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One Year Of Jonathan’s Presidency Whither The Infrastructural Development?



Good quality infrastructure is a key ingredient for sustainable development of any nation. The level of development of the social sphere and infrastructure are indicators of the level of national development of an economy. All countries need efficient transport, sanitation, energy and communications systems if they are to prosper and provide a decent standard of living for their populations.

Infrastructure makes it possible to overcome “natural” causes of poverty such as remoteness from material and information resources, provides access to social services, and helps to increase the mobility and economic activities of the population. Very few nations can boast of the resources Nigeria has, both natural and human. The country’s resource endowments leave it with no excuse for the relatively high rate of unemployment and under-industrialisation.

Over the years, development experts have laid emphasis on the need for Nigeria to diversify her revenue sources away from just oil and increasingly encourage industrialisation that can graduate her from a mere consumer nation to productive one.

It is also imperative that for Nigeria to drive a sustained economy with appreciable growth and ability to compete in the global economy, she must develop appropriate infrastructure that can play a vital role in poverty reduction by fast tracking the development of latent resource for the growth of the economy.

In the one year of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration, visible efforts can be said to have been made towards tackling infrastructural development challenges of the country. The government has, through its aggressive economic transformation agenda, commenced the implementation of promising policies that reviewed holistically legislations which hitherto hampered sustainable development of the various sectors of Nigeria’s economy, particularly the energy sector.

President Jonathan took a major step in the energy direction when he launched the nation’s Gas Revolution in March this year. Initially, many may have dismissed it as another one of those “white elephant dreams” that will not see the light of day. But one year on, the Federal Government has demonstrated its resolve to ensure that the revolution, aided by the Gas Master Plan becomes a reality.

Determined to take infrastructure developments in phases, the government has fast tracked the monetisation of the nation’s gas resources, instituted a gas based industrialisation as well as increasing the generation capacity of the power sector, to ensure sustainable electricity delivery for domestic and industrial uses.

Although Nigeria’s commercial oil is over 50 years, the discovery of huge gas resources, estimated at about 187 trillion cubic feet proven gas reserves, coupled with about 600 trillion cubic feet undiscovered potential, make industry watchers describe Nigeria more of a gas province than oil.

This discovery and the need to match words with action spurred the Jonathan’s government to embark on infrastructure development – evidenced by the planned construction of gas pipelines that will supply gas to the thermal power plants in the Niger Delta and western Nigeria; the approvals for Free Trade Zones, FTZs; and the planned construction of various fertilisers, petrochemicals and methanol plants in specific locations in the Niger Delta.

These are being implemented mostly through Private Pubic Partnerships, PPP, with a view to “Repositioning Nigeria as the regional hub for gas based industrialisation, through which the country will add value to its natural gas and create a broad platform for aggressive industrialisation,” according to the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Reiterating the commitment to see the gas revolution to fruition, the Group Executive Director, Gas Development, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. David Ige, said at a forum that once government was done with the provision of backbone infrastructure, investments will start springing up across the country. In this regard, he disclosed that a number of contracts have either been approved or undergoing tender in each phase of the development.

Infrastructure development in the area of power include the Itoki-Olorunshogo Pipeline to supply gas to the Olorunshogo Power Plant and the environs; Alaoji Pipeline for the Alaoji Power Plant both to be completed in six months; thus doubling the capacity of the Lagos-Escravos Pipeline from one billion standard cubic feet, SCF, per day to two billion scf/d, to be completed by end of 2012; the Rumuoji-Obigbo-Imo River Pipeline, and a host of many others.

According to Ige, these pipelines are meant “to bridge the gap between excess gas availability in East, shortage in the West, and significantly boost gas availability to the power sector.”

In the area of industrialiSation, he said that approval has been given for the construction of the Koko free Trade Zone, which will be supported with a 40-kilometer pipeline that will feed the fertilizer, petrochemical and methanol plants to be located there. He said the objective is to make Koko, “a gas based industrial city, the biggest of its kind south of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

He added that government also plans to set up another industrial hub in Akwa Ibom and Calabar with the location of fertilizer and methanol plants, and in the Rivers axis, “issued the gas purchase order for two fertilizer plants, and methanol plant around the Onne Free Trade Zone area.”

He said these developments are targeted at “creating an enabling environment that will reduce the risks that the people face”, adding, we phased the activities in a manner that reduces the risks of the projects and guarantee investors’ confidence.”

With all of these infrastructures coming on stream, Ige opined that investment opportunities abound in the areas of pipelines for gas generation and distribution, central processing facilities to optimise gas resources, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG for domestic and export, and Civil and ports infrastructure at the FTZs.

