Connect with us

OPINION

Tackling the plight of Niger Delta region

Published

on

By Grace Omowumi Semudara

Niger Delta, as a geographical entity, her folks and the enormous gift of nature (crude oil) have been the cynosure of all eyes as their struggles dominate national discourse. It can be said with all sense of humility that the region and her people, by their endowment with abundant natural resources, should not have anything to do with stifling poverty, as postulated by many. But that is not the case, the tale of the Niger Delta is that of misery, despair, penury and haplessness in the face of immeasurable wealth, that would have accrued them, if the proceeds of their crude oil resources are judiciously used to develop their polluted lands. The region is only a microcosm of the dense citizenry of our African Giant Nigeria.

A nation so blessed with human and mineral resources, yet its people live in abject poverty and sickening squalor. No thanks to the haphazard and ill planned oil exploration activities, most villages and towns of many Niger Delta states, have been polluted, due to oil spillage, apart from rendering aquatic life extinct.

The thoughts of the villagers whose peasant occupation is fishing not having to practice their age-long fishing tradition for instance, only leaves one neglected. In the face of these odds, the menace of militancy sprouted. The youths started to revolt against the government. Soon, oil rigs and pipelines became their targets. They were bombarded by aggrieved youths belonging to various dreaded militant groups. As their lands were further contaminated due to wanton level of oil pollution, so was the nation loosing enormous revenue because of pipeline vandalism. Niger Delta militants As condemnable as the militancy attacks appeared, it became the only way to attract governments attention and sympathy. Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, had in the wake of the needless and constant attacks in the creeks, a decade ago, swung into action.

He soon established the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and unveiled the Amnesty programme for repentant militants to surrender their arms. Other laudable programmes and activities, aimed at rehabilitating the irate militants were launched. The result was remarkable as a sizeable number renounced their membership of various groups. Soon, they were trained in various vocational skills both at home and abroad and given monthly allowances, together with starter packs immediately they rounded up the artisan trainings. Brilliant youths sponsored to acquire degree certificate abroad returned with amazing results, some even bagged first class.

Part of the deliberate measure, and perhaps, the most laudable measure taken by the erstwhile late President , was the establishment of the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. No prize for guessing, but everyone knew what the motive and cardinal objective of setting up the special ministry was. Has the ministry lived up to expectation? That is a topic for another discussion. In recent times and specifically in the last three years of the APC-led federal government- there has been bombardments of pipelines. Some hitherto repentant militants have taken up arms again, hence returning to their ‘diabolic’ venture, it seems. However, several media reports that some of those who were sent overseas for studies are now stranded in foreign lands, are replete.

Like their peers, Governors of the Niger Delta States, have been complicit in the art of misappropriating, diverting and ‘personalizing’ the allocation of their various states. Little wonder, the oil producing states despite the additional 13% derivation fund given to them from the federal monthly allocation still epitomize under-development and backwardness. Over 1500 illegal refineries destroyed in Niger Delta The narrative of the geographical entity called Niger Delta needs to be changed. Reviewing some of the earlier launched empowerment programmes, will be the first step to addressing the perceived injustice meted out to Niger Delta masses.

Then, massive infrastructural development, provision of basic amenities and speeding up the activities of cleaning their polluted lands, namely the Ogoni clean up should follow suits. These, and many other activities or programmes can be embarked on by government to assuage the feelings of the Niger Deltans. Since they (the activities and programmes) are not rocket
science, the government has no alibi to offer if they fail to do the needful. We envisage immediate action, and enough of rhetoric. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

Semudara, an intern with PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, wrote from Abuja.

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments

Akwa Ibom INFO is the digital front-door that informs, educates and entertains a global audience of readers with distinctively radical and inspirational media content emphasizing the freshness of Akwa Ibom culture, entertainment, sports, faith and lifestyle presented from a thrillingly unalike angle.

OPINION

Zayyad Muhammad: Memo to IGP Adamu Mohammed

Published

on

Dear IGP Adamu Mohammed, Congratulations on reaching the peak of your career. You are lucky and unlucky at the same time. You rise to the top at a critical moment in the Nigerian polity- election time. The next two months may mar or make your achievements as a police officer, depending on how you approach the management of the Nigerian police and its obligations during forth-coming elections.

In Nigeria, policing is interwoven with politics. During this period, many politicians will attempt to frustrate you, while some will try to manipulate you via political powers. Fortunately for you, you have a Commander-in-Chief, who does not have the traits of a typical Nigerian politician. So, as a fine officer, when you find yourself on a tight-rope, do not cry nor run.

