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Of Oshiomhole’s Edo military wing

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Of Oshiomhole’s Edo military wing

The political events unfolding in Edo State are getting clearer as the lines further diverge, rather than converge, towards congruence within the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State. The recent hoax around “attack” without bruises, on the National Chairman of the party and the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole highlights the worrisome situation. This hoax was capable of overheating the polity of the state, complicating the smooth functioning of the state security system, especially the police, and distracting effective governance as well as encouraging anarchy and lawlessness.

There is an unrelenting clash of interests, between the government, led by Governor Godwin Obaseki, and the entrenched economic interests that have been displaced. These entrenched interests are those that became too powerful as self-imposed revenue collectors, using coercion, crude and opaque records; as well as those politicians that want nothing short of business as usual, regardless of the grim financial realities of the state. Somehow, unfortunately though, these two sources of opposition have coalesced into a political movement with Comrade Oshiomhole as their patron.

What we may ask, is what is wrong with the revenue warlords? They became too wealthy, at the expense of the elected government and the people, leading to concentrated raw political power, that undermines democracy and peace. It is this entrenched tendency that portray participation in politics as high risk by civil, law abiding citizens with the skills as well as the character to provide high impact public service. This aberration where thugs and cultists dictate who get elected and where they form a parallel enforcement channel with the constitutional law enforcement state agencies is the crux of the matter. Oshiomhole called them his “infantry” or military wing, and said so during his address of the political supporters after the so-called arranged attack on him. It is instructive that he was “rescued from the attack” by this “infantry” and not by the official police force. The state commissioner of police, caught up in this toxic political situation, had to rise up, very professionally, to explain that Adams Oshiomhole was accorded full security protection or cover throughout his stay in Benin. Moreover, and putting it factually, there was no attack, and perhaps no formal report to the police of a threat of any form. It was a hoax!

Is it true as contained in a press statement by the Edo State government that Adams Oshiomhole does not inform the state APC chapter, or the state government of his visits, to his own state?  If true, this is preposterous and can only be compared to an oddity where a father relocates to his neighbour’s house. It seem that Comrade has succumbed to the dissenting voices within the party, instead of playing the role of a neutral leader with the credibility to reconcile the contending forces. In all these, where is the public interest, the masses, whose purpose the elected government should serve. It is only by weighing the issues clearly, wearing the lenses of the party manifesto and of President Muhammadu Buhari’s stance on corruption, as well as on the welfare of the masses that Adams Oshiomhole can rescue the situation. From all his actions and indices, for now, he has allowed himself to be captured by those within the party that cannot resonate with the public.

The impasse at the Edo State House of Assembly runs on this same track, the coalesced opposition under the covert support or remote of Comrade.

Comrade has earned his place in history but how he handles this Edo situation will be the make or mar; he needs to return to his political mainstream and allow the incumbent governor to stamp his style. The old ways must CHANGE to the NEXT LEVEL. Supporting touts, thugs, fake infantry, delinquent contractors and political parasites will only muddy the political waters; what is required are the type of civilized and transparent reforms that the award winning Governor Godwin Obaseki has courageously and skilfully embarked upon. This momentum cannot be reversed. Reinstating the Kabakas should never be contemplated. A word is enough for the wise.

λDr. Omoregbe is the convener of Public Accountability Initiative for Africa

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Where is Fayemi leading Ekiti?

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Where is Fayemi leading Ekiti?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Renewable energy business opportunities in Nigeria

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Renewable energy business opportunities in Nigeria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

λIntroduction: @Ekeneodigwe is OAP @frcnsoutheast

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

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Repositioning NAHCON for better service delivery

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Repositioning NAHCON for better  service delivery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

λBakori writes from Katsina State.

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Border closure and poor culture of problem resolution

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Border closure and poor culture of problem resolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The mining sector and way forward

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The mining sector and way forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November 16 poll: Douye needs your votes

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arely days to the November 16, 2019 governorship poll in Bayelsa State, the various political parties – that’s the serious ones – have rounded off major campaigns in the eight local government areas.

 

 

What’s going on now are mop-up operations, door-to-door and community meetings with the electorate, to remind them of the promises the contenders have made.

 

 

And most importantly, to plead with them not to lose focus or be swayed by opponents’ “sweet” talks, and cast their votes for the “wrong” political party and its candidate.

 

 

The last minute “meet-the-people” is also an avenue to listen, and talk about the little things that matter to the people; the kitchen table issues of everyday living in these hard times when everything seems to go haywire.

