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Editorial

Nigeria and N25.7trn debt

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Nigeria and N25.7trn debt

T

he Debt Management Office (DMO), last week, declared that the Federal Government and 36 states of the federation incurred N25.7 trillion debt as at end of June 2019.

Nigeria’s total domestic (N15,628,758.66) and foreign debt (N6,750,907.61) was put at N22.38 trillion by the DMO at the end of June 2018.

This means that the country’s debt increased by N3.32 trillion in one year.

According to debt figures released by the DMO, the country’s total foreign debt stood at N8.32 trillion ($27.16 billion) while domestic debt was put at N17.38 trillion. Out of the total debt, the Federal Government alone owed N20.42 trillion, while the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are owing N5.28 trillion.

DMO stated that the debt which rose by N3.32 trillion in one year was accounted for largely by domestic debt which grew by over N1.65 trillion, while external debt also increased by over N1.57 trillion during the same period.

In the 2019 budget of the Federal Government, N2.254 trillion was set aside for debt servicing. As at June 2019, about N1.109 trillion had been spent on servicing debt.

In the N10.33 trillion 2020 Budget recently submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, N2.45 trillion is for debt servicing.

While a section of the citizenry sees nothing wrong with the accumulating debt currently put at over N25.7 trillion, others are, however, worried that the rate at which the federal and state governments are burrowing into various credit facilities, the future of the country is consciously being mortgaged. 

The fear being expressed is evident on the fact that considering the huge sum borrowed so far, there is actually no corresponding infrastructural development to measure up with it. This actually calls for concern as the Federal Government, especially under the current administration, has often make noise about borrowing to develop infrastructure.

With major roads across the country in their unprecedented worse state, and nothing to write about electricity supply as well as other public institutions begging for attention, one is left with no choice to really question the specific areas the funds so far borrowed has been channelled into.

Though the IMF welcomed the move by Nigeria to embark on more borrowing, it stressed that such funds be used for infrastructure and social spending even as it urged the country to broaden her tax base.

During its meeting in September, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) noted that the rising public debt was one of the factors hindering the nation’s growth prospects.

Today, most states are heavily indebted to banks and foreign institutions.

Despite the semblance of a robust economy under Buhari administration, the decision to deliberately pile up debts under the guise of infrastructure development and economic stimulation is already creating an enormous milieu of uncertainty.

While Nigerians actually believed that things were beginning to look up for the country especially with the rising foreign reserves, decelerating inflation and curtailed widespread corruption, the rising debt is casting doubt on the nation’s future.

The future of the country is obviously at stake if nothing is done urgently to cut down the rising debt profile, which the administration and a few others find very convenient to defend based on the simple fact that prevailing economic indices still allows for such projection.

Part of the feeble defence for this long-term entrapment remains the passionate attachment to sustainability even as the Federal Government has adopted a new debt management strategy, which has the objective of reducing the ratio of domestic debt in the portfolio, while the ratio of external debt increases – with a target of 60 per cent domestic and 40 per cent external.

In spite of this defence and plans to raise funds through issuance of Eurobonds, the fact remains that accumulating huge debt within a period of four years calls to mind this administration’s right to question the credibility of its predecessor, which only had a liability of N7 trillion accumulated in four years.

For an administration that came into power under the slogan of prudence and other cost cutting projections, it is indeed alarming that the sovereignty and future of the country is gradually being mortgaged by those who should know better.

While it is good enough to criticise former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for borrowing to pay salaries, the indiscriminate approach in the current dispensation as regards borrowing to fund infrastructure which are not even there, is also becoming worrisome.

Even while the dust raised by the current debt profile is yet to settle, the Federal Government still seeks more loans from both the World Bank and any other institution willing to offer.

While not ruling out borrowing to develop the economy, we, however, advise that caution should be applied and such development spread over time instead of piling up debts to get everything done at once.

Rather than rush to do everything just to get the credit, institutions should be built to ensure that whoever takes over from the government of today continues from where it stops.

We also believe it is time the government put into use whatever has been recovered from corrupt public office holders.

We call on the state and federal governments to be cautious in their quest for more loans.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Arlen Kushiner

    November 12, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    very cool

  2. Lance Vukich

    November 12, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    very cool

  3. Terrence Southall

    November 12, 2019 at 11:21 am

    very cool

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Editorial

NFF and Nigeria’s string of poor football results

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NFF and Nigeria’s string of poor football results

 

 

N

igerian football suffered a deep setback at weekend as the country’s U-23 team failed in its bid to secure a ticket to the football event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

 

 

The sad development came just few weeks after the country’s female team, the Super Falcons, failed in their bid to make it to Tokyo.

 

 

Two weeks ago, we warned that picking a ticket to Tokyo Games football event won’t be easy because there was no hiding place for Nigeria as defending champions of the event which is taking place in Egypt.

 

 

With top African football countries like Cote d’Ivore, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa on parade, we knew the tournament would be tough. We advised the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to give the team all the motivation the players needed to excel in Egypt because the Tokyo Games could produce next generation of Super Eagles stars and the U-23 qualifiers should be taken seriously in the interest of football development in the country.

 

 

No doubt, the chieftains of the federation did not heed our warning as the Olympics Eagles crumbled in the preliminaries. In the first match, Nigeria lost 1-0 to Cote d’ Ivoire, bounced back to beat Zambia 3-1 and in the decisive match against South Africa, Nigeria again failed to get the desired result by playing a goalless draw with a team already on four points while the U-23 Eagles were on three points. Nigeria needed an outright win to move on but got a draw to crash out as Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa booked a semifinal berth while host Egypt and Ghana achieved similar feat in the other group. Three of the remaining four teams will earn automatic slots for Tokyo while the 4th team will engage in a playoff with an Asian representative for a final chance to get the ticket.

