A country’s rating to a large extent, depends on objective appraisal and assessment of the citizens’ standard of living. Thus it is obvious, that no country can be classified to be rich and wealthy when her citizens are living in penury.
The citizenry cannot be sad and hungry when the country is seen as a giant within a region or continent. Indeed, Nigeria cannot continue to pride herself as the giant of Africa when her over 150 million citizens lack basic necessities of life, shelter, food, potable water, good health and education, transport and lately security.
In other words, for a country to be reckoned with within the comity of nation (states), such country should ab-initio provide decent housing, qualitative education, decent food, potable water, good healthcare, efficient transport, regular light (electricity) and round-the-clock security for its citizens, whether high or low.
And the questions is; Does Nigeria belong to this category of nations with such facilities in place? Obviously, the answer is simply negative.
Statistics from the office of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reveal a pathetic and horrible scenario which should disturb every well-meaning Nigerian, home and in Diaspora.
According to the figures: over 65 million Nigerians live below one dollar per day. Eight million Nigerian children have no access to education and over half of the country’s population dwell in abject poverty.
These heart-rending revelations as grim and astonishing as they sound economic dilemma most Nigerians find themselves in the midst of plenty.
For a country that has so much natural level calls for so much concern by the leadership.
In major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, among others, many families and individuals depend on less than the afore-said one dollar (about N140) daily for survival.
The rising incidence of destitution, prostitution, robbery, kidnapping and other social vices in our cities is evidence of the deplorable conditions of living in the country.
Nigeria’s image cannot be said to be better abroad when our people are distressed. How do we re-brand Nigeria when our stomach is empty? Questions, many questions but no answers.
Incidentally, what fuels the rate of poverty is corruption which permeates virtually every segment of our national life. The police, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Customs, Immigrations, NNPC, Bankers, Politicians and infact our political leaders are all corrupt.
Nigerians are inundated with stories of top public functionaries who convert, with impunity public funds into their private purse.
The recent probe of banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reveals how rotten the nation’s banking sector is. What about the probe of the power and energy sectors by the National Assembly.
Few and privileged Nigerians live in ostentation in the midst of the majority who contend with hunger, strife and pervasive penury. The privileged few who do not give a damn do so with glee thereby compounding the problems of the already traumatized poor.
The tiny wealthy minority controls the nation’s stupendous wealth. The irony and tragedy is that the countries leadership does not have the political will to address the abnormality of our collective predicament.
The systematic poverty has grown to a dangerous level that is almost exterminating the middle class. It is now either, you belong to the few on top, or the majority below. No mid way again.
Nigerian leaders need to revisit the philosophy of the MDGs initiated in 2000 by the United Nations (UN) to eliminate poverty in planet earth by 2015.
It is indeed ironic and shameful that less than six years to the target date, most Nigerians are still living in systematic poverty and are pauperized despite laudable programmes like the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP).
The country cannot afford to continue to drum up campaign for “Re-branding Nigeria” and to regulate existential impediments while its people suffer and die in penury. We need to act now or never.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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