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As this year comes to an end many Nigerians here at home and abroad continue to dream of free and fair elections in Nigeria in 2015.

Prof. Attahiru Jega, in his infinite wisdom, and as the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is convinced that he and his organization have enhanced preparations that will allow for smooth elections next year. As for jega, the trustworthiness and steadiness of any electoral system evolves overtime and could sometimes take hundreds of years, like that of America.

Jega tells us that there is now a better voter’s registration, permanent voter cards have been issued, and all ballot boxes are now numbered serially. He noted that all these are new implementations that did not exist before 2010.

On a psychological level, assuming we now have a better voter’s registration, and all ballot boxes are now numbered serially, these plans among others signal good news given that almost everyone dreams and wants to see integrity in the electoral system. These election dreams, however, may also contain some disturbances, in terms of predicting the future outcome of the 2015 election, the presidential race especially.

For some reason, some of us may start having  scary dreams in light of Mr. Jonathan telling us recently to expect the presence of military and  security forces in the coming 2015 presidential election, and others as usual may already be banking on the use of muggers/thugs and assassinations.

Jega, do you support the presence of overwhelming military forces as part of the security arrangements on election day manned with tanks and AK47-wielding soldiers in the streets? You must tell now!

Jega, couldn’t the presence of overshadowing military and security forces as part of the security arrangements cause many voters to stay home, instead of heading to polling places and booths, resulting in a dismally low turnout? You must tell us now--How you will address this possible set back?

Sir, ahead of the 2015 general elections, with thousands of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) everywhere, what plans and arrangements do you and the Independent National Electoral Commission have that will enable IDPs to vote? And don’t you dare say this “Na Oyinbo” or alien thing! You must tell us now--What exactly has been mapped out for this human rights concern?

As you know, we are currently in the pre-violence season ahead of the national elections. Election-related homicides have begun already with media reports of politicians being “shot dead”  at either their residence or office. You must tell us now--What exactly has been done to reduce these vile incidents and how are you preparing to protect candidates from enforced disappearances as we are soon likely to see?

Jega, your concern about safety and disorderly attitude of politicians is pathetic, as this line of psychological acts is a longstanding Nigerian reality. Instead, your concern should be more about the bribery-conscious policeman and woman, and graft-addicted magistrate who, once in possession of tainted money, will make sure the perpetrators and defendants do not face appropriate justice. In other words, bribes will guarantee the safety of defendants. You must tell us now--What exactly will be done to reduce police/judicial and non-punishment of  perpetrators?

Jega, ahead of the coming presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative elections in regard to the last national elections, list the number of successful investigations/prosecutions and convictions of fraud and other irregularities, including vote rigging and buying, under-age voting, and ballot stuffing, as well as cases of property destruction, security violence, political homicides and near fatalities. You must tell us now—How will we have some degree of assurance that election abuses and violence will be fully investigated and prosecuted so that justice will be served?

Sir, at various public and private hospitals, there are many injured victims of bomb blasts, firearms, knives and other forms of attack instruments. Some of these victims are survivors but still hospitalized; some of them have above-the-knee amputations. You must tell us now--What special ballot provisions and arrangements have been made to enable them to vote?

Across the country, the North included, there are eligible voters which include home-bound and physically disabled voters,  and military members and  their family members mostly in the troubled northern areas.  You must tell us now--What special ballot provisions and arrangements have been made to enable them to vote?

Prof. Jega, it is questioned how the voting rights  of thousands of persons will be safeguarded, especially as it relates to issues of angry mobs, suicide bombings, Internally Displaced Persons,  those who are hospitalized and those with disabilities. Without specific safeguards,  will not the sanctity of the entire vote be undermined?

There is no doubt that with some States under emergency rule and the presence of security and political-related crises, the outcome of the election nationally could be significantly affected.  But making greater efforts to reduce several of these challenges could help support the argument that  the results of the presidential, senate and lower house are, at a minimum, generally valid, and, with that, the hopeful result that the nation will not be plunged into further irreconcilable chaos.

Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic, Clinical and National Psychologist and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. 

At a time the Ebola virus is fast spreading to other climes, with a recent case detected in Texas, it is apparent that Ebola is now a global disease. With over 3000 death recorded in West Africa alone, and as the number grows daily, there is the need for all to pull the necessary resources together in the eradication and spread of Ebola. While global effort against Ebola continues, we must not forget that though no viable vaccine has been fully certified by global health bodies, the disease is controllable through what Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “rapid, focused interventions”.

The Ebola success story in Nigeria is worthy of mention here and with U.S officials taking a cue from the former in the hope of preventing the transmission of the virus in the U.S, after Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Ebola hopefully can be contained if extensive response is pursued.

To understand how Nigeria went around the Ebola conundrum, it is important to note, beyond the usual untenable arguments, that the on-going polio campaign the country in the last couple of years have engaged in contributed in many ways to the country’s success at impeding the virus. How viable is this fact? According to the Guardian, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was reported to have built in 2012 an emergency command centre to assess the presence of Polio in the region, an initiative which assisted Nigeria to proactively contain the Ebola spread. Since Patrick Sawyer’s diagnosis, Nigerian healthcare personnel, employing emergency operations, had confirmed 19 cases in addition to one probable case. By late September, health officials had identified 894 contacts with those cases and conducted 18,500 visits with those who had potentially been infected to check for Ebola symptoms. Since then, no new cases have been recorded.

It is today clear that Nigeria’s effort at containing Ebola is a pure indication that it can also deal with some of its other health challenges, most importantly polio. Polio is severe mostly because of its lasting physical disability on its victims. These individuals face daily challenges that mostly impede them from living normal lives. Significant progress in the global effort to eradicate the disease has however been made, with 99 per cent reduction since 1988. Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan remain polio endemic countries. While Pakistan recently immunised 34.2 million children or 95 per cent of all children below five across the country, with further hope of immunisation, Nigeria's effort has been remarkable. According to Ted Turner in a recent article, Nigeria has so far recorded just six polio cases in two states in 2014 which is over 85 per cent reduction. The article observed that more than 75 per cent of all children have received the oral polio vaccine in eight northern Nigerian states, a proof of the significant progress made on polio.

Interestingly, the effectiveness of Nigeria's polio initiatives and its dramatic reduction has been hinged on the support of stakeholders (traditional and religious leaders) at all levels of government. In fact, Mr. Turner's article aptly noted that "Their commitment to ending polio…was clear, and they have delivered on [it] in the intervening years." While Mr. Turner's view that "Nigeria's progress on polio is… fragile" and that "there is reason to be concerned about a decline in high-level oversight at the state and local government levels" is acknowledged, this writer is however, of the view that government at all levels, including traditional and religious leaders cannot do it alone. Hemce, apart from the significant efforts of UN agencies like World Health Organisation and UNICEF, Rotary International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, governments in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a number of others too have taken the polio End Game seriously.

