work and shelter. As a first step in this direction PMB should forward an executive bill to the 8th National Assembly, wherein, a proposal for the army of the unemployed using an extended format of the current NYSC scheme, call it ‘the Youths Vanguard’ or whatever names he chose or fancy to call it. But the concept should be based on work relief rather than welfare. To bring relief to young men between 23 and 30 years of age, but ran in semi- military style to add the necessary discipline, toughness and spirit to leadership training and development.

The’ Youth Vanguard’ is to enrol jobless young men in work camps across the length and breadth of the nation for about 10000k per month. Without prejudice to those constitutionally assigned to some of those roles, they could help in a number of ways,some of which are:- street, rural and urban sanitation, peace corps, local policing and intelligence gathering,local health workers, providing regimented and organised emergency services, planting and maintaining trees to combat soil erosion and so on.
Be it noted that some of them are presently in traps and vocation that is self limiting.

The nation’s leaders must setup an agency that could generate more jobs, if the nation wants to foster industrial and commercial and economic growth. The APC government must also sponsor a remarkable series of legislative initiatives to fast track Nigeria’s economic recovery and ease the sense of the immediate crises. The president must be wary of dreamers, schemers and politicians alike, that are likely to emerge with economic panaceas that are likely to affect the pace of recovery.

To the rest of us,we cannot condemn the dead. We should see them the way we see a blind man walking to a cliff’s edge. Our reactions should not be deadpan but to have compassion and the love to show the rest a safer route.
Any organised,
time-conscious,
purpose-driven,make-it-happen kind of person would get upset with the incompetence and low productivity in our public service system. A system tending towards obeying the second law of thermodynamic,that in all physical processes every ordered system over time tends to become disordered.

Therefore, when you have the opportunity to encourage someone, do it. You never know what a person is going
through- that’s true,whether they live in a mansion or a mud hut. Let us endeavor to be kind. The rich and petty bourgeoisie in the land are so much committed to their business and busyness that they come across sounding harsh to the downtrodden and end up turning people off.In The Lion and the Muse,Aesop said,”No act of kindness, no matter how small, ever is wasted.” It cost to be unkind, but it pays to be kind. How many people outside of your biological children and extended relatives are you mentoring. Today, take every opportunity to be kind to others.

Leaving our youths to their own devices while trying to make things happen on their own terms has had to increase arms bearing, kidnapping for ransom Yahoo plus, killing, migration and now deaths.

Last line : PMB’s approval rating must have dipped badly, if pollsters were to measure his popularity. He should prove to Nigerians that he has assessed and experienced most of the ordinary sensations of life and the hunger to conquer more even with guile, passion and audacity.#
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and writer. He can be reached on Twitter via: @bickerstethjimi

Email: jimi.bickersteth@yahoo.co.uk
jimi.bickersteth@gmail.com

The Broken woman: Expect The Unexpected By Blossom Obi | @BlossomObi3

“I’m not a boy, I’m a girl, your girl” I begged trying to shield my face, it didn’t even make him flinch at the fierce way he hit me and I became too weak to fight back or shield my face.
“He’s a monster” I said to myself “never again” as I leaped quietly away.
Ebuka and I met a year ago at our hostel; he was fun to be with and had the hair of a bad-boy look. He was tall, broad-chested, dark-skinned and was quite charming to the eyes. Most girls my age were infatuated with him upon first sight, and they would flock around him quite often.
Joy, was not an exception. Before I moved into the hostel, she and Ebuka were close. But, when I came into the picture, things became different. She and Ebuka had a misunderstanding that drew a rift between their friendship.
When I moved in with Joy, she expressed concern about the people I was yet to become friends with in the hostel. She indirectly warned me against getting too close to Ebuka. Seeing that I was new, I took these warnings to heart and warded off every person who wanted to get to know me.
Ebuka and I became good friends not long after I had a fall-out with Joy, when she and her friend wanted to beat me up over a situation I knew nothing about. Ebuka came to my rescue hearing my screams. That was the start of our friendship.
We got really close and he fell hard for me and wanted us to be in a relationship but I didn’t really believe in true love and devoting my time to any man, so I declined.
One evening, we sat on the porch enjoying the cool air after we had washed all our clothes, relaxing from the stressful week we experienced. Ebuka kissed me, so I slapped him and told him never to do that again.
“I’m sorry” he apologized immediately “it won’t happen again,” he said. “It’s fine” I answered, feigning anger, when inside me I was flustered with mixed emotions.
Days passed that led into weeks which became months, and as all was being forgotten, this time I was the one falling. Ebuka knew I was beginning to fall for him, as it became unbearable to be without him and I always wanted him close. Our conversations delve into areas that my past self would scold my present self for indulging.
I wanted Ebuka, so when he asked me again saying “I don’t just want friendship, I want everything”.
All my walls were broken down already, so I said “yes!” He was so excited, lifting me by my legs, carrying me and serenading into an emotion I never imagined myself experiencing. He told me everything I wanted to hear.
We had moved in together the following year, did almost everything together, it was fun and exciting and sometimes I’d sit and say to myself “where have you been all my life?”
Yes it was that special, or at least I thought it was.
Two Christmases didn’t even flinch at the fierce way we loved each other. Ebuka was a jealous lover, and because of this, I stopped talking to most of my male friends. I didn’t want to get him angry or offended in any way.
There was a slight misunderstanding, when Ebuka read a text on my phone, I didn’t even know the text was there, and Ebuka hit me on the right cheek without even waiting for an explanation. With shock, uncontrollably tears rolled down my face, and as I tried to talk, the words would not just come out.
“Won’t you say anything?!” he yelled at me, incensed, holding the phone with the text message in it.
He was working on an assignment using my phone, that was when the message came in, and I didn’t even notice. I tried to collect it to go through the message, wanting to know what he had read in the message that was so infuriating to the extent it would make him hit me.
That was the first time he hit me. Anyways, we settled our differences and reconciled. I had almost no friends to talk to anymore, just a few who were not happy with my relationship with Ebuka. They had nothing negative to say about him, neither did they have anything positive to say.
Ebuka always hit me when we get into a heated argument. Sometimes when I’m not happy with something, I can’t even talk about it because I fear what the discussion might lead to. So, I’m drowned in my own sorrow.
This time I was fed up and tried to fight back. He pulled me up and hit my head hard against the wall, I felt a bit woozy for a split second. He didn’t stop there. He went to get a fork
“I’m going to use this on your face, you think you can leave me just like that? Not in your life,” he threatened.
I saw in his eyes something I had never seen before, so I knew he wasn’t joking. I had to calm down. Begging him to let me go, he took my phone, smashed it on the floor and told me to go pick it up
Without waiting for me, he yanked me back. I picked up the phone, crying bloodshot tears because of the memory that came with how I first got the phone.
 
