Buhari’s Half Marathon Of Full Marks, By Chukwudi Enekwechi 

Two years ago, President Muhammad Buhari assumed office, and there were great expectations from Nigerians. Such expectations can be encapsulated in building the nation’s infrastructures, job creation, revamping the economy, providing security and fighting corruption.

After several years of dashed hopes under successive PDP administrations, Nigerians hinged their hopes on President Buhari as they believed he had a pedigree of integrity, dedication and commitment to the Nigerian project.

Bearing in mind the huge burden on his shoulders, President Buhari along with his cabinet mapped out strategies and diligently embarked on the arduous task of working for Nigerians.

Remarkably, they began a sectoral development strategy with priority on the three major planks of the administration which premised its service delivery to Nigerians on anti-corruption, war against Boko haram and diversification of the economy.

So far, he has fulfilled his promise to rescue the abducted Chibok girls, and has restored relative calm and security in the war-ravaged North-East.

On the economy, the Buhari administration has for the first time in recent Nigerian history successfully diversified the economy. Today, states are competing amongst themselves to seek alternative sources of generating revenue in order to remain afloat. The old practice of depending only on the monthly federal allocation is beginning to give way to creative thinking on the part of the state governments.

Similarly, in the area of security, it is easy to pin-point the fact that President Buhari’s invaluable experience as a retired military general has helped tremendously to curtail the rampaging terrorists of the Boko haram sect, while relative peace is being enjoyed in some hitherto restive communities across the North-East region and the country generally.

The sector where the President has won more accolades from Nigerians and foreigners alike is in the anti-corruption fight, especially as the cankerworm has remained an albatross to the progress and development of the country. Considering the revelations from the various investigations, it is unimaginable the lowest level to which corruption and corrupt people have plunged Nigeria.

That President Buhari was able to identify corruption as the major obstacle to our socio-economic development and took the challenge to frontally confront it, is a hallmark of statesmanship and patriotism.

Apart from his phenomenal achievements in the three core areas of security, economy and anti-corruption, the administration has also made giant strides in other sectors.

For example, the National Inland Waterways Agency under the Ministry of Transport recently commenced the dredging of River Niger (from Lokoja to Onitsha) by direct labour. With the dredging, Nigeria will once more have a navigable water way to enhance movement of goods and services.

Under the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, we are presently witnessing the construction/reconstruction of several road networks across the country, while in the transport sector work continues to progress on some rail lines in the country.

In marking President Buhari’s two years in office, there are tangible results to prove that indeed he has moved Nigeria forward from the point he met it on May 29, 2015.

In the solid minerals sector, President Buhari’s administration has put policies in place towards reviving the Ajaokuta Steel company long abandoned by successive administrations. The resuscitation of Ajaokuta will greatly impact on the industrialisation of the entire country

As it stands today, all the legal encumbrances that hitherto stalled government’s attempt to resuscitate the Complex have been ironed out to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

As purveyors of information, we owe it as a duty to put on record the fact that President Buhari’s administration has in no small measure impacted on the populace with the various achievements. There is hardly any sector that has not witnessed a significant impact on Nigerians.

On security, President Buhari’s administration has decimated the Boko Haram terrorists and presently they are not occupying any Nigerian territory as was the case in the past. Again, the release of a substantial number of the abducted Chibok girls has restored hope to the distraught parents, relations and Nigerians in general on the ability of the administration to keep our homeland safe and secure.

Similarly, the decision of the federal government to peacefully engage with the leaders of Niger Delta towards finding a lasting solution to the militancy in the region has greatly restored the production capacity of the oil industry. This has further improved the country’s earnings and ability to fund critical projects for the benefit of Nigerians.

On food security, the Buhari administration has proven that Nigeria can indeed diversify its sources of revenue rather than depending on the oil industry which sometimes is plagued with volatility and price instability. The remarkable progress being witnessed in the agricultural sector is traceable to President Buhari’s foresight that agriculture remains the future for Nigeria. Experts have also predicted that oil may dry up in the not so distant future.

It is pertinent to point out that President Buhari’s foreign engagements early in his administration has helped tremendously in the positive image of Nigeria abroad. Apart from several benefits derivable from such trips, a lot of Nigeria’s looted funds have also been recovered and some countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland and many others have kept faith with Nigeria towards the return of looted funds.

Another important milestone that was recorded from the foreign trips which is presently yielding desired fruits is the assistance Nigeria is receiving in rehabilitating the internally-displaced persons in the North East, as well as reconstruction of communities affected by the insurgency. As it stands, several countries and donor agencies are giving succour and providing relief materials to the war-ravaged communities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

President Buhari’s decisive steps in combating the menace of Boko Haram has led to the renewed confidence of the international community in lending a helping hand to eliminating the Boko Haram existential threat, hence the approval of the United States government to sell military equipment to Nigeria.

Back home the administration has continued to wage a relentless war against corruption and this has led to the recovery of huge sums of looted funds. This achievement would have been impossible but for the forthrightness and commitment of President Buhari. His anti-graft war has exposed the intolerable corrupt practices being perpetrated under the past PDP administrations. Today Nigerians have heaved a sigh of relief that the unbridled corruption has been reduced to the barest minimum.

Midway into his tenure, it is safe to conclude that President Buhari’s administration is focused on serving Nigerians selflessly and delivering on the change agenda.

Chukwudi Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician, writes from Abuja and can be reached via kwechis19@yahoo.com

Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo, Save Kaiama Local Govt From Unending Deceit Of Kwara State Govt By Idris Abdulmumin

Your excellency sir, With honour, I write to call on the quintessential Ag President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to come to the rescue of the good people of kaiama local government of Kwara state. This call has become imperative owing to the endless lies the Kwara State government has been dishing out on the construction of Kaiama-Kishi road.

