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A day after the Birmingham Games

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By Bulus Gambo

Amusan

A few days before the 2022 Commonwealth Games started in Birmingham, the Nigerian camp was boisterous with activities ostensibly to go and conquer the world. It was written all over them.

I wonder, but only Nigerians can say with certainty if it came to pass or not. But given what we saw during the games, all that was said at the camp were largely accomplished and made possible by the sheer dexterity and commitment of the athletes to the cause.

Over the years, from the observatory, many as I do, have cause to believe that Nigerian athletes have an infectious desire to excel and place the country on the world map; and by inference, compete with the world’s best.

They have not failed to make Nigerians proud, indeed, some of the athletes despite different challenges have been able to create a mark; making many who hear of it to ask questions. One wonders what they would have done had they been able to have the best facilities to train.

Many of the athletes have been offered scholarships, which they would use to get their potentials exposed to the best facilities and education in the world. Many of them are products of such arrangements, and gladly they have not forgotten home, and what they need to do to rise to stardom.

Despite the inadequacies of government, associations, and generally even with the backdrop of lack of facilities, they have remained patriotic and are focused and committed to ply their trade so that Nigeria will remain a force to be reckoned with.

Often, they (athletes) are denied opportunities to excel as much as bring glory to the country they represent. They are left stranded at event venues for lack of funds to upset their bills as well as allowances that should be given them for their efforts. Of course, a worker deserves his wages.

Beyond being rhetorical, and I hope that I won’t be accused of gender violence against the men, the women have been outstanding. They have shown class and dedication, but wait a minute, haven’t the men operated under the same conditions?

They have and even more, however, their opponents may have had more advantages over and above them. They did not fail to shine because they were not prepared for the games over time. Their opponents got the better of them on account of their strength of excelling at the games.

The female athletes gave a good account of themselves in the various games. The women are right about now being celebrated all over, while questions are being asked on what happened to the male athletes during the games. Nigerians have a way of celebrating failure; they tell you in the plainest language without knowing what happened that they failed to perform while the games lasted.

It is not in the monumental celebrations that Nigerians are interested in; neither are they happy when pronouncements that may not be fulfilled are made. They are worried that any time there is a feat worthy of being noted, it is not continued and made to stand the test of time. They are made to have dreams about what would be made available to them that may enhance their lives and that of their families. Often and most times, the promises are not kept; they are politically motivated statements that hardly see the light of the day.

That has been the lot of most athletes who have competed for Nigeria in the past. Who knows; and I dare say, we haven’t been healed of this malaise in a long while. When the time comes, our athletes will be proud to go out to compete to be the best amongst the world’s best. And even when their allowances are not paid, you can be sure that they will be doing so on account of the fact that they are swearing the colours of the country.

The reason for that can be squarely placed on the shoulders of Nigeria’s political administrators generally, who make pronouncements and never get them fulfilled. They may have largely made such statements for the fun of it; otherwise, nothing stops them from implementing what should spur young men and women; who are often to represent the country.

After all, there have been so much done in other areas or in fact, that huge sums have been spent on frivolous issues to the detriment of those that should make us move forward as a country. In Nigeria, many characters are today struggling to get to power, yet, it becomes difficult to sacrifice for these set of athletes; who, despite all denials of the best things of life are hopeful that the colours of Nigeria matter always.

It takes years to decide to if they deserve to be remunerated and appreciated by the country. What often strikes most Nigerians is the silence that often greets such pronouncements by mostly, the president and governors of states. All are in the know of the state of the economy; those involved in such pronouncements know they wanted to be given to the athletes: Monetary gifts, houses, plots of land and national awards are mostly the items that are often promised them.

Questions need to be asked: Who is responsible for not carrying out the directives? Why do directives take long before they come near to execution?

We know that some of those who took part in some games have long died. They were promised certain monetary compensation but never got to receive such. Why could this be left to happen, when it is certain that the compensation was made to keep their spirit high for other competitions?

There is no athlete worth his calling that will not be proud to be in the colours of his country. That much can be seen in the spirit that often lights any games’ camp; they are the more energized to do more for the country. And indeed they are doing so for future generation.

Let us return to the feats accomplished by the Nigerian women athletes during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. What must have informed their individual feats? They were, like the male athletes gingered to compete with others from other countries that are also their best.

On this account, athletes such as Tobi Amusan Ese Brume and others didn’t want to disappoint themselves, their families, but most importantly, Nigeria; to the extent that they shattered records and created new ones. Such cannot be coincidence. They planned and worked towards it, as over the years, they have maintained the winning streak waiting for the ultimate diadem. That it came is a confirmation of the preparations towards obtaining the medals they had set sight on.

I am tempted not to forget all the physically challenged athletes who, over the years in most competitions have not disappointed to tell the world that there is ability in their disability. Practically in sports one hardly expected only the able bodied athletes to make a statement, some of them were where they displayed with dexterity their class of ability. I am sure their countrymen and women need not to forget them soon for the feat.

In a country where people that are physically challenged are not treated with respect, most of them have risen to the challenge of being the masters of their destinies. They have made their mark in a number of areas, to the point that hardly is the society aware of the nature of their challenges. Nigeria should celebrate these people for their undiluted patriotism.

When Tobi Amusan posed for the press after her win of the 100 hurdles for what turned out to be ‘the symbolic signs of the New Nigeria to the world’, she was doing so for all of those who participated in the games. It is a sign that the youth may well have a future despite what we are witnessing now. Indeed, there are indications concerning that already, the never give up spirit of Nigerians to strive to the end was on display in abundance.

Nigeria finished 7th on the medal table. It came up tops in Africa winning 35 medals: 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze. The feat was an all-time best record at the Commonwealth Games, and don’t forget, there were 5 records set-4games and one world record.

Already, President Muhammadu Buhari has described Team Nigeria’s performance at the 22nd Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022, as a parting gift to him.

In a statement issued by his media adviser, Femi Adesina, the president noted: We are proud of these achievements and the memories will linger with the nation forever and for me this is a special moment and a fitting parting gift, being my last Commonwealth Games as Head of State.

He said: The President commends the 94 worthy ambassadors that proudly flew the Nigerian flag in nine sporting events, and for those exciting moments when the medalists brought smiles to our faces by breaking world, national, and games records, as well as achieving personal bests in their career.

‘The President also lauds the coaching crew and team officials for the passion towards the development of sports in the country, assuring them that history will remember them for all their contributions to making our athletes shine in the international arena’.

When Amusan lined up in the final as favourite for gold and there was no stopping her as she blazed to a new games record of 12.30 seconds to retain the 100m hurdles she won four years ago in the Gold Coast, Australia.

Despite winning the race comfortably, Amusan said she did not execute it to the best of her ability.

‘Mentally, it was challenging. It was nerve-racking. You know, when I say I poorly executed race, I know when I execute smoothly. I think my first five hurdles weren’t it, but I was able to get myself together and regroup and do what I needed to do and I did just that’.

‘The 25-year-old has been in blistering form in the past year, breaking the African 100 meters hurdles record three times in the past 10 months.

‘After narrowly missing out on the podium twice at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019 and at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where she placed fourth on both occasions, Amusan finally struck gold at the World Championships in Oregon while setting a world record of 12.12 seconds in the semi-finals.

‘Amusan went even faster in the final race, clocking 12.06 seconds. However, her winning time is not recognised as a world record due to an illegal tailwind of 2.5 metres per.’

On the whole, we are where we are, but the government and the athletics federation must not lose sight of the fact that much is needed to be done for them and in other games. Young men and women can’t work themselves up and be snubbed by those who know what to do. Some of those in the federations are not strangers to the developments we have mentioned above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Municipal militarization strategy at Nigeria’s peril

BENUE State recently joined the list of other states in Nigeria currently creating frontline groups to help in countering unrelenting attacks perpetrated by various criminal clusters who are always unleashing acts of terror on the citizenry. During the brief induction ceremony for the 500 community Volunteer Guards members drawn from 23 local government areas, the state Governor, Samuel Ortom was unequivocal about the huge menace these unending acts of banditry, herders/farmer kidnappings including other terrorist activities have continued to create in this country.

In Benue State alone, these marauders have killed many countless gullible citizens with impunity even as the state continue to face such challenges without the central government doing anything about it. In the past few years, many other states in the likes of Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba States amongst other states in the Middle Belt and the country at large have been subjected under these difficulties. Though as vulnerable as these states are, nothing quite convincing has been done to help these states overcome their outrageous difficulties.

But again, one cannot forget the fact that some states in the north western and north eastern states have also had their own share of these unpalatable experiences. This unacceptable nefarious activities of Boko Haram sect have left behind gory sights to excruciatingly watch. This ill- starred development has resulted in several schools being closed, large number of Internally Displaced Persons, (IDP’s) on the increase while the proliferating excruciating poverty level in the nation has continued to wreck the lives of ordinary citizens.

Yours sincerely recalls with inordinate nostalgia that prior to both the 2015 and 2019 elections, the leadership of this country had promised to secure the nation through provisions of efficient strategies to the best of their abilities. At a point, the President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari intuitively based on his workable timelines disclosed his government’s objective to salvage the nation from this unabated security predicament. Since then. President Buhari has continued to reassure citizens that the days of terrorists and insurgents are numbered. We have equally witnessed several Executive Council meetings and heads of security agencies appearing before the Senate telling Nigerians that our security agents are still on top of the situation.

Yet, in the midst of these unresolvable security challenges, many state Governors, regions and stakeholders have opted for the establishment of community based security networks as the only efficient remedy and alternative to the issue of growing insecurity concerns in the nation. This evidently shows how clueless the hierarchy of these organizations have become in most recent times.

Within this same period under review, many community motivated security organizations, state and or regionally backed security outfits have also been fashioned out to help tackle some of these challenges. Just recently, the Governor of Zamfara State Bello weary of the persistent horrid murder and annihilation of the citizens of his state called on all to carry arms and defend themselves.

Within this same line of thoughts, vigilante groups in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State who have adopted this methodology are testifying on the possible workability of the strategy.

Mind you, sometimes back, some communities in the area came under heavy attack where more than one hundred people were killed. This sad re-occurrences forced the community to organize themselves through a proficient security network to defend themselves by repelling some of these senseless attacks which for now has successfully repelled some of these attacks against their communities. So far, we have witnessed other states and regions touring the same line of thoughts with the emergence of the Amotekun in the South West, the Civilian JTF in the North East and other vigilante groups almost everywhere in the country.

Even as many communities are arming themselves to significantly repel these attacks so as to reduce acts of insecurity to the bearable level, many individuals have equally expressed worry and great concern over the growing militarization of our communities in this country. Just recently, a security expert was quoted as saying that should Nigeria fail to overcome its security challenges in few years to come, many more communities would be left with no other option than to venture into more illegal weapons purchase so as to contain the obvious.

Basically and from all indications, Nigeria has sincere been overwhelmed by the complex nature of insurgency and banditry attacks on its citizens. Though more resources are pumped into the security sector, the zeal and spirit of patriotism exhibited by managers of these resources including security agencies’ hierarchy have not just been convincing.

Thus, it is becoming more obvious that such resources only end up in private pockets than for the jobs it was intended for. In some cases, such funds’ managers do fail in justifying how and where most of these resources were deployed and efficiently used to better our nation’s security architecture.

This colossal show of ineptitude through persistent acts of personal aggrandizement has left us where we are as a people today. This consistent acts of administrative ingenuity exhibited by our leaders has forcefully taken us back to Egypt and left full of lamentations.