Warrior In You
Every day we fight for something we want, we fight with our dreams, we fight with our emotions, and we fight with the belief that we are almost where we want to be. We stay to fight not because we enjoy it, but because we want to be able to tell ourselves we gave it a shot, forgetting that not everything is worth fighting for. So, if you must fight, fight for the person you’re choosing to be, fight to become a better you, fight like the warrior in you.
Blossom Obi writes from Owerri, Imo State. For comments and responses, reach her via obiblossom8@gmail.com

Wooing Investors: The Ganduje Way, By Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Since his assumption of the mantle of governorship of the most populous State in the Federation, His Excellency, the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR has been preoccupied with the herculean task of evolving strong and enduring institutions towards making the State viable, sustainable and self-reliant. According to him, strong and enduring institutions are more important than a strong leadership because the latter is ephemeral and transient and when a strong leader is no more in the saddle of leadership everything crumbles as the world has witnessed many a time.

That is why since 29th May, 2015 when His Excellency was sworn-in as the Governor of Kano State, his administration has been initiating people-centred policies, implementing programmes and undertaking reforms all in an effort to bring about rapid and sustainable progress in the State through capital and human development for strong and enduring institutions to evolve and take firm roots.

One of these laudable policies is aimed at making Kano State attractive to both local and foreign investors because the State has mineral/natural resources, vast fertile land and a huge population. In fact, the State Government has evolved an investor-friendly policy framework as land is given free of all encumbrances to serious investors in addition to tax holiday and export production zone to serve as other inceptives. What the State lacks is enough capital to transform these huge natural and human resources to economic value for the overall development of the State.

As taking loans is not a viable option, the Ganduje administration has switched its attention towards wooing investment from within and outside the country. Foreign direct investment is very important because it pools resources for setting up various businesses in the host country or State thereby creating jobs, generating revenue and transferring managerial skills/technology. But before a country or State attracts investment, there should be an enabling environment for investors to commit their valuable resources to any business undertaking. This is because foreign direct investment can lead to economic development, and economic growth serves as one of the magnets to foreign investors.

These investment determinants include availability of good infrastructures like electricity, roads, etc, absence of risks like economic and political instability, openness of the host’s economy, institutional environment like absence of bribery and corruption, ease of doing business, fiscal, financial, tax and land inceptives, a vibrant judiciary to protect private property and good return on investment, among other considerations.

Having realized this, the present administration has undertaken the task of creating the enabling environment for capital inflows into the State like the establishment of the Kano State Investment Promotion Agency (KANINVEST) under the chairmanship of a renowned industrialist, Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa, execution of infrastructural projects, land reforms through the creation of the Kano State Bureau of Land Management to check bottlenecks in land administration, strengthening of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, reforming the tax system via the Kano State Internal Revenue Service to replace the defunct Kano State Board of Internal Revenue and strengthening the Kano State Due Process Bureau to ensure transparency and accountability in the award of contracts, among other undertakings.

All these, have manifested into the upward review of Nigeria’s global ranking in the ease of doing business index as released by the World Bank in its 2018 report which indicated that Nigeria had moved up 24 points from 169th position on the 2017 ranking to 145 in this year’s ranking. President Muhammadu Buhari specifically thanked Kano and Lagos for this success.

The administration has also done a lot to ensure a peaceful society through active collaboration with the various security agencies operating in the State. With this unceasing logistical, financial and material assistance to the security agencies, the State has been ridden of the nefarious activities of kidnappers, armed robbers and cattle rustlers especially in the Falgore forest. Also, in the last two years, the State has enjoyed peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the diverse people devoid of any religious cum-communal crises unlike in many other States in the federation.

To be candid, these efforts on the part of the government has started paying up judging by the number of numerous willing and serious investors from within and outside the country that have indicated interest to invest their much-needed capital by setting up service and manufacturing industries in the State.

As at July, 2017, over 30 local and foreign investors from China, Spain, Canada, Italy, USA, Brazil, The Netherlands, India, England and Dubai have expressed serious readiness to set up various businesses in the State such as solar-power plants, tricycle assembly plants, leather works, city bus mass transit, organic fish fertilizer plant, 5-star hotel, modern waste processing plant, modular hospital, housing estate, modern abattoir, textile factory, private university, modern markets and above all the ambitious $1.8 billion electric metro light rail for which the provisional contract has been awarded to EEC-China Incorporated while awaiting the approval of the Federal Government for the project to take off in earnest.

In addition, some reputable local corporate bodies that have demonstrated interest to invest in Kano State include Dangote Group by undertaking a 100 megawatt solar power project worth $100-$120 million within 18 months, Brains and Hammers that will invest N168 billion in the construction of ultra-modern Kano Economic City, which work has already commenced & President Buhari is expected to lay the foundation when he visits Kano, All In One Global Concept Ltd that will invest N9 billion in the provision of a commercial parking area at Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi Market, Sabon Gari and MRB Nigeria Ltd that will commit N1 billion to the construction of 1,000-unit housing estate, among a host of others.

Already, a number of memoranda had been signed between the State Government and these investors specifying the commitments of each of the two parties for the successful take-off of these ventures for their mutual benefits. In fact, upon the fruition of these investments running into billions of US dollars, the socio-economic landscape of Kano State would be monumentally transformed thanks to the foresight and initiatives of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR.

His Excellency has also undertaken foreign trips to various countries in an effort to woo investors to the State. For example, between 19th and 26th September, 2017, the amiable and far-sighted governor led a high-powered 12-man delegation to the Peoples Republic of China to attend the 2017 Hunan-Africa Local Industrial Cooperation Conference held in Changsha on the invitation of the Vice Governor of Hunan Province, China during his earlier visit to Nigeria last April. During the China trip, the State delegation met with potential investors that indicated willingness to invest in the State and various memoranda were signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji on behalf of Kano State Government and the investing entities. For instance, the Lee Group agreed to invest in rice and sugarcane production, the Ruyi Textile Group, one of the biggest textile factories in the world, will establish a $600 million textile industrial park in the State while the INSPUR signed a memorandum of Understanding with the State Government on cooperation in the development of intelligent grain cloud/taxation cloud/security cloud/cloud data centre/digital cloud and advanced IT personnel training in the State. Kano State has also entered into a bilateral agreement between the State and Shandong Province in China during the trip.

