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Imo TSA: Matters arising

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Imo TSA: Matters arising

Less than three weeks after His Excellency, Governor Emeka Ihedioha, assumed office, a columnist in an Owerri-based newspaper queried why he was yet to flag off a “major project”! A few days later, another commentator in a rejoinder argued that while “projects” are important, they must be distinguished from “edifice mentality” which, according to him, was the bane of governance in the state for eight years; and wherein the people were made to see halls and squares as the hallmark of development.

Today, if we are talking of edifices, Imo would likely rank the first among the 36 states. But unknown to the hapless citizens of the state, the buildings and squares are standing on top of a massive financial and procedural filth. Of course, the administration of Hon.

Ihedioha is inevitably forward-looking but it also owes it a duty to explain to the good people of Imo State where they were before now, since that is the only way they can consciously pursue a collective aspiration for a greater future.

In other words, we cannot be tired of telling the people the state of affairs before now. How would, for example, Ihedioha, no matter how “nice” anybody would like him to be, fail to disclose to the people that in the last eight years, over 250 bank accounts existed in the state through which revenue accruing to government was supposedly managed; or that monies deducted from the salaries of civil servants under the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system never got into the coffers of government; or that such monies indeed “disappeared between the Accountant-General’s office and the MDAs”.

Would the governor be “playing politics” to let Imolites know that even with that incredible number of bank accounts, payments for government services were “being made in cash as against directly to bank accounts” and that “these payments in cash are not duly transmitted to government treasury…”, resulting in “massive fraud and heavy loss of funds to the government”.

Or take another situation whereby “MDAs… maintained and operated revenue accounts… in pseudo names instead of directing payments to the central electric platform of the Board of Internal Revenue”, leading to a situation where “these funds are spent … and not properly accounted for…”

I have just pointed at a few of the findings of the eight-man Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) set up by His Excellency on assumption of office to look into how the state’s finances, especially from internally generated revenue, were being managed.

The committee, led by Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, an egghead who, for a decade, headed Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO), turned in an interim report last week. Would Governor Ihedioha be playing politics or wanting to do his predecessor in, by letting fellow citizens know of this parlous state of affairs? In any case, it is not as if the people did not know the situation. Otherwise, why do we think that calls have been made by several well-meaning indigenes/ stakeholders and concerned friends of the state, agitating for an immediate probe of the past administration.

However, for those who want the new administration to “look forward” and not “look backwards”, the governor has just done that with the findings and recommendations of the FAC. It is no longer news that, in line with his promise as contained in his inaugural address to adopt the Treasury Single Account, His Excellency on Wednesday July 10, 2019, upon receiving the committee’s report, signed Executive Order 005 signalling the takeoff of Treasury Single Account (TSA) system in the state. By this, Imo is the second state, to take to the TSA system, following its adoption by the Federal Government in 2015. Among others, what TSA in Imo State means is that henceforth, there ceases to exist the multiplicity of revenue accounts operated by MDAs. Instead, all revenues payable to government shall be to BIR accounts.

The TSA also means that henceforth, there shall be no cash payments for services rendered by government and its agencies as all such payments shall now be made to designated bank accounts on the BIR platform.

Then, of course, PAYE reductions from the salaries of civil servants shall be remitted simultaneously with the payment of salaries to the TSA maintained by the BIR. While every well-meaning and knowledgeable citizen of the state is looking forward to its implementation, it is important to point out that TSA is not an end unto itself. It is a step that is taken preparatory to achieving something more robust and transcendental, in this case a positive transformation of the state economy. One of the major objectives of TSA in Imo is to reposition the state to make it more competitive, that is, make business easier in the state.

Perhaps unknown to many, Imo, according to the latest World Bank report, is number 34 on the Ease of Doing Business ranking among the 36 states of the federation. So, what has that got to do with TSA? A lot. Imagine a first time visitor to the state who wanted to obtain some government services which he had to pay for.

Under the previous arrangement wherein MDAs received cash for such payments, the visitor, perhaps a potential investor, would have to go to his bank, withdraw the cash and then go back to the concerned MDA to make the payment. Cumbersome? Exposure to danger? Discouraging? Your answers are as good as mine.

Now, this. A comparative review of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) between 2013 and 2018 shows that at N14.8 billion in 2018, Imo occupied the fourth position (it tied with Abia) among the five South-East states.

In other words, Imo ranked below Anambra and Enugu states whose figures stood respectively at N19.3 billion and N23.1 billion. Imo was only atop Ebonyi State whose figure was N6.1 billion. Now, Anambra and Enugu are non-oil producing states but Imo has 163 oil wells.

Needless to say, the current assignment of the Imo FAC is not the first time experts are expressing concern over the financial morass of the state. So, if the state is to “improve its infrastructure and enhance its financial viability”, it goes without saying that measures like the TSA have become absolutely necessary. But even so, it is important to further point out that the Imo FAC did not stumble at TSA.

As already noted, TSA is in itself not an end but a means to an end, which is the overall economic prosperity of the state. Considering the collapse of infrastructure in the state, what project can be better than cleansing the Augean stable of a cacophony of financial procedures, irregularities and massive theft of public funds; as a necessary condition for a sustainable action plan? As experts say, 70 per cent of good governance is from intangibles, not edifices or “projects”, the type Imolites were used to in the immediate past.

Good governance, according to those who know, strives at excellence which is defined by equality, meritocracy, integrity, incorruptibility, diligence and compliance; which is where our dear state is now headed.

There is no gainsaying Ihedioha is passionate about the rebuilding process, for which, he has already hit the ground, despite the fact that the past administration never considered it traditional to hand him a status report.

Not distracted by the deliberate abuses by the remnants of the disgraced past administration, he has gone further to deliberately restore confidence again in the governance of the state. He has taken bold steps to institutionalize believability in his administration which a large section of informed citizens, say, is a total departure from old. Truth is, there is calm, hope and expectation, which resonates among the people. lOnyeukwu is Chief Press Secretary to Governor of Imo State

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Perspectives

As Kogites, Bayelsans go to the polls today

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As Kogites, Bayelsans go to the polls today

Today, the people of Kogi and Bayelsa states will go to polling units to elect the governors that will govern them in the next four years. While Governor Yahya Bello of Kogi is seeking a second term under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is a lame duck having served two terms allowed by the Constitution but he will have more than a passing interest in today’s contest.

Apart from the governorship election in Kogi, there is also a rerun election for Kogi West Senatorial District between gadfly Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC. Sadly, in the two states, the fierce battle will be between the APC and PDP.