As Africa’s only endemic country, few Nigerians or organisations have made polio eradication an important task. One of such Nigerian is Sir Emeka Offor. Through the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) both moral and financial support has been given to a wide range of the polio initiatives. Sir Offor's resolve to wipe out polio from Nigeria remains utterly indubitable. In August 2013, he cemented his commitment to the END POLIO NOW with a grand donation of $1.3 million to Rotary International in Lisbon, Portugal. At the PolioPlus presentation, he stated that the turning point for him was when he received word that his earlier donation of $250,000 was applied immediately to the on-going efforts in Global Polio Eradication Initiative.  

Sir Offor, the first Rotary International Polio Ambassador in Nigeria presented another donation of $1 million to Rotary International PolioPlus campaign this year as part of his commitment "to provide resources that support polio immunization efforts in Nigeria and throughout the world." Together, the amount donated to Rotary towards Polio Eradication by the Foundation totalled $3.1 million, an amount matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2 for 1, bringing the total to $9.3 million.

While we recognise some of the salient points raised in Mr Turner's article, we make bold to say that the dramatic and successful reduction of polio cases in Nigeria in the last couple of years is mostly part of the direct financial intervention of Sir Offor. Though the Nigerian Government has not officially recognized Sir Offor or the Foundation as a distinct partner in the Global Emergency Eradication Initiative, and considers such funding as simply coming from Rotary International, yet the Foundation’s continued involvement in recent projects with the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF continues to reflect SEOF as core partners in the polio eradication project

The dramatic success recorded in the fight against Polio in Nigeria is unprecedented. With the level of huge funding among other Polio related initiatives, Nigeria's polio status will sooner end. With 95 per cent reduction in polio cases, we are now this close to ending polio. 

Raheem Oluwafunminiyi wrote via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The news going round is that Nigeria is broke. I, for one, do not believe that fallacy. However, if the treasury is indeed empty or nearing emptiness, then what it means is that this happened because the government, this government and past governments had not exercised good fiscal, economic responsibility and management. I am not an economist, but I do know when money and other resources are being mismanaged. And as we will all agree, including the whole world, Nigerian governments have never been held in high esteem for fiscal management, unless we want to deceive ourselves, which is another additional path to impending disaster.

What it also means is that despite the massive oil revenue (and other incomes from other sources) earned over the decades, these have not been managed to serve the people of the country, as we have not really seen so much what the revenue has done to better the lives, security and comfort of the majority of Nigerians, only a few highly placed thieves.

If indeed this the case - that the country is broke - we saw it coming, but we ran smacked with eyes wide open into a waiting disaster. We have been cautioning our rulers for decades that no country can sustain the massive corruption that go on in Nigeria. All entreaties for our rulers (and sometimes, followers) to change have fallen on deaf ears.

Some do not even entertain the thought that oil, being a fossil fuel formed over millions of years, will be exhausted one day, or that developed countries have been frantically looking for and perfecting alternative sources of energy, so as to reduce, and eventually stop their dependence on their energy/petroleum sources coming mostly from unstable and irresponsible Third World republics like Nigeria.

Oil has been God's (or if you like, Nature's) gift to Nigeria; we have failed miserably to make the most of it to ameliorate our own lives, caused mostly as a result of selfishness, nepotism, greed and insensitivity to our brother's plight. It has been "only for me and my family" as against the communal spirit and morality for which many African societies were noted before the white man came. It is “grab what I can while I am there” and “I don’t care what happens to others as long as I get mine”. Very sad what we have descended into. It is now always “Me or Myself or I”, not “We or for them or for all of us”.

We now seem to be at a loss what to do. Deep, brilliant and great minds of the society are even confounded and in despair, and about to give up. Even our rulers, who are the causes of the problems, are flailing about, secretly taking their family out of the country and relocating them to "better and safer" countries, with the intention that when the shit hits the fan, they will join their families abroad. Meanwhile the ordinary Nigerians are being blitzed with poverty, bombs and insecurity, poor healthcare, etc. on a daily basis, and also being fed with lies and unfulfillable political promises, because the failed rulers still want to hang on to to power and drain every single last drop of oil and money from the country, as well as drain the peoples' blood and sweat in the process.

The other day, we were told we have $38 billion in the Foreign Reserve; but what the government did not tell us is what they did with the over $68 billion in foreign reserve that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo claimed he left for his successor, the late Umar Yar ‘Adua, and which was passed on, albeit less a few billions, to Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

As I said, I don’t believe we are broke, but then, the people of Nigeria have always been broke and broken anyway, so it makes no difference to us, if the government of Nigeria his broke or not. When we were practically swimming in oil and massive wealth did this filter down to the majority, to ease the poverty of their lives and be proud to call Nigeria and its various governments their own that they believe in? The answer has always been No.

The fact is we have been short-changed by our rulers, and we continue to be short-changed, with apparently no end in sight. Even a beam of hope for better things to come, for better rulers to come in 2015 is looking highly  impossible now and is fading fast, because, one,  it is looking more and more likely that we may have the same set, cabal, the same crooked and obtuse politicians back in power to continue the looting spree, and, two, it is even bleaker that some unscrupulous, blood-tainted and criminal  elements who have illegally acquired some big money (aided by those already in power) may also join those of their ilk who are already at the driving seat. All kinds of worms are crawling out of the woodwork to feed on our common wealth.

Let me quote Mamora Victor in The National Mirror of Nov 17, 2014. “One of the reasons that many Africa nations’ economy is in bad shape and poverty is common among the people is because the society promotes people who have no history of productivity in both social and economic entrepreneurship to public leadership. There are armies of people who are unfaithful and unproductive as employees taking over public leadership assignment in many nations of Africa. The implication is that the culture of irresponsibility and mediocrity are been promoted. Hence, corruption thrives. Corruption, among other meaning in English dictionary, means to abound in errors. When a society promotes incompetent people into public office, then they abound in errors and corruption thrives. Corruption is not only as a result of lack of character but also lack of competence. People can be of good character and abound in errors too or corrupt the economy. Two common attributes of public leaders who abound in errors are lack of vision and irresponsibility”.

If the above is not the Truth about Nigeria, as an African country, please tell me what it is. Look at our rulers (I never call them Leaders; Leadership is a quality, it cannot be bad, it can ONLY be good) and tell me what you see or feel about them and their qualifications and suitability for the leadership role we elected or appointed them to do. Even the most highly educated of them fall victim of the corruption disease eventually. It is an African disease, those you entrust with your lives, your welfare, wellbeing and money, eventually betray you, once they get to power, or maybe, the disease had been latent, only waiting to rear its ugly head out, once they grab power, and at your expense. This unexplainable phenomenon never fails to materialize.