Now that our communities have taken it upon themselves to arm themselves, we must reexamine some of these activities and its long implication on the polity. We must also think with all sense of responsibility the kind of country we intent to transit to our children and children’s children.

It is quite true that Nigeria’s security situation has deteriorated and become a laughing stock in the comity of nations. It is becoming a huge disgrace that as the giant of Africa, Nigeria cannot defend its citizens from any kind of either external and or internal aggression.

This ugly trend of obvious incapacitation has left us with no other option than to confront some of these violent non-state actors by ourselves. Consequently, many more illegal weapons are finding themselves in the hands of wrong people all the time.

As the stark reality of this unfortunate unfolding developments stare us in the eye however; we must also come to terms with the devastating implications of militarizing our respective communities in the past few years. Though we must hold to account our leaders who have failed in implement policies and or strategizes intended to secure us; arming our respective youths for them to protect us may spell doom for this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irresponsible parenting and the victim’s plight

DURING my secondary school days, I used to know a girl, a year my junior who looked all wrinkled and a little bent. She looked so much older than her age that she had very few friends. Girls avoided her and labelled her as wicked due to her looks. It was not until I came close to her that I thought differently. Nevertheless, this young girl housed in an old body had to deal with inferiority complex all her years in school.

And what was her problem? This lady had begun cultivating a very big farm since she was just a child. She did too much laborious job for her age coupled with the fact that her nutrition was poor.

At one point, she preferred school to her home because as she said, ‘at least I can rest and eat 3 square meals. ‘

Ten years down the line after leaving school, I met her and I could barely recognize her. She looked younger than she looked while in school. By that time, she was a certified nurse and married. Her looks testified against her parents.

I used to have this friend who used to resume school late after each holiday. As we advanced in class, it started having negative impact on her education. Any time she resumed school, there was always a lot of notes to copy, and make-up tests to write. The burden was too much on her and it started telling on her grades.

Unable to sit and watch, one fateful day, I asked her why she never resumed the first week of resumption until the 3rd. She looked at me sadly and explained that every time school resumes, her younger sister and herself have to get a cite that will employ them to work as mason’s assistant, supplying the mason with mixed cement and or blocks. It was very tasking but they had to do it to enable them pay their school fees.

In the case of my cousin, it was either she embraced burkutu business wholeheartedly or she remained an illiterate who would be married off to the first suitor that came for her hand in marriage.

Ladi was schooling in a private secondary school in Bukuru. Her only problem was that her school was quite a distance from their home. She lived with her elder sister at Angan Rogo because she had lost her parents when she was still a baby. Anyone familiar with Jos knows that that it is quite a distance. Ladi was lucky, her sister always paid her school fees but that was all. She would not lift her finger to do anything further. That meant Ladi had to trek to school any day she was going to school.

The school had to give her double promotion for her trouble to reduce the years of stress. The school authority knew that Ladi had to roast corn or cook it and sell to enable her buy books and take care of transportation whether to or from but not to and fro. Ladi’s uniform was an eyesore because she could not afford to buy uniform.  That meant Ladi’s education was very tasking to her.

Jummai lived with her aunt in Jos to help out with house chores and the children. However, her aunt had no respect for her niece’s education. Jummai was a regular late comer. She came to hate school because it was synonymous to beatings and punishment. After her primary education, she dropped out. Today she is a petty trader and regrets ever leaving school.

A very good friend developed a kind of hatred for her father because after her primary education, he forcefully married her off to a total stranger. The man was a crude villager who didn’t even change his lifestyle for his bride. They ate once in a day then take off to the farm with a jug of gruel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamentations of the weak

I woke up a few days ago thinking of many people in Nigeria who have not eaten food perhaps for some days now. After all, I was recently made to understand that Nigeria presently tops the list of nine African countries with the highest cost of white bread.  This is followed by South Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, Mauritius, Egypt, Morocco and Kenya. But again, I stand to be corrected, had our successive leaders managed our resources well, none of these nations would have gotten closer to us in terms of systematic development and prosperity. Aside the rising cost of bread, it takes an extra sacrifice to buy many other commodities in our markets today.

I was also deep in thoughts about those who are presently sick but cannot effort to go to hospital for treatment due to lack of resources. Come to think of this with a sober reflection, since the advent of this democratic dispensation, our leaders who vowed to transform our country for the better are almost failing us. Most of them promised us heaven on earth even as we detested broken promises but the indicators of Human Development Index are not at all palatable.

Today, our narratives are that most hospitals in this  country are becoming but visiting clinics.  In our rural areas, the debilitating condition of most healthcare facilities constantly make tears freely  flow out of our eyes. Beyond this pragmatic dilemma, I am equally thinking of many innocent citizens in kidnappers den for months and years forgotten by our leaders who are by constitutional provisions anticipated to protect us. As I write, I am aware of many innocent Nigerians held hostage in bushes begging for their lives to no avail. Many unlucky ones have been killed following the inability of their loved ones to raise ransom for payments.

A few days ago, many citizens of this country became so traumatized after hoodlums who kidnaped commuters along Abuja-Kaduna in a passenger train decided to display their victims’ pictures calling on the Federal Government to do the needful if their relations intend to see them alive again. The video was so heart-touching considering the fact that even toddlers were not spared from this horrendous and nasty experience of video marketing for bargain. It is so pitiful knowing too well that all my life, I have never imagined that one day, human beings would be bargained for in such an agonizing and dehumanizing manner.

Today, many citizens of this country are perishing in afflictions, while for others, their hearts have failed them. No doubt, the wicked has risen against the church even as many are yet to decode these happenings. Our political leaders are playing politics with human lives while innocent souls are in a vulnerable situation left at the mercy of these unrepentant criminals and terrorists.

Thus, it takes much more courage to survive in this country than any other place in this world. There is no justice and equity in the land even as our leaders continue to fumble without success in navigate us out of the present socio-economic and political dull-drum. Many within the political class are consistently manipulating us and the entire system to ensure that we continue to be subservient to their intrigues and administrative ingenuity without any revolt. The point however is; how can a nation be happy when some of its citizens have been chased out of their ancestral homes and are refugees in their fatherland? How can we be happy seeing our children staying at home as all universities remain closed for only God knows how long? Why should we be happy knowing too well that the resources of this country are not used consistently for the benefit of all?

What kind of a nation is this that in the midst of this calamity we have found ourselves in, speaking to power is a crime? Why must we continue to remain silent when all the odds are overwhelming us? Thus, I see nothing wrong with the constructive criticism offered by the Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah who recently spoke truth to power over the worsting situations in this country  . I hold in high esteem Fr. Matthew Kukah who moved by the pains and trauma of the citizenry had to chastise the powers that be is such an appreciable manner.

Left in the middle of the ocean with no other place to go, many of our younger ones have equally lost hope of a better tomorrow. As it is, more than ten million children of this country are out of school mostly for no fault of theirs. Unfortunately, these same Almajiri children and other vulnerable ones roaming our streets  are amongst those who have continued to give us sleepless nights. They are the ones who have joined forces with the derailed Boko Harram sect causing unbearable havoc in almost all the regions of this country.

Knowing too well that these increasing number of out of school children will not be in the best interest of our nation, our institutions have continued to be under lock and key. Many of these undergraduate students are becoming vulnerable and easy recruits for evil-doers and drug peddlers even as most of them have been knocked-off by challenges of life and do not think of a brighter tomorrow. This life has certainly been unfair to many innocent citizens of this country who for no fault of theirs have continued to wallow in abject poverty. This is definitely not the kind of Nigeria our founding fathers prayed and or dreamt of.

However, no matter how high a stone is thrown up; it must certainly come down someday. Therefore, whether the devil likes it or not, it is settled in heaven and very soon, the Egyptians we see, we shall see them no more. We must however  be wise enough to play our part with all sincerity of purpose and responsibility towards opening a new chapter for this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting ourselves in the feet 2

 

LAST week, I shared some stories with us about how joining some bad groups, associations and or making some bad decisions can cost us our peace of mind, salvation, life or even everything. There are more examples on this subject. Read and learn!

Some time back in Kaduna, some market women decided to pool their resources together and do adashi (contribution, where a stipulated amount is agreed upon and this amount is collected and given to each member of the group on her chosen month). This is one of the ways small-time traders carry out their projects without touching their capital or killing their business.

Everything was going smoothly until one of the women approached Mama Ebeji and begged her to exchange her month with hers since it was Mama Ebeji’s turn and her turn was down the line. Mama Ebeji refused and explained to the woman that she chose that month deliberately to enable her purchase a printing gadget and its accessories for her twins.  They had just completed their training and were waiting eagerly to start the business. The woman was not happy but she had to accept the explanation.

Shortly after that, Mama Ebeji’s twins, their younger brother and a friend were in the sitting room when the house suddenly went up in flames. Neighbours ran to their rescue and tried breaking the door or windows but they won’t give in. All efforts to save them was futile. Their loved ones and neighbours watched in anguish as their wailing expressed their pains and as their voices slowly died down. This event shook the state that even the governor of the day paid the bereaved family a condolence visit. I was told that it was on Network News but I heard this story from a third party, a resident of Kaduna.

However, things took a different turn when a taxi driver picked a passenger for a drop. Just as they took off, the woman started arguing with an invisible being at the back of the car. She was begging him that he was not part of the plan. That what she wanted was for the twins to die in the fire not any other person. She was virtually shouting and pleading earnestly as she struggled with that invisible being.

The driver carefully manoeuvred his taxi to Mama Ebeji’s neighbourhood and called the people around to come and witness what was going on. From every indication, she was struggling for her life with Taiwo, the younger brother of the twins who also died in the fire. By the time understanding dawned on the people that gathered as they heard it from the horses mouth that all these lives were lost because Mama Ebeji refused to forfeit her adashi month to that woman that approached her (who was the woman in the taxi), it took the grace of God to save her. She ran into a church and the pastor refused to hand her over to the angry mob until security operatives arrived and he handed her to them.

Forced by the invisible being whom she referred to as Taiwo, she exposed herself. She said she decided to kill the twins because their mother refused to exchange her adashi month with her because she wanted them to start business. So, she decided that she would see how they would do the business. That was why that ungodly fire engulfed them and no one could break through and save them. But it was not meant for Taiwo nor their friend. It was just unfortunate that they were there.

Getting wind of what had happened to their mother, the woman’s children rushed home and took what they could take and took off. Right on cue, the angry mob located her home and destroyed it. Their intention was to kill her children. It didn’t matter that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents and vice versa. People wanted her to feel the pain they felt too.

So many strange things happened in relation to the death of twins and Co. For one is the fact that their grandmother who was in the village when the unfortunate accident occurred, had some August visitors. They told her that that their younger sister who was often sick, was down again and she was needed by their mother. They accompanied her to the bus terminal, paid her fare but refused to board the bus. They told her that they needed to do some things. Grandmother arrived her daughter’s home only to find her daughter  and all family members in  mourning that twins and their younger brother were dead. Confused, grandma informed them that it couldn’t be true because it was the twins that came to the village to inform her that she was needed in town and they paid for her fare but refused to board the bus.

That same week, the security guard that guards the cemetery where the twins and Taiwo and their friend were buried came over to the house and told their parents that he was concerned about the way and manner the twins usually come out, sit on their grave and wail every night. He said the sound was unusually unsettling and very sad and disturbing.

The guard said he needed to do something but he needed money, just #200 from the parents pocket. They gladly gave the Fulani guard knowing they are good with herbs and issues like this. They also wanted the souls  of their twins to  finally rest which it did.

In a this next story, a secondary school student came to admire some girls who were untouchable and yet did as they liked. They were the envy of every worldly girl as far as looks, material needs and provisions were concerned.

