Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari By Japhet Philip

Dear PMB,

Without the necessity of mincing words, I am constrained to write to you at this   crucial time of our nation’s history essentially to add my little voice to some of the plethora of issues that could make or mar our solemn desire for a national rebirth, our quest for peace and stability, social justice and shared prosperity. I am hopeful that this message will meet you hail and hearty. Suffice to say, that i am very appreciative of your current efforts to reposition Nigeria on the path of greatness especially in the areas of security and the anti-graft crusade for which many of us are grateful, there are however a number of concerns which to my mind if left unchecked could lead us to cul de sac, may God forbid that.

Before i engage you on the matters, let me place it on record that i strongly share your ideologies of integrity, transparency and accountability. Your strength of character, your values of perseverance, doggedness and Spartan lifestyle amongst many has endeared your personality to my heart that i see you as a role model whose virtues the Nigerian youth would do good to emulate. I was just a teenager when you held sway as a military Head of State in the early/mid 80s and your brief stay of twenty months or there about left no one in doubt that you have so much to offer for the common good. Your sterling performance at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) as its chairman under the late dark goggled General Sani Abacha which saw to the construction of many high quality roads, logistics in hospitals and which put many books in libraries in schools across Nigeria is a clear testimony of your yearning for a working Nigeria.

Since you ventured into the murky waters of Nigerian politics in 2002 to this day, I have always been your staunch supporter and mobilizer. Starting from the All Peoples Party (APP), to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), to when you resolved to leave the ANPP and formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and ultimately to the historical merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the CPC, ANPP, the new PDP (nPDP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) that gave birth to the mega All Progressives Congress (APC). The rest they say is history. In the build up to the 2015 general elections, I was one amongst many young Nigerians who went all the way to ensure that you emerged victorious at the presidential polls not because the APC was full of ‘saints’, but because we share in your aspirations of selfless service to our great nation and so we passionately went about mobilizing citizens across the length and breadth, North and south, east and west of Nigeria to vote for change and our fellow compatriots hearkened to our call. It is more on this premise that I have the audacity to write you this letter so that Nigeria can be better for it. Because I voted for change for which I have no regrets, and as a stakeholder on the Nigerian project, I am duty bound to actively contribute to the much desired change so that the ‘’BUHARIST’’ as some people will brand me, my fellow youths and millions of other Nigerians who voted for you will not be put to shame. In raising the issues even though it may sound bitter to you, I have nothing to lose and have everything to gain should this translate into better living standards for the Nigerian people. Now back to the issues for scribbling this piece.

Firstly, I have observed with great dismay the ‘’unfriendly’’ attitude towards youths and women of this great country of the present government under your leadership, the number of appointments made by your highly revered and exalted office so far suggests to me that there may be just too little for women and youths in the scheme of things. For me it’s a great source of concern and the situation needs to be redressed. Mr President, please do not allow the old guards most of whose interest is a penchant for self aggrandizement/preservation to mislead you into forgetting so soon the gigantic role women and youths played in supporting you and the APC to victory at the last general polls. Never forget that history is replete with nations who forgot their youthful populations and had to pay dearly for it. I do not wish that Nigeria follows the same path for any nation that ignores its youth does so at its own peril. To this end, i implore you Mr President to as a matter of priority reconsider mainstreaming more women and youths into your change agenda by way of giving them more opportunities to serve and to take proactive steps in formulating clear cut policies that are sensitive to their needs in the real sense of the word and not just by word of mouth. Let there be initiatives capable of creating decent jobs for the teeming population of Nigerian youths, empowering women to cater well for their families and so on and so forth. Any attempt to ignore these very important segments of our society would be a recipe for social, economic and political instability. If we want social justice for shared prosperity, we must bid goodbye to the era of ‘’Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’’. Going by our demographics, it is very clear that the Nigerian population is a youthful one; the youth represents about 35% of our productive and voting population. I am sure Mr President will not need a crystal ball seer to tell him the implications of ignoring the concerns of women and youths after all you are for ‘’Nobody and everybody’’.