 

 

This is where Senator Diri Douye comes in. The candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hasn’t only promised to solve those kitchen matters affecting the people of Bayelsa, but also lead the state to a path of prosperity that an average Bayelsan craves for.

 

 

In the past months, his joint campaign train with his running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewrujakpor, has transversed the nooks and crannies of the state, bringing the message of hope and a glorious dawn to the people.

 

 

At every stop, his communication was simple: He would sustain, and build on the legacies of the eight years of the Governor Seriake Dickson’s administration on education, health, infrastructure, empowerment, security and peaceful co-existence of all inhabitants of the state.

 

 

Even as he pledges not to disappoint the good people of the state, he wants their assurances to cast their lot with him on November 16, so that Beyelsa will continue on its trajectory of laying a solid foundation for the next generation.

 

 

Indeed, the strength of any nation rests on the youth (the next generation) of the land, and Douye prides himself in promoting the interests of the youth of Bayelsa.

 

 

Hence, he’s repeatedly stated that, “the next election is not merely about who will be the governor, but about the wellbeing of the next generation.” So, to emerge as the new helmsman of our beloved state, the grounding of his governorship will be the prioritisation of the youth.

 

 

In line with this dynamic is the fact that Bayelsa is renowned for its excellence in sports, especially in swimming and wrestling. Accordingly, Douye has promised to build sports villages across the local government areas.

 

The villages will offer top-level sports facilities, including Olympic-size swimming pools, wrestling auditoriums, full-size football fields and fitness gyms, to tap potential talents, and produce national and international champions.

 

 

Nonetheless, it’s not a mean task to liberalise Bayelsa’s economy, and remove the word, “struggle,” from the lives of the people, both living in the state and in diaspora, and make them to catch their fish to feed for a lifetime without dependence on oil or anybody else.

 

 

To achieve these goals, the next administration of Bayelsa needs to harness contributions from the government, the private sector and foreign investors.

 

 

A Governor Douye can bring this to fruition with his intellectual depth, experience, integrity and strength of character, and a strong desire to diversify the economy and wean Bayelsa of its reliance on monthly federal allocation.

 

Thus, with his proven financial management skill, Bayelsa is set for greater heights. All that’s needed is for the people to take his message of FORWARD TOGETHER to all households, clans, communities, wards, local governments and the state at large.

 

 

But while spreading that message is good in itself, it would be of no use if Senator Douye didn’t get the needed votes, to be able to accomplish his vision and mission for Bayelsa.

 

In a phrase taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus talks to Cassius that, “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune” (Act-IV, Scene-III).

 

It simply means that, “the key to success in life lies in knowing that a tide, or simply the motivation of men (exists), and it is up to a man to recognise, and seize the opportunity.”

 

 

So, the people of Bayelsa should “recognise, and seize the opportunity” offered by the November 16 poll, and cast their votes for Douye and his platform, the PDP.

 

Yes, we can deliver those votes in overwhelming numbers, to allow him to be the first to breast the tape among a “crowded” field of 45 contenders for the governorship seat at the Creek Haven in Yenagoa, the capital city of Bayelsa State!

 

 

Abanum writes from Abuja.

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Transfer of real resources to developing countries

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Transfer of real resources to developing countries

The interest to scale up public and private investments in logistics infrastructure and energy had, among others, taken the front burner at the Joint Ministerial Committee of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the transfer of real resources to developing countries. It was at the 100th meeting of the Bank during the just concluded World Bank/IMF 2019 Annual Meetings in Washington DC. 

Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, on behalf of the constituency of Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa, the Board viewed infrastructure deficit as one of the main factors behind the high trade cost in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) which partly harm the competitiveness of industries in the region and limit integration into global value chains (GVCs).

“We urge the World Bank Group (WBG) to partner with African countries to scale up public and private investments in logistics infrastructure and energy. We call for prioritisation of regional integration in the financing and policy offering of the WBG and the IMF to leverage from regional solutions such as the recently ratified African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA),” the Board stressed.

To complement infrastructure investment, the Board called on the WBG to work with SSA countries to enhance domestic policies that are critical for industry competitiveness, such as elimination of red tape for business, efficient operation of industrial parks, export promotion and facilitation of trade finance. In addition, the call was also on the Bank and the IMF to assist with policies to address challenges from trade (e.g. job losses from capital intensive trade production, tax policies to attract GVCs without undermining revenues and measures to deal with illicit financial flows, IFFs).

