…asks Nigeria, others to petition AU
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked countries affected by xenophobic attacks to drag South Africa before the African Union (AU) and seek appropriate redress.
Obasanjo, who stated this in his reply to a letter by the President Emeritus of Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Mangosuthu Buthelezi, accused South African authorities of complicity in the ongoing xenophobia in the country.
The IFP, founded in 1975, is one of the political parties in South Africa led by Buthelezi until this year.
The former president specifically berated the South African police of standing aloof to watch miscreants and criminals commit crimes against fellow human beings.
He argued that even if citizens of other countries commit any crime, South Africa ought to have treated them like they would treat their citizens.
The former Nigerian leader urged affected African nations to consider other measures against South Africa if the situation is allowed to continue unabated.
“If South Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation with the countries concerned to put an end to xenophobia, the concerned countries of the victims should come together to table appropriate motions at the AU level first and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue,” he said.
Obasanjo recalled his liberation role in different parts of Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa.
He said it was unfortunate that the Southern African country allowed attacks against fellow citizens and practically did nothing to stop it.
In what appears to be his first reaction on the xenophobic attacks, Obasanjo submitted that it was a great disservice to the continent and the black race, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans.
Responding to Buthelezi’s letter dated September 11, which was made available to reporters in Abeokuta yesterday through his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the ex-president stated that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends.
He said there was need for “fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding” between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia.
Apparently commenting on the response of Nigerian authorities, Obasanjo pointed out that repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa is obviously not a permanent solution but merely palliative.
He also said xenophobia will not give jobs to South Africans as being touted but would rather make investment in the country difficult.
He, however, advised Nigeria and South Africa to stand together to champion African cause and jointly shepherd development, unity, cooperation and progress.
Obasanjo also urged African nations to learn from the ongoing xenophobic attacks and ensure programmes that will provide livelihoods for their teeming youth population to discourage them from embarking on hazardous journeys.
His letter partly read: “The xenophobia or afrophobia going on in South Africa is an unfortunate issue for South Africa and for the whole of Africa. It is unfortunate in many respects.
“There are only two countries in Africa that have ‘Africa’ as part of their names: Central Africa Republic and Republic of South Africa.
“For any of these two countries and, I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.
“We, in Nigeria, if I may speak particularly for Nigeria, did all that we did for liberation in different parts of Africa, particularly in Southern Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa because we believed it was our obligatory duty to do so as Africans.
“We, as black people, believed and still believe that we would be second-class citizens in the world if we allowed any black people anywhere in the world, not to talk of Africa, to be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin without fighting against it.
“It is because of our belief in human dignity generally and especially afro dignity. We were motivated and goaded by principle and not by possession, position or praises. We were not doing it to get any reward or material benefit as such.
“We were doing it because we were convinced that it was our duty, our responsibility and our obligation to humanity and to the black race. That is why we, in Nigeria, in spite of our distance from the frontline of the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa, we became, in terms of our participation, contribution, commitment and sacrifice, members of the frontline States.
“Whether that is recognised and appreciated or not, we really don’t mind as we believe we have done our duty as we ought to have done, and if occasion occurs in future where we need to open our doors, out of our humanity and Africanity, for people in similar situation of need as happened to people in Southern Africa and South Africa, we will do it again as we did in the past.
“However, we believe that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends. If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime which will mean applying judicial process.
“Moreover, the South African police and other law enforcement agencies must uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of South Africa, which stipulate that, ‘The South African Police Service has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa, prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community, investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community, ensure criminals are brought to justice and participate in efforts to address the causes of crime.’
“Where the Police would stand aloof watching miscreants and criminals committing crimes against fellow human beings is condemnable and not acceptable in any civilised society. This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the Police.
“The best way to fight crime is to achieve close to full employment in a society and not through xenophobia. Anybody who can deny xenophobia in South Africa of today can deny that my mother is a woman. It should not be a game of denial but rather a game of accepting reality and working at it, together with the rest of Africa where necessary.
“Countries in Africa are not just transit for drugs from sources in Latin America and Asia to consuming populations in North America and Europe, but these countries in Southern Africa and West Africa are also falling victims as consumers and producers.
“It requires collaboration of producing regions and countries working with transit regions and countries and consuming regions and countries to deal effectively with the menace of drugs as established by West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD).
“As it is being touted that xenophobia will give South Africans jobs, I dare say, it is fallacy. Xenophobia will make investment in South Africa a little bit more difficult which will lead to lack of job creation and loss of existing jobs.
“It should also be realised that most migrants did not migrate out of their country to other countries with total emptiness. Some have education, skills, experience, expertise, entrepreneurship and sheer guts which they can bring to bear on the economy of the country they have migrated to.
“What has helped most developed countries in the world is openness and receiving migrants with open hands and open minds. In any case, all of us in the world are migrants, no matter where we live, depending only on how far back you want to go.”
SDGs central to global development, says Oganga
In this interview with CHUKWU DAVID, Africa Regional Representative for World’s Largest Lesson and Club 17 Africa, working in partnership with the were adopted by the United Nations, Dr. Mina Ogbanga, speaks the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and how Nigeria can ensure overall national development from the yardsticks
What is the objective of the World’s Largest Lesson Training of Trainers (ToT) on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), which just held in Abuja, where you functioned as the major facilitator?
We are really interested in spreading information about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our interest is in promoting awareness advocacy and a lot of innovations around SDG amongst children, youths and any other person who is interested taking action to address local challenges.
We have realised that, for a long time, we have been activating directly young people, children and youths across communities, Internally Displaced Persons’ camps and schools. So, at this very interesting moment, with support from the UNICEF, the world needs to build capacity of young people who will be SDGs champions; in a wider sense, those who will be SDGs Fellows, people who you can call on any time to come and mainstream SDGs into development planning, who can talk about localising SDGs among young people, who can talk about issues about bringing the information of the SDGs into every nook and cranny. So, there was a need to build capacity to deliberately do those things, and that was why this Training of Trainers was organised, to be able to help youths reach their peers and other young people out there with the information.
What is the role of UNICEF in the capacity building training?
UNICEF was the key convener. UNICEF made it possible for us to identify the appropriate young people for Cohort 2, 2019. It behooved on UNICEF to identify credible committed young people with the pedigree of experience in fields of development, who may not know much about the SDGs per se. Those are the kind of people that came and participated in the training, and those were the kind of people whose capacities were built to take this initiative down to the states where we are going to work in.
You said that the UNICEF identified the facilitators who participated in the training programme, what was actually your role in the event?
My role was to promote the training and participation and build their skills. I can say that our duty basically is about human capital development, to enable them be able to carry out the task primarily in a very good way. So, UNICEF did the convening in this maiden edition, and in future, there will be a call for application.
What is the role of the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult & Non-Formal Education (NMEC) in the whole project?
Just as their name implies, the role of the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult & Non-Formal Education (NMEC), is to ensure that there is mass awareness on strategic issues that affect the educational matters especially issues around development processes that affect the goals that are in line with education initiative. So, they are part of those who are also supporting this effort at creating awareness, promoting advocacy and mainstreaming understanding of the SDGs into development planning. So, they are also a part of the process. They are in active part of the process.
How many states of the country were the facilitators you produced from the just concluded programme deployed to, and which states are involved?
They were deployed to eight states for now, and they include: Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Adamawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Jigawa and Anambra. For now, we don’t have in the South-West, South- South and North Central.
You said that the SDGs came up in 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). What are the significant differences between the SDGs and the MDGs?