One day, she summed up courage and approached them. She asked them:  “what is it that makes you tick? “

“You want to know? “ They asked her and happily, she said yes. They arranged an appointment and on that day, they took her to a Babalawo. He gave her everything he gave the untouchable girls and they came back to school.

This girls fame( let’s refer to her as Larai), grew like wildfire. In no time, she dethroned the 2 untouchable girls. She had guts, power, looks, confidence and feared no one. The school was in her hands. She did as she wanted and even the other girls bowed to her. These girls stayed in school as long as they wanted because they could go for weekend and could have any man they wanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INEC and the cost of conducting election

WRITING on the cost of conducting the 2023 general election at Christmas season could be annoying as well as frustrating, particularly when one is without money.

I thought that I should be thinking of what the children would need at the yuletide; or indeed at best, think of finding means to serve as assistance to others, as I have always done during the season from time.

The fact that things have been made difficult on account of the economic downturn globally should not make us feel the pains of our neighbours not having anything to eat at Christmas. People play a role in our lives, with or without the means.

Back to where we started: Election anywhere in any part of the world can be costly. While it is can be costly, we must hasten to report that the budget which was submitted to the National Assembly by INEC is mind blowing. Nothing suggests that it cannot be achieved; the manner by which such should be is to ensure credibility in the process.

Many believe that the process have been our major sour point over the years. As such, we have reaped frustrations in the efforts at making things work. They have been hampered, so long as it was done to satisfy the aspirations of the political class.

The Nigerian scenario is, in many respects a case study for students to study. Only those in the system understand how we must spend such whopping sum only for lawyers to gain from our lapses to make fortune there from.

Only a few may commend efforts that have been put on ground; it won’t be out of context to believe that enough is yet to be done to get to the Promised Land. Don’t get it twisted; the election umpire has kept improving on different aspects of the conduct of election in Nigeria.

Therefore, it will be right if we got everything going for us; otherwise our elections will continue to be skewed in the manner that the politicians will always have the license to rule us without our consent. They always know that there are loopholes waiting to be explored to their advantage. And these advantages do not allow us to develop except their pockets; and always left to blame the system.

It is no longer news that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday in Abuja presented a budget of N305 billion for the 2023 general elections to the National Assembly. This is different from the N40 billion, being the yearly budget for the electoral body.

In making a case for additional releases from the N205 billion balances, Yakubu listed activities that must be conducted ahead of the 2023 general elections. What we have done is to look at the activities that we have to conduct before the general elections. There are activities that must be concluded. If you are going to replace some of the critical facilities like ballot boxes and voting cubicles, these things must be done before the elections.

Others include: ‘Party primaries must be conducted and concluded before the elections and names of candidates submitted, registration of voters would have to be concluded before the elections. Printing of Permanent Voters Cards would have to be concluded before the elections and some of the critical election technology must be concluded and procured before the elections’.

There is disquiet, even when the budget is yet to have been among members of the National Assembly, who were locked in series of meetings to articulate their response to the alleged denial of assent.

Buhari announced the decision by President Muhhamdu Buhari in a letter to the National Assembly to withhold assent by not signing the electoral act amendment citing several reasons for declining assent. The President’s letter was read on Tuesday’s plenary session at the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He had 30 days to sign or decline assent to the bill, following its transmission to the National Assembly on Novembers 19, 2021.

A source said the Federal Attorney-General was said to have advised the President to decline assent, saying that the constitution is silent on the mode of primary that parties should adopt. He was said to have also observed that it is wrong for the bill to prescribed one mode for the parties.

The non support of one mode of primary, a lot of people say is a battle within the APC alone and that the inclusion in the Act is offensive and should be removed. It is the right of party to determine how to produce candidates for any election. It was apparent that the President was not going to sign the act, whether it would be direct or indirect primary election; the problem amounted to the issue of electronic transmission provision in the bill.

The contentious clause 87 remains largely the problem, where Buhari noted that the mandatory use of direct primaries for all political parties in the country will be too expensive to execute, saying that it will put a financial burden on Nigeria’s slim resources. He said that conducting direct primary elections will be tasking, explaining that since such mode of election means a large turnout of voters, the move would stretch the security agencies.

Buhari also expressed fears that the proposed mandatory use of direct primaries will amount to the violation of citizens’ rights will lead to marginalisation for smaller political parties. He said the proposed use of mandatory direct primary elections will also lead to more litigation by party members. The political parties should decide the best way to pick their candidates for elections, noting that his stance was based on a careful review and consultations.

The controversy of the bill became imminent following the inclusion of the direct of primary by the federal legislators; arguing ‘the clause was inserted in the best interest of the country’. However, it was a different ball game with the governors, who say that the parties should adopt any mode of primary suitable for them.

They had strong reason saying that ’the logistics and financial implications of monitoring the primaries will weigh down the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The election umpire had said they could cope with this challenge, however, many suspect it can’t having observed their antecedence.

I am aware that there is disquiet in the nation. Some have been critical of the APC government decision, while a number of politicians believe that the decision of the president was the right thing. A senator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said senators and representatives were unhappy that the President has dilly dallied in signing the bill.

“The President motivated the bill, particularly the retention of direct primary in the proposed act. It is therefore, surprising that he has contributed to the anxiety and confusion by not signing it up till now,” the senator said.

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike had earlier on Sunday restated that he would not be surprised if the President withheld assent to the bill. The governor said he knew ab initio that President Buhari would not sign the bill because his party was not sincere about delivering a free and fair electoral process. His Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom thinks contrary and was full of praises for Mr. President’s decision not to sign the bill.

The facts for and against are good for the development of Nigerian democracy. The mutual suspicion between the political leaders across party lines is an indication that it is good to keep the fire burning on the electoral bill. It is believed that a workable act will naturally deepen Nigeria‘s democracy; and if anything, that is what is needed.

To think that the President and his party are right will be tantamount to work on the assumption that the party in government does not make mistakes. We can move away from this assumption to engage in discussions that will end in healthy conclusions; so that we can remain on course. To be fair, a lot of things are wrong with the way and manner our democracy is run. If other smaller countries in Africa are succeeding and making impact for us to appreciate, one wonders why we are still where we are. I found below the views of the president on reason for withholding assent as cogent, but we must work around what others have suggested so that reason can prevail in all camps.

‘The amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy which is characterized by freedom of choices. Political party membership is a voluntary exercise of the constitutional right to freedom of association. Several millions of Nigerians are not card-carrying members of any political party. Thus, the emphasis should be on enabling qualified Nigerians to vote for the candidate of their choice during general elections as a means of participation in governance and furtherance of the concept of universal adult suffrage or universal franchise.

Nigeria is at the moment still grappling with the issues of monetization of the political process and vote buying at both party and general elections. The direct implication of institutionalizing only direct primaries is the aggravation of over-monetization of the process as there will be much more people a contestant needs to reach out to thereby further fuelling corruption and abuse of office by incumbent contestants who may resort to public resources to satisfy the increased demands and logistics of winning party primaries.

‘Direct primaries are also subject or susceptible to manipulation or malpractices as most parties cannot boast of reliable and verified Membership Register or valid means of identification which therefore means non-members can be recruited to vote by wealthy contestants to influence the outcome. Rival parties can also conspire and mobilize people to vote against a good or popular candidate in a party during its primaries just to pave way for their own candidates. Whereas where voting is done by accredited delegates during indirect primaries, the above irregularities are not possible.

‘Asides its serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences, the limitation or restriction of the nomination procedures available to political parties and their members constitutes an affront to the right to freedom of association. It is thus undemocratic to restrict the procedure or means of nomination of candidates by political parties, as it also amounts to undue interference in the affairs of political parties.

‘Indirect primaries or collegiate elections are part of internationally accepted electoral practices. More so, direct primaries are not free from manipulations and do not particularly guarantee the emergence of the will of the people especially in circumstances like ours where it is near impossible to sustain a workable implementation framework or structure thereof’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigerians are intelligent but channel it wrongly

IT can’t be disputed that Nigerians are some of the most intelligent people on earth. Academically and otherwise, our citizens are flying the flag high. That is why its name has been written in gold or on the sands of time depending on whether it’s for good or bad.

One of our talents is making way where there is no way. The story is told of a Nigerian who was denied American visa several times. But somehow manages to find his way to America by crook. At  the end of his visits, it was said he would present himself at the embassy where he would be deported back.

After doing this repeatedly, it was reported that America decided to employ him to help in the fight against illegal migrants. The crook accepted it after they fulfilled the conditions he gave them. This included allowing his parents, siblings to relocate to America. These people know the value of paying for valuable service.

For some reasons, Nigerians perform exceptionally, academically in developed climes than anywhere in the world. Have you heard of the Imafidons in London? It’s a family based in London who is acclaimed to be the smartest. It is made up of 7 people. The father is an a renown professor and each of his off springs are making waves in the academia. The first is a girl- Anne Marie who speaks 6 languages. She graduated from high school at the age of 10. At age 13, she was granted a British scholarship to study Mathematics in John Hopkins University, Baltimore. At 17, she obtained her Masters Degree from Oxford University. She was named a serial world record breaker in 2011 in the September edition of Higher Education Digest.

One of the Imafidon’s daughter- Christina, was the youngest student in history to attend a British university – The United Kingdom University, now working as an intern with the Citigroup Corporation.

Samantha Imafidon also has an interesting track record. She had passed 2 high level Mathematics and statistics examinations at age 6. She became the youngest girl in UK to attend secondary school. She was the one who tutored her younger twin siblings to pass their maths secondary school test when they were also six.

The Imafidon twins- Peter and Paula, nicknamed wonder twins are Great Britain’s highest achievers. At 9 years, they made history to attend high school. They were the youngest to ever pass the University of Cambridge Mathematics examination after participating in the Excellence in Education Programme.They set world records when they passed the A/AS-level Maths papers.

You could say that this family is legendary. Our problem is that we don’t celebrate Nigerians or Nigeria. We see nothing good in what is ours.

Others are spread all over the world, excelling in all matters. Is it music, academics, they have got it.

In some cases, greed, poverty and or blatant wickedness is the reason that Nigerians use something good for bad. A car dealer in Jos had a memorable day some time ago. Three men in an expensive car came to his stand to purchase a car. Considering the type of car they drove in and the fact that Oga was sitting in the car demolishing suya, the other two men were allowed to have a feel of the car.

Just at the point that the car dealer was walking towards Oga to complain to him that his boys were taking too long, Oga started doing some weird things. First, he took the paper that his suya was wrapped in, and began to eat it. At that point, people gathered around the car. Oga then started jumping around and tearing anything in sight. In the process his cap fell off. Oga’s hair solved the puzzle. His hair was thick brown as a result of lack of washing.

Oga was an ignorant accomplice to a robbery. His part was to sit in the car and eat the mountain of suya before him. And he did it alright until the suya was finished. That was when he realised that he was caged and he wanted out.

The car dealers wanted to hold on to the certified mad man who must have been picked and enticed with suya to dress in babban riga complete with cap but the police told them that he has committed no offence. The guys that came with him disappeared with the new car. It was later discovered that even the car the mad man was left in at the car stand was a stolen car.

Nigerians have committed cybercrimes that were thought to be impossible. They have succeeded in crimes where others couldn’t. All these take intelligence. Our problem is channelling it the right way.

It is not easy to remain unemployed in the face of daunting challenges. It is not easy to burn the night candle and yet, someone with no qualification gets a job you are qualified for. The change begins with you, if Nigeria will be better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plateau now a commercial wheat farming state

NOVEMBER 9th 2021 marked a very historic day for Plateau State as the Federal Government and other partners flagged off the first ever rainfed commercial wheat cultivation in Nigeria under the Nigerian Brown Revolution, a CBN Wheat Value Chain intervention.