I used the word sadly because the outcomes of the elections will not reflect that our democracy is truly a multiple party system. There won’t be a third force that can spring a surprise in today’s elections. We have tied ourselves to the apron strings of the APC and PDP as if they are the best since sliced bread. We had seen a candidate who did far better during a debate for the governorship candidates in one of the Southwest states and obviously had better ideas of how to turn things around yet the electorate could not trust him with their votes on election day just because he didn’t belong to one of the dominant parties. It was a case of a right candidate in a wrong party, a wrong notion built on fixation on the APC and PDP.

The same thing will pan out in Kogi and Bayelsa today. Ballots will be cast based on party affiliation, vote buying, religion and other primordial considerations. It won’t be a case of the best candidate for the job. This has been the pattern since the return of democracy in 1999.

Nothing will change in today’s elections because we have failed to learn from history. One can only hope we will get there one day, I mean a day when election will be won by candidates who don’t belong to popular parties or even independent candidates that truly can deliver.

There’s nothing wrong with the political parties but obviously something is wrong with the electorate. After 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, there’s nothing to show that we have attained political maturity that will make us see the evil in selling our votes for a pot of soup. In today’s elections, people will vote based on what politicians have to offer in monetary value. The dominant parties will outdo each other. The other parties are mere participants to give a semblance of multi-party system in an ar-rangement that is just a two-party system. If party A is offering N5,000 per vote, party B will raise the bar. The electoral officials will be compromised. Security agents will look the other way when thugs come around to snatch ballot boxes or stuff papers with predetermined ballot boxes and they won’t have the courage to chase away vote buyers. They may chase some vote buyers away yet tolerate some depending on the briefs they are to work with.

The first step to successfully rig an election is to have the support of security agents. It’s for this reason that commissioners of police are often redeployed when elections are around the corner. Those who are trusted to play the ball are often retained while those that cannot be trusted are kicked in the groins. Since the Inspector General of Police exists at the mercy of the president, the party at the centre is usually at advantage in this circumstance. If you think that will change today, it means you will believe that a grandmother is a virgin.

There’s poverty in the land. So, the electorate whose purchasing power has been diminished by politicians who foist on them egregious policies that have unleashed poverty on the masses, will be at the Beck and call of the same politicians today in Bayelsa and Kogi states.As Bayelsans and Kogites begin another democratic journey today, their choices are limited in terms of quality candidates.

They will vote but there is no guarantee that their votes will count. The masses will be in the majority when it comes to voters’ outcome. The elite will stay glued to their televisions and choose to watch football instead of going to vote and those who are not sport enthusiasts will choose other frivolities ahead of going to the polling units. Yet, they will be voiceferous when it comes to criticisms. The outcome of the elections is predictable. If things are not going the way of the politicians, they will subvert the will of the people.

They will be emboldened by the fact that they had done it overtime without getting their fingers burnt. As it is now, there is no clear cut political ideology that has evolved over the years and this is tragic for our country at a time that the country is in dire need of strong political leaders. This democracy is no longer nascent after 20 years of no military intervention.

We ought to have outgrown teething problems associated with the nascent democracy. The elections in the two states provide yet another opportunity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to convince Nigerians that the future of democracy is bright in Nigeria. But there won’t be much difference between what will happen in those states and what we had in the past. INEC won’t be coordinated, some of its officials will connive with politicians to subvert the will of the people, the electorate will sell their votes, security agents will take sides, there will be violence and bloodshed.

Losers will always have reasons to complain. But how genuine will their complaints be? Elections provide yet another opportunity for people to vote their choices into elective posts without fear and intimidation. They provide opportunities for people to vote and not to fight.

There cannot be peace and progress in an atmosphere of violence and conflicts. Inspite of the obvious downsides in our democracy, the elections today provide yet another opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. For those who have made up their minds to sell their votes, they should honestly ask themselves how well those who sold their votes about four years ago are better off today. Selling your votes is a case of:”you can’t have your cake and eat it.”

However, it is in the interest of the politicians not to truncate this democracy because of their desperation to hold on to power. They are the greatest beneficiaries of the system and will be the greatest losers if anything goes wrong with this democracy.

Whatever the governed get from the government is like crumbs compared to the ostentatious lifestyle of some of these politicians. Politicians know what is at stake for them. This is why elections in Nigeria is characterised mostly by tension and violence. Getting elective posts or political appointments are like automatic escape from poverty.

The electorate cannot afford to feather the greedy nest of politicians. This can be done if vote buyers are rejected. As for INEC, it had made costly mistakes in the past. But its image can still be salvaged if the elections today are free, fair and credible.

Credible election can be relative depending on the world view of politicians, their supporters and political parties. But if an election is credible, the world view of losers will not really matter. We did it on June 12, 1993. So, this should not be a one off thing. We can do it again if the atmosphere is right and we are determined. Bayelsans and Kogites should vote and not fight as they file out to exercise their franchise.

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Many liberated as Bible Standard Church takes Mission Crusade to Nasarawa, F.C.T

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Many liberated as Bible Standard Church takes Mission Crusade to Nasarawa, F.C.T

“And he said unto them, Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved……..” This last injunction of Christ to his followers, which he issued just moments before he was taken up into heaven (Mark 16:15-16, KJV), can be said to be responsible for much of the evangelistic outreaches that have been carried out around the globe since Christ’s ascension.

In centuries past, millions have been won for Christ even as hundreds of Christians have from the time of the early apostles lost their lives, been imprisoned, maimed or wounded while trying to take the gospel to some hostile people or communities.

It is this same injunction that has been the driving force in global evangelisation in contemporary age with many churches and Christian organisations going out there to tell the world about the love of God. Bible Standard Christian Ministry, with a church wing, Bible Standard Church and headquarters in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, is one of such churches. For close to two decades now, the ministry has been carrying out strategic evangelistic outreaches to parts of the country every October.

This year’s edition of her “Mission Crusade” held in Kabayi area of Nasarawa State, which was planned to also benefit residents of the Federal Capital Territory, F.C.T, Abuja, will remain green in the minds of all the participants.

The three-day outing, October 18-20, with the theme “Deliverance for the captives” was a rare treat to the people of the area. Clad in activities like group and personal witnessing, preaching of salvation messages, mountain-moving prayers for the sick, oppressed of society, persons trapped in the web of poverty and lack and all manner of problems, the crusade appeared to have been the long awaited antidote to issues that had wearied the people. It was a big relief to many of the crusade participants when Dr. Umoh Ekwo, general overseer of the ministry, in a sermon told them that Jesus was able and willing to solve their problems and fix their desperate situations.

Ekwo read various portions of the Bible including Matthew 5:1-15 and emphasised on the power of God to answer prayers when godly people pray through the name of Jesus. He said that God was interested in the prayers of people who acknowledge their sinful situations, denounced sin and wrong doings and turned over their lives to Christ.

