Ideally, open defection ought not to be an issue in Nigeria in 21st century. Sadly, contrary to expectation, it is. Logically, it points to bad leadership, abysmal failure of governments for ages. Seriously, the act is a repulsively primordial practice that cuts across all strata of society; gender, status and careers despite its negative consequences, albeit predominant among the underprivileged class.
Without a doubt, it sounds comical but a reality. Yes, open defecation transcends homeless, primitive and uneducated people. People of diverse vocations also do fall victims of unexpected stomach upset while on journey. And most times, it is abysmally remedied by the unwholesome practice. Of course, nobody will bravely own up to being a perpetrator if not caught red-handed in the jungle or witnessed by co-travelers.
And so, the odious misconduct is practiced by two groups; circumstantial perpetrators and habitual practitioners. Whatever the category, excreting outside toilets is open defecation. Sadly, it begins from habitually peeing outside facilities. Of course, if reasons are necessary, both sides possibly will adduce cogent raison d’êtres.
For example, whilst the former may shift the blames to health and nature, the latter will blame penury and governments’ insensitivities. But realistically, what options are available to a traveler that is suddenly under extreme pressure to answer the call of nature where no public conveniences exist? In most cases, any nearby forest plays host to such victims.
The reason is simple – lack of functional and safe public toilets in sufficient numbers at strategic locations. Hence, it goes beyond blaming perpetrators but conscientiously, dutifully counting the available public toilets in every neighborhood alongside their proximities which is in the negative. For those that don’t go on long road trips, they may still not escape it at social outings. At most night events in public places, faeces are often spotted littering the surrounding areas by unknown persons.
Again, phobia of infections mostly by women majorly contributes to open defecation where there are public toilets but uncertainty about safety. Unfortunately, defecating in the open is critically, hazardous than superficially believed. Suffice to say that providing sufficient public toilets that are convincingly clean and hygienically safe is a necessary remedy.
Abysmally, Nigeria, according to global statistics, currently ranks in the first position in open defecation in Africa and second in the world after India. By concerted efforts, India has practically moved away from the position leaving Nigeria to formally step into her shoes before the end of 2019. Funnily, Nigerian lawmakers have been collecting outrageous allowances for constituency projects over the years.
The big bad news! Scientific research has proven that human and body fluids including faeces, urine, blood, vomit, spinal fluid, and amniotic fluid can harbour a variety of diseases. In fact, faeces can cause cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, polio, hepatitis and many more. It can also constitute a serious health hazard if it gets into sources of drinking water. And World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that nearly 2.2million people die annually by diseases caused by contaminated water.
Instructively, thoroughly hand washing after convenience is obligatory and goes beyond getting rid of smells but hygienically, on health ground for preventing spread of bacteria as people frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth unconsciously in addition to indiscriminate handshakes with people.
From UNICEF survey, out of 47million Nigerians who indulge in open defecation, 16million live in the north. It also shows that while 1 in every 4 Nigerians defecates in the open, 1 in every 2 persons in the North Central do so in the open. In percentages, North Central got 53.9%; North East -21.8%; North West – 10.3%. In the southern region, South East got 22.4%; South-South – 17.9% while South West – 28.0%.
Estimably, a report shows that through UNICEF interventions, about 1.7million people have gained access to improved water facilities while 2.2million people have access to improved toilets. Equally, 3,908 communities supported to become certified open defecation free (ODF) while 1,227 schools and 599 primary healthcare centres equipped with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services.
Furthermore, 2.4million people have benefited from general hygiene promotion. Relatively, Nigeria’s population is approximately 200million. Hence, a lot needs to be done by governments.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari signaled to end open defecation in the country by 2025. To actualize this, at least, two million toilets must be added annually. Some state and local governments have slightly keyed into the scheme. For emphasis, the nuisance apart from contributing to scores of deaths of vulnerable children who every now and then are infected with diseases, likewise often result to their low productivity as a result of absences in schools while ailing.
Other indirect effects of open defecation are economic loss resulting from frequent episodes of WASH-related illnesses, loss of dignity and high risks of insecurity and violence against women and children in the forests. Thus, governments at all levels; federal, state and local government needs concerted actions towards ending the menace. Of course, a radical approach by the government through legal mechanism alongside zero tolerance on enforcement is indispensable.
From the economic perspective, interventions through massive provision of functional public toilets will robotically boost employment opportunities in the society when public conveniences are actively put in places across the nation. Undoubtedly, having functional and safe toilets in proximities along highways alongside remote areas will boost economic growth since demands for safety and hygiene products will practically raise.
Now, the crux of the matter! Charges for using public conveniences must be appealingly near to the ground. High fees will discourage the masses from patronages. In other words, policymakers must ensure that private-operators are encouraged by reducing their overhead costs. Equally, corporate organisations should be active players by supportively, providing public toilets as social responsibilities.
Of course, health and sanitations officials must be regularly available for inspections to ensure compliance to WHO standard. Thus, any realistic and sustainable action plan demands expedient collaboration.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 08023184542-SMS only
2020 Budget: Lawan ignites hope in NASS, Nigeria
he ninth Senate made history on Thursday, December 5, with the passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill, thereby fulfilling the promise of the legislature to return the budget cycle to January – December period as it used to be.
Until few years after the return to democracy in 1999, Nigerians had become used to the January to December budget cycle such that individuals, businesses and corporations plan their activities in line with the cycle, but the ritual was distorted due largely to disagreement between the legislature and the executive, resulting in not only late presentation of the budget, but late passage and assent by the president.