Well, there are various differences. You can even categorise them into strategic differences in terms of practice, methodology and implementation procedures. You can even separate them in terms of their numbers because the MDGs had eight goals but SDGs have 17. That is already two different issues. So, the SDGs appear to be the broader version of the MDGs. The SDGs are looking at broader issues than the MDGs but all at the same time addressing sustainable development.
What can you say led to the abrogation of the MDGs and introduction of the SDGs?
They all have 15-year targets. The MDGs was 2000-2015 and SDGs is now 2015-2030. But one of the striking differences is that MDGs had eight development goals while the SDGs have 17. Then the SDGs is a broader call to action to promote more social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic growth on a larger platform; mainstreaming the needs of a larger group of people which was not particularly the case before.
Disaggregation was done according to sex, age, religion, location and all those kinds of things unlike the way MDGs were done. And the strategies being used to deploy SDGs actually are a bit different, which is making people own the process unlike when people saw MDGs just as a contractual process, where their ability to get an MDGs contract helped them in doing one thing or another. Nobody linked those processes exactly to achieve overall quality of life improvements. Ironically, unless if it will improve in future, MDGs had five times more money than the SDGs.
It appears that your central targets are schools in the states and communities. Would you clarify this?
No, the central targets are not the schools. The central targets are young people. If we find young people in communities we go there; if we find young people in the IDP camps we go there, if we find them in universities, secondary schools, anywhere we find them, we go there. They are our interest because believe that once they understand the process and understand how to mainstream the SDGs, every other thing will fall into place. The facilitators deployed to states are not going to concentrate on schools, rather they are going to be teaching young people from different places. They are not going to schools to teach, they are going to states where youths have already been gathered, and these youths are from different places.
What is Club 17 Africa?
Club 17 Africa is the name of the Project. That’s the project that everybody is doing. It is the focus of the task across the world. But I have an NGO called Centre for Development Support Initiative. I created the Club 17 Africa; my friend created the World Largest Lesson and both of them were adopted by the United Nations.
How do you explain SDGs challenge?
There is what we call the SDGs Club challenge, which means competition. It is called SDGs competition among people, among schools, young people in communities, IDP camps. The whole idea is for them to identify a problem, start thinking through the solution and proffer innovation on how to solve that problem. Then they will enter that their solution into a competition, and then if they win, that’s fine.
Is the Federal Government deeply involved in your programme?
Nigerian Government can’t say anything more in this whole thing because they are the ones driving it. It is the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs that is driving it. Ours is to provide necessary backup. And that is how you can get ownership of any project. Once the people are able to understand how useful this project is to them, and own the process, it can be sustained. No White man or Black man or Blue man can give you the development you need other than the development you are ready to participate in the process. If they come and dump their western technology or ideas and there is nobody to drive it, what will you do? So, people have to understand it, own it, localize it, customise it and domestic it, then you will see that it can be effectively run.
What is your advice to Nigerians towards embracing the SDGs programmes?
SDGs is a global agenda to promote social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic growth. It is like giving you an expo before exam. They told you that this is the problem to which you contributed to identifying. So, don’t stress yourself looking for how to solve it; just go to the place. You say your problem is education, then go to education goal, look at the indicators. There are variables to measure life expectancy, there are different variables to measure educational performance. If you don’t know those variables, you cannot say that you have brought about development. Unfortunately, some government people or anybody else say that they are doing much development work in quote but they are not linking it to SDGs. So it does not actually count in the global space that anything is happening.
If you are building one million roads and you don’t want to call it anything, and yet the one million roads are adding to the achievement of the SDGs but you don’t know it and you don’t want to know it because you think that it will take away the contract, you are losing and that portion of your work is not going to be recognised in the global platform. And those are the kinds of things that have moved Nigeria backward because our activities are not effectively reported. If our activities are effectively reported and effectively mainstreamed into development planning, you see that Nigeria will step up a bit.
When you even know anything about the SDGs and you are building water tanks every day. So, you don’t know that there is water tank in SDGs 6. If you don’t link it, your matter will not reach the VNR, which is the main reporting template for Nigeria. So, people need to understand that the need to start mainstreaming development planning into the SDGs and mainstream the SDGs into the development planning. Also, you work at quality localising of these SDGs materials. It is a simple thing. If you don’t use this expo, you can’t generate your own.
One hundred and ninety three governments came together; where were you? Nigeria was there and we agreed that this is what we will be using for our development plans. Now you want to sit down and do your own development plan; that is jeopardising the process. So, people need to think about how to start now to own the process, and mainstream SDGs into the activities, and it will help you make your activities count.
‘A’Ibom youths should embrace Udom’s development efforts’
Mr. Ephraim Akparawa Inyang-Eyen, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, in this chat with some editors, speaks on Governor Udom Emmanuel’s achievements in critical sectors. He also charges youths to rediscover their potentials in order to take advantage of the impending economic boom in the state
Governor Udom Emmanuel is on his second term on the saddle. How has he fared in your assessment?
I will make a bold attempt to summarily analyse all the sector of our state’s economy. In the road sectors, I think we have done very well and just like the governor said its completion agenda, what we should be doing now is to make a very conscious attempt to complete what we have started.
I can tell you authoritatively that the dualised roads which will give the state a different image, a paradigm shift is on the completion agenda. Look at the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene Road in which people have embarrassed Udom’s administration even though the contract was overpriced, the job as at today has advanced to Four Points by Sheraton. We want to take it up a little and discharge the road by the roundabout at Ikot Ekpene.
We are very confident that by December, the much talked about Ikot Ekpene Road will be ready. The Ikot Oku Ikono – Etinan Road 20km dualised has a flyover in which we have started paying compensations, if you go there, work is in top gear with men working day and night. So Ikot-Oku-Ikono Etinan is on the agenda for completion by May, 2020.
Then Etinan-Ndunuyo, you will see that we are just at 600 metres to East West Road and compensation have been paid on that road while the bridge piling at Ekpene Ukpa has started. That road will certainly be ready by May, 2020. If you come back to the Etinan-Eket Road, one of the projects we inherited that was virtually abandoned as at today we have paid compensation and crossed Etinan by the General Hospital which was the major fear of the people. We will further link up that road after paying compensation from Afaha Nsit to Ndiya.
Eket remodeling I can assure you would have been completed by December but the rain has altered our plans and I can tell you that by January/February, we will finish Eket remodeling Phase I. If you look at other roads done by the Udom’s administration like the one in Ini Local Government Area done by Particular Construction Company, the bridge the people said never existed is one we drive on during our last visit. Once the rains are over we will lay the final wearing coach asphalt on the road. Several other roads are also receiving attention.
Has the health sector been neglected?
This government operates with data. When Governor Udom Emmanuel came, the only functional hospital was the Teaching Hospital at Abak Road which was converted into a Secondary Health Centre instead of Tertiary Health Centre. Emmanuel came and took pains to bring back secondary health centers with the overhauling of St. Lukes Hospital, Anua. The first day we visited Etinan General Hospital we had more snakes than human beings there. Today the hospital is working at optimum level. When we visited Uruan Hospital at Itu Mbang, it was the same story, but today it is a digitalised hospital. When we visited Iquitta Oron General Hospital, everything had virtually collapsed but today it is in top shape. If you go to Ikono, you will find a rebranded general hospital. If you go to Ikot Okoro Oruk Anam the hospital is working, Emmanuel Hospital in Eket is almost ready; the general hospital in Onna is set to go. So I will say that Governor Emmanuel has done well in the health sector. The governor will soon storm the Ikot Ekpene General Hospital to clean it up and turn it to a training centre for nurses and midwives.