He insisted that only prayers of the righteous could draw the hand and heart of God to deliver suffering people and urged the people to call on God for help and deliverance. He lamented that many pastors and prophets had resorted to replacing the power in the name of Jesus with what they term, “Holy water”, “Holy Oil”, and other substances and objects. He said: “There is no holy water. No oil is holy and can deliver people from their problems.

Most of the oil and socalled holy water used on the people with certain issues in life only go to compound the problems they were intended to solve.” He said many pastors and prophets today were involved in spiritism even as their stock in trade mainly comprised asking people to do “assignments” with most of the victims being asked to buy a number of things and bring them for the said assignments or pay certain amounts of money for prayer.

Ekwo said when Jesus was carrying out his earthly ministry, He did not give people assignment nor oil or water to drink for their salvation, healing or deliverance. He said that demons the world over, are waiting for orders from children of God, sighting the case of the man possessed with legions of demons and living in the tomb for years, that was healed when Jesus commanded the demons to quit and they, obeying, ran into swine. Many people surrendered their lives to Christ, others were healed of various sicknesses while yet another set of participants received deliverance from demonic powers and influences as Pastor Ekwo and other men of God in his team prayed for them and taught them the word of God. In the crusade team were some lead pastors and leaders of the church that travelled from various parts of the country.

They included pastors Simeon Simeon, the overseer of the church in Rivers State, who spoke to the crowd on God’s power to deliver; Edwin Ene, Magdalene Umoh, Edet Raymond, Mary Emah – all senior pastors of the church in Akwa Ibom State. Obong Akpaekong, overseer of the church in Cross River State and Lawrence Jonah, overseer of the church in Lagos and Ogun states also attended.

Pastor Nsikak Udosen, Bayelsa State pastor, Evangelist Godbless Udoh, wife of pastor of the church in Abia State and Pastor Amos Amos, the church’s national youth president were equally there. The host pastor, Asuquo Nyong, said the national mission was the beginning of a new dawn for the people of Nasarawa State and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

 

Akpaekong wrote in from Abuja

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Perspectives

The ‘lousy’ killer (1)

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The ‘lousy’ killer (1)

The scene

Mr HY used to be a happy man until about 8 months ago when a sudden twist of events turned his world upside down. The outset was gradual, starting with having to visit the rest room repeatedly, of course this set tongues wagging in his office; one said ‘’na gonorrhea’’ another said ‘’it’s urine infection or STD’’!  He also takes water excessively and eats gluttonously but ironically lost weight despite the excessive eating. The weight loss was really marked and continued to worsen over time, so are the other symptoms of frequent/excessive urination, excessive water intake and excessive eating. The tale bearers continued to have a field day; ‘’it’s AIDS’’  ‘’na cancer’’ ‘’na conc. Yellow fever’’ ‘’na typhoid’’

He was offered all sorts of ‘’remedy’’ but didn’t get better…what could this be?

What is diabetes mellitus?

Hypertension is globally known as a silent killer majorly because many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Often the signs and symptoms are misunderstood. But not so for Diabetes, it comes announcing its presence, though the person might not know exactly what is wrong but he/she knows that something is wrong! Hence the ‘’lousy’’ designation which is entirely that of yours faithfully.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic (long term) non communicable disease in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin or cells stop responding to the insulin that is produced, so that glucose in the blood cannot be absorbed into the cells of the body.

Blood sugar and health

Sugar (glucose) is an important source of energy

What is eaten is absorbed into the blood

Insulin is produced by the pancreas when the blood sugar is high

Insulin keeps blood sugar level within the normal range for health

The genesis

Every cell in the human body needs energy in order to function.

The body’s primary energy source is glucose, a simple sugar resulting from the digestion of foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches).

Glucose from the digested food circulates in the blood as a ready energy source for any cells that need it. Insulin is a hormone or chemical produced by cells in the pancreas (an organ located behind the stomach). Insulin bonds to a receptor site on the outside of cell and acts like a key to open a doorway into the cell through which glucose can enter. Some of the glucose can be converted to concentrated energy sources like glycogen or fatty acids and saved for later use. When there is not enough insulin produced or when the doorway no longer recognizes the insulin key, glucose stays in the blood rather entering the cells.

The body will attempt to dilute the high level of glucose in the blood (a condition called hyperglycemia) by drawing water out of the cells and into the bloodstream in an effort to dilute the sugar and excrete it in the urine. It is not unusual for people with undiagnosed diabetes to be constantly thirsty, drink large quantities of water, and urinate frequently as their bodies try to get rid of the extra glucose. This creates high levels of glucose in the urine.

At the same time that the body is trying to get rid of glucose from the blood, the cells are starving for glucose and sending signals to the body to eat more food, thus making patients extremely hungry.

To provide energy for the starving cells, the body also tries to convert fats and proteins to glucose.

The breakdown of fats and proteins for energy causes acid compounds called ketones to form in the blood. Ketones also will be excreted in the urine. As ketones build up in the blood, a condition called ketoacidosis can occur.

Types

Type 1 diabetes

In this form of diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin.

Sometimes, begins most commonly in childhood or adolescence.

It is characterized by sudden onset

   

Type 2 diabetes

The more common form of diabetes

It is characterized by slow onset

People who have migrated to Western cultures are more likely to develop Type II diabetes than those who remain in their original countries.

Also regarded as Adult-onset diabetes

It is considered a milder form of diabetes

Gestational diabetes

Another form of diabetes called gestational diabetes can develop during pregnancy and generally resolves after the baby is delivered.

How common is diabetes?

There is an increasing prevalence worldwide. Over 5 million people suffer from the disease in Africa and the number is expected to jump to 15 million by 2025. According to data published in 2006 by the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people suffering from diabetes worldwide in 2007 is ~246 million. It is projected that by 2025 this number will rise to >380 million, with most of the increase occurring in developing countries. Type 2 diabetes mellitus represents ~90–95% of cases

Causes

The causes of diabetes mellitus are unclear, however, there seem to be both hereditary (genetic factors passed on in families) and environmental factors involved.

In Type I diabetes, the immune system, (the body’s defense system against infection), is believed to be triggered by a virus or another microorganism that destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

In Type II diabetes, age, obesity, and family history of diabetes play a role.

Individuals who are at high risk of developing Type II diabetes mellitus include people who are;

obese (more than 20% above their ideal body weight) 

have a relative with diabetes mellitus   

belong to a high-risk ethnic population (African-American, Native American, Hispanic, or Native Hawaiian) 

have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or have delivered a baby weighing more than 4 kg

have high blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or above)

  have had impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose on previous testing

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Perspectives

WHY YOUR CHILDREN MAY NOT SERVE YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER (PART 1)

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WHY YOUR CHILDREN MAY NOT SERVE YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER (PART 1)

As a couple that recently started bearing children, you may have heard that many young people from Christian homes are growing up into full-fledged worldly lifestyles, contrary to what their parents propagate which is, committed service  and loyalty to the Heavenly father, the Lord God Almighty.