The situation of late passage of the budget got to its peak during the 8th National Assembly particularly because of the uneasy relationship which resulted in incessant friction between the Presidency and the Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly.
The 2019 budget, for example, was presented to the National Assembly on December 19, 2018. It took the legislature a little over four months before it was passed into law on April 30, 2019 and assented to by the President on May 27, 2019. The injection of projects, particularly those to be executed in the constituencies of the lawmakers, was partly responsible for the delay. In exercise of their powers of appropriation as expressed in the 1999 Constitution in Section 80, Subsections 1-4, the legislators inserted their constituency projects into the budget. The President, on the other hand, kicked against the insertions, subjected the passed budget to almost a month of vetting to sort out the grey areas, thereby delaying presidential assent.
The resultant effect of development like this as we have seen with many budgets is the incalculable harm to the economy. Infrastructure projects, which catalyse economic development, suffer the most and as this happens, the welfare of the people take a plunge.
The passage of the 2020 budget by the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday has however brought renewed hopes in the National Assembly and Nigeria. Upon assuming the mantle of leadership of the National Assembly, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, vowed to return the country to the January – December budget cycle. To achieve this, several parleys were held between the Presidency and principal officers of the National Assembly, the result of which culminated in the presentation of the budget on October 8.
The Senate President took it further by mandating the standing committees of the ninth Senate, with concurrence from the House of Representatives, to use the remaining period in the month of October to carry out the defence of the budget by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Lawan’s resolve further received a boost with the directive by the President that all heads of MDAs must not travel out of the country until they have successfully defended their respective budget. The National Assembly Complex thus became a sort of Mecca as heads of the various MDAs trooped in to take turns. The various committees dutifully carried out their assignment, most times worked very late in the night and presented their reports to the Appropriation Committee, which in turn played its own role before the eventual presentation and subsequent passage of the budget by the Senate on December 5, 2019.
Before the passage of the 2020 budget, the Lawan-led National Assembly had already taken the initiative to ensure that the implementation of the budget does not go the way of previous ones. It is common knowledge that the budgets of previous years have witnessed abysmal performance and much of this is critically affected by the poor revenue inflow, especially as oil production and export remained below the budget estimates and the general performance of the economy impacting negatively on non-oil revenue. But desirous of significantly putting an end to this ugly trend, the Lawan-led Senate had before now passed three critical bills that would not only see to the generation of more revenues, but will also ensure that the process of implementing the budget, especially its capital components are fast-tracked and the desired results achieved.
The first among the three critical bills is the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act (amendment) Bill, passed into law on October 15 with the expectation of making Nigeria richer by at least $1.5 billion in 2020. According to the Senate, the IOCs had failed to remit a total sum of N7 trillion ($21 billion) to the Federal Government in the last 26 years based on non-implementation of the PSC Act. This was even when the law provided for a review anytime the price of crude oil exceeds $20 per barrel or every 10 years since the passage of the law which successive government and the legislature failed to do until the coming of the ninth Senate.
It is therefore a landmark achievement by the ninth National Assembly as an additional injection of $1.5 billion to the national treasury in 2020 as a result of the amendment of the act can only mean one thing – more revenue for the provision of critical infrastructure across the country.
Next is the Finance Bill, 2019, presented alongside the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly. One of the key components of the amended bill is to increase government revenues through various measures part of which include widening the tax base for non-resident companies, increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 7.5% and removing the tax exemption granted for dividends or incomes received from companies charged under Petroleum Profits Tax Act.
Equally important is the passage of the amendment to the Public Procurement Act. According to Lawan, the “public procurement process in Nigeria has been a big bottleneck for some time probably since it was passed.” This is one reason why many projects earmarked for execution in a budget cycle are never achieved because of the processes involved, but as a result of the several provisions included in the amendment, the procurement process will become more simplified and easily achieved.
With the three critical bills put together and the return of the budget cycle from January-December, the road is now clearer to actualise the objectives of the 2020 budget with an early start and more revenues to implement infrastructure projects that will catalyse economic development and take Nigeria to the next level.
Senate President Lawan justified this in his remark after the passage of the 2020 appropriations bill when he said: “With the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills & Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government is now sufficiently empowered to ensure successful implementation of the 2020 Budget.”
It is therefore safe to say that Senator Lawan has delivered on his promise of an early passage of the budget and by extension leading a National Assembly that works for Nigerians.
•Usman is a Special Assistant on New Media to the Senate President.
Before SIWES goes into extinction
his column has hitherto been solely interested in issues pertaining to technology or technical matters. This is the reason it would remain restless till we as a nation desist from misplacing priorities with frivolities.
Today, our focus is on the Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES). The SIWES has conspicuously been on the decline for decades now that if drastic measure isn’t taken towards addressing the lingering anomaly, the scheme is liable to go into extinction in no distant time.
The SIWES is a skill acquisition initiative designed to expose and prepare students of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics as well as colleges of education for the industrial work situation they are likely to encounter after graduation.
It was initiated to be a planned and supervised training programme based on specific learning and career objectives and geared toward developing the occupational competencies of the participants. It is generic, cutting across over 60 programmes in the universities, over 40 in the polytechnics/monotechnics, and about 10 in the colleges of education.
It isn’t meant for a particular course of study or discipline, though it was introduced mainly for the sake of technically-inclined ones. Since inception, it is being reckoned to be an innovative phenomenon in human resources development in Nigeria.
