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State Governors And Non-Performance (1)

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News reports have it that Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim was denied entry into a church for the worship of God on Sunday, May 8, 2011. The youths were said to be angry with him for abandoning and neglecting his people and community. As a show of their seriousness, the youths had asked the governor to point at one project he executed in the community all through his four-year tenure.

Governor Ohakim had lost the Imo State supplementary elections conducted on May 6, following the inconclusive polls of April 26. In that too close to call contest, Ohakim of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost to Rochas Okorocha of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). This is a similar fate suffered by many others of his type who refused to learn from history. That is the price of non-performance, and governance with impunity.

In Delta, Akwa Ibom, Nassarawa, Borno, Oyo, Kano, among others, where allegations of non-performance are rife, tension over the victory or loss of the people’s mandate has been greeted with mixed reactions. It now leaves room for pandering over whether non-performance should be subjective or purely based on available physical infrastructure projects the people can see, touch and feel.

It is, indeed, incontrovertible that people look forward to their governments to provide them with the basic necessities of life, such as school infrastructures, healthcare facilities, potable water, good roads, decent waste disposal system, sustainable electricity, and security of lives and property. There is no one who would not be touched by the presence of these human necessities. This is why any leader who fails to pay priority attention to these projects is seen as either not performing or completely out of touch with the yearnings and aspirations of the electorate.

Now, there are clear cut indices for measuring performance and non-performance of political office holders. Take Rivers State for example. The Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, from the onset of his administration in October 2007, pledged to Rivers people that he would provide 105 primary health centres, 250 model primary schools and 23 model secondary schools across the 23 local governments of the state. All these have been oversubscribed, and Rivers people are still counting.

He did not stop there. Amaechi also promised hundreds of kilometers of all-season roads in all the local government areas, and good network of world-class roads, resurfaced, reconstructed or rehabilitated roads to facilitate communication amongst the communities, and ensure unfettered free flow of human and vehicular traffic in the state. In addition to this are his pledge to address the issue of waste disposal and management, provision of water and enhanced sanitation status, improved welfare packages for government workers, stable electricity supply, among others.

In all these planks, Amaechi has been outstanding in his performance, despite obvious legislative and legal impediments, especially as it regards to boosting electricity supply to the people of the state.

Another tacit example of a leader whose democratic and good governance credentials make him an easy sellable product in the electorate’s chessboard is Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. Perhaps, it is remarkable to note that men who assume power and remember that the position they occupy is transient, would definitely work for posterity so much so that even after they had left the saddle as governors, they can walk the streets of their states’’ cities without fear of molestation.

Former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke is also another testimonial, as he took part in street processions of the Calabar annual carnival without any form of fear. Now, even after he had left office, Duke could still walk the streets of Calabar like a common man and darling of the masses. In fact, subsequent governments are still finding it difficult to keep pace with his strides.

As a toast to good governance and people-oriented leadership, it is certain that such Governors as Amaechi, Fashola, and their likes would walk the streets of their various states with lots of accolades. This is the test of good statesmanship, which is usually rewarded with appreciation.

Perhaps, it would be wise to refresh our minds with the fundamental reasons why this situation exists in Nigeria. The basic reason is that our administrative structures have made little provision for institutions to operate independently of the will of the governor, in fact, without recourse to what the governor wants instead what the electorate desire. This has made it easy for those who fail to do so to be noticed because they are quickly seen to building on non-existent foundation.

But in societies where standard structures of governance and institutional frameworks have risen appropriately always have the various agencies of government independently performing their duties according to the law. For instance, the police can initiate and investigate crime against a sitting governor, and can even indict him or her for abuse of office or other crimes, if found wanting. A number of cases exist in the United States where incumbent governors or even incumbent presidents have been investigated and either exonerated or indicted of inappropriate behaviours and abuse of office. Take the Governor of North Carolina, Mark Stanford in 2009, investigated for travelling out of his state on holidays with his Argentine mistress without notice and misuse of state funds. He was eventually found clean. But the State of Illinois governor, one-time governor of New York, and even former US President Bill Clinton were also investigated and found culpable for abuse of office and inappropriate behaviours.