While the pressure of the elections are there, keep in mind that you are being faced with the challenge of managing a police force that is plagued by poor conditions of service, deplorable work environment, lack of incentives and motivation, corruption, low level of public confidence and serious lack of expertise in some specialized fields.

Mr. IGP, the Nigeria Police needs total overhaul and this can be grouped into three core areas- leadership, methodology and, culture & attitude. The Nigeria Police has witnessed various changes since its inception in 1861 when it began with a thirty-member consular guard formed in the then Lagos Colony. From 1964, the NPF has had 20 IGPs, with each coming with his own transformative ideas. However, if the NPF must be responsive to modern public policing standards and demands, reforms in the three areas mentioned above is imperative. For reforms to create desired change, all strategies and goals must be communicated and a buy-in among officers created – especially junior officers. Reforms cannot be imposed on the police. However, the urgency of these reforms cannot be over-emphasized.

The Nigerian police have some fine and intelligent officers who persevere with the many challenges of being a police officer. Some of them inspire the trust and confidence of the public. However, in general, the Nigerian Police direly needs a new direction and different orientation. In addition, it needs modernization and massive reorganization similar to what obtains in private corporations. Mr. IG, you can be one to lay the foundation for the new police.

The police under you can rejig the mentality of ‘absolute hierarchical superiority’ by giving junior officers who are always on the field the chance to weigh in their views. The public expect you to look at things ‘off-the-police-shelves’ to see what the public expects and needs from the police. This will bring imaginative ideas to strike a new resonance among the officers of the police and also bring visible functionality and efficiency in police.

The public expects the police to prevent crime, and maintain peace and public order. However, job of the Nigerian police is dangerous, with high rates of on-the-job injury and death. The police operate without up-to-date and high-tech policing equipment- you cannot fight crime with only guns, broken batons and jalopy pickup vans. The police should be armed with modern firearms and protective equipment, in addition to small tools like tasers, incapacitant spray, telescopic and expandable batons, etc. Communication is vital for modern policing. Thus, any existing police radio spectrums which are subject to serious interference should be gradually replaced by a new spectrum of superior quality. The police should have their entire vehicles and posts/stations installed with Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system for effective communication, as well as for data and voice transmission. TETRA is encrypted to prevent interception.

The general management of policing equipment by the Nigerian police is very poor. For instance, most of the vehicles used by the police are in bad states. The processes of vehicle purchase, fuelling and maintenance should be redesigned- outsourcing and workable decentralization are the best options. The Police Service Commission should commission competent automobile firms to supply and maintain for the Nigerian police vehicles which are built to police specifications in factories. Fuelling of vehicles and other policing equipment should also be contracted out to responsible fuel marketers. This will eliminate corruption and usher in easy administration.

The biggest problem facing the Nigerian police is culture and attitude. The police need to create and cherish a strong culture among its rank and file. The Nigerian police should seek the services of Public Relations experts/firms to develop a modern PR plan for it- one that should go beyond the traditional police’s PR method- public display of achievements. Instead, its officers and men would be trained in many areas including, basic professional behaviour in the public, how to attend and talk to people, association with civilians and even posture when in public view, etc. One of the most critical aspects that need urgent attention is smart dressing. Every officer in the Nigeria police should dress smart and neat- this will reflect the meaning of the yellow colour in the police flag- Discipline & Resourcefulness and the elephant in its crest- Steadfastness & Reliability. A major benefit of culture andattitude reform is that it will help engender better community policing.

Above all, as a matter of urgency, you have to get your team well prepared for the forth coming elections which are about a month away. The police have a huge role to play in the elections if it must be successful. The time is short but in colloquial parlance, it is the baptism of fire for you. It is believed you are up to the task.
Permission to fall out sir!

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

OPINION

2019: Chaos or election?

Published

on

By Luke Onyekakeyah

I raised this alarm last May in this column on whether or not we are heading for an election or chaos. Reason is that the history of wars and turmoil in Africa is the history of power struggle. From Angola’s 27 years civil war to the collapse of Somalia and the unending crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), among others, all the crises were fueled by power struggle. Politicians with overvaulting ambition stoked the upheavals. The interest of Nigeria should be paramount; it should be over and above any personal or sectional interest. All lovers of Nigeria should rally to save this country from avoidable crisis.