The Board is concerned that the global growth remains subdued as trade tensions are affecting international trade and investment, and noted the IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast for global growth of 3% in 2019 and a projection of 3.4% in 2020. “We are concerned with the downside risks from further trade tensions, policy uncertainty from a no-deal Brexit and an increase in financial vulnerabilities in emerging markets and developing countries. To help reduce policy uncertainty, we call on the World Bank and IMF member countries to take necessary actions to foster a modern, rules-based and fair-trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its centre.”

Also noted is the IMF growth forecast for SSA of 3.2% in 2019 which “we do not view as adequate to help the region achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite the low economic performance of the three largest economies in the region, we are encouraged that approximately 20 economies in the SSA are expected to record growth that exceeds five per cent in 2019.” The Board called on the IMF and the WBG to help African countries with policy support to ensure that growth is high enough, inclusive, job creating and associated with economic transformation. The African countries were also called on to address debt vulnerabilities and aim to achieve the right balance between debt and growth objectives.

On the World Development Report 2020 (WDR20), the Board welcomed the report on GVCs. It was encouraged by the findings of the report that the development of GVCs has led to economic growth, poverty reduction and net increase in jobs in regions that have strong GVC participation. However, the Board also noted the findings of the report that the development of GVCs has been concentrated in few regions such as North America, Western Europe and East Asia, with SSA only connected to the chains through exports of raw materials and minerals.

The Board had welcomed the paper on jobs and economic transformation (JET) and do support its call for the WBG to help countries pursue economic transformation and private sector development as the pathway to more and better jobs in the formal and informal sectors. “We underscore the realisation that the JET objectives described in the paper requires a strengthened WBG approach. Thus, the WBG needs to increasingly focus on coordinated approaches, including through integrated operations that address both demand and supply-side constraints, as well as more broadly on coordinated interventions at the sectoral, portfolio, and national/regional levels.”

It viewed very important the role of the International Development Association (IDA) in helping SSA countries achieve JET. The 18th replenishment of IDA (i.e. IDA18) focused on developing knowledge and diagnostics tools to support the JET agenda. Therefore, the Board called for a pivot towards operational impact, through a more deliberate focus of JET in country programmes in IDA19. According to the Board, “This will require changing the way the WBG approaches JET, including the provision of incentives for focusing on more transformational, job-creating interventions led by the private sector.” The proposed operational and policy recommendations in the paper will require a JET implementation strategy for the WBG. A WBG JET strategy is critical for strengthened coordination with development partners from the public and private sectors, and for closer collaboration with development partners, through both global and regional strategic initiatives and country platforms. Based on the above understanding, the Board called on the management to report back to Governors on progress at the 2020 Spring Meetings.

The progress made on the human capital project since the publication of the Human Capital Index (HCI) in October 2018 did not miss the attention of the Board. The update had reiterated the WBG strong commitment to the twin goals, having taken a long-term approach to the development of human capital and its implications in achieving the SDGs. The Board supported the new approach to the HCI, which is meant to explore skills of working population and cultural factors affecting human capital development. It called on the WBG, under the leadership of International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), to assist the poorest countries and those under debt distress, to mobilise investments for human capital development, even from the private sector.

The Board was comfortable with IDA 19th replenishment and IDA voting rights review, together with the proposed special themes, cross-cutting issues and dedicated financing windows and facilities. It continued to call for greater ambition among existing and new IDA donors to address the growing needs of the poor and vulnerable. “This call is driven by our collective risks of missing the SDGs, if concerted efforts are not made to close financing gaps, address new and emerging development challenges, accelerate growth, safeguard achievements and build resilience.”

The Board had endorsed the proposed review of IDA voting rights and fully supported both the guiding principles and scope of the review. It therefore requested the IDA board of executive directors to lead the review, ensure effective consultations in the process, provide regular updates to IDA deputies and borrower representatives, and provide an update by the 2020 Annual Meetings.

Climate change was also considered at the meeting; that it has remained one of the critical factors accounting for fragility in some of our countries including those of the Lake Chad and Sahel Region.

Abdullahi is Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

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Sex-for-marks: Punishing the monster with the laws

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Sex-for-marks: Punishing the monster with the laws

The aired investigative report of the BBC World Service: Sex for Grades: Under cover in most of West African Universities”, hit our television screens recently, exposing to light some of the realities in most of our tertiary institutions. The sexual exploitation of students and extortion by lecturers couldn’t have come to light at a better time than now that President Muhammadu Buhari is battling the odds to sanitize the system.