Now, you are already panicky as to how to groom your own children in the way of the Lord. God, in his word, has provided the best approach through his instruction given by Moses over four thousand years ago.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

This commandment provides the key to effective spiritual training at home. Praying with your children each night and taking them to church is not enough, even though family devotions are important. As a parent, you are expected by God to live the principles of faith throughout the day. References to the heavenly father and his perspectives on every matter should permeate your conversations and interactions with your children. Your love for Jesus should be understood to be the first priority of your lives as a couple, by your children. You must not overlook any opportunity to teach with your words and your actions.

Dad and mum! You need to understand that the world has a lot of messages for your children in the days ahead and that the messages could take them to failure and destruction if they are not counterbalanced by firm spiritual foundation at home. You just cannot afford to be lackadaisical on the task.

“Jesus answered: Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been among you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, show us the Father? (John 14:9).

The first way to introduce your children to the character of God is by introducing them to the Jesus Christ in you if he is in you. Your children can only serve your God if they discover him in you at the tender age. Children do more of what they see in parents than what parents say. If you are a “do what we say and not what we do” couple, prepare for a possible family crisis at old age; an old age of police cases, unwanted pregnancies and so on. May this not be your portion in Jesus name!

If as a couple, you have the lifestyle of always quarrelling with and defrauding each other or other people in presence of your children, a bleak family future looms.

If as a couple, you lack self control to the extent of having sexual intercourse right in front of your children or you are living adulterous lives involving your children in the sinful arrangements, there is trouble. Do not expect your children to honour your heavenly father that you do not honour.

If you are a couple that lie to each other, lie to your children or lie to other people, you are selling to them, the nature of another god, different from your heavenly father.

If as a couple, you live a life of prayerlessness in every endeavour, how do you expect your children to be prayerful? If as a couple, you are regular late comers to church, you are telling them that this God can be disrespected without any consequence. You are telling them that punctuality to their school and other events is important. But as for the house of your heavenly father, you can stroll in whenever you like.

For your children to grow up serving your heavenly father, you must be an example to them in “what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity” (1st Timothy 4:12).

As parents, you have been given the awesome responsibility of representing God to your vulnerable children. You must not make the mistake of failing in this responsibility because such will be translated into spiritual problems for the next generation. For instance, it is tough for the sons and daughters of oppressive or abusive parents to perceive God as being loving and compassionate. Permissive parents (that permit just any conduct in the name of love) make it hard for children to understand the justice nature of God. Representing the nature of a God of both love and justice is one of the difficult tasks mothers and fathers face. Showing your children love without authority is a serious distortion of God’s nature, just like presenting an iron-hand authority without love.

To guide your children towards serving your heavenly father in future, they need to see your heavenly father in you. Children listen closely to discover just how much their parents believe what they preach. If there is any form of ethical confusion in the parents, the children are very likely to magnify it. The job of building up your children’s character into godly nature is more tasking than giving birth to them.

May your children turn out well and may your marriage and family be a testimony. May your children turn out well, serving your heavenly father in
Jesus name.

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Religion and national institutions: Where do we draw the line?

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Religion and national institutions: Where do we draw the line?

Last week an incident at a NYSC orientation camp in Ebonyi State has once again brought to the fore a dangerous trend gradually rearing its head across the land.

It is religion!

As far back as the creation of man, the eight letter word had been a contentious issue inflaming passions for and against in almost equal measure.

The very first sin ever committed as noted in the Holy Bible was Adam and Eve, which we are all aware of.

In later years, many wars were ignited by religion while students of history will remember the terrible atrocities committed during the Spanish Inquisition with those deemed heretics often put to death in the most horrific and gruesome manner.

Many were tied to stakes and burnt alive as so-called believers tried very hard to use such infamously brutal methods to whip non conformists into line.

Ironically there is nowhere in the Bible that such barbaric acts are proscribed to be meted out to so-called heretics.

Then in 1517 the church and Christendom was further splintered when one, German priest called Martin Luther released his Ninety-five Theses, which queried many of the preconceived teachings.

Of course, this rattled the established order which tried everything possible to ensure that the status quo was maintained.

Unfortunately the more brutal their efforts the more protestants their actions seemed to bring forth so much so that more than 500 years after Luther’s “audacity”, the religious world has largely come to accept the existence of these other branches of the faith including Islam.

However, like I pointed out earlier, over time all the different religious groups have largely learnt to tolerate each other and live together.

Although occasionally bloody incidents do flare up between them, often mainly caused by deep-rooted mistrust which have still not been totally eradicated despite the passage of time.

Ironically, such issues of mistrust still looms large in Nigeria and sadly, we as a people have allowed it to fester, rather than gradually fade due to the actions we have been taking.

For those old enough to remember how the nation was in the 60s and 70s, religion was never a big issue amongst us.

Muslims had Christian friends and vice versa. The Muslims will fully take part in Christmas celebrations while Christians would eagerly be waiting for Salah so that they can go and gorge on meat and other delicacies.

Religion was not also a big issue in schools with both religions mingling freely in whichever school they wanted to attend, because having a sound education was the paramount reason for the parents putting their child in that particular school.

For instance I attended Corona School, Apapa and cannot recall religion ever being an issue amongst us students or staff.

My secondary school was Mayflower, Ikenne and with Tai Solarin religion was secondary to his primary aim of making us good students.

While he did not outrightly ban religion, he made it abundantly clear that should either ever clash there would only be one winner – Mayflower!

Parents were well aware of this his disposition towards religion and yet Christian parents and their Muslim counterparts willingly brought their children to Ikenne because what was upper most in their minds was giving their kids a sound education.

Boys and girls wore shorts because, as Dr. Solarin pointed out, he did not want the girls struggling to cover themselves when it came to doing farming and other work in school.

But sadly this is no longer the case, with religious intolerance on the rise and also not helped by the fact that children can now go through school right from nursery to university without crossing religious paths – i.e. a Christian can go all through education attending only Christian schools while a Muslim student can also do the same!

So how do we as a people meet rub minds and get to understand each other’s religion better if like apartheid, we are segregated.

The intolerance is heightening by the day.

I often wonder what the ‘Abami Eda ‘ Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would have made of the present day Nigeria.

In many of his popular songs he ‘yapped’ both Christians and Muslim leaders (often calling them by their titles) without it causing any brouhaha. He would go up North yap Muslim leaders and come to his ‘Shrine’ down south in Lagos and yap everybody without any religious bigots taking offence.