Nigeria has had its unfair share of political crisis that led to a three-year fratricidal war from 1967 to 1970 in which over a million citizens perished and millions dislocated from their homes, especially on the defunct Biafra side. Whatever would spark off another conflagration should be avoided. Politicians should be wary not to endanger this country once again. Politicians sowed the seed that led to the unfortunate civil war. Why are the politicians leading us to yet another dangerous precipice?

The confusion arising from last week’s unilateral suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari, has raised the tempo of uncertainty that the forth-coming general elections may be anything but free, fair and peaceful. That is a very sad development for Nigeria, a country battling with myriads of social, economic and security problems amid a scheduled general election.

Nigerians are befuddled that a crisis of this magnitude that could engulf the country in avoidable conflagration could be stoked at this eleventh hour to the long-awaited 2019 general elections, with the presidential election barely two weeks ahead. What sort of ill wind is this? Why are the embers being fanned vigorously? The sudden removal of Onnoghen is an ill wind that blows no one any good. President Buhari should be patriotic and save this country from avoidable crisis. For it is said that there are two people that matter in a country namely, the one who turned a forest into a country and the one who turned a country into a forest! Some people have labored to establish Nigeria as it were. Let there be no one who would turn this country into a forest.

Nigerians were shocked over the weekend when news broke that President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, pending the completion of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Buhari announced the suspension at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday, January 25, 2019. He said the suspension was as a result of the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), directing him to suspend Onnoghen, pending the completion of his trial. Legal pundits are analyzing the legality of the order.

Buhari did not stop there; he went ahead to swear-in Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad from Bauchi as the acting CJN. Onnoghen is from Cross River State in Nigeria’s South-South Niger Delta Zone. The ethnic colouration bolstered the general perception that President Buhari has been filling all strategic arms of government with his own kinsmen. The suspension of Onnoghen, a man whose appointment was not favoured by Buhari in the first place, is seen as the last straw that breaks the camels back in the light of the elections at hand. Why did the President do this now?

Following the suspension, a flood of protests, agitations and outcry have greeted the polity from both within and outside the country. At the swearing in ceremony of the chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunals numbering 250, by the new Acting CJN, Tanko Mohahmad, only one Justice out of the 25 Justices of the Supreme Court was reportedly present, the rest boycotted the event in a show of solidarity with Onnoghen. Right now, the entire legal fraternity in the country is outrage at what they call unconstitutional action by Mr. President. Both the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) have called emergency meetings to discuss the anomie.

Also, the National Assembly (NASS), which has been on recess, is reconvening to deliberate on the burning issue. The restive Niger Delta militants that have sheathed their swords for a while are fuming and threatening fire and brimstone on oil industry facilities in the area. And the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced the suspension of its electioneering campaigns for 72 hours in protest.

The international community is not keeping mute. The United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) governments have expressed serious concern about the development, which they fear would affect the coming elections. There is fire on the mountain, one would say. Except something is done urgently to douse the tension, we may be in for evil days the end of which no one can fathom.

It needs to be stressed that no one is saying that Onnoghen should not be disciplined if he had run afoul of the law. Not at all. What people are saying is that due process should be followed. Legal luminaries in the country are in agreement that there is a constitutionally laid down procedure for disciplining a legal officer of Onnoghen’s status. Flouting or shortchanging that process, as the President Buhari has done is tantamount to what they call a ‘coup’ against the constitution and the judicial arm of government in a democracy. Whereas, there is national outrage over the President’s action, the presidency, on the other hand, is busy justifying the unprecedented action of Buhari. Can Nigeria wriggle out of this self inflicted problem? The coming days and weeks are indeed uncertain. But can Nigeria survive a political upheaval amid the ravaging Boko Haram war in the North-East and the nationwide insecurity?

It is sad that rather than preach peace in the run up to the polls, some unpatriotic elements are out to cause mayhem. How to tackle the myriad of problems confronting the country should be the focus instead of diverting attention to the destablisation of the judiciary, a critical arm of Nigeria’s democratic government.

What is happening give credence to what those who know Buhari think that he can’t easily be brushed aside as was the case with Jonathan in 2015. Buhari’s exponents think that he will deploy all the forces within his power, including the power of incumbency, to counter the opposition to win the re-election. The unilateral and unconstitutional suspension of Onnoghen is a clear testimony that Buhari is not Jonathan, who patriotically refused to orchestrate crisis and bloodshed in 2015.