Secondly, it appears to me that this government is handling the issue of herders and farmers conflict with levity. From Barikin Ladi and Riyom, Keana and Doma and Agatu in Plateau, Nassarawa and Benue states-North Central Nigeria, to Zangon Kataf and Kachia in Kaduna state-North-west Nigeria, to some parts of Ondo and Ogun states in the South west and most recently Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu state in the South east, thousands of human lives and properties worth billions have been lost to this conflict and the end of it invariably is not yet in sight. Mr President, this is a time bomb and government must act fast to nib this monster in the bud so we can avoid yet another Boko Haram- like experience. This cycle of violence must be broken if we are to preserve the indivisibility of the project called Nigeria. A stitch in time they say saves nine!

Thirdly, it is somewhat evident that this ship called Nigeria which you are captain at the moment has no clear cut economic policy direction, under the current economic circumstances, Nigerians are suffering and groaning, fuel scarcity is on the rampage with negative multiplier effects on cost of goods and services, there is no availability of power supply to light our homes and streets and to keep our boilers running in our very few surviving industries just to mention a few. The pains Nigerians are going through is excruciating and unspeakable and can hardly represent the change we voted for. Mr President, if anything is worthwhile, if it is excellent, if it is noble and people oriented please think and act about it and fast too. Nigeria is in dire need of a team of seasoned economists who can think outside the box and bring us out of this economic morass in which we have found ourselves. Albeit it may seem an early call to pass a verdict on your eleven (11) months old government, the suffering is increasing by the day and something drastic needs to be done, desperate times require desperate measures. Even though you have apologized to Nigerians and sought our understanding and patience, the only language the talakawas understand is food on their table and the availability of power and fuel to run around in pursuance of their legitimate business, anything less would amount to flogging a dead horse. Mr President, you have only three years left to prove your mettle and woo your detractors and nay sayers to your own side of history, time is running out, you must make hay while the sun shines for night cometh when no man can work!

Fourthly, one other issue of great concern to me is your propensity to micromanage things; take for instance your appointment of self to administer the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which for me is not healthy for what we have set out to achieve with the oil and gas sector. The rigors of attending to very crucial state matters of securing the country and other day to day running of government will not allow for you to function effectively as a petroleum minister. In the light of this Mr President, I urge you amongst other things to be sensitive to the idea of delegation of powers, the idea of building strong foundations around systems and not individuals because collective wisdom works better than individual wisdom.

Finally Mr President, the APC led government under your watch is not doing enough to actively engage and get the necessary buy in of Nigerians on what it  intends to achieve, while i do not seek to undermine the current efforts of your media team by no means, am just thinking that as a nation we can engage citizens better. Town Hall meetings in banquet halls of five star hotels can only achieve but a little. Is it possible that we replicate these meetings at the LG levels and village squares across the 774 local governments in Nigeria? Can we patronize other local media outfits like radio and television stations in states using our local dialects and resources so we can reach out to more people? For me the answer is an emphatic YES! I am pretty sure that doing this will help us educate our people about government’s policy directions, it will help us douse unnecessary tensions and ‘’wailings’’ amongst the people and generate positive energy for national development. To do this will require ‘’uncommon’’ courage and sacrifice by both leaders and the led so that together we can realize the Nigeria of our dreams. Like Albert Einstein would say, ‘’In the midst of our adversities lies an opportunity’’.

I look forward to a day when the APC led government will take Nigerians to the promise land so it can muster the courage to ask Nigerians for yet another opportunity to serve. I wish you Godspeed, good health and strength as you pilot the affairs of this great country to an expected end.

Yours in the struggle for a better Nigeria,

Comrade Japhet Philip.

japhetphilip322@gmail.com

Skype: japhet.philip

Twitter: @JaphetPhilip

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Osinbajo, Dangote, Tinubu, Wigwe, Philip Walker, others to speak at The Economist’s Nigeria Summit 2016

LAGOS, Nigeria, March 3, 2016/ — All is set for this year’s edition of The Economist Event’s Nigeria summit.

Philip Walker, Regional Manager of The Economist Intelligence Unit, Miguel Melo Azevedo, Head of Investment Banking, Africa, Citi Group among others will, on Monday March 7 and Tuesday March 8, 2016, join eminent Nigerian businessmen and top government officials—from around the world—to review Nigeria’s current economic situation and provide an overview of the global macro-economic picture, talking through the growth prospects for Nigeria and the region.