Also, INSPUR will continue talks with Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil in the area of research, training and procurement of super computers and software to enhance the safe city security initiative.

Additionally, the Governor was also at the headquarters of Islamic Development Bank in Jiddah where he held a meeting with the Vice President of the Bank Mr Mansur Mukhtar and his management team over a $200 Million for Agricultural and Water Resources Development Projects in the state, which Kano is expected to begin receiving the funds from January 2018.

Other foreign fruitful and highly-rewarding foreign trips undertaken by the State delegation led by His Excellency in the last two years were to The Netherlands, USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to mention a few due to space constraints all in an effort to source for capital for the State.

Conclusively, as there is direct linkage between investment (whether from local or foreign sources) and economic growth, the Ganduje administration has been making consistent and deliberate efforts to make Kano State a safe haven for investors through various policies and programmes in order to develop the full potentials of the most populous State in the federation. Economic growth and development are solidly hinged on the utilization of land, labour and capital and since Kano State lacks especially the much-needed capital to spur economic activities, it has to look inward and outward for investment and doing so requires taking some concrete and specific measures to attract and retain both local and foreign investment. Many infrastructures have been undertaken with some completed and ready for commissioning very soon while others are on-going like the Challawa-Gorge and Tiga independent power projects as well as embarking on institutional and governance reforms to make the State magnetic to investors for job creation, revenue generation and development of the local industrial base through skills/technology transfer.

Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Director General, Media and Communications to the Governor of Kano.

Of 26 Migrants, 180 Million Citizens And Nigeria’s Troubling Diplomatic Relations, By Femi Okunlola

The recent death of 26 Nigerian Migrants in Italy, who were allegedly tortured and sexually abused before their death, seems to have brought about a diplomatic situation of sorts between the FG and the Italian govt.

Several questions have been asked over why the Nigerian government did not have a representative there for the burial, why the Italian government changed the initial day of the burial originally slated for the 26th November, and had an impromptu burial 2 weeks prior etc.

This has also opened up the sore matter of why the migration of youths still persist; It will be remembered that in January 2017, figures from the Italian Interior Ministry estimated the record of Nigerian arrivals at 36,000, with most of them claiming they were running away from Boko Haram insurgency or Niger Delta crisis.

Despite the debatable reasons given, the uncontested facts remain that most Nigerian youths see the grass as being greener on the other side; a reflection of Nigeria’s domestic reality at home. The constant migration scenario once again opens up the Nigeria’s problematic diplomatic relations with the international community.

Hence, while it is tempting to view the Italian- Nigerian government back and forth as an episodic one, it is important to note that this is a drop in an ocean of diplomatic challenges which continue to directly and indirectly affects the country’s over 180 million citizens.

Nigeria’s Foreign Relations: the Misses

Nigeria has a foreign policy, but weather it is a working one or not, is a different discussion entirely. A number of factors shape the foreign policy of a state among which are the domestic environment of the state, how is the state organized, state of the economy, opportunities for citizens and foreigners and most importantly perception of the outside world on how we organize ourselves.

All the afore-mentioned factors unfortunately have not been under the control of the Nigerian government. As this article is being written hundreds of Nigerians are en-route Libya and the Sahara desert in search of “the better life”. In a nutshell, the domestic environment has come to mean a lot in determining the relationship between countries.

As alarming as the recent Italian scenario may look, this is not the first time that Nigeria has been caught in a diplomatic messy situation . Under the Gaddafi civil war era which left hundreds of Nigerians trapped in Libya, the delay by the Nigerian government in evacuating Nigerian citizens early enough led to a massive massacre of Nigerians.  Life moved on.

The xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa have also elicited mere condemnations from the federal government, without any concrete actions and end in sight. Under the Jonathan administration, the Cameroonian government claimed to have informed the Nigerian government of intentions to release water from the dam, but after nothing was heard, the said dam was opened and a flood ensued; meaning that sometimes the government hasn’t exactly been proactive in its duties. Several years ago, the media was agog with news of some citizens leaving the shores to join the ISIS. The question persists about what has been done to stem the flow of these citizens. With these persistent flops, how do we expect other nations to take us seriously when even our coordination seems to be off in the aspect of the sync between the foreign affairs ministry?

It does appear that foreign policy hasn’t been placed as priority by the Nigerian state, and there are copious evidences to back this up.

A way Forward:

The unemployment situation in the country remains a challenge and while individuals cannot be stopped from migrating wherever they so desire, movements made in droves tell the story of a challenge within. The perception of this has a damaging impact on the country’s reputation abroad. The truth of the matter is that once your economy starts failing, the respect given by the international community begins to deteriorate. It majorly starts from the economy.

The issue of citizen diplomacy which revolves around citizens’ rights outside the shores of the land, which has been pursued in recent years, has to be advanced and gaps covered. The issue of budgetary allocations for the foreign office becomes crucial.

Over the years despite having over 100 diplomatic missions, the amount allocated hasn’t risen above 3 percent of the annual budget.  These monies cover running costs, allowances of staff etc. This is alarming comparing the figures with that of other smaller countries; Benin Republic has dedicated 7% of its budget to its foreign relations; South Africa is also known to dedicate a serious portion of its budget to foreign relations.

The 2014 National Confab did lament the issue of foreign policy, even the current senate has lamented the poor funding of the Nigerian foreign policy, hence, what we have is a vicious cycle of poor funding, lowering of morale, Nigeria’s diplomatic staff not having the morale to ask the right questions. Note that Gabon, UK, US, Poland have now formed the habit of deporting Nigerians without relevant questions being asked. These gaps need to be blocked.

It is important to also get the right people i.e. in terms of representation of those who run the foreign offices. The President of the country has the right to appoint the minister of Foreign affairs, and he has done this by appointing Geoffrey Onyeama who despite having an impressive CV hasn’t exactly satisfied questions on competence on the Job, however worthy of note are the three offices responsible for the country’s imaging outside its shores i.e. the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency and the Diplomatic missions.