I’m not too sure in the present clime, he would have been able to get away with it.

Unfortunately, while the divide between the religions is expanding even within the same religious faiths, extremism is also rearing its ugly head as was the case at the NYSC camp in Macgregor College, Afikpo in Imo State where two female Youth Corps members were sent away after refusing to wear the ascribed camp attire.

While we all know that the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, we are also aware that there are equally certain institutions that have their own dress codes and as such should be immune to religious considerations.

And one of such is the NYSC.

Those that conceptualised the scheme some 46 years ago, realised that due to the nature of the activities the participants would be undergoing shorts would best suited for this.

Anyone that has passed through the scheme must agree that this is true as the females will not have issues climbing over obstacles and ropes using one hand while the other is trying to ensure that their undergarments are not exposed to the whole world to see.

I still remember camp days with our ladies participating almost on equal footing with the guys. In fact, if truth must be told, a lot of them even did better than we the supposedly stronger sex – the men.

I’m sure that a majority of women have no issues with wearing trousers since it is in fact only for a short while and besides it ensures that they can be proper ‘corpers’.

Although one’s personal religious conviction shouldn’t be brushed aside, when one considers the bigger picture one has to beg the question – where do we draw the line?

Will those who join the military now also insist on wearing skirts in carrying out combat functions?

Recently I felt very proud seeing the Nigeria Airforce wing two female pilots they looked so lovely in their uniforms as they made history of breaking a male dominated field.

After all it has often been the clarion cry by the women folk that “what a man can do a woman can do better!

Now that they have the chance to show it, they are now allowing religion stop their march to equality!

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Where is Fayemi leading Ekiti?

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Where is Fayemi leading Ekiti?

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” –Alexander the Great.

If you talk to most people, you will discover that they actually mean well in their criticism of what government does. But they don’t have much of a breadth on knowledge or understanding of what the real issues are, when it comes to governance. They listen to pundits who feed them with what they are supposed to think and they keep repeating that until pretty soon they say, “Oh, well that must be true.”

While such pundits cannot be stopped from informing the people, they should also not be estopped from saying exactly what they see. That Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, is becoming the most talked-about governor in the areas of value restoration, development and social investment is beyond mere adulation or propaganda. The discerning ones within the opposition party have equally confirmed his exemplary leadership and described him as a visionary leader who knows where to head and how to get there.

Ekiti faces developmental challenges and capacity constraints as a small state. Even when its government aspires to higher standard of living for the people, it must struggle with the limited material and human resources. Its size and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are relatively small and can easily pin the state down. Going by the 2015 ranking, Ekiti is the least favoured among the South-Western states. Its GDP stood at $3.6 billion with per capita of $1,133 and a labour force of 1.4 million.

Lagos led the pack with a whopping GDP of $50.8 billion, per capita of $4,182 and a workforce of 7.7 million. Oyo came second with $27.3 billion GDP, $3,596 per capita and 4.4 million labour force, followed by Ogun with $18.5 billion GDP, $3,660 per capita and 2.4 million workforce, then Ondo with $11 billion GDP, $2,423 per capita and 2.4 million workforce. Osun is also ahead of Ekiti with $10 billion GDP, $2,199 per capita and 2.3 million workforce.

Fayemi did not find these statistics scary, intimidating or discouraging. Whereas people are wondering how the wonder-working governor has been able to navigate the first year of his second term in office seamlessly, he, on the other hand, has been saying it’s no big deal at all. In the same state that somebody grumbled about the weight of workers and pensioners’ salaries, emoluments, pensions and gratuities, where school children were being taxed, where social welfare packages initially introduced by Fayemi himself in office were cancelled and laudable projects allowed to rot away, Fayemi returned and restored all these lost glories within the first one year.

Whether Fayemi is seeing this as a problem, a challenge or an opportunity is left for the pundits to unravel. And the best way to do this is to check the rating of Fayemi’s government in the last one year. Despite the less-competitive economy and paucity of funds, Fayemi’s Ekiti has continued to attract rave reviews as a leading light in how a state should be run. The World Bank congratulated the state as the best performer under the National Urban Water Sector Reform Project and the third best performing state under the Community and Social Development Project. The Progressive Governors’ Forum commended Ekiti State for recording the highest number of initiatives in the Forum’s Development Initiative Tracking, spreading across empowerment, job creation, healthcare, etc. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rated Ekiti State high on the Ease of Doing Business Chart. The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development recognized Ekiti as the Best Performing State on Domestication of Women Rights Instruments.

On a personal level, but also in recognition of his leadership qualities, Fayemi emerged the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum barely six months after mounting the saddle as Ekiti Governor, the first governor from the South-West to be bestowed with such honour. Same month that Fayemi became the NGF Chair, his wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi also bagged the Zik Prize for Humanitarian Service Award. All these point to the values Fayemi has been creating for the state that had hitherto been regarded as debased.

Fayemi exposed the secret of his success thus: “Government’s policies and programmes the world over thrive on the involvement of the people…as a government, we cannot do it alone or succeed in isolation. A tree does not make a forest. We need the support and cooperation of the corporate world, donor agencies, Federal Government and of course, Ekiti people to succeed as a government. For us therefore, to build on the gains of the past, all hands must be on deck to move our dear state forward economically, socially and politically.”

Fayemi is an unrepentant enthusiast of value creation and best practices, making good governance, agriculture and rural development, knowledge economy, infrastructural development and social investment his article of faith, and the five pillars upon which he is building second term in office, codenamed JKF2.0.

Just within a short span of JKF2.0, investors are falling over themselves, wooing and allowing themselves to be wooed by Ekiti State Government. The World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) have accented to supporting the state with $100 million loan to build the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, Special Agriculture Processing Zone, Ado-Akure road and Ekiti Airport. The state government has also partnered Nigeria’s leading food and beverage giant, Promasidor Nigeria Limited for a $5 million investment to revamp the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm located at Ikun Ekiti.

These are just a tip of the iceberg of what Fayemi has been able to attract to the state. He is a leader with a futuristic vision and he knows how to turn his ideas into real-world success stories. Pundits who study him well will attest to the fact he is a visionary leader. He would plan 10 years ahead and nothing could derail him from implementing such plan. He does not lose focus, notwithstanding the noise or chaos around him.

That Fayemi scored high marks in the first year of his second term was therefore no fluke. While observers regarded it as his first year, insiders were quick to point it out that it was a continuation of his long-term plan during his first term in office, codenamed JKF1.0. Then, he had introduced landmark initiatives across the state and had recorded monumental achievements.

