When on a state visit to Georgia, last year, United States of America (USA), Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said, a given citizenry is only as informed as its media, she was merely highlighting in as brief a manner as the circumstance allowed, the enormous responsibility of a dutiful press. Without a vibrant press, the people wallow in a measured darkness.
But with such vibrancy comes a price, sometimes too fatal to be considered as mere professional hazard. To have a society that is better informed, educated, entertained, and socially engineered for proactive development, poor soldiers of the press must daily search for the facts in issue necessary for such societal education.
Sometimes, such vital information of great human interest is concealed because of the moral, even criminal desires of some pervert who wills such facts be buried for ever. At other times, it’s free and open, especially when such is for the self-aggrandisement of the information holder.
But because society daily desires answers to questions, both raised and ignored, to be properly abreast with how government runs its business, how public funds are committed, and more importantly, to fore-warn unsuspecting members of the public about potent dangers they are unaware of; the media must not only help raise vital questions, it must also craft such vital facts and disseminate same in a timely fashion for the proper education of the people.
Such duties are not personal to the media or its practitioner. The journalist is merely an instrument necessary to perform such thankless job which very often pitches him against varied influences, whose diabolic pastime may be to seek to hide from public scrutiny such facts or determine how such facts must be presented or misrepresented. Either way, it cannot be for society’s good but theirs.
Sadly, by their training, the journalists are left with a choice, to present the facts as they possibly can, in an objective, balanced, and timely manner, grounded most often on public safety and interest. But in doing this, the journalist inadvertently embarks on a perilous journey which destination, very often, is death, not by natural factors, but through gruesome murder by influential figures whose egoes might have been bruised by such expose and at other times, by morally depraved, red-eyed and criminally-minded social misfits, to whom human life is like a deflated football that can be thrown away at will.
Such was the end that befell victims of mindless bombings of three media houses: ThisDay, Sun and Moment in Abuja and Kaduna simultaneously by faceless killers to whom the critical media had been bug. And without any known provocation other than carrying out their constitutionally allowed duties, the three media houses became terror targets. In the aftermath, as many as eight people died and some 19 others injured, most of them, critically.
Shamelessly, when the dust raised by the explosions and concomitant deaths settled, a visionless Islamist sect named Boko Haram, accepted responsibility, and gave reasons which could go as shameful cacophony coughed by a mentally deranged saddist. Just because it could.
One such excuse was that the three papers had not only been too critical of Boko Haram activities, they failed to champion the vision and objectives of their war against the Nigerian state and government. And that the bombings were meant to teach the papers a bitter lesson, and that way also warn all other media houses against being unduly critical of their activities. What a shame!
Since the killing, by a letter bomb, in 1986, of the founding Editor-In-Chief of the Newswatch Magazine, Dele Giwa, last Thursday’s terror attacks were the first on the media by the Boko Haram sect – a group of ill-informed and criminally minded Islamic extremists whose only known pastime has been bloodletting, mass murders and human destruction in the name of fighting Western education and clandestine move to impose Islam not only on a section of the country, but if possible, the whole nation.
By these attacks, Boko Haram believed that it would silence the media or wipe them into line – a line which end is destruction.
If that was the intention, it failed, because the triumph of evil over good is only but temporary.
Rather than instill fear, the attacks have further strengthened the media practitioners and boosted in them the resolve to condemn everything that seeks to replace love with hate, hope with fear, and life with death of unprovoked kind. And at peace time.
This is why Nigerians must be united behind the Federal Government in fighting this war waged by a few who seek to destroy the bonds that unite us, even in our diversity and variance of our tongues and tribes. The citizenry must be more alert to security breaches where ever they live and must report suspicious characters to the nearest police station.
Happily, the State Security Service (SSS) has assured that some of the suspected culprits behind the bombings have since been arrested and that, it hopes meaningful information could be accessed towards unraveling the principal actors of that dastardly act. The SSS needs to do better than that.
They must articulate better operational tactics that is preventive in nature, through improved intelligence gathering. No where is the war against terrorists easy because of their faceless nature as distinct from a conventional army with known operational units. In this case, the next door neighbour could be the enemy, which is why vigilance, better intelligence gathering and decisive punishment for apprehended culprits, are key.
The Federal Government must realise the enormity of the dangers we face and step-up the search and punishment of the enemies before many more are coerced into enlisting with their ranks. Just for the money.
It is indeed a big shame that a once happy but poor people could now be turned against themselves for reasons many are yet to comprehend, other than that Western education is a sin, and should therefore, be discontinued. Yes, the media, as one of its roles, also educate but are not schools. So, what’s the point?
The attacks merely amplify the unfortunate absurdity of the Boko Haram’s agenda and the futility of its drive. However, if the group has any other issue that deserves consideration by normal mortals, and not fellow mentally deranged lot, it must step forward and present such issues for dialogue. Until and unless that is done, members of the group should be treated as enemy combatants whose lone desire is blood. Therefore, the rules of engagement must apply. Unless such persons surrender and be treated as Prisoners of War (POW), the federal forces must search for and kill them before getting killed. And that is possible only with the right kind of intelligence backing.
My Agony is that those suicide bombers being killed in their attempts to kill others are mere foot-soldiers.
The right war lies in identifying and apprehending their sponsors and financiers. When shall we get there? Someday, with an even more proactive and courageous media. That begins now.
This is because, the attacks rather than serve as set-backs are, to the media, a wake-up call that the enemy might well be next door. Such is the hazard we face.
Soye Wilson Jamabo
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
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.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
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.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
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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