Compatriots, we are at a crossroad (we always seem to be nearer elections). The future is not looking rosy for those of us alive or for many generations to come, if we continue to let things go the way of the devil. Nigeria is on the brink now more that it was before, even in the days of a certain military dictatorship. In fact despite the noise and false assurances by our politicians, who are pleading for a second chance to make lives better for us, we know deep inside ourselves that we are gradually turning this nascent democracy on its head and abusing it. Democracy can only be government of the people, for the people and by the people. Do we really practice that or are even trying to practice that age old definition, that has made other countries into great countries, imperfect as they may be, only because Man is imperfect.

Where are citizen participation; openness and accountability in government; free and fair elections; political inclusion of marginalised groups and peoples; women’s participation; good governance; political debates, ideologically-based political parties, dividends of democracy for ALL and NOT for SOME, etc.?

No wonder the rumour is that the country is broke. In fact, with the stupendous profligacy, corruption, mismanagement and lack of foresight of the past 54 years, it is a miracle the country has not broken down into a Somalia-like political terrain or economically impoverished Haiti; and this is only because the country is gushing with oil.

In the Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Unfortunately, I cannot get a definitive quotation from the Holy Quran, because Islamic law is absolutely incompatible with democracy.  It is a theocratic system with Allah alone at its head.  Allah's law is interpreted by a ruling body of clerics.  There is no room for a secular political system in which all people are treated as equals. Nevertheless, I am sure it does not advocate the corruption of any system that deals with the welfare of Man.

So, broke or no broke, Nigerians, well-meaning and responsible Nigerians, must go for broke in 2015 and drive these criminals out for good.  The hard truth is that we cannot and must not allow the present crop of politicians (including the children they are grooming in their own image), and even civil servants to continue running and ruining this beautiful country of ours.

I have to tell the Truth as I know it always. I get my inspiration and encouragement from my people.

 

Akintokunbo A Adejumo

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Monday, 17 November 2014 17:55

2015: Chime and the battle ahead

Written by

By Emmanuel Ejinima

It is no longer in doubt that a huge battle of attrition is raging in Enugu State ahead of the 2015 general elections. Chime who nurses the ambition to be a senator of the coming 8th National Assembly of Nigeria appears faced with a daunting hurdle of dislodging the incumbent, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who has made real his plans to return to the Senate for the 4th consecutive tenure.  From all indications, Chime still hopes to make it to the Senate with a signpost goal to represent his people, the West Senatorial District of his State made up of his home LGA, Udi and four other local government areas in the upper chamber even though many view it as seeking a political resting place or refuge as has become the fashion for many end-tenure governors. 

Chime had earlier, used his vantage position as the leader of his party in the State to declare the incumbent Senators’ seat vacant adducing zoning considerations under what eventually became a broader scheme to ensure that the majority of the politicians representing the State in the National Assembly did not return. To many political watchers, the move was seen as the final in his unrelenting battle to do in his predecessor in office and benefactor, former governor Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who up until now, boasts that the entire political generation in Enugu State of today, including Chime, was his making.  

This indelible assertion has continued to serve as a constant reminder of the apparent failure of Chime to fulfil his promise to completely dismantle Nnamani’s political machine, a promise he made right on his inaugural speech whence he proscribed Ebeano group, a political platform founded by Nnamani that Chime rode on to become governor of his State. 

Almost ending his second and final tenure in office, Chime’s efforts appear yet to wipe out Ebeano political dynasty and that is why the current political dispensation is the once and final opportunity for Chime to foist his own political legacy because so far,  Nnamani’s claim to the current political generation in Enugu State remained true and continues to accord him (Nnamani) accolades for political mastery -a credit that continues to be heavily underplayed by those who wish to be politically correct around Chime and not ready to hurt the sensibilities of those currently in the helm of affairs in the State. Notwithstanding, Nnamani’s image continues to loom larger than life in Enugu politics and remains a source of constant worry for Chime who is somewhat under pressure to outclass his former boss and school mate in an ego duel that has pervaded the State over the past eight years almost.

Above is the nature of the undercurrents that form the background for the looming war for the political life of Enugu State today, which many political pundits see as a fight to finish.  Even Chime’s surprising but staunch support for parliamentarian Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to succeed him in office was viewed as an admission of failure on Chime’s part to groom an equivalent political family since it was predicted that he would seek an appropriate successor from his own political lineage. Having failed on that score, Chime is under immense pressure to ferry himself to the Senate first of all, and then to deliver his trusted loyalists whom he may have anointed for the various elective posts come 2015.  The pressure is palpable and akin to what a former president of the country termed a do-or-die affair.  True to Chime’s political existence, the current political scenario in the State has risen to the pitch of do or die.

As above is happening and politicians in the State continue to size up the battle and take sides,  Chime’s camp continue to face unexpected misfortunes, some arising from deep-rooted distrust that has arisen from the rank and file; a situation fuelled by the rising belief that Chime might be waging a big war only for his personal ego and gain.  For instance, some disgruntled party chiefs have openly queried why almost all those being projected to fly the party flag for the next election were Chime’s family members or close personal associates at the expense of experienced party men and women who had remained loyal to him.  Of the 12 top positions to be contested for, Chime is personally and directly known for now to be interested in 11 including the emergence of his successor. It would seem that he views anointing a candidate for the gubernatorial seat his right and sign-off package and for himself, going to the Senate and occupying State’s West senatorial district seat as a befitting retirement package.  Then the Senate seat of the East clearly reserved for his right-hand strong woman of the State, his former Chief of Staff who hails from same LGA but married across to Nkanu. 

The former deputy governor alleged that he was axed in the infamous chicken impeachment saga to ensure the coast is clear for the top woman. The Senate seat of North of the State is no different.  It is reserved for Chime’s ally and confidant in his cabinet, former Commissioner for Transport. Then for the lower chambers of the National Assembly, Chime’s son in-law, husband to his first daughter, is pencilled down for Awgu/Oji river/Aninri federal constituency, while Chime’s younger brother, Jide is warming up for Udi/Ezeagu  federal constituency. His Godson and former highly-favoured super commissioner in charge of land matters is jostling for Nkanu East/ Nkanu West federal constituency seat while his nephew whom he made deputy speaker immediately upon his election into the State House of Assembly is confident on going to the Enugu North/South constituency seat. Others include another in-law, and current Chairman, Enugu East LGA who is working to upstage Ambassador Ebenyi for Isi Uzo/ Enugu East federal constituency and finally, Chime’s close ally from Nnamani cabinet days and his commissioner for Capital Territory Development, Ik Ugwuegede has been promised Nsukka/Igbo Eze South federal constituency. Even the Speaker of the House who has severally been criticised for acting as a lap dog of the Governor for leading a rubber-stamp legislative arm, has his well-apportioned reward in Uzo-Uwani/Igbo Etiti federal constituency even though he personally believes he is worth much more than that and has chosen to move against the idea by aspiring to be governor. Right down in the contest line to the State House of Assembly, it is no less the same.  Even the current crop of council chairmen in the State was another demonstration of Chime’s unhidden preference to place his relatives and associates above everyone else, all in a pursuit of a political legacy.