Nigerians want peace and not chaos. As things stand now, except Buhari and the APC adopt a “no bloodshed mantra,” adding political crisis to the already degenerate killing fields across Nigeria may spell doom for the country. That way, the prediction that Nigeria could not survive the 2015 elections may only have been postponed to 2019. President Buhari should not let this happen under his watch.

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

FEATURES

THE ADVENTURE OF A CULT ACTIVIST TURNED SPEAKER

Published

on

By Alhaji Aminu

Once upon a time, there was a cult activist in the campus. His rascality and gross disrespect to constituted authorities easily gave him out to absurd notoriety in the campus. He was thus identified as a student noted for gross indiscipline and moral deficiency , This was evident in his routine misdemeanor and poor performance in academic tasks.

His reckless and careless lifestyle only attracted him to friends and members of his cult kingdom, who appreciated his carefree, unruly corrupt social status, and this crowned him the king of the jungle., a position he fancied but to the detriment of academics. This was contrary to the expectations of his poor parents.

He was later found wanting and lost. He could not pass his test nor exams. His life was grossly darkened because he dropped out of school. His friends rejected him except those who belonged.,..

He went on cult exile and was shamelessly treated as a fugitive. Guy man fell mugu. Things fell apart, only those who knew him deeply could recognize him. His thin structure reduced his ostrich like neck to nothingness .
This
Life was tough and hopeless for the young cultist. Sadly he was driven into drug addiction . People lost confidence in him and could not help him.

Then came a messiah sent to Akwa Abasi Ibom State. A man with a large heart. A father to the needy and fatherless. A husband to widows. A succour to the down trodden. His name was Godswill Obot Akoabio, a man of valour and candour.

He sent for the fugitive cultist, and told him son, from today, thy sins are forgiven. He rebranded him and called him his special assistant SA. He Built a befitting house for his poor sick mother who lived in a one room, He changed his orientation and lifestyle. He spoke to the then VC University of Uyo, professor Akpan Ekpo and pleaded that the fugitive be allowed to complete his law program in the university.
The prof accepted with studied silence

Yes, governor Akpabio then went ahead to clean up the guy, rebranded and completely uplifted the once cult activist from glory to glory in politics.

If he did not like him, he could have as well stopped him from getting into Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. But he further helped him to become a member and the Honourable Speaker , the number three man in the state.

It is sad that today the fugitive turned speaker has the temerity to insult distinguished Senator Akpabio. The speaker neither respect himself nor his office.

This infantile speaker takes passion in spewing blatant lies against the former governor and his dear wife. The rate at which this infantile speaker reduces the exalted office of Mr speaker to a ridiculing epitaph of controversy and scorn is regrettable and unacceptable. We know he is acting on the effect of tramadol .He is no longer constructive and focused. He talks like an ordinary motor park agent. He has thrown reputation and integrity to the gutter. He talks about mbiam like a Bush doctor. Yet he can not substantiate his submissions. Majority of his friends who knew where he was before Akoabio picked him to the present level are not Happy with him.

Reports has it that his uncontrolled youthful exuberance is also responsible for the many cases of sex scandals between him and some members of legislative wives association and his own wife. What a shame ?

His recent vituperations on the former first lady and wife of the immediate past Senate minority leader, Her Excellency Mrs Uloma Akpabio is condemnable. How did this infantile braggart get to his present level is an open truth. He used to refer to the former first lady as his mother and destiny helper. He would not have been accepted back in school due to cult activism but not for the former governor and wife.

Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly financial record is stingy and questionable under his watch. He will be asked to account for the huge financial irregularities that he master minded. By then the tramadol effect in his brain shall let him be. His present boss will not be able to help him as his boss shall also be struggling to rescue himself from the clutches of EFCC. after the expiration of his immunity on May 29th, 2O19.

Need someone advise this infantile speaker to have a deep rethink over his fallacious and spurious rampage. The worst sin is the sin of ingratitude. Those who bite the finger that fed them will leave to regret. This is act 1 of the adventure of a cult activist turned speaker.
Gaskiya !!!
….

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

OPINION

2019 budget: blueprinting the next phase of Akwa Ibom By Edidiong Udobia

Published

on

In his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel reaffirmed the pact he made with Akwa Ibom people during the electioneering campaigns, and the main thrust of his manifesto was industrialization. Less than a year to the end of his first term, the governor is leading a skyscraping industrial revolution in the state. A graphical representation of his performance within the last three years would have the slope hanging at the roof all through – from infrastructure, security, power, education, health, to job creation, economic and rural development, etc. But judging from last Wednesday’s presentation of the 2019 budget before the State House of Assembly, it appears the governor is only getting started.