The Federal Government said it is also ready to collaborate with state governments and private investors on strategic activities aimed at boosting the nation’s economy, especially in the area of infrastructure development, believing that such strategic activities would attract the much needed investment into the country, thus boosting the Gross Domestic Product.

The President noted, at the opening of the Lagos Economic Summit, with the theme “From BRICS to BRINCS, Lagos Holds the Key,” recently, that a partnership between the Federal Government and states was critical to economic development, especially owing to the fact that a key agenda of the federal government was to make the country the preferred investment destination.

To ensure global participation, the president had also directed Nigerian missions to facilitate and grant multiple visas to potential investors coming to the country, adding that such was expected to attract more investments into the country.

“We know that the issue of power cannot be solved by the federal government alone, and there are many investment opportunities that abound in the power sector. So, for this reason, we have privatised the power sector and we will further focus on creating an enabling environment for investors to survive in the country. Our administration will work closely with the state governments and the private sector to deliver power supply to Nigeria”, he said.

Some of these reforms and policies include efforts to halt militancy in the Niger Delta through the Amnesty Programme, the signing of the Nigerian Content Act in April, the launch of the Gas Master Plan, instituting an incentive-driven gas pricing for manufacturers, approval for the construction of four refineries across the country by Chinese investors, signalling an end to the wasteful era of exporting crude to other countries and importing the refined petroleum products as well the development of a road map for the development of the power sector.

During this period, a lot of works have been done to reform the legal apparatus of the petroleum industry with the formulation of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which seeks to overhaul the management of oil and gas resources in the country.

President Jonathan described the Gas Revolution as the Rebirth of Nigeria’s Industrialisation, and vital to the diversification of the economy and for national development.

“This aspiration to re-industrialise Nigeria is aggressive and can only be achieved through a revolution. The focus is to catalyse a major industrialisation of the country by seeding in a few anchor investments that have the highest potential to have far reaching secondary multiplier effect on the economy,” he said during the launch.

Jonathan reassured the investors notably, Xenel of Saudi Arabia, Nagarjuna of India and Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, of government’s readiness to provide the necessary support, including the quick passage of the PIB, which serves as an anchor for sustainable and profitable investment in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

The President hoped that by 2014, Nigeria would have been positioned firmly as the undisputed regional hub for gas based industries. “We would by then, be producing enough fertilizer to create a self sufficient country and a net exporter of fertilizer and food to the world. We would be the leading regional centre for petrochemical production and manufacturer of petrochemical related products both for local and export purposes,” he added.

A leading Nigerian indigenous oil company, the Oando Group, recently made history with the successful completion of a 128-kilometre gas pipeline system from Akwa Ibom to Cross River State, built by one of its subsidiaries, Oando Gas and Power.

Alison-Madueke said the completion of the project marked the successful take-off of the gas revolution programme of the Federal Government, which targets a $25 billion worth of investment, and would generate about $10 billion over the next three years.

According to her, over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created from the Oando gas project and other similar projects contained in the gas revolution agenda.

Speaking with Sweetcrude on the sidelines of the launch, the minister disclosed that ongoing pipeline projects are estimated to cost about $2 billion.

According to her, the President has “a strong vision and passion to re-industrialise Nigeria using the vast natural resources that the country is so richly endowed with. Mr. President is determined to ensure that the efficient and effective utilisation of our natural gas resources will impact positively on the lives of every Nigerian.”

She added that the federal government’s gas agenda, both domestic and export, clearly paves the way for Nigeria to be a regional leader with all the attendant benefits.

“That agenda will necessitate an unprecedented growth in our gas supply, from the current one billion cubic feet per day to over 10 billion cubic feet per day by 2020. Realising this growth calls for a radical review of how the nationwide gas potential is harnessed,” she said.

She further noted that in order to grow the gas industry at the envisioned pace, there must be flexibility in our gas resource development and supply base. “This calls for the strategic development of various inland basins, in addition to the Niger Delta and offshore basins.

“Over the next five years, we will be prioritising about $1 billion for further seismic data gathering, aeromagnetic surveys, exploration and appraisal drilling. By enhancing the prospectivity of these basins, we hope to build significant supply bases across the various geopolitical zones that complement the existing gas supply centres in the Niger Delta,” she added.

Part of the agenda is to make the petrochemical project alone the largest industrial complex in Africa, producing over 150 containers worth of products. These products will enable the growth of numerous downstream plastic manufacturing industries. With these, secondary industries such as the high end printed circuit boards, car dashboards etc. can be established here in Nigeria.

The spiral effect of such a huge plant is the redevelopment and expansion of the port facilities near the plant locations. This will create a hub of economic and commercial activity around the hitherto quiet port towns.

