Open Letter To Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode On Health And Safety Issue In Lagos State

Your Excellency,

With great humility and respect, I felicitate with you and fellow Lagosians in celebrating Lagos at 50 and to wish you happy world health and safety day. It has been a great journey so far with a lot of developments and successes. Lagos is indeed the land of excellence.

Even as we celebrate, I wish to use this open letter to urgently your draw attention to the matter of health and safety of Lagosians. Let me however start by defining Health & Safety:

Health: Absence of diseases

Safety: Absence of injury to person, damage to asset or property or equipment

I have been a keen follower of your government for two reasons;

  • To observe whether you will continue from where Ex-governor stopped regarding safety in Lagos because it was during his tenure that the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC Law; 2011 Cap. No. 6) was established with the vision to ensure citizens of Lagos work safe and live safe
  • To observe your commitment towards the safety and security of Lagosian as promised in your inaugural speech on the 29th May, 2015

In your words paragraph 13 (EVERYBODY COUNTS) “As we collectively face the challenge to make Lagos a better place to live in, we must recognize our diversity.  A common national identity where everybody counts. i shall have an open government of inclusion that will leave nobody behind”.

While you have scored highly on the issue of security, the question needs to be asked about how you have fared in Health &Safety.

Paragraph 14 (THE NIGERIA DREAM)  “Lagosian are hardworking people.  Lagos is striving because of its undying entrepreneurial spirit. However we must realise that there are no short-cuts to success. To our youths, we must nurture good family values to succeed in any endeavour. In our country, particularly in Lagos, you can always succeed. This is the Nigerian dream where hard-work, courage, perseverance, persistence, merits and rewards pay. We must therefore embrace new thinking and be determined to succeed at all times. I am ready to encourage and nurture that dream in our children, youths and every hard-working Lagosian.

While it is indisputable that Lagosians are very hardworking, there is much more that can be done by Government to secure the health & Safety of the Lagos workforce and better improve productivity, worker morale, and the general wellbeing of the workforce. Many people are dying every day in Lagos basically due to exposure to several workplace hazards and poor working conditions amongst others. These include workers from the construction, manufacturing, hotel and hospitality industries. Also affected are workers in education, the public sector, telecommunications, financial institutions and even markets (with its share of fire incidents etc). Even our hospitals and clinics are failing us in Lagos safety wise. So many families are in lots of pains from workplace accidents.

Lastly sir, Paragraph 16 (DEVELOPMENT PLAN (2012 – 2025) “In the spirit of continuity, I am committed to the State Development Plan (2012 – 2025). The plan is structured under four pillars; (1) Social Development and Security; (2) Infrastructural Development; (3) Economic Development and (4) Sustainable Environment”. Your government is doing so well “in the spirit of continuity” which we all crave for during the election but a whole lot more needs to be done in addressing the safety aspect.

The challenges we face today as a state require proactive actions in all sectors of the state to ensure safety of the all Lagosians in actualizing the above development without doubt. As a Health & Safety professional I  believe Your Excellency has to be proactive to ensure work place safety in Lagos. Consequently, the following are my suggestions to ensure the safety of Lagosians.

  1. REFORMATION OF LAGOS STATE SAFETY COMMISSION: Quoting your words during the inauguration, paragraph 17 (PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM) “As we all know, the best practices of yesterday may not be good enough for the products of today. In this sense, we shall embark on continuous reforms in the public service. I am determined to demonstrate that the government belongs to the citizens. You have put us here as servants to serve you and not you serving us. Today we are committed to that creed. Moving forward, the Civil Service will be strengthened and made to respond to the needs of all citizens in the same manner, quality services are rendered in the private sector. My administration is prepared to take the decisions needed to promote merit and professionalism. To restructure where required, eliminate poor Human Resource practices and accelerate the pace of reforms in the spirit of good governance. I want to assure the business community and corporate Lagos that the ease of doing business in Lagos will be improved upon earnestly”.

This is one area the performance of your administration has left much to be desired as far as the LSSC is concerned. Despite the clear wordings of the law that established  Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC Law; 2011 Cap. No. 6)  which stated clearly in Article 2 (1) that the commission shall consist of;

  1. A chairman who is of proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters
  2. Four(4) persons of proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters
  3. The Director General or Chief Executive Officer with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters. They must all be appointed by your Excellency and subject to state assembly approval.

Since it was established, the Lagos State Safety Commission is yet to witness someone with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters in leadership and this is affecting the running of the agency as a safety regulator. Lagos State does not lack experienced indigenous Safety Professionals with proven integrity. In fact, Lagos state is home to more than one thousand (1000) safety professionals with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters with years of experience. I do not believe a non-Accountant will be appointed to head Lagos internal Revenue Service (LIRS) nor a medical doctor to head Lagos Building Control Agency (LABCA) etc. Why then Sir, do we not have a Health & Safety Professional heading the LSSC.

Your excellency, now is the time to set the record straight and match your words with action. This should start with the appointment of the right persons with proven integrity and knowledge in safety related matters to head Lagos State Safety Commission.

Your Excellency sir, you need to strengthen the work force in the commission with qualified safety professionals and not just civil servants without the requisite Health & Safety competence as the situation currently is today. Most of the officers in the commission today can’t match the quality of the officers in the field of health and safety in the private sector and this affects their ability to carry out their oversight functions.

  1. While thanking your Excellency for the recently signed environmental law and establishment of Lagos State Neighbourhood safety corps’ (which to strengthen the security of the state), more needs to been done as far as health and safety is concerned in Lagos State. A visit to construction sites, steel companies, hotels, restaurants, markets, food and beverages companies to see Lagosians suffering from poor work place set up and non –compliance to international standards in health and safety in work place as established by International Labour Organization (ILO) convention (C155) and recommendation (R164). We need to strengthen the law that established the commission with further legislation to ensure safety standards in Lagos state as this is long overdue (5years and still counting), We can only achieve this through your leadership.

As reported by ILO in 2012 about 2.2 million people die every year from occupational accidents and diseases with an average of 6000 per day. Approximately 4% of the world’s Gross Domestic Products is lost with the cost of Injury, death, and diseases through absence from work, sickness treatment, disability and survivor benefits. Lagos state with a population of over 15 million and accommodating over five thousand (5000) companies requires a stringent law and vigorous implementation, fostered by quality leadership which your Excellency is providing.

The performance of Health and Safety Executives, UK (HSE), Occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA), United State of America in terms of ensuring safety standards, leadership, funding and revenue generation for their respective countries is worth studying. We can also replicate it here your Excellency and I believe in your administration’s ability to ensure that Lagosians live and work safe.

Your timely action will further redeem the faith of existing investors and also encourage intending local and foreign investors to conduct their businesses in a State that values the Health & Safety of it’s workforce and reap the attendant rewards such will bring to their investments.

Once again your Excellency, happy 50th anniversary and Happy World Health and Safety Day

Your Sincerely,

Abdulrasaq Adewole

Health and safety Professional

E-mail: Adewolerasaq@gmail.com

Twitter: @safeempire

Ooni of Ife Vs Oba of Lagos: Matters Arising By Olatunde Bakare

Yesterday, a video showing a mild drama between the Ooni of Ife and the Oba of Lagos surfaced online wherein the latter snubbed the courtesies extended to him by the former. I’m aghast by the public show of ridicule and disregard. What Oba Akiolu did is shameful and unworthy of royalty. That he even did that to the Ooni Adimula is sacrilegious and more alarming. However, Oba Akiolu did not embarrass the Ooni in my opinion. He embarrassed himself and brought his own stool into ridicule. While I concede that we do not know what may have transpired between both before now and the need to give Oba Akiolu a fair hearing, I make bold to say that irrespective of whatever got on Eleko’s nerves, he behaved badly and his conduct was extremely disrespectful to the cradle of Yoruba race. There was another King from a different tribe right in their middle (report says the King is the Obi of Onitsha), who greeted the Ooni warmly and saw everything that transpired. What must he thinking at that point? I bet he would have retorted that:”Oh boy, did Oba Akiolu just did keep me Eden Hazard against Manchester United to the Ooni of Ife”? Abomination! Couldn’t Akiolu have kept his anger to when he and the Ooni are in private? By his actions he has insulted his own crown and brought ridicule to his office.