Sir, without going too deep down Memory Lane, on the  25th of November, 2014,The Governor of Kwara state organised a fiesta he tagged as “flagg off” of Kaiama -Kishi road and opined that the project will gulp up to N8Billion.Just three construction machines were displayed at the event and the name of the construction company is still largely anonymous. This was just some few months before the 2015 General elections. I hope you can connect the dots Sir. Till today the machines are still lying fallow at the venue of the so called “flagg off “ceremony. No motion!

I don’t want to bore you with past ‘rhetorics’ by the State government on the road but will like to bring to your Knowledge the recent claim by the State government that it has spent 500million and the Federal govt has taken over the funding of the construction of the road.

Sir, I don’t want to sound rude, but, it’s a big-fat-lie. The project as it is today is nothing but a charade.How will the Federal govt take over the funding of a road that in the first place not under construction? The fraudulent claim of expending 500m don’t even bother me much, what’s disturbing is the deliberate, vicious circle of over politicisation of the road project. It has for long been turned into an electioneering bait to hoodwink people into supporting a suffocating oligarchic political system in the state.

This ugly trend must end and the right time to give it a halt is now, under your astute leadership. We crave your indulgence to please unravel all the mysteries behind this road project.

Sir, the Kaiama -Kishi road is a federal road which is just about 64 km in distance. All we want is the Federal govt to take back full possession of the construction of the road.Award the contract to a Construction firm of impeccable track record to ensure a quality job and speedy completion.

Sir, the name of your humble self and of course our highly revered President Muhammadu Buhari will be written on the positive side of history of kaiama if this road and other deplorable roads (Kaiama-Kosubosu and Kaiama-Kainji roads) linking kaiama are well constructed to put an end to the age long suffering of our people. May God be your Guide as you take charge of the onerous task of repositioning Nigeria. And may the Almighty God give President Muhammadu Buhari sound health and safe return to continue the cleansing of Nigeria.

Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long live Kwara state,
Long live Kaiama local government.
Abdulmumin Kilishi Na’TaAllah

Dear Aisha Yesufu, By Lauretta Onochie

Dear Aisha Yesufu,

I do hope you are feeling a bit better than you did at the point you had a meltdown or better still, a recorded video nervous breakdown, over a government Nigerians say is serving them better.

Most Nigerians were shocked and are still confused at your tantrum. Nigerians understood and identified with your frustration at not being able to get the government of Pres. Jonathan to take responsibilities for the missing girls. Nigerians and the whole world were with you and the rest of the #BBOG campaign team. I joined in the UK, helping to drum up support internationally, for the campaign to free our girls.

But your childish tantrum and incoherent ranting at Pres. Buhari were totally uncalled for especially as it is less than two weeks since 83 of the Chibok girls, gained their freedom, under the government of Muhammadu Buhari and yes, Acting President Osinbajo.

Over the nearly two years since the inception of this government, you have turned the campaign on its head and the campaign is taking a personal and malicious dimension. That’s what long campaigns do to those who set out to engage in campaigns with personal and selfish motives embedded.

Aisha, the warning signs are all there that it’s now all about you. You began to feel that if an advocacy does not submit to the #BBOG format, then it’s wrong. What the whole world wants is for the girls to be rescued and brought home to their loved ones. That’s the point. The focal point.

You also began to feel that the captivity of our missing girls weighs more heavily on your heart than on the hearts of President Buhari, Acting Pres. Osinbajo and others. Consequently, when the Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, launched a book in honour of the missing girls and donated all the proceeds to the Chibok and the Buni Yadi parents, all hell broke loose because she did not obtain permission from you. You obviously have a skewed view of your place in our nation. You are not the one who decides how people render support to others.

You have lost touch with the reality that how we contribute to the advocacy, differ from person to person. Again, you began to forget that #BBOG is not a franchise and so you do not have the exclusive rights to run the campaign. You lost the ability to respect, appreciate and accommodate others’ styles and contributions towards the campaign to bring our girls home.

For someone who has become obviously obsessed with the idea that the #BBOG campaign platform is now a personal business venture, it can be very frustrating to see the whole world, showering praises on President Muhammadu Buhari for the return of some of the girls. Ordinarily, what could have been a source of joy and pride for you too, has become a source of anger because in your warped mind, you did it all alone and only you deserve the accolades.

But the accolades on Pres. Buhari are well deserved. The government of Pres. Buhari, like any other responsible and responsive government across the world, is definitely doing a lot of things differently from the previous administration which has culminated in the return of not only some of our Chibok Girls but also, thousands of Nigerians from the North East who were also abducted and taken into captivity.

Furthermore, your obsession with wanting to set up a camp in the Presidential Villa, completely blinded you to the fact that this government has actually begun to realise what the #BBOG campaign was set up to achieve. Evidence abound that the government of the day is totally committed to the theme of your campaign. Unlike the government of Pres. Jonathan that needed convincing that the girls were indeed missing, the Nigerian government under Pres. Buhari, from its inception, put processes in place to search for and recover the Chibok girls.

So what ticked you off on the wrong side, Aisha? Are you not pleased that the Pres. Buhari led government is recovering the girls? Are you afraid of what shape your life would take if all the girls were recovered and the campaign folds up?

Whats your real reason for wanting Pres. Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo our of the way? Is there a sinister motive that you are hiding from all of us? Venting your anger in the way you did in the video, clearly suggests that you had expected something to happen that would bring about the end of the Buhari/Osinbajo Administration but that thing did not happen. Could it be the much touted Coup de tat? Just asking!

I do understand that you do not understand that it’s okay to appreciate this government for the much it has done and keeps doing to secure the return of all captives in our nation.

This is a clear pointer that you have lost the plot and need help! I believe too, like many well meaning Nigerians that you have successfully hijacked the #BBOG Campaign for your selfish ends so you need to step aside for the #BBOG Campaign to refocus and find its bearing.

