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The Youth And Future Leadership

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What does the future hold for the average Nigerian youth? Are the majority of the youths fully engaged? If the nation fails in empowering the youth, it is most certain that social conditions might make them occupy themselves with that which is not glorifying and dignifying.

Who are the youths? Let me take as illustration, from teenagers to those who are 49 years as the youths. What are people saying about them?

The society calls them promising nation builders, the socio-political system calls them future leaders; and the church leaders call them the pillars of the church.

The economists in their classification of the human life show how each era succeeds the other. A child at infancy to 18 years depends on the parents. The child later grows up and becomes father or mother with responsibilities. It is this stage that Prof. Tekena Tamuno of the Economics Department, University of Port Harcourt, calls the working class, which I will dwell on a little. It is clear that when parents are old and can not fend for themselves as a result of old age, the children who are the working class take care of them. Thus, parents depend on their children at their old age!

My concern, therefore, is that our youths (tomorrow’s leaders) must not be allowed to waste away. It is equally true that government cannot do everything, yet they can assist greatly in order to help our youths to be ganged in one activity or the other. I am not an economist or prophet of doom; but I still have my reservations or permutation that the workers in different ministries and parastatals far out-number the youths that are unemployed. Wherein lies the problem? We are not saying the problem is illiteracy; neither can we say it is incapacitation.

Government, in its own way, should create thousands of jobs yearly to meet up with the burden of today’s unemployment rate. My heart was troubled on Friday, 17th of June, when yet another set of thousands of NYSC  members were participating in the passing out parade at Isaac Boro Park in Port Harcourt. Imagine the proportion or addition such number across the states will be for the 36 states of the federation. My guess is as good as yours.

This is not the time for government to fold hands. The Ministry of Economic Planning should put the youths in its yearly employment plans even if it will be hundreds or thousands of jobs. I know the private sector players are also doing their best. However, if the ministries of youths and economic planning take this into consideration religiously every year, the turn-over yearly will make government and the governed to have the last laugh.

It reminds me of a few weeks ago when the Rivers State Ministry of Employment Generation and Economic Empowerment was carrying out an employment scheme for youths. I went to see for myself but the crowd scared me. I have to beat a retreat after inquiring what was happening. In fact the number of youths who stormed the venue was startling.

I advise government to execute the plan, since the youths have confidence in the government. Employment must be on merit and should not be politicized. It is my prayer that majority of the youths will be employed while government sustains the scheme for the future growth of the nation.

Recently, governments disarmed the militants and engaged them meaningfully. However, the “Boko Haram” religious sect operating in our neighbouring states in the North is still threatening the existence of the federation as more killings, bombings, among others, are still being unleashed in broad day light by jobless youths.

Let’s look at it, if the government takes it as a policy to employ 2,000 to 5,000 youths every year in productive activities while also engaging the remaining ones in non-violent activities through skills training and inculcation of morals in them while awaiting their time of employment, this ugly situation will recede. I want to see Nigeria so strong like America operating the same federal system like us (even if there are some imperfections in the Nigerian system) to care for the youths, employ and empower them. Since wastage demands weeping, I believe the government, in each state, should compile names of those unemployed and those employed. Though the work is not easy but it is worth the effort.

Government has great responsibility, mostly here in Rivers State. The throngs of employable youths scattered here and there calls for weeping and mourning. The Chibuike Amaechi administration can help a little before the four-year tenure elapses. We expect to see sufficient investment in and employment of more youths of the state in productive and sustainable activities.

The future rests on the youths. They must not do anything evil or inimical to development. Government needs to urgently come to their aid. The Niger Delta states need not cry over poverty. Most youths have certificates but they also have aged parents. Truly, it calls for lamentation.

Frankly speaking, the only way Rivers youths can crush poverty is through meaningful employment, vocational and skills acquisition programme. These precious youths must not waste away. Their tears, aged parents, certificates, gifts and natural endowments must also not waste away. The youths are today’s seed planted for tomorrow’s leadership. Let’s not allow them to waste anymore.

