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Good Governors And Nigerian Leaders

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News reports have it that former 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.

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.

Thaddeus Imegi

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Opinion

Covid-19 And Political Rallies

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It is no longer news that as Covid-19 became a known global pandemic, governments of the various countries of the world took to measures they considered potent enough to help curb the spread of the deadly virus. The Federal Government of Nigeria was not left out of this scheme.
Prominent of all the measures adopted by our own government was a restriction on social gathering as well as a prescription for social distancing which culminated into the closure of schools, organizations and businesses. Some states of the federation experienced outright ban on religious gatherings.
At first, many people saw the trumpeted threat of the Coronavirus as a wilful overestimation by the government, for which they condemned COVID-19 measures as it partains to social gathering. Their condemnation of the anti-gathering measure was based on grounds that it negates the freedom of assembly which is supposedly enshrined in the constitution.
However, some social analysts have argued that so long as the government’s intention is geared towards protecting public safety, it overides the former and so such policy should be obeyed hook, line and sinker.
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted international relations and affected the political systems of multiple countries, causing suspensions of legislative activities, isolation and deaths of multiple politicians, rescheduling of elections due to fears of spreading the virus. Yet, constitutionally, there is no gainsaying the fact that we need to have elections.
Here in Nigeria, electioneering has always been done in a certain way over the years. Nevertheless, in the light of COVID-19 challenges, striking a balance between political exigencies and our public health reality, remains a task before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, in order to control the spread of this virus.
Recall that in the wake of the 2020 political activities in some states of the federation, precisely before the various political parties held their primaries, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, charged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to set necessary guidelines to regulate the conduct of political rallies and elections in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging the country.
His submission, luckily, received immediate attention as the electoral umpire ab initio set criteria that must be met by political parties before holding public rallies. The criteria, it was gathered, were aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 at the rallies. Thus, with this feat, no registered political party would feign ignorance of the global pandemic and how it can be curbed even amid political indispensabilities.
Surprisingly, in spite of this effort to check wanton relaxation of the Covid-19 measures in the spirit of political exigencies, emerging developments seem to steer up worries from the people as to whether the regulations on public gathering no longer hold. The political rallies in Edo State as well as Comrade Adams Oshiomole’s home-coming have raked up a new debate about the boundaries between the right to assemble and the protection of public health.
According to the Vanguard newspaper, footages of campaign rallies by leading candidates in the September 19 governorship poll showed poor level of compliance with COVID-19 guidelines as supporters trooped out with little or no regard for physical distancing, facemasks and other safety protocols.
With emphasis on conscious and strict adherance to the Covid-19 measures in recent times, the appearance of such mammoth crowd not wearing face masks or sticking to social distancing guidelines, leaves much to be desired among our political leaders.
Could it thus be concluded that it is only at schools, worship centers and market/work places that people are at risk of contracting this virus? Americans believe that mass protests and political rallies are likely to increase COVID-19 cases and so does every sane mind who understands the working of the dreaded virus.
According to reports, large rallies have been President Donald Trump’s favorite way of campaigning, but the COVID-19 pandemic kept him from using them to his advantage. This is because Americans worry about the safety of people. Why is our own case different?
Yes, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has expressed dissatisfaction over the non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols by political party leaders and their supporters in the Edo State governorship electioneering, that is fine.
It is deeply worried about some infractions to the COVID-19 guidelines by parties at the rallies, that is also welcome. But, it is obviously not clear why the commission considers itself incapable of exploring the authority at its disposal to make parties and their supporters do the right thing.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had said that such gatherings could lead to a further spike in COVID-19 cases.
Considering the danger in crowded rallies, the writer suggests that INEC should be more proactive now than ever in making sure this reckless “body-to-body” campaign is stopped.

 

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Chief Eze’s Gutter Language In Defence Of The Indefensible