 

 

We must state clearly that the ouster of the U-23 team is unacceptable based on the talents available to coach Imama Amapakabo and by extension, the NFF. Sad enough, the Ivorien boys edged the country out in the race for the male football event just as the U-23 female team of same country denied the Falcons a place at the Tokyo Games.

 

 

We make bold to say poor planning and bad decisions administratively and technically affected the two teams in their bid to play Olympics football next year. Since 2008 in Beijing, the Falcons are yet to play at the Olympic Games. The male team that won the U-23 AFCON four years ago under coach Samson Siasia and went ahead to clinch Bronze at the Rio 2016 Games also failed. It is indeed a shame.

 

In the first match against Cote d Ivoire, two key players skipper Azubike Okechukwu and Taiwo Awoniyi were not available due to club commitments but we recall telling coach Amapakabo not to fully rely on the professionals for the battle in Egypt. FIFA do not reckon with Olympics football and so if the coach was not sure, he should have arranged for reliable options. We expected the coach to have built his team around some home based professionals and some players in the just concluded Higher institution football league.

 

 

 

Top players like captain Azubuike Okechukwu (Turkey), defenders Anthony Izuchukwu (Turkey), Sincere Seth (Turkey) and Olisah Ndah (Remo Stars), midfielders Kelechi Nwakali (Spain), Muyiwa Olabiran (Turkey) and Ndifreke Effiong (Norway), and forwards Taiwo Awoniyi (Germany) and Orji Okwonkwo (Italy) were in the final list for the event but they lacked cohesion and understanding needed to excel in Egypt.

 

 

It is important to state that other teams still in the race have a better structure than Nigeria. Zambian team that crashed out along with Nigeria had been together for over one year. We hereby charge the NFF to use the last U-20 team to form the nucleus of the next U-23 team. They could add more players from academies and higher institutions to beef the team and groom the players for not less than two years through periodical camping and friendly matches.

 

 

Some of the players who featured in Egypt for Nigeria should be monitored as they could break into the Super Eagles. Nwakali, Awoniyi and Okechukwu are players in this category of prospective Eagles stars. Coach Amakapabo has had a bad run in the past two months. Under him, Nigeria failed to make impact in WAFU Cup, crumbled in the preliminaries of the CHAN competition and now, he was also in charge as the U-23 team failed to win a ticket to the Olympics. Amapakabo should be sent out on coaching course abroad because it is obvious he is deficient like many other Nigerian coaches.

 

 

It was good to read the reaction of Minister of Sports Sunday Dare who has vowed to take administrative and technical steps to stop the strings of poor run in the country’s football.

 

 

We enjoin the NFF to focus more on schools and the grassroots to develop football rather than always be dependent on players abroad to achieve results. With good planning, we believe this can be done with ease. 

 

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Editorial

Bizarre hate speech proposal by Senate

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Bizarre hate speech proposal by Senate

The Senate last week introduced a bizarre angle to the hate speech theory of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government with a bill sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdulahi (APC, Niger North). The bill, which was introduced and read for the first time, provided life jail, five years imprisonment, depending on the degree of the hate speech for offenders.

It also provided an option of a fine of N10 million for those found guilty of the offence of hate speech. Most curious of the provisions of the bill is the one that stated: “Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.”

The establishment of the “Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches” that will enforce the law on hate speeches in the country is also in the proposal. According to the sponsor of the bill, the objectives include ensuring the elimination of all forms of hate speeches; promoting the elimination of all forms of hate speeches against persons or ethnic groups; as well as advising the Federal Government on the matter.

By his definition, hate speech includes comments “that insult people for their religion, ethnic, linguistic affiliation, racial contempt, among others.” We are aware that Sabi and his colleagues made a similar effort in the 8th Senate which fell flat on its face. Maybe, emboldened by the new drive by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on the hate speech theory, Sabi has brought it back.

The minister had few weeks ago announced gleefully that the fines for hate speech by broadcast stations have been increased to N5 million. We are not worried by the cocktail of drama at the Senate over the theory. We are not even worried by the elevation of the so-called hate speech to a national issue. We are disturbed that such a flimsy issue should be of importance to the Federal Government and even the Senate. In a democratic setting, such a nebulous theory should not even be brought up.

We are more disappointed that a government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that rode to power with overbearing and even threatening messages against the then government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, could turn around now to be legislating on hate speech. We cannot forget in a haste the use of languages like blood soaking the baboon and the monkey, body bags, drunken fisherman and all of such, used by the leaders of the party in the run up to the 2015 and 2019 elections.

They were not considered hate speech advocates then by the government in power. We cannot forget also that it was the length the APC leaders went to paint the PDP as demons that eventually demarketed the PDP and brought hatred upon it by Nigerians. Perhaps, we may need to refer to a comment by an APC chieftain in Niger State, Jonathan Vatsa, last week, to remind the APC, the Senate and the executive of the depth of their slanderous campaigns against the PDP, which led them to victory. Vatsa was a former commissioner and Publicity Secretary of the APC in Niger State. He said: “We (APC) brought hate speech to Nigerian politics and I am one of them.

As a publicity secretary of the APC, I know how we used hate speech to mobilize Nigerians against the then ruling party, and it paid off because Nigerians eventually hated the PDP… APC as a political party brought hate to politics in form of propaganda.” We couldn’t have captured it better than Vatsa. That is the core of the argument.