The governor has also ensured adequate personnel to run these hospitals with the facilities there are world class. I am very convinced that soonest all the 10 federal constituencies in Akwa Ibom will have theirs. I recall with nostalgia that when we visited the Ikot Okoro Hospital in Oruk Anam, the place has already turned to cassava farm, but today outside parading the best facilities, it is completely digitalised. So if each of the 10 federal constituencies has a functional digitalised hospital then you should be convinced that Emmanuel’s administration has taken the health of the people into big consideration.
The education sector is suffering in many states of the federation. What is the picture in Akwa Ibom?
Education in Akwa Ibom up to secondary school level is free. The government also pays WAEC, NECO and virtually all other major fees. Several structures have been put in place for pupils and students. If you take over a decaying system as the governor inherited, restoration takes a process so if the governor met 200 dilapidated schools and in four years was able to do between 150 and 180. Some people will avoid the 180 that have been rebuilt and go take pictures of the remaining 20 in bad state and post on the internet. These structures took time to collapse and same people kept quiet and overlook them but now we have a listening governor. They want to make a mockery of the system. The governor has maintained the free education policy. NECO fees are paid as at when due, same with WAEC and as we have more intakes yearly some mischievous people are saying the intakes are going down. We have our statistics and don’t listen to such distractions.
You state has an airline. What is its status and how is it contributing to the development of the state?
I think Akwa Ibom is doing extremely well. We are the only state in this country today that is not just running an airline but a very effective one. The report from Ibom Air so far is excellent. When the governor mooted the idea, people described it as a scam but the same people are using the airline and I don’t know whether people can fly with scam. The truth is that governor Emmanuel has broken the jinx in that sector in the entire country. Even the Federal Government of Nigeria till date is unable to have a national carrier but we have one in Akwa Ibom because of the caliber of the governor on the saddle.
The airport will soon have a digital terminal building and upon completion the airport will be compared with the best in the world. The second runway and taxi way are also there which you will only see again in Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, in Abuja. These are all efforts of the state government. The deep seaport is on course, the governor had directed me to resume the construction of the Ibom super highway which will serve as direct access to the Ibom Deep Sea Port and that is what embolden me to call out my people in Eket Senatorial District to get ready to take advantage of what comes with a Seaport of that magnitude. If you check well the wealth of most nation are domiciled in the ground and the sea. By the time the deep sea port comes on stream, the entire economy of the state will witness a boom to the point that there will be less emphasis on federation allocation. Akwa Ibom will be next to Lagos in economy.
On Housing and industrialisation, where does the state stand?
Government is interested in the actualizing the housing estate in Uruan and efforts are in top gear in this regard. Work is ongoing there. In the same vein, the low cost Housing Estate along Oron Road is making progress among others. The ongoing estate for civil servants in the state is also nearing completion.
I have said at different forum that the industrialisation is not only real but the industries are there working for all to see. The location of the industry is simple Economics 101 in which we are thought that nearness of raw materials and others factors are the major consideration in citing the industry. You see that the industries are concentrated around a particular belt to enable them share facilities in addition to nearness to their raw materials and guaranteed peaceful co-existence with their various host communities.
For instance, the power substation in Mkpat Enin will ensure substantial energy to the Flour Mills among other companies in that axis if one of the industries is cited, for instance, in Ini Local Council Area, they will be operating on generators because they can’t share from the energy from the concentrated power substation in the Mkpat Enen Area.
So the industrial revolution in Akwa Ibom is real. Another instance is the newly commissioned ply wood factory which is so critical to furniture making, if someone hopes to start a furniture factory, he will like to cite it close to the ply wood factory to take advantage of both the raw materials and the power. The governor came prepared for industrialisation and by 2023 when he will leave the stage; he would have made the state advanced industrial hub in Africa. These companies are ones that will contribute to economy via employment, contribute to our IGR and further carry out their corporate social responsibility.
By the time the seaport is ready do you know what the multiplier effects will be on our economy? The hotels in the entire Eket area and beyond will be over patronized by those who will come down to drive the seaport project. Again I must emphisis here that with God on our side and more money in the hands of the Governor, Akwa Ibom will lively have the best road network in Nigeria soon.
What is the philosophy behind the selection of youths from Eket Senatorial District for mentorship and entrepreneurial training as against giving “hand outs”?
Whenever things are done over a period of time, I look at the results overtime. I have seen the culture of youths relying on “hand outs” and also the culture of “landing” anytime you have interface with them as very trivial and I specifically called the youths of my village in Ikot Ebiere and they came.
I challenged them to account for all the “landings” they have received and what they achieved with it. They were all shocked and looked in amazement. I sat down and think deeply, if you need a good plumber, tiller, mechanic and many other skilled laborers, you hardly found an Akwa Ibom son. We use virtually outsiders to give us quality jobs on things ordinarily our youths should be doing.
How Martha Udom Emmanuel’s pet project, FEYREP, is tackling scourge of rape
ives of prominent political leaders usually take on projects to give succour to different causes and people in their society. The most prominent of wives who took up such pet projects was Lady Bird Johnson, wife of former US President Lyndon Johnson. She was a remarkable advocate for beautifying the nation’s cities and highways for she strongly espoused that: “where flowers bloom, so does hope”.
The ‘Highway Beautification’ Act was informally known as “Lady Bird’s Bill.” Former President George Bush had said that he always remembered the former First Lady every time he drove from Houston to the Presidential Library in College Station and marvelled at the countryside’s wildflowers. Her legacy, he said, “is in full glory in the springtime…she made the world beautiful in so many ways.”
US Secretary of the Interior during Johnson’s administration submits that “Lady Bird Johnson did more than plant flowers in public places…she served the country superbly by planting environmental values in the minds of the nation’s leaders and citizens.” Indeed, her legacy lives on.
Martha Udom Emmanuel and FEYREP
Back home in Nigeria, to complement her husband’s economic renaissance and industrialization agenda, Martha Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has taken to heart a pet project; a cause against one of society’s greatest ills.
Through her pet project, Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Program (FEYREP), there has been empowerment of women in the 31 local government council areas of the state. The catalogue of things done is impressive:
Care for hundreds of orphans and less privileged children in the 5 Government Homes; provision of N200,000 grant each for about 500 women organisations across the 31 LGAs to enable them leverage on the public-partnership initiative of the State Government; provision of grants each and wrappers for about 600 widows across the 31 LGAs to boost their businesses and alleviate poverty; donation of over 200 wheel chairs and 100 special writing desks for physical challenged persons in tertiary institutions and secondary schools; the training of 20 visually impaired persons in different skills at the Nigerian Farm Craft Centre, Lagos and subsequent empowerment for them to start up their business in the development trade learnt; sponsorship of 155 widows to Jerusalem for pilgrimage.
Seaside communities have had seafood processing factories built. There are also, ultra-modern (FEYREP) Cassava Processing and Oil Palm Processing. The First Lady is all about empowering women. She believes in stabilizing the home front because an unstable marriage can lead to a broken home. Such break ups is often traceable to the inability of the woman to make financial contribution towards the children and development of the family.
Mrs. Emmanuel has been working to ensure that women are empowered to support their husband.
Hundreds of expectant mothers from the 31 local government areas of the state have benefited from her free medical care and baby packages.
The programme is tagged: “Pregnancy, Child Birth and Beyond”. A good number of indigenes have been sponsored to India for surgeries and in collaboration with the MTN Foundation, many blind are now seeing.