The Flagoff which took place at the Wheat Seed Multiplication Farm in Kwall, Bassa Local Government of the state drew a lot of stakeholders like the chief funders of the project, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Flour Mills of Nigeria, among others all in a bid to secure Nigeria’s food security and stop the country’s over N2 billion Naira annually spent on the importation of wheat.

The forum was well attended with Nigeria’s President Mohammad Buhari  represented by the, Plateau Governor Simon Bako Lalong. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, and other key stakeholders and partners of the project including federal and state government officials, political office holders, the traditional institution, and politicians were in attendance.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong represented the President at the Forum. Who was excited wearing two caps as a governor, and representing his President on such a laudable beneficial project that will change the economic fortunes of his state.

“I am not as tall as the President, I don’t have the height, but I am so humbled to represent my president here”, he said expressing excitement with the project and urging Plateau people to key in to participate and take advantage of the viable agricultural venture. Lalong also said he is a farmer who will personally seize the opportunity and key into wheat farming.

With the CBN financing agricultural projects through the ABP and cultivating 4.796 million hectares of farmlands across Nigeria under the programme covering 21 commodities, and the CBN also providing finance for large scale agro-allied projects through the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), there is need for the state government to facilitate the participation of Plateau Citizens in this laudable venture.

Experts at the forum stressed that wheat is the third most widely consumed grain in Nigeria after maize and rice yet the country only produces about 1percent (63,000 metric tons) of the 5-6 metric Million metric tons of the commodity consumed annually in Nigeria.

Apart from importing high yielding improved variety seeds of wheat from Mexico under the project, expanding land under cultivation, the Brown revolution project in Kwall is the first major wet season wheat production in Nigeria with about 700 hectares put under cultivation in Kwall, Jol, Kafi Abu, and Sop in Plateau. The plan is also to develop two wheat cropping cycles for dry and wet season farming.

Traditional dances by Anaguta and Irigwe cultural groups brightened the arena and portrayed the rich cultural heritage of Plateau to the admiration of guests.

The issue of security too is a thing of great concern. Although some parts of Plateau state including Bassa Local Government where the project cited was recently affected by violent killings,  the environment where the project is cited is central to its success.

The Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba and Chairman of the Plateau State Traditional Joint Council of Chiefs and Emirs who spoke at the forum was emphatic about the benefits of the project to the host community and Plateau citizens and encouraged people of the state to also rise and participate.

The  monarch commended the Plateau State Governor for keying into the CBN programme promising to play their role as traditional rulers to educate their subjects to take the new viable opportunity and access it.

He was glad that the project will create job opportunities for youths in the state whose idleness has led many to crimes. He also called for the training of farmers on security and use of Agro rangers to protect farmers in the farms and in areas where there is insecurity.

Since wheat farming has been identified as a viable money spinner and agricultural venture that can strive in Plateau, the state government through the Ministry of Agriculture should make an urgent move to organise and support farmers in the state to massively enroll into this venture.

Elder Statesman Captain Din passes on

Last weekend was a sad one for the state, as one of the prominent Plateau politicians and elder statesman who has made waves in the state and national level passed on at the age of 84.

Plateau Governor and chairman of the 19 northern governors was among mourners while President Mohammadu Buhari, former Lagos state Governor and All Progressives Congress National Leader, Bola Tinubu, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo state, sent condolences messages to the decease’s family. Until his demise, Din was a force to be reckon with as Chairman of the APC Elders Advisory Council, and a retired army officer.

Lalong paid a visit to the widow and family of the deceased to condole with them in company of APC family and members of his executive council. Earlier, Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku and his wife had also visited the family, including many personalities who have  to troop into the state to mourn with the family, people and government.

At the deceased’s house, Lalong, described the Late Din as a strong supporter of his Party, the ruling APC saying the huge vacuum created a loss that cannot be filled any time soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The preservation of Sukur heritage site

PRESERVATION if carried out effectively and efficienty goes a long way in prolonging the lifespan of the heritage which is preserved. It enables generations to see and benefit from which has been preserved. The preservation of cultural heritage is of be paramount importance in Adamawa State particularly to the Sukur people.

The people who are close to the Sukur World Heritage Site are the Sulur people themselves. It is therefore pertinent to examine the role played by these people in the past, present and even their future roles in the preservation of the World Heritage Site in Madagali Local Government Area.

Sukur was enlisted as the first World heritage Site in Nigeria in December, 1999. The area covers over a total area of 1.888.91 acres. Sukur lies within the Nigeria Cameroon harder within Madagli  Local Government Area of Adamawa State. It is 17km south of Gulak, the headquarter of Madagali and 12kms from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and 300kms away from Yola, the Adamawa State Capital.

Sukur was declared a World Heritage Site on the basis of the criteria that Sukur is an exceptional landscape. It graphically illustrates a form of land use that marks a critical stage in human settlement and its relationship with its environment and has continued to do so at a period when this form of traditional settlement is under threat in many parts of the world. The cultural landscape of Sukur is an originally evolved landscape which reflects the social structure, religious belief and economic base of Sukur. The settlements and landscape of Sukur represent most traditional societies of West Africa.

The Sukur Kingdom has been in existence for over five hundred (500) years. Sukur was said to have originated from Kush between Ethopin and Sudan. It was said to have originated from Kush to Lake Chad because of power struggle among the enthnic groups. And it as also as a result of population explosion expansion and land scarcity that Sukur people migrated to avoid being overpowered by the so call Bulala Kanuris and Gamaragus, all in Kanem Borno Empire.

Predating oral tradition in Sukur states that the people migrated from M’chekili then first settled at Maisarami, a town in Cameroun Republic. From Maisarami, they migrated to a place called Fumailhi in Nigeria, they then settled at mova. From there the Sukurs settled at Muka where their king with the Hidi Sukur established his kingdom.

Sukur Kingdom has a highly centralized government and the central figure is the Hidi. The Hidi must come from the royal lineage.

He must in normal circumstances be a prince whose father had been a Hidi. No one was Hidi when his natural father was alive. It is pertinent to note that hereditary succession is no longer practiced in Sukur. Today Hidi is chosen through an electoral process.

When an Hidi dies, the election of the next Hidi will be announced. The electorate cast their votes and the aspirant with highest votes becomes the Hidi. It must however be pointed out that election is carried out by members of the council of chiefs comprising traditional title holders and chiefs. The Sulur people now present their heritage  like initiation room, death and burial, fattening of bull and iron smelting furnace.

The initiation of boys to manhood is called Hidi. It as performed at a particular time of the year, usually during the raining season (August) and only boys between the a ges or 15-18 are allowed to participate. The initiation period lasts for between 3-11 days and is closed with a big celebration.

In Sukur, the burial of a youth and that of an elderly man differ. When a young person does, after normal crying and weeping, the deceased is immediately buried. But when and elderly man dies, each married daughter of the deceased is expected to bring a goat with her and his eldest child is duty bound to make a necessary arrangement for his burial. The bodies of the old people are not buried until the third or fourth day after death. During this period, the body is kept in a sitting position and half covered with sand. On the final day, dishes of food are set before it. The food is presented to young people in the family to eat. The body is then sewn up in a covered with sand. On the final day, dishes of food are set before it. The food is presented to young people in the family to eat. The body is then sewn up in a cows, skin and buried in a shaft and tunnel grave.

In Sukur, bulls are kept underground. All the bulls receive their food through a small hole just Large enough to admit a man. Mud covered by a thatched roof is built on the surface, round the mouth of the pit. The bulls are left their for many months up to years before they are killed. in the past, the Kildrin festival was celebrated after every two years, but today it is no longer celebrated.

In Sukur, smelting was carried out by both smith and non-smiths. Sukur smiths were kept busy year round forging iron, currency bars, agricultural implements, weapons and other objects. Sukur essentially rules in regional iron production and trade. Sukur iron market attracted traders known as Vuwa from iron starved areas or plains of Borno. Vuwa refers to unspecified traders from the North-Kanuuri, Marghi and others. The Sukur iron bars were traded for salt, dried fish, onions, clothing, cattle, beads, sheep, goat, etc.

Hassan is a staff of National Museum, Jos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still on Plateau Assembly crisis

 

IT is no longer news that all is not well at the Plateau State House of Assembly (PLHA), following the recent impeachment of the former speaker and emergence of a new speaker. During the week, the Speaker Rt. Hon. Yakubu Yackson Sanda presided over a second plenary session of the House without the opposing members in attendance. The speaker’s address was mainly that of appreciation to his colleagues for choosing him as the new leader and speaker of the ninth assembly. Without mincing words, Sanda assured that he would do his utmost best in justifying the confidence and trust bestowed on him.

According to the speaker, he realised that he was coming at a time when there is a huge call and responsibility for all hands to be on deck in order to salvage the integrity of the honourable House and its members. While calling on the honourable members to remain resolute and be determined to resist any further attempt at taking the assembly back to needless rancour, crises and instability orchestrated by a few members, the speaker was quick at pointing out that clearly, they do not have the interest of the people of Plateau at heart.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker recounted that there was yet another attempt by some disgruntled members who in their desperation to force the former speaker of the House Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba, broke into the assembly chambers taking the House hostage, to stage what he described as an illegal sitting and making an address aimed at ridiculing ‘this Honourable House.’ He said, “having convened an illegal sitting at an event hall in Zawan last week where they announced the suspension of the authentic leaders and members of this House, as well as breaking into the hallowed chambers in the morning of November 1st 2021, the House has therefore decided to take firm measures in forestalling any future occurrences.”

“Accordingly, the House hereby suspends the following members with effect from 1st November 2021 till further notice: former Speaker Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba, who is the member representing Jos East constituency, Hon. Henry Longs representing Pankshin South constituency and Hon. Timothy Dantong, the member representing Riyom constituency. Others are Hon. Musa Agah representing Rukuba/Irigwe constituency, Hon Bala Fwanje the member representing Mangu constituency and Hon. Daniel Nanbol Listick who is the member representing Langtang North Central constituency. The speaker further directed that two committees be set up to investigate the former speaker Ayuba for financial embezzlement and misappropriation, while security operatives were directed to take charge of the House and ensure that the suspended members do not gain access into the premises.

Reacting to the suspension notice, Hon. Daniel Nanbol Listick in an address described it as ‘illegal and laughable’. The Lawmaker, who reassured members of his constituency that all will soon be over, stated that, “we shall continue to stand against illegality.” While also clarifying the information that he was arrested and taken to an unknown destination during the sitting they held on November 1st, Listick stated categorically that he was never arrested but was only conveyed out of the assembly complex in a security car based on what he called ‘our resolutions with security personnel’.

As expected, reactions have continued to trail this recent development which many say has degenerated into a crisis as rival groups and protesters supporting the two contending sides clashed, destroying property within the House while many others were injured in the process. The fighting started when the embattled speaker Abok Ayuba and other lawmakers loyal to him stormed the assembly complex and were holding an executive session, preparatory for a sitting when youths loyal to him staged a solidarity protest in front of the House. On getting wind of what was happening, other rival group of protesters believed to be loyal to the new speaker arrived and gained access through the back gate attacking perceived opponents.