The APC should not insult Nigerians with the hate speech theory. We believe that it is hiding from the truth. We believe that within democracy, free speech is key. Anything short of allowing Nigerians to express themselves freely is no more democracy. In the history of Nigeria, we cannot recall where the socalled hate speech has caused immense harm to the people. What has caused sorrow, pain and anguish to Nigerians is bad governance, grinding poverty and the cluelessness of successive governments on addressing issues affecting citizens of the country. Be it Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery or similar vices, it goes down to bad governance, poverty and lack of space for survival for the teeming youths of the country. Hate speech has no role in any of those.

We are inclined to believe that the hate speech theory is targeted at opponents of the government and the opposition. As the PDP pointed out last week, the Hate Speech ‘Prohibition’ Bill, was targeted at voices of dissent and opponents of the ruling APC. We are against any action that divides Nigerians or hate speech capable of stoking crisis. But legitimising hate speech shouldn’t be the priority of the Senate.

Death penalty is already becoming an outdated punishment across the world. There are critical issues the Senate should focus its energy on. There are existing laws in Nigeria that deal with issues of hate speech. Nigeria has nothing to do with such fascist proposition from the Senate. We call on the Senate to give the bill the treatment it deserves – condemn it to the dustbin of history.

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Editorial

CBN’s intervention in Nigeria’s textile industry

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CBN’s intervention in Nigeria’s textile industry

 

 

S

ome of the policies being propelled by the current administration to grow the economy are certainly with far-reaching and sustainable developmental indices.

Despite what appears like an endless privation, every action actually consolidates Federal Government’s quest for full scale self-reliance, job creation and economic growth.

 

 

This again was recently demonstrated by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) revelation a fortnight ago that it had so far released N50 billion to stakeholders in the textile industry out of the N100 billion earmarked to revamp the sector.

 

 

Obviously, with such a gesture, the country, in a couple of months, may begin to witness a gradual return to the days when textile factories dotted the landscape.

 

 

While confirming the release of N19 billion for the same purpose, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, whose passion to see this project through has been limitless, took another landmark step to give impetus to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 003, which compels both military and para-military bodies to source their official clothing locally.

 

 

The latest action is an offshoot or a continuation of promises made in the not-too-distant past when the governor shut access to foreign exchange against importers of textile materials and palm oil.

 

 

For the record, Nigeria’s textile industry in the past was the envy of the continent, but the profligacy that dominated past administrations sank a sector that once reigned as the highest employer of labour.

 

 

Then, Kaduna and Kano, down to Lagos in the South-West and Aba in the South-East boasted of textile mill factories that equally provided thousands of direct and indirect employment to residents in those locations. Sadly, those factories have either been taken over as mere warehouses or locked up with the equipment vandalised over the years.

 

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills in operations, which employed close to over 450,000 people. By today, if we had nurtured and encouraged the textile industry, that sector will be employing millions.

 

 

The erstwhile textile industry – which had companies such as United Textiles in Kaduna, Supertex Limited, Afprint, International Textile Industry (ITI), Texlon, Aba Textiles, Asaba Textile Mills Ltd, Enpee and Aswani Mills, amongst others contributed over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. The industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across the country.

 

 

The death of the sector is quite lamentable in the sense that it was largely due to open conspiracy encouraged by government through unfavourable policies and large scale smuggling.

 

 

As at today, about 19 states in the country can conveniently grow cotton. Even when the sector boomed in the 60s and 70s, the operators never sourced raw material, which is mainly cotton, outside the country.

 

It was basically for this reason that the apex bank’s decision to place a complete ban on access to forex meant for all forms of textile material import and going ahead to direct dealers to desist from granting such importers access to same in any of their windows, was greeted with commendation and seen as a step to put an end to the excessive misuse of the country’s scarce foreign exchange.

 

 

Even though the apex bank’s decision might seem to be on the hardline to those who benefit from the detestable arrangement of the past, the fact remains that in a very short while, the gains of every policy will become obvious for all to see.

 

 

This has been evident from the position of body of Nigerian major industrialists, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), which said that local sourcing of raw materials by its members had increased significantly.

 

 

In effect, what the country suffers today is as a result of mismanagement of resources when it was available in abundance and sustaining same approach to governance even when it was no longer convenient to be committed into the greed of the past.

 

 

The CBN is primarily fulfilling its pledge to textile manufacturers to provide them with loans at single digits rate, to refit, retool and upgrade their factories in order to produce high quality textile materials for local and export market.

 

 

While the current step being taken by the Federal Government through the apex bank looks good enough to bring back the sector, it should, however, bear in mind that the textile policy that was prepared during the last administration should not be jettisoned as the entire value chain from farm to shop is captured there.

 

 

Besides the huge capital flight in an economy that has gone under due to excesses, job losses and closure of small and even large scale industries have also been a big problem to contend with.

 

 

As the apex bank delivers on its promise, we advise that the process should be closely monitored and beneficiaries guided so as to ensure that the expected result emerges.

Why we commend CBN for performing its role to ensure the economy bounces back, we also advise other government agencies to initiate programmes that will complement government’s effort to rebuild the country.

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Editorial

Reducing judges’ workload

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Reducing judges’ workload

Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho has said the obvious when he declared that the court he presided over as the first among equals is currently overburdened with about 116,623 pending cases across its divisions nationwide.

Speaking in Abuja recently during a special court session marking the commencement of the Federal High Court’s new legal year 2019/2020 at the court’s headquarters, Justice Tsoho lamented that the plight of judges may have been forgotten especially as there was no provision in the 2019 Budget for the appointment of new judges for the court.