Harry writes from Port Harcourt.

Amaechi’s Governance: An Appraisal

POLITICS; 1

Felix Okogbule

The present democratic dispensation in the state under the leadership of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has significantly been described differently by people with equally varying degrees of opinion.

This is reflected in the popular hackneyed cliche of different strokes for different folks.

Notwithstanding the misconception about the government particularly by the opposition political parties, the Governor has continued to add more feathers to his cap, thanks to the federal government for recognizing the contributions of Governor Amaechi towards the development of Rivers State and indeed Nigeria by honouring him with the Commander of the Ortder of the Niger (CON).

Just recently, the governor left no one in doubt about his determination to make a difference in the leadership of the state. He probably must have taken some tutorials and wants to break away from the past to avoid been hunted by history for acts of Omission or commission while superintending over the affairs of the state.

The governor took a bold initiative when members of his cabinet, Permanent Secretaries and all heads of other model Songhai farm in Bunu, Tai local government area to take critical retrospective analysis of his administration’s first tenure and to design a road map for the last lap of the government to ensure a clean departure from the morass of abandoned projects upon leaving office.

The environment was serene, atmosphere pleasantly conducive for meaningful discussion and the event was the 2011 strategy Retreat organized by the State government for top functionaries of government to take stock of previous performances with a view to proffering workable perameters for achieving sutainable development and thereby fulfilling the electioneering campaign promises to Rivers people.

When the governor visited the state Songhai farm earlier in one of his inspection tours, and told newsmen that the farm settlement would be the venue for the State Strategy retreat for the egg heads in government, not many people believed that the pronouncement had a pinch of salt, including yours truly.

The reason for our unbelief were simply based on the antecedents of past government retreats or call it executive talk shows where new government officials get their baptism in the practice of protocols which involves all the attributes of those serving in government such as telling deliberate falsehood except for the mysterious God that is all-knowing.

To the dismay of many, the retreat gathered the long and mighty serving in the present administration at the Songhai farm as against the luxury of a five-Star hotel or its equivalent for one week that the programme lasted. While many criticized the decision for virtually shutting down government business during the period, others were of the view that the approach demonstrated the importance the governor attaches to the outcome of the brain storming session to aid in realizing the vision of the government.

Another underlying benefit is the improvement in facilities provided at the Songhai Farm which has been transformed into an agro-tourist centre for the state as over 60 retreat participants were accommodated at the farm including the state chief executive himself. This obviously had reinjected funds into the system rather than expending huge funds in a private hotel either in Port Harcourt or any other city like Calabar.

Addressing participants at the opening session, Governor Amaechi charged them to painstakingly pin-point flaws inherent in the government desire to serve Rivers people better. In his usual characteristics, he raised a number of mind bgoggling questions bordering on honesty, transparency and accountability as well as the perception of the people on the performance of the government after the first – tenure.

He prophetically opined that the popularity earned by his administration is diminishing faster than the evening shadow and warned political appointees to jettison the euphoria of being in office and guard their loins for service, noting that the retreat was designed at proffering solution to the leakages in government structure to meet the yearnings of the people by delivering dividends of democracy to them.

The governor provoked and challenged participants in these words, “have we achieved our objective in government? The answer is certainly no, therefore you must work out template that would drive the road map towards realizing the vision of the present administration”, and directed all the commissioners to itemize projects not completed in their various Ministries for proper funding, monitoring and eventual completion.

It is no longer news that the determination and focus of government is to consolidate on the progress made by the administration in providing social infrastructure for the people that would uplift the living standard but the despicable act of leaving government projects unmonitoried perverts the trite presage of delivering quality services to the people.

There is no gain saying the fact that only the visioner can propel his vision to frustration, although, inspite of the enthused criticism of some of the state government’s policies and programmes, credit must be given to the visible effort to reposition the state for a better tomorrow by the present administration.