More importantly, houses have been built for widows and widowers. A striking picture is seen on the internet of a widow with her two hands lifted up in joy, while standing with her two young daughters before their newly constructed house, built for them by Lady Martha Emmanuel.
Martha Emmanuel strikes one as a humble individual having a calming influence on whoever comes around her. She grew up seeing her parents’ philanthropic nature of training a good number of people, who are all successful today. As the daughter of a university professor, she exhibits those refined feminine qualities that represent true home training.
Her poise and admirable demeanour is in clear contrast with that of a high-ranking female government official who recently, was seen using ‘beer parlour’ language during a live television broadcast. And despite entreaties that such uncouth language is not permitted, she dug her feet down and persisted in the ways of motor park touts.
It is not uncommon to see women in high offices of the land lose it and exhibit those traits that decent and refined women find revolting. There are, however, still a few women who continue to hold high the flag of real womanhood; unspoiled by the murky terrains of position and authority. Lady Martha Emmanuel is one of such individuals.
FEYREP and combating the scourge of rape
Martha Emmanuel has also demonstrated her passionate fight against the morbid crime of rape. Although rape has almost become an official instrument of war, the continuous degeneration of the civil society into this horrible malaise has agitated her spirit. She has constantly been outspoken about the exposure of those caught in this heinous act to the public. Consider her words:
“The menace of gender-based violence is a cause for concern to everyone. And why it is so worrisome is because the people they are defiling are babies, toddlers of two years, three years, four years, six years. These are the age range we are seeing these days. And by the grace of God, through the sensitization we have been carrying out, people have been reporting such cases and the culprits are being prosecuted. That is the good thing about it. It is so bad. What we intend to do now is that we don’t want to hide these people anymore. Before now when they are caught, we take them to court, prosecute them. Now, we want to expose them to the world so that other people will learn from it. You people (the media) will help us publish their names, show them on television, tell where they come from, and tell the world what they have done. We are not going to hide them anymore because the menace is getting out of hand. If you happen to see one of the victims you will cry.”
FEYREP has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) to establish a Gender-Based Violence Centre in the state to temporarily cater for abused persons until they are sorted out.
She said: “You cannot eradicate crime, but you can reduce the level. I don’t know why a man will rape a six-year-old girl; I don’t know why a man will rape a three-year-old girl. I don’t know why a man with four wives will rape a nine-year-old girl. These are people that have children; some have grandchildren. Why do you defile a young girl? What pleasure are you looking for?”
Martha Udom Emmanuel by her message is saying: “What gives you the right to do what you want with her body? How dare you try to take away value of her body? You made her feel worthless, small and unimportant, like an object. You will not only be jailed, you will be shamed forever. You couldn’t even respect a woman and I’m speaking out to get society to know you so as to spare the next girl who not only can get STD or get pregnant, you will damage her mentally; women who are actually young and cautious.”
There is a consensus that not enough people understand how heinous rape is. In America, there is the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Martha Emmanuel’s FEYREP has created a Nigerian Hotline.
Apparently, some men feel so entitled to women that they will not accept no as an answer. Some men feel that they can take what they want by force – and because of rape culture, it’s reinforced that it’s the victim’s fault. Some feel it’s not really rape because the woman was wearing a revealing outfit.
Until recently, available evidences suggest that rapists may also be motivated by the likelihood that their victims will not report the assault. By virtue of being a rape victim, a woman becomes the perceived agent of her family’s shame.
In a bizarre twist, she changes from a victim into a guilty party, responsible for bringing dishonour upon her family or community. As a result, female victims, whether for fear of being seen this way, or because they see themselves this way, are extremely reluctant to report rape. The shame of rape may prevent women, who would rather bury their dishonour, from seeking justice.
Only an improved awareness of the criminal act of a rapist will help women to resist the embarrassment attached to such an act and go for exposing their attacker. It is essential that efforts to achieve this are increased so that what has been trivialized in the past is stopped.
In a nutshell, Martha Udom’s efforts through her pet project, FAYREP, at curbing rape and sexual violence against women has yielded a lot of results. Such a cause being taken by high government personnel has instilled not only the fear of prosecution but also the dread of public shaming in would-be culprits.
Olafeso: Nigeria’s economy is in quagmire
National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South-West Zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, is a professor of International Relations and one of the governorship aspirants of the party in Ondo State in the 2020 election. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE, he describes the N10.3trillion 2020 budget as a ruse and incapable of salvaging the economy
What is your impression about the N10.3trillion 2020 budget recently announced by President Muhammadu Buhari?
Nigeria’s economy is in a quagmire. Honestly, if throughout four years he could not produce more than 1.8 million barrels of oil per day and in the next year you are basing your projection on 2.2 million barrels per day, is that not wishful thinking? What are you putting in place to improve your oil production in terms of infrastructure? Number two is that you are basing this revenue projection on the contentious 7.7 per cent increase in Value Added Tax still before the National Assembly and which people are still debating. Must you tax Nigerians to death?
Look at our local and foreign debt now put at about N25trillion. How can a nation survive with this? What has this government been able to achieve in the last four years? All they have succeeded in doing is to tax us out of existence. Those monies are just flying in the air. They are not monies on hand. Even if you are making projections, must it not be very close to reality? To me he is just taking Nigerians for a ride.
You have over N10trillion budget and about 30 per cent of it is going into debt servicing and debt management and you are going to borrow over 25 per cent of it. So where is the money coming from and where is the figure emanating from? This is magical as far as I am concerned and this budget is dead on arrival. This budget will do nothing for Nigerians other than increasing their pains. We are not looking inwards. Let us begin to block all the loop holes, and let government itself show example. Let us close our doors, plan our economy, rebuilt education, revitalise agriculture in the real sense of it and assist the thousands of industries that have closed down in Nigeria or relocated to neighboring countries and create jobs for our youths.
Look, you have presented a N10trillion budget and only about 20 per cent, an aggregate sum of N2.46 trillion (inclusive of N318.06 billion in statutory transfers) is proposed into capital projects while about N3.6 trillion goes into recurrent expenditure, personnel and pension costs and N2.4 trillion goes to debt servicing. Is that tenable? What country can survive on devoting 20 per cent of its budget to capital expenditure? These are the things we have seen and have concluded that Buhari is just taking Nigerians for a ride.
What are the implications of these?
To me, I will say Buhari is just stoking a revolution he is trying to avoid. You see, when you take the people for a ride for too long, there is no way they will not react. Here you are saying you are lifting 10 million people out of poverty, but you have not been able to do so, rather millions of people are going into poverty daily. Recently an international body said about 70 million Nigerians are living below poverty level. What does that tell you? What is in your programme for the youths? What is in it for education where you budgeted N112 billion for Universal Basic Education and N48 billion for Education in a country whose education system is near collapse and scores of government officials are sending their children abroad? What is in it for the health sector which has been taken over by medical tourism where even the first family goes abroad regularly for treatment? What impact can N48 billion and N46 billion make as capital budget for education and health respectively in a country of 200 million people? To what extent has he looked at the nation’s human capital development index? How do you intend to bring back to work all these millions of youths without jobs and thousands others graduating annually? Does it not amount to stoking a revolution where you don’t make adequate provision for them to return to work? The answer is in the air and the best way to mitigate or prevent this is sound economic and industrial policies that will absorb these youths. The situation which the government has put all of us is worrisome.
Nigeria marked 59 a couple of weeks ago. Where do we go from here?
