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Much Ado About Golden Jubilee Celebration

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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 during a colourful ceremony attended by past Nigerian presidents and Heads of State 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 heroes, past and present, symbolizing 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 it is 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, 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 or 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 better abroad when our people are distressed. How do we rebrand 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 in fact 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 traumatized 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 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” while its people suffer and die in penury. We need to act now or never.

Goodluck Ukwe

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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