In the Nigerian scenario, Abike Dabiri (presidency) has proven to be more active in terms of rising to the occasion, while the foreign affairs ministry has been a bit slow at this. When rights are trampled, these three parts need to sync.

Some of the basic principles guarding our foreign policies also need to be reevaluated. Professor Hassan Salihu; a political and foreign policy expert, postulates a need to comprehensively review Nigeria’s policy which still runs on that of the Balewa administration from the 60’s; a position which is totally different from that of 2017. Three things must be considered here i.e. Nigeria’s location in the international system, resources presently possessed, and what interests we ought to be pursuing now? Doing this helps to answer afore mentioned questions and find relevance on the global stage.

While foreign relations under the present administration seems to have been boosted under the Buhari administration when compared to the Yaradua and Jonathan era, more must be done in line with our economy and perception as a leader in the continent, beyond the mere pride in the strength of its 180 million population.

Femi Tunde Okunlola is a Development Broadcast Journalist and Writer from Nigeria, covering Africa, with a focus on Governance, security and Environment. He holds a Master’s in Peace and Development studies, is an Obama YALI RLC Fellow, and RNTC Netherlands Alumnus. Tweet @iam_fto,  E-mail: tundeenglish@gmail.com 

 

The Controversy That Is Kaduna Teachers, By Mukhtar Jarmajo

Usual of him, Mallam Nasiru Elrufai, the Kaduna state governor is yet to even indicate any sign that the decision by his government to sack about twenty two thousand primary school teachers may be revisited despite the hues and cries that greeted its announcement. But those who know the governor know that it is most unlikely that the government would even give the matter a second thought.  The announcement of the decision, which followed conduct of a competency test by the state government, has already caused heated debate in the polity.
While many a commentator holds the opinion that in the interest of a greater Kaduna state, the teachers should be sacked, many other commentators appear to think that to save the future of Kaduna state, the teachers should rather be retired. Others however, expressed the opinion that the teachers should be transferred to other ministries, departments or agencies where they may fit in.
What is apparent meanwhile is that most of the commentators seem to agree that the teachers should not remain. How they should go is what has been a matter for the debate. And now, the world is waiting to see how Governor Nasiru Elrufai would end this controversy that is Kaduna-teachers. If meanwhile, the governor decides to begin to think that not all problems are resolved radically, some problems are actually resolved through dialogue and negotiations, the matter would be resolved amicably.
After all, this is democracy where all government policies and programs are expected to have human face and be people oriented. Thus, where the leadership and followership appear to be on different pages, it is the responsibility of the leadership to rally round all stakeholders in the matter to reach a particular level of understanding with a view to arriving at a solution that would be in the interest of all.
Governor Elrufai should be commended for identifying the problems in the Kaduna state education sector and insisting that the right thing should be done to save future generations. What the governor did is in line with the administrative thought that it is the responsibility of a leader to identify the right thing and insist on doing the right thing. Administratively, there is this idea of doing the right thing and doing things right.
While as indicated earlier, the leader insists on doing the right thing, his aides, advisers, staff and or subordinates are to work on doing things right. A right thing wrongly done becomes a wrong thing, let alone a wrong thing rightly done. Thus, the controversy that is Kaduna-teachers may just be lying between doing the right thing and doing things right.
Therefore, in order to do things right, the Kaduna state government was supposed to first holistically look at education and identify key actors whose actions or inactions have direct bearing on its quality. And these are parents, the society and the government. By this, it becomes quite clear that quality education is not determined merely by teacher qualification but also by the approach of parents, the society and government towards administration of education.
And it is true that the trio of parents, the society and government, not only in Kaduna state in particular, but also in Nigeria in general, treat matters of education with utter disdain. Today, many parents place education low in their priority lists. Much the same, in a manner as to show how low the society places education, unlike in the past, teachers are no longer highly placed and respected in the polity. Government on its part, hardly adequately fund and effectively administer education.
So in the attempt at resuscitating education, the first thing to do was to come together and ask that all stakeholders begin to treat education matters with the requisite attention and commitment. And being the policy maker and the main driving force of development, the government of Kaduna state under the able leadership of Nasiru Elrufai should have first rolled out and made public a plan on how it intended to revamp education. This would have earned the project public confidence and gave the people hope for a better tomorrow.
The plan would of course mention in plane terms how government intended to adequately fund education, increase teachers remuneration, pay more attention on teacher training and retraining and provide better learning atmosphere.  The plan should also mention the level of rot in the Kaduna state education sector as the reason for the competency test.
And given that all matters relating to staff compulsory retirement or dismissal usually bring about industrial disharmony, for the purposes of confidence and credibility, the Kaduna state government was supposed to involve the National Teachers` Institute (NTI), Teachers` Registration Council (TRC), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and any other body deemed important in this regard to play identified roles in the conduct of the competency test that eventually disqualified about twenty two thousand teachers.
This wouldn’t have only given credibility to the exercise, it would have gone as far as answering the question to the effect that, aside the NTI, is there any  other organization or committee that can either certify or disqualify anyone as a teacher?
Jarmajo wrote from Bauchi.

Maryam Sanda: Kannywood Is Not To Blame, By Muhsin Ibrahim

Once again, Kannywood is being dragged into the limelight and for the same reason: moral issue. The story of the murder of husband, Bilyaminu Bello by his wife, Maryam Sanda has been trending in the news since it happened on 18th November 2017. Domestic violence, which, if not tackled, leads to mariticide, is as old as marriage itself.

Therefore, using a picture of an actress, Aina’u Ade wielding a knife against an actor, Ali Nuhu from a scene of a Kannywood film to show how Maryam got influenced is, at best, wrong and, at worst, absurd. Do we care to look at what are the context and the consequence of that act in the film?

Let me digress a little. I had no intention to write this article for several reasons. However, a number of friends and acquaintances kept on ‘asking’ me to intervene. Let me make it clear to them that being Kannywood an area of my study does not make me their mouthpiece, nor does it make it my responsibility to defend anything and everything related to the film industry.

It is inaccurate to even imagine that if a person researches on a topic that he should ‘defend’ the actors related to it. Imagine yourself conducting a research on Boko Haram, ISIS, etc. Would you ever defend their dreadful insurgency? I write this only for clarification, not defence.