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We read the rambling vituperations of Chief Chumwuemeka Eze, the self styled APC Chieftain and former National Publicity Secretary, PDP, titled: “Apologise to UPTH CMD for your misleading, unruly comments, Eze tells Nsirim…” and we will never cease to be amazed, not only by the bogus title, but by the unfortunate penchant of the obnoxious old man to continually debase himself in the publice space with the gutter language he deploys in response to straight forward issues.
We however sympathise with him for the simple reason that senility, which is a common condition with old age, often manifests in mental infirmity, disorientation  and the dislocations that attend the onset of deteriorating cognitive faculties and optical disillusionment.
One is not quite sure if the frail old man has visited Port Harcourt township since his paymaster left Government House. Otherwise, how does a man like Chief Chumwuemeka Eze feel, and even begin to explain the ugly monstrosity that defaces the landscape from Lagos Bus-Stop to UTC Junction, snaking like a desolate administrative imprimatur, as it stretches like a crooked exclamation mark of utter disbelief at the mind boggling waste of Rivers resources which defies logical and infrastructural reasoning.
It is even utterly laughable for an inconsequential, totally irrelevant and completely infinitesimal nincompoop in the collective Rivers equation like Chief Eze Chumwuemeka Eze, to go to the public space and shamelessly demand for an apology as his response in defence of the atrocious behaviour, incorrigible excesses and unacceptable provocations of a man who has since overstepped his medical responsibility boundaries to areas he has little or no knowledge and expertise over.
For the avoidance of doubt, and in direct response to Chief Eze and his cohorts, we wish to state categorically once again, that the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has no apologies whatsoever to anyone, for calling out Professor Henry Ugbomah, the Chief Medical Director, CMD, of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH, over his continued meddlesomeness and deliberately covert efforts to sabotage the courageous, comprehensive and pro-active, life-saving initiatives of His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, to contain and curtail the ravaging outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic in the State.
Rivers lives matter and are top priority to Governor Nyesom Wike, so when anyone at all, no matter who you are, tries to play petty politics with the lives of Rivers people, then you will certainly have the Governor to contend with and we are satisfied that those involved have heeded  the Governor’s warning.
We are not surprised that Prof. Ugboma has carried this pugnacious attitude into his professional calling and attracted the opprobrium of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, who have called for his sack for what the Association describes as the “Administrative Rascality and Abuse of Power of the Chief Medical Director of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH”, contained in a communique issued at the end of NARD’s emergency NEC meeting in Gombe from July 20 -25, 2020.
The communique, read by the National President of NARD, Dr Sokomba Aliyu, was very clear in its castigation of Henry Ugboma thus: “NEC notes with dismay the continued administrative rascality and victimisation of its members by the Chief Medical Director of (UPTH), Prof. Henry Ugboma.
“We frown at the suspension of resident doctors, who also double as the legitimate executive council officers of the Association of Resident Doctors in UPTH.”
NARD, which called for immediate removal of Professor Henry Ugboma as CMD of UPTH for alleged fraud, administrative rascality, unnecessary onslaught, victimisation and abuse of office, also demanded an immediate and unconditional reinstatement of suspended executives of the Association at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), led by Dr Solomon Amadi.
Such damaging recommendation by your own professional colleagues which has even been trending virally on social media under the hashtag: #UgboMustGo, is not only a damning vote of no confidence in the reputation and administrative ineptitude of the man, but an unfortunate dent on the image of Rivers State.
As for the endless rantings and verbal diarrhea over the state of Government owned assets in Rivers State, wisdom demands that while it’s advisable to let sleeping dogs lie peacefully, there’s the need to remind the likes of Chief Chumwuemeka Eze, that the Rivers State Government, in line with Governor Nyesom Wike’s philosophy that government is a continuum had concluded arrangements for the economically viable concessioning of these state-owned farms and assets to willing and capable investors to partner the Rivers State Government for their optimal utilisation in the interest of Rivers people. A programme which had already commenced with the Rivers State cassava processing plant in Afam, Oyigbo and would have been fully on stream if not for the Coronavirus outbreak.
Suffice it to say that this was also how these government owned facilities were concessioned with plenty of fanfare and razzmatazz previously, until faced with a plethora of relentless litigations and other operational challenges, some of the investors had to withdraw long before Governor Nyesom Wike even assumed the mantle of leadership in the State.
Yet, the likes of Chief Chumwuemeka Eze, will not tell Rivers people the truth, but would rather twist the narrative to suit their warped mindsets and massage their bruised and battered egos.
As a penultimate word on this matter, we urge the likes of Chief Chumwuemeka Eze and his bandwagon of diehards and refuseniks, to stop living in the past, open their eyes and see the amazing infrastructural legacy projects which Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration is delivering to Rivers people to sustain the present, secure the future and position Rivers State for the developmental challenges of a post modern global community.
Indeed, we want to, as an act of goodwill, advise Chief Eze Chumwuemeka Eze to be more circumspect with the kind of gutter language he deploys in his usually un-coordinated and verbose ramblings, tainted with misplaced tenses and shameful grammatical lacunas.
The elevation of mediocrity, which propelled him to the amorphous positon of ‘former National Publicity Secretary, nPDP’ may have concocted visions of hyped flamboyant literary prowess in his febrile imagination, after reading his own writings, even he will accept the fact that he is a horrible role model for young people who wish to embrace creative writing as a calling.
Finally, it is important to assure the likes of Chief Eze Chumwuemeka Eze that this response is an act of charity in recognition of his senility and that Governor Nyesom Wike is not at all perturbed and will definitely not be deterred or distracted in his committed and firm leadership resolve to protect and secure Rivers lives, even as he continues to justify the excellent sobriquet as “Mr. Projects” by delivering quality and enduring legacy projects in the steady transformation of Rivers State into a modern state.
Max-Alalibo is the Special Assistant on Media to Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications.