Although it is not unusual given the immense powers State governors have come to wield, to seek to dominate the political sphere of his domain, the grouse of most loyal party men against Chime is that his homing to family and personal associates at every opportunity was not encouraging the run-of-the-mill politicians, who, even though very loyal and very dependent may not have the direct connection to Chime and others at the top. To the party men and women, they fear now that loyalty to the party means nothing, if one does not have as it is in vogue, the necessary credential of having a close tie with Chime or his family.

A second issue in Chime’s camp is the several political policy somersaults, if there is anything so described. Chime has found himself repeatedly speaking from two sides of the mouth, saying one thing today and doing the exact opposite the next day.  For instance, when his pronouncement to the effect that politicians who had been in any position for 2 tenure should give way for others to have a taste, it carried with it a certain measure of legitimacy. 

But this was completely eroded when Chime decided to offer himself, a two-term governor, two term commissioner and earlier special adviser, to displace Ekweremadu. Looking at Ambassador Kingsley Ebenyi, Hon. Stella Ngwu and Hon. Tobi Okechukwu who are on their first tenure, why would there be Chime’s men angling for their seats if that pronouncement was upheld by Chime? And after giving full assurances to Ik Ugwuegede, we hear now that the former PDP State Party Chairman, Chief Vita Abah has been encouraged to go for the same Nsukka/Igboeze-South federal constituency.

Such are the state of affairs that continue to dog the political atmosphere of the coal city State as of today, making Chime’s political ambition to increasingly take the shape of a pipe dream as not many, even in his camp seem willing to take him seriously. Starting right from his home town, Udi and coming up to the State chapter of his party, where as governor, he should hold sway as leader and holder of the party structure, there are surprising scenarios to be highlighted under that indicate he has lost firm grip on the party structure. For instance, it is known that the chairman of the party in his local government Udi is not working with him and he has failed in his bid to get rid of the chairman. Also, the circumstances surrounding the resignation of the erstwhile State Party Chairman Chief Vita Abah remained questionable.  

While some reports have it that he resigned out of incapacitation occasioned by ill health, others, especially from official channels claim it was for him to contest for election to the lower chambers of the national assembly, a seat ostensibly reserved for Chime’s close ally from back in the days in Nnamani’s cabinet, Ik Ugwuegede.  Meanwhile, a more extreme explanation is gradually pulling up from the rumour mills and conspiracy theorists that the Chairman resigned suddenly as a result of inducement from Chime’s opposing camp in order to make things tough for him as is currently playing out.  

Whatever is the reason, the sudden realisation in Enugu State today is that Chime lacks a broad-based grip on the State party and the political affairs of the State, wherein, for instance, the mere exit of the State Chairman of his Party was able to throw him so off balance. In some quarters were these nagging questions to wit. After all these years as governor of the State and party leader, why was he not able to work with the deputy to the erstwhile PDP Chairman Elder David Aja?  What would it have taken to cultivate the man’s loyalty and friendship?  In fact it remains doubtful if Chime can get an unqualified vote of confidence from the State executives of his Party, in a fair environment.

As we depart the arena of the State politics, we come up to the national level –the centre; a usual theatre of political gerrymandering, fluid alliances, brinkmanship and influence peddling. Here also, Chime’s rating appears below par. It is no longer a secret that he is not that close to the powers that be at the centre who, as we increasingly gather, are merely tolerating him because of the office he occupies and will not blink an eyelid to say bye-bye to him when his tenure comes to an end in a question of few months. Whatever be the reason, Chime’s anchorage with both the national party leadership and the presidency is observably poor.  This could vaguely account for why some Enugu youths made bold to caution aspirants to distance self from Chime, calling him a political liability. See Daily Post of November 1, 2014.

In the midst of the whole milieu, Chime seems to have formed the ill habit of constantly misgauging his strengths and shortcomings, and freely embraces melee at every opportunity.  While the battle back home and bickering for the West Senatorial seat were assuming the posture of a conflagration, Chime decided to openly come into contradiction with the National Working Committee of his Party.  First was the matter of endorsements which he was first at and even after several tacit reprimand from his Party hierarchy, he shoved all aside and continued, fully against the outcry of some difficult-to-ignore stakeholders like Senator Ayogu Eze and others who went full length to lampoon the consensus attempt. 

Then his insistent on following his personal design to have a replacement for the exited State Party Chairman with his own man, Ikeje Asogwa -a move which has put him in open confrontation with the Party.  Finally, and most significantly, Chime has clearly rejected the recent intervention of the Presidency and leadership of his Party in resolving the seeming logjam between him and Senator Ekweremadu whom he has sworn to displace. To Chime, it matters little that the distinguished senator is not only the deputy president of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and highly visible chairman of the constitution review committee of the Senate, but also the speaker of ECOWAS parliament who has attracted many notable and acclaimed federal government presence in form of projects to the State, even beyond his immediate constituency, the West Senatorial district. It matters little also that the Senator is one of the pillars in support of Goodluck Jonathn’s presidency and has been in support of the President through thick and thin. 

To Chime, Senator Ekweremadu must not return to the Senate and should proceed on political retirement, and give way for him since, according to his proclaimed mantra, public office is for poverty alleviation, and the Senator has had his poverty assuaged enough with his several years in the upper national assembly.

With the court action instituted by his camp, it has become clear that Chime has jettisoned the truce brokered by Mr. President as well as his Party and against all counsel, appears now determined to wage an all-out war.  To be fair to Chime, a situation whereby he was offered to take over the entire party structure in the State after guaranteeing the return of Senator Ekweremadu to the Senate would seem appropriate but it is actually a division of his political empire and whittling down of the usual totalitarian influence of governors who are normally allowed to decide the fate of all and everybody and, in fact, everything in a State they oversee.  Call it a fault in the system we operate today but that is the truth.  The governors are spoilt to believe it as their right.  So, the national Party and the Presidency weighing in on Chime to release his choking grip on Ekweremadu and to go on to exercising his gubernatorial ‘right’ on all other matters including his successor in office, is not an easy pill to swallow. 

He saw it as a slap on his face. After all, his predecessor had his way all through in his time, to the extent that he was even allowed to hack down a full-fledged Senate President.  Now, he is being asked to make a concession for a mere deputy.  And for Chime who is known to brood no opposition to his authoritarian powers that was totally unacceptable.  This is the same governor, when receiving entreaties from the highest echelon of his Party to forgive his former deputy, Onyebuchi and shelve his impeachment process, saying Onyebuchi must go because it had become necessary to teach him who the boss was. 

That is the classical Chime. In fact, it filtered out that Gov. Sullivan Chime was offered to actualise his senatorial ambition on the East or Enugu/Nkanu senatorial district having resided in the zone all his life, which actually would seem logical since he has done more for Enugu than any part of the State including his home town Udi.  That arrangement would have seen him actualise his senate ambition without having to yank anybody off.  But he would have none of that.