Back to our topic: domestic violence is something ubiquitous throughout the world. For instance, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), a conservative, Shari’ah-abiding country and its rival, Iran, another Islamic Republic, reports in 2016 indicate that domestic violence cases are on the rise. There is, of course, a vibrant film industry in the latter but not in the former. Let’s assume the film is responsible for the rise in Iran – a baseless assumption, though – but what of Saudi Arabia?

A Saudi psychologist, Dr. Ali Al-Zayeri, according to Al Arabia (English) news of Wednesday, 2 March 2016, attributes the increase to growing tension, depression, unrest and lack of self-confidence among men. Many other experts associate the increase to assorted reasons, but none mentioned film.

Well, attaching the film to violence is a banal debate, which is, though, endless. Media experts have argued over and again about this for years. A reductionist theory called Technological Determinism supposes that “changes in society and culture are driven by advances in media technology and by the content of the media to a large extent”, while the Cultural Determinists oppose this by maintaining that “culture determines the nature of the media and their content”. Although I am not an authority here and, thus, my view may not hold water, I believe both presuppositions are quite right.

The film relies on verisimilitude, though fantasy and legend as genres defy this. But other films are a lot life-like. That is why we often say that an actor’s roles resemble somebody we know. In other words, we oftentimes identify people we know in many films we watch. This is to tell you that there is a symbiotic relationship between film and real life. As this exists, there is some likelihood that both (technology/film content and culture) stand the possibility to influence each other, thereby making both the technological and cultural determinists’ arguments valid, to an extent, at least.

I don’t deny the fact that an actor could effortlessly manipulate the minds of thousands through a single appearance in a film. Child psychologists and other experts argue that behav­iour observed on television is very easily learned without any difficulties by a child, but hardly by an adult. It is a common view to see a teeming youth trying to ape a particular actor or actress in speech, action, dressing and so on. Some are even called after their favourite actor’s name. This is hardly obtained in the case of grown-up adults and well educated as Maryam Sanda is, in this case.

I can recall a similar domestic violence some more than 20 years ago in our neighbourhoods. A woman just called Y’ar Baba was forcibly married to a man she doesn’t love. She stabbed him in his groin on their first night, and I think he eventually died. As children, we trooped to Gwale Police Station, singing a song thus: Allah ya tsinewa Y’ar Baba/Mai yanka mijinta a daki, meaning: May Allah curse Y’ar Baba/Who slays her husband in a room. This occurred more than 20 years ago. Where was Kannywood, please?

Everything said, as aforesaid, my take is not a general defence of the film industry called Kannywood. I have equally criticised them on many grounds, morality inclusive. I, however, believe that it will be unfair to scapegoat them in this murder case. Maryam may not even be an avid watcher of their films.

We well know that long before the inception of Kannywood, other films, mainly of Bollywood, Hollywood and Hong Kong film industries, were what we used to watch. Their influence is still felt among us – in our films, courtship, dressing, language, etc. She was, perhaps, influenced by some of these, or something else. In this age of globalisation, where, as one scholar says, the “local” becomes global and the “global” becomes local, one cannot tell, precisely, where, when and how one gets influenced and motivated to carry out something we consider abhorrent.

Kannywood is a phenomenon which our “armchair” criticism and condemnation cannot tame. We had better wake up and truly do something towards making it better, or keep quiet. Oftentimes, the more the industry generates controversy, deserving or otherwise, the more popular it becomes. The human mind is set in such a way that out of curiosity, it desires more to see what it is denied or warned from seeing. I, thus, believe that the best way to deal with the industry is not to blame it for all our socio-religious, moral and cultural ills. They are not to blame in entirety; we are, to a large extent. Let’s go back to the drawing board.

On the domestic violence in our country, the government should come up with a law to combat it. Many countries, including the KSA, Iran, India, Pakistan, etc. have done it this way and it is yielding positive results. Although there is a similar law in Nigeria, it, however, leaves much to be desired, practically and according to several legal experts. Therefore, the government ought to do more. Perpetrators, whether male or female, rich or poor, etc should be brought to book.

May Allah rest the soul of Bilyaminu Bello and grant comfort and solace to his loved ones, amin. May Maryam Sanda reap what she sowed, amin. May peace reign in all our matrimonial homes, and the bachelors’, too, amin.

2019 Oyo Guber: Shittu And The Changing Narratives

The events in recent times in the political landscape of Oyo state had left much to be desired as old friends are aligning and new alliances are being formed.  Ahead of coming 2019 elections, there are different permutations surfacing lately. The jostle for who occupies the Agodi seat of power may have just begun and political analysts have noted the politics of electioneering being played out by top politicians at the party level.

The former governor and leader of Accord party in the state, Rashidi Ladoja, has now traced back his footsteps to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The same story is read about Mr. Seyi Makinde, the former gubernatorial candidate of Social Democratic Party, SDP. While former governor Alao-Akala still remain within the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress.

There are no less than fifteen candidates warming up for the 2019 Oyo governorship elections. The most prominent candidate whose ambition is widely known is the current Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu. His recent political tour and penetration into every corner of the state is understandable. It is as though the minister is guided by the age-long wisdom in the adage; “a fox is not taken twice in the same snare” to leave no stone unturned. Having suffered electoral defeat twice, BAS, as he’s fondly called, has fasten his belt to rally round for support in all the four major regions of the state.

Taking the Oke-Ogun region for granted (being the region he came from), the former Oyo legislator has used his long years in living and working in Ibadan to earn a worthwhile traditional title at the palace of Olubadan Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, who recently conferred on him, the Agbaakin Afiwajoye of Ibadanland.

Earlier this month, he was honored with the award of Great Pillar of Trust at the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Diocese of Ogbomoso, alongside the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Femi Adeshina and the former governor of Oyo state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala. Just last weekend he was at Oyo federal constituency for commissioning of four boreholes, which were earlier commenced with six at Ibadan, another six at Oke-ogun and three at Ogbomoso, to complete the phase 1 of the Borehole projects – an initiative meant to provide access to potable water to the people and alleviate their sufferings.

The clamour to allow the Oke-ogun region ascend to power, is increasingly attracting more support from different angles. There is a clear signal from the presidency indicating the minister as the next governor of Oyo state. In a closely related development, the feud between the incumbent governor and the minister was finally resolved last week at a meeting that lasted for almost three hours, to the consternation all those who had worked tirelessly to see the discord between the duo perpetuates. Already there are tacit endorsements and support for Shittu from some traditional rulers in the state.