While some institutions and disciplines permit SIWES’ duration for only three to six months, others go for up to one year. The programme, which permits the affected students to seek for Industrial Training (IT) or Teaching Practice (TP), as the case may be, in any establishment of their choice, has ab initio been a cause of concern to education and economic planners, particularly with respect to graduate employment and impact on the general societal development.
On the other hand, there are equally mixed feelings among education stakeholders concerning how much of the programme that is actually helpful to students’ academic performance and job readiness after graduation.
Whatever positive impact the SIWES has thus far created on the students’ wellbeing and the society at large, the truth is that the primary purpose for which the programme was implemented has recently been relegated to the background.
The prevalence of the inability of SIWES’ participants to secure employment after the programme, or even perform adequately if eventually employed, casts doubt on the continuing relevance of the programme to the contemporary industrial development drive in the Nigerian society. This obvious lapse isn’t unconnected with negligence and/or apathy on the part of the trainees, trainers, concerned institutions, and the government.
It’s noteworthy that most of these students dodge the programme. They prefer indulging in activities that would fetch them money to going for the technical knowledge. To this set of individuals, partaking in the industrial programme is simply a waste of time and energy.
In view of this misconception, when the programme is meant to take place, you would see them participating in all sorts of inconsequential menial jobs or even gambling and what have you just for the aim of raising some cash. This growing mentality of placing money before knowledge has contributed immensely in endangering the prospect of the laudable programme.
Those who bring out time to participate in the programme, are prone to one challenge or the other. It’s worth noting that greater percentage of the trainees is not paid by the establishments in which they are serving, not even stipend.
Hence, they would end up making use of their personal funds to service their transportation and accommodation fees. It’s more worrisome to realise that most of these trainees are overused by the firms. Rather than teaching them the needful, the supposed trainers would engage them in unnecessary activities, thereby making them lose interest in the actual training.
Worse still, most of the institutions involved don’t show any concern. They do not cough up time to supervise the students in their respective places of assignment. Ridiculously, in most cases, the schools would remain ignorant of where the students are undergoing the training till the duration of the programme elapses.
This particular loophole has over the years served as an advantage to those who never participated in the programme. In this case, during the SIWES defence, the affected student or anyone who have dodged the programme would claim to have undergone the training in any establishment of his/her choice, and the supposed supervisor would never bother to ascertain the truth.
Inter alia, funding of the SIWES hasn’t been encouraging in recent times. The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) – the body responsible in the day-to-day funding of the initiative – currently appears incapacitated, probably owing to lack of adequate allocation from the government and other financiers. Sometimes, the students would be deprived of the statutory allowance they are entitled to after the programme. Those who were lucky to receive theirs had to wait for a long time.
The SIWES is obviously yearning for resuscitation. The present apparent state of moribund experienced by the scheme can only be properly addressed by revisiting the extant Acts that bind it with a view to making amends where need be. Such step would enable every authority involved to start seeing the initiative as a priority towards the anticipated, or perhaps ongoing, economic diversification.
The said policy ought to categorically specify what is expected of the trainee, trainer, school, as well as the governments at all levels, as regards the sustenance of the scheme. Similarly, there’s need for an exclusive viable law enforcement agency that would penalise or prosecute any defaulter.
It’s indeed high time we revived this technical-oriented initiative whose motive truly means well for nation building. This can only be holistically actualised by changing all the flat tyres that have succeeded in crippling the journey so far.
Nevertheless, for these bad tyres to be duly expunged, we as a people must be prepared and ready to tell ourselves nothing but the gospel truth. Think about it!
Rooting for science with humanity
This work stems from Mahatma Gandhi’s description of the seven social sins of the world. They include wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, religion without sacrifice and politics without principles.
However, this paper focuses on the 5th social sin which he called ‘Science without humanity’.
Butcher (2015) stated that Mahatma Gandhi believed that humankind was advancing in science much faster than our ability to understand the deadly consequences of unbridled technology, especially in the area of weaponry.
Weapons technology keeps advancing faster than the morality about how to use them.
Mahatma Gandhi seeks to explain how human beings are being ruthless and wicked in the use of various devices. He argues that science is quite beneficial to man but without humanity it is dangerous and does not promote human advancement. He further explains that science does not change our attitude, character or beliefs.
Persico (2013) argues that science never did and will never have a heart. It has no humanity. The scientific method does not use any system of ethics or morality to determine its direction and goals. Humanity is the moral compass we need to guide us in the usage of technology.
Also, I will present an evaluation of science with humanity beyond what Ghandi stated on science without humanity. Science deals with laws and ‘humanity’ is from the Latin word ‘humanitas’ which stands for “human nature, kindness.” Humanity includes all the humans, but it can also refer to the kind feelings humans often have for each other. Thus we would be evaluating on the need for us (as Christians) to deal with our fellow humans with humanity irrespective of what the law says or what is expected of us.
There would be an explanation on the various instances where the law should be compromised as a result of our compassion or love for others. Sometimes people are meant to receive a particular punishment or judgement as a result of their actions and in other cases, people should be pardoned.
For example: In 1 Samuel 26, where David spared Saul even when he was supposed to kill him is a perfect example of science with humanity. David spared as a result of his Christian beliefs. He said ‘And David said to Abishai, destroy him not, for who can put his hand against Jehovah’s anointed and be guiltless’ (1Samuel 26:9).