To understand where the governor is leading his people, pundits need to measure him with the following parameters: Honesty and integrity, confidence, ability to inspire others, commitment and passion, good communication, decision-making capabilities and accountability. And if they are able to score him high in them all, then, Ekiti people are assured that they have the right captain steering the ship, and the only place they can be led at this point is to their Eldorado.

λDipe is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Fayemi on Public Communications.

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Renewable energy business opportunities in Nigeria

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Renewable energy business opportunities in Nigeria

“To be passionate about Africa is to believe in Africa, understand Africa.”

The above words from Jean Claude Bastos De Morais, the Founding Board member of African Innovation Foundation (AIF), were enough motivation for Justus Nwaoga, the Chief Technologist in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka to begin the journey of changing Nigeria’s electricity supply via renewable energy.

Pharmacist Justus Nwaoga set out a project solely focused on Africa’s solar energy market, believing that it is possible to have clean, renewable solar energy powered by African solar panels. He arrived at an understanding that Mimosa can utilize solar power system, so he converted Mimosa’s sensitivity to sunlight into what is now called the Mimosa Solar Panels.

In an age where there are complaints about power outage, recession and lack of opportunities, Michael is seeing the need to provide that which is lacking, he is solving the power challenge using his own invention because he understands how dependency on energy is the key to unlocking potentials and market values. Think about it, his invention is 100% novel and the power is energy saving, solar, clean and renewable

Sustainable energy using the organic medicinal African weed, mimosa pudica” commonly known as “touch and die”. “This plant, he began” is a common weed around us, children sometimes plays with, when someone touches it, it closes itself and after sometime it will reopen. So as a pharmacist I wasn’t really looking at the weed, I was fascinated at its reaction to sunlight and got more interested in what’s making it react to radiation. I was certain this would be a huge business opportunity that will not only change the solar power market but also provide jobs for our labour market.

It is a fact that one in five people still lacks access to modern electricity as three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. More so, research has also shown that energy is the dominant contributor to climate change because it is accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, reducing the carbon intensity of energy is a key objective in long-term climate goals now.

If we are to ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy, all has to come one step closer to embracing recent progress in electrification, particularly in local development councils, However, national priorities and policy ambitions still need to be strengthened to put the world on track to meet the energy targets for 2030. From 2000 to 2016, the proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased from 78 per cent to 87 per cent, with the absolute number of people living without electricity dipping to just below one billion.

Green finance is one business opportunity people can tap into, it is an opening that centres on supporting local, community-level projects, with an emphasis on sustainable, ecologically friendly agriculture. Green finance is usually concerned with providing educational opportunities, funding for artistic endeavours and projects that support local ecology. A typical example is The Bank of Industry (BOI) recent upward review of its Solar Energy Fund to N6 billion. This Solar Energy Fund is to enable various categories of end users (commercial and residential) acquire reliable solar solutions. As opposed to more conventional companies in the world of finance, green finance is preoccupied with social profitability. While monetary profit remains important, the goal of green finance is to support beneficial projects that provide value to the local community and ecology. In fact, green financial institutions can fill a void to realize a positive project that otherwise would not exist that truly benefits the community.

Today, four-fifths of all electricity in southern and eastern Africa is generated from fossil fuels which process involves burning these fuels to produce carbon dioxide emissions that trap the sun’s energy, thereby making our Earth too warm and contributes to extreme weather events. But this is also where alternative for cleaner energy, known as renewable energy sources, offer tremendous potential. With the right infrastructure, half of all electricity in southern and eastern Africa could come from clean, cost-effective renewable by 2030. We would then see a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

In the least developed countries, the proportion of the people with access to electricity more than doubled between 2000 and 2016. In 2016, three billion people (41 per cent of the world’s population) were still cooking with polluting fuel and stove combinations. The share of renewable in final energy consumption increased modestly, from 17.3 per cent in 2014 to 17.5 per cent in 2015. Yet only 55 per cent of the renewable share was derived from modern forms of renewable energy. Global energy intensity decreased by 2.8 per cent from 2014 to 2015, double the rate of improvement seen between 1990 and 2010.

Today, consumers are just as interested in corporate social responsibility (CSR) as they are in a company’s products and services. This is especially good news for eco-minded entrepreneurs. Uzochukwu Mbamalu, a 2014 graduate of Electronic Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), is solving energy needs through solar technology and distributed generation. He has eight full time staff and 20 contract staff depending on the project and the demand. “I also collaborate with people in the industry because I believe that it helps to give competitive advantage,” he said. His final project in the university was a solar tracking system to conserve energy

Nigeria is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, geothermal, ocean waves and tides. Despite this, the nation continues to grapple with substantial electricity deficit. Nowadays, the demand for solar arrangement as an alternate source of energy is growing very fast. This, alone, provides a vista of opportunities to entrepreneurial minds. Think Eco-consulting, for instance. As an expert on green living, one could easily start an eco-consulting service, relying on friends and colleagues to spread the news and additionally employ social media tools to strategize the business. Consultants evaluate homes and offices, and offer solutions to make them more environmentally friendly. One could advise clients on switching their home appliances to more energy efficient machines or implement a recycling programme. To further boost their credibility, they need to become a certified eco-consultant.

λIntroduction: @Ekeneodigwe is OAP @frcnsoutheast

SDGs Champion & Social media campaigner #Activista with 7 honours & 3 Fellowship awards

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Repositioning NAHCON for better service delivery

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Repositioning NAHCON for better  service delivery

Two weeks ago, I visited the NAHCON new office to see things for myself. This followed series of congratulatory messages I read on the social media.

I was impressed with what I saw. Though still under renovation, I held my chin and nodded my head in awe of the intelligence that guided this decision in this age. Now, I felt pride growing in me that I am a Nigerian and this is happening in my lifetime. An organisation is buying property for government and not the other way round, nor stashing away the funds for private use. This shows prudence in line with present government’s vision of accountability.

The other pleasant news that came from the Commission was contained in the disclosure that the Commission conducted the 2019 Hajj operations 100% without funding from government. Which means the Commission, even with a tight purse, was able to introduce new concepts like the mobile caravan clinics for pilgrims, secured accommodation in Madinah GRA area without an increase in 2019 Hajj fare to make up for it, and even helped some stranded pilgrims from tour operators who were left to overstay in Makkah with 100 Saudi Riyals each. This is remarkable. I could not help but to pray to God to reward former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for appointing Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad into office. I couldn’t help but to invoke blessings on President Muahammadu Buhari for the wise decision allowing the barrister to continue in office despite administrative change.

Barrister Muhammad, the NAHCON Chairman, is an unassuming man when you meet him but firm on principles. It is this doggedness on principles in the interest of pilgrims that led the Commission to record successes that seemed like mirage before now. And it is this insistence on principles that is earning him antagonism from those who wished for the rot in Hajj management to be sustained in their interest.