The retreat which had resource papers from renowed experts in different fileds also witnessed presentation of progress reports by some ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which were critically assessed in an attempt to arriving at potent threashold for “deliverables”.

In responding to the Palpable and Manifest distract, suspicion and lack of genuine interest to completing contractual obligation by government contractors, the participants resolved to identify plausible ways of averting delays in project execution while those found culpable of collecting money and fail to carry out such projects would face the full weight of the law.

It is imperative to mention that the enactment of the law and the establishment of a Bureau on Public Procurement (BoPP) otherwise called Due Process was not to cause delay in the execution of government projects but to ensure compliance with best practices in award of contracts to check manipulation associated with the exercise in the past.

However, they are to function to save funds and to realise that government needs to fulfill its promises of better services to the people within the short time available.

To that effect, it has become necessary to strengthen institutions of government through energy within the system to have an integrated coordination of executing programmes and policies of government to avoid duplication. The road map to 2015 had been streamlined by inputting methods of measuring and evaluating performance by giving time lag to the completion of projects as the monitoring and supervision inter ministerial committee under the office of the Secretary to the state government would ensure strict adherence.

According to the governor, government did not feign ignorance of the suffering of residents of Port Harcourt and its environs especially during the rainy period but had consistently appealed for patience and ancillary understanding. No wonder that remedical work are being carried out in some bad portions of the road while road contractors have equally been mobilized to site to capitalize on the dry season and complete their jobs.

The Secretary to State Government Mr. George Feyii, said the retreat was to come together, chart a news course on the direction of government by looking critically at the present situation and come up with a strategy that would take the administration to where it is expected to be in the next four years.

In seeking for greater productivity that would generate economic growth, lawlessness display on the roads which result in loss of man-hours will be curtiailed if traffic laws are obeyed. Thereore TIMA-RIV should be encouraged to step up the good work to ensure sanity on the roads.

Similarly, the much anticipated influx of investors into the state as the hub of oil and gas business in Nigeria as evident in the interest shown at the just concluded Rivers State Investors’ Forum 2011, would amount to a nullity if security of lives and property cannot be guaranteed. To cash in on the enthusiasm of foreign investors that would ultimately create employment opportunities for the teeming youths, residents of the State must cooperate with security agencies by giving information of surreptitious movements of men of the under world around their vicinity.

A common parable says that a good dance begins with the first step, it is hoped that the step taken by Governor Amaechi in the selection of his team and the zeal to actualize the target of bequeathing a legacy in the governance of the state would be pursued with greater vigour we match towards the terminal date of the government. History will tell.