Among those speaking up concerning the happenings in the state assembly are the Coalition of Non Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in Plateau State, Human Rights Group, former governor Da Jonah David Jang and the lawmaker representing Jos South/ Jos East federal constituency at the National Assembly, Rep. Dachung Musa Bagos. In his reaction to the impeachment, the lawmaker called on the leadership of the National Assembly to intervene and resolve the crisis rocking the Plateau State House of Assembly. While alleging that the Speaker Abok Nuhu Ayuba became a scapegoat for saying the truth as regards the killings and the state of insecurity in the state, he had this to say: “Ayuba remains the legitimate speaker of the House that the Plateau people know; this is not about party politics, he is APC and I am PDP, it is about defending the Constitution of Nigeria. It is about doing the right thing; it is about carrying out the legitimate assignment; it is about doing what is right for the people and giving the people what is right for them”.

In like manner, Nigerian speakers under the aegis of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria are urging the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to intervene in the leadership tussle rocking the Plateau State House of Assembly in order to restore sanity and orderliness. Recently, Chairman of the Conference and Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Suleiman led a delegation of speakers of Ogun, Enonyi and Ekiti State Assemblies to meet with the NGF Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in Abuja. During the meeting, the speakers were in unison in expressing deep concern over the Plateau House of Assembly fracas.

For the speakers, the only way out is for a quick intervention of the governors so that all parties involved in the crisis will sheathe their sword and respect the Constitution, including the respective rules and procedures of the Plateau State House of Assembly. They unanimously harped on the sanctity of the legislative arm and expressed worry on the setback this crisis will bring to governance in Plateau State. Dr. Fayemi responded by first of all, commending the conference of speakers for their commitment to finding a lasting solution to the issue on ground. He thereafter, assured that the NGF was already closely monitoring the situation and had requested that the Governor of Niger State travel to Jos for the purpose of meeting with the governor and the two conflicting parties involved.

Meanwhile, as the saga continued a different plenary was held and was presided over by Abok Nuhu Ayuba where a notice of motion was moved by the Deputy Majority Leader and member representing Pankshin North constituency, Hon. Philip Peter Dasun. A call was made for the Plateau State government and the President Muhammadu Buhari to disregard the purported attempted impeachment of the speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly. According to the motion, the process failed to meet up with the global legislative standards, rules and procedures of the state assembly and the constitutional requirement of the federal republic of Nigeria.

By this therefore, an appeal was also made to the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Barr. Simon Bako Lalong, to look into the matter as a lawyer and as a former Speaker. In the words of Ayuba, “if after twenty years of practicing an uninterrupted democracy, we are still going through these autocratic practices, then how are we going to survive, and if this should come from people occupying high offices in government, then how do we expect the common man on the street to behave? That injustice such as this should prevail in our society and contained by the executive is worrisome. I am not saying I can’t be impeached, but it should be by due process and in line with existing House rules.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jega’s visit

HE had come to visit the corridors of  power of the Plateau Government House Jos along with a large delegation. But this time, not in relation to electoral matters as he was widely known for, but the former Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega had led a team of Educationists from the Management Team of the University of Jos to formally meet with the Governor.

Shortly after successfully  finishing his job as INEC Chairman and ushering the 2015 transition into power in Nigeria, Jega was was appointed Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Plateau State University Bokkos in August 2015 along with six other council members.

After repositioning and transforming the institution to a better footing, Jega was again appointed as the Pro chancellor of university of Jos this year, 2021. But shortly after his appointment, sectarian crisis erupted in parts of Jos North LGA located within the Plateau state capital, and some LGA’s leading to the imposition of curfews and disruption of the academic programme of many primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state, including the university of Jos.

Jega was blunt in his requests. “Redeem your pledge which you made to the University, we have received 3 Hillux  vehicles, but I  learnt that there is one more vehicle  remaining”.

Like ‘Oliver Twist’ he begged to make requests asking for more from the government to get  buses, and more security support to help the institution. He expressed worry that the institution had lost  students during the ethno religious skirmishes. “This gesture would boost confidence in staff and students of the University as they resume and come to work” Jega said.

This is not the first time sad incidences like this is happening. The security of the University seriously  needs to be beefed up and addressed holistically because it has been a thing of concern to many. Fnding proactive lasting solutions to the security network and challenges of the Unijos is timely and would do a lot of good to restoring confidence in the minds of students, lectures and outsiders. Instead of protecting them,  Students and Lecturers usually form easy targets in the hands of communities and hoodlums surrounding the institution and this is a worrisome trend that the Governor and other stakeholders in Jos North including the Chairman, community leaders, traditional leaders and Management of the institution are working round the clock to address. Jega also raised those concerns during the visit including the Governor but they pledged a commitment to salvage the worrisome situation.

During the August- September ethno religious crisis in the state students of Unijos had raised the alarm over the continues attacks on them by hoodlums, alleging four of their students had been killed, said the Punch newspaper.

“The corpse of a 100-level student of the university was found within the Naraguta permanent site of the Institution, and the deceased was said to have been pulled out of  a tricycle he boarded around Bauchi Road in Jos North Local Government, that houses the Hostel”. Apart from this sad incident, another student of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, Doris Bitrus was murdered around Bauchi Junction on Sunday on her way to church, while the decaying body of another Student Bagu Christopher, a100-level student of History and international relations was found after some days search. Many other students were affected, like a medical student stabbed just at the gate of the Naraguta hostel, some missing students were found in hospitals and others were not found, said the Punch. Among safety recommendations given by the Students Union Government (SUG) President Danladi Joshua during the crisis was a call to the Federal Government to facilitate the building of a parameter fence in the institution, building of more accommodation for students to reduce the number staying off campus, and establishment of a market by the institution authorities where basic foodstuff and items can be easily accessible to  students in campus.

After tabling the institutions challenges during the visit, Jega had pledged to rise the status of the university to be listed among the leading institutions among its peers.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong made a commitment to address the issues and redeem the pledge.

The Governor’s classmates visited

After finishing school, either at the primary, secondary or tertiary levels, many students lose contact with each other, many are not being able to see each other again. There are also insinuations at various quotas that those who make it to the top among school mates becoming the big wigs, reputable politicians, business men and women, technocrats and international figures usually snub their class mates who are below the ladder of success. But there are exceptions with  stories of how individuals who became dons and big wigs in the society carry their class mates along.

One of those keeping close tabs and contacts on his classmates is Gov. Lalong who received them on Saturday August 30 2021 at the New Government House Rayfield Jos.

The Governor had met his classmates shortly after he returned from the Yakubu Gowon Airport, to see off the Vice-President of the Country, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo who flew into the state  to attend the annual thanksgiving 2021 organised by  Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Plateau State Chapter.

Dr. Sylvanus Tahir who led the delgation of Governor Lalong’s Class  of 1990 at the Ahmadu Bello University said a delegation from the class came with relief materials to support Internally Displaced Persons who lost their means of livelihood during the sectarian crisis that rocked Plateau in August and September 2021.

Tahir described the governor as humble and one who keeps tabs on all his classmates irrespective of class or social status. According to Tahir, as governor with tight busy state schedules, Lalong still has the time to chat his classmates in their WhatsApp social media platform. Tahir also said the Governor  during their school days had always been a unifying force who encouraged the class to love each other irrespective of social, religious, ethnic, geographical or class differences, a practice they have done to sustain their unity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plateau has cause to smile

 

PLATEAU has had a cause to smile with many recent  Federal Appointments coming its way.

Among the recent appointments given to the state by President Mohammadu Buhari is the  appointment of Ms Rose Chundung Ndong as the Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management Board of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong in his congratulatory message excitedly  described the appointment of Ndong, an illustrious daughter of his state as a demonstration of the Presidents love for the people of Plateau State, and an affirmation of confidence in their capacity to deliver on critical national assignments. Before her recent appointment, Ndong, a geologist had worked  in Plateau State where she among others, served as the Provost, Nigerian Institute of Mining and Goesciences and Managing Director of the Nigeria Mining Corporation Jos, before moving on to other responsibilities at various Federal Government agencies and abroad.

Another Federal appointment to Plateau in recent times is that of the Nigeria Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Simon Harry who hails from Bassa Local Government of Plateau State. The new head of the National Bureau of Statistics was before his appointment the Director, Corporate Planning and Technical Coordination Department at the NBS. He joined the erstwhile Federal Office of Statistics as Statistician 11 in 1992 and rose to the position of a substantive Director of Statistics in 2019. In the course of his civil service career, Harry contributed to several reform initiatives including the reform of the then Federal Office of Statistics, which transformed to the current NBS. He was also part of the reform of the Nigerian Statistical System, which led to the creation and establishment of State Bureaus of Statistics at the sub-national level. With his new post , Harry is expected to manage the Statistical Operations of the National Statistical System in the production of Official Statistics in all the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), State Statistical Agencies (SSAs) and Local Government Councils (LGCs).

Other posts occupied at the National level by persons from Plateau State are Rev. Yakubu Pam the Executive Secretary, National Christian Pilgrims Commission, Mr James Lalu National Commission for Persons With Disabilities among others.

At the NBA conference 2021

It was a gathering of legal luminaries from across the country in Port Harcourt, Rivers State for the National Conference of  the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Governor Lalong, a lawyer by profession was among lawyers that attended and participated in the yearly conference. Among top government officials who joined the host Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State at the opening ceremony of the conference were the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Chief Justice of Nigeria represented by Justice Mary Odili, Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Governor of Bauchi State among others. Lalong interacted with participants from Plateau State where he commended the delegates for strengthening the legal profession in the state.

Earlier this year, the national executives of the NBA had paid a courtesy visit to the Plateau State Governor at Government House, Little Rayfield to intimate him of the conference and other issues concerning the body. Sadly one of the members of the NBA National Exco that was part of the courtesy visit, Dr. Hauwa Shekarau, the NBA Chairperson of Abuja died in September, just a month to the  conference.

Shekarau, a Chevening alumnus reportedly died after a brief illness. She  was a gender advocate, human rights activist, a professional mediator and a conciliator. She had over 25 years post-call experience in women and child rights policy and advocacy, conflict resolution, social research, sexual and reproductive health and rights. Shekarau graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and was also the National President of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Nigeria) between 2012 and 2015.

Among many other national and international posts held by the deceased was board member of Action Aid International, Nigeria and Nigeria Women Trust Fund, League for Human Rights, El-Shaddai Widows Outreach, among others.

At the NBA Port Harcourt Conference 2021, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kuka delivered the keynote address at the conference with the theme “Take the Lead”.

 

PLATEAU has had a cause to smile with many recent  Federal Appointments coming its way.

Among the recent appointments given to the state by President Mohammadu Buhari is the  appointment of Ms Rose Chundung Ndong as the Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management Board of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong in his congratulatory message excitedly  described the appointment of Ndong, an illustrious daughter of his state as a demonstration of the Presidents love for the people of Plateau State, and an affirmation of confidence in their capacity to deliver on critical national assignments. Before her recent appointment, Ndong, a geologist had worked  in Plateau State where she among others, served as the Provost, Nigerian Institute of Mining and Goesciences and Managing Director of the Nigeria Mining Corporation Jos, before moving on to other responsibilities at various Federal Government agencies and abroad.

Another Federal appointment to Plateau in recent times is that of the Nigeria Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Simon Harry who hails from Bassa Local Government of Plateau State. The new head of the National Bureau of Statistics was before his appointment the Director, Corporate Planning and Technical Coordination Department at the NBS. He joined the erstwhile Federal Office of Statistics as Statistician 11 in 1992 and rose to the position of a substantive Director of Statistics in 2019. In the course of his civil service career, Harry contributed to several reform initiatives including the reform of the then Federal Office of Statistics, which transformed to the current NBS. He was also part of the reform of the Nigerian Statistical System, which led to the creation and establishment of State Bureaus of Statistics at the sub-national level. With his new post , Harry is expected to manage the Statistical Operations of the National Statistical System in the production of Official Statistics in all the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), State Statistical Agencies (SSAs) and Local Government Councils (LGCs).