Folks have argued that the Ooni should have simply avoided exchanging courtesies with anyone entirely and should have gone straight to the seat provided for him. That line of argument is not entirely fair to the Ooni in my opinion. Yes he’s a primus inter pares when it comes to Yoruba monarchs, yes he’s the reference point as he sits on the cradle of Yoruba race, yes he’s widely respected within and outside Nigeria but that alone does define a royalty as important as the Ooni of Ife neither does it make a King dignified and worthy. It should be noted that the Obi of Onitsha and the Oba of Lagos were already seated at the event which was the World Conference of Banking Institutes hosted in Lagos yesterday by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). Three chairs were placed right beside one another; the one on the far right was understandably meant for the Ooni, the middle for the Obi of Onitsha and the one on the left for the Oba of Lagos. That last two were already seated before the Ooni came in. As soon as the Oonirisa came in, he went to where his seat was and while his aides were cleaning the seat, it is only right that he extends courtesies to both Obi of Onitsha and the Oba of Lagos who were already seated. He could have snubbed them while sending emissaries to both saying ‘The Ooni sends his greetings’ and that would have been seen as arrogance befitting his office and status as a god but he didn’t. He showed he was a true royalty who understood the importance of his stool and the need to lead by example to his numerous subjects which includes first class Obas by reaching out in person. The Obi of Onitsha, a very honourable monarch responded well to his greetings but Baba Fuad (Oba Akiolu) decided to employ the tactics we use with our friends when we have a disagreement over football. Some have also suggested that the Ooni should have greeted the Obi of Onitsha alone and waited for Akiolu to leave his sit to come say ‘Hello’ to him. This is not plausible in my opinion. Both kings were one inch from each other and the Ooni did well to extend to both without leaving anyone out. Had he done that, the cries would have been that the Ooni ignored a fellow, albeit lower, ranked Yoruba Oba (Yes Oba of Lagos is lower rank Oba in Yoruba land. Come and beat me!) and greeted only the Obi of Onitsha who’s not even Yoruba. So in essence, the Ooni did well. The one who should be ashamed of his conduct is Baba Fuad. I’m all for the Ooni of Ife showing the brashness and arrogance that comes with his stool but lest we not conflate that with the important need for the Ooni to lead with dignity and example and show the smaller kings how not to conduct themselves in public.

What could be the reason for his contemptuous conduct? Some have said the Oba of Lagos is jealous of the Ooni’s status and how he has been received by all and sundry. Of course anyone should be after all he’s younger, more respected, far richer, admiringly savvy, extremely stylish, widely acknowledged and a reference point for the Yoruba nation. Oonirisa just came back from London where he visited Queen Elizabeth and was hosted the Prince Charles and the Duchess, he also met with the Ghana president and King of Ashanti, Ooni signed billion dollars cultural heritage with United Kingdom and yes he also visited the United States and we were all in awe of how he carries his stool. Perhaps we are seeing the effect of these happenings. Who knows? The only monarch I can compare to the Ooni Ogunwusi in terms of the characteristics I raised is the Emir of Kano. But I don’t want to think the Oba of Lagos his jealous. Nah! I will give the Eleko the benefit of the doubt. In any case, his conduct is reprehensible and should be condemned. Had he sought an audience with Ooni in private to share what is making him angry, this Ooni I’m sure would have listened to him as he only cares about bridging the gap and dismantling the cords of dispute between Yoruba monarchs. Not this public display of contempt which only brings dishonour. The Ooni of Ife did well to side step his childish tantrums and went on to share a joke with the Obi of Onitsha. That alone is embarrassing in itself for the Oba of Lagos. The Ooni does not need to fight back. He has enough foot soldiers that will stand for him. Respected Obas, Afenifere and respected Yoruba elders must call Oba Akiolu out and demand that he apologise to Ooni Ogunwusi. Knowing Baba Fuad for who he is, that may seem a far call but if anyone deserves that apology, it is the Ooni Adimula.

Regardless of the age of the present occupant, the Ooni’s crown and the stool must be respected by all Oba kerejes (small kings). And no one has displayed that more than President Obasanjo who prostrated before Ooni Ogunwusi to show his respect. If anyone is jealous of his age and affluence, too bad. He is here to stay.

Oba Rilwan Akiolu will surely be paid back in his own coin and when that happens, we will reconvene to debate the appropriateness or otherwise.

 

Olatunde Bakare lives in Washington DC and tweets at @Backarray

Review Of “The Making Of A Change Agent”, Book Authored By Okoi Obono-Obla

By Olukayode Ajulo

I received word to review Okoi Obono-Obla ‘s new book, ‘The Making of a Change Agent’ with much anticipation. Knowing it’s author ‘s antecedents and prolific political themes, I could tell from the very title that he had decided to take on a range of issues which are not just contemporary but historical in their depth and wider context. The book does a lot more as I will very quickly point out, noting the controversial issues taken on and the conclusions, directly and indirectly, that can be drawn from its resourceful pages.

However, I was made to wonder as to the author ‘s rationale to invite me to review this crucial work of history, knowing fully well I represented the other side of the political divide when the All Progressive Congress was in the trenches as a newly formed opposition party in Nigeria. As a former National Secretary of the Labour Party our position cannot be said to have been favourably disposed to the APC and we fervently pursued our own agenda as against the APC”s. The Nigerian people, however, made their choice. If I found the invitation curious, I also found it brave and a testament to the author ‘s readiness to run the gauntlet of critical review.

Nigeria remains Africa ‘s most populous nation, with a wide geographical spread and mileage, imbued by an abundance of natural and mineral resources, and further inhabited by a people united by a mutual political history with an overwhelming cultural diversity. However, despite its blessings of human and material wherewithal which makes it an envy amongst nations of the world, Nigeria continues to trudge on wearily on the path of true progress and development. Her natural and potential strengths, including the petrodollars and intellectual properties have no commensurate or corresponding effect on her development.

Despite these potential its citizens suffer ubiquitous lack, poor infrastructures, public health challenges, insecurity, official profligacy, corruption and terrorism. These banes have gone on to limit whatever chance at development it has ever had, from its very first days of independence to the present.

The untidy state of things in Nigeria has been pointedly attributed principally to political inadequacies and instability,  and it is this train of thought and conclusion that Chief Okoi Obono-Obla (hereinafter referred to as Obono-Obla), a vibrant and versatile Nigerian Lawyer, Rights Activists, presently the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and a keen observer of socio-economic occurrences in Nigeria, has, in his new book, adumbrated on, introducing new perspectives to the narrative with acute insights.

Obono-Obla’s standpoint is to the effect that military misadventure into politics was an interregnum that, for several years, tied Nigeria to base, coupled with sixteen uninterrupted years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s reign, which he believes heightened the nation’s ailments.

From its very first chapter, Obono-Obla makes a case for change by an interrogation of the handlers of the Nigerian political power- from the military days to the present. The socio-economic life of the country is tied to the political choices of its military rulers and ‘civilian pirates’. A term which presupposes the hijacking of the people ‘s mandate and power to meet selfish ends. From the end of military rule, particularly through the sixteen years of PDP rule, the country was mauled by sectarian interests with party loyalty superceeding a commitment to the country and it’s developmental goals. However, he refused to appreciate the significance of change in the civilian rule since 1999 as against the inglorious military era.