Tamunoemi Harry

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Opinion

Away With Open Grazing

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It was reported recently that the Federal Government had mapped out 30 grazing reserves for the implementation of a National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) under its Green Initiative project.
According to the report, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari, disclosed this while addressing journalists on the move by the government to resolve the persistent conflict between herders and farmers over land, water and pastures.
“The 19 Northern States have grazing reserves. So far, we have mapped out over 30 grazing reserves and on paper, we have over 400 grazing reserves.
“So, the northern governors have to be committed to working with the Federal Government, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, supervision of the NEC, to make sure that wherever those grazing reserves are found that we are able to convert them into lush green models specifically for pastoralists, and pastoralists will not migrate anymore…” Kwasari said.
He further disclosed that traditional rulers like the Gbom-Gbom Jos had been consulted and they suggested that the low hanging fruit for federal and state governments was to ensure that pastoralists were settled in gazette grazing reserves.
The presidential aide also said that this would take away any notion of land grabbing or taking of land from communities and giving to herders as was feared with the government’s stillborn Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) programme.
It would be recalled that the NLTP was launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve, Mayo-Belwa LGA of Adamawa State, in September 2019. The plan was to run from 2019 to 2028 as part of the federal government’s Green Initiative in collaboration with states, farmers, pastoralists and private sector investors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC).
NLTP has a budget of N100 billion for the breeding of cattle and other types of livestock. Of this amount, the federal government would contribute 80% as grant only, while the participating states were expected to raise the remaining 20%, donate land, draw up the project implementation structure, and provide workers.
Besides Adamawa, the programme has also taken off in six other pilot states; namely Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara. Others which were reported to have voluntarily joined the initiative include Anambra, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo States.
Given the foregoing, any peace-loving Nigerian would be tempted to assume that a viable solution has finally been figured out for the perennial herders-farmers crisis in the country. But President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent charge to his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to identify the country’s gazetted grazing routes leaves one wondering if, indeed, he was acting from the same script as Osinbajo and Kwasari.
If there ever was any doubt as to the Presidency’s rejection of the collective decision of the southern governors to outlaw open grazing in their respective states, such was cleared by the President himself in his recent exclusive interview on Arise TV.
“What I did was ask him (Malami) to go and dig the gazette of the First Republic when people were obeying laws. There were cattle routes and grazing areas…
“I asked for the gazette to make sure that those who encroached on these cattle routes and grazing areas will be dispossessed in law and try to bring some order back into cattle grazing,” Buhari emphasised.
Honestly, I had wished that the President’s directive to the nation’s chief law officer was aimed at recovering only grazing reserves for the NLTP scheme as Kwasari did announce. But his inclusion of cattle routes suggests that Buhari is still not considering letting go of the now outdated nomadic grazing practice in Nigeria.
And just as the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) wasted no time in rallying behind the man, so also was his position quick in drawing flaks from socio-cultural bodies like Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) all of which insisted that the power to allocate land rested with the state governors and not the President.
Of particular interest was the reaction of Afenifere’s publicity secretary, Jare Ajayi: “Who designated specific routes as exclusively belonging to those who would be grazing cows? If you are doing this kind of thing in their own area, it is understandable (because) that is in their own area.
“I have not read anywhere that our forefathers sat down and agreed that these particular routes, maybe from Ogbomosho to Saki or Badagry, are for grazing…”
Again, some analysts have expressed the fear that if Buhari insisted on pursuing the recovery of grazing routes, prominent buildings in many parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), would be pulled down.
I still don’t get why Mr. President is seriously reaching for the list of cattle routes in First Republic Nigeria even when the 1979 Land Use Act entrusted governors with the control of their states’ lands years after the now sought-after gazette was published. With such power, can’t a state chief executive reapportion any previously gazetted grazing route or reserve located in his domain?
Buhari should please focus on promoting sedentary animal husbandry through the NLTP scheme in order to reduce the existing tension in the land. A good leader should be able to ensure peace in his domain even if he has to bend over backward to achieve it.