Truth be told, the pillage for sex and money in exchange for marks and grades by lecturers is not new in Nigerian tertiary institutions. ‘Cold Rooms’, which may have been a relatively new term to Nigerians, exists in all sorts of places in the tertiary institutions – from staff offices, staff-owned hotels cum brothels and commercial hotels, staff clubs, pavilions, students hostels – and other places where students are sexually devoured far from the gaze of the public. Exploitation also comes in different forms – it may be the lecturer exploiting the students or the students exploiting the lecturer.

On the other hand, it may even be both parties exploiting each other by bartering sex for marks, as well as pleasure for grades. Men and women across all strata of the society have encountered one form of sexual exploitation or the other when they are trapped in circumstances in which they desperately need help.

Sex abuse transcends our tertiary institutions – the hydra headed monster lurks in corporate bodies, institutions, government ministries, departments and parastatals, among others. It all comes in various guises and garments to get under the skirt.

Well, the saddening thing is that voices are stifled in silence to enclose the woes this menace encloses in its garbs. No one is willing to talk about it. We all bow and cower to intimidations, threats, fears and reprisals. Most stories on abuse fade into clouds of hearsays, masking the plights of victims. Students cower under fear and threats of failure, suspension, and expulsion from those dirty lecturers that lack moral values. These had hindered justice for the victims, while the abusers struts the streets with impunity and arrogant display of pride typical of sadists and vagabonds.

As responsible people, we all have rights against sexual exploitation and monetary extortion for marks, grades and signatures. No individual has the right to stifle our voices in the expression of the infringements of our fundamental rights. Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) enshrines the right of our free will to hold opinions and express them in public. It provides that: “every person shall be entitled to freedom to hold opinions and impart ideas and information without interference.” Those criminals that engage in sex for marks, money for grades or signature on result sheet and handouts in tertiary institutions should be brought to book decisively.

Victims of various forms of abuses ought to be protected from the machinations of those devil lecturers. We all have to be whistleblowers or witnesses in courts to expose and prosecute those beasts with government protection or we deal with them through the application of jungle justice as the saving option. Victimized students should be protected and anonymity should be ensured when the stories are reported. Discreet investigation should be carried out and lecturers responsible for such devilish misconduct arrested and if found guilty, flushed out of the system and thrown to long term jail sentence.

If the identities of armed robbers, bandits, kidnappers, ‘yahoo boys’ and rapist can be exposed to the public, what stops the identities of those lecturers made public to serve as a deterrent to other like minds? Only then would the students be confident to tell their stories of exploitation and extortion from those wolves and predators in deceptive garbs.

Nigerians should rise in unison in this present crusade as kick-started in some tertiary institutions. Let’s tell the whole world how our rights are being violated by the devils in tertiary institutions. Let’s tell the public how our students are intimidated to subjection by those ‘predators’ evil whims. We owe the society justice. We all have the duty to bring those devils to book. Let’s strive to cleanse the society of the filth hobnobbing with our students in tertiary institutions. Those lecturers that press for bribes from students for common signature etc. deserve to be in the correctional centres.

In his opinion on the sex-for-marks scandal bedeviling our tertiary institutions, Director for Public Relations of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Dr. Andee Iheme posits: “The issue should be handled with care because of its sensitivity and delicate nature that may affect the progress of the entire education sector if caution is not applied. For instance, in ATBU, we have not recorded a single incidence of the shameful act and we are on the watch. The Vice-Chancellor has issued a stern warning to all to be above board as the known trademark of the institution.

“ATBU shall not condone such unruly behaviour that may tarnish its already built and respected reputation. ATBU management is carefully watching and closely monitoring movements and academic performances of our female students through a secret coded operation. There may be some cases in some tertiary institutions of the monster but ATBU is jealously guarding and shielding its reputation against the monster. The authorities concerned should strive to nip the problem in the bud before it inflicts more injuries on our education sector.”

Sanusi is a journalist based in Bauchi.

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Dormancy of HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination law in Nigeria

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Dormancy of HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination law in Nigeria

T

he HIV/AIDS (anti-discrimination) Act was enacted in Nigeria in 2014, but has since remained dormant due to non-implementation. Unfortunately, besides the psychological trauma and pains persons living with HIV go through in the country, they also face various forms of discrimination and inhumane treatment by fellow citizens.

 

 

The HIV/AIDS (anti-discrimination) Act, 2014, was enacted to discourage discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS, particularly at workplaces.

 

 

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). By damaging immune system, HIV interferes with body’s ability to fight organisms that cause diseases. On this basis, many people consider it a death sentence. Many people have lost their jobs because of their HIV status, while many marriages have crashed on grounds of same.