This will accord you the time to reflect of your recent actions and seek help. I do mean it in the nicest way. YOU NEED HELP, Sis.

On the 17th of January 2016, I had cause to make the same suggestion to Ms. Bukky  Shonibare. I have no way of knowing  if she took my counsel or not, but her pattern of campaign has assumed a fairly more sensible and reasonable face.

Again, everyone I know in the campaign, has something else they are doing. Bukky is now a Social Entrepreneur, working to support an IDP camp and making a success of it.

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili’s busy lifestyle outside the BBOG’s Campaign, is well documented and in the public domain.

Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman joined politics and although still campaigning for the safe return of our girls, she’s now the boss at the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, the wife of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is still supporting the campaign to bring back all our girls and playing her role in supporting the rehabilitation of the girls that have so far been rescued.

You would have still had this nervous breakdown had all the girls returned two weeks ago, because that would have meant the end of the campaign, a reality, you are not prepared to face up to in your present hate-filled state of mind. Howbeit, Our prayers have been that all the girls are recovered and brought home safely.

Once you have repented of your machinations and attention-seeking tantrums, in addition to running the campaign, you’ll need to find something else to engage yourself. As they say, “An idle mind is the devils workshop”.

#BBOG was doing a fantastic job of advocacy for the return of the missing girls. So is the Murtala Mohammed Foundation, the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari and millions of other individuals across the world. The recovered girls are being given the best of all round care, as enumerated by the Hon. Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Al-Hassan.

Advocacy for the return of our Chibok girls doesn’t have to be a one-size-fit-all. It’s not the exclusive right of any group or persons. The important thing is that we all want our girls home and alive. The goal is the same. And that goal is being achieved in the midst of Pres. Buhari giving further assurances that all will continue to be done to find the remaining girls and bring them home to their families. That’s our focus. That should be yours too. Repent and quit throwing childish tantrums!

Sincerely,

Lauretta Onochie

@Laurestar

The Significance Of Trump’s Visit To Saudi Arabia By Ahmad Fagge

It is no longer news that US President Donald Trump has arrived in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his first foreign trip since becoming US President, what is news is what are the drivable benefit of his visits to one of the most important Muslim country.

One can boldly state here that the mere visit alone prove that Trump is ever ready to establish a strong bond with Muslim countries to solidify the readiness of US support in fighting terrorism and terrorist organisation such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the rest.

Trump’s visit is seen as highly symbolic because it is the first time a US president has chosen Saudi Arabia as the first stop on a maiden trip. It is also an opportunity for Trump to repair Washington’s ties with its closest Arab ally. Most of Saudis were very proud and excited that the US president chose the Gulf country as his first stop.

Another major significance of the Trump’s visit is the announcement and signing of  arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth more than $100bn, which is  the biggest such agreement in history.  The deal include Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defence systems, radar and communications and cyber security technology.

During the visit another history was made as a result of a summit of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders, including those from the six nations that form the Gulf Cooperation Council, to discuss the fight against extremism. The Saudi foreign ministry emphasise that the historic summit should be the start to “building a partnership between the Arab and Muslim worlds and the United States at various levels”.

Even the Trump speech focus on Islam, calling for unity in the fight against radicalism and characterising the effort as a battle between good and evil. The meeting also include talks on Trump’s promise to restart peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The meeting conclude that a fresh approach could be helpful in solving this long-running conflict and President Trump agreed that there is no better time than now.

It is important to note that Trump’s visit comes at a time of need to support efforts and emphasize common values between the US and the Islamic world. Our enemies, whose lifelong aim has been to create harm, want nothing more than to drive a wedge between us. We must not allow them to.

To further tighten the relationship with US, the Saudi King at a ceremony at the grand Saudi Royal Court, placed the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, the nation’s highest civilian honor, around Mr. Trump’s neck. The medal, given to Mr. Trump for his efforts to strengthen ties in the region, has also been bestowed on Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

In conclusion the visit and conference will expand the relationship between the two countries and the two strong world religions of Islam and Christianity. Here in Nigeria as one of the  conference participant I believe it is a welcome deployment to the country and our people are very pleased with it as it will boost the security and tackle the menace of insurgency and activities of terrorism.

I wish our dear president Muhammadu Buhari is well for him to attend the event, but am confident the country’s representative will contribute positively to the success of the conference.

Fagge wrote this piece from Unguwar Fagge in Kano.

War Crimes By Haruna Mohammed

Leaders eat fat as citizens continue to starve:  genocide, war crimes and crime against our collective well being!

This piece is informed by a story published by the Daily Trust Newspaper titled “Students starve as politicians eat fat”.

The story run by the Newspaper has again reminded us of the pervasive criminality from a retardant atavistic crop of insignificantly few people, called leaders in Nigeria.

The story tells us that while a student in our unity colleges feed on N150 per day, our President is eating N319, 444. That means a student in our unity colleges will have to stay in school for over two thousand one hundred and twenty-nine days (2129) before they will eat what the president will put in his stomach for one day. Look, the daily meal of our number one citizen is enough to feed our Unity College student from the time of admission to his graduation!

In other words, the     President will gulp one hundred and sixteen million, five hundred and ninety seven thousand and sixty naira (N116, 597,060) within one year, which is enough to feed one unity college student for seven hundred and seventy-seven thousand three hundred and thirteen years (777,313) at rate of 150 per day.

The report also states that the President’s kitchen will permanently silent the sum of 854 million naira within 365 days to put food on the table of our sick President, which is enough to feed a student for five million, six hundred and ninety-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three days (5, 693,333) which is equivalent to fifteen thousand five hundred and ninety-eight years (15,598) if the student is to manage N150 per day.