Indeed, physical and urban planning departments have the courage to write-off or condemn a government planned road, bridge or other infrastructure projects, if they fail to meet approved specifications and standard in line with existing master plan for development. This can only happen in an environment where separation powers works effectively in government, where all tiers of government: executive, legislature and judiciary work in line with the Constitution, and where development projects are aligned with community, local, municipal, state and national aspirations and goals.

Imegi, lecturer, Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Rumuola, resides in Port Harcourt.

This is the standard every leader in government in Nigeria should adopt. Our governments should listen to the people and factor in their demands in their schemes. They should learn to follow their budgets in such a way that every project not executed or completed in the first year should be carried over to the next year, while budgets should have short, medium and long-term plans to accommodate all strategic policies and programmes of state. If this practice is adopted, it would be difficult for governors to fail to deliver the dividends of democracy to their people, except they deliberately want to fail.

I think this is achievable in Nigeria. And I also reason that it is practicable at all levels of government. Take the governor, for instance. Every of his campaign promises must be kept on assumption of office. He also must factor in the yearnings and aspirations of the people from one community to the other. At the local government level, the chairman and his councilors must keep faith with their campaign promises, and ensure that each item or policy objective is fulfilled while in office. The rational demands of his people must also be articulated into concrete programmes and delivered to the people as part of the development strategy. All these can be done at town hall or village meetings with the various principals. If development projects are executed with all expert and professional advice incorporated in the planning and implementation stages, all loopholes for corrupt practices closed, then it would be difficult to have non-performing governors and local government chairmen in the states.

It is interesting to note that the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi has already taken the lead by organizing town hall meetings with communities, where opinions and suggestions on the way forward in the development agenda of the state is charted. I also noticed that the governor has followed, religiously, resolutions are such town hall meetings in the implementation of development projects, policies and programmes in the state. And I reason that this why Amaechi is doing well in all fronts.

I therefore recommend this governance strategy to all the newly elected local government chairmen and their councilors. If they adopt this principle, it would be easy to spread development across all the villages, communities and cities, and also reduce the level of friction and violence that have characterized our polity.

There is no doubt that cities such as Paris, Rome, London, Washington, DC, Tokyo, among others, were designed, built and refined by leaders who had a dream to create enviable cities for posterity. This is also the dream Governor Amaechi has envisioned for the Greater Port Harcourt City, and other adjoining towns. He is already restoring the Garden City status of Port Harcourt, and transforming Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor to mega-cities. Methinks the new local government chairmen can set for themselves the agenda to work assiduously and selflessly to make their local governments models for other states to emulate.

From the foregoing, one can boldly draw the conclusion that governance in Nigeria is daily going through a series of refinement. But such refinement cannot be far-reaching if the people are not carried along. Happily, the series of elections this year have come and gone, with the electorate clearly and freely making their choice of leaders at all levels they want to lead them in the next four and three years at the federal and state as well as local government levels. Yes, the elections have been adjudged the freest, fairest and most credible in Nigeria’s democratic history.

But it is important that such leaders go one step further by making the people to effectively participate in the governance of their states. This is because it  is only when that happens through the four-year or three-year tenure that the people can joyfully heave a sigh of relief, and be bold enough to say, indeed, that democracy is truly, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Imegi, lecturer, Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Rumuola, resides in Port Harcourt.