Shittu had again taken a move to pacify the long-neglected axis of the state that are yet to reap the dividends of democracy, to persuade them for support. A big political stalwart in Oyo, Prince Ajibola Afonja, popularly known as IGS, was seen during the weekend with the minister at the commissioning of the boreholes in Oyo.

During the period, the Prince observed that out of the fifteen candidates who had come to him for support, he singled out Shittu as his choice and the best man for the job. In a swift reaction, the singly appointed minister for communications was quick to seize the moment to identify himself as a typical Oyo indigene, noting that his father’s lineage is traceable to Ile Ilaka Olokuta of Oyo.

Pundits have opined that while other potential governorship candidates are still waiting for 2018 to strategize, the minister had acted very fast and smartly at that. The changing narratives of Adebayo Shittu have left many with no doubt of his bright chances to be the successor of governor Ajimobi.

This is a man with an unmatched political credentials and serious desire to pilot the affairs of the state. While the pendulum swings and we sit back to watch events as they unfold, we can only conclude now that the Shittu narratives are now changing for better in the state.

Asojúrere Idris Alao, a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Ogbomoso.

When are Nigeria’s Mugabes Going to Resign? By Festus Ogun

Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe has finally resigned a week after his former political allies and the army took steps to get him out of office. The resignation signifies an expected end to the days of dictatorial and undemocratic rule in Zimbabwe as the resigned President, Mugabe has ruled for about four decades.
To point thoroughly to the level of highhandedness and autocracy displayed by Mugabe, he unanimously sacked his Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. It was the sacking that led to the military takeover which finally forced Mugabe out and made him bow to civil pressure.
Wild jubilations and celebrations are presently ongoing all over the world – Africa in particular – as the 93-year-old man that have been in power since the country’s independence on April 18, 1980 gets out of power. Many described his resignation as a victory to Africa. Infact, The Punch editorial argued that his resignation “is good for Zimbabwe, (and) it is excellent for Africa.”
Even with all these, I am surprise seeing Nigerians making much jubilation over the ‘victory’ as if it is uhuru already. Thousands of Nigerians are making commentaries praising the Zimbabwean army for the job well done saying the resignation symbolizes the end of dictatorial and kakistocractic regime in Africa.  As I will not disagree with their claims, where they get the moral rights to make all these assertions is the source of concern to this writer.
In Nigeria, the set of people parading themselves as leaders are not in any way better than the brutal Mugabe. Any person that has properly studied the leadership and governing style of Nigeria will not make an attempt to dispute this fact. Even though we are made to understand, by virtue of several provisions in our constitution, that we operate a democratic government, we know in reality that what obtains in this clime is far away from democracy.
It is unarguable that the key features of democracy are periodic election and the rule of majority. Mugabe had been contesting and “winning” presidential elections in his country even without the people’s legitimacy since 1980. It will interest you to know that Mugabe has made himself eligible to contest the August 2018 presidential election despite being very close to his grave. Reports have however shown that election rigging, killing and persecution of political opponents, chronic hatred for criticism and serious totalitarianism are what kept him in power till the point of his resignation. Without much imagination, it is crystal clear that self-imposition of himself on the people and gross violation of his subjects’ fundamental rights are against the tenets of democracy.
All that featured in Mugabe’s too many years of misrule are equally prevalent in Nigeria up till today.
As a people, like Zimbabweans, we are still being governed by people of the same wine since our official birth in 1960. We cannot deny the fact that it is the set of people leading us even before Zimbabwe gained her independence that we still call leaders till this present moment. It was the men that ruled us in different offices decades ago that are still ruling us till today. To buttress my point, it will be apt to figure out that two Heads of State that ruled during the military era have ruled and still ruling ( not governing) us since our return to democracy.
The yesterday’s Governor is today’s minister. Today’s minister is tomorrow Senate President. One time Vice-President, tomorrow’s President. One time local government Chairman, today’s House of Representative member. That is how the rigmarole continues that there is no iota of difference in our ruling class. As yesterday’s PDP, is today’s APC. No difference. The same people governing us in the past are those still in powers today, even till tomorrow despite the provisions of periodic election in our constitution. Then, tell me, how are we different from Zimbabwe, how are they different from Mugabe?
Do we talk of our Mugabe-like leaders’ sheer abhorrence for political criticism and disrespect for fundamental rights? Till today, political killings and prosecutions are still prevalent in this society of ours. Election rigging is still the order of the day which makes the same set of people remaining in power as many of them lack really the legitimacy of the people.
In the final analysis, let’s just hope a day is coming our leaders that have clung to power for too long doing virtually nothing will honourably resign and allow citizens with fresh but progressive political ideologies and the zeal to deliver Nigeria from eternal damnation to move to the seats of power. We have our own Mugabes too, let them resign now!
Festus Ogun is a human rights activist and 400level Law student of Olabisi Onabanjo University. Festusogunlaw@gmail.com .

The Role Of The Church When Marriage Becomes A Death Trap, By Usha Anenga

Marriage is a legal union between two consenting adults. Though this union is most times preceeded by a period of scintillating love relationship, it is laden with huddles. Love is a strong basis for and in marriage but many married people will tell you that the challenge of married is not love, but living together; sharing the same space and tolerating each other.

In this part of the world, the church is deeply involved with marriages; from the period of budding relationships to wedding solemnization, ensuring that couples know and adhere to Christian tenets concerning it. One of these is the dogma of “for better, for worse” which means the couple must accept the consequences of their decision whether the outcome is good or bad.

However, few years ago, a church had reason to change this doctrine. For decades, they had upheld and taught the usual principle “for better, for worse” and enjoined members to endure the ups and downs of their  marriages however extreme. All this  changed when a church member killed his wife.

After years of marriage and a few children, things became sore between a couple. They became incompatible as their quarrels and fights increased in frequency. The man, an elder in the church, would beat his wife for every little reason. A few times, the woman who was also a church leader, would reported her situation to the church council, but the Pastor would always encouraged her from the scriptures, reminding her of her status as women leader and the church marriage doctrine of “for better, for worse”. She endured to make the marriage work; to be a good example to young couples never to give up in marriage; to keep her status as leader amongst women and to keep her husband’s high-ranking portfolio in the church, all these to her detriment.

On that fateful morning, as her corpse was being wheeled to the mortuary, the entire community, immediate family, and children were surprised and devastated. The church members wondered how this could ever happen to such a “spirit-filled, tongue speaking and lovable” couple. The Pastor felt very guilty because unlike other mourners, he had a chance to save the woman but rather opted otherwise, to preserve the image of the church.