The fertilizer plants and their customised blending plants will result in a radical transformation of the nation’s agricultural productivity from subsistence farming to full scale industrial farming. The concept of customised blending plants as introduced by this project will ensure that the fertilizer is formulated to suit the type of soil in the zone resulting in enhanced productivity.

Also, increased productivity will lead to the establishment of many agro processing industries to cope with the production growth that will emerge.

Beyond the specific projects being launched in the initiative, it is expected that the various gas pipeline projects will revive the many textile industries and numerous other industries in the North, which have hitherto shut down as a result of high energy costs. Natural gas will replace fuel oil as fuel for industrial boilers.

Industry experts estimate that over 100,000 engineering design and construction related jobs would be created from 2012 and beyond to deliver all these plants. Engineers will be required to participate in the design of the petrochemical, fertilizer, central processing facilities and numerous pipeline projects.

Local fabrication yards will need to gear up capacity to provide relevant construction support. Skilled workers such as welders, fitters etc. will also be required. The civil construction effort required both offshore and onshore and at the ports will impact on demand for cement.

Government said the strategy adopted for the fertilizer project, for instance, means it would expect a significant increase in employment from the agricultural sector. In total this initiative will result in over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs from construction, logistics, hotel and hospitality service, fabrication, banking and above all agriculture.

As government delivers the LPG agenda, there will be a boost in the disposable income of households as cheaper fuel becomes available. In particular, women in small scale catering business will benefit significantly from the relative cheapness of LPG.

This initiative provides a test bed to actualise the intent of the Nigerian Content Act which was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan last year. Before the reforms, previous governments paid lip service to the development of local content, which led to the loss of over 85 per cent of in-country jobs to other countries.

However, it is expected that the full application of the Law will stimulate these jobs and opportunities, and a significant portion of the jobs created will be for Nigerians. The nation’s service sector should benefit significantly from these opportunities.

According to the president, “When we are done we would have created a Nigeria that we all would be proud of. The Nigerian youth can clearly see the roadmap to engagement and self worth as they get gainfully employed. This is not just a plan, this is now in action.”

However, observers fear that this economic revolution may be jeopardised by the delay in the passage of the PIB. Indeed, hopes of a quick passage for the bill, which has been delayed for upwards of three years at the National Assembly, may have been dashed by the inglorious politicking in the legislature, and matters may get worse as the new legislature, in the habit of the last, continue to thumb its nose at the PIB.

The impasse in the federal legislature has not been helped by the obtuse racketeering by various stakeholders including the NNPC, the international oil companies, IOCs, and even the organised labour organisations.

Experts believe that the long delay in the passage of the bill has blocked billions of dollars worth of investments in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. For instance, the Royal Dutch Shell said it put aside $40 billion worth of potential investment in deepwater oil projects on hold as it awaits the outcome of the bill. Other oil majors like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Texaco, ENI and Total, all consolidated their positions by frowning at some provisions in the PIB.

A former Regional Executive Vice President of Shell Exploration and Production, Africa, Ms. Ann Pickard, had lamented the “failure to recognise that we all benefit from taking a fair share of a growing industry rather than an excessive share of a declining one; an unwillingness by some to stand up and take decisions.”

President Jonathan, obviously bothered by the protracted delay in the passage of the PIB, was effusive with thanks to Saudi Arabia, India, Italy and the USA, noting that, “Your decision to invest in Nigeria is a testament of the confidence you have both in our vision and our resources.

“I assure you that as you have taken the bold step to invest, even when many things hinge on passage of the PIB; government will support you every step of the way to ensure that this is delivered successfully. Your commitment will serve as a challenge to other investors elsewhere, letting them know that Nigeria is indeed open for business.”

In the area of housing, the Jonathan’s government has opened up channel of communication with professionals in the built industry with a view to partnering to reduce the infrastructural gap in the country. President Goodluck Jonathan said this in Abuja while declaring open the 42th annual conference of Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV).

President said that the present administration would collaborate with the institution, adding that its role in providing the skills and technical knowhow needed for a nation’s development has made NIESV an institution of reckoning in the country. He said the institution has strategic role to play in his transformation agenda in the housing delivery sector.

He said,  “the Federal Government wants to charge NIESV to do more in the area of land reform and administration, housing and infrastructural development. We want to collaborate with NIESV to play a significant role such that every Nigerian can one day lay claim to one plot of land.’’

Speaking at the event, the President of NIESV, Mr Bode Adediji said that the theme of the conference which is “Transformation of Nigeria through the Built Environment”, was carefully chosen in-line with the current administration’s transformation agenda He stressed that the current administration had shown commitment to move the country forward by putting round pegs in the round holes through the involvement of professionals in all sector of the economy.


Amieyeofori Ibim

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Independence Special

Nigeria At 58: Anything To Celebrate?