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Opinion

Women’s Empowerment: A Necessity

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Empowerment is the action of raising the status of women through education, raising awareness, literacy and training. Women’s empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to make life-determining decisions through different problems in society.
Women empowerment is the process by which women elaborate and recreate what they can be, accomplish and do in circumstances they were denied previously.  Empowerment, however, can be seen in many ways when talking about women’s empowerment.
People are empowered when they are able to access the opportunities available to them without limitations and restrictions such as in education, profession and lifestyle. Feeling entitled to make one’s own decisions creates a sense of empowerment. This is a way for women to redefine gender roles that allow them to acquire the ability to choose between known alternatives.
There are principles defining women’s empowerment such as, for one to be empowered they must first come from a position of disempowerment which is relative to others at a time. Empowerment can also be seen as a process, not a product.
Empowering women and girls to achieve gender equality is crucial to creating inclusive, open and prosperous societies. Gender inequalities, however, persist in many countries, so it is important that new ways are fashioned to address the issue: Contributing to this agenda by creating opportunities for dialogue to influence policies that benefit women and girls; and having more influence over decisions that affect their lives are certainly the way to go.
In some societies, women are still discriminated against because of their gender. They are not given the same rights as men. For instance, they are expected to cook and clean. Some women are excessively controlled by their parents or husbands. They are still not allowed to work or study far away from their homes because they believe that women are weaker than men and some husbands get jealous.
Women married at young ages are usually forced into marriage by their parents. That is why their empowerment is really needed in society. This is important for their self-esteem and also for society. Empowering a woman is to give her the right to participate in education, society, economy and politics.
A woman can be involved in society if she is allowed to choose her religion, language, work and other activities. Therefore, women’s empowerment is a way to encourage them to feel strong by telling them that they can do everything they desire. A woman can work outside her home and have the opportunity to make up her mind on issues. They shouldn’t be made to depend on men. Rather, they should be allowed to earn money to support their families. It is sad that some women are not confident to work in hard conditions or high positions because they still think that such tasks are not meant for them.
Empowerment helps to reduce domestic violence, promotes and gives value to women. Women are not to be abused sexually, emotionally and physically. They should aim at achieving high-level jobs just as their male counterparts. I believe that women can be presidents just as they have always been ministers and also occupy other high-level positions.
Economic empowerment is an important factor in empowering women because women’s economic empowerment is central to realising their rights and gender equality. Through economic empowerment, women can participate equally with men in all spheres. They can exercise control over productive resources, access decent work, control their own time, lives and bodies.
They can increase their voice and participate meaningfully in economic decision-making at all levels, including international institutions. Empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work is key to achieving sustainable development and development goals, gender equality as well as the promotion of full productive empowerment, decent jobs, food security, enduring health and equality.
When more women work, the economy grows because their economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. Increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment contributes to their economic empowerment and more inclusive economic growth.
Education will enable them to keep pace with rapid technological and digital transformation. Their income generation opportunities and participation in the formal labour market will be enhanced. Increased educational attainment accounts for about 50 per cent of the economic growth in countries; but for the majority of women, significant gains in education have not translated into better labour market outcomes.
Women have long suffered stigmatization and marginalization in reaching their full potential due to an uneven playing field. Therefore, an enabling environment has to be created at every level of society, starting from households.
The home is where attitudes, ideas, values and benefits are shaped and it is important that parents and guardians instill the right values and beliefs as they work as enablers and catalysts for their children’s success. A child’s formative years take place when cultures and norms are molded. It is important for parents to invest their time in positively influencing and encouraging their daughters.
Government economic policies shape women’s lives and could be a force for equality, yet too often this potential is not realised. The government must play a central role in achieving women’s economic empowerment. Their priority should be to tackle the underlying barriers to economic empowerment, particularly those faced by marginalised women. It is in the area of economic policy that government action will have the most transformational impact.
Harry wrote from Port Harcourt.

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