Other posts occupied at the National level by persons from Plateau State are Rev. Yakubu Pam the Executive Secretary, National Christian Pilgrims Commission, Mr James Lalu National Commission for Persons With Disabilities among others.

At the NBA conference 2021

It was a gathering of legal luminaries from across the country in Port Harcourt, Rivers State for the National Conference of  the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Governor Lalong, a lawyer by profession was among lawyers that attended and participated in the yearly conference. Among top government officials who joined the host Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State at the opening ceremony of the conference were the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Chief Justice of Nigeria represented by Justice Mary Odili, Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Governor of Bauchi State among others. Lalong interacted with participants from Plateau State where he commended the delegates for strengthening the legal profession in the state.

Earlier this year, the national executives of the NBA had paid a courtesy visit to the Plateau State Governor at Government House, Little Rayfield to intimate him of the conference and other issues concerning the body. Sadly one of the members of the NBA National Exco that was part of the courtesy visit, Dr. Hauwa Shekarau, the NBA Chairperson of Abuja died in September, just a month to the  conference.

Shekarau, a Chevening alumnus reportedly died after a brief illness. She  was a gender advocate, human rights activist, a professional mediator and a conciliator. She had over 25 years post-call experience in women and child rights policy and advocacy, conflict resolution, social research, sexual and reproductive health and rights. Shekarau graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and was also the National President of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Nigeria) between 2012 and 2015.

Among many other national and international posts held by the deceased was board member of Action Aid International, Nigeria and Nigeria Women Trust Fund, League for Human Rights, El-Shaddai Widows Outreach, among others.

At the NBA Port Harcourt Conference 2021, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kuka delivered the keynote address at the conference with the theme “Take the Lead”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The visit to Aku Uka’s palace

WHEN the news of the demise of the Aku Uka of Wukari, Shekarau Masa-Ibi Kuvyo II, Chairman of Taraba State Council of Chiefs broke on Monday, there was an outpour of eulogies and condolence messages from all over the country to the monarch who died at 84.

Governor Simon Bako led a high powered delegation from Plateau made up of traditional rulers and government officials to visit the state to commiserate with Taraba people over the huge loss.

Among the traditional rulers on the visit was the Long Gamai of Shendam, Miskoom Martin Shaldas II who stressed the significance of the historic relationship, rich cultural traditions and cordial relationship that exists between the Gamai people and the entire Kwararafa race. The Long Gamai also praised the late Monarch for upholding their cultural values traced far back to their ancestors.

For Governor Lalong, a Gamai by tribe and Kwararafa son,  it was indeed, a significant visit. The relationship between the Gamai, and that of the Jukun-linked  Kwararafa lineage has long historical roots. Historical sources indicate that the Jukun, descendants of the people of Kororofa (Kwararafa in Hausa) are an ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in West Africa and are, traditionally located in Taraba, Benue, Nassarawa, Plateau, Adamawa and Gombe States in Nigeria including parts of Northwestern Cameroon, and rose to prominence before 1500. Until the coming of both Christianity and Islam, the Jukuns were followers of their own traditional religions, most of the tribes, Alago, Agatu, Rendere Goemai in Shendam, Plateau State, and others left Kwararafa when it disintegrated as a result of a power tussle. Infact till date, the emergence of a new chief or ruler of the Gamai tribe and other tribes under the Kwararafa lineage  is usually cemented with the paying of homage to the Aku Uka in Taraba to solidify the age-long relationship.

Former Taraba State Deputy Governor, Dr. Samuel Danjuma Gani expressed gratitude to Plateau for the show of fraternity, respect, honour and solidarity to the late Aku Uka in death.

Gbong Gwom honours Plateau sons, daughters

It was news all over the local and national media when his royal Majesty, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba clocked 70, especially the lavish celebrations held on Sunday, October 17, 2021 to honour and eulogise the monarch for attaining the septuagenarian age.

But what was more news was how the grand and royal event that took place at the Gbong Gwom Palace Jishe Tudun Wada  turned out to be a forum for the exhibition of unity. All those who attended irrespective of social, political, religious or ethnic divides were brought under one umbrella to socially interact and celebrate the monarch.

No doubt, the event attracted a mammoth crowd from within and outside the state as it was a gathering of the who- is-who in both private, political and government circles including family, friends and well wishers of the royal father who is the chairman of the Plateau State Council of Chiefs.

The most significant outcome of the event was the awards given to some selected sons and daughters of Berom Land and some citizens of the state for their contributions to development of the state irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliations.

The 10 individuals given the traditional titles were Mr. Austin Pam Dalyop (Galadiman Jos) Engr. Jang Chuwang Tanko (Jarman Jos), Alh Mansur Nakande (Makaman Jos), Chief (Dr) Felix Ezeanoche ( Mutawallen Jos) Da Toma Chuwang Minti (Ngwom Nkanang) Da Michael Gyang Pam (Sarkin Pada), Da Choji Zang Tott (Talban Jos), Mrs. Felicia Chomo Sodipe (Jakadiyan Jos), Mrs. Sarah Dagah (De Sele Berom), as well as Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed DG NTA, a childhood friend of the Gbong Gwom who was given the title of Tafidan Jos.

The central message during the speech of the first class ruler was on peace, unity, and tolerance from Plateau citizens and Nigerians as the only panacea to moving forward as a nation. The celebrant stressed that it is not only Plateau State that is facing crisis and appealed to all, irrespective of religious and ethnic differences to take a bold move as Nigerians and make a personal decision to start working for peace because “Nobody can bring peace to Nigeria unless yourself”. His words echoed as he stressed the need for love and oneness “No president, governor, security agency can restore peace except you yourself. God says in the Bible, if you say you love me and you don’t love your neighbour, you are a liar… so we must love each other, sit together, stop bickering and fighting each other”.

“As long as you are in Plateau, whether as indigenes or as citizens, we must all come together  to work for the interest of Plateau” he said as he gave the awards

appreciating the Governor’s peace efforts and promising to cooperate with him to work together in the interest of peace and unity of Plateau. The Gbong Gwom also challenged the traditional title awardees to play a similar role.

Governor Lalong expressed optimism that the Gbong Gwom’s gesture is the consolidation of peace on the Plateau and challenged  traditional leaders within and outside the state to preach peace in their domains and replicate such a unifying gesture.

While calling on legislators to enact enabling laws that will give legal backing to the role of traditional rulers in the country, Lalong  congratulated the awardees saying “It does not matter if you come from Plateau but you have done a lot of things and contributed immensely to the development of Plateau, I pray to come to another occasion like this that will honour people who have contributed to the development of Plateau”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plateau holds LG elections, swears in chairmen

 

 

ONE of the issues in the front burner of the state government during the week was the successful conduct of the Local Government Area (LGA) elections across the state under a peaceful atmosphere on October 9, 2021.

Fears about the elections especially that of Jos North ending peacefully was a major source of concern to many individuals and groups who aired their views by calling for a possible cancellation of the elections in flash point zones like Jos North LGA, through various press conferences and media messages.

But a state-wide broadcast by the Governor on the eve of the elections, Friday, however assured citizens that adequate security had been put in place and the Local Government elections would hold in all the 17 Local Government Areas. The security were indeed, at work and were seen hovering and stopping vehicles with stop-and-search intent and interrogations.

With the PDP excluded from the race due to a court ruling, and about seven political parties participating, the APC won all the chairmanship seats in the 17 council areas and won the councillorship seats across the 325 wards in the state, as announced by the Chairman of the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission, Fabian Ntung on Sunday. The Governor who voted in his ward in his home town Ajikamai, cast his vote at 10:30am in company of his wife Regina at Nyak ward, Ajikamai.

Two days after the elections on Monday October 11, there was the swearing in of the newly elected chairmen at the Victoria Gowon Hall, Rayfield by Lalong, who described the successful elections as quite significant and historic. Based on past happenings and record of events, Jos North has always been a centre for bloodletting and post elections violence. A situation that has made past governors to always appoint Ccaretaker- chairmen to man affairs of the LGA.

In a very long while. Lalong said during his speech at the swearing in occasion that this is one of the most peaceful LGA elections conducted in the state, and also the first time Local Government elections was peacefully conducted in Jos North.

“It is with a huge sense of fulfilment that I address you today at this very historic and significant event. We have every reason to thank God for the successful transition from one LGA tenure to another after the successful elections that took place on the 9th of October; despite the legal fireworks that persisted up to few hours before the polls, PLASIEC were able to carry out their constitutional mandate. Without doubt, this is a very significant achievement in our democratic journey and the efforts to build a Plateau that is inclusive, egalitarian and progressive. I am happy that all political parties and candidates had equal opportunity to participate in the process from the beginning, while those who had issues within their parties exploited all legal options to ventilate their grievances rather than resorting to taking laws into their hands. This itself is a threshold in deepening democracy”.

It was indeed, jubilation galore on the swearin- in day as an unprecedented and overwhelming crowd made up of supporters and family members of the winners, stakeholders and party stalwarts converged from across the 17 LGAs of the state. Traditional dancers from each of the LGA’s were also fully on ground, clad in their traditional attires to depict their identity and celebrate their new chairmen and councillors. They were fascinating as they thrilled the air with their cultural dance steps and performances.

Creating humour while speaking, the Governor said from the circumstances that has played out in the just concluded elections, lawyers have been put out of tribunal work because there may be no need for tribunals or post elections petitions since the elections went on smoothly and peacefully in all the 17 LGAs.

While calling on the new Chairmen to embrace all their subjects and ensure justice to all irrespective of social, religious, political or ethnic differences, he said elections is neither war nor an avenue for disharmony and called on citizens to also put behind their differences and work together to build the state.

FG donates relief materials

But earlier in the week of elections, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, HajiyaSadiya Umar Farouq had visited the state with relief materials to give succor to victims of the September isolated attacks and killings in YelwaZangam in Jos North LGA, Jebbu, Miango in Bassa LGA, Riyom and and Jos South LGAs.

After the killings occurred, President Buhari had directed her ministry to organise and send relief materials to the state, when Governor Lalong visited the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to intimate him of the security situation and sad happenings. The minister’s coming was therefore in fulfillment of the President’s directive. She came with food and non-food items like bags of rice, beans, noodles, cement, detergents, soap, wrappers seasoning, milk, oil, nails, zinc, ceiling boards, mattresses, mats, blankets among numerous items. Farouq called for peaceful coexistence and said the relief materials must not be viewed as compensation to the victims but a little gesture to enable them start life all over again, after losing their wealth and everything they had to the tragedy.

During the visit, the minister made a stop at the Obasanjo Model Primary School where she visited the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre, one of the pilot ICT centres which is one of the Federal Government’s initiative and model centres for ICT in the 21st century. The minister said the ICT center is part of the programme in her ministry to support children in primary and secondary schools in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to be ICT compliant. She also said each state has two or three centres and Plateau is a pilot state and centre for the North Central Zone. The centre has 40 computers and uses solar energy as its source of electricity supply.

Lalong appreciated the kind gesture of the FG’s timely intervention, but like Oliver Twist used the forum to ask for more, by asking the Minister to remind the President and his Vice President, Prof. YemiOsinbanjo of the N10 milion Naira pledge they made to his state for resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons.

GbongGwom turns 70

According to Lalong, if this pledge is redeemed, it will go a long way in bringing succour to IDPs and hasten the facilitation and relocation of those affected back to their destroyed homes.