For the author, the sorry situation into which Nigeria and Nigerians were plunged into gave birth to a push and pull political atmosphere which got the Nigeria population disenchanted and despondent. Corruption continued in the increase, laws were flouted, all with dire consequences on the Nigerian people. The living condition of Nigerians got even worse, with the country itself named in just about every poverty indices in the world. The elevation of theft and money laundering to a norm, flagrant display of impunity and disregard for the Nigerian people led to the crave for a new direction- social and political. To meet this need, a new ideological drive became necessary. It is on the foregoing premise that Obono-Obla lays the evolution of the APC.

Obono-Obla holds the belief that political and economic abuses under PDP was both incremental and exponential, and that the (now ruling) APC was born as a matter of urgent need of political sanitation and restoration by political comrades and likeminds across the decides, firstly to present a viable alternative and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to takeover political power to remedy the seeming permanence of irregularities in the country. This portrayal of events and plays that inspired and led to the merger of various political associations ,as it were, and founded the All Progressives Congress (APC) was comprehensively portrayed in the second chapter of the book.

That the persuasion for the merger was about the desire for change in Nigeria as portrayed by the author  will remain questionable and argumentative in history. I am of the opinion that the desire was principally to takeover power from the PDP and this have been demonstrated by the political conflicts the APC has continued to mismanage after it took over government. It therefore suffices to say we had a people made friends by a common enemy.

In punchy style, Obodo-Obla traces the history of Nigeria’s formation of political parties right from the pre-independent Nigeria up to now, drawing interesting attention to how the egg of today’s giant APC was laid, hatched and happened, including the tortuous travel of the party from the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) through other nouns and times until the last merger that eventually caused the desired change. Though Okoi did not give special narration of how the APC benefited princely from the ruins of the erstwhile ruling PDP, he reminds the reader of the Action Congress of Nigeria , ACN, All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the Democratic People’s Party, DPP.

In the shape and shade of competent historic literary construction, the author in the third chapter, gives a vivid account of how the whole process, right from the point of merger, was midwifed, the individual and group efforts that gave life and rise to the new political grouping that would be remembered in the nation’s political annals as one very popular and vocal opposition. Obono-Obla did give first hand hints of events that can only be well told by an active political participant. He relived how the party sojourned through hitches, in the face of scorching and daunting doubts in a manner that leaves the reader, a political actor or the apolitical citizen with lasting lessons of perseverance even when the times are trying.

The sacrifices and sorts of sojourn that resulted in the various party conventions at different regions and ends of the country were treated with refreshing nostalgia in the fourth chapter of the book which is captured in seven chapters. In the fifth chapter, the author refreshes readers memory with what would pass for a testy campaign in the history of the country’s presidential electioneering. The seven cardinal programme as given political audience during the fierce campaign is relayed with great taste, and we have : War against corruption, Agriculture and food security, Accelerated Power Supply, Integrated Transport Network, Free Education, Devolution of power, accelerated economic growth, affordable health care, industrialisation, Human Rights , Housing and women and gender issues being the offspring of the cardinal programme. This is for Nigerians and time to say if the party is still in consonance with these lofty manifestos.

Sixth and last chapters recall the eventual victory, lauds the Call of Concession by the defeated President Goodluck Jonathan to President Buhari and the afters. The Author recalls the players whose deeds made it happen as it refreshes the mind with tales of talents that contributed pointedly to the formation of government.

The catalogue of electoral offences narrated in this book exposes the inadequacies of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and makes a major indictment on our nation. While the author probably did not remember to mention similar atrocities by the APC, it is important to state that the Nigerian Laws are well established as to punishment for electoral crimes/offences. In fact, the law empowers INEC to prosecute electoral offences and until that is done, we may not move an inch forward in progress. I have over the years advocated this cause of action open to the electoral body in the event of electoral frauds during an election. Also, in this vein, I’d like to recommend that a thorough investigation with a view to prosecute if indicted be carried out in Chief Arthur Eze and others cases as catalogued in the book. This way, the INEC and other law enforcement agencies would be doing a service to the nation and it’s laws.

Obono-Obla’s work is worthy in many fronts. Besides building a bold bonding for the party -APC- a party whose history of rough ride to power the author has painstakingly preserved through this invaluable literary effort, it’s a sincere service to a nation that is politically evolving and needs to tell her stout stories. The author has done political actors and actresses, researchers and the general public alike a good deal. I won’t therefore hesitate to recommend the book as a bible for those that desire to organize political party particularly political party in opposition, students of Politics and aspiring political leaders. I therefore appeal that this book be made available to the National library and libraries of tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria. With all sense of honour, I also wish to recommend this book to the present opposition parties in the country, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party as the party have a lot to learn from this.

Thank you.
Ajulo is the Founder/Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, Executive Director, Egalitarian Mission for Africa and was the National Secretary, Labour Party.

Why We Are Hopeful About Improving Health In Africa, By Aliko Dangote And Bill Gates

This week, more than 138,000 vaccinators will fan out across five African countries in the Lake Chad area in a push to eliminate polio in Africa and rid the world of this terrible disease forever.

They will take boats across fast-flowing rivers, ride jeeps along sandy ravines, walk crowded street in towns and cities and navigate cramped quarters of refugee camps to ensure that every child is immunized. Traveling for hours a day, these dedicated women and men will visit children in homes, schools, train stations, and transit points across Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.

This also marks World Immunization Week, a coordinated effort to make sure that people everywhere understand the importance of getting immunized to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

And by coincidence, it was almost seven years ago that the two of us first met in a hotel conference room in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. We were there as part of a diverse group—public officials, religious leaders, business people, polio survivors, and journalists—to discuss how we could work together to stop polio in Nigeria.

At the time, Nigeria had done an amazing job tackling polio—reducing reported cases by 95 percent in just one year. But it was still circulating in six Nigerian states. While 95 percent might seem like success, as long as a single child remains infected, children across Africa and around the world are at risk.

Thanks to the effort of so many, Nigeria’s Borno State is now the only place in Africa today where polio is still circulating. It will take ingenuity to end polio there, and it will take persistence to continue reaching children in the surrounding area with vaccines to protect them from the disease until it is eradicated. But we’re confident it can be done. And when that happens, Africa will celebrate one of the biggest victories ever in public health.

Since our first meeting in 2010, the two of us have worked together on a range of other projects to help improve health in Nigeria and across Africa.

We supported the establishment of emergency operations centers in Nigeria and other countries to keep polio from spreading. This turned out to be a blessing during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When the disease first appeared in Nigeria—an international travel hub that is home to more than 180 million people—the staff of an emergency operations center set up in Lagos jumped into action and stopped the disease in its tracks. It’s almost unimaginable to think what would have happened without them.

In the state of Kano, we are working with the government to ensure that children can get essential childhood immunizations against tetanus, pneumonia, liver cancer and measles. And when parents bring their children into a clinic for vaccinations, health workers can address other health issues, too, like nutrition, care for pregnant mothers and newborns and malaria prevention and treatment. We have since widened the program to several other states.

Vaccines are also one of the best tools to save lives in an epidemic, such as the meningitis C outbreak happening now in Nigeria and other West African countries.

And because of the devastating impact malnutrition has on Nigeria’s children –  leading to 300,000 deaths annually and causing stunted growth and development in millions more – we have expanded our partnership to include nutrition programs across 12 states.

Earlier this year, we also helped launch the End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to ensuring that malaria eradication remains a top global priority.

Underlying all these efforts is our belief that strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease—and kick-starting a virtuous cycle of health, productivity, and prosperity.

In our work together, we have learned a few important lessons.

First, improving the health of communities depends on a successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction. And it is essential to building trust so parents have the confidence that vaccines are safe and will protect their children from life-threatening diseases.

Second, we must keep innovating to speed up progress. This month, for example, vaccinators will test a new vaccine carrier that keeps the temperature of vaccines stable for up to five days, even in blistering heat. This breakthrough will enable vaccinators to finally reach children in extremely remote areas with life-saving vaccines.