Well, while above is being considered, only those who are naïve will not know that Chime’s war, as it stands today, is a war against his Party and the Presidency.  It is no more a local affair.  It is no more a small war with a small senator from a small community in a small local government area. And he, Chime knows given his few moves recorded in the past few days.

First, he has sought and obtained the nod of his State legislature to take a huge loan in the name of the State, a whopping N11billion ostensibly for the completion of on-going projects, but truth be told, the money is for war!  Second, his threat to decamp with his people to another party is becoming real with his clear stance to see to the permanent damage to his Party’s ability to field candidates in the coming general elections using court action.  

His camp seems hell bent on creating an impasse capable of making it impossible for the Party to produce valid nominations for the upcoming general elections. The court case by Chime’s camp was practically meant to render the party impotent in the State and even if nominations were made by the national headquarters of the Party to INEC, such can easily become incompetent much later if the case is finally resolved in their favour.  So, in simple language, the action of Chime’s camp is tantamount to blowing up the plank-form for both sides and for everybody. PDP will thus become a risky platform to contest the coming elections in the State, both by him, his followers and his adversaries. So, the calculation in Chime’s camp is to create a deadlock that will force all sides to jump ship and seek other political parties, a scenario they view as zeroing-off the scale and allowing them maintain an upper hand in the political affairs of the State.

But the more devastating consequence is the implication of the situation on the chances of the Party in the State as viewed from the national level. If everybody heads for other parties and jumps off the PDP ship, which Chime’s camp now desires and works to achieve, then  what will be the chances of President Goodluck securing the usual now, much needed, massive support and votes from the State?  Whatever the blend of analysis, my projection is that it will not be on a positive trend. If Mr. President’s interest is to be paramount, then the enlarging crack in Enugu needs to be mended with dispatch.  That is if the contending parties care about Mr. President’s re-election.

And Chime is a dogged court fighter; very used to long drawn wars, winning, losing and taking all with equanimity. Just few days back as at the time of writing, he lost an appeal on a N1.5billion libel suit against Guardian newspapers and a political opponent, a case that commenced in 2007. His government also lost a suit against its former employee, Ezeabasili and the court awarded N10 million damages and a N100,000 cost against the Governor Sullivan Chime-led government for “illegal and unconstitutional actions against” Ezeabasili.  He has instituted several industrial lawsuits against his work force like judicial workers, other civil servants campaigning for better pay and implementation of national minimum wage, ASUU in the State University, ESUT,  even personally against some stubborn labour leaders like Osmond Ugwu that got remanded in prison on his orders, etc. 

Yes, Chime is battle ready and it is a familiar terrain no doubt. But for him, it is important that he properly weighs the situation. An all-out protest to assert his position and draw attention to a purported injustice being meted on him by his Party and not reasonably assuaged by mediation of Mr. President can be considered okay, but an all-out war, to me, is a no no!

First, Chime is broke -no thanks to the all-out tussle for the party structure which saw him burning an unexpected large amount of cash to secure a skew in his favour at the last ward delegates’ election in his State, for which he still ended with the shorter end of the stick. Yes, the State House of Assemble has given their go ahead for him to go a-borrowing but no right thinking government pitches an 11th hour debt offer. It will fail. Chime clearly does not have the funds in his vaults to execute the war.  He also heads a government with meagre means which doesn’t have such money in the treasury, hence the resort to borrowing. To borrow N11billion to execute a war against his Party and Mr. President! Someone is playing pranks with him.   I hear it is a commercial bank lending deal.  It is all a lie. No bank will grant such loan. The State’s entire monthly allocations hover around N3.5billion of which N2billion goes into the wage bill and running of the administration.  At best, the repayment period for N11bn loan will be a year and half, a whooping one year beyond Chime’s tenure and one whole year the incoming government will do nothing but repay debts.  

No! It is too risky for any commercial bank because Chime is clearly not going to be re-elected and what is the guarantee that the incoming administration will honour such obligation, or does the lending bank intend to use court action to make the incoming Governor to pay? Already, some of the gubernatorial hopefuls and opposition parties have openly condemned the Governor’s move. Chinedu Onu, who believes himself to be a front contender to the office of the governor came out loud and clear that he would not support the repayment of such hurried last-minute lending, saying that it was not in the interest of the people of the State and advised the governor to rather hand over the on-going projects instead of debt overhang to his successor.  All these are coming now that global oil prices are taking a nose dive with the Minister of Finance warning all to gear up for adverse weather.

Again, which commercial bank will lend the N11billion? Will it be single bank lending or loan syndication?  Already, this will potentially be a breach of the Central Bank’s prudential guideline and even if the bank insists, exactly half of the lending will need to be provisioned. This means that the bank must book a loss equal to half of the loan, so is UBA ready to report a loss of N5.5bilion on a single transaction? I hope not. 

Meanwhile, what is Enugu State government’s credit history? Please when was the last time the State borrowed such a huge sum? The report in the media showed Chime government’s inability to repay an earlier N1billion loan which had interest ballooning. Much earlier in the first tenure, the State Housing Corporation became notorious in the circle of regulatory authorities when it borrowed N3billion for a housing project and could not repay the loan. Enugu government’s credit rating is poor. 

Or could all these be part of what was negotiated into the consensus plot; is Honourable Ugwuanyi poised to partake in the largesse in the present, hoping to get elected and then make the State pay? Ugwuanyi needs to come clean of many things including open accusations in the media (Leadership and Guardian) – {http://leadership.ng/columns/386757/conspiracy}{http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/features/policy-a-politics/181674-enugu-2015-here-comes-the-consensus-candidate-of-pdp}-way of bribery to secure the failed consensus.  On the planned borrowing proper, why is it that while other aspirants, many bodies, pressure groups and people in the streets of Enugu are  raising their voices against such late-hour borrowing, Ugwuanyi, who is seen as the inheritor of the actions fails to see any wrong in the act.  

Another angle to the matter is that, if the credit risks are factored into the pricing of the loan, it will be too expensive to consider and not attract adverse attention of anti-graft agencies that are already on the trail of Chime’s apostles. No! His plan is dead on arrival.

In all, the prospect of success in Chime’s all-out war is bleak. It won’t serve him, it won’t serve his ardent followers, who truly now, are hoping for a last minute turn of events. I will therefore be part of those that will advise Chime to take it easy. I am sure that he has presided over very many a meeting where credible Party faithful nursing some political ambitions are asked by the Party to shelve their ambitions and support others.   That is exactly what his Party seeks of him now and it will be to his credit and in favour of his political credentials that he acts as a good Party man, a quality he has demanded of many in the past and got his way. Grandstanding will not work. Attempting an all-out war may become an all-out political suicide for him.  For Chime’s handlers and his remaining apostles, it is time to start beating the drums of war in reverse, for life does not end by May 29th 2015.  The repercussions of any misstep now might last far beyond 2015 and possibly a lifetime.  