Tagged, “Budget of Industrialization for Poverty Alleviation”, the budget, besides being a working document for the 2019 fiscal year, is an intrinsic part of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s overall second-term plan for the state. Going by the realities on ground, it can be said that the industrialization drive of the governor, so far, has been a deliberate alteration of the old socio-economic settings of the state. This is evident in the fact that industrialization was annexed to consolidation in the 2018 budget. “The 2018 Budget was named Budget of Consolidation on Industrialization. It was so named as the State had started witnessing a breakthrough in industrialization through the construction and commissioning of some industries that are currently in full operations”, the governor said while presenting the 2019 budget.

This alteration, otherwise breakthrough, in the current phase is essential to lay a solid foundation for the next phase. “The State has remained so long as a “Civil Service State” that it requires a re-orientation of the minds of the populace to make them realize that they can move away from depending so much on the Government, to becoming self-reliant and even provide employment to others”, the governor added. With industrialization as the base of the 2019 budget and poverty alleviation as the cardinal objective, Governor Udom has clearly shown the direction for the next phase. So, going forward, it is expected that the industrialization drive will move from job creation to wealth creation, which is the chief panacea for poverty alleviation.

The biggest beneficiaries of the current industrialization drive are graduates and highly trained/skilled citizens. This has slightly left many others behind, like the hardworking undergraduates, teeming entrepreneurs, local manufacturers, and most importantly, people in the rural communities who are fairly enlightened and predominantly, farmers and petty traders. But Governor Udom has formulated a workable plan primarily targeted at bridging the gap in the next phase, such plan as attracting more industries that will have direct economic impacts on the people who seem to be left behind in the current phase. For instance, more agriculture-based industries will provide direct opportunities to the local farmers, and traders/manufacturers of agricultural products.

To butress his decision to infuse agriculture into his industrialization drive in the next phase, the governor said; “The importance of agriculture in the socio-economic and industrial development of the State cannot be over-emphasized. Government intends to continue investing in agriculture in order to alleviate poverty among the people, attain food security and boost agricultural production for domestic, industrial and foreign consumption. Our target is to boost production and the marketing of cash crops, Staple foods, livestock and fisheries through institutional and infrastructural empowerment of private, small, medium and large-scale crop and livestock farmers. This will not only provide food to the populace, but also generate much needed jobs and create wealth for Akwa Ibom citizens.”

In the 2019 budget proposals, N13.064 billion is appropriated for agriculture. The figure only comes below the N157.311 billion appropriated for roads, works and transport; N53.625 billion for land, housing and urban development; N18.021 billion for health; and N15.050 billion for education. This clearly shows that agriculture will be a priority in terms of investment and will be made an essential part of the industrial revolution and expansion in the next phase. Talking of investment and industry, Governor Udom has assured that the N1.531 billion appropriated for investment, commerce and industry will be judiciously expended to support genuine entrepreneurs, local manufacturers, and other small and medium scale enterprises.

“Investment and commerce are major contributors to economic growth and development. Inputs, investments and commerce fuel economic growth; while outputs/outcomes, the volume of investment and commerce are significant indices of economic development. The major aspect of the State’s interest in investment and commerce are in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, real estates, mining, energy, and services. As a major policy framework, the State has put measures in place to encourage major conglomerates, core investors and professional service providers (banks/finance houses and servicing companies for major multi-nationals) to create regional/zonal offices and major production/distribution hubs in the State. This will mitigate capital flight, create jobs, and grow the economy”, Governor Udom assured.

From all indications, Akwa Ibom is heading into a future where local farmers will no longer be questioning the rationale behind building a Syringe Factory, or creatives and techies lashing out at government for establishing a rice farm. The governor’s plan is to expand the scope of the industrial revolution to the extent that every hardworking Akwa Ibomite will have where his or her services are sufficiently required. 2019 is just a tiny part of Governor Udom’s bigger picture, and the N670.718 billion 2019 budget is only a sketch of his blueprint for the next phase of Akwa Ibom, beginning May 29, 2019 – a phase that will be characterized by an accelerating economic growth across all sectors of the state. He has done the hardest part, which is proving that industries can thrive in Akwa Ibom. The next part will be much easier with our continued support.

Edidiong Udobia is a journalist and writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading
Advertisement

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

TWEET BEACON

Trending