Last, accurate and reliable data is central to any effort to improve health. Data can tell a health officer which communities are running low on vaccine supplies, where there are gaps in vaccination coverage, and which new mothers need reminders to take their babies to the health clinic to be immunized.

An Africa without polio is within reach. So is the vision of getting life-saving vaccines to every child. Success will generate more enthusiasm and support from across different sectors – government, business, civil society, the media – to tackle other killer diseases and the underlying conditions that affect people’s health, including fixing broken health systems.

We know that strengthening health systems takes time and diligence. We are optimistic that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. That future depends on people working together—across national borders and across socioeconomic strata—to build the better world we all want.

By Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates 

Niger State: Ways To Empowering The People By Abdullberqy U Ebbo

Development efforts in Niger state is as urgent, consistent and apparent as empowering the people. While there is a method about achieving both, you also know when and where they happen. Here in the Niger, if it is not initiating/executing whole new programmes, it is partnering corporate bodies either for training programmes or farming, both small scale or commercial, all to make life more meaningful and liveable!
Whatever method, the purpose is to deliver jobs to the needy; it is to empower the disempowered. So far, in the Niger, project implementation/execution rooted on solid policy formulations is a reflection of an administration genuinely ready to reverse structures which, having gone decrepit, desperately yearn for changes.
It is indeed a new age of dedication, commitment and devotion to service delivery and responsibility in governance. This is the simple assessment of Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s administration’s interventions, as much in the agricultural sector, in which it has applied the ongoing CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), as in other empowerment programmes.
Yes. ABP is actually a CBN initiative, but the support of state governments is not just necessary but critical to achieving the set goal of food sufficiency for Nigerians in Nigeria. Last year, Niger state mobilised over 30,000 farmers, although only a little above 14,000 were able to access the facilities.
The farmers who cultivated soya beans, rice, and cotton were drawn across all three Senatorial districts of the state. It is to be noted the state government is the primary off-taker (buyer) of the produces, followed by private establishments.
Apparently, ABP is President Muhammadu Buhari’s way of saying Nigeria can do without Thailand and others for the commonest staple and choice meal for many a Nigerian: rice. It is noteworthy the programme is specifically aimed at elevating small holders to commercial agriculture farmers. While easing familiar pressure on foreign exchange for food importation, ABP serves additional purposes of boosting local production efforts to meet increasing food needs and creating jobs in quantum to empower thousands. It is however equally instructive to state farmers with cooperatives are the ones entitled to obtain the facilities which are fertilisers, improved seeds, chemicals, herbicides and insecticides (input).
CBN Anchor Borrowers plans for 2017
Niger state government, through the project monitoring team, has concluded arrangements to capture 50,000 farmers in areas of soya beans, rice, and cotton farming in the current year. Those interested in benefitting and participating in the programme have been urged to form themselves into clusters of a minimum of 26 members each and register as cooperative societies which must open both cooperative and individual (bank) accounts (with separate BVN)  with The Bank of Agric. The applicants must again have at least one hectare of land.
Training of youths on interlocking tiles, others
To advance its employment generation and empowerment plans, Niger state government has presented certificates of professional competence to 400 graduands from Chanchaga Local Government Council who recently completed training in the area of laying interlocking tiles. It is noteworthy that while beneficiaries in the first batch were given some financial support to set them off needfully. Presently another set of 350 people are under going the same training from Bosso Local Government Council, the gesture would equally be replicated across other councils.
Further, The Minna Innovation and Technology center will soon also commence the training of 250 youths in mechanic, bricklaying, freemansonry, carpentry, driving, tiling and other areas. The programme which is being done in partnership with The Dangote Group would see participants graduating with diploma qualifications.
Again, plans are on to commence the recruitment of a batch of 500 able-bodied youths by a state owned limited liability outfit named Power Guard Security Outfit, an organisation which is already registered with the Nigeria Security and Civil defence Corps (NSCDC), which will equally undertake their training. It is believed the outfit will guarantee the  employment of the youths and generate revenue for the state, as they can be recruited by corperate organisations, Goverment establishments and private individuals.
The Mobile Poultry Cages Initiative, others
Mobile poultry cages, a new innovation in the agricultural sector by the state government, is a clear departure from the well trodden practice of building cages for poultry farmers. Here, the mobile cages which are movable from one point to another, will desirably confer quite a substantial ease on the operations of the farmers. It is noteworthy that arrangements have been concluded for the procurement and distribution of whole 2,500 (number) for distribution across the 25 local Government areas of the state.
Alongside the preceding are the following programmes:
1, Training of 1,000 youth (annually) under the Change Youth Skills Acquisition Programe (CYSAP) skills as well as entrepreneurship training, an initiative which has so far graduated 250;
2, training of 15 individuals at The International Aviation Center, Ilorin as Flight Operations Officers (Flight Dispatchers course);
3, training of 200 youth on mobile phone repairs under the youth empowerment scheme;
4, establishment/training of 50 youths on Green House Agricultural Technology. Participants will be accommodated in facilities with conveniences including a solar powered borehole.
5, govt has also fulfilled all conditions to access the N2billion Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) fund, which is expected to benefit over 9,643 individuals.
It is equally noteworthy that the Niger state SME and micro finance banks in collaboration with Hakima Integrated Concept has commenced the training of 300 women Enterpreneurs in the areas of skill acquisition, including beads making, body and hair creams production, etc.
Already, there is a partnership between the State government and the Bank of Industry (BOI). A move designed primarily to deplete the ranks of the unemployed but employable youths in the state is expected to accommodate and train whole 30,000 youths in the areas of arts and crafts indigenous to Niger State.
The youths, would be trained in glass making, brass making, raffia, ceramics and cotton, raw materials with which providence has blessed the state in abundance.
The partnership, would see Niger state committing 70 per cent of the needed fund while BOI would make up the balance of 30.
First Lady’s Interventions
To complement these ongoing initiatives of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is the distribution of over 3,000 empowerment kits to women across the 25 councils by wife of the state governor, Dr Amina Abubakar Bello. Currently, the training of a total of 350 women is being targeted on different skills. 70 people are presently under going training on tailoring which is the first phase of the program, at the end of which cash would be given to mobilise the women into commencing trades upon which they had received training.
#LoloIsWorking

Lamentation: Govt Magic In Sodom And Gomorah, By Ade Ilemobade

I say, I say, I say…

This thing wey happen

Happen for my country

Na big big thing

First time in the whole world

If you hear the name, you go know

Government magic

Tell me the name now

[Chorus]

Government magic!

Them go dabaru everything

Them go turn green into white

Them go turn red into blue

Government magic

Government magic

FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI – Unknown Soldier Lyrics

”Nigeria, We Hail Thee” thou art thyself not Sodom and Gomorrah but events in the past few weeks manifestly justify any discerning mind characterization of grotesque narratives unravelling in respect of humongous and eye-popping N13bn discovery by Magu led Economic and Financial Crime Commission in a flat in Osborne Ikoyi, Lagos, as a warning/reflection that Nigeria is showing all the characteristics of Sodom And Gomorrah-like Financial resources management.

How do we explain the fact that Goodluck Jonathan’s government and agency of government like the Central Bank Of Nigeria whose responsibility includes checking money laundering activities in financial transactions has itself become a cesspit for money laundering with the release of funds in cash in excess and contrary to money laundering regulations.

All these extra-budgetary spendings approved by Goodluck Jonathan with the connivance of Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, demand from us a sober reflection as to how institution of government can be corruptly co-opted into taking decisions that are in breach of the rules and regulations guiding prudent financial resources management. Precisely speaking money laundering.

National security is now a conduit-pipe for malfeasance and the origo of extra-budgetary illegality wherein billions of dollars and pound sterlings are misappropriated for selfish political advancement of ex president and his political campaign organisation.

Boko Haram, Niger Delta Militants and imaginary intelligence gathering are perfect reference points used to commit financial crime against the people of Nigeria as we have witnessed in #Dasukigate and #Osbornegate but what is baffling in all these government magic is the fact that the key architect of our grand misappropriation Goodluck Jonathan remain silent and untouchable it seems.