Thaddeus Imegi

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Opinion

Job Creation Can Reduce Crime

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Crime is on the increase in Nigeria. And some public affairs analysts have attributed the upsurge in crime in the country to the high level of unemployment. Breaking down of law and order is becoming a trend that is growing fast in the land. Illegality is fast becoming legality in the country. Criminal-minded citizens are using lack of employment opportunities witnessed in Nigeria to swindle some innocent Nigerians.
This is because some people are desperate to get rich through all means and cost available to them. And so, some fall prey to the cheats and fraudsters in the society. Some jobless people have been defrauded and killed by their perceived employers. Few weeks ago, the social and mainstream media were filled with news of a young lady who was killed in cause of searching for employment from wrong person in Akwa Ibom State.
So many networking and Ponzi businesses have sprung up in the guise of making people rich with ease. And some people are being swindled of their money on daily basis. The trend of creating platforms to dupe people is at alarming stage in Nigeria.
Today, betting is a lucrative venture that almost everyone wants to invest in. And in some cases, one would always act to cause someone to miss his long-awaited expectations.
Kidnapping is carried out on daily basis for ransom to be paid by the victims or the victims’ families. This is dangerous to national development. A lazy man and a hardworking man need food to eat when hunger comes. The quest to make money without labour is a dangerous approach in the country. Yahoo boys and girls are everywhere making innovation to defraud people of their hard-earned money saved in the banks. And everything is blamed on poverty and lack of employment opportunities. The security agencies in the country have not been able to bring the high crime rate under control.
The government is not seen to be working because of high magnitude of crime rate in the land. Every complaint of crime hinges on unemployment. That may seem as a fact but is not total. Some who indulge in crime are working class and some come from well-to-do families. The crime rate is unassuming, especially financial crimes.
Observationally, it is like stealing is fast becoming a norm. This is worrisome. The state of insecurity is not helping matters in Nigeria. And it is time for the Federal Government to use full force to restore relative peace in the country. Insecurity does not support job creation in any country of the world.
It is high time the government came down and look at the plight of the people. Some of the major manufacturing companies in the country had folded up or relocated to another country because of the unfriendly and harsh environment for businesses.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), government creates policies and laws that drive the economy and businesses in that country. Today, almost every Nigerian knows and talks about the city of Dubai in the UAE. The city is a business destination to most of the business moguls in the world.
Therefore, the governments in Nigeria should formulate policies and laws that will convince investors to establish their businesses in the country and that will, in turn, create job opportunities for the teeming population that are jobless. It is said that a lazy mind is the devil’s workshop. Therefore, Nigerian government should not allow the minds of young Nigerians to be devil’s workshop; where crime is formulated and executed to the detriment of all.
Some of the loans collected by the Federal Government from nations and international financial bodies, should be used for job creation for the youths who are using their energy the wrong way. Nigerian government can reduce crime rate in the country through aggressive and holistic approach towards job creation.
Joblessness has created high rate of drug use in Nigeria. Some ignorant citizens think that taking of some hard drugs can relieve them of their state of hopelessness. Nigerians want a society where hope can be restored and peace will reign. Drug abuse is common and it is inimical to progress and peace in the society.
If some who indulge in crime are engaged by government to earn a living somewhere, it can help to reduce the crime rate witnessed in the country now. Indeed, all the level of governments in the country should move their tentacle towards job creation. And this should be done with a clear-cut policy and programme backed by enabling laws.
Hunger does not know political party and ethnic group. Therefore, it is time for the government to rethink and adopt workable template towards job creation in Nigeria. Crime is evil. The diversification of the economy towards agriculture, if properly followed, will create jobs for the people.
Ogwuonuonu wrote from Port Harcourt.