The report went ahead to remind us that our number two citizen (The Vice President) puts in his stomach a whopping sum of one hundred and forty-seven thousand two hundred and twenty-two naira (N147, 222) within 24 hours,(1 day)  which is enough to feed a student in our unity schools for a period of  twenty-three thousand, five hundred and fifty-four (23, 544) hours or 981 days.

The VP consumes food worth fifty-three million, seven hundred and thirty-six thousand and thirty naira (N53,736, 030) within a space of one year, which is enough to feed a unity college student for three hundred and fifty-eight thousand two hundred and forty years (N358,240) at the rate of N150 per day.

The kitchen of the number two citizen will spend Sixty-six million, two hundred and forty-six thousand naira (N 66,246, 000) to put food on his table within 365 days, but a poor student in one of our unity colleges has to spend four hundred and forty-one thousand six hundred and forty days (441 640 days) or one thousand two hundred and nine (1209) years to consume what our number two citizen will spend in just one year.

The report further revealed that our 109 senators at the upper legislative chamber will consume N410 million on meals and refreshment, or N10,000 will be spend daily on each lawmaker to cover their meals’ expenses. It means every senator in Nigeria will comfortable eat and go to bed a sickening sum of three million, seven hundred and sixty-one thousand four hundred and sixty seven naira (N3, 761 467) while an innocent poor student will have to stay in school for twenty five thousand and seventy-six years (25, 076 years) to be able to eat the same amount as his meals and refreshments. More succinctly put, a senator in Nigeria without any conscience will spend in 24 hours what a poor unity college student spends in 1,632 hours for food!

Now as a graduate doing my compulsory one year national service, the federal government according to the report is spending N500 daily to put food on my table. By implication, I have to serve Nigeria for more than 20 years to be able to eat the equivalent of what a senator consumes in just one year as meals and refreshment or 638 years and 294 years serving Nigeria before I spend what the president and his Vice spend on food in one year.

Let us shift the goal post to our depended states governors and their law makers. The Katsina state governor though looking miserably lean compare to my state governor (Bauchi state Governor) is reluctantly with the help of his deputy eating meals worth N650, 000 daily. By implication the two leaders will spend two hundred and thirty-seven million, two hundred and fifty-thousand naira (N237, 250,000) to eat food in 2017 alone, while two students in boarding schools in the state will mange N65,700. It indicates that the two poor students will have to stay in school for a period of one thousand eight hundred and five years (1,805) each to eat food which equate what their state governor and his deputy eat in one year.

The 34 lawmakers of the Katsina State House of Assembly according to the report will spend an average of N13, 154 each on food daily, which depicts that, a student in the state will have to stay in school for fifty-three thousand three hundred and forty six years (53,346) before they will eat food worth a single law maker in the state for one year.

I have earlier documented how  21 ex-governors and their deputies now serving senators and ministers ‘loot their economically crippled states in the name of pension’ an amount which will adequately pay all civil servants in three states in the North East at N18,000 minimum wage per worker.

This reckless spending on few individuals is happening at a time when millions of displaced IDPs have to be rescued with $ 672 million by the Oslo humanitarian conference.

This is happening at a time when ‘only one Primary school is housed with furniture (chairs) for pupils to sit’ in an entire state capital which I also unveiled last year.   Where is the mercy? Where is the sacrifice you people pledged?

These indolence and treachery from domineering, belligerent and cunningly cynical demagogues is equivalent to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

History will certainly pass a terrible judgement on us if we fail to act against these impunity and injustices in our systems. We will individually and collectively remain one of the most dogmatic, narrow-minded and weak-willed sets of human beings to ever live on planet earth for refusing to demand accountability and confront these gullible and impulsive deceits.

Within my capacity as a concern citizen and a serving corps member, I have resolved to protest across the six geo-political zones starting from Monday 22 May, 2017.  I shall handover a protest letter to the Plateau state governor and subsequently unveil the details of the peaceful protest.

I am sincerely calling on all concerned citizens to join and support me in this movement for our collective well being. We should as a matter of urgency, save our future, that our children from these ineptitudes.

 

Haruna Mohammed Salisu is a serving Corps Member in Plateau state. He can be reached at 08063180608, harunababale@gmail.com or @haruna_babale

Buhari’s Mid-term Report: So Far, So Good – By Louis Okoroma

My Trip To Bama, By Morocco Ibrahim

The Victims Support Fund (VSF) an initiative of the Presidency to aid victims of terrorism helped with reconstruction work in Bama, Borno state, northeast Nigeria. The unveiling and commissioning was Tuesday this week 16 May. I was invited by VSF to observe and relay an unedited and unsupervised report of what I saw and experienced, so I accepted and went along.

On Monday 15 May, we left Abuja at 1:50 pm, arrived in Maiduguri at 2:50 pm and were taken to our accommodation ahead of the next day. The next day I along with the team of journalist, blogger and others were ready as earlier as 7:00 am. At 9:20 am we were taken to Government House Maiduguri where everyone on the entourage ie the team from VSF, officials of Borno state government, security officials, etc met. Governor Kashim Shettima later came down to welcome us all. After then we were informed to get ready as we were to take off for Bama soon.

We left Maiduguri at 10:50 am in a motorcade of up to 100 vehicles, amidst tight security provided by the military, police, SSS, civil defence, Civilian JTF, the every security agency available. It was a deserted road, we could travel stretches of up to 30 kilometers without sighting any human being on house, all have been destroyed and deserted. We arrived in Bama at 12:30 pm and went straight to the reconstructed local government secretariat.

Dr Sunday Ochoche, Executive Director, VSF said reconstruction of the local government secretariat was a top priority due to its strategic importance in ensuring that governance returned to the grassroots. He urged the local government Chairman, his Council, and entire staff of the the local government to reciprocate VSF’s gesture by returning to take possession of their secretariat and commence providing work. He this in itself would encourage Bama residents to return to commence rebuilding a normal life.