Has Goodluck Jonathan been granted tacit amnesty from prosecution by the Buhari’s administration or what is really happening? Are ex-presidents above the law of the land? Are we given in to threats by Niger Delta Militants in respect of probe of Goodluck Jonathan? Is this a different kind of political consideration? So many questions looking for genuine answers from the Buhari’s administration.

Is it not time for us to start a review of what constitute national security and how we finance engagements so defined because as it now stands the concept is amorphous and openended given room for abuse in funds allocation, reporting, evaluation and consequencies for misappropriation or failure to meet targeted objectives.

From the unfolding narrative in the public domain as regards fraudulent use of public funds or warehousing of public funds in private residency coupled with the illegal mechanism used in releasing public funds to government security/intelligent agencies by the Central Bank of Nigeria I think an independent body of experts must be constituted to do a review as earlier posited.

National security ”industry” is taking a very large chunk of government revenue with little or no checks and balances in place and the secretive aura built around it engendered a very fertile ground for corruption and corrupt enrichment by officialdom. This cloak of secrecy and mysteriousness must be vanquished so as to allow openness to reign in our battle against corruption in public life.

The president has done well by constituting a high panel committee headed by the Vice-president to look into #Osbornegate and #Babachirgrasscuttergate but I do not agree with the operational guideline for the probe most especially the secrecy. Why a closed door session when the issues that precipitated this probe panel are already public knowledge. Sincerely speaking closed door session will generate more speculations than public inquest.

We already have comments from the populace and public intellectuals bordering on the integrity of the process behind closed door. However, I am willing to wait till the 14 day deadline given to the panel to submit its report to the president before my comments as to whether the panel has been able to give a robust, succinctly distilled answers to the many questions ruminating the minds of Nigerians on this #Nigeriagate.

 

OTUNBA ADE ILEMOBADE IS A PHILOSOPHER

TWITTER: @PEARL2PRINCE

Inspiring Stories Of Benue Leaders, Uninspiring Story Of The State, By Usha Anenga

Today is Governor Ortom’s birthday and the story of his life is truly inspirational. He joins a chain of indigenous democratically elected Governors of the state with inspiring stories, who rose from humble backgrounds to stardom against all odds, however the story of the state has been and remains a direct contrast to theirs.

APER AKU
Beginning from Aper Aku, the first civilian Governor of Benue State who after a decent life in public service, retired and was managing his private business in remote Gboko. He however came to limelight when, in August 1974, he swore an affidavit accusing Joseph Gomwalk, the then Governor of the defunct Benue-Plateau state of gross financial wrongdoings and nepotism.

Aku went on to be the first Chairman of Kwande Local Government two years later. Aku resigned as chairman of the local council in 1978 and subsequently entered gubernatorial race under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He was elected Governor of Benue State in October 1979 and reelected in October 1983, leaving office after the military coup in December 1983 which General Mohammadu Buhari came to power.

It’s important to note that under his leadership, Benue State soared to heights that have become the yardstick for leadership in the state.

MOSES ADASU
The story of Reverend Father Moses Orshio Adasu is no less inspiring. With an atypical background as a Catholic Priest, he joined politics and won the 1993 gubernatorial elections to become the second civilian Governor of the state.

Before this time, little was known about him politically besides holding several leadership positions in the state. He was also at some point a Senior Inspector of Education at the State Ministry of Education headquarters, Makurdi. He also taught in Secondary and Teachers Colleges in Jos, Otukpo and Adikpo, and at the Colleges of Education in Akwanga and Katsina-Ala.

GEORGE AKUME
George Akume, a holder of a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the prestigious University of Ibadan, rose from the lowest rungs of the state’s civil service to the apex of ladder as a permanent secretary.

In 1999 at return of democratic rule, he contested and won the gubernatorial elections to became the third civilian governor of Benue State and served two tenures of four years each.

GABRIEL SUSWAM
In 1999 when Nigeria returned to democracy from military rule, Suswam, a young hustling lawyer abandoned his wig and gown to contest and win the Katsina-ala/Ukum/Logo house of Representatives seat under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). With his charm of innocence, charisma and determination, Suswam had all the ingredients of a good politician and there was every reason to believe that the young man will go very far.

Dr Akume, planning to go to senate, needed a young vibrant confidant who would continue his decent strides and also pay some allegiance, and this he found in Suswam. After 8 years at the Green Chambers of the National Assembly, in April 2007, Suswam was elected Governor of Benue State, succeeding Dr George Akume. Inspiring, isn’t it?

SAMUEL ORTOM
From an obscure background, nobody gave him a chance to succeed but he was not perturbed by whatever life threw at him.
Due to the untimely demise of his Father who was largely the breadwinner of the family, a young Ortom dropped out of school to become a motor park tout. He then rose through the ranks of street life to become a driver and then a salesman.
His political story has been no less inspiring. From being a driver to a politician and carrying their bags, he was elected local government chairman in 1993 at the age of 33. Again rose through the political ranks, holding various, secretarial positions to become National Auditor of the then ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).  He later became a minister of the federal republic during which he resigned to contest and win the 2015 gubernatorial elections to become the fifth democratically elected Governor of Benue State.

BENUE STATE
On the other hand is the uninspiring story of Benue state. Situated in the mideast region of Nigeria, the state has an estimated population of over 4 million and its capital in Makurdi. It is a rich agricultural region with fertile land and temperate weather condition favourable for cultivation of food and cash crops; some of crops grown are yams, potatoes, cassava, soyabean, guinea corn, rice, beniseed amongst numerous species fruits and vegetables.

Once envy of its neighbours and pride of the people, a state blessed beyond measure with dark loams of fertile land dissected through by a fresh flowing river. An oasis in the savannah, coupled with its human resources, unquestionable potential and promise. So blessed, it was tipped to feed the nation, to be a major hub of agricultural export to west Africa and beyond.

Sadly, years on, the state’s slogan as the “food basket of the nation” sounds all but a caricature. The optimism that greeted it’s creation from the defunct Benue-Plateau state in 1976 has fizzled out into the reality of underdevelopment and poverty. This became inevitable when successive government administrations choose to traded cheaply sustainable development and self – reliance for the monthly share of “the national cake”, a phrase that have enjoyed patronage since Nigeria jettisoned agriculture to depend fully on revenue from the sale of crude oil.

It is therefore not a surprise that today, the state surfers severe bradycardia as it’s economic heart beats as many times as salaries are paid. Lack of industries and poor infrastructure have given birth to unemployment, poor enabling environment for business and hence zero economic growth amidst unpaid salaries.

The resultant effect is obvious; a legion of politicians and the people at their mercy, a people accustomed to less and adapted to the mediocrity of just the basics of life; food, water (still scarce despite the proximity to River Benue), shelter and strangely, alcohol. A people so oppressed and cursed by the idiosyncrasies of tribalism and it’s sequelae.

THE CHALLENGE
The challenge of our society is to build a strong state with strong institutions that will breed collective development and reverse the fortunes of the state. By so doing, we could look back and celebrate our progress as individuals and also celebrate and be proud of our progress as a state.

Usha Anenga is a medical doctor, writes from Makurdi

Very Good News About Education From Sokoto, By Chinedu E. Okonkwo

A silent revolution is taking place in the Seat of the Caliphate, Sokoto State, if it fully crystallizes, not only the  state, but the entire country and beyond, will be greatly, positively, impacted.

The revolution is the wind of change sweeping through the education sector of the state, being carefully engineered by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal himself.

As Speaker of the last House of Representatives, he acquitted himself very creditably, but because the achievements of the legislature are not as visible to the common eye as those of the executive, and because he must have felt that his home state needed to be steered onto a path of dramatic and irreversible change, the young lawyer left politics at the federal level and headed home to be governor.

