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Behind The Smoke Screen …Squinting Views Of The Northern Elite

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For the second time in about three months, Northern leaders last week assembled in Abuja, ostensibly to find answers to the increasing wave of violence, terror-based mass murders, resurgence of ethno–religious warfare, and as main agenda, the lope-sided development of Nigeria weighed, in their own estimation, in favour of the southern parts of the nation. They also quarreled with the earnings of the oil producing states which they accused of receiving so much from the country’s resources.

The main crux of the recent dialogue was the allusion that oil bearing states are ill-equipped to manage the enormous resources regularly allocated to them, and to avoid corruption, the allocations should be reviewed. The review should, in their view, be such that allocates enough to the Northern states to help address urgently, the challenges of poverty, under-development and insecurity in parts of the North.

Perhaps, the most interesting position canvassed by the forum was the fact that only the southern states were developing, and such a scenario painted the picture of two different republics in one federation.

Simply put, all the daily attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist sect; the repeated religious-based terror attacks targeted at Christian places of worship, particularly in Jos, Plateau State, and Sulja, Niger and the increasing wave of violence are instigated by poverty, caused by poor federal allocations to parts of the North.

In an earlier attempt at search for peace necessary for the most-needed development, Northern leaders had met in Kaduna, December 5, 2011 where they also brainstormed on a number of issues responsible for the abysmally volatile state of insecurity in some states of the North.

Tagged Northern Peace Conference, it was convoked by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and was attended by prominent Northern leaders and the governors of the 19 Northern states as well as traditional rulers, which according to Jon Shiklam, “was a clear indication that Northerners wanted an end to the orgy of ethnic and religious violence that have become a trademark of the region.”

Apparently, it was from the ethno-religious perspective that Senate President, David Mark addressed the forum in an emotion-laden manner, at least, to remind his listeners of the glorious days of the formidable one-North, when religion, ethnicity and language failed to be dividing factors.

While querying the region’s leaders for remaining silent in the face of rising security challenges in the North, especially the Boko Harm scourge, Mark lamented the decline in moral and cultural value of the people of the North, saying stakeholders must join hands to  find lasting solution to the problem.

“We are here today because one of our founding fathers and great leaders, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, of blessed memory, showed great leadership qualities well beyond his time. He was charismatic, foresighted, committed, selfless, dedicated, totally detribalised, and courageous, and above all, sincere. Though a devout Muslim, he did not discriminate between Christians and Muslims. He was a symbol of Northern Nigeria and personified Northern values among which are education, development, progress, unity and peace.

“Sadly, today, the Northern Nigeria, which he left behind, is known more for the wrong reasons namely: poverty and under-development, poor education, religious fundamentalism, terrorism and ethnic intolerance, among others. He and other founding fathers must be weeping in their graves at our current situation, David Mark lamented, apparently blaming the problems of the North on the North, particularly on those the North depended upon to sustain the ‘One-North’ idea, through the same values the Sardauna championed during his lifetime.

He then asked: “Why has the North continued to lag behind in education? All available statistics show that in both literacy and numeracy, the North lags behind the South, and even within the North, there is so much disparity between the zones and between states”, and urged them to avoid sentiments in the search for solutions.

Bauchi State Governor, Malam Isa Yuguda in his work, Conflict and The Decline of Private Sector, ThisDay, December 9, 2011, particularly  blamed the under-development of the North of the decline of the private sector on account of conflict in the region. But he also addressed the imperatives of conflicts in history, and said, “The occurrence of conflicts in society has been explained as a symptom of the competition or struggle for society’s scarce resources – whether by the elite in government for themselves or ostensibly on behalf of their areas or ethnic group or between nomads  and farmers.”

According to Yuguda, “All the factors necessary for the development of a robust private sector and the successful take-off of a modern industrial economy are there as there were before. The (Northern) region is endowed with an extensive, fertile, mineral-rich  arable landmass more than 600,000 square kilometres in area that can, with the right policies and the  right quantity of subsidies, support a variety of agriculatural activity that can feed and make the region a net exporter of food as it supports a multitude of agro-allied industries.

The meeting-point between Yuguda and Mark is the need for introspection, of self-probe and the need to make the best of available resources, and not sit idly by and fan the embers of ethno-religious divides, greed, selfishness, and indeed, lack of industry. The North, in their views, has the history, the right people, the resources and the ability to check the violence in the Northern parts, if indeed, the leadership replicated the virtues and values that the founding fathers bequeathed.

That indeed was the tone set by the December 5 dialogue, which also gave Vice President Namadi Sambo the opportunity to list efforts being made by the Federal Government to boost the economy of the North. They include improving the transportation sector, boosting water supply, transforming agricultural, and educational sectors, and boosting healthcare  delivery for the people. The Federal Government, according to Sambo, will also boost access to financing and entrenchment of good governance anchored on transparency,  probity, accountability and the rule of law.

These are naturally the basic ingredients needed by a state to build a strong infrastructural base, and by extension, a strong economy. With a large expanse of arable land and rich in minerals, a strong infrastructural base would no doubt attract the right investors and that way create jobs and boost economic activities.

Rather than think in that light, some Northern leaders have been busy, clamouring for hand-outs from the Federal Government sourced from  the sweat, sacrifice and suffering of the long deprived oil producing states of the federation, in addition to blaming their security woes on all others, except themselves, their greed and misapplication of funds in recent past.

Rising from their recent meeting, Northern leaders introduced an old debate in a strange manner that offended the very logic they relied upon.

The Northern position can be summarised as follows:

1.         That the Northern is not only under developed, it parades the biggest majority of poor people.

2.         That the spate of violence in parts of the North is caused by the level of poverty that obtains in the North.

3.         That the state of abject poverty and want prevalent in the North is as a result of the ‘huge” monthly allocations, based on derivation, that go to the South-South and other Southern states as against the North.

4.         That the South is developing at a quicker Space than the North and that in itself amounts to two republics in one federation.

5.         That to reverse the trend, allocation to Northern states should be reviewed upwards in line with prevailing realities.

6.         That unless that was done, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to address in a lasting manner, the state of insecurity in the North.

Reading in-between the lines, it is clear that Niger State Governor, and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Dr. Babangida Aliyu was not merely flying a kite, when the said, oil bearing states were receiving too much from the Federal Government and should be reversed. That, he was, in fact, speaking for the North, without appreciating the history of derivation, the years of marginalization suffered by the Niger Delta, and indeed, the true tenets of federalism.

If the Northern states consider development

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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