Also, In Exodus 2:5-10, the daughter of King Pharaoh saved Moses when she saw him in the river. She didn’t care about the law that her father had passed. She only felt compassion for the crying baby and rescued him. She demonstrated science with humanity.
Thus, as Christians, the Bible should guide our humanity which would deal with our daily activities involving the way we use technology. God instructs us to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:31) because ‘love covers a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8). Thus if we love our neighbours as we love ourselves, we would not think of bring harm or discomfort to them. We would deal with them compassionately. We would work for benefit of one other instead of seeking to destroy each other. It is important that as Christians we are conscious of the fact that we are ambassadors of Christ and this consciousness should guide our daily lives and interactions with people.
*Ebeledike Neenma is a student of Redeemer University, Ogun State
Obaseki’s job rating, re-election bid, stupid!
The title of this piece draws from James Carville’s famous quip: “The economy, stupid.” Carville was Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist in the successful 1992 presidential campaign that culminated in President George Bush’s defeat. The phrase, reportedly, was for the internal audience of Clinton’s campaign workers as one of the three messages to focus on. The other two messages were “Change vs. more of the same” and “Don’t forget health care”. The quip later morphed into a de facto slogan for the Clinton campaign.
As a guidebook, the Carville paradigm is apt in the context of the electioneering for the 2020 governorship poll in Edo State. About a year to the presidential election in 1992, just as it is about a year to the governorship poll in Edo in 2020, the job performance rating of Bush on the economy had gone down; just as Governor Godwin Obaseki’s rating on governance generally has suffered a worse dip. That scenario in the United States became electorally fatal for Bush.
Whereas incumbent Bush, as of right, became the standard bearer of his Republican Party in the presidential election, Obaseki faces the uphill task of clinching the nomination of his All Progressives Congress (APC) in next year’s governorship election. Apparently in the eye of a storm, Obaseki, arguably, does not look good to clinch the APC ticket. Even though, his problem would appear to be circumscribed within the APC; yet externally – talking about the wider Edo audience – he has an existential crisis of appeal and validation in daily striving to truthfully situate his performance within the context of his moniker: “Wake and see Governor.”
But rather than focus on governance, Obaseki had pandered to the allure of personal aggrandizement in the unnecessary battle to wrest the APC machinery in Edo from the control of his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the man who, virtually, single-handed, ensured his emergence as governor, against all odds. A smart politician who enjoys the benefits of good advice and strategy would not have taken Obaseki’s path in his first term. He should have waited till the second term to contemplate building his own structure or frontally challenging the structure that produced him as governor, if he considers the option necessary.
The motivation behind Obaseki’s ill-timed gambit is blurry. Had he learnt from the recent political history of Edo, he would have been more circumspect. The attempt by a former governor of the state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor, to dismantle the structure of his godfather, Chief Tony Anenih, and build his own, largely cost him the governorship. Perhaps, afflicted by sheer delusion, Obaseki had thought that he could confront and neutralize Oshiomhole in the politics of Edo APC. He might just have been able to do that if Oshiomhole had not emerged as national chair of the APC.
Therefore, curiously drawn to challenge his benefactor, Obaseki has become largely distracted in the festering battle for survival. Instead of focusing on developing infrastructure and building a political brand in his first term, he, just as Osunbor, embarked on a self-immolating voyage. Whereas Osunbor enjoyed the backing of another political godfather, Samuel Ogbemudia, against Anenih who had a firmer grip on the party structure, Obaseki cannot be said to enjoy the backing of politicians of the clout of the late Anenih and Ogbemudia in the APC. Thus, feeding his desperation to upend the suzerainty of Oshiomhole over the APC structure in Edo lacks the requisite footing.
As it is, Obaseki has chosen intrigues over rapid infrastructure development and opted to challenge the superintendence by his former boss over the political wing of the APC administration in Edo. To be sure, that superintendence was in accordance with some original arrangements. Significantly, up until he threw down the gauntlet, Obaseki’s job performance had been uninspiring. However, to be fair to him, the embattled governor had, indeed, delivered, anyhow, the Iriri-Sapele road project; his other proposed projects that had benefited from huge budgetary allocations and expenditures have been, at best, midstream.
It is against this backdrop that the governor’s desperate and unruly exertions to secure a second term and preserve his political future amount to misplacement of priorities. Prioritising political schisms over service delivery is a strategic misstep. There is no more time for Obaseki to refocus. He will not sleep until the primary and the governorship election have been done with. Whichever platform he chooses to contest after the APC may have shut him out of its ticket; it is significant to consider the thrust of his campaign messages.
What messages will Obaseki sell to the people about his job performance to validate his claim to a second governorship term? What records of achievements will he flaunt? Whereas, about the third year into Oshiomole’s first term as governor, it was clear he would get a second term on the basis of the several infrastructural projects executed across the state. Obaseki’s “wake and see governor” moniker hinged on the pretext of his self-acclaimed development strides is a charade. His series of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with foreign and local bodies, for which the opposition PDP has dubbed him as “MoU governor” amount to scams.
Indeed, Obaseki could have synergized with his predecessor to build on his legacies and, thereby, cut a niche for himself as a loyal successor who kept fidelity to the mantra of continuity – the reason Oshiomhole handed over power to him. There would not have been crises in the Edo State chapter of the APC had Obaseki acted wisely. His failed promises also rubbed off negatively on his job performance rating. For instance, Obaseki said he was going to build the Gelegele Port, for which he raised the hope of the royalty and the hoi-polloi alike. He has been voting money to the project. The administration brought a Chinese company that has been doing soil testing for close to three years that had cost the state multi-billion naira, according to feelers. It is feared the billions had become sunk cost on the zero-prospect project.