Nigeria clocks 58 years today as she gained her independence from the British colonialists on October1,1960. Fifty-eight years down the road, how has the nation fared? Is there anything to celebrate? Our correspondent went to town to get the views of a cross section of Nigerians and their responses are as amazing as they are interesting. Exerpts.

Hon Awaji –Inombek Abiante, House of Representatives member for Andoni Opobo/Nkoro
What are we celebrating? Are we celebrating constant power or free education? Our contemporaries have gone ahead of us. If you look at countries that started like us, many of them have left us behind. At 58, Nigeria is now the world capital of poverty. If really we are going to celebrate development, which one have we seen? Is it for the attainment in respecting the rule of law?
For us, if we cannot have an honest leadership recruitment process, then, we cannot be celebrating anything. In the last elections, we had reports of vote-buying. Is that progress?
To my mind, the independence anniversary calls for reappraisal and sober reflection, and rededication for better foundation.

Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe (Ijaw Leader)
Well, there are lot of things to celebrate. Over the years, there have been several attempts to disintegrate the country, but it has failed, secondly, seemingly, we are alive, thirdly, we are moving towards democracy, even though what we have now is still military democracy. The America we are seeing today is over 200 years and Nigeria is just 58. So despite the crisis, we are still alive.
We are moving from a poorer nation to an average one, looking at our population and we are able to feed our people.
“However, there is need for improvement. Our democracy and political system is not yet mature. We should see politics as service, we must not see poltics as self gain, and for self enrichment. We should ask ourselves what we can do for our nation. We should rather move our economy from public to private.
We should also think of restructuring the country, so that every section can move to contribute to nation building. Restructuring is the way forward in this country. Our security architecture also needs to be changed. It should be spread in such a manner that every part of the country will have a say in the security apparatus of the country. If we can do all these, then our country will change for the better.
For me, this year’s independence anniversary celebrations should be reflective. We have to look back and see how far we have come as a nation. There is a saying that ‘when you look at your neighbour, you will know what God is planning for you.
So, the question is: who are we looking at? You cannot really achieve much if you don’t have a goal. When it comes to the comity of nations, other nations that are developed and are where we aspire to go should be our model. Today, people from Dubai and the United Arab Emintes are no longer going to America. When you get there today, you will discover that at a time in their history, they were looking at America and today, they were able to achieve something close to America. Today Americans are visiting United Arab Emirates. Even we Nigerians leave our country to go visit Dubai. Unfortunately, these are countries that we were better than in the 60s and 70s, but today, they have gone past us. In the 50s and 60s, people were riding on camels there, but today it’s no longer so because they had a vision and pursued it.
The problem we are facing today is because we don’t pay attention to history. Some of the mistakes we made before, today, our politicians and leaders are still making the same mistakes. Things that are happening today had happened before. We have to learn from history. So for me, we have to do a reflective celebration this year.
“Nigeria at 58, to me we have done well having sustained democracy for 19 years. It’s a pointer that the country is making headway. But more needs to be done among political elites who by their quest to grab power have thrown the country into a chaotic situation.
“The present administration headed by President Buhari has actually not performed creditably. The reasons are that the administration has actually not reached out to the people, and there is practically non-human capital development in the country. That is the more reason why there is tension among the citizenry.
“In the first place, Nigeria is an independent nation, and that is very key, but the persons who celebrate must have a good reason to do so. You know celebration is associated with two things, joy as against kill – joy. Now if you look at the masses, the question I would like to ask is “are the masses happy? Even if you go to the North, some Northerners are not happy. So many of their people have been killed and anybody in mourning cannot be happy.
“Now let’s come to the area, where civil servants have been agitating for salary increase, that too have not materialized. And as you the workforce in Nigeria has greater percentage of the population. These workers also have children in higher institutions and primary schools. If you go to some families, to eat three square meals has become a problem. So many children, those families who have managed to train their children out of school, their children don’t still have jobs and they keep on feeding them – for such families, there is nothing to celebrate.
“For the civil servant whose dream of acquiring new minimum wage, it has not materialised, so for civil servants I don’t think there is anything to celebrate.
“Now if you look at the political atmosphere, the only people who don’t have retirement age are politician. If my grandfather was alive today, as a politicians he would have gone to pick intent form to contest election even at the age of 74. These are the things we are talking about while referring to the youths as leaders of tomorrow. Forgetting that for anyone to be a leader of tomorrow, he or she must undergo tutelage or training, and given a sense of belonging. But you discover that it is not the case in Nigeria. All we see around are old people, who don’t want to leave the political stage, instead they are prepared to adjust their age, in order to perpetuate themselves.