Emmanuel is a social scientist and youth activist resident at University Town, Nsukka

Whenever an older woman tells the story of how she had to submit to unwanted advances or rape by men in the position of unequal discretionary power over her, we wonder why anyone has to take that much abuse. Taking advantage of people in any situation is bad enough, that one has to participate in it as if she was willing in order to secure a favor is demeaning. Even worse is rape in any situation. Rape must never be trivialized and must be jealously guided.

What Maheeda posing nude as Catholic Nun, Kim Kardashian and AfroCandy have in common is their ability to control their own financial exploitation. Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby also have in common the introduction of teenage wannabe actresses, sometimes by parents knowing full well the sleaze, drugs and sexual glorification in the entertainment industry. Successful actress such as Jennifer Lawrence cried foul if their past showed up. If unsuccessful some may bite back.

If Monica Lewinsky had claimed she was rape, her interrogators could have been happy to go easy on her and she could have received more empathy than she is getting today. The case of Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby are different in the sense that entertainment industry is known notoriously as sexually pervasive in real life, act or when staged. Unlike gymnastics where little children are groomed into mature athlete, Nollywood, Hollywood and Bollywood are different.

Who does not know that Bill Cosby was a member of Playboy Club and a well-educated man that prefer the entertainment industry? Barbara Bowman one of the wannabe actresses that never made it, appeared on many television stations claiming she now realized that she must have been drugged but knew she was raped after she turned eighteen. From the age of 17   Cosby and her agent paid her rent and probably got pocket money too. Sounds like a kept lady.

Entertainment is notably a sexually provoking industry but so are violent, horror and historical acts that appeal to many and variety of audiences. It is not an excuse to be violent or sexually explicit to children or even teenagers but as a fact, teenagers are exposed. One would expect that in such cases, parents of children and teenagers wishing to be actors and actresses would be diligently involved to watch out for these abuses. These are not places of higher learning.

While colleges are a good place for young men and women to keep their eyes open for future spouse they did get admitted wishing to be raped. Parents have a right to expect their young ones to come out unscathed and well groomed for future tasks. Students go to campus to learn skills, how to live and cope with acquaintances and mates they are going to deal with in life.

The same is true when women start their career outside home in any position at work. They are there to earn a living. These days, some of the women are the main bread winners in the family. Pressuring them for quid pro quo as in sex for promotion, salary raise and any other favor has been promulgated and banned by law in most countries. Since it is easier to take advantage of a subordinate with less bargaining power, we accept complaint until it is proven otherwise.

It does not mean that there are a few or some ladies that would not take advantage of the law or the zero tolerance for sexual abuse. However, the high cost of reporting abuses by ladies are high.  The embarrassment and shame during the process of fact finding prevent many from coming forward. Some repress it and many blame themselves. No matter what, those that want revenge after affairs went sour, spurned or desired more than they can get; cannot be ruled out.

Every profession has its good and bad characters but the entertainment industry have certain attraction for extroverts or introverts that want to act the role they cannot possibly display in real life. Indeed, that contributes to the quality of being a good actor. There are many roles that are explicitly outrageous but totally inappropriate for children and teenagers. In fairness to the industry, adults have been cast in children’s role but not always.

In Nigeria Nollywood, actresses have played many roles including some as university students or teenagers. Many actually looked young and believable. In USA, there was an advertisement when Brook Shield as a teenage wore a sexy jean pants saying nothing comes between her and her jeans. Some of the actresses are so young playing sexy parts that one has to wonders how many takes it took before the final cut. The point here is that children play too many sexy roles.

Their mentors take advantage of this and order more practices sometimes with these teenagers leading to sexual proximities and trials.  Actually some of the male actors have complained that during the different takes, they are aroused by female’s touch: damn if you do damn if you don’t get hard. As good actors they are suppose to bring the audience along and espouse the feelings. Those acts that are believable get better rating.

If all this is true, there are actors and directors with reputations. They are well known within the circles, yet these are the ones parents introduce their children to. Polanski claimed he was not dealing with a virgin. Bill Cosby claimed there were many ladies out there trying to blackmail him into giving them more money than he was willing to. Some of the actresses never made it to the point they expected. It is a very competitive field with many falling by the wayside.

There were rumors that Baba Suwe killed his wife for another woman. Another rumor that he carried drugs for money to live a fast life. He sued and won. As it turns out in Nollywood or Hollywood those that were married to one another end up falling for their partners in movies, almost like exchanging partners while others lose their husbands and wives to actress and actors. Moreover, these actors are so popular, teens and admirers follow them everywhere.  

      

Saturday, 15 November 2014 23:51

Job creation: The wonders of SURE-P, by Uwa Eghomeka

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Amidst the uproar that followed the partial removal of fuel subsidy in January of 2012 came the announcement that a new federal government programme would be created to ease the effect of government’s decision on the average Nigerian. When the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) was created and a committee inaugurated in February of the same year, their focus was to ensure that the funds accrued by the federal government as a result of the subsidy removal would be reinvested into programmes and initiatives that would be easily accessible by all. Thus, the SURE-P committee began their arduous task under the leadership of Dr Christopher Kolade. Many may have thought that SURE-P would fail; that as other ventures had before it, it would be ‘business as usual’. Those people, I believe, have to date, been pleasantly surprised to find that not only has SURE-P remained, it has grown in spades. 

Since its inauguration two and a half years ago, SURE-P, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, has been involved in several projects such as the procurement and management of mass transit, maternal and child healthcare, community service programmes, HIV/AIDS Intervention, Polio Eradication and other noteworthy causes. Chief among their projects are the vocational training and Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS). 

Nigeria’s Minister of National Planning had declared that the current unemployment statistics for Nigeria as at 2011, stood at 23.9%; which translates to almost 40 million citizens. Another figure from the National Bureau of Statistics had indicated that over 70% of Nigerians live on a USD a day or less. These figures are frightening, to say the least. Thankfully, there is some ray of hope on the horizon. 

With the vocational training project which has as its areas of focus; hands on skills, life skills and entrepreneurial skills, SURE-P has invested in reducing unemployment through skills acquisition and development. As of today, they have arranged over 6,000 job placements for skilled labour, with 1,000 technicians registered at the NationalAutomotive Council. Quite impressive, one might say, but that is until one learns that through SURE-P, about 185,000 Jobs have been created. 

While this may be a mere drop in the bucket when you consider the almost 40 million jobless Nigerians, it is a drop nonetheless, and one that will be accompanied by many more drops with the passing of time. Admirably, we do not have a bunch on delusional people forming that committee that manages the president’s SURE-P pet project. These are men and women who are fully convinced that the government alone cannot employ all the unemployed. Thus, apart from the encouragement and training of youths towards the pursuance of entrepreneurship, the committee also launched one of its most laudable projects; the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS).

Based on the figures which the government has to work with, the only way the GIS will be able to reach its full potential and be a rewarding enterprise is if the government, non-governmental organisations and private business owners all key into its vision. The beauty of the GIS is that it is not restricted to any industry and the government has made it more attractive to business owners by committing to pay the allowances of all graduates taken in by different organizations. 