This will be taking place at the 11th Annual Nigeria Summit being organised by the events’ arm of the foremost international socio economic news magazine, The Economist. The 2-day summit, themed The Dawn of A New Day, is scheduled to take place at the highbrow Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos.

The event will feature exhibitions, experts’ submissions, panel discussions around the opportunities ?and challenges that lie at the point where technology, infrastructural development, political transparency and global partnerships meet.

The forum will bring key government ministry officials, industry and business leaders as well as representatives of the Nigerian civil society; together with international investors, economists and academics to discuss and debate Nigeria’s economic direction.

The summit will also examine and review the socio economic challenges that Nigeria is facing in view of her first democratic power transfer and the implication of the global macro-economic forces as being shaped by the ridiculously low global oil prices which is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.

The guest line up and speaker list includes: Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group; Danladi Verheijen, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Verod; Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Nigeria; Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria, Jonathan Rosenthal, Africa Editor, The Economist.

Other speakers and panelists are Alhaji Kashim Shettina, Governor, Borno State, Nigeria; Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President and Chief Execuive Officer, IMANI; Philip Lindop, Head of Africa Investment Banking, Barclays Africa Group, Fola Laoye, Chairman, Hygeia Group.

The list also includes: Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al Makura, Governor, Nasarawa State, Nigeria; Chief Willie Obiano, Governor, Anambra State, Nigeria, Issam Darwish, Executive Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, IHS Towers; Adebola Williams, Co-Founder, RED among others are also billed to speak at the summit.

Now in its 11th year, the Nigeria Summit is part of the Economist’s successful high-growth markets series that has become one of the leading events in Africa where business, government and ideas people meet.

Chaired by a senior Editor from The Economist, the summit will explore the economic and social progress made to date and take an in-depth look at what the future will hold for Africa’s biggest economy

“This year’s Nigeria Summit will bring together over 350 participants drawn from different walks of life including Nigeria’s public and private sectors, international business players and investors for a discussion on how Nigeria can turn its economic growth into social and political prosperity,” Daniel Franklin, Executive Director of The Economist disclosed.?

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Akwa Ibom: Why Umana Umana May Lose The Rerun Election To PDP, By Philip Obin

 

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Nigerians, Road Accidents And The Blood Of Jesus, By Philip Obin

I sincerely think that as Nigerians, we need to embrace science and technology, study it and understand it as much as we studied and understand religion and faith. It will do us a great deal!

I am devoted Christian, but the way we allow religion and faith kill us in this part of the world is amazing! You board a dead vehicle from a dead motor park, with almost dead drivers, and instead of trying to check and ask questions such as if the driver is qualified, licensed, fit, not under alcoholic influence or if the vehicle is good, sound and has good tires, we’ll rather prefer to donate monies to fake preachers who come on board to tell you how people die on road accidents because they didn’t give or donate monies to them in the name of giving!

They preach and tell you how to cover the almost dead driver,  dead vehicle,  dead tires and  dead steering with the blood of Jesus, and we’ll shout a loud ‘Amen’ to it?

Why do we derive joy in looking for witches and wizards ho are after us, when we fail to do the most primary things we ought to do to guaranty our safety? For how long can the blood of Jesus continue to allow bad vehicles convey us from Abuja to Lagos all the way? Why don’t we rather pray for miracles that will catapult us from one location to another, if that is so easy?

I will prefer we have technical experts volunteering to visit motor parks, instead of men of God, and sensitive passengers on how to spot inexperienced, unlicensed or drunk drivers, what to check out for before boarding any commercial vehicle; and also work closely with drivers and owners of commercial vehicles, to advice technically on the states and conditions of their vehicles before such vehicles are allowed to hit the roads. The bad side with this option is that Nigerians aren’t good in voluntary assignments that do not pay and Nigerian road users won’t be willing to give tips to such volunteers; they’ll prefer to give to men of God who threaten them with hell fire and dangers of not giving to them.

This is why I prefer to fly when on long trips, because the road transport industry and system in Nigeria is suicide mission, and has little or no functional regulatory body and so anyone can bring any vehicle and anyone as driver to any motor park, load Nigerians like ice fish only to go and waste them on the road. Admittedly, our airways aren’t as safe as it should be, however, the industry is run by highly specialized professionals who have so much at stake in the event of any accident, and the govts are more interested in the sector because it directly affects them.