What are we celebrating at 59? That we are still a banana republic? That we cannot even conduct an election that will guarantee for people to make their choices? That the nation is unsafe and insecure? That the economy has gone down south? That inflation is hovering between 11 and 13 per cent? That over 45 per cent of our youths are unemployed? To me, our 59 years of independence is marked by a milestone of failure and this is an unfortunate moment for all Nigerians. Compare Nigeria with Ghana, Botswana and Rwanda and you can see how far we have dug backward in the last 59 years. I feel the big pain of our inability to harness our resources and develop a land that will be filled with milk and honey. Sadly, we are in a country where nothing is working again- no infrastructure, no direction, no vision. For this largest black nation on earth, this is not what we should celebrate at 59.
Look at the level of infrastructural decay in the country; almost all the roads are impassable. The pictures emanating from all parts of the country are worrisome. Vehicles get stuck at the seams; passengers spend hours un-end on the road, some even pass the night, and others who are unfortunate to need medical emergency lose their lives. While lots people diversify into agriculture, tons of farm produce perish on the roads as several trucks transporting them to market get stuck in the mire which litter everywhere. Go to Benue, Cross River, Edo and several others and you will agree with me. Even where some rehabilitation is underway, the speed is terribly slow. And unfortunately at this time the government is proposing road tax by reintroducing tolls!
What do you think should be done about security?
The protracted insurgent attacks in the North-East not only underscored the incompetence of the service chiefs whose tenure elapsed years ago, but that the entire security forces have become disoriented. Was it not shocking to you when a senator said over 830 soldiers have been killed and buried in a particular location in the North-East since 2013? Unfortunate, our government is good at contesting figures given by both local sources and international ones instead of looking at the problems and getting solution. Coming after the government has said repeatedly that it had decimated the insurgents or technically defeated them, this latest one is shocking to say the least.
Today, the Abuja-Kaduna road has almost been taken over by kidnappers. Kaduna State records daily cases of kidnap for ransom while, unfortunately the President still accepts excuses from and retain service chiefs who have proven to be incompetent. It is a pitiable case, especially in a country whose armed forces parade some of the best officers who have been tested and found competent in all military ramifications around the world.
You are one of the 18 aspirants in the Ondo State governorship race in 2020. What assurance do we have that PDP won’t have a rancorous primary which characterised that of 2016?
You will recall the PDP defeated the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state in the last presidential election, winning two of the three senatorial seats and a number of seats in the House of Representatives. We are waxing stronger and are ready to repeat this next year. I want to assure you that the primaries will not be rancorous like it was about three years ago when Jimoh Ibrahim assailed the candidacy of Eyitayo Jegede, who was chosen by the party. We have moved from there and are now very united under the leadership of party chairman, Mr. Clement Faboyede and the entire executive.
We won’t have any problem at all because we are now a united family. Like I have said in another interview, the National Working Committee (NWC) of our party, of which I am a member, has put in place a fair, transparent and broad-based arrangement which will produce an acceptable candidate who will fly the flag of the party. The primaries will fair and the delegates will exercise their rights and we will do better than what we had in Ekiti and Osun states, we recently did those of Kogi and Bayelsa states and we are improving on our strategies by the day and the coming Ondo will be very fair.
What are your plans for Ondo State and is there a zoning arrangement?
As a former Commissioner in Ondo State, I am aware of template for the development of the state, a development plan put in place during the tenure of the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu which we started implementing before he lost election at the tribunal. That will be revisited because it is critical for the development of the state. You see, Ondo State has no reason to lag behind in national development and we shall bring it back to that path. I was traumatized recently when I learnt that Ondo South has been in darkness without public power supply for more than 10 years. This is a shocking irony especially when you recall that the Omotosho Power Plant with four gas turbines which generates 512 megawatts is in that area. Most importantly, all parts of the state will be massively developed.
As for zoning, even though various sections of the state have taken a bite at the governorship position since the state’s creation in 1976, I am a believer in and an advocate of competence. In this regard, my pedigree, education, exposure and experience in both private and public sectors speak for me.
Niger State will soon be cut off by bad roads, says Beji
Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Niger State, Barrister Tanko Beji, is uncomfortable with the performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government led by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello. In this interview with DANIEL ATORI, he scores the governor below average, fearing that with the deplorable state of roads, in a few weeks, Niger may be cut off from other states
Can you rate the performance of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in Niger State in terms of development since the commencement of his first tenure in 2015?
Well, we all live in Niger State – you and I, and we have seen the situation of things and the state that we are in. And we know what we saw before they came on-board in 2015. For me to rate, I will say that the performance of the APC-led government in Niger State is below average because nothing seems to be working or happening. There is no semblance of government; the health facilities are not working, the educational sector has broken down, the civil service has broken down, everything has broken down honestly.
And to make matters worse, you don’t feel government in the state. It is as if there is no government in place. So, one wonders if the governor is being forced on the people. And what is expected is that once one is elected into government, you are just a head, nobody expects you to govern the state all alone. But you should be able to use your intelligence to bring in able and capable hands to help you to pilot the affairs of the state. That is what people do even in the civilised world. So, if you are incapacitated, you should be able to look for people to help you out and still take the credit at the end of the day.
Does this corroborate your earlier statement that the governor need to get people from the PDP and other parties if he must get things right?
No! We didn’t even say from the PDP. You see, Niger State is one state that can boast of people who can help to deliver the dividends of democracy in the state. Look at the educational institutions across the country, Nigerlites abound; look at the Federal Civil Service, Nigerlites abound there. So, the law does not say you must bring in only APC people who cannot perform or deliver. This state belongs to all of us and everyone is interested to see the state develop.
With the outcry from the state government that the Federal Government has abandoned all federal roads in the state and claiming that it has expended billions of naira to remedy some parts of the roads, do you think the amount spent is commensurate with what is on ground?
Hmmmm! From the way things are going, in the next few weeks or more, the state will be virtually cut off from other states in the country. If you look at the Abuja-Minna road, it will soon be cut off, look at the Lambata-Bida road, it is bad. Look at the Bida-Minna road, it is very bad. If you look at the Bida-Lemu road it is bad; the Minna-Kontagora road is terrible and if you look at the Sarkin-Pawa- Kaduna road, that one has even been abandoned. Now, for somebody to say that about N4.6 billion has been expended on the roads in Niger State, then we would have seen it on ground. The truth is, if you expend N1 billion on a project, it will show because N1 billion is not an amount you spend and then you won’t see results. The question to ask should be, was that money really spent? If it was spent, where was it spent? In all these that I have mentioned, where did they spend at least N1 billion and it didn’t show?
But the government says it has worked on the Lambata-Kwakuti and to complete the Kwakuti-Minna axis very soon…
So, does that few kilometers translate to the N4.6 billion? And that also brings us to the point in my earlier press statement where I said the governor promised us “zero potholes” but now the state has potholes everywhere. So, where are all the monies that were spent on filling the potholes? Let’s not even talk about the Minna-Suleja and other roads. What about within the State capital, Minna? There are potholes everywhere but he promised “zero potholes”. This means that the governor is not matching his words with actions. Something must be wrong somewhere.
You just said the governor is not matching his words with actions, are you saying his competence is questionable?
It’s not for me to say. It’s not me that is saying it but it is the reality on ground. It is not me, because nothing is working, and then, if there were some resemblances of competence, then something must have been working somewhere. But every sector has broken down and this means that there is lack of competence.
Every successive governments in Nigeria claimed they will continue from where their predecessors stopped, owing that “government is a continuum”, would you say this government abandoned or continued from where its predecessor (PDP) stopped?