Thanks to the GIS initiative by SURE-P, over 3,000 graduates have found placements, while others are awaiting theirs. In a country such as ours, this is a step in the right direction. So far, SURE-P and the Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala led Federal Ministry of Finance have proved to be a formidable team focused on improving the lot of our youths.  

Uwa Eghomeka is a teacher and budding writer. She resides in the ancient city of Benin.

 

Leader Abubakar Shekau, for the sake of Prophet Muhammad, what if the Nigerian Presidency election was open to you?  Would that be enough for you?

Sir,  just a short while after a full video of you was seen around the world preaching to local residents in captured towns in northeast Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, has come out to formally declare his ambition to contest the 2015 election.

Leader Shekau, with what appeared to be a chewing stick in your right hand followed by you carefully chewing the apparent stick of life; you and your adherents were seen in praise of Allah whose worth remains priceless and graceful. Most eyes can see you purportedly reading or commenting on the great words of Prophet Muhammad as they relate to peace and blessings for humanity and the world.

Sir, no one has the right to judge you, as we don’t truly know what is in your inner mind, but many of your actions to date show that pursuing excessive political power in Nigeria is certainly to your liking and which you seem to be chasing in an intolerant and cold-blooded manner.

It is quite clear that you want political equality, in the light of your recent gains territorially.

As a terror leader, you will certainly not be the first in the world to seek power as it relates to your possible ambition to come to the presidential office in 2015. If this is the case, let Nigerians know, as they are forgiving and good people, and are used to terror and a dictatorial kind of leadership.  It may interest you to know that Jonathan, a man of the South now running for re-election, was a presidential accident who by chance and good luck ascended to power in 2010 following the painful  death of  Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, your fellow  Muslim northerner. So anything can happen in terms of your possible rise to the presidency.

Leader Shekau, as a purported man of Allah, we know, like Jonathan that you may wish to see adequate security, power, education, roads, anti-corruption, and health plans instituted, as well as a just government put in place for the people in northeast especially.

It is true that you may have told the world that the entire Nigerian nation must come under sharia (Islamic law) but as you know, Muhammad, the great Prophet of Islam, stated that anyone who trusts in his words must first pursue peace in a personal manner, followed by national peace.

Yet, do not many of your heinous operations in recent times appear at odds with the Prophet’s message, as you possibly seek an elected office with national power?

Sir, enough is enough.

No one knows which political platform you would like to contest under in regard to the coming presidential election.  Jonathan, your possible co-contestant, is contesting under the  platform of the current ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, while others like General Muhammadu Buhari, Abubakar Atiku, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and Rochas Okorocha are contesting under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Sir, as you are fully aware, it is still possible for you to declare for the 2015 presidential election on whatever platform you choose, and no matter how you elect to do this, as a young democratic nation, Nigerians and the international world will give you the same human rights space as everyone else, even known terrorists like yourself.

Though it's unclear which States will come out to support you, one thing is clear. You have already shown to the world that you like governance as you are presently doing in some areas of  Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states. But that does not mean the people will support your intention to contest the 2015 election.

The only way to know is if by tomorrow you declare your interest to take part in the coming presidential election, together with a promise to stop all the kidnapping, targeting of schools, killing of security men and women, the abduction of domestic and foreign persons, as well as putting a stop to the suicide bombings.

As a human being first, and a purported man of Allah, don’t you think you have made enough statements through the series of heavy-duty attacks on the people?

Sir, you have already achieved international name and recognition; so what else do you want?

Just come out as we now know you are actually alive as against the several thoughtless announcements of your multiple deaths by the struggling Nigerian security officials under President Jonathan.

Sir, just come out and declare your ambition to contest the 2015 presidential election because one thing is clear. Like Jonathan, Buhari, Atiku, Okorocha  and others, your love for power is quite clear. Therefore, your continued senseless war against the very people that might consider your future presidency with a seat in Abuja could show you to be more in opposition to the directions of Allah and Prophet Muhammad, and by such manner, you will stand as an abuser to the true words of the Qur'an, and a real disbeliever in Allah and his messenger, Prophet Muhammad.

Sir, should you continue on your current path, you will forever be seen as an evil doer, a physical disaster and spiritual failure that deserve no mercy.

Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic, Clinical and National Psychologist and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association.   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Dr. Craig Spencer the last of United States Healthcare workers that returned home sick as Ebola victim recently, was finally discharged at Bellevue Hospital in New York. More worthy is his call, echoing the call of Yoruba Elders International of Rhode Island in their workshop on November 8, 2014 that the world must refocus efforts on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone without stigma. U.S has demonstrated that it can champion the rate of survival of Ebola patients.  

Yoruba Elders International made the call on the 8th in Rhode Island, Dr. Spencer who was not discharged until the 11th of November, three days after the Conference, unaware of the Yoruba Elders made the same call. The election in United States politicized Ebola in Africa and returning American healthcare workers were unduly stigmatized. More media Health education is needed to combat the hysteria, stigma and myths about Ebola so that progressive effort can be in Africa.

Dr. Spencer had volunteered in Guinea to treat Ebola patients, did not infect anyone with Ebola and followed every precaution as he was not showing any symptom, vindicated the science we relied on. He took all precautions as expected by self-monitoring and reported himself as soon as his temperature was high. Ms. Kacy Hickox on her return was never sick but got detained.   

Moreover, the only fatality in USA, Mr. Tom Duncan’s family in the house was not infected. It further buttresses scientific empirical knowledge of Ebola transmission. During the workshop Dr. Fine the Director of Rhode Island Dept. of Health gave the prognosis of Ebola. He assured the general community and African community in particular that they are prepared to deal with any case of Ebola. Other speakers included Drs. Abia Benton, Hafees Fatunmbi and John Connor.

Before the Conference, Liberian and African communities in Rhode Island had community outreach educating people about Ebola. The Liberian communities all over United States have been disproportionally stigmatized and African countries far away from West Africa have had those who are American citizens visiting discriminated against after brief visits to Africa. One Nigerian in Connecticut had to sue in court to get his child back in school after a brief visit.

Duncan family has settled with the Dallas Hospital. Some Africans had speculated and could not understand why it was only Mr. Tom Duncan that died; and who created Ebola in the first place. There are different hypothesis out there but we must focus on science just as we asked those that have reduce transmission of Ebola to hysteria to focus on science. If Mr. Tom Duncan had   health insurance, he would have been delayed for more diagnostic tests covered by insurance.   

As for who created Ebola, it has been around since 1976 at the first outbreak in Zaire (Congo). There are many organisms like bacteria and virus that may survive in one species of animal and not in another. A virus may survive in monkey or bat without causing any sickness. The same virus such as Ebola would and has caused disease in man. Actually, that involves jumping from one species to another like the bird virus. But every disease does not start in Africa. 