Comrade Opi Erekosima, Rivers State Chapter Chairperson of Radio, Television Theatre Workers Union
I want to join my voice with many other well-meaning Nigerians to congratulate the country as we clock another 58 years. Whether we like it or not, there is every need for us to celebrate. Despite the challenges before us which I see as obstacle, we can surmount, these are things that can make us stronger. I want to congratulate Nigeria for clocking 58 years at least for the first of life. You will really appreciate life when you visit the hospitals and the mortuary. And every Saturday, you hear obituary announcement, at least, that’s when you will appreciate life.
So I have every reason to say congratulations, first to myself and to Nigerians, then to the nation and then to my state. Yes, we are approaching another triumphant entry, I am talking about the 2019 elections and tempers are rising. Nigeria right now looks like a pot that’s boiling and someone needs to open the pot to see what the content is. So whatever the content is, I want to appeal to everybody to be calm. We need to be patient and hardworking.

Godwin Oruigoni, Civil Servant
As far as there is life, there is something to celebrate, even as an individual, you will discover that as you grow old, you see people celebrate life even when they don’t have anything to show with the belief that their tomorrow’s maybe better than today. That’s the same picture we are putting Nigeria into.
Yes, there are a lot of pitfalls and people’s expectation of the country is not what it’s supposed to be and that is why a lot of people are not excited to celebrate. However, if we don’t celebrate, it will look as if we have lost hope as a nation.
So we are celebrating to keep faith that no matter the pitfalls stemming from bad leadership, poor economy and infrastructure, we are still hopeful.
“As a Christian “we are expected to believe that our tomorrow will be better. We are not looking at the indices but we are looking at our potentials. Before this government came on board, there was so much hope, but today we are disappointed.
So we believe that it’s much more than the indices we are seeing now. For me, I believe that at this point in time, there is more God can do to change Nigeria for the better.

Dr Isaac Mieiamuno-Jaja
My opinion will be based on the Scriptures. The Bible says in every situation, we should give thanks to God. At 58 years of our independence, the country may not have arrived to the level everyone may have aspired to be. So in all, every good thing that has happened, some people have lost and in every bad thing that has happened, some other people also gained. On the totality, Nigeria has not gotten to where it supposed to be, but that does not mean that we have not made progress in some areas.
If for nothing, at least Nigeria is at peace and that is enough for us to be happy and thank God.
“So in thanking God, there is nothing like low key and high key thanksgiving and I believe that we must thank God in all fullness, especially for the life that we have. There is every reason to thank God for our independence, the issue of low key and high key does not obtain.