Also, instead of operating the five-star Central Hospital that Oshiomhole built, he had initially abandoned it ostensibly out of political bile in a futile attempt to misrepresent the Oshiomhole persona. Obaseki resorted to unconscionable demonisation of Oshiomhole. Whereas, it would not have cost the administration up to 20 per cent of the contract cost to keep the hospital running, Obaseki had scoffed at the populist project until recently when the administration began to run the hospital through some hazy private arrangement.
He had also abandoned the Benin Storm Water Master Plan and the critical projects within the plan as conceptualized by the Oshiomhole administration to address the menace of flooding in Benin City. Ensuring de-silting of the drainages, a subset of the significant flood-control project, would have guaranteed free flow of flood water but he chose to do otherwise.
Interestingly, the shape and texture of electioneering for next year’s governorship contest in Edo State appear to be defining themselves. Edo’s political terrain will be a market place to sell and de-market governorship candidates.
From all indications, Obaseki may have to strive hard to validate his aspiration for a second term on any platform he can secure. That is how the cookie crumbles, having fouled the political atmosphere of Edo with his odious governance style. The critical mass and members of the elite class who are intent on stopping him are more likely to focus on the adversarial campaign about his perceived poor job performance rating that recommends his electoral defeat and political retirement.
λOjeifo writes from Beijing, China via email@example.com
Edo 2020: The citizens’ place
As a political player in Edo State, I have seen men and women on the streets curse and condemn politicians and political activities. I have felt the passion of hatred and heard cacophonies of voices clamouring for politicians and electioneering activities to cease from being a part of our existence.
Some years ago, when on a political campaign trail, our tour took us through a popular market area in Benin City. I heard all manner of insults as different groups of traders throng out, shouting something like “Una nor get work…shameless people…deceivers…419” (You are all jobless shameless people, deceivers, scammers). These words really evoked something in me and I kept wondering about the level of discontent and disconnect that would make the citizens consider their eventual rulers as ‘jobless and shameless people’.
But today in Edo State, it is very inspiring that the loathing, aloofness and cynicism are fast changing. I simply cannot imagine that such acrid hatred can be erased in so short a time to become something which now attracts massive involvement into the hitherto resented vocation that politicking was considered to be.
We may not be cocksure of the exact time a revolution actually commenced, but we can be sure of the events leading to a revolution. And if the new wave of people’s commitment to the political progression of Edo State is anything to go by, then Edo State has certainly began with the events signaling a historical and political turning point.
Interestingly, a lot of onlookers and political actors from other states and around the world are not quite aware of the sudden switch in the political role of Edo citizens, who have now plunged themselves into the political affairs of the state and are so determined to be active stakeholders. This is the new interest that is pushing what used to be strictly political party affairs to the streets, social gatherings, markets, community square and people’s bedrooms.
In some ways, Obaseki has been able to demonstrate that you do not have to be an active politician to rule well. In addition, he has also proven that one does not necessarily have to surround oneself with politicians to know the right direction to the hearts of those being served. But whether his approach is adjudged creditable or not, he has however managed in succeeding to win a great number of converts to himself, and has enjoined greater interests in the progress of the state through his approach.
While the crux of the political crisis in Edo State is mainly about those who want Obaseki to place them in his first-line charge because of the feelings that he owes them such regards; this however keeps raising the pertinent question of “how far can the citizens go in determining what becomes of their fate when the political system is so designed in the manner that confines aspiring political office to first undergo ‘acceptance and initiation’ by politicians before attempting a shot at any elective public office.”
This is the test case now playing out and challenging the multitude of Edo residents who are seemingly in approval of Governor Obaseki’s style of governance and achievements. And from all indications, they are willing to dare any opposition in order to safeguard their common interest.
In the line of duty, Obaseki, who is well known to be a cut far away from the everyday politician is resetting Edo State development trajectory; embodying a system of purposeful governance, promoting inclusiveness and selfless participation, laying the foundation for self-enterprise to thrive, reviving the housing sector and better land administration, championing causes which guarantee respite from the strangulations of non-state actors, opening up the state for economic prosperity, delivering accountable and visible use of public funds, enhancing capacities and work environment, and taking the state into the realm of a more assured, desired and a prosperous future.
Anybody who cannot justify the determination Edo people to cling to a promising path may want to call on the Federal might in suppressing people’s will. But such an oppressive action must first be justified by why the will of Edo people is no longer relevant in the affairs which strictly affect their existence as a people.
However, for a continued faith in the unity of our dear country, there is a need for genuine reconciliation of all warring interests. The kind of reconciliation which is not spurred by factional interest beyond having a place for the interest of Edo people.
Across board, if the APC must continue to remain as a nationally relevant political party, there is the need to have a well-established reconciliation organ which first and foremost considers the yearnings of the people from which the party derives its relevance and purpose of existence.
Anything short of such considerations, the APC could inadvertently begin to push itself far more into the realm of a non-people centred political party, fanning the now trending argument that the Black race may naturally be incapable of freeing itself from the challenges of advancing into a preferred order. Now we are all witnesses to every point from which our actions are igniting the fire; but no one truly knows where it would end and what it would consume.