By: Frank Ogwuonuon

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Opinion

That Vaccine Mandate

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Currently, many countries, including the United States of America, would demand for vaccine mandate as a condition for granting travel visa to anyone. Such policy is justifiable because self-preservation is a vital law for all living entities. COVID-19 pandemic has been quite a disturbing global phenomenon that no country can afford to expose its citizens to avoidable dangers, even if it requires placing restrictions on movements and travels. People carry various things as they move about.
News headline: “N194bn COVID-19 Allocation to Three States Missing, BudgIT Alleges” – The Tide newspaper, Monday, September 13, 2021 (front page). Without going into details of that report, or mentioning the three states involved, one recalls an alarm from a senior Nigerian in 2020, describing COVID-19 as a global scam or smoke screen. The vital issue here is that since its outbreak, COVID-19 pandemic is a controversy (like HIV/AIDS), with various interpretations and opinions. The variations are many and instructive.
Another issue relating to the global pandemic is the controversy concerning the effect of human volition or the mind, over matter. Researchers call this controversy the Placebo Effect. Placebo is defined as a substance given to a patient instead of medicine, without telling them it is not real, so that they get better because they think they are taking medicine. This has to do with the effect of belief, faith, confidence and morale booster on increased human capacity, energy and well-being. Some would say love is medicine.
Without going into details of extensive research works done with regards to the transforming effects of positive attitude, it would suffice to say that human volition, operating through the mind, is a vital, ready weapon which we cannot ignore. Dr E. G. White would tell us that: “It is the duty of every person, for his own sake, and for the sake of humanity, to inform himself in regard to the laws of life and conscientiously to obey them. All need to become acquainted with that most wonderful of all organism, the human body. They should study the influence of the mind upon the body and of the body upon the mind, and the laws by which they are governed”.
Much had been said and written by well-meaning individuals about the need to guard our thought and the mind with all diligence, because of their vital role in human well-being. Even the things which we dread and fear most, would lose their power over us, if we know the truth about them. Surely, there is no blemish but the mind, and no darkness but ignorance. Psychologists would talk about the law of Reversed Effort, which causes fears and doubts to sap vital energy in us, thus exposing us to dangers and depriving us of natural immune system.
So, the COVID-19 global pandemic, like the HIV/AIDS controversy, has the possibility of opening our eyes and expanding our consciousness, to be able to know better the effects of our thoughts and deeds. The alleged missing of money allocated to combat the COVID-19 scourge must have some underlying factors, whether or not any fraud is involved. The truth is that the news story reflects a peculiar human weakness.
Destructive human weaknesses include the propensity to cheat, defraud, call white black and black white, according as we are paid. Thus, avarice, greed and myopia, blind and deaden human conscience which is meant to serve as an effective in-built guide through the wilderness of life. Man can destroy himself and also corrupt others through personal weaknesses which become too hard to curb. From little beginnings and continual indulgence, weaknesses grow into propensities which then become weapons of self-destruction. COVID-19 is an idiom.
So much had been said, off-records and from the grapevine, concerning the beginning or origin of COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years. Some people, including religious leaders, have associated it with “Judgement, Millennium and Rapture”, such that the Vaccine Mandate is interpreted as “Mark of the Beast. Those who refuse to bear mark of the beast would be denied many things, including travel visa, etc. The speculations, controversies and gossips go on and on, behind which lies impenetrable dark clouds. COVID-19 and the Beast!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has not been able to tell us the origin or politics of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that it is a present threat which those who doubted its reality are not spared. Its controversies cover the origin, management, dispensing of palliative measures, deaths associated with COVID-19, drugs or vaccines for the pandemic, and now the disappearance of money allocated to combat the scourge. No one is sure who is speaking from what angle of interest or what political, economic and ethical cover-ups may be involved. We keep wondering!
Beyond the sound, fury and shenanigans associated with COVID-19 and Vaccine Mandate, there are certain issues vital for the Nigerian audience. One of such issues has to do with global commercialism and the possibility of scam, whereby the pandemic and the attendant vaccine mandate, provide opportunities for smart interest groups to play some games. Since COVID-19 could not be associated with originating from Africa, like HIV/AIDS, African nations cannot claim any immunity on the ground of being used to malaria fever. COVID-19 is different from malaria.
If COVID-19 and malaria share similarities, then vaccine mandate would not be compulsory for Blacks, even though malaria drugs feature in the other. An opportunity comes for some vested interest groups to use vaccine mandate as a political, economic or religious weapon. Already some religious groups are out with opinions and interpretations which would run counter to state policies and mandates. When faith and belief system become political issues or weapons, then Boko Haram phenomenon comes in.
Security challenges facing humanity currently come largely from secret dealings, pacts, gang-ups and cover-ups, whereby some interest groups want to take advantage of others. Issue of power comes in, whereby the gangsterist policy of “who wields power, makes the rule and takes the gold”, applies. Global economy and commercialism rule in modern politics whereby power is sought and held for the purpose of control. Power blocks, local and global, have long-term agenda whereby every social institution serves as an accomplice in the project, including science.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