Next we went to Kayamari Primary School, which is one among the 8 reconstructed schools in Bama. Dr Ochoche confirmed that Bama is VSF’s largest project so far, even though they are in the process of commencing reconstruction of 16 primary schools, 4 each in Damboa, Hawul, Chibok, and Askira-Uba local government areas. However he assured all that VSF’s intervention to support reconstruction and resettlement would not end in Borno alone be would extend to the entire northeast states affected by the insurgency, and even beyond. Generel T.Y. Danjuma (rtd) who is the Chairman of VSF, represented on the trip by Tijannu Tumsah, the Vice Chairman emphasised VSF’s goal in partnering with state governments in not only commencing but successfully completing all projects to provide succour for returning victims.

Governor Kashim Shettima conceded that Bama was the worst hit in this insurgency war, as 80-90% of infrastructure both public and private were destroyed. ‘Our goal is to confront the most difficult challenge in a bold manner so that our task becomes less’, he said. The purpose of this unveiling of projects in Bama was to enable residents to return home and resettle before the commencement of Ramadan which is within the next 2 weeks, but it’s clear this may not be possible due to very clear and present security concerns. Bama remains very unsafe.

Babagana Umaru, the Commissioner, Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement (RRR) was visibly excited and grateful to VSF for their support. He confirmed that 4 months ago the Borno state government launched the programme to reconstruct 11 public infrastructure, VSF was kind to support the endeavour with procurement of building materials at 295 million naira, and another 73 million naira for labour costs, making a total of 368 million naira. The 11 projects are: the local government secretariat, 8 primary schools (with 42 classroom blocks 4 of which were constructed from scratch, 42 offices and a library), Bama Cultural Centre, and a police station. The Commissioner further appealed to VSF to help with reconstruction of private homes as virtually all have been destroyed.

From there we went to the Shehu’s Place fully reconstructed by the state government, which was our last destination. We saw other reconstruction projects being carried out by Dangote Foundation most of which are almost completed. We left Bama at 4:15 pm and arrived back in Maiduguri at 7:00 pm. It took us 3 hours because we stopped at every checkpoint to show solidarity with our security forces manning them. The next day, Wednesday 17 May we  left Maiduguri at 3:40 pm and arrived in Abuja at 4:45 pm.

What I Saw on the Trip to Bama

VSF did a very good job and are willing to do more if they get the cooperation of the concerned state governments. Both its Chairman speaking through its Vice Chairman, Tijanni Tumsah, and the Executive Director, Dr Sunday Ochoche not only said so repeatedly, but demonstrated it, and I have cause to believe them. The VSF team I saw was very coordinated and professional. Everything was well planned and well executed, no stories. VSF has also been transparent in its handling of finances which is rare. This too is commendable.

Bama is a ghost town. The insurgency is far from being over as we are made to believe. I am from Borno, I have been to Borno and the northeast in general often and innumerable times in the past few years, but I have never been impacted as I was this time. From this trip I have more respect for our men and women in uniform and for the sacrifices they make day and night to keep us safe. The men and women in uniform deserve far better than what they are getting, as what is meant for them is certainly not reaching them. They are overstretched and need to be replaced regularly.

The counterinsurgency war is far from being over. Even though our motorcade had up to 100 vehicles half of which were manned by armed security personnel yet the fear was palpable. It is amidst this that VSF risked having this reconstruction work go on.

Borno state government must stop hiding the truth about the real situation on the ground. Covering up will help nobody, opening up will help everybody. We can get more understanding, sympathy, and therefore more support. Bama residents have to rise up to the occasion and rally themselves together from the Shehu of Bama, to all traditional and religious leaders, all eminent sons and daughters, politicians of all divides to community leaders, opinion leaders, youth, even children. They have to be bold to take back Bama their town and local government area, with the full backing of the state. They have to organise themselves to fight back. The military and others have done so much. The residents are the ones who know the terrain inside out. Otherwise VSF’s investment will be a waste.

The state government has to come clean with their finances. Everybody knows VSF spent 368 million naira, how much did Borno state government spend? Who can verify? The state and all 27 local government areas have been steadily receiving their statutory allocations from the federation account, how have these been used? Transparency as this demonstrated by VSF helps in getting more support. I also don’t think VSF should support the reconstruction of private homes, but should focus on public infrastructure for the greater public good.

Thank you

Pencom And Obla: Why Osinbajo Should Right The Wrongs: A Rejoinder, By Utum Eteng

In a democratic clime when rule of law reign supreme, everybody is entitled to an opinion on any matter of public concern. It is therefore in pursuit of his constitutional right that Chief Okoi Obla, Special Assistant on Prosecution to the President expressed his opinion vide Channel Television to which Mr. Femi Ajiboye from Lagos expressed a contrary opinion on THISDAY of Saturday, May 13, 2017 at page 50 wherein he thinks “Why Osinbajo should Right the Wrong” of the Removal of Chinelo Anohu-Amazu with a call to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to reverse President Buhari’s decision.