This, he said, was a major challenge bedeviling administration of justice in the country.

“It is pertinent at this juncture to highlight the status of litigation before this court in the past legal year. From the reports received, about 116,623 cases are pending in the Federal High Court.

“About 16,144 cases were filed in this quarter alone in which 12,692 have been disposed of. It is obvious that the judges were overburdened with work in the last legal year. We therefore need to engage more judicial officers to help out,” Justice Tsoho said.

But beyond Justice Tsoho’s declaration that there is the need for more judges to come on board via appointment and the role by the Federal Government to make provision for such appointment in the budget, inadequate courtrooms, lack of financial autonomy, delays, frivolous applications, congestion of cases and poor condition of service especially when judges still record proceedings in long hands are other problems occasioning snail speed justice system in the country.

Justice Tsoho’s argument that judges are overburdened with thousands of cases for inadequate judicial officers is just one of the numerous challenges the judiciary had encountered and more challenges are still mounting.

For instance, cost of justice and access to justice had also remained elusive contrary to the mantra that the court is the last hope of a common man.

Therefore, accessing justice shouldn’t be dependent on financial status or social class. If the welfare of the people is the primary aim of the government, nothing will stop such government from funding financial incapable citizens to engage a lawyer of their choice and not be constrained to the available options in the name of pro bono which wouldn’t suit them.

This, of course, won’t work in a system where taxes aren’t paid accordingly as when due.

Although the conducts of the Supreme Court, some states and Federal High Courts have appreciated in terms of access to justice, those of the Court of Appeal and the Magistrate/Customary/Area Courts have depreciated.

Also, prosecution of civil and criminal cases still linger for so long a time except in places like Lagos State, other states still hold criminal suspects via committal proceedings longer than necessary.

There should be urgent clarion call beyond appointment of judges as being canvassed by Justice Tsoho as dearth of judicial officers was not the only factor staunching speed of administration of justice in the country.

Notwithstanding, we need more voices that would take up the gauntlet as being done by Justice Tsoho to salvage what is left of the judiciary if our democracy must thrive.

Besides, we believe that what the judiciary need is holistic approach to actually stem the tide of snail speed justice system by rising above primordial tendencies of delay just as our laws have also remained substantially static.

We also believe that apart from appointment of more judges to fast track justice delivery system, there is the need to ensure that our scope of law is steadily expanded. There should also be the decentralization of the Supreme Court, creation of more divisions of the Court of Appeal and appointment of more Justices to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

It is also time for the Federal Government to consider building new courtrooms and employing judges or establishing courts for specific subject matters. Also, there should be a timeframe to conclude a suit at the trial court.

However, with statistics provided by the Chief Judge Tsoho, we believe that the judges are already overworked and unless mechanism are put in place to put the challenges on check, the backlog of cases will keep adding up as the end result would not only be unrealistic verdict coming from the courts but a self-help as litigants would not wait for justice which can no longer come from the court.

To us, we agree with the Chief Judge in toto when he said “by any standard, the caseload of the judges you see here today is among the heaviest and the most complex across many jurisdictions in the country.”

While we are suggesting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to be made attractive to litigants, there is also an urgent need to appoint more judges if the nation’s justice must be at par with other jurisdictions of the world.

It is time we made our judiciary work by ensuring ADR which is quicker and cheaper more litigant-friendly with a view to making judges embrace the process to alleviate the challenges which about 116,623 cases have posed to the administration of justice.

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Editorial

The NPFL and the country’s football growth

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The NPFL and the country’s football growth

The administration of football in Nigeria cannot be evaluated with the performances of Nigerian players abroad or the exploits of the senior national team in which most of the players are groomed abroad. We can look at developmental process and the transition of age grade players to rate the standard and progress of the game but definitely, the results posted by the Super Eagles are not the yardsticks

Raising a formidable U-17 and U-20 from the schools and football academies could be counted as success while providing template for transition could be another big plus for the administrators of the game.

We believe one of the major ways of determining the growth of the game in the country is the league and the League Management Company (LMC) has not been consistent to deliver the league we could be proud of, at least so far. The LMC in some cases show ‘flashes’ of brilliance but overall, the body has not performed up to expectations.

For example, it was a rude shock that the domestic league was delayed for over 10 weeks and the body did not come out to explain the reason to the public. Followers of the game have been told that the English Premier League (EPL) is the model for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) but in concrete terms, the two leagues are not the same.

Obviously, no one is expecting the standard and operations to be 100 per cent same, but there should be signs to show that the NPFL is following the EPL model. The EPL starts every second weekend in August over the years and it was so for the ongoing 2019/2020 season, but the NPFL did not start on November 3, all thanks to the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, who spoke with all those in charge and ordered them to commence the season. The fixtures of the EPL came out few weeks after the last season but the full fixtures of the NPFL was not out even on the first match day of the season. Too bad! It is more painful to recall that there was an abridged league to align the country’s league with that of Europe yet, the NPFL was already derailing this season back to its usual state of ‘anytime will do’ for the kick-off.

We observed that there are casualties of these anomalies already as two of the country’s representatives – Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes – crashed out of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup respectively in early stage due to the poor fitness level of the players. Enyimba also crashed out of the CAF Champions League but they were good enough to drop to the Confederation Cup, where they have booked a place in the group stage.

Another casualty was the home-based Eagles that crashed out to Togo in the preliminaries of CHAN tournament, the continental fiesta for home-based players on the continent.