Created in February 1988, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, which functions generally relates to making the highway safe for motorists and other road users, has failed Nigeria and Nigerians, and its purpose almost defeated, as they concentrate on extorting road users, instead of ensuring their safety.

Other duties of the FRSC includes: Recommending works and devices designed to eliminate or minimize accidents on the highways and advising the Federal and State Governments including the Federal Capital Territory Administration and relevant governmental agencies on the localities where such works and devices are required, and Educating motorists and members of the public on the importance of discipline on the highway. In particular the Commission is charged with the responsibilities for: Preventing or minimizing accidents on the highway; Clearing obstructions on any part of the highways; Educating drivers, motorists  and other members of the public generally.

A similar body, the Vehicle Inspection Office Driver and Vehicle Licensing Administration, VIO-DVLA which primary aim is to standardize the drivers’ license certification process and to maintain a database of certified drivers and vehicles in each State of the Federation for the enforcement of road traffic laws in Nigeria, has also not lived up to expectations, owing to same effects of corruption

As the rate of road accidents increase in Nigeria on daily basis, it becomes urgent that the new govt looks into existing regulatory bodies or create new ones and mandate them to work closely with road transport companies and delegate officials to work at motor parks of the road transport companies, in order to even ascertain the conditions of vehicle before they leave their parks, since accidents can occur before the vehicles reach checking points in most cases.

I will write better on this soonest, but for now, I appeal we separate religion/faith from reality (science and technology) because if we have good/sound vehicles, good and fit drivers + brand new or good tires, then the rate of our road accidents will reduce by a large percent, then a large amount of the blood of Jesus would be saved for better things in the future!

Before the part 2 of this post, kindly find some scientific tips on how to reduce road accidents ‘naturally’ below:

Steps To Prevent Road Accidents
We all know speed is a major factor in many accidents. However, not all accidents are caused by speed and not all accidents are preventable. Yet there are steps you can take to help prevent accidents. Many accidents can be prevented and in those that are not preventable, the damage could be lessened. Here are some tips to help you prevent traffic accidents.

Drive according to road conditions. Drive slower when the weather is bad. Road surfaces deteriorate in rain. The ability to stop quickly greatly reduces when the roads are not dry.

Keep your vehicle in good mechanical order. Replace worn tires and brakes as needed. Keep windshield washer fluid full and change out windshield wipers on a regular basis.

Wear your seatbelt. Not only do seatbelts keep you safe in an accident, it will help you avoid accidents as well. Seatbelts will hold you in place during an aggressive maneuver. If you make an abrupt maneuver, you may find yourself thrown to the passenger side of the vehicle. Remember to make your passengers buckle up, too.

Avoid other vehicles. Back off and don’t tailgate or allow others to tailgate you. Try to avoid driving next to another vehicle in case it has to swerve to avoid an animal or debris that may be in the road.
Watch out at intersections as many accidents happen here.

Always slow down and look both ways at intersections. Don’t assume the other vehicles will stop just because the light is red. There is always someone trying to get through the intersection during a yellow light.

Stay away from 18-wheelers. These large tractor trailer rigs require extra space when making wide right turns.Therefore, avoid the right side of one, especially if you think the driver will turn right. Don’t drive behind an 18-wheeler on the highway. A blown tire can cause an accident.

Turn your head to check for traffic before changing lanes. Do not rely on your mirrors when making a lane change. All vehicles have “blind spots” in which your mirrors cannot see. Do not ride in the blind spots of other vehicles.

Look extra carefully in parking lots or parking areas. Many fender-benders happen in these areas. Follow the rules set up in parking areas. These rules are for the safety of all drivers.

Slow down. Obey the speed limit even if every other car is surpassing it. Remember that police officers often stay hidden from view while looking for speeders. If you’re caught driving too fast, they won’t hesitate to give you a ticket.

Let others pass you. Defensive driving means letting others go ahead-not defending your position in traffic. Avoid the urge to be a vigilante (“Oh yeah? Let me show you what it’s like to be cut off like that!”) Accept the fact that someone is always going to think they’re in more of a hurry than you. These are the drivers you want to move far away from, not to ‘teach them a lesson.