Obono-Obla in defending the President’s decision has cited Section 21 (i) of the

Pension Reform Act thus: “notwithstanding the provisions of section 20 and 26 (3) of this Act, a cessation of office, member of the Board shall cease to hold office as a member of the Board if:- He resigns his appointment as a member of the Board by a notice, under his hand, addressed to the President; his term of office expires; he dies; he becomes of unsound mind; he becomes bankrupt or makes a compromise with his creditors; he is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or corruption; he becomes incapable of carrying out the functions of his office either arising from infirmity of mind or body; he is found to have contravened the provisions of section 19 (5) or (6) of this Act; in the case of an ex-officio member, he ceases to hold the office on the basis of which he becomes a member of the Board; or the President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or public for the person to continue in office or notifies the member in writing to that effect”. Obono-Obla also cited Section 19 (3) of the Act which vests the power of the appointment of the Director-General and Commissioners, subject to the confirmation of the Senate on the President. Anybody with the power to appoint in law also has the power to remove. Whether sufficient notice was given by the announcement on the media of her removal as stipulated by the law is subject to different interpretations. The operative word appears to be the notification of the President’s decision conveying her sack. It is submitted that “writing is the form whilst the substance would appear to be the content of the information getting to its destination.” Nonetheless, Anohu-Amazu cannot pretend to have been unaware of her removal.

This means the intention of conveying the information of her removal to her and the public was achieved.

The long and short approach could be that if the DG of PENCOM considers her removal is against the law, she has the option of challenging the President’s action in the court. It is preposterous for Mr. Ajiboye to think that the Acting President should reverse the decision of the President if it was wrong. It is certainly not a good step for the professor of law who knows the limits of acting authority to take.

Ajiboye may have painted Anohu-Amazu, as the best thing that has ever happened to the pension industry in ignorance of the facts the President relied on. It is however important to note that her presence in the industry since PenCom was established owes it more to privileged access and good fortune than anything else. While working with the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai then at the Bureau of Public Enterprise, El’Rufai recommended Anohu-Amazu her to serve as Secretary of the Fola Adeola’s National Taskforce Team on Pension Reforms. The pioneer Managing Director of Guarantee Trust Bank was recommended to then President Olusegun Obasanjo for the assignment by El’Rufai. The Adeola Committee that laid the foundation for the Pension Reform Act 2004, which established the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and PenCom as the regulator. M. K. Ahmed who also served in the Adeola Committee became the pioneer Managing-Director of PenCom while Anohu-Amazu became the pioneer Secretary/Legal Adviser.

Before her confirmation in September 2014 by the Senate for a five-year tenure,

Anohu-Amazu was from December 2012, in the position of Director-General of

PenCom in acting capacity. She was not qualified to be appointed Acting Director-General of PenCom at the time of her appointment. Her position as Secretary/Legal Adviser for eight years prior to her Acting Director-General appointment is a position of a director. It was required of her to retire after serving as a director for eight years in line with the Public Service Rules. This was ignored when the then SGF Senator Anyim Pius Anyim via a memo dated December 10, 2012 directed the then Director-General, M. K. Ahmed to handover to Anohu-Amazu. Ahmed was due to retire on December 16, 2012 alongside Anohu-Amazu. She remained in acting position until the Pension Reform Act 2004 was amended to reduce the number of years of experience to become Director-General from 20 years to 15 years in order to accommodate her.

Before her removal, Anohu-Amazu was in the news. Thus, the Guardian newspaper in a publication of March 1, 2017 reported her interrogation by the police over allegations of embezzling N3.2b, tax evasion, total disregard of court orders and other unlawful activities leveled against her by First Guarantee Pensions Limited (FGPL).

In October 2016, Premium Times has published an investigation on the FGPL saga. The report revealed that shareholders had accused Anohu-Amazu of failing to render accounts of FGPL, in violation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act which mandates yearly filing of a company’s financial report, and forgery against an official appointed by PenCom to run the firm. The report also detailed the illegal takeover of FGPL by PenCom and allegations of attempts to run the company aground to facilitate its collapse into Premium Pension Limited, which is suspected to be a business of the family.

With all these controversies trailing her since her appointment as Acting Director-General in 2012, the termination of her appointment may have been the reason that influence the decisions of the present administration. The new Director-General, Aliyu Abdulrahman Dikko, a former Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa PLC (UBA) until May 10, 2005 when he disengaged from the services of the bank to pursue private initiatives and later MD/CEO of Premium Pensions Limited may be a deliberate play to inject the needed experience and leadership the industry presently needs.

There is no evidence to show that she was removed because she is from the South-East. Her appointment was not given to her from that perspective.

 If Mr. Femi Ajiboye is a lawyer as his arguments and presentation would suggest, then he should not be “surprised that no South East group has gone to court over the injustice, even if Ohanaeze recently threatened to do so, if the FG did not reverse itself.” They would not have the required locus standi to take such a costly step.

 Finally, it is pertinent to remind Ajiboye that the choice of words and proper use of language is a potent tool for effective communication. The adjectives he deliberately employed to qualify Chief Obla is uncalled for and unlawyerly

 * Utum Eteng a lawyer and social commentator lives in Calabar

Nigeria’s Housing Deficit – We Must Act Now, Lest the “Angry gods” Be Enraged By Chima Christian

I recall, with a copious mix of laughter and feelings of disappointment, a fable I circumstantially heard repeatedly and believed. I can’t trace the origin of such tales but I recall coming in contact with it when a section of a major road that runs through my town failed. The road was practically cut into two by unforgiving floods which insisted it must empty itself into the nearest water body, even if it means washing away people’s houses and cutting an expressway into two to achieve that purpose.

The erosion site was massive. Hearing the sound of floods raging through the erosion site each time it rains is enough to send any six year old into panic. I don’t recall specifically interviewing people to ascertain the cause of such menace but the popular rhetoric then was that “the gods were angry at the people and therefore plagued them with such erosion as a punishment for their preferred lifestyle.”

Before you jeer at my folly (for those who find sufficient reasons to do so), please note that I was young, naïve and innocently gullible. It is needless to argue whether I would have believed such fables if I were to be an adult at the material time but I know that adults (my uncles inclusive), local chiefs/titleholders, the religious who were calling for fervent prayers, school teachers who didn’t fail to communicate such to their hapless students and even some intellectuals people looked up to, believed the angry gods fable. It took the intervention of the Obasanjo–led Federal Government to arrest the situation, fix the erosion site and unshackle the minds of the people.