We commend Rangers of Enugu and Enyimba of Aba for making it to the group stage of the Confederation Cup. The two teams should double efforts to progress to the final of this competition, which is the second tier club football tourney in Africa. Al Masry, Paradou, Horoya, Nouadhibou, Zanaco, Al Nasr, Motema Pembe, Djoliba, San-Pedro, Bidvest Wits, HUSA, RSB Berkane, Pyramids and ESAE are other qualifiers. We charge the NFF to support the two teams to bring club honours to Nigeria.

It is sad that no Nigerian team made the 16-team draw for the elite club competition, CAF Champions League. Enyimba were the last team to bring club honours to the country and that was when the club enjoyed the backing of the then Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, who motivated the Peoples Elephant to win back-to-back in 2003 and 2004. The 16 teams for the CAF Champions League are De Agosto, TP Mazembe, Zamalek, ZESCO United, Etoile due Sahel, Al Hilal, FC Platinum, Al Ahly, USM Algier, Mamelodi Sundowns, Petro de Luanda, Wydad Casablanca, Raja Casablanca, JS Kabylie, AS Vita Club and Esperance de Tunis. Zambia, Congo, DR Congo, Angola and Zimbabwe have representation in this money-spinning CAF Champions League and Nigeria did not make the cut. How can we rate the NPFL above the leagues in these countries playing in the CAF Champions Leagues group stage? This is a sad reality witnessed every year.   

The sponsorship of the league is yet to be sorted out while the TV rights issue said to be on the cards is not official yet. Nigerian league must be better than what we have in terms of operations, facilities and players’ welfare. After match days, most of the stadia will be in bad condition due to poor maintenance and this is bad.

We charge the NFF to also be involved in the league together with the LMC to guarantee better tidings for the players and all participants. There should be appropriate monitoring of the referees and tough measures for those who perpetrate any act of hooliganism.

We make bold to say the NPFL deserves to be more than where it is now. The league should be strong enough to produce four players in the Super Eagles like we had in the past. All these require a good template the administrators will work with every year.

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Editorial

As Bayelsa, Kogi electorate go to polls

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As Bayelsa, Kogi electorate go to polls

B

arring any unforeseen circumstance, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will this Saturday conduct governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.The two elections will determine those who govern the states in the next four years.

 

 

A total of 2,375,136 voters would elect the governors in the two states. The breakdown of the figure showed that Kogi State has a total of 1,485,828 voters while Bayelsa State has 889,308 voters.

 

 

The election would be conducted in eight local government areas of Bayelsa State, 105 registration areas and 1,804 polling units.

 

 

In Kogi, the election would take place in 21 LGAs, 239 registration areas and 2,548 polling units.

 

 

 

 

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a quarterly meeting with civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media, said the figures were the number of voters who collected their permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) as at September 30.

 

 

Also, he said that 45 political parties are contesting in Bayelsa State (42 male and 3 female) and 23 in Kogi (21 male and 2 female) will be on the ballot.

 

At another forum, Yakubu said the two elections would cost a sum of N2.7 billion.

 

 

There is no doubt that like most elections in the country, all the political parties involved in the elections in the states have sharpened their knives and girded their loins in preparation for a war for what ordinarily is an ordinary civic exercise.

 

 

That is a result of the do-or-die attitude Nigerians have developed for elections and the winner-takes-all mentality that has become our politics. Those account for the fierce battle the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa would be this Saturday.

 

 

In Kogi, for instance, the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, would be seeking for a second term in office. As with Bayelsa, the election would be between him and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Musa Wada, a younger brother to the man Bello ousted, Idris Wada. Bello for sure, would not want to be disgraced out of office, particularly considering the ethnic cards that dominate Kogi politics.

 

 

He is Igbira, in a state the Igala, the dominant ethnic group, see as their own. Incidentally, Wada is Igala. That makes the battle an expected tough one. Although the election would be among 23 parties, there is no doubt that it is a straight fight between Bello and Wada.

 

 

It is the same case in Bayelsa, where the incumbent governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, would want to install his party man, Senator Diri Duoye, as his successor. The main challenger is David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

 

Considering the dynamics of Bayelsa politics, the manner Duoye was chosen by Dickson and the friction between the outgoing governor and some fellow PDP members in the state, the battle in Bayelsa would be no less fierce. Add to the mix, the interest of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timi Sylva, the stage is set for a big battle.

 

 

Already, the two main political parties are flexing their muscles, talking tough and promising to win the election at all cost. In Bayelsa State, during the last elections in February and March this year, we cannot forget the violence that attended the exercise, with many killed, manhandled and maimed in the presidential and legislative elections. We anticipate that the governorship election, if not well managed, could be more volatile.

 

 

That is why we think that INEC and security agencies need to be on top of their game for the two elections. We are aware that being the only two elections on that day, it is not difficult for security agencies to deploy adequate number of men and material to arrest any untoward development.

 

The PDP had last week accused INEC of deploying National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) with questionable character for the elections. The party said it has a due diligence report on each of the commissioners.

 

 

The APC on its own accused the PDP of not planning for a credible election in those states. The APC said the PDP would prefer to compromise the security agents and electoral officials than having electoral process that was credible.

 

 

One thing is certain. The stakes are high in both states for the elections. But we are fully convinced that it is only an election to elect the governors of the states, not war. Whoever emerges winner in each state would be expected to advance the fortunes of the state for the good of the people.

 

 

That is why we believe that lead actors in the election, from politicians to INEC, security agencies to voters, would conduct themselves in ways that would only help the growth of Nigeria’s democracy.

 

 

For INEC, we believe that it remains and would remain an unbiased umpire, who would conduct the affairs in the best acceptable standards such that anybody who loses the election, would be convinced he lost fairly.