 

 

The worst part is that most persons who are HIV positive conceal their status while majority of persons are avoiding HIV test mainly because of social stigma and discrimination.

 

 

Some pregnant women who are HIV positive avoid going for antenatal care so as not to be tested, thereby subjecting their lives and the lives of their unborn babies to serious danger. In fact, this discrimination poses a threat to peaceful coexistence among members of the society, making compliance with the HIV/AIDS (anti-discrimination) Act, 2014, very difficult.

 

 

It is absurd that the law that was enacted to stop this discrimination has been dormant like it doesn’t even exist. For instance, section 21 (1) of the HIV/AIDS (anti-discrimination) Act, 2014, stipulates that an employer employing five or more persons shall in consultation with the employees or their representatives adopt a written workplace policy that is consistent with the National HIV/AIDS workplace policy for the working environment.

 

 

Subsection 2 of the same section further states that the workplace polices shall be lodged with the Minister of Labour and Productivity, currently known as Minister of Labour and Employment. Section 24 (1) of the same Act goes on to repose the duty of ensuring compliance and enforcement of the entire provisions of the Act on the Attorney-General of the Federation.

 

 

The HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination Act 2014, therefore specifically reposes the duty to ensure compliance with the entire HIV/AIDS (anti-discrimination) Act, 2014, including section 21 (1) of the same Act on the Attorney-General of the Federation.

 

 

Meanwhile, by virtue of section 150 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Attorney-General of the Federation who is also the Minister of Justice, is the Chief Law Officer in Nigeria, and therefore responsible for and oversees all legal affairs of the nation.

 

 

Now, one is wondering whether the office of Attorney-General of the Federation is aware of this Act and why it has not performed its duty in ensuring the implementation of the law and compliance by employers of labour in Nigeria. Why is it always compulsory that our government officials and even the ministries and agencies must be pushed to perform their statutory roles? This is just worrisome, alas!

 

 

It is indeed worrisome that an Act which was enacted five years ago is yet to be implemented and complied with. I am aware that Lawyers Alert Nigeria, a non-profit human rights organization has approached court to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation to carry out its functions as provided in the HIV/AIDS (anti-discrimination) Act, 2014.

 

 

Lawyers Alert under its free legal assistance project for vulnerable groups is prosecuting several cases where persons living with HIV were discriminated against and either denied employment even when qualified and able, or sacked on account of their HIV status. Of course, dismissal of an employee over HIV status is a gross violation of his or her human rights to work.

 

 

Recently, Lawyers Alert got judgement in its favour in a matter where an employee was dismissed by his employer on the account of his HIV status. The matter was instituted at the National Industrial Court, Abuja division. The court held that dismissing employees on the basis of HIV status is discriminatory and unlawful.

 

Justice Agbakoba of the Abuja Industrial Court found that the HIV/AIDS (Anti-Discrimination) Act, 2014, is equally applicable in the private sector and prohibits discrimination against existing and prospective employees.

 

 

Following an increase in cases of discrimination against Persons Living with HIV in workplaces in Nigeria, Lawyers Alert in its determination to provide access to justice for persons living with HIV and to ensure compliance with the HIV/AIDS (Anti-Discrimination) Act, 2014, served a Freedom of Information request on the Minister of Labour and Employment, on November 2, 2018, requesting the document containing a list of workplaces/ministries that have complied with the provisions of section 21 (1) of the HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination Act, 2014, which requires employers of labour to adopt a written workplace policy and lodge same with the minister.

 

 

Unfortunately, despite series of follow-ups on the FOI by Lawyers Alert for over three months, there was no document at all containing such information, with the Minister of Labour and Employment.

 

While awaiting the outcome of Lawyers Alert’s suit against the Attorney-General of the Federation which is in Court 3 of the National Industrial Court, let me just conclude here by noting that if the Attorney-General of the Federation carries the duties as enshrined in the law and ensures compliance with HIV workplace policy by employers of labour, stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV in Nigeria would cease and rights to work and access to justice would be enhanced for persons living with HIV in Nigeria.

 

 

 

Oyegbade writes from Osogbo, Osun State

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NDDC: Forensic audit and attacks on Akpabio

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NDDC: Forensic audit and attacks on Akpabio

T

he Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is reportedly a cesspool of corruption where the major business of the day for the management is the award of contracts, many of them “fathom” in nature. It’s the reason there’re tens of thousands of uncompleted and abandoned projects in the nine oil-producing states, loosely refer to as the Niger Delta, which traditionally comprises six states.