David-Chyddy Eleke of Thisday Newspaper, in his November 2016 report, said; “there are over 960 active erosion sites in Anambra State, and these have in most communities swallowed up houses, making residents lose their places of abode.” It is safer not to imagine what fables some of these traumatized people might still hold on to.

Not too long ago, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and the Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum offered his thoughts on a variant of a known infectious disease – Type C Meningitis, which threatened the peace, security and orderliness of the state he governs. He opened his mouth, as widely reported by the media, to say; “What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the type A virus…however, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccination. People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned. There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured.

It is either the governor sincerely expressed what he believes in or that he resorted to telling fables because he knows his people will buy into such tales. And any of these two points to the magnitude of scientific and civic illiteracy still ravaging our society even in this 21st century.

A little digression. This call for repentance, is it not coming from the same Gov. Yari who is now being accused by the EFCC of stealing (diverting, to be politically correct) a substantial part of the money that would have been deployed to combat the epidemic, pay workers’ salaries and attend to other needs of the people and allegedly used same to service his personal debts and acquire a $3Million hotel? Without acquiescing with Gov. Yari’s accusers, which is tantamount to striping him off his presumption of innocence, I tend to wonder what type of Meningitis the angry gods will visit the governor with if he indeed committed the alleged crimes. Type D, E or F? Who knows?

Back to my point. At the risk of running into philosophical or theological arguments with Gov. Yari and the people he shares similar views with, I beg to be allowed to think aloud for a few more minutes. Had my State Government enforced total compliance with the state’s master plan and prohibited people from erecting buildings on areas mapped out for drainages, cleared clogged drainage facilities and reinforced or replaced existing ones when they showed signs of weakness, perhaps the gods wouldn’t have been so angry to strike the people with a devastating gully erosion. Had Zamfara State Government provided the people of the state with affordable well-ventilated houses and was proactive enough, perhaps the angry gods would have spared them the agony of burying hundreds of their kinsmen who died by the sword of Type C Meningitis like they spared other people who “do anyhow” but live in well ventilated houses and have access to proper medication.

The danger with angry gods fables is that, though they pass responsibility to the people, they misdirect the people’s collective energy into seeking solutions where there are none, thereby killing creativity and elongating (if not perpetuating) the problems. Nigeria has continued to under develop herself by cheaply resorting to prayers where she ought to think and act. Will there be situations that call for prayers? Yes. Do all situations call for prayers? No. Even those situations that call for prayers also call for folding up of sleeves after those prayers. Nigeria is very privileged, imagine for a second, what would have happened if we have earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and things like that.

This author has repeatedly observed that Nigeria is plagued by terrible leadership, but a lot more damage is done by gullible followership. We must, by all possible means, invest in massive civic and scientific literacy – both for the leaders and the led, but essentially for the later. The gullibility of our people, the exploitation of such by the political class, and the attendant consequences have now assumed a rather dangerous dimension.

Nigeria, with a population of about 180 million people, is presently challenged with a threatening national housing deficit. In 1991, the deficit was 7 million units. It has since increased from 7 million units in 1991 to 14 million units in 2010 and currently 17 million units. By 2050, exactly 33 years from today, popular estimates say Nigeria will be the third most populous nation, with a projected population of about 390 million people. If we do not, as a matter of priority, build well ventilated and affordable houses for our teeming population in this era of global warming, let Gov. Yari and his followers be assured that the gods were just test running their anger in Type C Meningitis.

__________

Chima is a good governance advocate and a public policy analyst. He writes in from Nnewi, Anambra State. He can be contacted on chimachris2@gmail.com and can also be connected with on Twitter via @ChimaCChristian.

Reconnecting People With Nature – A Reunion Long Deserved By Amusa Victor

Once upon a time in an endowed kingdom, the air was fresh and the scenery beautiful, the grass was lush and the oceans pure. It was a kingdom with a balance. All parts of the system worked. Each time new subjects were inducted into the kingdom there seemed to be enough to serve all, the balance distorted but the subjects had a connection with the kingdom and believed they have the responsibility to help the kingdom get restored. There came a major invasion of civilization. The subjects became extremely industrious and engaged in activities to make living go beyond the presumed ‘Archaic’ level of the kingdom. The once endeared connection started wearing out.

The wave of civilization ravaged every nook of the kingdom; induction rate grew – population; the sense of responsibility for kingdom balance dropped, the rate of usage of resources spiked and outdid the rate of formation and maturation of resources. Trees were felled; fossil fuels were burnt; the air, land, and water were polluted. The kingdom groaned, the subject moaned as they seemed to be excited by each new day of invention and introduction of a shift from the presumed‘archaic’. Then comes the resultants of all the activities, the kingdom started burning and the subjects were running; the effect of their activities was the formation of a cloud of death over the kingdom- the greenhouse gases welcomed a new era called Global Warming.

The mystery is that the cloud of life around the kingdom contains some elements seen present in the cloud of death but in controlled quantities; the balance crumbled, the grass became dry; the oceans littered with dead fishes and other creatures, the glacial melted, and the oceans increased in volume broke its banks and flooded the kingdom. There began scarcity of resources – famine, the kingdom started burning from inside out; the subjects kept running all about yet sustained their wave of activities.

The only thing that can remove the cloud of death is to choose to live responsibly in the kingdom.

The decision to plant more trees, outlaw the burning of fossil fuels and vehemently resist pollution of any kind by reducing, reusing and recycling Materials will set the subjects on the path to reconnection with the kingdom. There is no option B; the kingdom is our planet, the system- our environment; we are the subject.