About two years in the saddle now, the people of the state and indeed, Nigerians at large are already very conscious that the wind of change is truly blowing in  Sokoto State and that a real revolutionary is on the seat of power.

In every facet of life, change is being seriously felt. In the power sector, in agriculture, in the health sector, in roads, water supply, housing, to name but a few, the people of Sokoto State feel as though they have woken up from a deep and long slumber.

But the sector that is witnessing the revolution whose full impact will be fully felt in the years  to come is the education sector, where Governor Tambuwal seems to have, for good reasons, beamed  his search light a little more than the other sectors.

Early in the life of his administration, he declared a State of Emergency in this sector, and to show the seriousness he attached to the declaration, he appointed a thorough-bred academic, the former Vice Chancellor of the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, Professor Riskuwa Shehu the Chairman of the Technical Committee on the State of Emergency.

A needs assessment was conducted and the challenges were identified and are now being systematically and frontally tackled.

For instance, it was discovered that more than half of the structures in basic and secondary schools in the state are dilapidated and that over 60 per cent of the teachers in these schools are unqualified. Besides, school enrolment was also seen to be far below what it should be.

In recognition of the key role that education plays in the lives of individuals and societies, Governor Tambuwal set out to dramatically reverse the serious deficits he met in this sector.

Aware also of the fact that mere declaration of a State of Emergency would not lead to the achievement of his desired goal, especially without the full backing of the law, he sent an Executive Bill to the State House of Assembly, which expeditiously passed the bill, which among others, makes education a justiciable right in Sokoto State, making the state the first in the country to enact such legislation.

The Bill also provides for free and compulsory basic education for all children between age six and 18, and prescribes punishment for parents and guardians who refuse to let their children or wards attend school.

With this law in place and the Governor’s resolve as resolute as ever, the sky seems to be the starting point for the children of Sokoto State and hopefully for the children of other states in the country whose Governors would want to follow the very example of Governor Tambuwal.

But aware of the dramatic increase in enrolment that the new law would engender, the forward-looking leader has set in motion the construction of about 160 new schools  – 100 new primary schools, 45 new senior  and 15 new junior secondary schools, all in 2017.

This, again, is unprecedented, especially given that rehabilitation and equipment of the old, hitherto dilapidated schools is also on-going.

Conscious, also, of the need to give special attention to the educationally disadvantaged girl-child, Governor Tambuwal has gone ahead to put in place an agency for girl-child education, which will co-ordinate issues related to girl-child education in the state, from the basic to the tertiary level.

While this revolution is sweeping through the basic to tertiary levels of education in the state, Governor Tambuwal has jolted the civil service with a directive that all workers in the state must be computer literate if they expect to progress in the service.

This commendable directive has been followed by the commencement of training of 23,000 civi servants in computer appreciation.

For a state that won the Award of Best State in ICT from the Nigerian Information and Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) based on what Governor Tambuwal  has been able to put in place in less than two years in office, it can only be imagined what would begin to happen when all the investments in school infrastructure, teachers’ training,  overhaul of basic to tertiary levels of education, and even the computer training for civil servants begin to yield the expected bountiful fruits.

It could well match the achievements of the late legend, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the education sector of the then Western Region of Nigeria, the fruits of which the South West geo-political zone of the country is still reaping now, many years after the seeds were sown.

But beautiful as the vision and actions of Governor Tambuwal may be and waterproof as the law backing the vision may be, however, the people must massively and enthusiastically buy into them for the huge success anticipated to be realized.

Luckily, donor agencies and friendly foreign governments, like UNICEF and the United Kingdom’s DFID, have embraced this great move, and are doing? much more than they have done in the past, conscious of the fact that the success of this revolution would positively impact, not only Sokoto State, the North West geo-political zone or Nigeria, but the entire word.

 

*Chinedu E. Okonkwo writes from Bende in Port Harcourt, Rivers State

 

We Must Begin To Think Big By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me start this epistle by congratulating the Ministry of Transport especially the Aviation Department of that Ministry for completing the overhaul of the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja ahead of schedule, even if it was only by one day. It is indeed remarkable that the work was accomplished on time as promised. It demonstrates that given the requisite resolve and determination Nigerians can do things right. In the past, the job would have become moribund like the endless renovations embarked upon at many of our airports in the days of razzmatazz by PDP.

Kudos to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika (who unusually and selflessly put his job on the line) and the Minister of Transport, Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and all those civil servants, contractors, airlines and other support staff that ensured the success of the repair work and its completion before the due date. I must also commend Senator Sirika and Rt. Hon Amaechi for the synergy that they harnessed and displayed to ensure the smooth operations and logistics involved in the relocation of operations to the Kaduna Airport in Kaduna State from the Abuja Airport in the Federal Capital Territory. We must not fail to mention the contribution of the Kaduna State Government under the leadership of the cerebral and indefatigable workaholic, Governor Nasir El-Rufai who made sure that everything necessary to make the relocation smooth and effective was put in place by his government.

I pray that moving forward, our airports would begin to perform way above average. What we have right now is abysmally below acceptable standards in the world and, is especially, too scandalous for the greatest country in Africa. Without mincing words, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos is one of the most deplorable airports in Africa in terms of ambience, functionality and efficiency. I’m very passionately distraught about that airport because of its flagship status and the fact that for many of us, it is the international gateway to exit from and entry into our homes. Nothing reflects the terrible lack of governance in any country than the squalid state of its airport because it is the very first point of contact for the foreign visitor. It immediately tells the story of what to expect from the government and people of the country and that is a shame because Nigerians are ordinarily a decent hard working people. I often wonder if there is a jinx at the MMIA that makes it impossible for it to operate optimally as conceived by the original founding fathers decades ago.

There is nothing more to write about MMIA that I have not written in the past. I have even done much more by personally taking pictures and sending these to appropriate authorities. I have exposed the dangerous structures of the airport right from the abandoned underground carpark in the basement that has not only become muddy and odoriferous but worse still decayed and decrepit. When I read recently that the airport was rocking and vibrating all over like a seismic mishap waiting to happen, I did not buy into the defence of my dear brother, Senator Hadi Sirika, that the vibration came from a nebulous door in the basement of the airport. It is my belief that the edifice is being affected by the decay and rot that is lying at the very foundation of the building in the basement. If indeed the vibrations of a door in the basement could cause the entire gargantuan structure to rock like it did, then, there is a major problem with the structure which must be investigated urgently and thoroughly. The Minister should not just listen to the civil servants who would normally and abnormally say anything to keep and protect their jobs. In the name of Almighty God, the time has come to have a comprehensive check of the superstructure of that all-important airport. God forbid bad thing, any calamitous disaster in that airport will be too hot to handle in a country without adequate emergency unit to respond to desperate situations.

I also read that our dear Minister said the solution to the intractable and inscrutable situations at the airport is to concession and sell probably to the best bidder. While I believe that is a credible option, I still think that should not stop us from having a beautifully habitable airport in the meantime. However, I do not think that a concession and sale is the only option. If the government deploys the rich human and other resources at its command to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of the airport through constant maintenance, use of innovative solutions and above all the instrumentality of diligent and committed workers, the airport would become one of the best in the world. Concession, privatisation or even outright sale seems to suggest a government accepting that it has failed without even trying at all. It is a facile and lazy way to get results when all that is needed is good administration.
The government only needs to urgently reduce the suffocating bureaucracy in our Ministries where everything moves at the pace of millipedes and all contracts are prone to incredible corruption. The aviation sector is very special in that huge sums of revenue comes in daily in cash. There are allocations that do not have to go through Federal budgets but most of this would have made all the difference if the operatives apply them judiciously. It is difficult to understand why a sector that rakes in stupendous sums of money in local and international currencies remains one of the most disgraceful government institutions.