By: Ibelema Jumbo

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Opinion

Short, Sharp, Shock-Treatment

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There was a recent allusion from the Nigerian President, or the Presidency, about the possibility of some impending shock, meant to restore sanity in the country. It came as a warning to those who were alleged to be intent on destroying or destabilising Nigeria via insurgency, agitation and causing mayhem. Therefore, it has become needful to alert Nigerians about Nature’s Standing Order of Short, sharp, shock treatment (SSST), as a mechanism of restoring order when humans allow disorder to grow too high. In truth, there is such mechanism in the scheme of things.
Those who are familiar with Jewish cosmogony via the Kabbalah, would know that there is a flow of Divine influx, also known as Zazahot or lighting flash, which is an up-building and a restorative system. The 5th anchorage of that Divine Circuit system known as Geburah or Judgement has the duty or responsibility of restoring order and bringing about a balance, when disorder and imbalance become overwhelming in creation or a section thereof. Disorder and imbalances usually come from humans.
Being endowed with a free will and the freedom to make personal decisions and choices, which are often mis-used, humans bring about disorders and imbalances which distort the beauty and harmony of creation. Accumulation of massive impurities would necessitate a cleansing process to reduce the results of human engagements in acts of impunity, shamelessness and irresponsibility. Before catastrophies come there are usually warnings.
In the case of Nigeria, the warning signals have been persistent and loud enough even for obtuse persons to be aroused to a state of alertness. Nature has a process of educating human beings through bitter personal and collective experiences. No one can say that such warning signals and bitter experiences have not been there for quite some time. As a process of ensuring justice, there are watchers and weavers whose activities in the 100m of destiny entail monitoring the deeds of everyone with utmost accuracy. There are also provisions for deep reflections and possible redressing of imbalances.
Nigeria has been brought to its current sad state of affairs through many follies and deliberate acts of mischief. From Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s book Reforming The Unreformable, we are told that more than 5,000 board seats existed as sinecure, with political leaders having enormous patronage powers. We are told that a bad public service is certain to produce bad governance, even if the right accountability and other mechanisms are in place. Thus, there is a spiral of malfeasance.
From public service system, to tertiary education, we are told that “a systemic rot has befallen Nigeria”, apart from “inflating the budget by doubling or tripling the allocations…” Even with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) bill which was approved in May 2007, there was no transparency or accountability in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. In both physical and process audit there are deficiencies in management and utility.
Okonjo-Iweala advised that “special care be taken to ensure that oil revenues are spent wisely to build up durable long-term assets whose benefits can be shared with future generations”. Nigeria’s great dependence on oil and gas whose vulnerability to global volatility of commodity market are important factors in the country’s need to reshape its economic structure and growth based on diversification. With regards to corruption, Okonjo-Iweala said that “cynicism about the fight against is greatest when allegations of corrupt acts on the part of the elite are not investigated with any vigour even when investigated …”
If human verdict is reflected in the dismal and sad score card available in the public domain, then the verdict of the watchers and weavers of human destinies must also be far worse. There are indications globally that visibly gathering dark storms would surely result in some catastrophes whose true nature no one can tell accurately. For Nigeria as an individual nation in the global family, it is obvious that the shock alluded to by the President is an omen of things to come.
However, no one is in a position to predict exactly the nature and intensity of the shock the president had in mind. Reacting to the President’s statement, a number of Nigerians expressed sadness that it was a warning to agitators who allegedly are trying to destabilise and disunite Nigeria. But the situation obviously goes beyond current activities of political agitators and bandits.
Normally it takes a long time for storms to amass such power that would result in a destructive shock. Therefore, it would be myopic and wrong to judge the Nigerian situation from a one-sided perspective. Across the globe, Nigeria features as one of the delicate zones where some shocks are most likely to arise. Already harbingers of warning signals include activities of Boko Haran and other agitators for Islamic states and sharia laws, spate of kidnappings and demand for ransom, etc. The commando-rescue-style of an American farmer held hostage in Northern Nigeria placed Nigeria as a vulnerable nation.
Prelude to any coming shock usually includes complacence arising from gluttony over loots. The fact that a few highly-placed Nigerians tried to exonerate late General Sani Abacha of accusations of looting, despite exposures of such deeds, is another evidence of a nation which needs a shock to regain sanity. It takes the collaboration of humans through various activities, to serve as agents in the fulfillment of the mechanism of destiny. Such human agents rarely know that they are serving the course of Nemesis.
Unlike the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) with its attendant miseries and woes, SSST comes as mechanism of Divine intervention, to ensure that those who deserve to die, die the death they deserve. It is fast and thorough, with long-lasting effect. It is a weapon of sective elimination.

Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Corporate Begging In Nigeria

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I went to an office two days ago for a business transaction and at the gate was a well-dressed, cheerful security guard who zealously ushered me into the compound. I wanted to park my car at one end of the compound and he insisted that I should go another direction which truly was more spacious. And in my mind l was like, “what a dutiful staff”.
He was not done yet.  As soon as I switched off my car ignition and was about to open the door to come out, he rushed and did it, smiling from one side of his mouth to another, offering unsolicited information and a guide on my whereabouts in the facility. I sincerely thanked him, hoping all the VIP treatment will not be a subtle way of begging for gratuity.
Behold, I was wrong. As l made to step into the building, he whispered “Madam, no forget the favour way l do you oo”.  I had just encountered another corporate beggar. A day before, l had a bitter encounter with one, a pump attendant, at a petrol station who called me names for refusing to part with my hard-earned money. Having inquired about the well being of my family, admired my car and showered all unasked encomium on me, he expected a monetary appreciation which was not forthcoming and the next thing I heard was “stingy woman”.
They are everywhere. At petrol stations, banks, offices, both public and private hotels, you see a lot of people begging while on duty. At the airport, train station and in practically all-important offices in the country, “anything for the boys, your boys dey loyal oo”, seems to have become part of the official language.
Of course, this shameful attitude did not start today but it has taken a more serious, disturbing dimension in recent times. Many people, particularly the security personnel, front desk officers, customer relations officers have turned their duty posts to begging offices. They would always blame the current economic downturn for their unbecoming attitude which cannot be totally true because, at least, they are working and earning salaries no matter how little.
What about the millions of people who are jobless and have no means of livelihood? Have they all taken to the streets to beg?
One thinks it is a social malaise which has a lot to do with our ethical values. A lot of people in the country value money and other material things far and above integrity, self-respect and self-dignity and so, they will do anything, no matter how shameful, to acquire them.
A teacher once made an analysis of two families, one has four members and the other was a family of 11 people. Both families were given N200,000 each to spend for a month. According to her, half way into the month, the family of four almost exhausted their money and could hardly pull through till the end while the other family of nine comfortably made do with the amount they had and even had some balance. What was their secret? Prioritisation and prudent management.
Therefore, it is not so much about how much we make through our salaries, begging and other means but how we manage the money. There is hardly anybody in the country today that is not feeling the economic bite and the only thing that will help everybody both the low- and high-income earners is to set their priorities right and learn how to live within their income instead of hoping on tips from some “big men and women” and doing all kinds of ridiculous thing to attract their attention and the crumb. And we forget that the so-called big men most times also have loads of financial responsibilities.
On the national level, we also have to consider the damaging impact of officials begging and do something about it. Obviously, taking little tips from people would make officials skimp on their responsibilities, thereby making some unscrupulous elements have their way, exposing the country to avoidable vulnerability.
It is, therefore, imperative we must begin to build a new ethos that places emphasis on self-respect and dignity of labour. As part of the country’s 60th Independence celebration, the National Ethics and Integrity Policy was launched. It contains the nation’s core values of Human Dignity, Voice and Participation, Patriotism, Personal Responsibilities, Integrity, National Unity and Professionalism. All these values and how they will be practised to make for a better country and more cordial relationship among the citizens are thoroughly spelt out.
For instance, section 4.5.2.5, talking about Honour under Integrity states, “We shall at all times maintain uprightness of character, personal integrity and pride in ourselves as individuals, as one community, and as one nation. Therefore, in all spheres of life, we shall do what is demanded by our common values and laws that we hold to be true, in accordance with our national identity and in accordance with the values enshrined in our national laws and practices as one country. As Nigerians, we shall stand up to challenge those vices that impede the pursuit of our existence with uprightness. We shall celebrate those Nigerians who are upright”.
But then the big questions are, how many Nigerians are aware of this policy? What efforts are being made to educate the citizens on these core values? We  have the National Orientation Agency, the Ministry of Information at various tiers of government, what are they doing to educate people about these code of conduct so that the people internalise it and it becomes a true guide for the citizens,
It is not enough that time, energy and resources were spent in packaging the booklet, let adequate sensitisation be carried out, using the media, both conventional and social media and other means of communication to reach to people at every nooks and crannies of the country because many Nigerians are losing it when it comes to integrity and the time to get them back on the right track is now.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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