λOgbeide writes in from Benin
Benue Rep donates four-year salary to constituents
A member of the House of Representatives, representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadigbo federal constituency of Benue State, Hon. Francis Otta Agbo, has pleaded with the Federal Government to address the neglect of his constituency in the area of infrastructure and federal appointments.
This is even as he donated his four-year salary to his constituents who are widows and orphans, to help ameliorate their plight.
Agbo made the disclosure on Monday, in Abuja during an interactive session with a delegation of Ijigban/Ulayi/Ekile Communities of Ado Local government area of Benue State, led by Hon. Emmanuel Ogaba.
He regretted that though over one million of Ijigban/Ekile/ Ulayi people were contributing immensely to the economy of the state, they remained the most neglected, in terms of infrastructure and employment in the state and federal civil service.
“I want to use this medium to tell the world, how marginalised we are. The whole world should know that the Nigerian state has forgotten the Ulayi, Ekile and Ijigban communities,” he said.
#RevolutionIsNow: Sowore and DSS many alibis
n an uncanny sense of exhilaration, but with deep concerns for the health of Nigeria’s polity, I was hoping that the Department of State Services (DSS) would “mess” with Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
That was on Thursday, December 5, 2019, when the judge ordered that Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare be freed within 24 hours, topping the directive with a fine of N100,000.
A proverb of the Esan people in Edo State says, “It’s not on its own volition that the palm kernel produces oil.” And as the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulopo-Kuti, would intone, “khaki no bi leather.”
The Justice Ojukwu order wasn’t one for the DSS to forum-shop for interpretation. It’s absolute, decisive, distinct, explicit and obvious, and pregnant with dire payback. Pronto, the DSS released Sowore and Bakare, and also paid the fine.
Sowore, publisher of online Sahara Reporters and a presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, was arrested on August 3, 2019, two days to the “#DaysofRage” he had called for August 5, to advance his #RevolutionIsNow protests.
He was charged with treasonable felony, for allegedly attempting, in the mode of the recent Sudanese revolution, to bring down the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Thursday, December 5, marked 125 days that Sowore had spent in detention, exceeding the 45 days the court had allowed, and within the period, a couple of courts had granted him bail, which the DSS had spurned.
It had been excuses from the DSS: It’s either the defendant hadn’t met his bail bond; his sureties didn’t show up to pick him; or they didn’t submit themselves for vetting: all in attempts to subvert the court orders, and the rule of law.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, who’s Sowore’s lawyer, said that at the end of August 2019, he had compiled a list containing 32 court orders disobeyed by the Nigerian government.
In an interview, Falana said: “It doesn’t lie in the mouth of an attorney general or the president of a country to choose and pick which orders of court to obey. When you do that, you are reducing the status of the country to a banana republic.”
This was the situation on December 5 when the DSS came before Justice Ojukwu, and spun another alibi on why it couldn’t release Sowore: It prayed the court for an order to remind him at the Correctional Centre (Prison) in Lagos.
Rightly, the request, on the back of prior order the DSS ignored, touched a raw nerve in the judge, who ruled unequivocally, that Sowore be released within 24 hours, and with proof of compliance.
Considering previous disobedience to court orders, I had looked forward to the DSS, headed by Mr. Yusuf Bichi, conjuring a fresh excuse to shun the directive. But that wasn’t to be, as it had complied with the court order.
Then came Friday, December 6, and the prosecution and defence lawyers confirmed the DSS compliance, prompting Justice Ojukwu to praise the service, saying, “it was obvious they had demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law.”
To the judge: “No one is above the law. Those called to govern citizens, in the discharge of what is considered to be their statutory duties, must at all times conform with the rule of law. That is the path to greatness. The DSS has earned themselves the respect of the Nigerian citizens and all the arms of government.”
But unknown to Justice Ojukwu, who had adjourned the trial to the 11th, 12th and 13th of February 2020, for definite hearing, the DSS had yet an ace to play, swooping on the court, to re-arrest Sowore and Bakare for undisclosed “fresh charges.”
There’s pandemonium, as it became a tug-of-war between the DSS operatives and supporters to have custody of Sowore, who alleged an attempt on his life in a “choke-hold” by the operatives.
With the sounds of cocking guns, and Sowore supporters daring the operatives to “shoot,” the judge, lawyers and officials fled the court to avoid collateral fatalities from stray bullets.
Save the resistance from their supporters, and intervention by Mr. Falana, the DSS operatives were prepared to drag Sowore and Bakare from the court premises they had thus desecrated.
Falana had to chaperon them from the hallowed grounds, and out of the entrance gate, from where an operative, behind the wheel of Falana’s car, drove the defendants to the secret police office.
The DSS melodrama has willy nilly firmed the belief that the Buhari government is intolerant of opposing views, and is out to silence its critics by “unlawful” arrest, detention, arraignment, and flouting of court orders to free them.
Or is the government not aware of the antics of the DSS, whose Director General, Mr. Bichi, and his operatives are acting in the name of the State, and President Buhari’s?
Officials of government regularly blame the global community, and international organisations, “for distorting and/or spreading false news about happenings in Nigeria.”
Below are excerpts from some of these bodies on the Sowore saga: The Amnesty International has declared Sowore and Bakare, and a journalist, Agba Jalingo, as “prisoners of conscience.”
“When we see cases of injustice like this, it’s important to bring the world’s attention to it,” said the organisation’s Nigeria Director, Osai Ojigho, who told the CNN “it’s important that the world stands to demand” unconditional release of the detainees.