 

 

We also implore security agencies to be professional and neutral in their conducts. Theirs is to maintain the peace and ensure that ordinary citizens and voters are protected from the harm’s way. We do not expect them to show loyalty to any political party.

 

 

We must, however, warn politicians to conduct themselves with decorum. It is important for all to know, acknowledge and act in a way that show that it is only an election, not war. We object to bloody elections.

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Editorial

CBN’s rare passion for textile sector

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CBN’s rare passion for textile sector

The economic policy direction of the current administration has its very harsh side; and it appears to be going on endlessly. But some of the policies being propelled to grow the economy are certainly with far-reaching and sustainable developmental indices.

Significantly, it is becoming obvious that steps taken by the Federal Government are beginning to impact heavily and positively on the future of the country’s economy.

Despite what appears like an endless privation, every action actually consolidates Federal Government’s quest for full scale self-reliance, job creation and economic growth.

This again was recently demonstrated by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) revelation a fortnight ago that it had so far released N50 billion to stakeholders in the textile industry out of the N100 billion earmarked to revamp the sector.

Obviously, with such a gesture, the country, in a couple of months, may begin to witness a gradual return to the days when textile factories dotted the landscape.

While confirming the release of N19 billion for the same purpose, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, whose passion to see this project through has been limitless, took another landmark step to give impetus to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 003, which compels both military and para-military bodies to source their official clothing locally.

The latest action is an offshoot or a continuation of promises made in the not-too-distant past when the governor shut access to foreign exchange against importers of textile materials and palm oil.

For the record, Nigeria’s textile industry in the past was the envy of the continent, but the profligacy that dominated past administrations sank a sector that once reigned as the highest employer of labour.

Then, Kaduna and Kano, down to Lagos in the South-West and Aba in the South-East boasted of textile mill factories that equally provided thousands of direct and indirect employment to residents in those locations. Sadly, those factories have either been taken over as mere warehouses or locked up with the equipment vandalised over the years.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills in operations, which employed close to over 450,000 people. By today, if we had nurtured and encouraged the textile industry, that sector will be employing millions.

The erstwhile textile industry – which had companies such as United Textiles in Kaduna, Supertex Limited, Afprint, International Textile Industry (ITI), Texlon, Aba Textiles, Asaba Textile Mills Ltd, Enpee and Aswani Mills, amongst others contributed over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. The industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across the country.

The death of the sector is quite lamentable in the sense that it was largely due to open conspiracy encouraged by government through unfavourable policies and large scale smuggling.

As at today, about 19 states in the country can conveniently grow cotton. Even when the sector boomed in the 60s and 70s, the operators never sourced raw material, which is mainly cotton, outside the country.

It was basically for this reason that the apex bank’s decision to place a complete ban on access to forex meant for all forms of textile material import and going ahead to direct dealers to desist from granting such importers access to same in any of their windows, was greeted with commendation and seen as a step to put an end to the excessive misuse of the country’s scarce foreign exchange.

Even though the apex bank’s decision might seem to be on the hardline to those who benefit from the detestable arrangement of the past, the fact remains that in a very short while, the gains of every policy will become obvious for all to see.

This has been evident from the position of body of Nigerian major industrialists, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), which said that local sourcing of raw materials by its members had increased significantly.

In effect, what the country suffers today is as a result of mismanagement of resources when it was available in abundance and sustaining same approach to governance even when it was no longer convenient to be committed into the greed of the past.

The CBN is primarily fulfilling its pledge to textile manufacturers to provide them with loans at single digits rate, to refit, retool and upgrade their factories in order to produce high quality textile materials for local and export market.

As earlier advised and should indeed be taken seriously, while the current step being taken by the Federal Government through the apex bank looks good enough to bring back the sector, it should, however, bear in mind that the textile policy that was prepared during the last administration should not be jettisoned as the entire value chain from farm to shop is captured there.

Besides the huge capital flight in an economy that has gone under due to excesses, job losses and closure of small and even large scale industries have also been a big problem to contend with.

As the apex bank delivers on its promise, we advise that the process should be closely monitored and beneficiaries guided so as to ensure that the expected result emerges.

Why we commend CBN for performing its role to ensure the economy bounces back, we also advise other government agencies to initiate programmes that will complement government’s effort to rebuild the country.

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Editorial

Bringing randy lecturers to justice

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Bringing randy lecturers to justice

T

he termination of appointment of eight lecturers of the Akwa Ibom State University over sexual harassment has brought to the fore the endemic nature of the menace.

 

 

 

Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Eno Ibanga, last week, said that the lecturers were sacked for sexually harassing some female students and for extortion between 2015/2016 academic year and 2018/2019 session.

 

 

“The appointment of eight lecturers has been terminated by the university bordering on sexual harassment and extortion.

 

 

“As we speak, a notorious one is on ground and the person will not go scot free.

 

“Some of the cases are still in court. I swore to run an institution that can stand the test of time. We are doing the best to bring sanity to the institution,” Ibanga said.

 

 

We commend the university for this disciplinary action. Prof. Ibanga and the management of this institution should also ensure that the lecturers are duly prosecuted. It is not enough to terminate their appointment; they must face the wrath of the law. This will, no doubt, instil sanity among lecturers and students.

 

 

Just recently, the BBC did an expose on lecturers of the University of Lagos, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu and Dr. Samuel Ladipo.