You see, that’s the problem! That is the problem because like you said, government should be a continuous process. A government coming on board should pick up from where the last one stopped and whatever happens, he will take the credit at the end of the day. But you cannot abandon what your predecessor started and then you cannot even start your own, then where are we?
Ordinarily, government is supposed to be a continuous process and if they had continued from where the PDP stopped, then we would have made appreciable progress because the policies and programs left behind by the last administration are by far better than what they think they are implementing. And they are not getting anywhere.
They haven’t built a single housing unit; we built housing units in Kontagora, we built in Bida and in fact, we built two in Minna; we have the M.I. Wushishi and Talba Housing estates. You see, we have added value but they have not. In the health sector; we built hospitals; we built modern hospitals in Nasko, in New Wuse and we built the new wing of the Ante-Natal Hospital in Minna even though the cost of renovating the hospital two years later is more than the cost of building the hospital itself. So, one begins to wonder that a hospital that was built and commissioned, two years later you are spending two times more than the cost of building it to renovate. Then, something must be wrong somewhere.
If you are given an opportunity as PDP Chairman in the state to give the government an advice, what would be your candid advice?
I will advise the governor to bring in able and capable hands to assist him pilot the affairs of the state. That is the starting point, let him bring them in because he alone cannot do it. And, with what we see in his new cabinet list, then it is from fry pan to fire. He will not get anywhere with the kind of officers he has brought on board.
Chairman, talking about security, recently Governor Bello pardoned and released some bandits who had caused mayhem on the people of the state, do you see the move by the governor as a good one or you have a contrary view?
Well, we are watching, the amnesty was granted to over 30 bandits about a month ago. We are watching, let us see whether that will work. If it doesn’t work, at the appropriate time we will give a statement. We will see, maybe he is experimenting and we don’t want to doubt him. Let us allow him and see how the process will come to fruition.
The bandits seem to have reneged on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between them and the government already. A lot of people had earlier envisaged that the bandits would renege and have been proven right. Do you see that as a failure on the part of the government?
If the bandits have reneged, then the government ought to have taken action immediately because it means that the terms and conditions of the amnesty have been breached. So, if it has been breached, the government needs to have taken action immediately on the ground that the bandits have breached the terms and conditions of the peace pact. But if the government has not, then it also brings us to the same issue that the government lacks capacity and not competent. You know, you cannot enter into an agreement with Mr. A and the next thing, Mr. A breaches the agreement and then you are folding your arms. No! You should not, because the laws and agreements are meant to be respected.
What is your call to all and sundry, given the fact that security is central to all human existence?
Like we have always said, security is everyone’s business, if we are not secured we can’t even do the businesses we are doing. In fact, if we are not secured, we can’t even do politics. So, security is not a partisan thing. I call on all Nigerlites to see themselves as security agents to assist the police, the military and other security agencies where necessary so that the activities of these bandits and all criminal elements can be a thing of the past.
How would you rate the media, especially in Nigeria State?
Well, I will be objective because it is my own assessment. I am going to rate the media above 65 to 70 per cent because journalism is dynamic. We can only expect that the media keep improving and the coverage will change for the best. They have been balanced in their reportage; they listen to both and all parties; they have been doing investigative reporting; they have not been biased and have not tilted towards favoring the government or anyone unjustly. I think the performance of the media in the state is excellent. New Telegraph is one papers I read a lot because and it is one of the best.
Fresh fears over funds for Ondo, Kogi
The approval of a N50 billion bond for the Ondo State governor and President Muhammadu Buhari’s N10 billion repayment request for Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, are generating discussions in the polity. ONYEKACHI EZE x-rays the likely implications of such funds on election year
erhaps, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello may not be the first to seek Federal Government bond or refund for federal projects executed in their states, but for the controversy is the timing.
Ondo State will being going to the polls mid-2020 and Akeredolu might be seeking a reelection. He told Ondo State House of Assembly that he needed N50 billion bond to complete ongoing infrastructure projects in the state.
And for Kogi State, the election is on November 16 this year and Bello has already secured the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to seek reelection.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s who is the one making the request on his behalf, told the National Assembly that he needed the sum of N10 billion to offset the cost of projects executed by Kogi State on behalf of the Federal Government.
“Take note also that the said expenditure was authorised by the Federal Government which other 23 states of the federation have also been refunded,” Buhari said in a letter read by the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawal.
A number of state governors have obtained bonds in the past, while until recently, the Federal Government had refunded state governors that undertook the rehabilitation of federal projects in their domains. And as President Buhari had noted, about 23 states have so far been refunded.
But now, the Federal Government has said no more refunds to state governors who rehabilitated federal roads in their states. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola told the House of Representatives on abandoned Federal Government Projects (Works) from 1999 till date, that it was due to the humongous amounts being claimed by the governors after repairing federal roads in their states.
“The states submitted a bill of almost a trillion naira when President Buhari was elected. He asked us to work out what was their entitlement…,” Fashola explained, disclosing that about N44 billion was certified by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to be refunded to the states.
According to him, President Buhari agreed to refund the money but with a caveat to stop rehabilitating federal roads in their domains. “Tell them not to fix my roads again if they are going to claim compensation. If you want to fix it and not ask for compensation, send me what you want to do.
“But if you want compensation, go and mind your business while I mind my business because I have inherited enough debts!” he added. The state of federal roads across the country does not reflect intervention of any type.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the N10 billion request by President Buhari is to pay for “phantom projects” because there was no federal project executed by Governor Bello for which Buhari is seeking a refund. The party accused the president of misleading the National Assembly.
Said the PDP: “It is scandalous that the Buhari presidency, with its claims of transparency and integrity, would seek to mislead the National Assembly by asserting that the fund is for projects done by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government, when in reality no one can point to any such project executed by Governor Yahaya Bello in the last four years.
“Such action by Mr. President further confirms that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is directly in league with Governor Yahaya Bello to strangulate the people of Kogi State.
“If the Buhari presidency means well for Kogi State, it should reword its request and put the interest of the masses ahead of all selfish and parochial political considerations, particularly as the state approaches a critical election in which the people have made up their minds to vote out Governor Yahaya Bello.
“Mr. President cannot claim to be unaware of the critical situation of workers in Kogi State. He cannot claim to be unaware that workers in Kogi State are being owed, in some cases up to 36 months, and that retirees and seniors are dying over non payments of their pensions after giving the best of their lives in public service.
“The PDP therefore urges President Buhari to resist attempts by his handlers and Governor Bello to drag his presidency into this shameful attempt to steal fund that ought to go to the suffering masses in Kogi State.”
This is the same way the N50 billion bond approved by the Ondo State House of Assembly for Governor Akeredolu is generating controversies. The state chapter of PDP said part of the fund would go into the governor’s second term project.
Zadok Akintoye, the party’s Director of Media and Publicity, also said the bond would further plunge the state into huge debt.
“While we are well aware that states may access loans from the capital market to finance projects that may not be covered by available resources, our concern is that our dear Ondo State is doing so at a time when its financial inflows from Federal Allocation, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and other earnings from past investments of the state, are at a fairly steady level.
“Considering our present domestic debt profile of about N52 billion (as at 2018) and an external debt profile of a out $50 million, it is worrisome to see that the Akeredolu-led government is resorting to further borrowing rather than reducing the debt per revenue burden on the state.