However, with this incident, the church council decided to revise its stands and amend the church policy concerning marriage and divorce. Even though the church encourages members to remain in their marriages, spouses who are under persistent physical abuse are now allowed to “separate”, live separately (not divorce) in the interest of their safety, and also that of their children.

Perhaps all churches, as matter of responsibility and urgency, should also consider the dark side of marriage and modify doctrines so as to preserve the lives of their members because the sanctity of life far outweighs that of marriage if one were to be chosen over the other.

Usha Anenga is a Medical Doctor and sociopolitical commentator. He writes from Makurdi, Benue State.

The End of An Era: A New Dawn for Zimbabweans, By Ridwan Sorunke

As President Robert Mugabe resigns, today marks a new dawn in the history of Zimbabwe. The happiness of Zimbabweans can be widely seen through the jubilations on the streets of Harare. Zimbabweans are the true winners as they witnessed the end of Mugabe’s rule, its only civilian rule since its independence from Britain in 1980.

Robert Mugabe is a unique example of an African revolutionary, a hero and a savior who eventually turned into a dominant discretionary dictator who held on to power for too long. Mugabe, a former revolutionary, ruled as the Prime Minister of the country from 1980 to 1987 and became the President in 1987, a position he held till his resignation earlier today. Prior to the 1980s, Robert Mugabe was as highly reverted as South Africa’s Mandela. Unlike Mandela, Mugabe clung to power and his reputation diminished over time.

While it is saddening to see how a once- revered revolutionary and national leader was forced to resign due to pending impeachment by his own party, the ZANU-PF, it is also worth celebrating. Robert Mugabe overstayed his welcome in office, he got consumed by power, he resisted his oppositions and he ran his country into shambles. Zimbabwe, which was previously the bread basket of Africa, was left impoverished, its economy left in ruins and the value of its currency shattered by a clientelistic and patronage-dominated government. At the expense of the well-being of millions of Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s wife, Grace (nicknamed Gucci Grace), and sons built a reputation around their expensive lifestyle and high-end parties.

Robert Mugabe of today is completely the opposite of the young revered African Nationalist who led Rhodesia to Independence in 1980.

When his people had expected him to step down in 2013, 89-year-old Mugabe declared his ambition to re-run for presidency stating that he would “fight like a wounded animal” for his re-election. He fought and he won, the last battle he would win. His actions finally broke the donkey’s back when he suspended his Vice President some months ago and endorsed his wife, Grace, to take over from him in 2018. Mugabe had gone too far this time and he was met by responses by his military and his party.

As an era ends in Zimbabwe, another must begin. Zimbabweans can only hope for an era of economic growth, equality and institution of democracy. It is important that the people of Zimbabwe must leverage this moment to establish their country as a force to reckon with and re-establish its position as the bread basket of Africa. Whoever becomes the President in 2018 will be faced with herculean tasks of rebuilding a nation in shambles, driving economic growth, increasing healthcare access and reducing the huge brain drain which has long affected the country. Let Zimbabweans savor this moment of change, it is long overdue.

  • Ridwan Sorunke

MA Candidate in International Affairs

Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

2019: A Chance For Redemption, By Chukwudi Sopuruchi

One of the good things that can happen to any man is to have a second chance to make amends on his mistakes and get things right. Such second chance affords any rational mind the opportunity to make up for the errors of the past. For whatever error or occurrence that holds no opportunity for its redemption, would leave whoever is involved with a lifetime feeling of pain and regret.

The year 2019 holds a lot for every citizen of Nigeria. It is a time the country will walk into another round of elections with litany of promises from aspirants vying for one political position or another. We must not forget in hurry, the ways in which the present government has affected us individually or generally, either good or bad while we ponder on giving our support to whomever we consider to be worthy to represent us at various levels come 2019.

It is no doubt that successive governments have failed in lifting the country out of its pitiable situation. Virtually all sectors are gasping for breath and it appears the country is headed nowhere, hence many of its citizens are disenchanted and have lost confidence in the country.

We all feel happy each time crime suspects are apprehended and paraded by the police. But have we ever bothered to know why many youths of the country take to crime? What genuine efforts do governments make to ensure the youths are meaningfully engaged in ventures that benefit them and the country at large?

A youth, after spending four to five years in the university and one year for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exercise, thereafter may stay close to five years without any job.  Not because he or she does not qualify for jobs, but you find out that even when there are chances of getting the job, another who may even be incompetent for the job will be taken due to the fact that such individual has a link to that job.

In most cases, all hope of the family is upon the young graduate to elevate the family. Some would humble themselves, drop their certificates in the box and move into streets to hawk wares or do other menial jobs, to at least be able to feed.  Some others may not consider this path as an option and these are the ones that take to crime, sometimes, out of frustration and anger against the society.

An idle mind, it is said is a devil’s workshop. Therefore, creating jobs remains the most potent way of fighting crime, rather than delighting in clamping citizens into gulags.

Nigerian is blessed with abundant mineral resources which other countries across the world survive on. This country produces petroleum, yet encounters scarcity of petroleum products. During these periods of scarcity, people ridiculously queue up, sleep and wake in various petrol stations, waiting for their turn to buy petroleum products. This is alien to most other countries that even buy petroleum from Nigeria. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the country

One thing common about most Nigerian politicians has been their deceitful nature. And until Nigerians tackle this common feature, the country may not record any progress. A fool is not the individual who makes a mistake and learns never to allow it repeat, but that person who makes mistakes that hurt him and returns to repeat them over and over. We cannot afford to be fooled again come 2019.

We have yet another chance to make a difference as we approach 2019. Apart from the usual election malpractices tagged rigging, the masses have the power to make sure that only credible candidates win the elections.

It is amazing and equally ridiculous how some politicians reason, but worst of all is how we the masses accept their deceit and at various levels. How come some politicians remember only when the election is around the corner that their people need water, food and health care, and therefore hurriedly engage in empty humanitarian exercises, only to varnish the moment they grab the mandate.