 

In one of the viral videos released by the broadcasting organisation following its investigation into sex escapades in the university, Dr. Igbeneghu was seen propositioning a BBC undercover reporter who posed as a 17-year-old admission seeker. He had invited the teenager to his office a number of times before delving into discussions of a very sexual nature with her.

 

The lecturer also made reference to the school’s guest house which was cynically christened ‘cold room’ where lecturers take young students for activities of a sexual nature. “Do you want me to kiss you? Switch off the light, lock the door and I will kiss you for a minute. That’s what they do in cold room,” Igbeneghu told the young lady.

 

The school authorities have since suspended both lecturers pending the outcome of investigation. The case of Igbeneghu is even more pathetic because he is a pastor of a well-known church. The church has also relieved him of his pastoral duties in the meantime. These are commendable steps.

 

 

However, it is worrisome that lecturers who are supposed to nurture and protect young and vulnerable female students have turned round to be their worst nightmares and predators. It is clear from the videos that what has come to the fore is just a tip of the iceberg. It will not be exaggerating to surmise that many lecturers are active participants in the cold room business.

 

 

It will also be stating the obvious to note that many students have had to spend extra years for refusal to accede to the amorous advances of lecturers in the past. Yet these are men who – by virtue of their high education – should know better. Men who should be able to exercise control and restraint, after all education is not just about learning; it is also about character. Unfortunately the latter aspect is seriously diminished in the conduct of these purveyors of sex-for-grades in universities.

 

 

There’s no doubt that some lazy female students deliberately go out of their way to entrap lecturers to award them unmerited grades, and this was a talking point in the latest BBC investigation. The case of Prof. Richard Akindele at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) underlines this aspect of the problem. The student not only sent suggestive WhatsApp chats to Prof. Akindele, she went as far as sending photos of her private part to the lecturer who has since been sacked from the employ of OAU after a panel found him guilty. He was equally found guilty by a court of law and jailed two years.

 

 

While we believe that such students should be held to account in some way, we however insist that the balance of the power relations between lecturers and students is so heavily tipped in favour of the former such that a much higher sense of responsibility is naturally expected from them. Unfortunately, some of these people have failed this test abysmally. It is bothersome that lecturers who should know the overall implication of lowering academic standards – and sex-for-grades is one manifestation – are caught in this shameless conundrum.

 

We insist that the law must be followed to its logical conclusion in the UNILAG cases. Igbenegbu and Ladipo should not be shielded from having their day in court. We also emphasise the need for managements of higher institutions to do more to fish out bad eggs among their teaching staff and exclude them from the system.

 

 

In this regard we want to commend the management of the University of Ibadan for inaugurating a committee in the aftermath of the BBC investigation to probe claims of sexual misconduct in the institution.

We recommend this course of action to all higher institutions.

 

We also call on the Senate to expedite action on the Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019.

 

 

The bill proposes maximum of 14 years’ jail term, with a minimum of 5 years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions.

 

 

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Editorial

Insurgency: When military, gov opt for prayer warriors

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Insurgency:  When military, gov opt for prayer  warriors

President Muhammadu Buhari came into office in 2015 with a promise to among other things deal with insecurity across the country. At the time he came in, the country’s major problem was centred around the Boko Haram insurgents that ravaged the North-East and pockets of other vices such as kidnap for ransom, armed robbery and other similar ones.

Before the end of his first term in office, Buhari, his service chiefs and ministers were upbeat, thumping their chests that Boko Haram has been defeated or downgraded by the military. By their arguments, Boko Haram no longer held any territory in Borno State or anywhere in the North-East, where the insurgents had hoisted a flag and claimed ownership to some local governments pre-2015 elections.

But in the last couple of weeks, certain developments in the polity now seem to question the validity of the government’s claim.

First, at the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmadu Jaha, representing Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency of Borno State, told a stunned House that the insurgents are still in control of eight out of the 10 local government areas in Borno North Senatorial District.

Jaha said that a number of communities in Borno State and other parts of the North-East were still under the occupation of Boko Haram.

Another incident that is as worrying as Jaha’s claims is the revelation that Borno Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, entered into an arrangement with 30 residents of Makkah in Saudi Arabia, who will on permanent basis, offer daily ‘Dawaf’ (circumambulation of the holy Ka’aba). The prayer warriors are to offer prayers for the return and sustenance of peace in Borno State and the rest of Nigeria.

The state government stated that the 30 persons, all Nigerians from Borno, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano and parts of the North-West, “have for tens of years devoted themselves to spending hours at the Ka’aba every day for the purpose of worship.”

The state government added that the move was part of the multi-dimensional approach towards defeating the insurgents. Other approaches included support for the Nigerian Armed Forces, aggressive mass recruitment and equipping of more counter-insurgency volunteers into the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes, among others. It is instructive that the governor went personally to meet the prayer warriors in Saudi Arabia for that purpose.

But if those were not enough reasons to be alarmed, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, added another horrifying dimension to the already depressing situation when he organised a seminar on spiritual warfare against insurgents in Abuja recently.

Although, he was more concerned with the re-orientation of youths in the crisis areas toward neutralizing the ideologies of the insurgents, the tag of spiritual warfare raised curiosity on the subject of the seminar. We find it absurd that the COAS, after five years in office, having battled the insurgents and claimed victory, is now resorting to spiritual warfare in overpowering them.    

Speaking at the seminar tagged, “Countering Insurgency and Violent Extremism in Nigeria through Spiritual Warfare”, Buratai charged the Service’s clerics across formations, to take up the gauntlet in that regard.

He said: “It is easier to defeat Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists than their ideology because, while we degrade the terrorists and their havens, the narrative of the ideology grows the group.”