Try to avoid driving in bad weather. Always keep your windshield wipers going in the rain. Defrost your windshield to keep it from fogging up. Turn on your headlights to help others to see you–this is also the law in some states. If possible, try to avoid driving in the rain at all, especially if your car is not very sound. If you must go out in the rain, drive extra slow, use the brakes and gas pedal gently, and maintain an increased stopping distance.

Never get into a car with a drunk driver. It is always best to have a “designated driver”. Never drive after you have had alcoholic beverages. Even one beer can alter your ability to drive safely.

Wear a seatbelt. This is a must. By law in many countries, all cars must have a safety restraint. Buckling up only takes a second and can save your life in an accident. Children should always be in a booster seat or car seat until they are tall enough and heavy enough to sit by themselves. This generally includes children age eight and under. Never put a child in a car or booster seat in the front passenger seat or other seat with airbags. Children should generally be 12 and older when sitting in the front passenger seat.

Keep your car and its accessories in good condition. Keep the tires properly inflated, the brakes adjusted, and the windshields and windows clean. Replace windshield wiper blades when they begin to streak, and all make sure all the lights are working properly.

Use your signals properly. Always use your signal, even if you think no one is there. When changing lanes on the freeway, don’t signal as an afterthought or during the lane change. Signal at least a couple of seconds in advance so others know what you’re going to do before you do it. (Ever notice how most of the skid marks along the highway are just before an exit ramp? – this is where you have to be the most careful.)

Don’t tailgate. No matter how slowly traffic is moving, keep at least two seconds of following distance between you and the car ahead. Any less and you won’t be able to stop in time if the driver ahead slams on the brakes.

Keep your eyes moving. Don’t get in the habit of staring at the back of the car ahead of you. Periodically shift your eyes to the side-view mirrors, the rear-view mirror, and ahead to where you’ll be in 10-15 seconds. Doing this, you can spot a potentially dangerous situation before it happens.

By Philip Obin, Founder/CEO of 9icefaces.com  and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilipObin or email at ceo@potechng.com

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SCAM! UBA MD, Philip Oduoza Defrauds Bank Using Another Company

Against banking regulations and the directives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Philips Oduoza, the Managing Director of United Bank for Africa PLC (UBA) is engaged in some unwholesome practice that may pit him against the bank’s stakeholders, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the banking regulator.

When the Divisional Head, Marketing and Corporate Relations of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr Charles Aigbe debunked the allegation that Afriland Properties PLC, a company that has transacted with UBA was not owned by the bank’s MD/CEO, Mr Philip Oduoza, we decided to go undercover to find who was lying between the teeth.

Our finding from those in the know confirms that Afriland Company is ACTUALLY owned by Philips (having majority shares) with the knowledge of his godfather, Mr Tony Elumelu, who has paved the way for illegalities in the bank especially with the removal of its erstwhile Deputy Managing Director, Mr Apollos Ikpobe as we earlier reported with the second part of the story set for publication, Afriland Company according to our highly placed source, Afriland was not initially hidden from the banking sector as the cash cow of Philips until a directive came from the apex bank that all financial institutions should stop owning and funding any non-banking investment.

As soon as this order was given, Philips we gathered reached out to his friend, the wife of the former governor of Ekiti State, Erelu Niyi Adebayor to take over the place as his front pending when he will be through with his job in UBA.

This turned out to be the scam the banking sector ever witnessed, as UBA unlike most frontliner banks refused to buy land to build branches, but prefers to go for rented ones.

The practice is that Afriland takes possession of any property the UBA wishes to operate and in turn lease it out to the bank in huge sums well above the market value of such properties.

If you think this comes cheap, then the dream just begins, as Afriland gets building for the corrupt bank three times the normal amount. A particular branch in Abuja according to a source is leased out N430 million annually when other financial institutions within that area gets it for N200 million to N250 million. This inflation is done by Philip alleged a source, through which he use in defrauding a bank he works in.

In this game of using front, insider sources revealed to us that the big boss himself, Tony Elumelu is currently using his father in-law as one of the front among the bank directors, an allegation currently under oor investigation which shall be revealed soon.