The effect of global climate change is biting harder each day, the time to set the records straight and act is now. We must stop Indiscriminate waste disposal, it increases our risk of epidemic breakouts. Waste burning should be outlawed as we end up releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Our forests should be preserved because they sustain our ecological balance. There must be an active reduction in material consumptions, we must reuse materials in many ways possible by upcycling and materials must be Recycled –  a zero-waste attitude must be developed by all.

Global warming is real and there is no other way to combat it other than climate actions aimed specifically at grossly reducing our carbon footprints,holistically staring down Pollution, and working tirelessly in reconnecting people with nature – a reunion long deserved!

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

Boro Day: Ijaw Nation Wont Be Allowed To Be Treated As Minority By Eniola Opeyemi

Every 16th day of May marks the annual Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro day celebration by the Ijaw people, the celebration which lasts for days and widely celebrated in honour of the nationalist and Nigerian civil war hero, Boro as popularly called was one of the pioneers of minority rights activism in Nigeria.

This year’s celebration ?has gathered personalities both at home and in diaspora, with renewal of commitment to Boro’s vision in making the Ijaw nation a unified region in quest to get the fourth largest ethnic group a deserved place in the nation.

The Ijaw Youths Council scribe, Comrade Parkins Ogede, ?said the Ijaw nation will continue to legally agitate to ensure it is recognised as a key player in the sovereignty of the country. Ogede made this known when he led teeming youths from Bayelsa state to visit Kiama, the home town of the renown hero, the scribe went further to condemn the underdevelopment in the Niger – Delta region, the lopsided appointment and employment in the nation which has not in anyway reflected true federalism.

“The Ijaw nation have over the years brought food to the table of the nation in the name of sovereignty and true federalism but we have not been treated well in reciprocate of our uncommon sacrifice”, the IYC scribe added.

On the security of investments, lives and properties, Ogede has urged the traders and shop owners to honour the late hero, warning the youths not to take advantage of the celebration to take law into their hands, stating that any erring youth will be forced to face the law, adding that the Ijaw hero, Major Isaac Adaka Boro, never oppressed the masses in the course of his struggle.

The high points of the event include visitation of the IYC president, Comrade Eric Omare led executives to the late Isaac Boro ?country home and the Ijaw National Academy.

Water for Zaria: Improving Healthcare And Agriculture By Abdulhassan Rabiu

Time and again, successive Kaduna State administrations have blatantly failed at meeting the one persistent yearning of the people of Zaria city to provide safe, drinkable tap water. The demand for this need has most often been met with mediocre action and despite their best efforts, the PDP administrations of both Namadi Sambo and Ramalan Yero still fell short of fulfilling this basic need.

Now thanks to current Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and his commitment to guaranteeing the basic right of easy access to clean water, Kaduna State will witness a massive unveiling in July 2017 when the 150 million litres per day Water treatment plant in Zaria becomes operational. Water from the plant will flow through the taps of at least 2.2 million homes in 28 communities across 8 local Government Areas in Kaduna State.

The 150 million litres per day water treatment plant is only one of three components that constitute the Zaria Regional Water Supply and Expansion Project started in 1999 by the Kaduna State Government with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). The project was stalled in 2007 when the FGN implemented its Water Exit Programme which mandated it to transfer all water projects to beneficiary states and withdraw all funding.

Most other governments would have let this project stall or abandon it all together as is common all over Nigeria, after all revenues have only dwindled since the inception of this administration and the FGN had withdrawn its support, but no, that did not deter a government committed to delivering on this all important front.

El-Rufai and his team negotiated a smart deal with the contractors consisting of monthly staggered payments of N300m until all liabilities of N3.6bn owed by previous administrations on the project were cleared. N24.6 billion has so far been invested by the Kaduna State Government on realizing the decades long vision of bringing water to the people of Zaria City and its environs.

With a loan of $81 million obtained from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Kaduna State Government will construct 73km transmission mains, 10 service reservoirs and 2 booster stations. All these are part of efforts to ensure that end users have safe drinking water, are economically advantaged and have access to water sources for improved sanitation.

The third component of the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion project is funded by a loan of $101 million received from the African Development Bank (ADB). The loan will be spent on the rehabilitation and expansion of existing distribution networks and sanitation facilities in Zaria as well as creating water access to previously unreached localities across these 8 Local Government Areas.

Already, a 186.1million cubic meter (MCM) multi-purpose Dam has been constructed in Galma, Kuzuntu to serve as a raw water intake for the treatment plant.

El-Rufai knows that Kaduna’s water crisis requires bold solutions which is why he made true on his commitment to complete the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion Project. He also knows that a sure way to deliver on his commitment while meeting the basic needs of the people is to progress into a holistic solution by implementing even smaller, low cost, community based solutions alongside the development and implementation of high cost solutions.

Prior to 2015, the Kaduna State agency responsible for adequate water supply to the rural areas, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) was largely docile and underfunded. Presently, it has begun to engage community members in water supply and sanitation and has so far provided about 325 hand water pumps to various communities in the State as well as deploying ventilated and improved latrines to markets, primary health care facilities and schools.

One of its most proactive solutions is the provision of solar powered boreholes, this ensures that there are no power disruptions in the water supply process.

The understanding in community involvement is that in trusting local communities themselves to come up with local solutions, be part of managing and implementing the very same solutions, we guarantee that they have a say in dictating their living standards.

If communities are in charge of their irrigation and farming, they decide how much food security exists; because there is pipe borne water, school children who would have spent time gathering water can free up valuable time for schooling, learning and other productive activities, and families, because they control their water sources, they are guaranteed the right to proper sanitation.

El-Rufai knows the pivotal role access to safe water has on interrupting or wholly breaking the cycle of poverty, this is why early in his administration he designated completing this project priority and this is a great investment for long term success.

Abdulhassan Rabiu is an architect based in Abuja (rabiuabdulhassan@gmail.com)

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