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Independence Special

Nigeria @ 58: The Journey So Far



Nigeria’s journey to independence came to fruition when on October 1, 1960 the British colonialists granted her request to be independent. Since then, the country’s development has been described by many from different perspectives all through the emergent Republics and actions of politicians.
On the whole, rather than see the country’s existence to date as development, many prefer to view it as mere “moving on”, because, as they are wont to put it, “there’s nothing tangible to show for it, only suffering”. To what extent this is true, is dependent on who says it. A cursory look at Nigeria’s political history puts a lot of what the country is going through under perspective.
At independence, or on attainment of the First Republic, the dominant political parties were Northern People’s Congress (NPC), led by Sir Ahmadu Bello, National Council of Nigerians and Camerouns (NCNC), under the leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Action Group (AG) led by Obafemi Awolowo and Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), with Malam Aminu Kano as its figure-head.
These parties were in control of their regions and areas of dominance. For instance, the Ahmadu Bello-led NPC was in firm control of the North, save for areas controlled by Aminu Kano’s NEPU. It is the same way that Azikiwe’s NCNC held sway in the Eastern part of the country, while Awolowo’s AG was in charge of the Western Region.
Some of the parties did well for their regions in such areas as infrastructure, education, and commerce. It is important to note here, for instance, that the benefit of Awolowo’s free education policy for the people of the old Western Region is still being reaped till date. The reason is that the people of the region embraced the policy and sent their children abroad to be educated. The result is that currently in Nigeria, the South West Zone has the highest number of educated people.
Awolowo also used proceeds from the sale of cocoa, which his region had in abundance, to build the first television station in Africa and the famous Cocoa House in Ibadan.
One notable snag in the politics of the period was the inability of the political parties to embrace unity and avoid electoral violence. This led to the first military coup of January 15, 1966: a group of young officers led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogu toppled the government of Tafawa Balewa, who was Prime Minister, while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was President in the parliamentary government the country operated at independence. Following the coup, Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military Head of State.
Ironsi’s rule was cut short as it lasted for only six months, following a counter-coup staged by mostly officers from the North who believed that the first coup was one sided in favour of the South-East.
A young Colonel Yakubu Gowon was then elevated to the rank of General and became the second military ruler of Nigeria. He remained in power until August 27, 1975 when he was overthrown by another group of officers led by General Murtala Mohammed.
General Mohammed’s reign was short-lived as he was assassinated in another bloody coup. But the coup was aborted and Murtala Mohammed’s second in command, General Olusegun Obasanjo took over the reins of leadership and continued with the transition programme initiated by his predecessor in 1976. The transition was to put in place a civilian government in 1979, and also move the nation’s capital to Abuja.
Obasanjo successfully implemented the return to civil rule in October, 1979, which led to the emergence of the Second Republic, with an initial five political parties being registered: National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), and later Nigeria Advanced Party (NAP).
The NPN emerged as the ruling party after the elections with Alhaji Shehu Shagari becoming the first Executive President to be elected under the Federal Republic. This period witnessed some level of stability following the alliance of the NPN and NPP in a government of national unity. Although this alliance packed up later, the NPN still won in the 1983 elections. But no sooner had NPN won than the military struck again, this time under the leadership of General Muhammadu Buhari. The coup brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power on December 31, 1983.
Buhari’s government was toppled in another coup led by Brigadier Sani Abacha, which brought in General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangia (popularly called IBB) in August 1985 as Head of State.
One major innovation Babangida brought in his tenure was to change from multi-party system to two-party system with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) setting the motion for the Third Republic.
The subsequent election that resulted from Babangida’s transition programme in 1993, though adjudged the “freest and fairest” elections Nigeria ever had, was annulled for reasons best known to the government then. The presumed winner of the elction, Chief Moshood Abiola, popularly called MKO Abiola, was not inaugurated as President.
Shortly after, the military set in motion another return to civil rule, following which the PDP won the 1999 elections to commence the present Fourth Republic, which set the record as the first time a civilian government handed over power to another civilian government.
So far, President Olusegun Obasanjo, who emerged the President of the Fourth Republic, had served two tenures of four years each and there had been Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and currently, Buhari.
In analysing the country’s political growth since independence, political analysts are of the opinion that what all the political parties in power seem to lack is ideology.
Two scholars stand out in this instance: Dr. Emmanuel Onah and Dr. Ferdinand Ottoh, both of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos.
According to them, “the political parties have no ideologies. They do not have a guiding principle to run their affairs”.
Otto, for one, is of the belief that it is this lack of ideology by political parties that has played out in the recent massive defections from one party to another.
“If we have ideology-based parties, it will be difficult for politicians to leave their parties for another. Instead, members would remain in their parties to remedy any challenge or problem to make the party stronger.
“The defections are for selfish reasons, and what we are witnessing is not healthy for our democracy. Some politicians, unfortunately work to satisfy their selfish interests”, he said.
On his part, Onah said multi-party system is good, but having 90 parties to contest an election is outrageous.
According to him, “it makes the system uninteresting because the big parties will certainly swallow the small ones. I think it is better to have two or three strong parties that should have strong national base and ethnic or religious influence”, he said.
