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Golden Jubilee: Before We Celebrate

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Nigeria will in the next couple of months celebrate her 50th anniversary (golden jubilee) as an independent nation. Already, the federal government has lined up activities to commemorate the historic event.

President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier in the week during a colourful ceremony attended by past Nigerian presidents and Heads of States unveiled the masthead heralding the commencement of programmes scheduled for the golden jubilee anniversary.

The ceremony which was attended by both military and civilian Nigerian leaders witnessed the unveiling of our heros, past and present, symbolising their vision and struggle in the nation’s socio-political and economic advancement.

Perhaps, the import of the event which took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was for all Nigerians to look back at ourselves with a view to ascertaining whether or not we have collectively realised the dreams of the founding fathers of the Nigerian state.

For some of us who read Dr  Jonathan’s lips during the ceremony, the question the president virtually asked all Nigerians was for us to critically examine ourselves as citizens of Nigeria and confirm if we have contributed towards realising the vision of the founding fathers of Nigeria.

Indeed, most Nigerians take pride in describing the country as the giant of Africa. But is it, in the true sense of the word?

Regrettably, Nigeria cannot continue to pride itself as African giant when over 70 per cent of her citizenry lack basic necessities of life: shelter, food, potable water, good health and qualitative education.

For a country to be reckoned with within the comity of nations (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 question 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) revealed 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 live in abject poverty.

These revelations as grim and astonishing as they sound, the reality is that most Nigerians are suffering in the midst of plenty.

For a country that has so much natural resources yet its citizens are poor, calls for so much concern by the leadership.

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 corrupt.

Nigerians are inundated with stories of top public functionaries who convert, with impunity public funds into their private purse.

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 traumatised poor.

The tiny wealthy minority controls the nation’s stupendous wealth. The irony and tragedy are that the 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 it is almost exterminating the middle class. It is 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 by 2015.

It is indeed ironic and shameful that less than five years to the target date, most Nigerians are still living in systematic poverty and are pauperised despite laudable programmes like the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP).

The country cannot afford to continue to drum up campaign for “Re-branding Nigeria” while its people suffer and die in penury. We need to act now or never.

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GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations

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Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.

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Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.

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Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers

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The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.

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