Before we accept and be convinced that a candidate truly is humane based on his recent philanthropy, we should look at his past history to know if he had been doing such, before giving him the mandate. One thing among others that I love about the present Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is the fact that, from his record has been a philanthropist before his ascension into the higher office of being the governor of Imo State. A rich child or those who are said to have been born with silver spoon in their mouth cannot understand this. They cannot understand what it means to live without food and no hope for the food. You needed to be educated like every other child and there was no body to give you a helping hand and so on. Then suddenly, a man surfaces from somewhere and picks you up, wipes away your tears and becomes everything to you. After God, I think, those children enjoying free education under Rochas Foundation, see Owelle Rochas Okorocha as next to God.

 We must learn from our past experiences and make amends by having our minds reoriented towards making the right choices of candidates in 2019. This reorientation of the mind should also spread to our people living in the rural areas as one vote can make a positive or negative difference.

It is unfortunate that some tabloids, some Facebook “Political attackers” and some social media bloggers are the ones spreading non existing hates among some politicians that they made us believe they are in serious enmity with one another when all indications are still pointing to the political saying, that “In politics, there is no permanent enemy, but permanent interest”. This happened recently, during the event marking the 75th birthday ceremony of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu. These politicians were seen raising one another’s hands in excitement and hugging one another. The same thing happened when Chief Iwuanyanwu dedicated his son.

The individuals who spread these falsehood and hate may be contracted to do the job of media representation but due to over zealousness and in a bid to please their master and retain the job, they go beyond the limit.

We are here once again for the usual drama that plays out during campaigns ahead of election. The degree of insult we receive on our God’s given wisdom and intelligence during campaigns are overbearing. When last did you eat plantain, roasted yam and corn with these politicians that did eat all those food with us, not minding if it is in the street, around the gutter?

Let’s choose our leaders wisely for a better tomorrow.

Chukwudi Sopuruchi is graphic designer, 08032703003.

Garba Shehu, (@GarShehu) The Quintessential Presidential Spokesman, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Mallam Garba Shehu is a frontline journalist, accomplished newspaper editor and later president of Nigerian Guild of Editors. He was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and since then he has carried on with  decorum and high sense of responsibility. In the Nigerian media circles, Garba Shehu is well respected as a towering figure from all corners of the country.

Perhaps his distinguishing feature is his detribalised disposition to Nigerians from other parts of the country. His contributions to the growth of journalism in Nigeria has elevated him to several international recognitions and he has acquitted himself very well in serving Nigeria.

I have gone this far to eulogise Mallam Garba Shehu to dispel the wrong impression being created about this distinguished journalist by a certain group known as National Volunteers for Lamido. Apparently they reacted on behalf of former governor of Jigawa state Alhaji Sule Lamido.

I write this article bearing in mind that once an individual throws his hat in the political ring, he is bound to attract what may be described as ‘erasures’ and the tendency is that you get all manner of tantrums from some quarters.

For the avoidance of doubt, Garba Shehu has relentlessly discharged his responsibilities as a spokesman of President Muhammadu with unalloyed loyalty, commitment and devotion to his duties. There is no doubt that in the course of defending the president, he is  bound to attract opposition, but for the Sule Lamido group to resort to barefaced lies, innuendos and outright insults is unbecoming and totally out of sync with the tenets of democracy, decency and good conscience.

For many Nigerians, Garba Shehu a graduate of mass communication from two prominent Nigerian universities- University of Nigeria Nsukka and Bayero University Kano has through his professional practice advanced the growth and development of the journalism profession and indeed the country’s democracy. His grasp of issues and events is phenomenal, not to talk of his responses to them. As someone saddled with the task of manning the president’s image he never hesitates to react as occasion demands and in most cases he inadvertently incurs the wrath of some individuals or groups who are directly or indirectly affected.

Such vitriolic attacks against his person are expected and can get worse under an administration that has elected to tackle the corruption malaise frontally. Nonetheless, the Buhari administration will not relent as the fight against corruption was one of the reasons Nigerians voted for President Muhammadu Buhari, and gladly the results are already manifesting.

As observers and even participants, Nigerians rely on presidential spokespersons like Garba Shehu to continue to distil government policies and promote the people-centred administration of President Buhari for the benefit of all Nigerians. But for the emergence of President Buhari and his officers like Garba Shehu, how would Nigerians realise that the country lost such humungous amounts of money to past office holders and their acolytes.

In the course of carrying out these responsibilities he is faced with unwarranted and unprovoked insults on his person, yet these matters ought not to be personal or petty. As expected former public officials have a responsibility to render account of their stewardship, but unfortunately in the Nigerian context it can amount the vilification of serving government officials- in this case Mallam Garba Shehu.

Garba Shehu has continued to play a pivotal role in promoting the achievements of the Buhari administration and the feeling among Nigerians is that his dedication to duty does not go down well with the opposition. His articulation of government policies, general interpretation and narration to Nigerians continue to bewilder the opposition. Ordinarily they would prefer a man without clarity of thought as Garba Shehu so that the president’s numerous achievements will remain unsung and unnoticed. Unfortunately for them Garba Shehu has a full grasp of the situation and he is marketing President Buhari to the satisfaction of most Nigerians.

Just last week prominent Nigerians, diplomats, the media and the business community gathered in Abuja to bear witness to the public presentation of the president’s mid-term score card which Garba co-edited with Mr. Femi Adesina, President Buhari’s Special Adviser on media and publicity.

Mallam Garba Shehu deserves our accolades and indeed support for utilising his intellect and expertise for the benefit of the Buhari administration and by extension all Nigerians. The practice of running down a performing government official should be discouraged as it does not augur well for us as a nation. Such approach has the tendency to discourage other patriotic Nigerians from offering their services when the need arises.

To Nigeria’s journalism leading light Garba Shehu we implore you to trudge on and never look back in serving your country. Your enviable role in promoting the administration of President Buhari’s administration and helping to build a virile and sustainable country will not be in vain. Posterity will surely reward your sacrifices to Nigeria and history will vindicate your contributions to national development.

Definitely your detractors will someday come to the realisation that your driving motive for the good job you are doing is to ensure that Nigerians are not denied information regarding the various policies the Buhari administration is enunciating towards rebuilding the country.

Under the administration, various sectors like roads, railways, power, housing, education, fight against corruption and terrorism and the economy have continued to receive attention. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel going by the progressive indices being reeled out by various international development agencies, and the expectation is that such groups like ‘National Volunteers for Lamido’ will support the patriotic efforts of Mallam Garba Shehu in the arduous task of nation building.

Chukwudi Enekwechi

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

Awka Anambra State

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