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Boko Haram Hates ‘Western Education,’ But The Nigerian Govt Kills It With Neglect By Philip Obaji Jr

Officials in Nigeria are always quick to attribute problems of education in the northeast of the country to the Boko Haram insurgency But figures show that the country had the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, and a very poor standard of education of any kind, long before the sect began its uprising in 2009. And the numbers today are frightening.

According to A World at School 40 percent of primary school teachers are not qualified; only 29 percent of students who start secondary school graduate on time at 17; almost half of students who have completed grade six cannot read; about 80 percent of children do not have textbooks for all subjects; there is an average of 49 pupils per primary school teacher; and 9 million children have never gone to school at all.

For all the talk about GDP growth and booming finances, Africa’s largest producer of oil and the continent’s largest economy lacks fully equipped primary schools, can’t adequately fund basic education, and, for that matter, can’t manage to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls more than a year after they were kidnapped by Boko Haram. Their tragedy is all the greater, it should be noted, because they were some of the relatively few students, especially girls, who did manage to get decent educations and they were just about to take exams important for university admission when they were abducted.

Although Boko Haram whose very name means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language— has
made targeting schools and students a priority on its terrorist agenda, the sect is only one of many reasons why millions of children are without an education in Nigeria.

Nine-year-old Abba has spent five years steadily progressing through primary school. Like many students in rural Nigeria, he has no schoolbag, writes on just one notebook, and has very few textbooks. He still struggles to read and write, but, strangely, he passes his exams. He told me his teachers are more interested in seeing him complete his schooling than seeing him educated. So, he gets an undeserved promotion year after year.

To make matters worse, Abba and his school colleagues are sometimes taught in the local Hausa language, not official English. In fact, Abba can hardly construct a complete sentence in English. “I want more from attending school, but it’s hard for me,” he said. “I try to learn, but my teachers can’t teach in a way I understand.”

More sadly, his school in the northeastern town of Damasak, in a region where Boko Haram is active, has been shut to pre-empt attacks.

The record shows, ironically, that precisely the lack of education may have helped spawn Boko Haram. Almost 2.8 million children roaming the streets in northeastern Nigeria are easy prey for fanatics.

Let’s face it, it wasn’t Boko Haram that built dysfunctional school buildings and hired very poor teachers. This is a clear heritage of a failed system infiltrated by a handful of corrupt administrators who use their high offices to distribute patronage through jobs and contracts.

It wasn’t Boko Haram that refused to propagate laws stopping girls as young as 11 years old from getting married. It was Nigeria’s senators who rather than protect the country’s children, decided to protect the marriage of their colleague Senator Ahmed Yerima to a 13-year-old girl, and the marriages between influential men in the north and minors.

United Nations statistics show that virtually no married girls are getting an education: only 2 percent of married girls in the 15-19 bracket are in school, compared to 69 percent of unmarried girls. Some 73 percent of married girls received no schooling at all (compared to 8 percent of unmarried girls), and three out
of four married girls cannot read at all. That’s how Nigeria fails its daughters.

Major teachers’ unions have requested that at least 26 percent of the country’s annual budget be devoted
to education. But despite a 100 percent increase from what it was in 2011, only 9 to 10 percent (PDF) of Nigeria’s annual budget has been allocated to education in the last four years. The process itself has always been controversial. In the past, there have been allegations that certain senators demanded and received bribes from government officials to pass the budget for education.

Year in, year out, the country’s primary education program is interrupted by strikes, with teachers demanding better pay. In some states, teachers in public schools earn less than $100 a month. Meanwhile lawmakers take pride in being the highest paid parliamentarians in the world, earning above $1 million yearly in a country
where over 70 percent of the citizens live on less than one dollar a day.

Clearly, Nigeria’s children are the real victims of its failed educational system. Their only small consolation is the hope promised by the new administration.

Recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to improve the state of the country’s education, and do “everything possible to bring the Chibok girls back home.” But in a country where promises are not always met with action, hopes can easily be shattered.

For a problem that didn’t take only a decade, but decades to deteriorate, fixing it will take time. And if Nigeria’s elites wash their hands of this problem, its children will bear the cross.

*Philip Obaji Jr. is the founder of 1 GAME an advocacy and campaigning organization that fights for the right to education for disadvantaged children in Nigeria, especially in northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram forbids western education. Follow him on Twitter

**@PhilipObaji*

Culled from The Daily Beast

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How I Escaped From Boko Haram By Philip Obaji Jr.