What about within man? One of the recent warnings by Center for Disease Control and many of our physicians, pharmacist and nurses is about the overuse of antibiotics. The reason for that is the fear that some bacteria might become resistant to antibiotics rendering them ineffective. It is like cockroaches that have adapted to some of our antiseptics. So we may have bacteria and viruses that have gone through genetic mutations and become resistant to drugs.

Actually in the case of viruses, there are not that many drugs like there are for bacteria cures. In the case of Ebola, we found out in Nigeria that old fashion public health investigation, contact tracing, electrolytes and pain killers help fish out susceptible and infected people for treatment. We put out Nigeria as an example of how it could be done in United States. If Ebola could be stopped in Nigeria, it could and it has stopped in United States. But Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were different. They were just recovering from wars, famine and unstable governments.

The development of diseases happen within our bodies, without outsiders poisoning us as some speculated, by the disturbance of flora balance. The simplest way to explain it is to build on the overuse of antibiotic mentioned earlier. Take our mouth or other cavities within our bodies as examples. Each of them has different bacteria and fungi that live symbiotically. It is a mutually beneficial relationship until antibiotic kills off a group leaving the others. It may cause disease.

This is by far not a justification to exculpate anyone. We already have evidence of past injustice but we must be very careful not to accuse everyone for the criminal behavior of a few. We have to base any evidence we have on facts that are reasonable to most objective parties in the same situation. Labels can be very explosive and may discourage the people that are committed in life to serve and help. It may also instigate ignorant people that attack dedicated workers.

Some of us saw healthcare workers trying to take people to the hospitals or picking up the dead from the street being attacked. These are bad messages. If we can attack our own people, the foreigners coming to our communities are discouraged for fear of being attacked too. There are enough problems and stigma in foreign communities that may discourage them from coming. If we put all these together, it may become difficult to be our brothers’ keepers.

After listening to the Sierra Leone Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Abubarka on BBC, many were impressed. We started out late helping Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea but African countries must and have been helping with the full cooperation of international communities. Doctors Without Borders has always been reliable and they are well experience in the field. Africans must welcome and help international community help themselves. We must lead with our boots on the ground.

From Qatar to Kuwait all the way to Venezuela, and even in Nigeria, one sound rings clear on the balance sheets of these countries: revenue from oil is declining. The drastic fall of oil prices is making many of the oil producing nations tighten their belts and make adjustments in the national budget. These fall in revenue will surely necessitate a reduction in spending by oil producing nations across the world. 

Nigeria, which is presently battling lots of challenges, will also have her own share of cuts on spending. However, as price of oil goes on a freefall, Nigeria is being shielded by the Excess Crude Account which Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala vigorously enriched for such a time as this!

As a reminder, the Excess Crude Account (ECA) came to reality through the foresight of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala during the Obasanjo era. ECA was envisaged to warehouse proceeds from oil revenue that shoots above the annual budget projections. The idea behind the establishment of the ECA then was that if oil price, like we’re having now, or output unexpectedly falls, Nigeria will be under no pressure to forcibly borrow at high cost in order to fund revenue shortfalls.

Seeing things in different light, the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, have been up in arms battling the Minister for this noble idea. It is amazing that the reps don’t take into consideration that numerous OPEC countries adopt comparatively much lower crude oil budget benchmarks than Nigeria.

Members of the House Committee on Finance have been most vicarious from this reality. They fail to understand the gains inherent in ECA. They fail to understand that the establishment of the ECA is actually empowered through Section 162(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that the federation shall maintain a special account into which shall be paid all revenue collected by the federal government. 

Likewise, Section 35(1) of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act stipulates that “Where a reference commodity price rises above the predetermined level, the resulting excess proceeds shall be saved”.  In further justification of the rationale for the establishment of the ECA, the Minister cited Section 16(1a) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that “…the State shall harness the resources of the nation, and promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self-reliant economy”.

In spite of this constitutional justification for the ECA, the House of Reps didn’t fail every year to invoke Sections 59, 81 and 82 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which empower them to juggle the national budget’s estimate by constantly increasing the benchmark of the budget. They believe that the raining days is here and we must spend all that we earn at a go!

In 2013, the benchmark was increased from $75 per barrel that the executive proposed to $80, while the Senate took a middle position and pegged its own benchmark for $78. In arriving at this decision, the House of Representatives posit that increasing the benchmark will reduce the budget deficit and domestic debts by as much as 66%. While opposing the position of the national assembly, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala warns that jerking the oil benchmark to $80 will affect Nigeria’s credit rating; make borrowing more expensive; lower the Foreign Direct Investment; impact negatively on macroeconomic stability, and the country will lose $20 instead of gaining $5. 

It is obvious that the Minister of Finance has made the right decision by establishing the ECA and ensuring that the account is constantly being enriched despite opposition from the National Assembly.

Pray, what would have happened to the Nigerian economy in this season of economic uncertainty as the price of oil goes on downward path? The ECA is coming handy this season guiding against our nation going broke. 

The Minister of Finance should be commended for this feat. For ensuring that things are done the right way, we must applaud her for her foresight, the hallmark of all great leaders.

 

When in August this year Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu wrote an article on his The Kalu Leadership Series, titled, “Reign of terror by Abia triumvirate: Father, son and wife”, published in the Saturday Sun, some persons might think that he was merely ranting. However, the news making the rounds today has shown that the ex-governor was foresighted. 

While Governor T.A Orji established unprintable political chaos in the annals of governments in the state, his wife and son are headed for the unbearable and they might be included in the Guinness Book of Records, as the wife has warmed up to contest for the House of Representatives, while his son is headed for the state House of Assembly and indeed, of course, the governor is headed for the Senate.

Against that backdrop, some analysts have written that Governor Orji is not only insatiable, but also a man who is against development, because he has no conscience. His conscienceless habit has made Abia State the worst underdeveloped state in the entire South-East geo-political zone. The people from that state have resorted to spiritual exercise, praying to God to redeem them from the clutches of woes that the present administration has plunged them into.

Any right thinking person would understand that it is very annoying that the news that Abia State is headlined in the past seven years are very appalling. The saddest is that the governor took to biting the finger in whose hand he became what he is today. Some persons would say that ingratitude is the worst of sins in the world and the governor has this unmannered characteristic running in his vein of veins.

Like Kalu would say in that article, the elders of Abia State and other well-meaning persons in the state are now on their toes, cowed to navigate to anywhere the compass goes, without holding to their own opinion about the state. Suffice it to say that the governor has made everybody to become afraid of his or her life. Talking about some persons summoning the courage to speak out against the evils of the government is a big story for another day.

Sadly, it has now become obvious that Kalu sees beyond the time. He had warned Abia people to be weary of how Abia State is now being fully controlled and run by the trium­virate comprising the governor, his wife and his son. It is a miserable thing to note that nobody else gets anything from the government unless he is ready to dance to the whims and caprices of the triumvirate or in the alternative opt to abuse Orji Kalu. Very sad, indeed!

 

Nneka Otum is from Ibeku, Umuahia.

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