“We also note the quick passage of the bill by the state House of Assembly authorising the governor to access this loan and would like to draw the attention of this honorable members vested with the mandate of the people to act, speak and defend the interest of our people, to the failure of the executive arm of government to publicly present a detailed and audited account of funds received and spent on the behalf of the people since this government came into being,” PDP demanded.
The state government, however, insisted that the bond would be for the completion of ongoing infrastructure projects and to fund new ones to be initiated by the administration. The state Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, said the revenue of the state has dwindled.
“There was a time some states were collecting N15 to 20 billion and I know of course at a point that this state collected N13 billion because there was money. FAAC (Federal Account Allocation Committee) at a point distributed close to N900 billion but now what is distributed?
“I don’t think this government has received up to N6 billion in a single month from FAAC since it came on board. It is as low as N4 billion in some cases which mainly went into payment of workers’ salaries including seven months arrears out of which six months had been paid.
“Do we now complain that because we are paying salaries we will not construct roads, upgrade our hospitals and desirable structures will not be put in place?” he asked. Ojogo explained that rather than obtaining bank loans, a bond is the best way out because of the high interest rate.
“The best way to fund a project is only through the bonds because the maximum interest rate is between 14 and 16 per cent. But if you go to the bank, it will attract 19 and in some cases 20, 21 per cent. So, it is of no burden to the state. This bond is targeted at specific projects.
“It will be highly unfortunate if with the zeal that the contractors have been deploying themselves to the state, lack of funds hinders what has been put in place,” Ojogo said.
The fears being expressed is that such fund would be used for vote buying during election. Politicians no longer snatch ballot boxes because of the futility of the exercise. The easiest way now is voter inducement.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has identified vote buying as the greatest problem affecting the nation’s electoral process. This he said, was perpetrated by politicians through various methods, including sandwiching naria notes between two slices of bread.
“When I talk about sandwich we are not talking of bread but ways politicians induce voters by sandwiching naira notes in two slices of bread. I am talking of sandwich not as food but as tool used by politicians for voting exercise,” he said.
Other forms this is perpetrated, according to Prof. Yakubu include branded food items, kitchen utensils, automobiles, clothing, and toiletries.
“Vote buying is not acceptable; it must never be allowed to define our elections. It is illegal and morally wrong. It denies citizens quality representation and gives us bad name internationally.” This is the danger of allowing politicians to have access to so much funds on election year.
Incidentally, President Buhari who refused to release bailout fund accruing to Kogi State in 2015 because it was close to election period is the one requesting for N10 billion from National Assembly for an APC government in the same state barely a month to an election.
Lawmakers decry low fund released to agriculture sector
awmakers in Anambra State on Friday lamented the low fund released from the 2019 budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector by state government.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Mr. John Nwokoye (Awka North), made the observation at the ongoing 2020 proposed budget defense by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Nwokoye decried as low the N223 million released to the agriculture sector out of N2.6billion budgeted for the sector in 2019. He said that N45million was released out of N200 million budgeted for Anambra rice project.
“Going by the records before the committee, low or no funds was released to most of the items budgeted for in 2019 for the Agriculture Ministry.
“The funds released from the allocation signaled a not-too-good future for the state as it cannot change the face of agriculture as expected.
“Agriculture is one of the legacy projects of this administration and it requires fund to fully revitalise the sector to play its role in the state’s economy.
Hon. Nonso’s Igwe (Ogbaru Constituency) also decried the deliberate delay in the release of allocated funds to the sector, saying it was affecting the proper implementation of policies.
According to him, it is grossly inadequate to release less than 15 per cent of the money allocated to the sector as it will hinder the development of agriculture in the state.
Mr. Emmanuel Nwafor (Orumba South), advocated proper monitoring and tracking of the allocation to achieve the thrust of the present administration’s agricultural policy.
Responding, Mr. Nnamdi Onukwuba, the Commissioner, Ministry for Agriculture said the ministry had been relying on donor funds and grants to carry out projects and programmes in the ministry.
Onukwuba said they carried out significant programmes and built social infrastructure for farmers in selected areas with the grants.
He said that the ministry was still expecting funds to be released from the office of the Accountant General before the end of the financial year.
Wada: Achuba’s impeachment, illegal, undemocratic, unacceptable
Mr Musa Wada, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for November 16, Governorship Election in Kogi, has described impeachment of the state Deputy Governor, Elder Simon Achuba, by the State House of Assembly as illegal and undemocratic.
Wada said this in a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Public Communications Committee of the PDP Campaign Council, Mr Austin Okai on Saturday in Lokoja.
Wada said the state lawmakers set aside the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry that investigated the sundry allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Achuba and exonerated him of any wrong doing.
The PDP governorship candidate said the action of the lawmakers’ amounted “complete miscarriage of justice.”
“The purported impeachment is unacceptable, illegal, immodest, null and void. The decision is a complete departure from the recommendation of the panel that investigated the allegations,” he said.
Wada challenged the state government and the lawmakers to make public the reports of the panel constituted by the State Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, to investigate the allegations as part of the process of impeachment.
The PDP candidate urged the leadership of state not to replace Achuba to avoid “wanton political profligacy”.
He also described as haphazard, decision of the state government to swear in the governor’s former Chief of Staff, Chief Edward Onoja, on Saturday, as Achuba’s replacement.
Wada cautioned the state government against over-heating the polity in the state.
He urged PDP supporters to remain calm and observe the drama playing but resolve to vote for good government in the next political dispensation in the state.
Edo 2020: We’ll teach Obaseki bitter side of politics –Idahagbon
Mr. Henry O. Idahagbon was the Attorney-General during Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s administration in Edo State. In this Interview, he spoke on the current crisis in Edo APC, among other issues. Excerpts…
There was news making the rounds that your health was failing and you were rushed abroad for treatment. How true is this?
Even if it happened, I am human, so as a human being, I can be sick and anybody can fall sick. I am an adult, I can be ill. But it can be verified, London is not very far, anyone can go and find out if I was in the hospital. In any case, I didn’t go for any treatment, London is not a place where facts can be hidden, it is not like Nigeria. I went to London because my son gained admission into a university, and I had to be there. I took him to the primary school, I took him to the secondary school, so now that he got admitted into the university, it is my duty as a father to see him and congratulate him. I was just there for my son, I went to play the role of a responsible parent. So, if my distractors were wishing me sickness in London, I leave them in the hands of God. God gives life, he gives good health, and I thank Him for the adequate good healthy He has given to me.
How do you see the statement credited to Governor Godwin Obaseki that his second term is not negotiable?
There is no fighting whatsoever; he is free to say anything if that is what he thinks of himself. Obaseki is a very poor student who has refused to learn the political process. It is unfortunate that he is taking the goodwill of Edo people and the political class for granted. Obaseki got the governorship on a platter, he didn’t work for it, he didn’t know how he became governor. He woke up suddenly and became the governor and he thinks it is that easy. Let me tell you that it is easier to win a first term election than win a second term election. When you are contesting the first term, people don’t know you, people voted for you based on the promises you made, but when you have spent three years in office, we now know you. We now know that Obaseki is capable of sleeping at ma- j o r m e e t – ings and e v e n t s . P e o p l e n o w know that there is a disparity between a spoken word and performance. Like Adams Oshiomhole often say that government is not about earmarking, is about eye marking, tell me one single project that he has executed that can be eye marked, everything about Obaseki is earmark. Edo people want eye mark. The eye mark is that Benin – City became one giant River Niger whenever the rain falls, some of the roads he constructed have been washed away because they were poorly executed. He gives out contracts without supervision, those are the things that we can eye mark in this government. You can fool some people some time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. We were deceived three years ago, we can’t be deceived the second time. He has randomly condemned the political class in Edo State; he has called us thieves, robbers, greedy disgruntled people, beggars and all kinds of names. Thank God he has not being sharing money with us; he should tell Edo people what he is doing with their money.