I do not blame this only on corruption but on the lack of the capacity to think big. No country would have achieved the types of architectural wonders and blistering infrastructure development that we see in Dubai if the leaders did not dream big. We are constantly short-changed here because some of our leaders don’t even believe Nigeria deserves to join the comity of great nations that should act as showpieces to the world. We have lived for too long in the mire and gotten so used to the higgledy-piggledy that is dished to us regularly that we no longer feel any sense of shame about the ribaldry around us.

The time has come to put on our thinking caps. The world is already leaving us too far behind in most things and this should not be the case. Nigeria parades some of the most brilliant and intelligent human beings on earth. It is always bewildering to me as to how we ended up with the dregs of society bestriding our political landscape. We all know the incalculable damage this has done to us yet no one seems prepared to change this hocus-pocus. I have no doubt that Nigeria can do much better under this our “Change” government but we’ve been too pre-occupied with fighting too many battles on different fronts that we’ve not been able to settle down to concentrate on proper and effective governance. The polity is so heated up that we’ve virtually waltzed our way intricately into a topsy-turvy cul-de-sac. By next month the Buhari government would have been half way expired in respect of its first term. I do not know if it plans to attempt a second term, only time will tell. However, if it does, our President needs to rev up the engine of government and waste less time on the war of attrition that could be fought without the existing melodramatic conundrums.

I believe that our government needs to reorder its priorities. In the remaining two years before the next general elections, we should make issue of power generation, transmission and distribution our topmost priority. If that is the only thing this government can achieve, that would just be enough. The industrial revolution which any society that seeks to leave the level of under-development and join the small but sacred band of developed nations is rooted in ample power generation and supply. I’m reasonably convinced that this can be achieved.

My confidence comes from what I recently witnessed real time in Ghana. The then President John Dramani Mahama was confronted by a major power crisis nicknamed Dumsor (light on and off or epileptic power supply) by Ghanaians. He did not feel intimidated at all. He simply rolled up his sleeves and told his people, without any equivocation, that “I will fix it.” Not many leaders display such guts publicly but Mahama did. He took up the humongous challenge with uncommon gusto. He was sure the solution did not require rocket science to achieve. Before our very eyes, Mahama went all out and by the time he left office last January, he had dealt Dumsor a deadly blow. Ghana is a country enjoying sufficient power supply despite its limited resources all thanks to the visionary leadership of John Mahama.

This is the kind of approach Nigerian leaders should take. It would be tragic if President Buhari fails like his predecessors. I feel for the President. I understand his frustration and pain. The hopes reposed in him by Nigerians would need talismanic powers to actualise. The expectations are high and time is flying by. I believe that there are too many things he should not concern himself with right now. Some things, like corruption, will take several terms to fix simply because we are in a democracy and there must be adherence to the rule of law. It should suffice that significant inroads into the cankerworm of corruption is being made by his administration. However, some things are even more fundamental and can be achieved within the time left if diligently and efficiently pursued.

Therefore, if I were President Buhari, I will do everything humanly possible to fix electricity. I’m pleading with Baba to turn his attention to this. He has done well in the area of anti-terrorism. The war against corruption is more complex than the ordinary eyes can see and there are already some institutions in place to sort that out. No matter how determined Buhari is to fight corruption he lacks the power to intervene directly and decisively. Reality check would show clearly that he no longer has the power of life and death he wielded when he was a military Head of State. Even then it is debatable how much success he achieved if we are at the sorry pass that we now find ourselves. One truism to tell those who feel he can exterminate corruption magically and majestically is the reality of our present democratic dispensation.

No one would blame President Buhari if his ubiquitous wars fall flat like they did in previous administrations. We all know he cannot be the prosecutor and the judge at once. The powers we ascribe to him simply don’t exist. The earlier we accept that fact the better for all of us. The frustrations of Nigerians over the lack of direction and progress in the war against corruption are because we have been too naïve and over-expectant. The man is not a magician. He is not Superman, Captain Marvel or any other Avenger that takes your fancy. And he is certainly not a miracle working priest!

The job Nigerians brought Buhari to do was to stabilise the economy; create enabling environment for investments and investors; alleviate the excruciating suffering of the people, especially our teeming youths who despite slaving to go to school have found no jobs in many years; end the perpetual darkness we swim in despite billions of dollars expended over the decades; secure lives and properties, and so on. Nigerians did not vote for the ruling party, APC, to turn into world heavyweight pugilists boxing each other into stupor or tearing at each other’s throats like babies fighting over lollipops. APC was empowered to work assiduously on the problems bedevilling Nigeria and Nigerians. We trusted Buhari so much to the extent of setting his deification in motion. The trust was almost idolatry. When tomorrow comes, this may turn out to be Buhari’s albatross.

It is a heavy cross he must bear, almost alone.

Who Will Remind Our Police Officers That They’re On Salaries? By Abiodun Shomoye

Known for tactical disappearance when mostly needed and vehement aggression when extorting drivers, nothing defines misplacement of priority better than men of Nigeria’s Police Force (NPF). Their expected responsibility is not too difficult to comprehend; protect law and order, but Nigeria police officers has for years proven they are not ready to get that alone wedged in their brains, they’ve therefore found another angle to their statutory role. I don’t know how true this is, but it’s a general saying in the country; embark on a visit to a police officer’s house and you’ll be welcomed by “what did you bring for me and my family”, a visit to one’s house by a police friend will end with “what do you have for me to take home”—it’s that bad.

Brief point of correction. I won’t overgeneralize and label the entire system bad.  There are still good eggs in the police system, which I must commend their patriotisms but the reality is appalling, the bad ones apparently out shadows the good ones, two or three out of fifty is insignificant and mathematically negligible.

At a point in time, you will be left with no other option than to wonder if there exist a communication link between the Abuja office of NPF and her wings moving from states, to local government areas and finally to local settlements. If actually there is, the reason(s) a police officer will still violate orders from Abuja office is unfathomable. Sadly, a good percentage of them do not know the name of the Inspector General of Police. That needed to be mentioned too.

Even when he/she doesn’t know the name of his/her boss, once on the road in most times not surprisingly dirty, rough, and unattractive black kits with outdated and tattered beret, if not complimented with rubber footwear (AKA Yar’adua), assumes a position comparable to that of Idiami, giving orders one must obey if one has something tangible to do in life. Their unappealing mode of dressing might be a topic of another day. Oh, lest I forget, sometimes some of them pay Iya Sikira o ni paraga (local alcohol seller) visit before resuming duty, to shack up their body system, a necessary cause to most of them, pathetic.

A quick suggestion before I continue, NPF needs to redesign the uniform, there is an urgent need to remove pockets from their uniform. This will go a long way in giving road users some form of relief, certainly.

To all grown up Nigerians, news of NPF men seeing an economic angle to their duties is stale. New IGPs, new strong warnings but none has yielded a positive result, instead, there has been direct response from our officers to any economic development when amount to be paid as police tax is to be agreed upon. From days of twenty naira, to fifty naira and now to hundred naira and possibly two hundred naira considering the body language of Nigeria’s economy, you have to give it to them, they’ve been responding well. This trend can better be analyzed by a public transport driver, at least they are at the receiving end—this used to be my thought, just to be disappointed by a driver who told me police-settlement-fee is put into consideration when the cost of transporting is to be decided by the union in charge, that was I realized these people are extorting my poor self too.

Aside from this negative attributes, their posture on the road looks impressive at first but end up being depressive or funny—depending on one’s state of mind. Standing gallantly with loaded but most times rusty gun rolled round their necks, you’ll think one serious security personnel is standing until you see one human hand forming curve-like shape, indirectly saying Oga drop something or an unsolicited handshake that must be complimented with naira note. Failure to obey the message from the hand can result in verbal war if not physical. Pictures below give a better explanation.

 

At the receiving end, there are two major likely victims; the private vehicle drivers and the public transport drivers.

The former in most cases are educated working class Nigerians. This gives them the zeal to stand their right, which in most cases cost them their time, and no one goes scot free in this battle. They might not pay in cash but surely, they’ll replace the cash with their useful time.