For instance, it was unthinkable in the past that untouchable tour operators will be forced to be licensed and to do the right thing or be damned. It was unthinkable that NAHCON staff would be directed to live in Tent ‘C’ Mina among the pilgrims instead of living comfortably in highbrow Tent ‘A’ while pilgrims contend with distance to Jamrat and squalor. Upon assumption of NAHCON leadership, the chairman instructed all his staff to remain with pilgrims 24/7 in the same tents, and to address anomalies instantaneously instead of waiting for post mortem reports. Of course, this order may not go down well with some members of all the aforementioned categories, but this is an ideal example of the chairman’s knack for remaining principled. And he stood by these decisions.

A method deployed in getting things done by NAHCON is in policy formulation. I particularly was impressed with one of such policies that commands airlines to accommodate pilgrims in comfortable hotels when an airline fails to convey pilgrims back home within 24 hours. The pilgrims are to be fed three hot meals daily from the airline coffers within the length of their stay. With this, if an airline fails to transport pilgrims back to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia, the carrier feels the heat from its pockets. Little surprise that one no more hears of riotous Nigerian pilgrims in Jeddah airports; abandoned like refugees seeking for mercy.

There is also this policy that demands state pilgrims’ welfare boards to hire pilgrims’ accommodations not more than two kilometres from the holy mosque in Makkah. There should not be more than five pilgrims in a room, and five pilgrims to one toilet. This checked pilgrims from past experience of herding about 12 people to a room while occupants of this and other similar ones are forced to share one toilet along the corridor of the building. New regulations safeguarding pilgrims from government quota raised the standard which made traveling under this category competitive with those of tour operators.

And this is how the leadership has been challenging business as usual from every angle. The spate of achievements, I believe must have guided the confidence reposed in the chairman’s leadership style by the present administration. Who would not want to be associated with an achiever? I personally would not be in a hurry to part with a driver with whom I can go to bed knowing my children will be brought back from school safely and still find surplus fuel in my vehicle’s tank.

I personally give gratitude to the Almighty for giving our leaders the wisdom of taking the right decisions, at the time right times, may it also come at all times. Kudos to NAHCON family.

λBakori writes from Katsina State.

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Border closure and poor culture of problem resolution

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Border closure and poor culture of problem resolution

There are a thousand and one reasons the Federal Government will justify the abrupt closure of its land borders. Some of these reasons range from smuggling of rice, used and new cars, light and heavy weapons and trafficking of human beings into Nigeria. All these criminal enterprises not to talk of the insurgent groups’ activities across the borders of Nigeria, Niger and Chad are the grievous reasons the Federal Government decided to shut Nigerian borders against her neighbours hoping by so doing to solve these problems.

Problem solving skills are learned experience even as it is part of the culture of a people. It is a culture-determined habit because culture itself is the cumulative habitual behaviour of a people. So, where a people live and grow up in an environment that welcome a problem with analytical mindset, without allowing fear to overwhelm their senses but rather calmly ponder the root and stem of the problem, such a society is never stampeded into hasty and ill-digested decision/solution to any problem.

Problem-solving is not a learned skill in Nigeria because it is not our national culture. Problem-solving skill is part of the educational system which as we know is the chief purveyor of any people’s culture. Check out our educational system and you see it is “garbage-in-garbage-out”. All the subjects we teach in our educational institutions from nursery, primary, secondary to tertiary institutions are consumptive. It is consumptive because the educational system is not designed to produce rational thinking beings. Thinking is said to be a difficult act and that is the reason a negligible percentage of humanity indulge in it. But it is thinking that unlocks the problem-solving skill of man. But as said earlier, Nigeria’s educational system is consumptive as the teacher is not trained to make you think over any issue or matter. He is trained to teach you to reason like him by copying notes and regurgitate it back to him during examination. Any scheme outside this educational template courts disaster and failure. You must never depart from the tradition. Don’t question things you met because they had existed before you and you must be crazy, even mad to question a state of being or thing. In the universities, the lecturer will tell you to give him what he gave you. And what he gave to you must be the trash he kept recycling from his mimeograph or book that was last edited or reviewed years ago. And you expect a student who went through this type of educational system to be a problem-solving patriot?

Nigeria has never been confronted with real problems. If it has, perdition would have been its lot. If you check Nigeria and its chequered history; you will see only one problem that has consistently buffeted it. The problem is about creating an effective state to manage the conflicting socio-cultural, economic and political forces contending for space to blossom in an environment that is ready-made for natural progress of human civilization but the solution which local and international conspiracy could muster is to cage the forces with iron-clad autocracy supported by brute force. Britain laid the foundation of this culture when it set up a governance structure founded on feudal autocracy and rigged the constitutional and electoral infrastructure and chose a fragile section of the political community to superintend the created leviathan for it. Ever since, check out the problems that have attended Nigeria’s existence and it boils down to one problem and that is: ‘freedom for the people’s of Nigeria to organize and rule themselves on their own terms.’

In 1964/1965, the Western Region crisis that dovetailed to 1966 crisis and eventual Biafra War was the first major problem. How did Nigeria solve it? Indigenous solution in Aburi Accord was sabotaged by Britain in order to plunge Nigeria into war, which according to General Obasanjo in his books, it prosecuted by proxy to settle once and for all the problem of the Southern irritants that stampeded it out of Nigeria on October 1, 1960. After the Biafra War, the soldiers that prosecuted the war instead of healing the nation of its wounds and rather than considering the over two million Biafra children that perished sufficient punishment for the Igbo unfurled war reparations/abandoned property, expropriation of bank savings, glass ceiling in public service against them, further rigging of the constitutional infrastructure, etc.) that have continued to haunt Nigeria just as British-inspired war reparations against Germany plunged the world into World War II that nearly consumed Britain but for USA and the Jews that discovered the atomic bomb.

Between 1979 and 1983, Shagari administration was busy sharing contracts and designing how to win landslide electoral victory to care for the development of Nigeria. Between 1984 and 1985, when General Buhari booted him out and told Nigerians that Shagari government was corrupt and every Nigeria undisciplined but he did not know that indiscipline started with the army on January 15 and July 29, 1966 particularly on that 30th July, 1966 when a Northern soldier, a private told Brigadier-General Ogundipe that he cannot obey his order but rather that of his Captain. Between August 26, 1985 and 1993 when General Babangida turned Nigeria into a political and economic laboratory and ended up cancelling the only election ever conducted on real parameters of human beings instead of statistics and ended up instituting an Interim National Government that General Abacha kicked out to install himself the king. For five years, he stayed the course trying to transmute into life president before he and his quarry (Abiola) were sacrificed to make way for Nigeria to move ahead. Out of fear and without thinking about the repercussions, General Abubakar simply copied a Constitution, conducted elections and sprung up an old member of the ruling class (General Obasanjo) to head the government and General Abubakar expected this weird experiment to succeed.