Similarly, The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and prominent figures, including Amal Clooney, co-president of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, have condemned Sowore’s arrest and continued detention.
“It is outrageous that Nigeria continues to imprison a journalist and presidential candidate after a court has ordered his release,” Clooney said, adding that, “TrialWatch will continue to monitor Mr. Sowore’s trial and calls on the authorities to implement the court’s order as soon as possible.”
This was before the Friday, December 6 “show of shame” inside the Federal High Court in Abuja. Will the government deny the social media live-streamed incident, and label it as a propaganda piece by outside conspirators?
The government maybe treating the Sowore matter as a flash in the pan, juxtaposed with the Col. Sambo Dasuki and Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky years-long cases and incarceration. But it’s a little excreta that soils the anus!
It’s time to halt the DSS escapades, before they did more damage to the image of President Buhari and his government, which should realise that disobedience to court orders destroys the foundation upon which the rule of law and democracy rest.
Rooting for science with humanity
This work stems from Mahatma Gandhi’s description of the seven social sins of the world. They include wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, religion without sacrifice, and politics without principles.
However, this paper focuses on the 5th social sin which he called ‘Science without humanity’. Butcher (2015) stated that Mahatma Gandhi believed that humankind was advancing in science much faster than our ability to understand the deadly consequences of unbridled technology, especially in the area of weaponry. Weapons technology keeps advancing faster than the morality about how to use them.
Mahatma Gandhi sought to explain how human beings are being ruthless and wicked in the use of various devices. He argued that science is quite beneficial to man but without humanity it is dangerous and does not promote human advancement. He further explained that science does not change our attitude, character or beliefs.
Persico (2013) argues that science never did and will never have a heart. It has no humanity. The scientific method does not use any system of ethics or morality to determine its direction and goals. Humanity is the moral compass we need to guide us in the usage of technology.
Also, in this paper, there would be an evaluation of science with humanity beyond what Ghandi stated on science without humanity. Science deals with laws and ‘humanity’ is from the Latin word ‘humanitas’ which stands for “human nature, kindness.” Humanity includes all the humans, but it can also refer to the kind feelings humans often have for each other. Thus we would be evaluating on the need for us (as Christians) to deal with our fellow humans with humanity irrespective of what the law says or what is expected of us.
There would be an explanation on the various instances where the law should be compromised as a result of our compassion or love for others. Sometimes people are meant to receive a particular punishment or judgement as a result of their actions and in other cases, people should be pardoned. For example, in 1 Samuel 26, where David spared Saul even when he was supposed to kill him is a perfect example of science with humanity. David spared Saul as a result of his fear for God. He said ‘And David said to Abishai, destroy him not, for who can put his hand against Jehovah’s anointed and be guiltless’ (1Samuel 26:9).
Also, in Exodus 2:5-10, the daughter of King Pharaoh saved Moses when she saw him in the river. She didn’t care about the law that her father had passed. She only felt compassion for the crying baby and rescued him. She demonstrated science with humanity.
Thus, as Christians, the bible should guide our humanity which would deal with our daily activities involving the way we use technology. God instructs us to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:31) because ‘love covers a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8). Thus if we love our neighbours as we love ourselves, we would not think of bringing harm or discomfort to them. We would deal with them compassionately. We would work for benefit of one other instead of seeking to destroy each other. It is important that as Christians we are conscious of the fact that we are ambassadors of Christ and this consciousness should guide our daily lives and interactions with people.
• Neenma is a student of the Redeemer’s University
Could the private sector fill Nigeria’s $31bn annual infrastructure gap?
Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola recently commissioned public roads built by a private citizen, Chief Ade-Ojo. For decades, Nigerians have looked up to the government to provide necessary infrastructures. But things seem to be changing, at least following Fashola’s call on private citizens to supplement state efforts. Nigeria has an enormous infrastructure deficit that would require annual spending of at least $31 billion and the government is already neck-deep in debt.
According to the World Bank, the country’s infrastructure deficit may reach a whopping $878 billion by 2040. A viable way for Nigeria to fill this gap in infrastructure in light of the rising debt, as advised by Fashola, would be through the support of individuals and corporations.
Should Nigerians, however, take to building public infrastructures, it would not be the first time such help is rendered by non-state bodies. Unleashing the powers of the private sector through infrastructure investment, meanwhile, is a part of development stories in the west.
In 1896, Nikola Tesla built a hydroelectricity power station at Niagara Falls in order to provide public electricity for New York City. Thirteen years earlier, Thomas Edison commissioned the first public electricity project in the world while inspiring the first hydropower station built by another American businessman, H.J Rogers on the Fox River in Wisconsin. Many of the railroads and steel bridges in America were built in like manner by private citizens.
Similarly, though, Public-Private Partnerships in the United Kingdom (UK) has led to the private sector investing £56 billion in 700 UK infrastructure projects. With the huge infrastructure deficit in Nigeria, there is a lot of room for private capital investments.
The importance of private participation in state-building should not be lost. But now that private university founders like Chief Ade-Ojo are venturing into building public roads, too, it is instructive to note that the oldest private university in Nigeria started in 1999.
Whereas, in 20 years, 79 private universities have been built in Nigeria. The private sector has built 36 more universities since 1999 than all 43 federal universities built since 1914. Clearly, there is no doubt that with the right policy environment, this feat can be replicated in building roads, seaports, railways, power supply, and other hard infrastructures.