By: Bright Amirize

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Opinion

Nigerian Banks And Customers’ Burdens

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The banking system in Nigeria has been a burden to the banking public over the years. Some banks do not give adequate attention to their customers. They rather abandon the customers’ complaints or request without cogent reasons.
Customer complaints are inevitable, no matter how streamlined one’s business may look they must always be acknowledged and dealt with efficiently. By ignoring or dismissing the complaints or requests of customers, the bank is telling the public that their opinion and patronage don’t matter. Many business owners see complaints or demands management as time consuming and frustrating to an efficient system, whereas such complaints can be resolved quickly and easily.
When a customer first lodges a complaint, there is need for the authority to take bold step in order to tackle such problem confronting the complainant. It can be difficult to remain impassive in the face of criticisms, but an emotional response will only serve to irritate the customer further.
The authorities are expected to give their customers full attention as desired and carefully listen to the whole problem before responding. Put yourselves in their shoes, if you had a problem you would want someone to listen and solve it.
Appearing disinterested or attempting to argue to discourage the customer based on the complaint lodged will only exacerbate the situation. There is no need to jump the gun, rather one should deal with such complaints on a regular basis, of which many have handled similar cases before now. However, complaints of esteemed customers are usually unique to the bank staff because resolution of such often attract financial gratification.
Treating their cases as important individuals requires listening to their problems in full, which will go a long way to strengthen the relationship existing between banks and their customers only when attention is given to complaints or demands from customers at our various banks. It is easy to be defenseless, particularly if the management doesn’t believe they are at fault. However, they have to put themselves together and feel the pains of their customers, especially when they are at the receiving end of such experience; would they personally be satisfied? If the blame lies on a particular member of staff, it is often best to remove the customer from their presence.
Always use one’s initiative when dealing with customers’ complaints. This can defuse tension and emotion, and help customers to re-evaluate their anger.
However, never pass the customer around from person to person as each complaint or demand should ideally be handled by a particular staff. Therefore, such person should always ensure that the staff assigned to the case has the impetus to deal with the situation.
Once the customers had aired their grievances, the staff on duty should immediately give a sincere apology. Sometimes, apology is all it takes to placate an angry customer; sometimes, a complaint should be followed by a request for compensation, typically through a refund or a voucher. In this premise, the staff remains calm when dealing with a complaint or demand even if the customer becomes irate or confrontational, the ultimate aim would be to turn the\ bankers’ negative experience into a positive one, but arguing back will only make the situation worse.
Customer complaints should always be resolved as quickly as possible and allow sympathy to be the watchword once you have listened to their concern, in order to quell the heat of the matter for better result.
As a public servant, a bank staff should be able to create a bond between him and the customer, so that they know you have heard their concern and are going to work with them to resolve the impasse. The bank should offer solution to their customer’s burden, provide feedback to such problem and execute the solution, instead of creating more difficulties in the life of the complainants.
Customers are made to be treated with care, kindness, love and respect. The banking system in Nigeria should learn how to manage issues effectively, especially those that emanate from their banks, where they are expected to provide suitable machines that will accommodate the needs of the customers; example, the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), because the banks cannot function well without the customers’ patronage and contribution.
Customers are the reason for the banking system in Nigeria.

By: Kpobari Barizaa
Barizaa wrote in from Bori.

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