This level of selfishness has no doubt transcended to all facets of the country’s being, so much that every other consideration seems to supersede the show of patriotism to the nation, which is the essence of governance.
In looking at economic development, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, while stating the importance of budget in the economic life of a nation, was quoted by Observer in 2015 as seeing budget in the light of it being “the roadmap to our future. It outlines government revenue and expenditure for a given fiscal year”.
From the perspective of the layman, the budget is what guides a government in what money is available, what amount should be spent in what sector, and at the end of the total amount what is earmarked as expendi-ture? This means that care would be taken to plan and execute it. Anything less is likely to spell doom for a country. The question therefore is how has Nigeria fared in this wise?
An idea of the answer to this question can be imagined from the experience of 2017 in Nigeria: Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo signed the nation’s Appropriations Bill into Law on June 12 in 2017. This was well over five months into the 2017 financial year. What this means is that for over five months, the government was spending funds that were not appropriated.
Interestingly, this misnomer is not new to Nigerians, even as it runs contrary to the dynamics of modern development which weighs heavily on effective planning and management of resources in the attainment of development objectives. This no longer happens in developed climes.
In fact, in most developed countries, the time span from the start of the preparation of budget proposals by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to the enactment of the Appropriations Act before the beginning of the financial year takes at least 12 months and there are defined time limits for each of the milestones in the budget process. This is currently not the case in Nigeria. The result is that monies are often spent at will, and later “retired”.
What this means is that, unlike budgeting in the private sector, which relies on free-flow of information between consumers and producers, with price signals reflect consumer preferences, customer satisfaction, and supplier costs and producer performance, while competition eliminates poor performers and shifts resources to those entities that improve efficiency and elevate utility, in the public sector, governments generally use past funding levels to determine future resource allocation.
In doing so, they virtually do not consider reflecting on preferences, satisfaction, or performance of the previous budget. This has no doubt given room to avoidable profligacy, and encouraged corruption, which seem to be the only truly developing phenomena in the country.
To counter this trend, and hence be seen serious in developing its economy, Nigeria needs to, among other things, adopt Performance-Based Budgeting to checkmate unnecessary and unwarranted spending.
Religion in Nigeria’s political space has always been with the country right from its inception as a nation in 1960 when the British colonialists handed power to Muslims.
In their paper titled, “Religion in Nigerian Political Space: Implication for Sustainable National Development”,  Ntamu, G. U. , Abia O. T. , Edinyang, S. D. , and Eneji, Chris-Valentine Ogar captured it thus:
”Given the philosophy of Islam as a complete way of life for Muslims, Islam has always been closely attached to politics in Nigeria, especially in the Muslim dominated north. As alluded above, the British government duly recognised this fact in their dealings with the northern Islamic societies and explored it to legitimise their colonial rule in the region.
“Oyegbile and Abdulrafiu, (2009) observed that after the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria and emergence of indigenous national politics, Islam has effectively represented a source of ethnic identity, group unity, political mobilisation, de-mobilisation, regime legitimisation and de-legitimisation in the country.
“As a result of this, the northern Hausa-Fulani therefore see themselves as the off-springs of the Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio, representing the epitome of the Islamic holy Jihad and a product of an enviable Islamic socio-cultural history.
“Based on this, the popular Hausa-Fulani Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, asserted that Islam has a cultural and religious affinity with its members, thereby providing ‘many common cultural elements’ that united the people of the region who become adherents together (Human Rights Watch, 2005, Ihedirika, 2011 and Okune, 2011) thereby empowering them to be politically cohesive and formidable and using same for political mobilisation.
“It is however popularly held that the north were absolutely been held in contempt because of its unique historical, religious, cultural and political antecedents (Akaeze, 2009). Thus, Islam has since been conceived to be synonymous with the North in the political matrix of the entity called Nigeria”.
The result is that this has set the pace for religious politics in the country. The fact that political parties are still formed based on religious (geographical) divides, and efforts are  still being made deliberately to balance positions within political parties along religious divide only confirms religious politics in Nigeria. Another way to note this is deciphering the origins of most top government functionaries.
Religious politics has in Nigeria’s 58 years proven to be a key factor of under-development as it encourages people being appointed to positions of trust just for the reason of them being of the same religion as the President, without recourse to their competence. It has also comes to play in political leanings in which incompetent persons are handed positions for which they have little understanding of.
The late playwright, Chinua Achebe summed it up in his book, “The Trouble with Nigeria”, when he said the county’s problem “is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land, climate, water, air, or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to their responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which is the hallmark of true leadership”.
Consequently, the state of Nigeria’s pitiable socio-economic development has been a direct consequence of the actions and inactions of the leadership class that has managed the affairs and wealth of the country since independence. The result is that at 58, Nigeria is still yet to find her fit as the acclaimed “Giant of Africa”.
The situation is such that the numerous achievements of Nigerians the world over are greatly dwarfed by the bigger picture of the country, even as countries still respect individuals who have genuinely excelled in their fields of endeavour.
As Nigerians mark 58 years of nationhood, therefore, one key factor that should never cease to bother their leaders is how the country can truly allow the Rule of Law to take its rightful place: How can Separation of Powers be made functional? And, when shall the people truly enjoy their resources?
These are the banes of Nigeria’s development.