 

 

Take, for instance, the revelation that “a serving senator is single-handedly handling about 300 contracts” for the NDDC, with 120 of the contracts “fully paid for.” But is there evidence of any of the jobs partially or wholly executed?

 

 

Where such “evidence” exists, and “certificates of completion” obtained therein, the jobs are poorly done, as it takes a few weeks or months to reveal their shoddiness. And why not?

 

 

How can an individual, no matter their expertise, equipment outlay, and the number of companies they control, secure a large number of contracts from a single entity? That’s corruption at its zenith!

 

 

This disclosure by the Acting Executive Director of Projects of the NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, may be a tip of the iceberg. There might be thousands of similar contracts, also fully paid for, but not executed, partially executed or poorly executed.

 

 

What about a contract awarded for the clearing of water hyacinths, and de-silting of the riverine areas, valued at N2.5 billion, which suddenly rose to about N65 billion? How, when and who reviewed the contract upward?

 

 

No wonder the NDDC is said to be saddled with over N3 trillion debt owed to contractors for obligations they may not have accomplished in compliance with the contract terms!

 

 

Hence, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a forensic audit of the commission, for which a three-man Interim Management Committee (IMC) was constituted pending the inauguration of a new management board.

 

At a meeting with governors of oil-producing states at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on October 17, 2019, Buhari noted that the humongous amount pumped into the interventionist agency since 2001 did not match the projects on the ground.

 

 

His words: “With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.

 

“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done.”

 

The President said he would wait for the report of the audit, to decide on the next line of action regarding the commission.

 

 

Even before its take-off, the audit is facing a barrage of criticisms from individuals and groups in the oil-producing states, who should ordinarily be happy and embrace a process to cleanse the Augean stables (rid the NDDC of corruption).

 

 

The agitators question the “legality” of constituting the IMC, when a new management board had been named (and cleared by the Senate), and canvass the sacking of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

 

 

To them, Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, is responsible for the transfer of the NDDC from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and the empanelling of a forensic audit and an IMC for the commission.

 

 

But this is picking on a soft target, as the latest spotlight on the NDDC is at the behest of President Buhari, notwithstanding whether he had any advice from a third party to that effect.

 

 

Actually, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, as head of the governors’ delegation to the president, expressed his counterparts’ disappointment with the operations of the NDDC.

 

 

The commission’s operations had been characterised by “poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of required support for the efforts of the states and local governments in its areas of coverage,” Dickson said, and solicited Buhari’s repositioning of the commission “in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.”

 

 

So, attacking Akpabio (the messenger), and dissing the audit panel and the management committee (the message) shows one thing: Corruption, in and outside the NDDC, is fighting back.

 

 

As in the larger society where the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration is resisted by alleged looters, the orchestrators of the campaign to stop the audit are those that have questions to answer on the reported sleaze at the commission.

 

And in the manner of politically-exposed persons (PEPs) when confronted with their financial malfeasance; the opposers of the audit have embarked on a well-oiled media campaign to taint the investigation, and those they perceive as its drivers.

 

That’s why Akpabio has become the target of attacks, as having accusingly, in addition to the audit, “instigated” the transfer of the NDDC from the office of the SGF to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and the setting up of the IMC.

 

But the senator couldn’t have accomplished what are credited to him without the approval of President Buhari, who appoints, and delegates powers/functions to him as a minister.

 

 

It’s calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. And that process has begun with the allegation that Akpabio received some billions from the former Managing Director of the NDDC, Nsima Ekere.

 

Thus, his accusers are “putting two-and-two together” to get at him, for his possible sack, which, indeed, they have implored President Buhari to do immediately.

 

Note the agitators’ strategy: Attack Akpabio and “his Interim Management Committee,” so as to divert attention, muddy the terrain, and prevent the audit from holding or shoddily handled.

 

They know that if thoroughly carried out, the audit would open a can of worms, the type Akpabio spoke about recently, thereby stirring the hornet’s nest that’s turned back to haunt him.

 

Fielding questions on an NTA programme, Akpabio said that some people in the NDDC had stalled the infrastructural development goals of the Niger Delta, to enrich themselves.

 

“I think people were treating the place as an ATM, where you just walk in, to go and pluck money and go away. I don’t think they were looking at it as an interventionist agency,” he said.

 

 

The watching public can see where the attacks on Akpabio are coming: From those that have benefitted from the multi-billion fraud in the NDDC. They’re the ones fighting back!

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