The later are the main target, mostly dominated by the less privileged (education wise), who are unaware of their rights, not ready to let go of their time (time na money) or scared of the uniform. They represent the lower class according to social hierarchy of the country, often beaten by the economic hardship, they work for primary purposes of feeding, sheltering and to be able to patronize uncle Uche the over counter seller in case of medical breakdown. Their plights sometime extend beyond meeting those primary purposes, they’re also confronted with challenge of paying back huge charges to their respective car owners, daily or weekly depending on the stipulated agreement. Those are just little of what average Nigeria public transport drivers go through. To now imagine a salary earner extorting this category of people is heartbreaking and worrisome to say the least.

I sincerely hope the last warning by the IGP will go a long way. To add up to the IGP’s warning, I would have loved to initiate a nationwide protest against this menace or continue raising other issues in this piece, but the fear of having a #free attached to my name on various social media has limited me and left with just one question; who will remind our police officers that they’re on salaries? Definitely not me!

 

This piece was written by Abiodun Shomoye, feel free to catch up with him on Twitter via @AbiodunShomoye.

Celebrities And Failed Marriages, By Akinremi Abdul Raheem

Celebrities are known for their failed marriages, in fact it has become norms. ?My heart aches anytime I hear about celebrities having marital issues. The most recent one is that of Aunty Tonto and Bro Churchill. Even though Aunty Tonto went extra miles to save her marriage with all sort of social and publicity hype before the breakup, yet the marriage failed.
?
Well who is to be blamed for their woes? Family, friend or fans?

?Twitter fans be like ” Egbon Don Jazzy, you still never won wed? When you go marry. You don dey old oooo”

Instagram fans be like ” Banky W, na only to do best man u sabi. You no go marry ba? Idiot”
?
Facebook fans be like ” D’banj, you don old oooooo”

Family be like ” when are we going to see our grandchild?”

Friends be like ” Are you going to wait till my children start calling you uncle or Aunty?”
?
Egbon Adekunle gold once said in life of a star ( Lil kesh x Adekunle Gold) ?that “….Mofe dogun mofe dogbon
Mofe do lo kiki laye
I know know say it takes a lot to be a star
They no tell me say e no easy oh
Them go vex you for social network….

Wonti gbagbe pe me self be Human being oh
They no tell me say e no easy oh
If i start to tell you how the thing dey go
You go feel what am feeling in my soul
I live the life of a star
Omo ko easy rara
Am a keep on matching and go with the flow..”

What I am trying to drive at is that the pressure we ?the fans give to the so called celebrities are sometimes “unnecessary pressures” . Some of us will even leave our individual “wahala” and take their personal life as a core course.

Stuffs like this keep popping up everyday. Don’t forget they are human beings and that means some of them can bow to pressure. All in the name of the pressure and “media problem”,they tend to fall into wrong hands.?

Gentlemen and ladies out there are either interested in your money or your fame. They just want to be attached to you one way or the other.

Since some of these celebrities are eager to get married, therefore, they tend to fall into wrong hands. Even when some are careful with hubby selection.

Most of these successful celebrity marriages you see around ?in most cases are relationships that started prior the fame and  only few started after the fame.

Even when a celeb try to avoid a gold digger and marries a colleague ( star), ?then the battle for superiority starts.

Mr. Star will want to make more money than Mrs. Star and if Mrs. Star makes more money than Mr. Star, na problem  ( First Wahala)? ?

?Mr. X gave Mrs. Star a new range rover 2016 model. Mr. Star begins to suspect Mrs. Star even if nothing is going on between Mr. X and Mrs. Star. ( second wahala) ?

Mr. Star and ?Mrs. Star are away from home for days. Kids are been affected ( third wahala)

Since the home is affected,  Mr star wants Mrs. Star to stop being a star and stay back at home so that the kids won’t be affected. ( fourth wahala)

?Mrs. Star says no ( the real whalhala has started big time)

?Mr. Star insist as the man of the house.

?Mrs star says no and if care is not taken she will settle for divorce.

#gbam ?

In short, many things can be attributed to their failed marriages and only God can save their marriages.

God bless those that are having happy homes.

May things work out for those having issues.

 

Akinremi Abdul Raheem @iamunclerahiiim

Have The Jonathans Been Granted Immunity? By Umar Hassan

The decision by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating allegations of corruption and breach of due process in the sale of the OPL 245 oil field more popularly referred to as the Malabu Scandal to consider inviting Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to answer questions on the role he played in the saga elicited joyous reactions from a lot of Nigerians. The status quo which suggests Mr and Mrs Jonathan have no case to answer with the authorities despite been mentioned in a couple of investigations is totally unacceptable. The Buhari administration has shamelessly looked the other way on the occasions the Jonathans’ name have come up.

Revelations after Dame Patience Jonathan filed an application through her lawyers to have a freezing order on her account with Skye bank overturned showed the EFCC knew or ought to know at the time it arrested persons associated with the account, that she had the ATM card for the said account and had been withdrawing money from it since 2010.These facts were ascertainable at the most preliminary stage of investigations and it was obvious the EFCC had deliberately skipped her. The woman had been overlooked and saved possible jail time and humiliation but it was nothing to be grateful about.

The audacious public claim of ownership prompted many to think her and her husband had Buhari by the balls and were not scared of squeezing hard if need be. Moreso when the EFCC as a face-saving measure, began to seize her assets without ever inviting her to answer any questions talk more prosecute her. Facts available to the anti-graft agencies were enough to necessitate the seizure of her properties but not enough to warrant prosecution. How rational does that sound?

During investigations into the $2.1 billion arms deal, the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) said every payment he made was authorized by ex-President Jonathan and Doyin Okupe, a media aide of the former President said his former boss approved the sum he received. No questions were asked of GEJ, we just went about our lives like it was no big deal. There has been a nauseating disinterestedness and incuriousness on the part of our anti-graft bodies towards the Jonathans whenever a significant need to look into their activities has risen.

President Buhari promised to prosecute anyone found culpable of embezzling money including those who return their loot and even though he has chewed back those words, if such a will ever truly existed and even if the Jonathans were among the exceptions, then he ought not to have condoned Patience Jonathan’s arrogance in overlooking the ‘favour’ done to her because of the need to send a strong message to those who think they can take for granted, the benevolent gestures of his government.

He should have still held on to the funds returned (if any) and gone ahead to prosecute her. Everything adds up to the fact that the Jonathans, who ran the most corrupt government this country has ever seen seem to be enjoying a special immunity sanctioned from the highest of places.

Even after the promise by the House of Reps committee Chairman, Hon.Razak Atunwa to look into summoning President Jonathan to clarify his part in the lingering Malabu scandal where a Russian middleman, Ednan Agaev who helped negotiate the transfer of OPL 245 to SHELL and ENI by the FG, told the FBI and Italian prosecutors that Jonathan may have gotten as much as a $200 million bribe, a disturbing report emerged hinting that the committee has succumbed to pressure mounted on it by ‘concerned’ Nigerians to dispense with his attendance and accept a written submission instead because of the negative implications inviting him could have on the polity. Though it has stayed a rumour, it serves as a perfect illustration of the lengths to which GEJ and those covering his backside can go to thwart the only genuine effort made at looking into his dealings as leader of the most corrupt government we have ever had.

President Buhari’s emergence in 2015 was more down to Jonathan’s inadequacies than the belief majority of Nigerians had in a 72 year old’s abilities to turn things around. If there was any consolation, it was his stance on corruption. A lot of people didn’t really believe every indigent Nigerian would get N5,000 monthly or that the naira would rise to equal the dollar as was promised by the APC. Fighting corruption sounded the most realistic of their targets and it was the one a lot of Nigerians eagerly looked forward to but so far, the war hasn’t been as straight as expected and it is really sad that the leader of the most vicious gang of pen and paper bandits ever known to us seems to have been shielded.

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