Soibi Max-Alalibo

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Independence Special

Wike: An Agent Of National Cohesion



With the passage of time, the familiar refrain, “though tongues and tribes may differ, in brotherhood we stand”, may long have been forgotten by many Nigerian citizens.Yet, a few, into whose consciousness this has permeated and still rings a note, have continued to uphold our unity in diversity as the basis on which our collective independence was signed.
For such ones, issues of peace, brotherhood, unity and national cohesion come tops in their daily decisions. They are found in virtually every geo-political region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Here in the South-South, when it comes to forging common alliance to promote unity and advocacy for cohesiveness, especially among a people already fragmented by religious, linguistic and cultural disparities, one name stands out.
His Excellency, the Executive Governor of our dear Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has remained a personality driven by the goal of nationhood, in keeping with the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers of our great nation.
Chief Wike’s passion and drive for national cohesion dated back to the year 2003 when he was elected into the national presidency of All Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON). This opportunity provided him the leverage to interact with 774 local government chairmen across the country. Their deliberations on issues affecting the politics and policies of the country, no doubt, may have constituted a springboard upon which the nationalist fervor in him was stimulated.
Amazingly, his appointment years later as a Minister of Education, precisely in 2011, took him deeper into the mainstream of Nigerian politics. This further elicited the nationalist potentials in the governor believed to have been incubated in his early years in local politics. His footprints in Nigeria’s political landscape are living testimonials.
Governor Wike’s ministerial portfolio did not only launch him into the national political theatre, it also signalled the dawn of his ministry as an agent of national cohesion. It is therefore, significant for providing a window through which the long-incubated nationalist tendency in Mr Governor was hatched.
As the country’s education helmsman, Chief Wike explored the role of education in fostering peaceful and harmonious coexistence as well as unity. He held many expectations for the education sector. Thus, constructively and holistically, he drew plans for implementation and helped midwife and breathed life to the sector.
His faith in the school as an instrument to raise an ideal labour force for the country’s manpower requirement, seasoned leadership for its bureaucracies as well as refined citizenry for an enlightened social order, made him to embark on a massive investment in teacher education.
Wike’s detribalised posture manifested in his execution of Almajiri Education Programme (AEP). Irrespective of whether a place is Islam –prone or not, Almajiri schools were established in all the geo-political zones of the country. This did not only serve as integrative mechanism, it created an atmosphere of homeliness for a folk which ordinarily was alienated by religious disparity.
The extent to which he used education for the purpose of national integration is a remarkable indication of his desire and willingness to foster ‘‘one Nigeria.’’ This is because he realised that the country was in a real crisis situation that could only be resolved through education.
Even as a state governor, Wike has continued to build bridges of friendship across different frontiers both within the country and beyond. His administration has played host to several national and international retreats and conferences. They include the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Rotary International , the African Bar Association (ABA) just to mention a few.
The Governor’s flare for national cohesiveness has earned him many encomiums which are absolutely devoid of flattery as is common with people in power and their psycophantic fans.
To further buttress his passion for national unity, Governor Wike delved into sports development which he describes as a string that binds all Nigerians together with no visible political party as a rallying force, having very crucial impact in our lives.”
The Governor believes that inspite of our political differences, there is always no differences among Nigerians when it comes to sports. For this reason, he said “whoever wants this country to be united will always support sports”
His choice of sports development as a unifying factor, did not only earn him a local recognition by the national and Rivers bodies of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN),he was also honoured by the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) in Brussels, Belgium, where he presented a paper on “Peace and Progress through Sports in the Niger Delta”
The governor’s recognition was hinged on his consistency in raising the bar of sports matters as well as effectively using sports as a veritable vehicle to fast track communal growth along the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and engaging a booming but restive youth populace.
During his investiture as the national patron of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), by its National President, Alhaji Saidu Abubakar, he said “ I believe it does not matter which party you belong to, what matters is to promote the image of Nigeria and its unity.”
In his demonstration of the spirit of oneness (Espirit de Corp), Governor Wike extends his scepter to all irrespective of party affiliation, religious and ethnic differences. Leaders and renowned personalities in rival political parties have at different occasions been invited to inspect and commission projects executed by his administration.
It would be recalled that on June 27, 2017, Governor Wike paid a Sallah visit to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III in faraway Sokoto State just to felicitate with him and his caliphate members on the Eid-el-fitr celebration. The reception accorded him during the visit was not only unprecedented but also instructive.
While in Sokoto, the governor was quite unequivocal on his stand on national unity.
September 18, 2017 witnessed a delegation of Northern Governor Forum led by the Governor of Bornu State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima to Chief Wike in Government House, Port Harcourt, to express their gratitude to him for what they described as an urgent step he took to nip in the bud, the crisis that erupted between members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and some Nigerians from the North in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State.
Again, the visiting governors commended Governor Wike for his strong commitment towards national unity. Their words, “Governor Wike we are mightily proud of you and to associate ourselves with you. Nigeria is greater than political differences. We belong first and foremost to one political family, and that is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You believe in the Nigerian project, for that we remain eternally grateful’’.
Most importantly, Governor Wike’s state wide broadcast in the wake of the IPOB crisis in Oyigbo will forever be remembered for not only dousing tension in the air, but for also restoring peace in what would have possibly degenerated to an ethnic squabbles.
His words,’’ As a people, we shall continue to support the unity and peaceful co-existence of all ethnic nationalities and work towards actualising our collective aspiration for a just, inclusive and progressive nation’’, clearly demonstrates his zeal in promoting national unity and cohesion instead of encouraging unnecessary animosity in the polity.
In all, Governor Wike’s verbal expressions, body language and actions in his political life, summarise him as a rare breed, bridge builder, ambassador of peace, above all, an agent of national cohesion.


Sylvia ThankGod – Amadi

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