We are worried that the people saddled with the task of defeating the insurgents are rather capitulating, bringing extraneous theories to the fight against insurgents.

We have also seen that governors of some northern states have engaged in dialogue with bandits in their communities, with a view to resolving the matters amicably.

We are worried that the government seem to have run short of ideas and is now accepting any offer that run contrary to engagements with the bandits and insurgents.

Rather than treat the matter as criminal as it deserves, our government and even the armed forces are resorting to soft measures to deal with brutes, who have no room for such pampering.

Of course, it is an open secret that the bandits and insurgents cannot be trusted as witnessed in Niger State last week.

In Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, fresh attacks by bandits left about one 1,200 residents homeless.

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, had few weeks ago pardoned and released about 30 bandits, who have been terrorising parts of the state. He had signed a peace agreement with the bandits. They reneged.

We are totally displeased with the resort to mundane approach in the fight against the insurgents. We wonder why spiritual warfare, use of prayer warriors and even negotiation with bandits have become important at this point when the government had claimed victory over the insurgents.

We see the new approaches as a surrender by the government to the stubbornness of the insurgents.

We are of the view that government cannot abandon its core responsibility of rooting out the bandits and insurgents on alters of spiritual warfare or engagement of clerics to pray against Boko Haram. It is cowardly and has no place in modern warfare. We suggest that the government should see the fight as one that must be won through the military, whom we have spent billions of Dollars in equipping. Anything short of that is an undeserving injustice to Nigerians.

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Editorial

Olympics: U-23 team in tricky quest for football ticket

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F

ootball-loving Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the sad ouster of the country’s national women’s team, the Super Falcons, from the football event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. It was Cote d’Ivoire that edged Nigeria out courtesy of a crucial away goal scored in the 1-1 draw recorded in Lagos after a goalless affair in Abidjan in the first leg of the qualifiers. The last has not been heard about the administrative issue that led to the ouster. The last time the female team attended the games was at Beijing in 2008.

 

Incidentally, Cote d’Ivoire male team for the Olympics will play in same group with Nigeria as the African qualifiers for the event starts this weekend in Egypt. In a seemingly tough group, the country’s U-23 team also has Zambia and South Africa to contend in the battle for semifinal ticket in Group B of the tournament at the Al Salam Stadium. Hosts Egypt are in Group A that also has Ghana, Cameroon and Mali with matches billed for the Cairo International Stadium.

Nigeria’s first match of the campaign is against Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday, November 9.

 

The top three teams at the eight-nation age grade football event will win tickets to represent Africa in the Men’s Football Tournament of the forthcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

 

We do not want our male team to go the way of the female especially with the rich pedigree of teams going to Cairo for the tournament. We make bold to say the competition will be tough.

 

However, the important aspect of the setting is the fact that the players should be future senior national team stars, so, the authorities and Eagles handler, Gernot Rohr, should monitor the proceedings very well. As the country battle for the Olympic ticket, there should be a deliberate effort to look at the players that could break into the Super Eagles in the next one year and be part of the next World Cup campaign for the country.

 

It is important to state that the U-23 team is the most delicate to handle because it involves players trying to start a career in clubs abroad. Most of the best legs are abroad and might not be available to feature in the tournament. For example, Victor Osimhen who is on fire for Lille currently in France and high flying Samuel Chukwueze, who is also doing great in Villareal of Spain are not part of the team to Cairo since FIFA is yet to recognize Olympic Games football. We believe this is a setback because some other players within the range could not make the cut as well due to club engagements.

 

We recall that in the past, Samson Siasia on two occasions for the Beijing 2008 Games and Brazil 2016 Olympics football event, built his African qualifier teams round home-based players who are available for long camping and he was successful winning silver and bronze at the games.

 

This time, Imama Amakapabo, handler of the team, was able to get foreign-based players to travel to Cairo but the fear is the understanding and cohesion expected in the team. He named players like team captain Azubuike Okechukwu (Turkey), defenders Anthony Izuchukwu (Turkey), Sincere Seth (Turkey) and Olisah Ndah (Remo Stars), midfielders Kelechi Nwakali (Spain), Muyiwa Olabiran (Turkey) and Ndifreke Effiong (Norway), and forwards Taiwo Awoniyi (Germany) and Orji Okwonkwo (Italy) in his final list of 21 players to defend the U-23 Africa Cup. We ask, do these players have enough time to blend and understand one another? Are they good enough to handle the opposition in Egypt and deliver the ticket to Tokyo?

 

The handlers need to adopt a strategy that to get early goals and defend well because the three teams in Group B have better training period than Nigeria. There should be means of getting the best from the individual talents in the team as well.

The male team has failed in the past when the handler, Austin Eguavoen, relied on pros but they failed to turn up for the qualifiers and his last-minute efforts were not enough.

 

Picking a ticket to Tokyo Games football event won’t be easy because there is no hiding place for Nigeria as defending champions of the event.

An event that has Cote d’Ivore, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa on parade will be tough.We charge the NFF to give the team all the motivation they need to excel in Egypt. The Tokyo Games could produce next generation of Super Eagles stars and the qualifiers billed to start on November 9 should be taken seriously in the interest of football development in the country.

 

We believe transition of players from U-23 to the Super Eagles should not be difficult as any player in that range is ripe enough for the national team. Rohr and the NFF should take the qualifiers seriously to create healthy competition in the Super Eagles.

 

Amakapabo has an opportunity to warm himself to the hearts of Nigerians after failing to book a ticket to the finals of AFCON with the home-based National team. We believe failure in Cairo could crumble his coaching career and so he must get it right.

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