There was also great celebrations within and outside the state on the occasion of the 70th birthday of the Head of the Plateau State Joint Traditional Council, the GbongGwom Jos. In various goodwill messages, the renowned first class monarch, HRH Da Jacob GyangBuba was widely celebrated with goodwill messages pouring in from Nigeria’s President, MohammaduBuhari, Governor Lalong and many well wishers, describing him as a peacemaker and one who has worked immensely for the development of the country. They wished the monarch long life as he continues his job of touching lives as key stakeholder in his state and Nigeria as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria: Still fractured and groping at 61

 

 

I wrote with the headline: ‘Trouble everywhere for Nigeria at 53’ exactly eight years ago. It was not a premonition but the reality of the fact that we were facing trouble everywhere as we turned, even as nothing was put in place to abate it. It was troubling for many Nigerians, who actually didn’t know what had hit them.

This week, Nigeria is celebrating her 61st independence anniversary as a sovereign nation. I do not know, but unlike the previous celebrations, this anniversary may not have had any meaning to some of us as we are still grappling with a number of issues, which are troubling to all; except for those who are profiting from our misadventures.

There are a number of reasons why some may not be celebrating this anniversary. A people are closely link to their independence, if its leaders are sincere to their mandates. In Nigeria, it is difficult to say categorically if we have reached that stage yet. There are many reasons to place on this development.

Today, it is hard to find Nigerians who would want to die for the country. The reason is not farfetched. But we can get around this. To be fair, Nigerian leaders have not given us cause to be proud and to want to die for it. They tell us and engage in things that do not make us proud of the country, rather they daily give us cause to want to destroy it-and quickly too for their sake, religion and or tribe.

It appears that we are a long way from the arrival point. As much as we desire to make progress, there are still reasons why we are still where we are. Several Nigerians have wondered why they would sacrifice their lives for nothing, while others who hardly put in any effort for the development of the country are daily applauded and rewarded, for helping to destroy it.

It is difficult under these circumstances to get the county moving. It is difficult for our country men to be invigorated or challenged to want to die for the cause of the nation. Why would they die for a country when they are considered second class citizens in their land? Why would anyone contemplate sacrificing his life for a country when all that he does is not appreciated but condemned? Why would any country man give in his best when it is apparent that there are people who are considered far above others? Why would justice be denied people on the basis of their religion and or where they come from? Does justice have a colour different from what everyone deserves to be given?

As we look backwards in Nigeria’s life history, definitely, there are a number of things that we know have gone wrong that should be addressed. There are just many areas that have been overlooked; for instance, tolerance of impunity has gained ground and it is being celebrated with fanfare. There are just too many things that have not had a foundation, and we are just not ready to put them right, so long as some people are daily benefiting from it.

A number of areas that should have helped propelled us forward are daily drawing us backwards and stunting our development efforts. I know of many Nigerians who have regretted the efforts they have put to ensure that the country moves ahead and to be able to give them back what they have sacrificed to make her develop.

In other climes, citizens expect several encouragement gestures from their country; our reward system has flaws, and that is why they put in so much to ensure that their country is developed beyond comprehension. It is not by magic that Europe and other continents are developed. Africa and indeed Nigeria is lagging behind because our leaders and even those aspiring to lead us are a bunch that wouldn’t want to be sincere about it so long as private pockets and their families matter most. It is enough reason that we are where we are today; and may continue if we do not have an attitudinal change.

We don’t expect anything more given our propensity to create comfort zones for ourselves, families and in some cases our friends and associates. It is in our quest to create these ‘unnecessary’ comfort zones that we have made corruption our second nature. It is as a result of our desire to ensure that our children and family members don’t lack for as long as they live that our struggles on a daily basis are tailored toward the quest to get the future organized. To get that perceived future stabilized monetarily, in such a way that we can be said to have arrived, government tills are pilfered in such a fashion that could be said to be the crudest ever known anywhere on planet earth.

We know that efforts have been made to stamp out the monster, but tried as government and others have, no meaningful success have been recorded; and that is why we have continued to fall and rise. We have a big problem at hand, and to be candid, a number of Nigerians are just worried on what should be done about the monster.

In the 21st century and we have not made any progress as regards our educational development so much so that strikes have become the middle name of our institutions. The Association of Staff Union of Nigerian Universities has always embarked on strike over an agreement entered between it and government in 2009. ASUU would go on a strike to ensure that the 2009 agreements were honoured by government. It is not yet over.

Parents are left to face the challenges of taking care of several bills. For now, private universities are the in things, but they are for the rich. No poor man can afford to send his ward to any private Nigerian university. The poor man is the one that is left to face all the ugly challenges of life in Nigeria. He takes headlong all the problems that should have been borne by all.

It appears that in Nigeria no one; indeed no government deliberately honours any agreement entered into. Remember that recently the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors dropped their stethoscope to demand for certain privileges they have been denied over time. Strikes are a recurring decimal, which explains why students for a four year course don’t always know when they are graduating. No student can, with certainty say when he or she is going to graduate.

On the other fronts of the education sector, students daily fail examinations with impunity, yet no body at the head cares. They give us two results for one examination conducted by WAEC and no head rolls-it is business as usual.

Our health institutions like any national institution are dead, or rather just running its course for the sake of their establishment. Government officials are having a field day engaging in health tourism. Our health institutions, like General Sani Abacha said several years ago, when overthrowing the Shonekan’s Government of National Unity in 1993 are today just ‘mere consulting clinics’.

Today, one wonders if they have changed. The truth is that it appears that we still have a long way to go, as there is no funding to enable our health institutions take care of all of us. As a result of the continued neglect of such institutions, most government and private citizens, who can afford, these days don’t bother themselves with being attended to in Nigeria.

These days the highest traffic is noticed on routes to India, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United States of America and Britain. There are so many other countries that have benefitted from Nigerians who can afford to go for treatment abroad. The neglect of our national institutions means that only the rich can afford the services of our hospitals, the poor can go rot in hell, for all they care.

These days the amount of hard currency lost from Nigeria to India and other countries should be an indictment of the government’s efforts to redress such. They have come to naught simply because we have nothing to show for our efforts to make them work. And yet the government don’t always care since they do not account for what they spend on those medical trips abroad. Anyone who knows someone in government can help facilitate the trip of either a sibling, relation or in fact, a friend to be attended to abroad.

Have you traveled lately on any Nigerian road? You will have stories to tell your readers if you have. Anyone that may have travelled on some of these roads will not have an experience to share with the rest of the world. I have had cause to travel from Jos to many parts of the country. Such experience if shared with the readers may make many not to embark on any journey.

In the last couple of years (particularly during the Obasanjo years, that is, from 1999-2007) so much was spent in the energy sector but you and I know that we cannot point to where the money went to. While we are still grabbing with the situation, it is little known whether we will be able to get over the issue.

Today, government is talking tough on the issue; it is saying everything is being done to get to the root. That is what we always hear, but truth be told we are not told what they did with the billions that was or will be injected into the sector to get enough energy for the use of Nigerians.

One of the issues that will kill Nigeria is insecurity. Since 2009, we have gone from bad to the worst stage, despite the humongous resources so far spent in that direction. It does appear that banditry, kidnapping, insurgency; crime and criminality are daily on the increase.

The government has a responsibility to protect and give Nigerians justice, if they matter at all. If there is a future for all, every citizen deserves justice and it should be seen to be made available at all cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict triggers in marriage

 WHEN new couples start a home after getting married, so many issues and realities begin to emerge which could ignite conflicts.

But having conflicts in relationships is normal, says psychologists and every couple will experience conflicts in their marraige. This is because coming from different social, traditional, religious, geographical or cultural, backgrounds, there is the tendency to view, understand or things differently from each other.

However, how you handle conflicts that arise in the relationship is what matters. Your ability to come to an understanding and agree on what works and what should be utmost and making things to work requires a lot of patience, understanding and a willingness to sometimes compromise on some issues even if things does not necessarily happen your way.

But there are no-go areas that are conflict causers. In a bid to find out those things that cause conflicts in relationships, I spoke to Mrs Allu, who has been married for 19 years. From her almost two decades in Marriage, Allu lists Work/career, relatives, friends, finance, lack of communication, lack of a strong foundation and focal point, lack of commitment to the marriage as some major triggers of conflicts in martial affairs.

“We sometimes get carried away with the need to provide for the family hence attention is not given to the other so conflicts can set it due to deprivation and neglect faced by the spouse at the receiving end. But no matter how demanding your work is, you need to strike a balance between work, career and family life”.

Allu also said relatives and in-laws usually  tend to expect too much from their son or daughter inlaw and sometimes if boundaries are not respected, they meddle into the couples life. “Boundaries should be set and respect given to the privacy and life of the couple, from both sides, the husband and wife’s family”.

She also cautioned spouses who spend their free time with friends instead of their family stating “Do not spend all your spare time with friends alone, a huge chunk of your time should be for your family, who need your time and presence in their lives. Definitely, the spouse at the receiving end may begin to look for other ways of spending their time, if you are are investing your time else where and this is certainly not good as many have ended up with extra marital affairs, once they start getting the missing attention from someone else.

Allu also stressed the need for Couples to be free to share their finances and be open about it because it s major crisis trigger.

“Once you decide to marry someone, you should commit to make your marriage work. Communication too is very important and you must be honest to one another, plan together and do things together while also remembering that a family that prays together stays together. Allow Jesus be your foundation and focus”, she advised.

According to Rachel Pace, a Blogger, common causes of conflicts in marriage are unmet expectations, unreasonable expectations, conflicting standpoints on the subject of children, inability to manage marriage finances, allocation of time to marriage, and pursuits. Other factors she says includes lack of sexual compatability, breakdown in communication, mismatched dynamics and imbalance powerplay in personalities.

“A marriage is not a Union where one partner readily clones the set of attributes that the other has. Common conflicts in a marriage are rife because it brings together partners with their set of idiosyncrasies, value system, deep-seated habits, diverse background, priorities and preferences. But it is imperative that these marital conflicts are resolved at the earliest, as studies suggest that conflict in marriage have a debilitating effect on health. In general even leads to severe cases of depression and eating disorders” says Price.

Online platform Psychology today in an article titled “ The 10 most common sources of Conflict in relationships” says every couple will experience conflict in their relationship and that’s not a bad thing. “But across various studies, trust- jealousy, partner personality habits and sex were top conflict triggers”.

Factors listed by Gary W. Lewandoeski Jr. in the article as the top 10 behaviours that can upset a romantic partner ranked from the least to the most mentioned based on an interview conducted with over 100 couples are as follows:

Your Partner Is:

1) Condescending: Treats you as stupid or inferior, acts like he/she is better than you

2) Possessive, Jealous, and/or Dependent: Demands too much attention or time;generally acts jealous/possessive/dependent

3)Neglecting, Rejecting, and/or Unreliable: Ignores your feelings, doesn’t call, doesn’t say they love you, etc.

4) Abusive: Slaps, spits, hits, resorts to name-calling, or is verbally abusive

5) Unfaithful: Had sex with another person, saw someone intimately, or went out with another partner

6) Inconsiderate: Doesn’t help clean up, burps in your face, leaves the toilet seat up or down, etc.

7) Physically Self-Absorbed: Worries too much about appearance, focuses too much on hair or face, spends too much on clothes, etc.

8) Moody: Emotionally unstable, or bitchy.

9) Sexually Withholding or Rejecting: Refuses to have sex, doesn’t act interested, or is a sexual tease, but not in a playful way!

10) Quick to Sexualize Others: Talks about the attractiveness of others, talks about others as sex objects, idolizes someone on TV, etc.