What if he wins?
This time around he will not have an easy ride, yes it is not negotiable, he is going to vote for himself. How many of his family members will vote for Obaseki? I spoke with one of them recently and he told me to stop calling him Godwin Obaseki, that I should just call him God-win. He can become boastful and says whatever he likes, it is a democracy, the minority will have their say, and the majority will have their way. He can talk as much as he likes, but on the day of the primary election, we will teach him the bitter side of politics, a political lesson he will not forget in his lifetime.
Some people have described the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) as disgruntled people. What is your take?
He is very free. If we are disgruntled we have the right to be disgruntled. We brought him from political obscurity to national and International political limelight. Then after doing that for him he abandoned us, called us names and he expects us to be happy with him? We cannot be happy with him. The only thing that could have pacified us is if he had performed. In the whole of metropolitan Benin – City, Obaseki has only done three roads. If you know of any road that he has done, I challenge the ingrates and his errand boys to come out and tell Edo people. I mean major roads, not the 200 unfit roads that had been washed away by the rains.
The majority of Edo people are saying that Obaseki is doing very well. Don’t you agree?
Pride goes before a fall. When the chips are down we will know what to do. We know what we did three years ago, and we know what to do again. Let them go ahead and be praising him, NUT has given him award, let NUJ give him award, let NMA give him award, let NWWW give him award, we don’t care. Oshiomhole in order to get Obaseki to be governor three years ago, worked on the centripetal and centrifugal forces, he brought together all these forces, he brought together the men, the women, the boys, the girls, the youth, the traditional institutions, he brought everybody together and offended the majority of the political class in Edo just for Obaseki to be where he is today. Today, all those forces are fighting among themselves because they have been used and abandoned, they have seen that is the nature and character of Obaseki: to use people and dump.
A group of of APC members placed an advertorial disowning EPM. Are you comfortable with that?
That is the handiwork of the state chairman who does not know what he is doing. Our state chairman is a man that has never contested any election in his lifetime, that is a man that has never won his ward in his local government. He is the worst state chairman Edo state and Nigeria has ever produced. Can you compare him to the vibrant PDP state party chairman? You can see Chief Dan Orbih going everywhere criticizing, doing his job as an opposition. Let no one be deceived, the EPM is the conscience of the Edo APC, we are the conscience. We have a party that had been decimated by the state chairman, and we have a government that has lost touch with the people. The EPM is the sole of APC in Edo State, we will determine who becomes the next governor of Edo State in 2020. We told our state chairman over two months ago to call a leadership meeting of the party where we can tell ourselves the truth, till this moment, he has not been able to do it. Our state party chairman is a failed chairman, he cannot summon the courage to do it, and he has become the mouthpiece of the governor. The party is superior to the governor; the state chairman is bigger than the governor. He supposed to seat in his office and call the governor to come and explain his government policies. He has forgotten that there is a great difference between the party and the governor. In a democratic setting, the party is supreme. In any case, when we get to the bridge we know how to cross it.
Edo people will decide Obaseki’s fate, not rebellious group –Edaghese
Mr. Edaghese Matthew is an Edo-based lawyer and human rights activist. In this interview, he spoke on the political crisis in Edo APC towards the 2020 gubernatorial election and the need for the party to put its house in order. Excerpts…
What is your take and interpretation of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s words when he said; “my second term bid is not negotiable”?
When interpreting a statement, we look at the contextual usage, the intension or intendment of person who made that statement. It is the intention that counts more than the meaning you read into a statement. From my own perspective, he would have been saying; ‘I would not negotiate with those who claim it is their birthright to allocate powers to people’. If you look at the history of political drama that is unfolding, you can easily conclude that he was referring to those self-acclaimed godfathers. He may be saying that, if he doesn’t negotiate with them, his chances of becoming a second-term governor would not be dashed, or it could be a mirage. He couldn’t have been saying that the people that have the powers to hire and fire, people who lead through the ballots are not going to be negotiated with, that couldn’t have been his intention. I want to believe that what he meant is that he has a pact with the people.
With what is gradually playing out, don’t you think that the battle line has been drawn between Obaseki and the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM)?
The EPM, the way I look at it, is a pressure group, and a pressure group has to operate on its own. I do not think it is proper for a political party to have a pressure group within the party; that will amount to working against the party leadership or the structure. That itself appears to me a rebel group. If there is a rebellion and the rebels are trying to pull down the roof in a political party that they belong to, for the reasons that they have stated, that the governor must not come back, it is now left for the governor to act. The governor is the political head of the state, by virtue of the constitution. If they do not want to sheath their sword, he has to stamp his authority. The governor can say; ‘well, I will not be conditioned to succumb to a certain group of persons’. I think that is why Obaseki is asserting himself politically and it is only wise that he does that.
As a voter and somebody who has been following the proceedings in the Edo State, do you think Governor Obaseki deserves a second term?
If we go by public opinion, what the people of Edo State are saying, in terms of evaluating his performance and going by what the people are saying about Godwin Obaseki, I think his ratings in the court of public opinion are already above average. And if that is the situation in terms of assessments, politically, such a person stands a chance of being re-elected, because the incident of the election will be determined by the people who are the governed. And if they are rating you high based on your performance, definitely the coast is clear for a possible re-election.
As it is, the powers that be may frustrate him during the primary election. If he doesn’t get the APC ticket, do you think Obaseki should defect to another political party?
I do not want to believe that any certain individual within a political party have the monopoly of power to dictate against the will of other members of the party. Talking about the congress, a party is made up of people. The leadership is just people who are put there to pilot the affairs of the party, not to dictate for the party. If you are looking at democracy the way it is unadulterated, the leader of the party has no option but to bow to the will of the people who made up the party, and that is the congress. The congress is the supreme body in a political party. And if the people of a political party say this is what we want, I do not think it is possible for the party leadership to go the opposite direction.
Governor Godwin Obaseki rcently sacked some council chairmen and secretaries as well as some of his political appointees. Isn’t this a minus for him?
They said he is doing that to form a political structure, but I do not agree with people saying that. It is known that the entire APC political structures in the state are fully behind the governor. We are not aware of any local chapter or the state chapter of the party working against the party, so I do not think anyone is against Obaseki. The entire party system in the state has been singing a harmonious song in support of the governor, and the people kept saying that Obaseki is the preferred choice. So, we are not aware of people fighting him. If at all they are, they do not control the party structure in the state; they are only aggrieved for their personal interest. They do not hold any meaningful position in the party, so we cannot be associating them with having control of the party. They are party members not the controllers of the structure. Look, let me tell you, as governor of the state, his powers are enormous, he can decide to hire and fire anybody, especially if he thinks that the person is no longer relevant to his government. It is not a thing to be debated or argued about, government position or office is not a family property or personal empire. To me, I do not think it is aimed at fighting Oshiomhole and his group. It is not an exclusive right of some people to hold on to government positions; there are others who are qualified to work in those positions too. So, if you are asked to vacate the seat, it is not something that will generate heat. I’m seriously in support of the governor in his strive. Those who are against the wheel of progress in the Niger-Delta should be exposed and made to face the full wrath of the law. Any attempt to deny Obaseki a second term ticket, will mean denying the entire Edo State people the dividend of democracy. That will amount to setback for the people.
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