For 16 years, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan seized the state only for the PDP to disagree among themselves about zoning thereby creating an avenue for another retired general (Buhari) to ‘topple” Jonathan in an electoral contest and became the president. Since 2015, it was as if Nigerians have been reliving 1984 to 1985 all over again. The anti-corruption war now mimics 1984 – 1985 debacles minus the War Against Indiscipline. The economic space has been folded up just like 1984 – 1985 and the detentions and harassments for indeterminate offences are back.

But it is the closure of the border which has been held up as the solution for myriad of problems such as smuggling, arms and human trafficking that has the capacity to shut up the economy but the government says that it boosts the economy and readily points to alleged booming local rice production but the security problems persist as the army launches one operation crocodile after another to no avail. Now, the army is even deployed to administer internal security checks on citizens’ movements. Problem-solving skill is a problem in Nigeria. This is quite unlike the USA where apart from President Trump’s actions against Mexico, fire-brigade measures are eschewed. Gun-related offences are rampant in USA which have consumed about two presidents and fatally wounding about two others but the USA has never abolished the people’s right to bear arms. But here in Nigeria we are given to fire-brigade measures to solve our problem against the civilized way of thinking out rational solutions to problems.

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The mining sector and way forward

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The mining sector and way forward

P

enultimate week, there was a frantic call by stakeholders in Nigeria, advocating devolution of power on mineral deposits across the federation. According to them, such approach would help to fast-track the needed development as currently yearned by concerned Nigerians.       

Mining is simply the extraction of valuable minerals cum other geological materials from the earth crust, usually from lode, vein, ore-body, seam, reef, or placer, deposits.

These deposits constitute a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the prospective miner. Ores gotten via mining activity are gemstones, limestone, coal, oil shale, metals, dimension stone, clay, gravel, potash, and rock salt, among others.

Mining is required to obtain essential commodities that cannot be possibly grown via agricultural processes, or created artificially in a factory or laboratory. Mining of stones and metals has been a well-recognized human occupation since prehistoric era.

Modern days mining processes involve prospecting for ore bodies, analysing the profit potential of the proposed mine, extraction of the desired materials, and final reclamation of the affected land after the mine is closed.

The economic importance of mining cannot be overemphasized. In Ghana, for instance, the country’s mining sector is a very vital segment of its economy, and has played a significant role in its socio-economic development since the colonial period. Historically, the Ghanaian mining sector’s contribution to the country’s gross foreign exchange – particularly gold – has only been paralleled by its cocoa sector.

Not only do the products power the family car as well as heat the family home, the manufacturing sector, high tech industries, and even the better known resource industries, are all dependent – in one way or the other – on the mining industry.

The mining industry will continue to be an important support to the economy of any country that embraces it. Aside boosting Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it encourages high rate of employment opportunities and equally thrives to ensure that the number of entrepreneurs in the country is increased tremendously.

In spite of the ongoing boom in the sector, Nigeria still lags behind. It’s shocking to note that notwithstanding the unquantifiable solid minerals the country is blessed with, mining accounts for barely 0.3 per cent of the country’s GDP, due to the influence of its vast petroleum resources.

The country’s domestic mining industry is obviously underdeveloped, leading to importation of minerals such as, but not limited to, iron-ore and salt, that could be domestically produced with ease. It’s a shame that the only material that’s overtime mined across the country is sand.

Rights to ownership of mineral resources is held by the Federal Government who grants titles to interested organizations to explore, mine, and sell mineral resources, but ab initio the business has been relatively unpopular. The Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration began a process of selling off government-owned mining corporations to private investors in 1999; till date, those firms are ostensibly lying moribund.

On assumption of duty, perhaps piqued by the ongoing devastating physiognomy of the Nigeria’s mining sector, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government strongly assured the teeming Nigerians that the administration would rejuvenate the industry.

Little wonder the government recently approved a sum of N12.7 billion solid minerals exploration contract. Yet at the moment, pathetically no serious and practical impact has been recorded, probably owing to lack of policy direction.

It’s therefore high time Nigeria started mining the available solid mineral deposits abound in the country – to include tale, gypsum, lead, zinc, bentonite, gold, uranium, bitumen, coal, rock salt, gemstones, kaolin and barite – all which are highly lucrative and of economic value. This can only be actualized by deploring the required techniques tactically as well as imbibing viable policies into the system.

Surface mining and sub-surface (underground) mining are the available two major forms of mining. The targeted minerals are generally divided into two categories of materials namely, placer deposits and lode deposits. The former comprises valuable minerals contained within river, gravels, beach sands, and other unconsolidated materials, whilst the latter are those found in veins, layers, or in mineral grains widely distributed throughout a mass of actual rock.

Both classes of deposits could be mined by either of the aforesaid mining types. Moreover, in-situ leaching is another technique mainly used in mining rare earth elements cum soluble minerals like uranium, potash, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and sodium sulfate. Of all, surface mining is currently much more common and viable.

However, it’s pertinent to acknowledge that mining, likewise petroleum drilling, is associated with various environmental factors. These include erosion, formation of sinkholes, and loss of biodiversity, coupled with contamination of soil, ground cum surface water by chemicals from mining processes.

In some cases, additional forest logging is done in the vicinity of mines to create space for the storage of the created debris and soil. Basic examples of pollution from mining activities include coal fires, which can last for years, producing severe amounts of environmental damage. This can be properly controlled through the effort of the concerned law enforcement agency by implementing stringent environmental and rehabilitation Acts and functional policies.

Now that diversification is apparently the only way to revive the Nigeria’s troubled economy, the government should endeavour to take the bull by the horn towards ensuring that the mining industry is accorded a well-deserved attention.

It’s more interesting to note that exploring the industry apparently remains one of the prime agenda of the present administration. But for such an agendum to be holistically actualized, hands of fellowship must be duly and sincerely extended to the cognoscenti who can spur the sector to do more even when challenges are enormous.

Considering the impact the said sector stands to create on the country’s economy at large, it’s needless to state that its exploration is long overdue, thus feasible action is seriously needed.

Devolution of power is not really the apt answer to the people’s yearning, but formation of candid and stringent policies and their onward strict implementation. It’s time we learnt on how aptly we can formulate ideas cum policies, and endeavour to implement them as required.

We as a people are, therefore, in need of change of attitude and mindset rather than imbuing the states with more powers. Think about it!

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