Divorce rates are high. If not in abusive relationships where the life of a spouse is threatened, it is advisable to address these marriage conflict triggers for better cohabitation and a lifelong exciting marriage experience.

 

 

 

 

The threat of the locusts

 

WHILE growing up, it was standard practice to engage young lads in productive ventures where their energies were invested so that they could add value to the community. The wherewithal was not only provided but conducive conditions were created for industry to thrive. These conditions gave young people the opportunity to express and realize their potentials easily. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of the young people of these days. They are a different breed. Their world views are completely different and at variance with those of their forebears. Though they have great potentials the outlets for self expression are often few and far between.

In the present day situation, you must know someone who knows someone for you to get a job. Connections are what matters the most not competencies. If you like acquire the best certification and have the best curriculum vitea, if you do not know someone, you are doomed to wallow in abject poverty and want. You will never get that dream job that you had hope and looked forward to. God help you if you do not have some skills set. Your parents and relations will grow tired of you and begin to see you as someone to be avoided.

This reality brings to the fore the need for a change in our educational curriculum. It makes no sense to continue to do the same thing over and over and expect to get a different result. The British education model we had adopted since independence has not worked for us. We therefore, need to do a detour and change our ways. We need to start imparting skills based knowledge. This would not only make it fun but by the time the student leaves school he does not have to wait for someone and worry about a job that is none existent.

Vocational education has created a class of people who have become employers and who do not wait on governments for white collar jobs that are not available. Since government is growing slimmer and smaller, a way needs to be sought to get around the unemployment quagmire and break the poverty circle. At a point, the youth paid scant heed to, and never bothered about acquiring skills set but the story is gradually changing for the better. We need to demand from our leaders at all levels that they put in place the right infrastructure and create the needed atmosphere to constructively engage this set of people who are so full of energy and drive.

The present government has made some moves in that direction but they are not doing enough. For instance, the money spent on the schools feeding programme could be ploughed into growing institutions that train people to acquire skills set. Equipment should be made available and maintained to ensure the continued existence of such institutions. Indeed, since government has shown that it does not have the capacity to run businesses, the private sector can be made to run these all important institutions.

This is not in any way to diminish the conventional education that has come to be a part of our lives and society. As one acquires the conventional wisdom, there will be no harm in veering into the acquisition of skills set. After all, some who have distinguished themselves have not been to or abondant conventional education.  Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg the owners of Microsoft,  Facebook and Twitter were said to have dropped out of school yet went on to make the rich list of the world.

To be sure, institutions like the Industrial Training Fund, technical schools and colleges should be encouraged. Governments should and must deliberately provide them with the wherewithal to flourish so they could contribute in growing our economy. That apart, deliberately policies must be made to ensure the private sector thrives so that they would serve as growth drivers. Our universities too must make deliberate efforts to change from their ancient ways of doing things. Researches and analysis must be encouraged and practical knowledge must be their focus. This can only be achieved if these institutions are adequately funded. A situation where government does not do its part and expect the lecturers to perform magic is unacceptable and should be discountenanced.

But that would not be possible if we keep seeing ourselves from the prisms of the sentiments that are threatening to tear us apart as a country. It is rather unfortunate that politics has become the most thriving industry in our country. People who hardly could feed themselves before getting into political offices become stupendously rich once in office. This too calls for the country to take a look at the way politics is played in our clime. If politics is made unattractive, it is then that we would enjoy value for what is happening in that field. Service to humanity would have become the motivation so politicians will not over reach themselves trying to get into office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating our heroes, akara makers

 

RECENTLY, World Akara Day was celebrated. Like any such days, it was a day set aside to celebrate akara makers worldwide. A handful of them came forward and gave their testimonies, the lofty heights they achieved through frying of akara. Their children who were trained through akara proceeds came in their numbers and poured accolades on their mothers (who were mostly the akara makers). Talk about ‘tough times don’t last but tough people do’.

The rigours of the business could not be hidden on the faces of the retired akara sellers and on the faces of those still engaging in the business. This is due to long time exposure to naked fire and challenges of the business.

For those of us who grew up among average Nigerians, akarais a delicacy which is as common as bread. It was more popular because as we were growing up, even 5 kobo could get one as much as 5 sizeableakaras depending on the size.

Akara and pap (it’s accompaniment is a very popular breakfast with The Nigerian average and poor. It can also serve as dinner as the case may be. It is for that reason that it is usually fried in the morning and evening.

In my younger days, one came to know 2 akara sellers very well. The first was popularly known as Halima Mai kosai. Halima’s business place used to be at Church Street, Jos just behind St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Jos.

Halima was not the original owner of the business. It belonged to her mother. However, the customers didn’t know Mama Hamila but Halima who used to run the business. The business was so time- consuming that Halima  didn’t have time to cultivate friendships. Her customers grew very fond of her that they took the place of her friends that did not have patience with her lifestyle.

It was as if Halima’s life was centred around akara. She attended school quite okay but after school hours, all she did was all about the business of frying akara. Sometimes still wearing her uniform, she would begin washing the beans. This takes about 40 minutes. After this, she would take it for grinding to bring out the soft paste, that is after adding chili peppers, peppers, onions.

By this time, Halima’s younger brothers would have started transferring her plates, firewood, colander, frying spoon etc to Halima’s business premises. At this point, some people used to start booking for akara sometimes with fried yams (popularly known as douch) or sweet potatoes.

Halima’s place was a rallying point for old and young. Soon it became information quarters. Anything or anyone you needed to find out about, you would be told to ask Halima.

The sweet smell of Halima’s akara could wake the dead.. And it was very tasty. For that reason, Halima’s customers came from far and near. On good days, Halima’s akara didn’t exceed 3 hours. But some days, she used to be through by 11:00 pm. Her only luck was that she lived close by. And her younger ones used to come around to help her pack- up.

This young girl was in her teens, but had to sacrifice her social life to source for money to feed her family and pay for her education and that of hersiblings. It was a huge sacrifice that earned her a special place in her family.

It also paid off because it was at her akara joint that Halima met her husband who swept her off her feet at a very young age. Who knows, maybe he noticed how enterprising and hardworking she was. The mother comfortably carried on after Halima’s marriage and the quality did not change.

Another akara maker was Mama Esther of Standard Junction(of blessed memory).Come rain come sunshine, Mama Esther was always found at her business premises at the break of dawn and only called it a night in the evening when she had satisfied her customers with her delicious akara, fried yam and fried Irish or sweet potatoes accompanied with sauce or yaji (spiced dry pepper).

Mama Esther’s akara was a favourite with many workers along Standard Junction because It was cheap and affordable. It was also feeling. #100 kochand doch(as akaraand fried yam was popularly called) was as good as any lunch.

Mama Esther was supported by her children who  rallied around her, fried and sold to give their mother a break. Mama provided for us the much-neededbreakfast or lunch which in most cases, was eaten together with colleagues. This also strengthened our bonds. She had been consistent for 3 decades.

A month ago, Mama Esther passed on, and one was shocked when told that the business of akara making had enabled Mama to support her husband in training all their children through their education and other endeavours, as well as providing for shelter, feeding, clothing, medical fees. Etc. On top of all this, she made sure she was not found wanting in  her mandatory obligations in the church.

The list is endless. A very courageous one that I believe I should mention is Mama Cele, the akara maker around Rayfield Golf Course, Rayfield. She is a widow but apart from the time that her husband’s death almost brought her to her knees, she has been consistent for more than a decade.

She is comfortably taking care of her needs and that of the children. And like all the others in this business, her children assist her in this business. Today her children are in tertiary institutions thanks to the proceeds of akara making and if one sees them outside the premises of  their business, one would think she works at a highly paid job.

I celebrate you, our courageous heroes. You deserve a crown of hard work and resilience in the face of daunting challenges. Indeed, hard work pays!

 

 

Preparing for tomorrow

THE Value Added Tax war that is being spearheaded by the governors of Rivers and Lagos States is a wake-up call for the remaining states that make up the Nigerian nation. It is a wake-up call because it is a sign that the long abandoned fiscal federalism is beginning to manifest and probably reinvent itself. This, for me, is a sign of great things to expect and a test for the political class that sought after power each political season.

This and other agitations that are found all over the place are a  positive and good sign for the growth and development of our society. Positive because our politics would take a different form and shape. Everyone looking for a political office must be able to convince the voting public that he has capacity and is bringing a basket full of ideas to the table that would help grow the economy of the state he intends to govern.

A situation where some persons would ride to the position of authority on rhetoric is near its end. Politicians must show that they would be able to provide leadership. The era where handouts are collected from Abuja and spent without hard work is almost here. Clearly watching Governor Wike argue that he does not support laziness brings to questions the call for some governors on the endowed states to be their brothers keepers. He made it clear that he would not support his brother who steals from him when he is not showing willingness to work and sustain himself.

For me, I think the states must start preparing for the worse now. They must start to look at their areas of strength and advantages. They must commission studies that would help them reach their full potentials. They can not continue to be leeches suckling the blood of others who show drive and hard work. The example that is often referred to at all times in the VAT argument is the destruction of beer by some states yet they share from VAT earnings gotten from those states that allow the sales of liquor.

For any state to survive this era, they must explore their areas of comparative advantage. If it is agriculture and agribusiness that their strengths lies in, then they must pursue that and ensure they make the most of it. They should and must put in place policies that would encourage agriculture. By creating an enabling environment, citizens would be encouraged to pursue a career in it and make a living out of agribusiness.  To do this would mean putting in place the needed infrastructure and ensuring that modernization is pursued to boost production and make agribusiness attractive and competitive.

If a state’s strength lays in tourism, the necessary and needed infrastructure must be put in place to make for the exploitation of this potential to the fullest. We have seen countries whose major sources of survival is just tourism and they have been able to maximally exploit it to serve them. In the past, the various regions had contributed to the centre by paying the required tax to enable the centre carry out its responsibilities until the military brought about the confusion that has led to our stunted growth as a country. The component parts had developed at their pace and like it is being argued, all parts of the country can not develop at the same pace.

This wake up call should not be seen as some disparaging others. It is for me a call to co- operation. The States must take this opportunity to fight together for a change in the Constitution of the country. Some of those things that are in the exclusive list must be taken to the concurrent list where states would be able to have some measures of control. States should be the ones handling mining and paying royalties to the centre instead of what is obtained at the moment. And in carrying out this, value would be added to the minerals before it is taken out of the state other wise the states from where such a venture is undertaken would lose a great deal of revenue. With co-operation the states would be able to get their acts together and flourish for the benefit of their citizenry.

This too is an opportunity to bury for good our sticking points. Ethnicity, religion and regionalism which have served as major drawbacks must be consigned to the dustbin of history. As a people who seek progress and growth we must begin to see ourselves as one whose destinies are tied together and we must take advantage of our numbers which should serve as our strength. The example of Rwanda is suffices here.

Rwanda today is the fastest growing African country because after the 1994 genocide it came to the realisation that it had no option but to be united. It had over reached itself when as a people it allowed base sentiments to push the country and its people to the brink. Mass murder became the order because of the seething hate that was preached by the various divides. But when the country realised that it had nothing to gain if it continues on that path, it retreated and determine never again to tow that path. It has been able to sort itself and has become an example of how a country can be run efficiently. It has been able to fashion its own form of democracy which is working for it.

The calls for true federalism therefore must be pursued by all well meaning people. and this should be done as a preparatory to what is sure to happen in the future. This is because it is often said that he who fails to plan, has set himself on the path to fail. Let us all prepare by investing our energies in those things that unite us. Doing this might open new vistas for growth and development.

 

 

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