Babagana was just 16 when Boko Haram militants invaded his town, slaughtered his parents, and abducted the local children.

It was midnight when Babagana crept out of the Boko Haram hideout that had been his home for three days. Once he made his escape, he walked through the forest for hours before he found help. Like the other boys conscripted by the militants, he had been told that he would be hunted
down and killed if he deserted.

“I didn’t leave with anything,” Babagana told me. “When the chance came to escape, I only had my pants on. I ran almost naked.”

Babagana was just 16 when militants invaded his town in northeastern Nigeria last May, butchering his parents as he watched, burning down his home, and forcing him to become one of thousands of Boko Haram soldiers.

Babagana still vividly recalls his involuntary induction into a world of misery. Boko Haram militants invaded the rural town of Gamboru in Borno State, burnt down houses and demanded that the local children be handed over to them. Parents who objected were killed, and a couple of children
were forcefully taken.

“They asked me about my parents,” Babagana said. “They then killed them in front of me.”

“That is how Boko Haram operates. They first take out your parents so you have no one else to fall back to.”

The six-year-old insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has produced a replay of the country’s civil war in the late 1960s. Thousands have died, and more than one million people have been displaced. Famine is threatening, and cholera has broken out in some places. Sexual violence is on the rise. And
attacks on soft civilian targets continue, carried out by child soldiers much younger than their victims.

For three days, Babagana, traveled with Boko Haram through the dusty paths of Borno, not knowing what his fate would be as the militants duplicated the horrors they’d visited upon Gamboru. Babagana witnessed many of his fellow captives and people from other villages murdered by Boko Haram.

“They killed people for no reason,” Babagana said. “I just couldn’t stand the horror. It made me terribly scared.”

Although he was only with the militants for three days, Babagana witnessed acts so brutal that he decided to risk his life to escape.

“They killed anyone who didn’t heed to their instructions,” he told me.

“Girls were often subjected to sexual abuse. Anyone who proved stubborn was shot dead.”

“I lost my mind with all that I saw,” he added. “I thought if I didn’t find a way of escaping, sooner rather than later, it would be my turn.”

Babagana tried to rally a handful of fellow captives to escape with him. He was unsuccessful, as they were too scared to make any move. “I tried to talk my colleagues into escaping. They wanted to, but were scared they could be caught and killed,’” he recalled.

Around midnight on the following day, Babagana made his move, running into the bush as his captors shouted in alarm and began to fire at him. He managed to escape without a bullet wound. Alone in the wilderness, he continued to move, not knowing if he was being pursued.

“I was lucky to have escaped,” Babagana said. “There were so many voices and bullets coming after me,” he said.

Babagana eventually made it back to Gamboru, but found himself ostracized by his kinsmen, who no longer trusted him. Unable to depend on the community for protection, Babagana again went on the move, traveling to from one village to the other across northern Borno and many times narrowly
avoiding recapture as militants kept invading new communities. He finally made it to a displacement camp in Maiduguri, a place he now calls home.

Hassan Mustapha, a child-protection specialist in Maiduguri, said children are often put to “test of manhood” once there are conscripted.

“Once a child is conscripted by Boko Haram, he is first asked to kill his parents, which is a symbol of initiation into the sect,” Mustapha said.

“They destroy everything of value to these children so they have no options.”

Many of the children captured by Boko Haram serve on the front lines, fighting for control of villages and looting the homes of the civilians.

Others children serve as spies, scouts, porters, cooks and bodyguards for officers. Girls are also kept as sex slaves.

Yusuf Mohammed, a Maiduguri resident who works with children affected by trauma, said children are often used as foot soldiers because they are too young to be afraid.

“Militants feel more comfortable working with children than with adults because they come cheap, are extremely loyal, and can be easily controlled,” he said.

“Unlike adults, it is easy to brainwash and intimidate them.”

*Philip Obaji Jr. is the founder of 1 GAME, an advocacy and campaigning organization that fights for the right to education for disadvantaged children in Nigeria, especially in northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram forbids western education.

Culled from The Daily Beast
<http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/23/how-i-escaped-from-boko-haram.html>

 

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