As we have seen with the new private universities, financial institutions, and entertainment outlets, job creation is a dependable outcome when private corporations invest in an endeavour. Investing in hard infrastructure could provide thousands of jobs that would, in turn, help the average household income, which is currently appalling. These investments could accelerate Nigeria’s industrialization.
Meanwhile, Nigerians should do away with the wrong premise that the government has unlimited wealth at its disposal, hence it should assume all development responsibilities. This would only encourage indiscriminate state borrowing, which would accelerate. Not only does the borrowed funds lead the country into a huge debt burden over time, but it is also susceptible to be embezzled or diverted by officials when it is aplenty. Nigeria’s debt profile is already a staggering N25 trillion.
We would not want to blow that over. Private sector investments in infrastructure, nonetheless, provides a healthy alternative to borrowing.
With the private sector complementing the state in infrastructural developments, the government can focus more on creating an enabling environment and increasing funding for other necessities like education and health. Indeed, Nigerians need to change their view on the role of the government in development. Moving the country forward is everyone’s homework.
•Feyisade Charles Adeyemi is a writing fellow at African Liberty and a lecturer at Elizade University. He is on Twitter @Thisischale.
Tightening the screws on Sex Offenders
The recently launched National Sex Offender Register in Nigeria is a welcome development, considering the fact that ‘one in four women is sexually abused in the country and worse still, before they attain the age of 18,’ as extrapolated from UNICEF. Even at that, this statistics seems a mere tip of the iceberg, as we, as a people, have not been good at keeping accurate records of these heinous criminals who should be named and shamed. Also in operation in the United Kingdom, this Register contains the details of anyone convicted, cautioned or released from prison for sexual offences.
As at last year, 2018, about 60,000 sex offenders were registered. They are legally required to register with the police within three days of their conviction, or release from prison – and must continue to do so, on an annual basis. This is to guide against repeated sex offenders. Of importance, too, is the Sarah’s Law, named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was abducted and then murdered by sex offenders
This law allows UK parents to find out if a child sex offender lives in their area. More so, if someone on the Register wants to start a new relationship, there are certain conditions that must be met, these conditions becoming more stringent if any of the lovebirds are coming into the relationship with children.
Now to Nigeria: This new measure is a step in the right direction, however, keeping an overstocked database of those convicted of sex crimes is one thing, and prosecuting these criminals, another. It has been established by the United Nations Children Agency, UNICEF, that majority of cases involving sexual abuse in the country are not prosecuted, thereby, giving the heartless perpetrators a free rein to intensify their atrocious acts. Now is the time to put our money where our mouth is.
We must ensure that we keep a clean slate of the past and checkmate our country’s evergrowing sex offenders anytime they violate the rights of our young girls. Where they are sent to jail to serve as a deterrent, that punishment in effect, should serve as their just deserts rather than be given a cozied, comfortable or stress-free incarceration because they are acquainted to the prosecuting judge or able to navigate the barefaced lacunae bedevilling our criminal justice system.
It is also high time we took sex violence serious and rewrite or abrogate certain sections of our Penal Codes which covertly encourage rape, spousal abuse and sex violence. Take, for instance, Section 282(2) of our penal code, where it is spelt out inter alia, that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape if she has attained puberty.
This provision is to me, defective and in fact, ostensibly allows for the defiling of teenage girls, as the honourable drafters of the Code simply ignores the age of puberty, usually 14; and rather concentrates on the all-encompassing banner of ‘wife.’
Also check out the poisonous fangs of the Northern Nigeria Penal Code, Section 55(1) (d), which provides that nothing is an offence which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife…where the drafters did not specify which ‘offence’ needs correction nor did they care a hoot about what is ‘correction’ and in what manner or fashion can it be gauged.
They goofed and they know it. Even, the Vagrancy Law which has for close to a decade ceased from being in operation in the country is still being used by morallybankrupt and skirt-sniffing law enforcement officers to railroad innocent girls to jail for ‘wandering,’ if they fail to ‘play ball’ or surrender their bodies for rape.
The nitty-gritty here, is that while the newly launched Sex Offenders Register is a desideratum albeit arriving belatedly considering the excruciating pains our young girls had been subjected to over the years, there should be a rewording or even an abrogation of these Codes which, in their harshness, could drive our numerous teenage girls and baby-wives onto the streets and into the trap nets of these evil and conscienceless sex offenders. It will be preposterous and clearly beyond the realms of the ridiculous for anyone to begin to argue about the concept of Retroactive Law, in that the law had not been in operation in 2015 when these people committed the sexual offence.
This SHOULD NOT be the case. Finally, while I applaud the newly-introduced national Sex Offender Register, there should be no garland yet for Sadiya Farouq, Nigeria’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, as we have just initiated our first faltering steps; and for that very reason, not yet Uhuru.
•Martins Agbonlahor is a trained lawyer and lives in Manchester, United Kingdom.
News20 hours ago
Don’t transport corpers as from 6pm, FRSC boss tells drivers
News13 hours ago
IPPIS: FG must correct anomalies in the payroll system – Rector
Metro and Crime20 hours ago
Kwara: Vice Principal, two others in EFCC net for exam malpractice
News12 hours ago
Oshiomhole, Wike throw jibes at book launch
The Mega City / Life12 hours ago
Who took away Baby Gold?
News12 hours ago
Ebonyi demotes 3 Principals, withholds 10 teachers’ salaries
News19 hours ago
APC, PDP, trade words at Osagie’s book launch
Sports12 hours ago
Joshua keen to defend his titles in Nigeria